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When the TR-77 production started in 1977, it didn't matter that the T-72 was superior, as long as Romania could produce a tank - any tank - domestically. The tanks that Romania actually produced in large numbers was the TR-85 and his "father", the TR-580 or TR-77. The first of these, the TR-77, was an enlarged and lengthened T-55 variant, designed around an 800 Hp engine. When this engine failed to materialize in a timely fashion, a far less powerful 500 Hp engine was substituted, leaving the TR-77 a rather unsatisfactory and surely grossly underpowered product. After 205 of this under-powered variant were built through 1983, another 405 were built from 1979 to 1985 with the a slighly more powerful 580 hp engine, under the TR-580 nomenclature, according to authoritative Romanian Army sources. Janes claims that only 42 TR-580 MBTs were produced before production was completed, but this claim must be in error.

Developments in the late 1960s - and especially the crisis of 1968 - triggered a process of creating a "national defence doctrine which has the fundamental concept of the homeland defence by the entire nation". For the operation of such a strategic concept, it became necessary to build a defence industry in Romania, for the manufacture not only of light weapons and ammunition for infantry, but also state of the art complex systems, such as transports, tanks, artillery and range for armored, planes and helicopters.

These objectives had the whole industry undertake at that time a technical and financial effort that is hard to imagine today. A series of technological assimilation were carried out, starting from the raw materials and materials with special characteristics, the completion of complex integrated equipment on them and ending with stands, laboratories and polygons for special testing. In terms of Romanian technical and tactical requirements, these systems had to meet three requirements of the battlefield: mobility, fire power and protection. At that time the Russian experience (the T-34, T-60 etc.) was hardly outdated.

Although it may seem paradoxical, analyzing with lucidity during that period, through this effort, the Romanian military technical industry contributed to a great extent to the development of national economy on the technology and manufacturing. By imposing extremely high standards relating to the military requirements of the art, design, development of research-capable of accomplishing industries, training specialists to produce and to exploit them, the defense industry formed a core group of technicians in the field of military technology, having done that, to interpret this in terms of political, can be achieved from the technical point of view. But then, the soldiers were those who, through testing and, subsequently, through the use of such equipment have validated, often with special personal efforts, the technical solutions proposed. Among these achievements, in a relatively short period (approximately 20 years), three types of tanks were assimilated and produced, each of these types as elements in the development of this progressive irrefutable complex techniques used by the Romanian army.

In April 1968 the Council of defence was presented with the "report on proposals for the manufacture of tanks in Romania". On 13.10.1972, the Defence Council approved this report, and decided that the ministries (MICM, MIM, MlCh and MApN) to draw up and submit a survey of product offering and proposals concerning the Organization of production.

The first instance pursued the creation of a tank and armored engineer equipment with a 500 Hp engine. The first city where the capacity needed for the manufacture of the tank in Romanian was at MÔrsa, Sibiu County, where in 1974, the investment began.Between the years 1974-1980 the Romanian variants TR-77 were assimilated. The first variant (TR-77), was carried out at the level of experimental model, a prototype and an initial series of 10 products. This type of production was organized with external cooperation, where Western European (German) contractors constituted a first step in the history of production of the tank.

The chassis was extended in order to accommodate a larger 800 hp engine. West Germany refused to give the license for the 800 hp Leopard 1 engine and, the tank used the initial extended chassis and the V-2 engine of the T-55 (which, by some sources, was of Polish origin) until Romania was able to produce it locally. The government decided to use the extended chassis anyway because it could later retrofit it. Later production was continued with the TR-580 version of the Soviet T-55 tank.

Romanian-Chinese cooperation materialized only on some components of the TR-77 tank. There are some similarities between the TR-77 and the Chinese Type-80. But the Romanian tank appeared in 1977 and the Chinese only after 1980.

The first model of the Romanian tank was conducted at "the Central repair technique of fighting" Mizil (the name of the factory then Mechanical Mizil) in 1974, by Mechanical Plant MÔrsa. It was able to build three Romanian tanks by mid-1976. Then, by the end of the spring of 1977, the entire production was transferred to the Mechanical Plant in MÔrsa, where the new factory of special products, would be the entirely for the production of tanks. At the level of the years 1973 to 1975, investments made in MÔrsa were more than three billion lei (i.e. more than 100 million US$) representing nearly 80% of the total investment scheduled.

In the spring of 1978, the entire preparation and all specialists, were transferred to the 23 August Enterprise in Bucharest, where a new Tank Factory was founded in 1978, on the basis of Decree No. 514/17.12.1978 - as Special Heavy Machinery factory (F.M.G.S.) within the enterprise 23 August. In the period 1978-1980, being completed with investment designed for FMGS, it worked in the premises of the enterprise 23 August. In this space in January 1979 was the first Romanian tank was mounted in the undertaking of 23 August - F.M.G. S .

Until August 1979 another 11 tanks were built, which, together with the first, participated - before they were distributed to recipient military units - were paraded in the national day of Romania parade in Bucharest on the occasion of 23 August.

Test Samples on the track were executed at the same factory and samples of verification of shooting on the tanker was made in specialized army polygons. The parallel running investment for Special Heavy Machine factory, in the vicinity of August 23 Plant, Bucharest, continued. At the time in the city of Giurgiu County Mihai bravu, construction started on the track, movement and water pool tests to check the tightness, factory and finishing touches, etc. This investment was completed at the end of 1979.

Since early February 1980, FMGS worked for the realization of the investment in the village of Mihai bravu, delaying the program well over a year. For this reason, tests on track and in polygon of the 25 tanks produced in 1980 were made all the Mechanical Plant at Jegalia, Mizil. The investment from Mihai bravu was completed in the second half-1981.

The projected investment capacity was 210 tanks and 100 sets of spare parts per year. By the Decree of 474/26.12.1983, the organizational and technical measures were to increase the production capacity from 210 tanks per year to 500 tanks and approved factory operation structures. To this end, work areas grew spectacularly, with a broad program of investment. New capabilities made it possible to organize the production of the TR-85 tank, achieving the prescribed quality and - at the same time - the number of pieces required. However, the factory worked as a factory-dependent unit within the 23 August Enterprise.

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Page last modified: 15-08-2017 16:20:06 ZULU