Speaking about the T-62 tank, it is difficult to resist phrases like “50 years in service”, “the main tank of the 1960s”, etc. However, one can add to this quite casually that the T-62 is the first in the world serial tank with a smoothbore gun and the last tank in the family of combat vehicles, launched by the medium tank T-44. In a word, the T-62 is a kind of Tagil "classic".
The design of the tank is basically similar to the T-55. The T-62 tank was created in 1958 on the basis of the T-55 under the leadership of L.N. Kartsev at Uralvagonzavod (plant number 183) in Nizhny Tagil. At that time, it was perceived as a major breakthrough in tank building thanks to its 115 mm U-5TS (2A20) smoothbore gun. In 1961, the tank was adopted. But the euphoria around the T-62 did not last long, until the appearance of new ammunition for the 100-mm gun of the T-55 tank. In addition, the rate of fire of the U-5TS gun turned out to be extremely low and did not exceed four rounds per minute. However, serial production of the T-62 continued until the mid-1970s.
The importance of adopting this tank can hardly be overestimated, since the T-62 made it possible to eliminate the emerging NATO superiority in tank firepower. So, for example, in the GKOT certificate of 1964 “Comparison of the level of armor protection of foreign and domestic tanks” it was noted: “The level of armor protection of the M60 tank approximately corresponds to the armor protection of the domestic medium tank T-62. At the same time, the anti-projectile resistance of the frontal part of the M60 hull is higher than that of the T-62, and the turret is slightly lower than that of the T-62.
The M60 tank can be hit by sub-caliber projectiles of the U-5TS cannon of the domestic T-62 tank at a range of 900-2000 m (900 m - hull, 2000 m - tower). At almost the same combat distances, the frontal armor of the T-62 tank can be hit by shells from the 105-mm gun of the M60 tank. The M60 tank does not have anti-cumulative protection and, therefore, hit by cumulative projectiles of the U-5TS gun of the T-62 tank at a direct shot range.
A much weaker enemy was the German Leopard-1 tank: “T-62 tanks ... can hit the frontal armor of the Leopard tank at a distance of more than 3000 m, and, therefore, surpass the Leopard tank in terms of armor protection, since the shells The 105-mm guns of the Leopard tank hit the armor of the T-62 tank at a range of 1500-2000 m.
The most formidable opponent for the T-62 was the British "Chieftain" with its 120-mm gun. Thus, on average, the T-62 was at least not inferior in dueling capabilities to most NATO tanks. surpass the Leopard tank in terms of armor protection, since the shells of the 105-mm gun of the Leopard tank hit the armor of the T-62 tank at a distance of 1500-2000 m.
Thus, on average, the T-62 was at least not inferior in dueling capabilities to most NATO tanks. The reference mentioned is dated 1964. By this time, only the M60 was in serial production of the tanks listed above, while the production of the Leopard and Chieftain started only a year later. But the M60 by 1964 was released quite a bit. The most massive tanks of the NATO countries at that time were the M48A1, armed with 90-mm guns, and the Centurions, armed mainly with 20-pound (83-mm) guns. Both of these tanks were significantly inferior to the T-62 in dueling capabilities.
At the same time, NATO guns also had a number of advantages over the Soviet combat vehicle. So, for example, the rate of fire when firing from a place from a T-62 tank was 4 rds / min., And for NATO tanks - up to 7 rds / min. A number of authors attribute this lag to the large mass and length of 115 mm shots compared to 105 mm. It really is. But just look at the shot data to appreciate how significant this factor was. 115-mm shots had a mass range from 22 to 31 kg, and lengths from 990 to 1069 mm. 105 mm, respectively, from 17 to 25 kg and from 838 to 995 mm (data are given for shots of the M68 gun of the M60 tank). Thus, the largest 115 mm shot (high-explosive fragmentation) was 6 kg heavier and 74 mm longer than the largest American one. The gap is not critical, and for shots with armor-piercing sub-caliber shells, it was even less. It is unlikely that the mass and dimensions of the shots were decisive for the rate of fire. But, coupled with a significantly smaller reserved volume of the Soviet tank - perhaps.
This is where NATO tanks clearly surpassed the T-62 (however, not only it), so it was in the quality of optics and the perfection of the fire control system. Most NATO tanks were equipped with optical rangefinders. Night sights provided them with shooting at a greater range, and night vision devices could already work in a non-illuminated mode even then.
At the same time, the T-62 favorably differed from its NATO opponents by its simple design, which facilitated the operation and repair of vehicles, especially in combat conditions.
During serial production, almost 20,000 "sixty-twos" left the factory workshops. For many years they formed the basis of the tank fleet of the Soviet Army. They fought in Afghanistan, the Middle East, Africa, and everywhere enjoyed the well-deserved respect of both their crews and the enemy. The military operations in Afghanistan with the participation of the Armed Forces of the Soviet Army pursued the goal of maintaining a regime in this country that was pleasing to the Soviet authorities, but was also a good reason for testing military equipment, including the T-62, in real combat conditions. Before this war, it seemed to many that the armor of the vehicle reliably protects the crew and vital parts of the tank, its gun is capable of hitting almost any target on the battlefield. However, the appearance of the latest American anti-tank missile systems in the hands of the opposition made them vulnerable. Dynamic protection did not yet exist at that time, but the antidote for ATGMs with cumulative warheads was found, however, temporary. The updated machine received the designation T-62M (product "166M").
In 1985, a hinged dynamic protection, a heat-shielding casing for the gun, additional armor on the bottom, side 10-mm rubber screens and the Volna fire control system were installed on the tank under the designation T-62MV. Like the T-62M, this modification of the tank had several configuration options.
By the beginning of 1992, the USSR Armed Forces had 2021 T-62s of all variants. T-62M had a chance to participate in the second Chechen campaign, which began in August 1999, but it is difficult to say how many there were. It is known that these tanks were in service with the 160th Guards Tank Regiment and the 93rd Mechanized Regiment of the Internal Troops. Their crews destroyed the firing points of the militants. There have been losses, but there are few irretrievable ones. Basically, tanks knocked out by ATGMs were returned to service after repairs.
After the end of hostilities in Chechnya, the 42nd Guards Motorized Rifle Division remained, armed with T-62Ms. T-62s of various modifications were supplied to Algeria, Angola, Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Vietnam, East Germany, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, North Korea, Cuba, Libya, Somalia and Ethiopia. They can even be found in Israel. After the collapse of the USSR, a lot of T-62s remained in Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine.
T-62s were also used in units of the 58th Army of the Russian Armed Forces in August 2008 during the Georgian-Ossetian conflict. In 2009, there were about 1,000 T-62s of different variants in the combat units of the Russian Federation and in storage. In January 2013, the T-62 tank completed its 50-year service in the Armed Forces of the USSR and Russia - by order of the Minister of Defense, it was withdrawn from service.
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