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T-64 Tank

The T-64, introduced in the late 1960s, was the first of a sophisticated new family of Soviet main battle tanks developed as successors to the T-54/55/62 family. Retaining the low silhouette of the T-54/55/62 series of tanks, the T-64 featured an innovative design incorporating both an autoloader and advanced armor. One of the main reasons for rejection was the potential for weight gain. The MBT suspension was significantly inferior in the modernization potential of the T-72 and T-80, and the power unit was produced exclusively in Kharkov. But unlike the T-64, 6TD engines continued to be produced for the T-80UD. The T-80 was the ideological successor of the T-64 with some changes, and for the better. When the main drawback of the vehicle showed itself the most, the tank was abandoned in favor of the diesel version of the "T-80".

The development of the machine started in the second half of the 1950s. The materials of the Russian Ministry of Defense say that the new tank was supposed to provide a significant advantage over foreign models. Products that at that time were in the arsenal of the USSR Armed Forces had a number of shortcomings related to the layout, protection from HEAT and armor-piercing sub-caliber projectiles, insufficient accuracy, rate of fire and firepower. The leadership of the Soviet Union had a choice: to continue the modernization of the T-54 family of tanks or to launch a project to create a completely new combat platform. In the end, the second concept won. The result of long and painstaking work was the T-64, designed by the team of the design bureau of the Kharkov plant named after Malyshev.

When the Soviet T-62 MBT entered production in 1960, work had already started on a newer tank. By the time the T-62 was first seen in public in 1965, this still-newer tank had been put into production. While Western intelligence sources knew of the existence of this new tank, since it was not seen until 1976, they did not appreciate how radically it differed from earlier Soviet designs. Before identification of the new design that would become the T-64, the Soviets had developed tanks in a series of progressive, evolutionary steps.

In terms of mass, the T-64 turned out to be medium, but in terms of armament and protection it was at the level of a heavy tank, and maybe even surpassed it somewhere. Therefore, it is sometimes classified as MBT. It was a revolutionary development, a huge breakthrough in domestic tank building.

In the early 1950s the tank designers began searching for new ideas, as the Soviet Army needed a radically new tank. As had been so often the case, when radical tank design changes were required, the Tank Design Bureau of Kharkiv led the way by introducing an unconventional if not revolutionary approach to tank design. The new tank design concepts were embodied in the T-64 tank, which was designed in Kharkiv in the early 1960s under the leadership of Aleksandr A. Morozov and became the first vehicle of the new generation of Soviet-designed tanks. The T-64 was the first in the world to feature an automatic loader enabling the crew to be cut from four to three - commander, gunner and driver. Other advanced features included a sophisticated multi-layer protection, NBC protection system, new layout of the power pack compartment, etc.

The first batch of T-64 was produced in 1963. The tanks had an all-steel turret, 115 mm U-5TS gun. How many of the very first T-64s were produced is not known, but during military trials, problems with the automatic loader, engine and suspension were discovered. The armor was considered insufficient, and the 115 mm caliber was inferior to the 122 mm in terms of the power of high-explosive shells. In 1965, changes were made. They installed the D-81 gun (aka 2A26) of 125 mm caliber, modified the AZ, improved the engine, strengthened the suspension, and replaced the turret. In 1967, the tank was accepted into service with the T-64A index.

On January 2, 1967, by order of the Minister of Defense of the USSR, the main battle tank T-64 officially entered the arsenal of the Soviet army. Thanks to the mass of advanced solutions at that time, the car became a breakthrough project. In particular, the T-64 received a fundamentally new layout, a powerful smoothbore gun, an automatic loader, multilayer combined protection and improved control systems. The disadvantages of the tank included the high cost of production and the complexity of crew training due to the large number of new, unusual technical solutions. According to experts, the appearance of the T-64 allowed the USSR to develop more advanced tanks, which are operated by the Russian army in modernized versions.

While the T-64 is closely related to the T-72, the T-64 was produced solely for the Soviet Army and the slightly less capable T-72 was exported world-wide. Unlike the T-72, the T-64 has an infra-red searchlight on the left side of the 125mm gun, a different power pack, narrower track, a different suspension, and a slightly different turret.

The T-64 entered production in 1966, was fielded in 1967, and was first seen in public in 1970. Numerous variants were produced during a very long production run. Mass production was only established by 1967, when the machine was equipped with another turret with aluminum filling. The caliber was changed to 125 mm. At the same time, the mass reached 37 tons. However, the suspension and powertrain had not changed. The T-64A was replaced in 1976 with modification B, allowing the new tank to fire 9M112 guided missiles. However, the armor received some changes. With a mass of 39 tons, the engine remains the same - at 700 hp. By 1985, the production of T-64BV with ERA "Contact-1" was set up, and in 1987, production was stopped.

The Soviets accepted much risk with the T-64's expensive and complex design, so by Soviet standards the number produced was small and limited to an estimated 9,700 tanks. Some sources, however, put the T-64 production total as high as 13,500 tanks.

The impact the T-64 had on the military world was significant. This impact was brought home to the armies of the West when the T-64 was deployed to the high priority units in the WGF in (what was) East Germany and to the Soviet Southern Group of Forces (SGF) formally stationed in Hungary.

The T-64 tank was considered to have formed a landmark in the history of tank development in the Soviet Union, as every tank of the Soviet T-series entering service ever since (including T-72 and its modifications, T-80, T-80U, T-80UD, Ukrainian T-84, etc) was based on the design concepts initially introduced in the T-64 tank design, so all the above-enumerated tanks can be called 'direct descendants' of the T-64, its 'children' and 'grandchildren'.

The concept implemented in the T-64 turned out to be so advanced that in many respects it still determines the standards for the layout and appearance of MBTs. In terms of the totality of the latest technical solutions, the T-64 can be called a revolutionary tank. It was absolutely unlike its predecessors and served as the basis for the development of new tanks, which were superior to Western vehicles in many respects. The appearance of the T-64 caused a great resonance in NATO countries. According to him, in order to catch up with the USSR, Moscow's geopolitical opponents were forced to start developing new types of tracked vehicles and anti-tank weapons. The T-64 had a great influence on tank building all over the world. For example, the United States decided to create its own Abrams MBT as a response to the emergence and development of the T-64 capabilities.

"Sixty-four" came out of the gates of the Kharkov plant. Malyshev since 1963 for 24 years in a row, a total of approximately 5440 tanks of this series were produced. After the tragic events for the Soviet Union, the plant for the production of armored vehicles, which produced the T-64A, became the property of the independent state of Ukraine. The “foreign” tank immediately ceased to be of interest to the Russian military department, and the tanks “worked” as training vehicles, where they were simply worn out, and recently, in 2011, it was decided to send the vehicles for remelting altogether.

With the collapse of the USSR, there was a large-scale reduction in the tank fleet of the post-Soviet states. In Russia, vehicles of the T-64 family began to be decommissioned. Later, the first Soviet MBT was recognized as having no modernization potential. At that time, Ukraine was a major operator of the T-64. In the 2000s, she carried out a partial modernization of the fleet of these machines. The updated modification was called "Bulat", but later on the official level it was recognized as unsuccessful.

Page last modified: 02-05-2022 20:19:09 Zulu