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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
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James Kinnear looks at the Soviet Union’s last MBT

1 T-80BV tanks on parade in the Russian city of Ekaterinburg during the 9 May Victory Parade in the city in 2005.

The T-80 was the newest Soviet MBT in service with the Soviet Army when the Soviet Union was dissolved in December of 1991. The tank can trace its lineage back to the T-64, from which tank both the T-72 and T-80 tank development paths were ultimately derived, with the T-72 effectively being the production replacement for the T-54/55 series, while the T-80 was the ‘high technology’ and ‘high risk’ replacement for the T-62 and the T-64 in Soviet Army service.

The T-80 MBT was developed at the SKB-2 design bureau within the Leningrad Kirov Zavod (LKZ) in Leningrad under the direction of Nikolai S. Popov, who would be in charge of T-80 development from its inception as the Obiekt-219 at the end of the 1960s until the last T-80 MBT produced at LKZ left the production line in 1990. The T-80 was by lineage a descendent of the T-64 high-technology highrisk ‘domestic’ tank, in that the T-80, as with the T-64 before it, was developed as a tank for use by the Soviet Army and not intended for export, whereas the T-72 was from the outset intended both as a standard service domestic tank type and also as an export tank for Soviet client states, where the less rigorous maintenance requirements of a diesel engined conventional tank would be more appropriate.

The T-80 MBT was armed with a powerful 125mm 2A46M series tank gun with an ammunition carousel and autoloader, thereby allowing the crew to be reduced to three. It was from an armament perspective similar to the older T-64 and more concurrent T-72 MBTs. The main original design characteristic of the T-80 series which distinguished it from the other current tank designs was the use of a powerful gas turbine GTD engine, which provided the 42-tonne combat weight T-80 with a maximum road speed of 70km/h, albeit coupled to high fuel consumption and significantly complex maintenance requirements that would limited its export potential even if this had been a consideration in its design, which it was not.

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MODERN ARMOUR SPECIAL Inside this issue we talk about modelling and reference on contemporary AFVs.