Jointly developed and used by Czechoslovakia and Poland in place of the similar Soviet BTR-60 (8 x 8) APC, the OT-64 SKOT (Czech acronym for: Strední Kolový Obrnený Transportér, and/or Polish Sredni Kolowy Opancerzony Transporter – medium wheeled armored transporter) is the official designation of this armored personnel carrier with the designation "OT-64" often being used in the West. The OT-64 SKOT is an amphibious, armored personnel carrier (8×8), developed jointly by Poland and Czechoslovakia (CSSR) well into the 1960s. The vehicle, which uses many automotive components of the Tatra 813 series of 8x8 high-mobility trucks. Until the early 1970s Czechoslovakia produced around 4,500 OT-64 SKOTs of all variants, just under a third of which were exported.
OT-64 was intended to replace the halftrack OT-810, which was nearly identical to the German SdKfz 251 from World War II. The first prototype was built in 1959. In 1961 the first sample series were built and starting from October 1963 the vehicles were produced in Lublin, Poland by Fabryka Samochodów Ciezarowych. Czechoslovakia supplied the driveline components, i.e. the engine, transmission and axles. The first production vehicles were delivered in 1964 to both the Polish Army and Czechoslovak Army. They were also acquired by the Hungarian army. Today are gradually replaced by newer vehicles.
The OT-64 wheeled amphibious personnel carrier is a combat and transport vehicle used with mechanised, communications and other specialised units. The OT-64 development was motivated by the need to replace the obsolete OT-810 APC by a newly designed armored vehicle. The first prototype called SKOT (for "medium wheeled armoured carrier") was designed in 1959, in 1961 the first test series was produced and a contract closed between the Czech Republic and Poland on joint production. The OT-64 was introduced into both countries´ armed forces in 1964.
It was characterised by a very good design (for its time), combat and running characteristics, e.g. all eight-wheel drive, an interlock of front and rear axles´ differential, two steerable front axles, central tire-pressure regulation system (it enables the driver to adjust the individual tires even when the vehicle is in motion), the Praga Wilson planet transmission and other elements. The vehicle is powered by a Tatra diesel engine with air cooling, which permits smooth travel both offroad and on the road. On the road, the vehicle is capable of achieving a speed of about 100 km/h. The OT vehicle is fully armoured, providing protection of the crew and of the whole mechanized squad against small calibre projectiles and shell splinters. Protection of the crew is further improved by an overpressure ventilation (NBC) system. With the current downsizing of the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic, the numbers of the OT-64 in service are being reduced, and gradual decommissioning of this type from the inventory started.
A number of OT-64 variants exist.
OT-64A (SKOT). The basic member of the OT-64 series of vehicles, the OT-64As used by Czechoslovakia are unarmed while those used by Poland are fitted on both sides with open pintle mounts for 7.62-mm machine guns. Five hatches are fitted over the troop compartment, two open to the left of the vehicle, two open to the right of the vehicle and the center one opens forward. The five hatches can be locked vertical. Some OT-64As have been observed with two Sagger ATGWs mounted over the top of the troop compartment. Four Sagger ATGWs are carried. The OT-64A was originally equipped with a 14.5mm KPVT machine gun and a coaxially mounted 7.62mm SGMT machine gun, which was gradually replaced by the 7.62 PKT tank machine gun. In some newer versions of the OT-64A, the 12.7mm NSV anti-aircraft machine gun is used instead of the KPVT.
OT-64B (SKOT-2). This model has been used only by Poland and has a pintle-mounted 7.62-mm or 12.7-mm machine gun. The gun has a shield that gives front and side protection to the gunner, but has an open top and open rear. The OT-64B has three hatches over the troop compartment: one opens forward and the other two open to each side.
OT-64C(1) (SKOT-2A). The OT-64C(1) has two layers of armament: main and secondary. Some models have been observed with a single Sagger ATGW mounted on each side of the turret with lateral armor protection. OT-64C(1) main armament is a 14.5-mm heavy machine gun mounted in the forward part of the vehicle. The practical rate of fire for this gun is 150 rds/min with a basic load of 500 rounds. OT-64C(1) secondary armament is a 7.62-mm gun mounted coaxially to the right of the main armament with the telescopic sight to the left. A practical rate of fire for this weapon is 250 rds/min with a basic load of 2,000 rounds.
OT-64C(1) with OT-64B Turret. This version is used by Morocco with the original turret replaced by the same turret as installed on the OT-62B full-tracked APC.
OT-64C(2) (SKOT-2AP). This version is used only by Poland and is similar to the OT-64C(1) except that it has a new turret with a curved top. It is armed with a 14.5-mm KPVT machine gun with a 7.62-mm PKT machine gun mounted to the right of the main armament and the sight to the left. The weapons have an increased elevation capability, which allows them to be used against aircraft. Some vehicles have been observed with a single Sagger ATGW mounted on each side of the turret. The turret on this model is also installed on the OT-62C tracked APC.
OT-64 Command Vehicles (R-2 and R-3). These two command models of the OT-64 have additional communications equipment and radio antennas.
OT-64 Recovery Vehicle (SKOT-WPT). A recovery vehicle based on the OT-64 is known to be in service with Poland. This is armed with a 7.62-mm PKT machine gun and is provided with a light crane for changing components in the field.
The OT-64C (1) has
- an 8 x 8 chassis with space in middle of vehicle between the second and third axles.
- a wedge-shaped front and flat rear.
- a one-man centrally-mounted turret similar to those fitted to the Soviet BRDM-2 (4 x 4) reconnaissance vehicle, discussed later in this lesson, and the BTR-60PB, discussed previously.
- a single-piece rear-opening door on each side beside the commander and driver.
- a driver's single-piece hatch cover that opens to the rear and three periscopes for vision to his front and sides.
- a commander's single-piece hatch cover that opens forward with a periscope in the forward part which can be traversed through 360 degrees.
- a searchlight mounted to the roof between the driver's and commander's positions.
- air inlets and outlets for the engine on top of the hull and exhaust pipes on each side of the hull.
- the turret mounted on an eight-sided plinth (lower turret platform) for weapon depression.
- two troop entry/exit doors in the rear of the hull, each with a firing port.
- four roof hatches that are hinged on the outside and can be locked vertically, each with a firing port.
- two firing ports in each side of the troop compartment.
- a trim vane that is erected on the front of the vehicle before entering the water and stowed on the glacis plate when travelling.
- a winch mounted at the front of the hull.
The OT-64C(1) is a fully amphibious vehicle that is propelled through the water by two propellers mounted at the rear of the hull. The vehicle has an all-welded steel hull with the crew compartment at the very front, engine immediately behind and the troop compartment at the very rear. The vehicle is steered by the front four wheels. The driver is seated at the front of the vehicle on the left side with the commander to the driver's right.
Despite their obsolescence, which was apparent in the mid-1990s when the vehicles had already served for 30 years, the last of the OT-64s were officially phased out from Czechoslovak service in 2004 or 2005. Several specialized vehicles (such as the OT-64 ZDRAV armored ambulance) were also used by the Czech contingent in Afghanistan – possibly the last combat use took place there in 2009 when one was used to transport troops from FOB Shank to FOB Hades.
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