Medium Tanks and MBTs
Infantry Fighting Vehicles
Armored Personnel Carriers
Situation in 1945.
In 1945, the Red army seemed unstoppable. With almost twice the numbers of soldiers and armored vehicles than the Allies, some of the top staff officers realized how easy it could have been to not stop half way but just run to the sea with such a massive and well-oiled war machine, fulfilling the promised “world proletarian revolution” prophesized by Lenin. Both sides were indeed well aware of what was seen largely as an uneasy alliance, dictated by circumstances, and after the end of hostilities, peace negotiations with Stalin proved to be especially tough.
The West did not saw the political turn of events in eastern Europe in a favorable way, so much so that tensions rose almost immediately for the control of Berlin and partition of Germany according to the respective advance of the parties.
The Red Army fielded an impressive array of tanks, perhaps 50,000 surviving T-34s of all types and several thousands of IS-1, 2, 3, among other armored vehicles that were partly sent back from Mandchuria.
At that point in early 1946, a fight would have been a long and protracted one, since on both sides soldiers and crews were well equipped quite experienced. In a “what-if” scenario, the 1944 Sherman had serious capabilities against the T-34/85, with guns and targeting sights that would have compensated for a dire numeric inferiority. On paper, the IS-3 seemed superior to the M26 Pershing, but the latter had a far greater rate of fire and probably better range and reliability.
In addition most of the light tanks (T-50, T-60 & T-70s) fielded by the Red army were quite inferior to the M24 Chaffee. In addition there was still no doctrine associated with infantry carried by armoured vehicles, contrary to the US Army which actively tested fully enclosed tracked APCs.
The turn of 1947
Several events consolidated the partition of Germany and mutual defiance emerged in 1946-47 that are related to the fall of the “Iron curtain” according to the legendary “Sinews of Peace” speech of Winston Churchill on 5 March 1946, at Westminster College. At that point the tension just rose to the point of no return. The creation of the Cominform appeared to tightening up the grip on the new East European territories by Moskow, but the Tito-Stalin split proved that this control was not destined to be absolute.
Since early 1946, Washington was warned and encouraged to take a had line against USSR (George F. Kennan’s “Long Telegram”) and Truman’s advisors seemed to confirm this position afterwards, building the containment doctrine which later evolved to the 1950s “domino effect” containment theory that conducted US forces in Korea and Vietnam. The situation was rendered even worse on the soviet side, when the Molotov co-signed the Novikov telegram sent to the US embassy.
There was a mood of “capitalistic conspiracy” and mutual defiance in the east, well fed by an increasingly paranoid Stalin, which could led to a new conflict for many officers. The Morgenthau Plan -a proposition for rearming Germany- added further provocation to this already tense situation. The plan was postponed until 1954, resulting in the creation of two rival military organizations.
The Korean war (1950-53)
The first “hot” conflict to emerge in this tense environment saw Korea involved in a four-year indirect confrontation between the two superpowers and their own spheres of influence. Despite being fought in a single country, it drew nations from all over the world. It was trigerred by an invasion by North Korean forces, and the UNO response, which led a coalition of nations led by the U.S. to help defend South Korea. The North Korean forces were then largely supplied by Stalin in relatively modern tanks, trucks, artillery, and small arms. Tanks were of world war two stock, the bulk being T-34/85s.
At first, the military confrontation in the southern plains saw an ideal terrain for tanks in both camps, many US tanks being then also of ww2 stock. The first military aid given to South Korean forces were M24 Chaffee, easily matched by the T-34s.
Things changed however with massive US reinforcements and the landing at Inchon, the situation was reversed and better allied tanks were fielded, the M26 Pershing and M46 Patton, and for the first time, the British Centurion, that ruled supreme, washing over any opposition. After the conflict was displaced due north in mountainous terrain, tanks to tanks encounters became the exception. When Chinese Forces massively intervened to avoid the collapse of a friendly army, their own tanks were also soviet-supplied and mostly used for infantry support.
The Korean war served as a testing ground for soviet pilots, but there is no record of soviet tank crews being engaged in active military operations, other than a few advisors. No T-54, then a new and formidable generation of tanks, ever saw action in this conflict, despite an assumed superiority over allied tanks. But reports of the rare tank to tank battles of the conflict were carefully studied by soviet military intelligence and lessons passed onto soviet tanks design in the late 1950s, as well as those learned later from the Franco-British-Israeli intervention against Egypt (then also equipped with ww2-era soviet armour) over the Suez canal.
The Warsaw pact (1955)
The German Democratic Republic, the People’s Republic of Bulgaria, of Poland, of Romania, of Hungary, of Albania and the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic constituted the foundations of the future Warsaw pact, in a later response to NATO, formed in April 1949. This further institutionalized the cold war, following the refusal of the Marshall plan and the constitution of an Eastern equivalent, the Molotov plan. The Warsaw pact really began as a military side of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CoMEcon) in 1955 after West Germany was officially integrated inside NATO.
According to this military alliance, all the eastern European states would receive not only a whole array of modern weapons, but also participate with their industrial capabilities (this was especialy true for Poland and Czechoslovakia) to the building of a formidable conventional force. The Warsaw pact became synonymous to the ever growing ever-threatening shadow of tens of thousands of tanks and armoured vehicles that will drive NATO’s experts and military policy, in the Pentagon and at the general staffs in all Western countries, and had a tremendous influence on tank design. Despite its notorious independence, Yugoslavia also imported soviet armoured vehicles and began to develop its own variants and derivatives in the 1980s.
Situation in 1960
At that time, the Red Army had completely modernized its conventional forces both in air and land, built a massive nuclear deterrent and a formidable naval force altogether. Despite the death of Stalin, there were still hard-liners in the supreme soviet council that believed war was inevitable. One of these hard-liners, Nikita Khrushchev was in power at that time. In 1960 the bulk of soviet armour was still made of large fleets of T-34/85s, reinforced by ten of thousands of T-54s, and a few thousands of the new T-55s. For the first time, soviet troops had a large array of specialized vehicles at their disposal, the BTRs (Bronetransporters) all wheeled (4×4 – the BTR-40, 6×6 – the BTR-152, and 8×8, the brand new BTR-60) at the exception of the amphibious and tracked BTR-50s. This early generation of vehicles had open troop compartments contrary to US practice. This reflected the ww2 inherited practice of quick deployment that saw infantry disembarking by jumping over the side. But since 1958, the threat of shrapnels and later NBC weaponry conducted the soviet industry to have all these vehicles covered in a proper way.
The soviet doctrine, despite the lessons learned from failed or near-failed airborne operations, like the German assault on Crete, and “Market Garden” still had a tremendous respect for the paratroopers capability, inherited from the old 1930s “deep battle” tactical doctrine. Large paratroopers units were maintained, and equipped with a variety of support vehicles, like the ASU-57 tankettes and later ASU-85 SPGs or the 1970s BMD-1 infantry fighting vehicle. These vehicles were airdropped with several systems, some using rocket-launched platforms. All three tanks could be also airlifted and landed on any spot on the map thanks to the help of massive helicopters like the Mil MI-6 (1957). American equivalents like the M41 Walker Bulldog and the M551 Sheridan were less successful in this way.
A third component was the soviet Marines, well equipped since a true amphibious force was set-up for worldwide interventions. The quest for amphibious or water-fording capable vehicles concerned most if not all armoured vehicles in the soviet inventory that were first conceived in the late 1950s. Both the PT-76 and the BTR-50 which was based on the same chassis, shared excellent amphibious capabilities that were well-studied contrary to regular medium tanks that need a lot of preparations to ford rivers, being submerged. Floating vehicles were not a new concept for the red army.
It goes in straight line to the 1930s T-37A and T-38 tankettes inspired by a 1930 Vickers prototype, but production and development was put to a halt due to wartime priorities, and production restricted to a very few selected models. However there was no real equivalent in the red army to the American array of LVTs before the 1960s.
The late 1970s challenges
(Section in writing)
The Afghan war (1982-89)
(Section in writing)
The fall of USSR and fate of the Army
(Section in writing)
Heavy tanks, from the IS-3 to the T-10 (1959)
2311 built. Developed from 1944 but only introduced at the very end of the war this third gen. heavy tank called “Spike” and introducing the new hemispheric cast turret has a completely revised armor but the same 122mm gun as for the IS-2, and served until the 1960s.
250 built. The IS-4 was a less ambitious design, an alternative to the IS-3. The hull was still inspired by the T-34 simple design (although with a faceted front) and the turret was modeled after the T-34/85 one. Production was stopped because of poor mobility and its short active service was spent facing China.
IS-6 and IS-7 (1945 and 1946)
The IS-6 prototype Object 253 tested an electrical transmission, but the project was dropped as it was prone to overheating. The Object 252 had the same design but with a modified drivetrain and conventional transmission. The IS-7 (3 prototypes) was developed in 1948 with a 130 mm S-70 gun and autoloader in a hemispheric turret. At 68 tons it was the heaviest of the serie. The driver was hydraulically assisted, and it had a brand new 1050-horsepower engine under his feets capable to bring this tank to 60 km/h. The armor was proof against 130mm rounds. Although very promising it was however never produced.
The T-10 (1959)
1439 built. Last heavy tank to be developed from 1950, the IS-8 had a longer hull, a relatively conventional turret but a revised armor new 120 mm gun with fume extractor, and a new diesel engine. With the death of Stalin it was renamed T-10. At 52 tons, this tank was produced until 1966.
The T-10/T-10M was the last of the heavy tank breed that never proved their usefulness since the emergence of far cheaper and faster tanks like the T-54/55s and especially the T-62.
Mediums & MBTs: From the T-54 to the T-80
Two extremes of the entire MBT lineage of the Warsaw pact: The 1950s, 1st generation T-54, and at the opposite, the third generation T-80. The T-54/55 and T-62s were relatively cheap and low-tech, mass-produced tanks, which were gradually discredited on the middle eastern and 1991/2003 Iraqi theater. The T-64 was a breed apart, a brave attempt to create second generation MBT right into the 1960s, which ended with the creation on a way in between with the T-72.
This was the true successor to the earlier types, well modernized in between, but also a true second generation MBT. The T-80 was the successor of the high tech T-64 and was mixed with the T-72M to create the T-90 just when Soviet Union collapsed. At that time, although these models seemed closely related, lessons learned about the soviet quantity over quality dogma, the balance gradually and surely leaning toward the second…
35,000 built. First medium tank of the cold war and a very famous one, it was still driven by the famous vision of “quantity has a quality in itself”. A simple and rugged the T-34 was this first MBT was developed through the T-44, and its entirely revised hull, but showcased a brand new hemispherical cast turret and 100 mm gun. When introduced in 1948 it was superior to anything in the west. Through modernization, it is still in service worldwide and had an extraordinarily active life.
27,500 built. Basically, a modernized T-54 fitted with NBC protection and revised engine this very similar tank was also declined into multiple versions and sold to a considerable number of armies worldwide, seeing a very extensive service until today, through modernizations and conversions.
22,700 built. The T-62 was an attempt to upgrade the main armament with a brand new 115mm smoothbore cannon and autoloader, and a stretched-out hull. However the new design had several issues (poor accuracy, faulty automatic ejector) which prevented its large adoption on the international market.
12,000 built. The T-64 was a brand new design and leap forward, this very advanced tank was long into service and remained an “elite” MBT that suffered numerous delays and teething problems after its introduction. It introduced a new sophisticated FCS, new suspensions, new ultra-compact engine, new D-81T 125 mm smoothbore gun with entirely revised autoloader. However it never really made it on the export market as the T-72 was chosen instead.
25,000 built. If the T-62 and T-64 never made it to the export market, the T-72 did and replaced in practice the numerous T-54/55s in service worldwide. It was derived from the T-64 and other alternative designs but was much simplified for mass-production and imposed itself inside the Warsaw Pact, also spawning lots of derivatives or licence-built version. Still widely used worldwide. One of its versions was derived into the actual Russian MBT, the T-90.
5400 built as of 2005. The T-80 was a successor to the T-64, using the same basis. Most notably, it was the first MBT produced in any numbers to be fitted with a gas turbine for propulsion. It is now one of the main Russian MBTs in service with 3000 maintained active and 1800 in reserve, about 300 in Ukraine. Great commonality with the locally-produced T-64 also help for modernizations. The T-80 despite its high price tag was also a moderate export success with ten operators.
The PT-76 was the most common of the soviet light tank force, fully amphibious, it also formed the basis for many derivatives (APCs, command vehicles, SPAAGs, missiles launchers…). On the other hand, no less than four types of airborne vehicles were produced to match the requirement of paratroopers support on the field.
12,000 built. Amphibious tank. Designed in 1950 as a reconnaissance tank, it was light enough and had the right buoyancy to cross large rivers and lakes as well as assault by sea. Armed with the low-velocity 75mm gun and about 2000 were exported. At least a dozen known variants.
500 built. A tankette tailored to be airdropped. Served only with the VDV (paratroopers corps), and armed with the Ch-51 57mm main gun. Retired and replaced by the ASU-85.
The replacement for the ASU-57, still airborne SPG this time upgraded with an fully armoured roof and better 85mm high velocity gun capable to engage most Western Tanks. It was only used until the introduction of the BMD-1 which had the advantage to carry troops inside the vehicle (albeit a few).
3000 built. First airborne IFV designed as such. A good package helped by the size of the new generation Soviet carrier planes and combining a troop compartment, low velocity 73mm gun, two LMGs and two ATGMs (with more in stock) intended to deal with tanks (the gun was more designed to deal with infantry and light vehicles or obstacles).
Replacement for the BMD-1 equipped with the 30 mm 2A42 multi-purpose autocannon, slightly larger according to the upgrade of Soviet carrier aircraft in capabilities. It was designed to replace the BMD-1 but failed to do so completely because of a production curtailed in 1991 with the Soviet economy collapse. It could be transported by the An-12, An-22, Il-76, An-124 and Mi-6, Mi-26 helicopters which like its predecessor, which gave it a fairly large array of tactical flexibility. It was superseded by the BMD-3 developed from the mid-1980s but only delivered from 1990 and an overall larger and more capable vehicle.
Infantry Fighting Vehicles
The BMP family literally from “Infantry Fighting vehicle”, is probably the most common type of IFVs ever to be found in the world, with a total of 50,000 vehicles, to compare with the 6,500 Bradley ever manufactured.
20,000+ built. The most produced and famous IFV, largely exported, derived and produced under license. Could carry 3 crew plus 8 infantry, armed with a 73mm low velocity gun, ATGMs and KPVT light machine guns. However operations in Afghanistan and Chechnya showed its limitations in urban combat, low protection against mines and RPGs.
20,000+ BMP-2 built. Production records are difficult to established due to an intense license production (Czechoslovakia, India, Bulgaria), exports and conversions. Revealed in 1978 but only entering service in 1980 it was relatively similar to the BMP-1 but armed with a 30mm autocannon instead and eliminated all the drawbacks of its predecessor.
2000+ BMP-3 built. Developed in the Soviet era, it entered service just before the collapse of USSR. Therefore only a limited numbers were built, declined into 17 variants (Russia alone) and exported to 11 countries. The great novelty was the use of a 100mm gun/launcher 2A70 capable of delivering ATGMs (internal reload). It was coupled to a 30 mm autocannon 2A72 and three machine guns, quite a firepower for an augmented troop transport.
Armoured personal carriers
The BTR-40 was a 4×4 successor to the light wartime BA-64, and the BTR-152 was inspired by ww2 vehicles like the M3 half track. But the bulk of armoured troop transports was provided by the 8×8 Bronetransporters 60, 70 and 80, which were amphibious, NBC proven, with a better off-road motricity and also a cumulated 50,000 vehicles in all (real production figures are still ellusive). The smaller BRDMs were 4×4 well armed reconnaissance vehicles. The BMP-50 is the only tracked vehicle of the lot.
8500 built. Postwar APC, designed as a replacement for the mass-produced 4×4 BA-64 reconnaissance vehicle which was already used often as an APC despite its small size. The BTR-40 was much larger and had many improvements but was still open-top an, therefore, had no NBC protection (but for some specialized vehicles).
15,000 built. First Soviet dedicated Postwar APC (before that soviet troops only knew “tank desant”), this 6×6 wheeled vehicle recalled American and German ww2 half-tracks. A simple all-wheeled configuration was preferred with a central tyre inflation system that allowed to deflate tyres (and therefore create more contact surface) on soft grounds. Open top and therefore not NBC protected but for specialized variant with hard-top.
6,000 built. Tracked amphibious APC, although still not NBC protected. It was delivered to 20+ countries and declined into six main variants.
The BTR-D was a derivative of the BMD-1, the idea was to have an airborne APC, rather than an IFV that can only carry a symbolic crew and troops. It was introduced in 1974 and known by the west in 1979. In basic configuration, this 8.5 tons tracked APC (which shared a lengthened chassis with the MBD) only had a light PKT MG, but could carry a platoon, 10 troops, able to fire through portholes and roof hatches, yet protected against small arms fire overall. The front was even thicker by its slanted shape than on the BMD1/2. 11 versions has been done (production stopped in the 1990s with over 1000 delivered, kept by successors states), the last of which was the artillery support variant 2S9 “Nona”.
25,000 built. The proverbial Soviet wheeled APC, declined into dozens of specialized variants and largely exported. It was NBC-protected (on later variants) and amphibious. However its compartimentation with central escape hatches (rather than a rear door) made it difficult for the troops to operate in safety.
5000 BTR-70 built. Less common but still well exported, this vehicle was given a heavier armament and more powerful engine. At least 30 known variants, Soviet or local, like the Romanian TAB-77.
5000 BTR-80 built. Last soviet evolution of the type, with several modifications but the same armament, later declined into the BTR-90 and BTR-82 IFVs. It is the base for several Ukrainian sub-variants.
10,000 built. Amphibious reconnaissance vehicle. Also declined as a tank-hunter and many other variants. Well exported, mostly in Africa (about 50 countries).
Modernized version, with a heavier armament and many more versions despite a lower production.
2S1 Gvodizka (1970)
The 2S1 Gvozdika (1970) was the most current Soviet self propelled artillery during the cold war, a vehicle equipped with a 122 mm gun howitzer in turret, very low compared to its Western equivalents. It was delivered in the tens of thousands until 1991 to fill the organic rôle of mobile artillery into each motorized rifle division or Tank division (72 or 36 respectively per unit), and was largely exported and also produced under licence by Poland, Romania, Iran, and Bulgaria.
2S3 “Akatsiya” (1971)
After the 2S1, people assume there was a 2S2, but it remained as a paper project and the program jumped directly to the next 2S3 (from nine models of Soviet self-propelled-guns during the cold war alone. The 2S3 “Akatsiya” (“acacia”, Soviet SPGs were traditionally namd after flowers) could be summarized as the Soviet response to the American M109, which developed started in 1967 and the prototype SO-152 tested in 1968, entering service in 1971. Armed with a 152.4 mm D-22 howitzer in a new larger turret compared to the 2S1, it was lightly armored (30 mm max) and a tailored chassis, engine, transmission and drivetrain that were reused for many other vehicles. Declined into six variants it was exported to 17 countries, some former Soviet republics after the USSR fall. Mass production ended in 1993, with around 3,500 vehicles (900+ active, 1600 in storage for Russia alone, 500 for Ukraine, etc.). It was a reliable vehicle but past 2000s, outranged by all modern Western SPGs.
2S4 “Tyulpan” (1972)
The 2S4 “Tulip” was developed in parallel to the 2S3, on the same chassis, but fitted with a 240mm mortar mortar instead, trading range for punch. When deployed, the mortar mount unit was to be pivoted to the rear, the base plate anchored in the ground, to be recoil-absorbing. The lenght of the tube and size of the rounds preventing all manual feed, an autoloader was used. Approximatively only 588 2S4 were built, which mortar could deliver HE rounds at 9500 m, and up to 20,000 with extended-range ammunitions. It was known by NATO in 1975 and production ran from 1969 to 1988. Outside USSR, only Czechoslovakia and Syria used it. They are now under modernization for the Russian Army.
2S5 “Giatsint” (1972)
The “Hyacinth” was another SPG based on the same chassis, which left the crew unprotected. It was developed in 1967–1974, and produced from 1976 to 1991 to replaced the towed 130mm M46 field guns, replaced by this self-propelled 2A36 152 mm gun (5.98 in) which can reach a target at 28 km, up to 40 with assisted projectiles. Production was about 1,100 given the exports and listed vehicles, either in service or storage in Russia. Outside Russia, it is used by Ethiopia, Finland, Belarus, and Ukraine.
2S9 “Nona” (1985)
NONA meant “Newest Ordnance of Ground Artillery”. Developed from 1974 it was a way to provide to the VDVs (airborne divisions) a light-weight self-propelled, air-droppable 120 mm gun-mortar. It entered service in 1981, based on the S-120 aluminium hull derived from the BTR-D armoured personnel carrier (which had an extra wheeltrain). This 8.7 tons 120 mm mortar 2S9 Nona and Nona-S was used at least in two conflicts, the Syrian Civil War and the war in Donbass. Production is unknown but probably over 1000. It was also used by Syria, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Venezuela. The BTR-80 was converted with the same system as the 2S23 Nona-SVK. There was even a tower versions called 2B16 Nona-K.
The Zenitnaya Samokhodnaya Ustanovka 23 (mm) -4 (tubes) “Shilka” because of the Shilka River was really the first, modern mass-distributed SPAAG of the cold war. It was a replacement for the 1950s “Sparka” or “pair”, the ZSU-57-2, a more crude weapons systems. The new weapons system was to correct any deficiencies of the previous vehicles, like the innacuracy, lack of radar, and impossibility to fire on the move or the small supply of ammunitions. Developed from 1957 to 1962 it really entered service with much more than the USSR and Wardsaw Pact, but the 6500 allegedly built by Mytishchi Engineering Works (MMZ) until 1982 served with more than 40 operators around the world. There were a dozen of variants, including modernizations like the 4M of 1973 or the Russian ZSU-23-4M5 augmented with MANPADS and new electronics, radar and digital calculators in 1999, mostly as an upgrade kit for export. It has been replaced since by the “Tunguska” in the Russian arsenal.
Angola used thse trucks in the 1980s Angola conflict with south africa, and sub-groups like FAR used them as weapon platforms, usually for ZPU AA mounts, and in this case, a rare armored APC also with a ZPU-2 Mount. Capacity seems to have been ten infantrymen. The engine front, top, and cab are all armored. A spare roadwheel is placed at the rear, one one of the two doors.
Soviet cold war related links
BMP-1 (Ob’yekt 765Sp1 which stands for spetsifikatsiya – specification), first pre-production vehicle in testings, 1964. Note the absent side skirts. It had a shorter nose section than the prototype and a larger angled plate, swim vanes modified, raised fender profile, fume extraction ports moved outwards, twin torsion bar spring for the rear roof troop hatches and moved firing ports higher up in the armour plates. This model 1966 was built until 1969.
BMP-1sp2 (NATO model 1970), standard production of a rifle motorized brigade, fall early 1970s. This was version was produced until 1973. Roomier, with an elongated nose section, raising circular telescopic snorkel, rearranged roof hatches, front left side air intake removed, NBC filter cover and new PKM port.
Soviet BMP-1 model 1973 with camouflage nest in exercises (Ob’yekt 765Sp2), fall 1970s. Assimilated as the model 1973 with the sp3 by NATO, but the first version inaugurated a whole series of novelties, from the semi-automatic 9S428 ATGM guiding system and gun stabilization, improved NBC, engine, autoloader, and improved vision devices.
Camouflaged BMP-1 model 1973 (Ob’yekt 765Sp3), in may parade colors. The sp3 introduced a new OG-15V HE-Frag round in its ammo supply and the accompanying 1PN22M2 sight, a modified traffic signal system some additional protection and the 3 autoloader removed; It was 200 kgs heavier and was known by NATO as the BMP M1976.
BMP-1M “Shkval”, the modernized version of the BMP-1M fitted with 2×3 81 mm 902V “Tucha” smoke grenade launchers at the rear of the turret. The designation was never official, only used by NATO. It was preceded by the MP-1 M1979/1 (Ob’yekt 765Sp8), sometimes designated by NATO BMP-1G, armed with a 30 mm AGS-17 “Plamya” automatic grenade launcher.
BMP-1P or M1981 (Ob’yekt 765Sp4). 9P135M launcher with semi-automatic control for SACLOS 9M113/M “Konkurs” ATGMs, or 9M111 “Fagot” and “Fagot-B”, new improved NBC lining, new automatic fire extinguishers, additional machine gun firing ports (left side of the hull, front of the turret). 9M32M “Strela-2M”/ 9M313 Igla-1 or MANPADS. Produced from 1979 to 1983.
Soviet BMP-1 with partial add-on protection in Afghanistan, 1980s. Many damaged and recovered BMP-1s were converted back as BMP-1D, th so-called “Afghan variant”; Produced from 1982 this assault version (hence the “D” for “desentnaya”) had add-on armour on the sides, armoured panels protecting the suspensions, add-on armour behind the commander and driver’s seats, additional troop’s rood hatches pistol ports and a Plamya grenade launcher.
BMP-1K (Soviet command version). (The “K” stands for komandirskaya or command). Developed in 1972 it kept its standard armament but the troop compartment houses field tables and map boards and seating for three officers. Additional antenna, R-123M and R-111 radios, GPK-69 navigation system. Firing ports welded shut. Optional GLONASS navigation system. (NATO designation M1974). Three known sub variants K1/K2/K3 Platoon/Company/Battalion with variation in radio equipments.
Soviet BMP-1KSh (“KSh”stands for komandno-shtabnaya – command and staff) (NATO M1978), motorized rifle/tank regiment. It was given a TNA-3 gyroscopic navigation, 2 R-111, 1 R-123MT,1 R-130M radios, field telegraph/telephone. Armament replaced by the AMU “Hawkeye” telescopic mast and its right rear hull tubular case (10 m when up) plus fixed turret. There was also an AB-1P/30 1 kW box-shaped portable petrol-electric generator (center rear hull roof replacinf the outer hatches) plus four whip antennas. 13 tonnes, crew of 3 + 4 operators armed with a single 7.62 mm PKT.Pproduction start in 1976, in action in Afghanistan and Chechnya.
BRM-1 (Ob’yekt 676) reconnaissance variant (1972)(NATO BMP-R/BMP M1976/1). It was equipped with an extensive electronic reconnaissance equipment. Conversion performed at the Chelyabinsk Tractor Works (ChTZ) fall-1960s to early 1970s and continued by the Kurgan Engineering Works (KMZ). Extra-wide, low-profile, two-man turret moved to the rear of the hull generally withou the ATGM launcher, two small roof hatches, PSNR-5K (1RL-133-1) “Tall Mike” telescopic ground surveillance radar (housed in the turret’s rear), 1D8 laser rangefinder, TNA-1/3 gyroscopic navigation systems (with coordinates recorder) plus additional R-123M, R-130M, R-148 and R-014D radios (range up to 50 km to 300 km with the radio mast). The radar, had two modes, terrain survey and target tracking, and can detect vehicles up to 7000m or personnel up to 2000m around. A doppler radar for range calculations was installed from 1993 onwards. Tactically, one was assigned pere recce company. Some had in addition 2×3 81 mm 902V “Tucha” smoke grenade launchers.
Soviet PRP-3 “Val” (NATO M1975) artillery reconnaissance vehicle. Also known as the (Ob’yekt 767 1ZhZ) (PRP stands for podvizhnoy razvedyvatel’niy punkt or mobile reconnaissance post) and sometimes BMP-SON.. Production started in 1972 (Kurgan Engineering Works) and 1979 (Rubtsovsk Engineering Works) and it received two R-123M or R-108 radios, optical devices for artillery/guided missile target indication, adjustment and target locating. Just one PKT machine gun was ball-mounted in front of the large flat two-man turret which cover the first rear hatches. This turret had two forward-opening hatches with periscopes for observation and optics. The right hand side of the turret was given a huttered optic. 1RL126 “Small Fred” counterbattery and surveillance radar was mounted in a circular hatch cover located rear left of the turret. It operated in the J-band with a 20 km detections range, 7 km tracking range. This equipment was completed by 1V44/1G13M/1G25-1 navigational systems, 1D6/D6M1 laser rangefinder, 10P79 vision device, 1PN29 night vision device and 90 mm 2P130-1 launcher (20 9M41 illumination missiles). The crew of 5 manned the vehicle, affected to artillery/guided missile battalions and the target acquisition battery of an artillery regiment.
Russian PRP-4 “Nard” (Ob’yekt 779, 1V121). Modernized version of the latter, which entered service in the 1980s. Equipment comprised the 1A30M and two R-173 radios, 1G25-1/1G13/KP-4 navigational system, 1D11M-1 active pulsed laser range finder, 1PN59 thermal vision, 1PN61 active pulsed night vision. The radar was also upgraded, to an 1RL-133-1 “Tall Mike” retractable battlefield surveillance radar. Optical devices located either side sof the turret received protected mountings. In addition new electronic data processor and ann auxiliary power supply were mounted. It was produced by the Rubtsovsk Engineering Works. Later on which procuded the PRP-4M “Deyteriy” (1988) which was given a 1PN71 thermal IR vision device (3,000 m range), 1D14 periscopic laser rangefinder, 1D13 portable laser reconnaissance device and a turret antenna mounted behind the radar hatch. The PRP-4M “Deyteriy” was also sometimes given a fake gun mantlet and offset gun barrel to look like a BMP-2. The latest upgrade was the PRP-4MU which had an 1RL-133-3 retractable battlefield surveillance radar (12,000 m range), 1D14 periscopic laser rangefinder (10,000 m range) and T-235-1U data transmetter. This upgrade started in the late 1980s and the vehicle is used at regimental level.
Czech BVP-1 (licence-built) VOP 026 Excaliburarmy.
East-German BMP-1 – 1,133 were ordered in 1974 and delivered between 1974 and 1982 (some Czechoslovakian-built)
Polish BMP-1, 1970s
Syrian BMP-1 captured in 1973 and now displayed at the Latrun museum
Iraqi BMP-1 in the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s.
Iraqi BMP-1 of the Mechanized Regiment, 6th Armoured Brigade, 3th Armoured Division “Saladin”, Kuwait 1991.
Ukrainian BMP-1, 1990s.
Georgian BMP-1, 2000s. These have seen extensive action against muslim guerilla fighters until recently.
Iranian BMP-1. A local version is produced since, the Boragh, which came in multiple confirgurations.
Iraqi’s Republican Guards BMP-1 in 1991.
Egyptian BMP-1 of the 4th armoured division, Sinai front, Yom Kippur war 1973.
Kazakhstan modified BMP-1 fitted with a 2B9M Vasilyok 82 mortar.
Syrian BMP-1 recently photographed, 2014, Syrian civil war.
BMP-1 Azerbaidjan Army – camouflaged inspired by the BMP-2 in Azeri service.
BMP-1, Morocco ground forces.
Indian BMP-1. From 350 to 700 has been ordered in 1982, delivered until 1989, while some 100 to 450 were produced and currently less than 700 are in active service or reserve. Since replaced by the BMP-2 “Sarath” locally produced under licence.
Lybian BMP-1. Many were captured by the Saharan insurgents and later passed onto the US Forces for analysis.
Greek BMP-1. These were former vehicles from West Germany, reconditioned to NATO standard.
Greek BMP-1/Zsu-23-2 SPAAGs. Conversions started in 2014 and are ongoing.
Type 86 IFV, a Chinese reversed engineered version of the BMP-1. First tests in 1986, production started in 1987. About 1,000 to 3,000 (based on the same chassis) produced, it entered service in 1992 and has been largely exported since.
Finnish BMP-1FI, a local variant of the BMP-1P.
BMP-2, as of 1980
BMP-2, 1982 Moscow parade
BMP-2 in Afghanistan, early 1980s
Russian BMP-2a in South Ossetia, 2008
Ukrainian BMP-2a as of 2014, Donetsk
BMP-2 in Ukrainian service – Stepan Bandera, Donetsk 2014
BMP-2 Est Germany, winter 1988 guards regiment
BMP-2 of the Kuwaiti Army
East German BMP-2, Motorschtz. regiment 29, Rud. Ren. 9th PZD, 1988
Russian BMP-2, 1994
Indian BMP-2 Sarath
Ukrainian BMP-2 in 2014
Camouflaged BMP-3, 2 tone camouflage
BMP-3 KFOR, ex-Yugoslavia, 1995
Russian camouflaged BMP-3
UAE BMP-3 ERA
South Korean BMP-3
9P157-2 “Khrizantema-S version.
BMP-3F Marinir (Indonesian Marines)
BMD-1, early production, 1969. The first were built with a magnesium alloy hull, quickly replaced by aluminium for production as it was shown that the latter was prone to burn furiously.
BMD-1 of the VDV in the 1970s. In addition to the main gun, bow machine guns and ATGMs, this IFV had three firing ports, from which can be fired RPG-7 or 16, RPKS light MGs and five AKMS assault rifles.
BMD-1 being prepared for a pallet jump from a Ll-76.
Camouflaged BMD-1 of an unknown VDV, 1980s.
Late type BMD-1M in parade colors
Camouflaged modern BMD-1P, 1980s
Modernized BMD-1P with a pintle-mounted 9M111 “Fagot” ATGM (NATO AT-4 Spigot)
Russian BMD-1M of the KFOR in Kosovo, 1999.
Iraqi BMD-1M, 1990. Only ten were acquired but apparently the suvivors of both 1990 and 2003 wars were scrapped.
Ukrainian BMD-1M as of today (around 60 in service). Notice the digital camouflage.
Azerbaidjani BMD-1 with a grey-based 3-tone camo (around 41 in service).
Indian BMD-1M, pending modernization (around 600 in service).
Belarus army BMD-1M with one-man 2A42 Cobra turret as of 2014
Barebone BMD-2 early production, note the BMD-1 roadwheels
Early BMD-2 of the VDV in 1990
Camouflaged BMD-2 of the VDV, 1994
BMD-2 in Bosnia with IFOR, winter 1993-94
Unidentified camouflaged BMD-2 of the VDV
BMD-2 in tests
BMD-2 of the Ukrainian Army during a 2014 parade in Kiev. Note the “digital” pattern camouflage
Ukrainian BMD-2 during the Ukrainian crisis, 2018
Standard ASU-57, as delivered. Only the rear is covered by a tarpaulin.
Another ASU-57, unknown parachute unit.
ASU-57, unknown parachute unit, 1960s.
ASU-57 now kept at the Parachute infantry museum in Ryazan.
ASU-57 in sand olive livery for operation in Ukraine, summer.
Egyptian ASU-57, war of 1967.
ASU-85 of unknown Soviet VDV unit.
ASU-85 of unknown Soviet VDV unit.
ASU-85 of unknown Soviet VDV unit.
ASU-85M Polish 6th Air Assault Division.
Standard Soviet Army BTR-152 of the early open-top model, Eastern Germany 1950.
BTR-152 K, 1955.
BTR-152 V1 from an Egyptian infantry division, 1967 war.
BTR-152 V, two tone camouflage, Soviet unit, 1960s.
Modified Irakian BTR-152 K Iran-Irak war 1986 with a 12.7 mm DShK 1938/46.
Standard Soviet Army BTR-A SPAAG, with a twin mount ZPU-2.
BTR-152 V1, North Vietnamese Army, Ho Chi Minh trail, 1969
BTR-152 E, Lebanese Christian Militias, Beyrouth, 1985.
BTR-40, early production, 1950.
BTR-40, invasion of Hungary 1956.
East German BTR-40.
BTR-40A, the SPAAG version with a twin ZPTU 14.5 mm autocannon.
Polish BTR-40AZhD, winter exercizes, 1959.
BTR-40v, equipped with the pressure regulation system, here in a camouflaged livery, 1960.
BTR-40B, the topped NBC version, 1957.
Camouflaged BTR-40, 1970s.
Surplus BTR-40 used for training, 1980s.
Egyptian BTR-40, war of 1967.
Israeli BTR-40, 1970s.
Soviet BTR-50P, the first version, with an open air compartment for the troops (1954).
East German BTR-50PK, the standard enclosed version (1958).
Hungarian BTR-50PU (1959), the second command version.
Soviet marines BTR-50PK in the 1970s.
Czech TOPAS-62 in the 1960s
Iraqi BTR-50PK, Iran-Iraq war of 1985-87.
Egyptian BTR-50PK, war of 1967.
Indonesian Marines BTR-50PK, with some modifications like the smoke dischargers.
Soviet UT-67 rocket-assisted mine-clearing vehicle.
Cuban or Nicaraguaian? BTR-50PK modified with a ball-mounted and two pintle-mounted LMGs.
Early production BTR-60P of an unidentified rifle battalion with canvas, 1961-64.
BTR-60P of a Marines rifle batallion, 1970.
BTR-60PA, may 1969 victory parade, Moskow. Notice the armament of one DSHK HMG and two pintle-mount PKT MGs.
BTR-60PB soviet army guards unit, 1970.
East German SPW-60PB, 1970s.
Syrian BTR-60PB, 1980s.
NVA army, 1972 offensive on Saigon.
Camouflaged BTR-60PB of late production, 1970s
Somali BTR-60PB, 1990s.
Finnish BTR-60 PB
BTR-60 of the Afghan-Northern Alliance with its specific, rare camouflage.
UN peace keeping forces BTR-60PB in Sierra Leone, 2002.
Algerian Forces BTR-60PB
Mexican Marines specialized vehicle
Libyan BTR-60, as of 2011.
Egyptian BTR-60 in 1973, now displayed at Yad-La-Shiron Museum.
Iranian AA conversion of the BTR-60
Bangladeshi Army BTR-60PB
BTR-60PU-12 Air defence HQ vehicle
Early production BTR-70, first batch, in May 1981 Moskow parade.
Early BTR-70 obr.84 of the rifle motorized regiment in Afghanistan, 1980-89
BTR-70 Obr. 86 in operations, late 1980s
East German SPZ-70, 24th Mot. Schützenregiment “John Scheer”, 4th Mot. Division, Erfurt 1985.
Early BTR-70 in peacekeeping operations, 1990s
Mid-production type in Afghanistan, 1980-89.
Late type, unkown soviet unit, fall 1980s.
Late type, camouflaged, unknown mot. rifle regiment unit.
East German SPZ-70, late 1980s
Mid-production type, Ukrainian peackeeping forces in the Balkans, Sarajevo 1995.
Late type, Ukrainian VDV 240 special batallion in peacekeeping operations, Balkans 1995-97.
Romanian TAB-77 in Afghanistan, 2007.
BTR-70D-1 Cobra K, modernized version in Russian service, 1990s.
BTR-80, early production, in the Moscow May 1987 parade.
Russian BTR-80, early type
BTR-80 in Afghanistan, 1988-1989
BTR-80 in Afghanistan
Ukrainian BTR-80 in Novorussia, Crimean conflict 2014
BTR-80, Naval Infantry
BTR-80, Naval Infantry
BTR-80, IFOR batallion, Balkans
Russian Bataillon KFOR
BTR-80 of the Ukrainian army in Iraq, Al Kut to As Suwayrah patrol area, Operation IRAQI FREEDOM
BTR-80 of the Ukrainian Marines
BTR-80A, Hungarian KFOR Batallion, Bosnia
Russian BTR-80A as of today
BREM-K armoured recovery vehicle
BMM-80 “Simfoniya” armoured ambulance
RKhM-4-01 advanced NBC reconnaissance vehicle
BRDM Obr.1957 or BTR-40P. This vehicle had an open roof.
BRDM Obr.1958 in parade livery. Enclosed roof but still unarmed.
BRDM Obr.1959, the standard production version.
BRDM Obr.1960 of the Marines. Secondary pintle-mounted SMGB medium MGs
Mid-production in the 1960s, armed with a 12.7 mm DShK
Camouflaged BRDM-1 in the 1970s
BRDM-1U (Command Car) in the 1970s
2P27 Tank Destroyer (1958) armed with AT-1 Snapper ATGMs
9P110 Tank Destroyer (1963) armed with the Malyutka (AT-3 Sagger)
Polish BRDM-1 in winter paint.
East German SPW-40P.
Egyptian BRDM-1, 12th Intantry Brigade, 6th Armoured Regiment, 288th Arm. Batll. 2nd Co. in 1973.
Libyan BRDM-1 in the 1990s.
Indonesian Marines BRDM-1.
BRDM-2 of the first serie in a red square parade, 1960s
Schutzenpanzerwagen 40P2 (BRDM-2 with the East German Army), 1960s
Egyptian BRDM-2, 1967 six-days war.
Bulgarian BRDM-2 in a modern-days joint US amphibious exercise red cloud, Aegean Islands
Ukrainian BRDM-2 KFOR
Peruvian late production BRDM-2
Late BRDM-2 SFOR
Late Russian BRDM-2
Late BRDM-2, Soviet Navy
BRDM-2 9p133 Malyutka tank hunter version in Soviet Service
Syrian 9p133 tank hunter, 2015-2016 Civil war
Late production Syrian BRDM-2
Polish Szlazak as of today.
Afghan modified BRDM-2 with an aircraft-type rocket launcher mounted top of the turret
BRDM-2 of the Syrian Police, nowadays
Croat 9P31 Strela-1 (SA-9 Gaskin) SAM carrier
Soviet 9P148 ATGM tank hunter
Romanian 9P148 Konkurs
BRDM-2 of the Bosnian Militias
Ukrainian modernized BRDM-2.
BRDM-2 in civilian service
Zenitnaya Samokhodnaya Ustanovka 57-2 in red square may parade colours and markings, 1960s
Camouflaged ZSU-57-2, 1970s. The turret rear basket was not intended to be used as storage, and was usually left empty to collect spent rounds.
Polish ZSU-57-2, 1960s
Another Polish ZSU-57-2, late 1970s
North Vietnamese ZSU-57-2. About 500 were deployed, and it was quickly discovered like the Duster, that it was just as effective in providing fire support for infantry attacks.
Syrian ZSU-57-2 in 1973
Egyptian ZSU-57-2 in 1973, Naqayeb, Debabh Air Defence Company.
Croatian ZSU-57-2, now preserved
Serbian ZSU-57-2 in the 1990s. These were modified with extra storage acting as armour and fitted with a hard top made of armour plates.
Finnish ItPsv SU-57. Some were given an additional front machine gun.
Soviet ZSU-57-2 with a canvas above the turret
Soviet 2S7 in parade colors, late 1970s.
Kazakh 2S7 as of today.
Russian 2S7 in the 1990s.
PT-76 model 1951, soviet naval infantry, in amphibious configuration, 1955.
East German PT-76 model 1951, early 1960s
Finnish PT-76B, 1960s.
North Vietnamese PT-76A, battle of Ben Het 1969.
PT-71 PTRS 9M14 testing the Malyutka wire-guided missile system, 1970s.
Polish Naval infantry PT-76B, 1980s.
Indian PT-76B, Indo-Pakistani war of 1965, as displayed in Barhat war museum.
Egyptian PT-76B, war of 1967.
Syrian PT-76B of a reco unit, Golan heights, Yom Kippour 1973
A Syrian or possibly Egyptian PT-76B on display at Yad-La-Shiron museum, with the elevated trim vane.
IDF PT-76B, fall 1970s.
PT-76B from a Soviet naval infantry brigade, Yemen 1980.
Cuban PT-76B, Angola, 1980s.
Indonesian marine\’s PT-76B, 1990s
Iraqi PT-76 B in 1990.
Late PT-76B, Soviet Marines, 1990s
PT-76B Russian naval infantry, Baltic fleet 1990.
PT-76B, Russian naval infantry, Baltic fleet 1992.
Basic 2K12 Kub
2K12 of a red guard unit in the 1970s
Egyptian 2K12 during the Yom Kippur war, 1973. Others were painted with the usual light olive and brown stripes over sand beige
Libyan 2K12 during the UN intervention. In March 2011, Gaddafi’s forces did not managed to shoot down a single NATO plane.
Ukrainian Kub with digital paint as of 2018
Cold War Tanks
Soviet T-62 Tank – Tank Encyclopedia Support Shirt
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