T-72 Main Battle Tank - Technical Characteristics

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Crew:  3
Length: 274 in. hull, 363.7 in. gun forward
Height:   93.3 in.
Width:   141 in. w/o skirts, 187 in. w/skirts
Weight: 41 tons
Engine:  V-12 Diesel
Transmission:  Syncromesh, 7 forward and 1 reverse
Steering:  Clutch and brake
Suspension:  Torsion Bar
Smoke System:  12 x grenade launchers and exhaust system
Fuel:  264 internal, 105 external
NBC System: Yes
Armor:  Cast turret 11 in thick, Laminated glacis 8 in thick.  Some vehicles  are fitted with reactive armor.


Weapons an Fire Control

Main Gun: 125mm 2A46 Smoothbore Gun/Missile launcher
Coax:  1 x 7.62mm
Anti-Air: 1 x 12.7mm
Missile:  AT-8 Songster
Ammo Load: 39 x 125mm, 3000 x 7.62, 500 x 12.7mm
Ammo Types: HE-Frag, HEAT, 2 types of APFSDS-T
Muzzle Velocity:  5900 fps/APFSDS-T
Max Range:
Stabilization: Yes
Turret Power:  Electrical/Manual
Gun Elevation/Depression:  +18/-5
Autoloader:  Yes
Range Finder:  Stadia, later variants may have a laser.
Night Vision: Passive IR w/searchlight



Max Speed:  47 mph
Horsepower: 780
HP per Ton: 19 
Grade (Ascend):  60%
Vertical Obstacle:  33.5 in.
Ditch:  106 in.
Ground Clearance: 18.5 in
Fording: 55 in., 216 in. w/kit 
Range:  298 mi., 434 mi. w/long range tanks

The T-72 entered production in 1971 and was fully operational by 1973.  The tank was first seen publicly in a parade in Moscow in 1977.  


The T-72 follows the same basic design of other Soviet tanks, driver in the center front, rounded 2 man turret with the TC on the right and the Gunner on the left, and the engine compartment in the rear.  The glacis is well sloped, traversely ribbed with a deep V shaped splash guard.  Under the nose of the tank is a dozer blade that can be brought into play in 1 to 2 minutes allowing the tank to dig it's own fighting position.  Like other Soviet tanks it can be fitted with mine clearing equipment.  

The driver is provided with a single piece hatch that opens to the right and is fitted with a single vision block.  Fuel cells extend along the right side of the hull top and on the left hull top are storage boxes.  A unditching beam and two fuel drums are carried on the rear of the tank.  They can be jettisoned of necessary.

The suspension consists of 6 road wheels with the idler in front, sprocket in rear, and 3 return rollers. Track is of the single pin type with rubber bushings.  4 spring loaded skirts over the front part of the track are released in action.  They pop forward at a angle to provide some additional protection against HEAT warheads.


The TC's hatch is on the right side of the turret.  He has a rotating cupola with a hatch that opens forward and 2 rear facing vision blocks.  In the forward part of the cupola is a combined day/night sight and a infra-red searchlight.  To either side of the day/night sight is another vision block.  The optical stadia rangefinder is in front of and slightly below the cupola.  Two steel storage boxes are mounted on the turret, one on the rear and the other slightly behind the TC's position.  The snorkel is carried on the left rear of the turret. The fording kit can be erected in 20 minutes and removed in 2 minutes using explosive bolts.    

The Gunner's hatch opens forward and has attachments for mounting a snorkel for deep water fording and 2 observation periscopes.  In front of and to the left is the gunners panoramic day/night sight which is used on conjunction with the IR searchlight mounted to the left of and in front of the sight.  Forward and below the gunners hatch is a laser range finder.  

The main gun is a 125mm (2A46) smoothbore fitted with a bore evacuator and a thermal shroud. This is the same gun as the newer T-80.  It is capable of firing HEAT, HE-Frag, and APFSDS-T. Basic load of 39 rounds is broken down into 12 APFSDS-T, 21 HE-Frag and 6 HEAT.  Ammo is of the separate loading type with a combustible cartridge.  The carousel automatic loader is mounted on the turret floor and the rear wall of the turret.  The projectile is loaded into the lower part of the carousel and the propellant cartridge into the upper part.  It carries 24 rounds and enables a 8 rds/min rate of fire but is not very reliable.  There have been reports of the autoloader having a tendency to try to load the gunners right arm in addition to the round.  Also the since the ammo is stored in the crew compartment any penetrating hit results in the tank becoming a inferno and generally resulting in the turret being blown off.  Additional rounds are stored in racks behind the turret basket and in indentations on the rear floor fuel cell and in front to the right of the driver.  Secondary armament is a 7.62mm PKT machine gun mounted coaxially to the right of the main gun with 250 rounds of ready ammo.  A 12.7mm NSVT machine gun is mounted on the TC's cupola, it cannot be fired with the hatch closed.

The T-72 is considered to be on par with the U.S. M60A3 and inferior to the M1 series.



There have been many different versions of the T-72 itself such as the basic, Dolly Parton with enhanced armor and the export version.  Only a few major variants are listed here.

This is a armored recovery and repair vehicle based on the T-72 chassis.  The crane can lift 13 tons and the main winch has a pull capacity of up to 110 tons.  It has a hydraulically operated dozer blade and a complete range of tools.

This is a combat engineer vehicle based on the T-72 chassis.  It has a dozer blade that can be used in straight or V configuration.  The crane can be fitted with a number of attachments including pincers used to uproot trees.

T-72s built for export have a slightly different fire control system and auto loader.  Also they do not have the lead anti-radiation liner common to Soviet tanks.