The BTR-50P is based on the chassis of the PT-76 light amphibious tank with an open-topped troop compartment in the center. The 20 infantrymen sit on bench seats which run across the full width of the vehicle and enter and leave by climbing over the side of the hull. Armament consists of a pintle-mounted 7.62 mm SGMB machine gun. The BTR-50P is fully amphibious and propelled in the water by two water-jets at the rear of the hull. The BTR-50P was introduced in 1954. It is no longer in production and is being replaced by newer BTRs and BMPs in the Russian Army.
Armored personnel carriers of the BTR-50P series were issued to the motorized rifle regiment of tank divisions in the Soviet and East German Armies, and in a modified form as command vehicles in virtually all Warsaw Pact armies. They have also been exported to the Middle East. The BTR-50P, which was first shown in public on November 1957, has undergone a number of modifications. The original BTR-50P had an open-topped fighting compartment, and at first, carried no armament. There is provision, however, for trans-porting 57mm, 76mm or 85mm guns in the fighting compartment. The guns are loaded onto the vehicle from the rear using folding ramps attached to the rear deck of the vehicle. The guns can be fired from the vehicle on land or water, or can be dismounted and used in a normal fashion. When firing from the vehicle in the water, however, the water jet system must be in operation.
Since its introduction, the BTR-50P has been developed into a series of variants. The slightly modified BTR-50PA differs from the BTR-50PK, which is fitted with overhead armor cover. It lacks the folding ramps for transporting the various light field pieces. The BTR-50PU armored command vehicles closely resemble the BTR-50PK in that they have overhead armor cover; however, the hatches on the top of the command vehicles are oval in shape. In addition, the most common version, the so-called Model-2, has two bays on the front of the superstructure. The BTR-50PU command vehicle is very elaborately equipped with a variety of radios and with a special land navigation system which includes a coordinate indicator and map course plotter. Great care must be taken to distinguish the BTR-50PU command vehicles from the Czecho-slovak OT-62 armored personnel carriers which also have two bays, although of different size.
- Armored personnel carrier BTR-50P
- BTR-50PA added a 14.5-mm KPV heavy machine gun mounted on the roof of the commander's cupola
- BTR-50PK added overhead armor and limited radiological protection. The BTR-50PK also has been modified for use as a mine clearing vehicle with the UR-67 explosive line charge and as an amphibious armored maintenance support vehicle
- BTR-50PU command variant has an armored roof, normally two projecting bays on the front of the vehicle, a generator mounted on the rear deck (not on all models), and extra antennas. It normally is not fitted with integral armament. The vehicle characteristics are essentially the same as the BTR-50P.
- Armored personnel carrier OT-62A (TOPAS)
- Armored personnel carrier OT-62B (TOPAS)
- Armored personnel carrier OT-62C (TOPAS-ZAP)
- Armored Recovery Vehicle WPT-TOPAS
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