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T-80 Light Tank

Since the adoption of the light tank T-70 by the Red Army, Soviet military experts pointed out the main weakness of the tank - the single-seat tower. However, the design of the tank had reserves that could be used to eliminate this drawback. An analysis of the use of the T-70 tank in battles showed that there a crew for an armed tank gun consisting of two people is not enough: the tank commander had to perform the functions of a gunner and loader, which adversely affected the control of the tank in battle and the rate of firing. In addition, constantly evolving means of fighting with tanks forced to strengthen armor protection. Based on these prerequisites, in 1943, the design bureau of the GAZ plant developed a new light tank T-80 with a crew of 3 people, with enhanced armor protection.

One of the features of the tank was a high angle of elevation of the 45-mm cannon (up to 65 degrees). To ensure shooting with large elevation angles, for example, when fighting in the city, the tank was equipped with a K-8T anti-aircraft collimator sight. This sight made it possible to fire at air targets. The tank was put on production at the plant number 40 in Mytishchi, but after the release of 81 tanks, production was discontinued. One of the reasons for making such a decision was the difficulty in mastering the production of the new GAZ-80 engine.

The work was led by Nikolai Aleksandrovich Astrov, the leading developer of the entire national line of light tanks of those times. In the autumn of 1942, the light tank T-80 was developed in the design bureau of the Gorky Automobile Plant under the direction of Astrov, instead of being removed from the production of the light tank T-70. The prototype machine in December 1942 passed the ground tests. The tank was put into production at plant No. 40 in the town of Mytishchi, Moscow Region. In 1943, their release was discontinued. Tank T-80 was the latest model of domestic light tanks of the period of the Great Patriotic War. The insufficient crew size of the T-70 tank (two people: the commander, the gunner and loader, and the driver mechanic) made it extremely difficult to control the tank and firing. Starting from the very first moment of adopting the T-70 light tank into the service of the Red Army, the Soviet military specialists saw its main weakness — the single-seat turret. But the design of the tank still had reserves.

The GAZ tank design bureau, headed by N. A. Astrov, promised it to the military even when the GAZ-70 prototype was shown and immediately began working almost immediately after the launch of the T-70 serial production. During the late spring, summer and early autumn of 1942, it was found that the installation of a two-seat turret would greatly increase the load on the engine, transmission and chassis of the tank. The tests of the T-70 tank loaded up to 11 tons fully confirmed these fears - suspension torsions burst on the tests, tracks broke, components and transmission assemblies failed. Therefore, the main work was carried out to strengthen these structural elements, successfully concluded with the adoption of the modification of the T-70M by the Red Army.

Also, by the fall, a double turret for the T-70 tank was manufactured and successfully tested, but two things stood in the way of mass production. The first of these was the insufficient power of the twin engine assembly GAZ-203. It was planned to increase by forcing up to 170 liters. with. in sum, by increasing the cylinder filling ratio and increasing the compression ratio. The second obstacle arose from the requirements to provide large elevation angles for the cannon to hit targets on the upper floors of buildings in urban battles. It could also allow some increase in the possibilities of fire resistance of the enemy aviation. In particular, Lieutenant-General I.S.Konev, the commander of the Kalinin Front, insisted on this. The already developed twin turret for the T-70 did not satisfy this requirement and was redesigned to enable firing from a cannon at a high elevation angle.

The second prototype with a new turret received the factory designation 080 or 0-80. For more convenient placement of guns with the possibility of anti-aircraft fire and two crew members, we had to broaden the diameter of the shoulder strap and make an armored ring barbet 40 mm-45 mm thick under the inclined sides of the turret. Because of the wider shoulder strap of the turret, it became impossible to dismantle the engine without first removing the turret - the armor ring began to drop onto the removable overhead armor plate.

In December 1942, the prototype 080 successfully passed ground tests and was adopted by the Red Army under the symbol T-80. However, the organization of its release was not planned at GAZ, since the transfer of the Gorky auto giant to the production of "eighty dozen" could lead to a decrease in the volume of production of tanks and self-propelled guns SU-76, unacceptable in wartime conditions. Armor protection - bulletproof. The welded hull of the tank was made of rolled armor plates with a thickness of 6 mm, 10 mm, 15 mm, 20 mm, 25 mm, 35 mm and 45 mm. The design of the armor hull and the location of the main hatches and hatches remained almost the same as that of the T-70 tank, with the exception of side plates, the thickness of which was increased to 25 mm and the roof to 15 mm-20 mm.

The welded turret of an oversized tank, made of 35 mm and 45 mm thick armor plates, positioned at rational angles of inclination, was shifted to the left side. She had a new embrasure and a mask attachment design that provided high angles of elevation for the main weapon. The welded joints of the turret were reinforced with armor squares. A high stationary commander's turret was installed on the roof with an inlet hatch, a hinged armored hinged lid and a periscopic viewing mirror mounted on the rotating base of the hatch and providing the tank commander with all-round visibility. To the left of the commander's turret there was a hatch of the gunner, also closed with a hinged armor cover on the hinge. The upper prisms of the commander, gunner and driver's viewing instruments had armor cover. For the commander's turret housed an armored glass antenna input. For the convenience of placing the landing on the tank hull and the sides of the turret, special handrails were welded. Due to the installation of a new turret, the height of the vehicle, compared with the height of the T-70M, increased by 135 mm.

The systems that provided the engine were similar to the powerplant systems of the T-70M tank. The engines were started using or two CT-06 electric starters connected in parallel with a capacity of 2 liters. with. (1.5 kW) each, or manual winding mechanism. Two fuel tanks with a total capacity of 440 liters were located behind armored partitions in an isolated compartment in the left part of the aft compartment of the hull. On the right side of the aft compartment there was a fan and radiator for the engine cooling system. Cruising the tank on the highway reached 320 km. The transmission and chassis were the same as on the T-70M tank.

The lack of reliable operation of the forced engines and the difficulties in mastering their production, as well as the deterioration of the vehicle’s permeability due to the increased mass, reduced the combat and technical characteristics of the tank. From the front-line reports it is known about the use of several T-80s in self-propelled artillery regiments in 1944. There is also information about the receipt of two T-80s from repair in the replenishment of the 5th Guards Tank Brigade on February 15, 1945.

A total of 75-85 T-80 tanks were produced, which participated in Great Patriotic War battles in 1943. Since the installation had an unreliable engine, weak weaponry for 1943, as well as the Red Army's great need for the SU-76M, the T-80 tank was removed from production. In early 1943 on the basis of the T-80 tank, an experienced tank was built, equipped with a 45-mm BT-43 tank gun of greater power, but it was not put into service. Thus, the T-80 tank was the last light tank of the Soviet development of military times.

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T-80 light tank

T-80 light tank

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Page last modified: 10-04-2019 10:17:09 ZULU