Inside the Tanks: The T-72 – AU Armour & Artillery Museum

Inside the Tanks: The T-72 –  AU Armour & Artillery Museum


Wargaming Asia Presents Get Inside the Tanks with Richard ‘the Challenger’ Cutland The Australian Armour & Artillery Museum Hello and welcome to this very special episode of Inside The Tanks. We’ve been fortunate enough to be invited to the Australian… …Armour and Artillery Museum, here in Cairns, Australia. So join me today; we are going to have a closer look later on at the T-72… …but before we do that let’s have a quick whistle stop tour… …around this fabulous museum. The T-72 But what we have really come forward to have a look at today is… …this little beauty, the T-72. This second generation main battle tank was produced in massive quantities… …over 25,000 units, making it the most produced Soviet MBT… …other than the T-54/55 of course. The reason for the production of this… …was to replace the ageing and expensive T-64 Alpha. Compared to the T-64 Alpha cost-wise, this turned out to be a 40% less… …making it absolutely fantastic. Outside The Tank Let’s take each part of the T-72, and look at it more in detail. First, we’re going to start with the front… …you can see the T-72, very distinctive by the V-shape glacis plate… …that you’ve got on the sloped frontal armour there. Also on the front you can see very clearly… …that we’ve got a steel toe-rope and also 2 towing hooks… …left and right at the front of the vehicle. If we look at the driving lights of the T-72… …what you have across the right hand side is a very normal driving light. But, of course, on this side you also have an IR driving light. You can see, we sweep up to the back… …past the V-shape glacis plate that we’ve got there… …and located smack dab centrally is the driver’s position… …where the driver actually sits. And again we will have a look at that more in detail later on. Just at the side there, you can see the driver’s hatch… …in the open position at the moment. We are having a look at one of the sides of the T-72. The only difference between the two sides really is… …that this particular one is mostly consisted of the storage compartment. On the other side, which you’ll have a look at later on… …is where we actually have the fuel compartment, all the way down that side. Dealing with this side, you can see we got the storage compartment… …storage compartment, storage compartment down there… …and we will have a look down there at the moment. Rubber side skirts fitted on this particular model… …and, of course, as far as suspension is concerned… …we’ve got very standard Soviet style suspension. The rubber track and also steel, of course… …with 96 links on either side and the 6 evenly spaced road wheels. When we look at these storage compartments in more detail… …if we have a look and actually open one of these… …you can see their absolutely boned design… …we’ve got 7 clips on them, which makes it incredibly hard to open. If you notice this one when you open it anyway, you can’t open it fully… …because it stops from opening by the snorkel tube… …and the container for the snorkel tube… …and inside there, all we would find mostly is… …the driver’s tools and tools for maintenance. Moving further down on the back… …the final thing we are really going to deal with is obviously the exhaust. You can see there the heat shield above the exhaust. We’ve now jumped up onto the back of the T-72. You can see straight away that it’s not a big vehicle… …and you can see we’ve got actually a very small turret on there. In fact, the whole height of the T-72 was only 2.23 metres. Again making a very good low silhouette to other enemy vehicles. Some of the things on the back of the turret… …that you can see quite clearly, there we’ve got a convoy light. A convoy light, if you didn’t know… …was all it was used for, as the name suggests… …that another vehicle travelling behind at night… …which means there’s no light on at all. All they can see from the vehicle in front is… …that very small orange or red light for them to follow. Moving back, we’ve got another storage bin here. This particular one was used for ammunition… …both main arm ammunition, and small arms ammunition. In fact, if we open it up, we can see inside… …we’ve got two drums for small arms ammunition… …located inside there at the moment. Moving further down to the back deck you can see… …as far as most main battle tanks are concerned… …it is a very small configuration here, on the back decks. At the moment, I’m just standing on the transmission… …and the engine compartment, and just to my left there… …you’ve got the air intakes as well. The final thing I’ll be talking about is the back of this vehicle. You can just see there we spoke about the storage compartment… …on one side of the T-72, on the other side… …running all the way down there, you can see we have the fuel tanks. Looking in a bit more detail at the turret of the T-72. First of all, across the left hand side of the turret there… …we can see we’ve got the first of our two banks… …of multi-barreled smoke grenade discharges. If we work across, we can see very clearly that we have the gunner’s hatch. Directly in front of the gunner’s hatch… …you can see very small episcope for the gunners to see through… …not a great vision through there. But what it has got is its primary sight… …on the main side, directly in front… …you can see that’s covered by an armoured cover there. Moving away across the left… …a very distinctive Soviet type design, we have the commander’s hatch. And working our way back down, we can see a huge monstrosity… …connected to the main armour was the IR light. Just to the left of that, the final of our two batches… …of multi-barreled smoke grenade discharges. Let’s have a look then in more detail… …at the main armament on the T-72. The T-72 was equipped with a 125mm smooth bore gun. Smooth bore versus rifled barrel… …you could debate that question, of course, until the cows come home. But being a Brit tanky, of course, I will always opt for the rifled version. As far as the thermal sleeve is concerned… …you can see that it’s got a harder thermal sleeve… …as opposed to most of the British MBTs… …that we’ve got the soft or padded thermal sleeve. Also, if you were to look 3/4 of the way down the barrel… …you could see that we’ve got… …a very standard fume extractor configuration on there. The gun fires armour piercing fin stabilized discarding sabot, HEAT… …and the OF26-ATFT rounds… …with a rate of fire between 6 and 8 rounds a minute. Obviously, the big thing about the T-72… …is the auto-loading system, which necessitate the need for… …3 members as opposed to 4 members of the crew. 22 rounds kept in the carousel, in the fighting compartment… …we’ll see that in more detail when we jump inside. And another 17 rounds located in the storage compartments… …around the turret as well… …with a couple of rounds located on the exterior of the vehicle. Inside The Tank We’ve now jumped inside the fighting compartment of the T-72. The first thing you can see there is no room whatsoever in here… …and it is a pretty cramped turret. But, of course, because of that, only a 2 man crew fits in here. The position I’m in at the moment is that of the commander. Some of the controls you can see for the commander up there. Straight ahead in front of him we have his sight, primary sight. This particular one is the TKN-3 sight that he’s got on there. Also, to the left and right of that… …two very simple periscopes or episcopes. The whole of the fighting compartment… …really is taken up with the breech mechanism assembly… …which you can see quite clearly here… …and also the auto-loading system. And this is where the majority of the space… …in the T-72 fighting compartment… …actually is lost to the auto-loading system. This is all the mechanism that actually loads it, the two part ammunition. But you can see that the sheer space inside here is not much at all. It’s a very simple layout… …very functional, but it’s not particularly comfy. We’ve now crossed over, I’m now sat in the gunner’s position. Again, I don’t like to say it… …but even less room, certainly for your legs… …than there was in the commander’s position. Predominantly taken up by the whole position is… …obviously, the gunner’s primary oculus style sight… …with one very, very simple prismatic sight… …but located to the front of it. If we go beneath that, we’ve then got the controls… …for the traverse (that’s left and right)… …and also the elevation controls. And just to the left and right of those… …we’ve also got a manual elevation… …and a manual traverse hand wheel as well. To the left of those, we’ve got the gun position indicator… …and we’ve also got a very simple fan… …to try and keep you cool, obviously. Final thing really to mention while we’re in here… …obviously we talked about this auto-loading system… …you can see another view from the other side… …of the auto-loading system is the ejection opening… …which if you go up to the top there… …you can see the ejection opening on there. Alright, so, that really is the interior of the T-72. It is a very basic configuration… …the thing that strikes you most about it… …is actually the complete and utter lack of space… …or any sort of crew comfort whatsoever. We now obviously are going to look at the driver’s cabin. The seat is well padded and comfortable… …for Soviet traditions, and secured to support… …bolted directly to the hull floor below. To either side of the driver’s feet are the steering handles. The use of steering tillers is… …one of the more antiquated components… …of an otherwise fairly modern machine. To the driver’s right is his gear shift… …and components of the NBC protection system. The pedals in front of his seat include… …the normal clutch, brake and accelerator. The driver has a single vision periscope… …mounted forward of his overhead hatch. Now there is little room between… …the hatch and the centred gun tube above… …that when the turret is centred… …the driver has real problems using it. The driver’s best chance for an emergency exit… …is to move his seat back and squirm into the turret… …exiting then up and through one of the turret hatches. And that’s us finished then with our whistle stop tour of the T-72. There is no doubt, of course, that the T-72… …in its day was one of the world’s best main battle tanks. However, without modification and upgrades… …it is now really no comparison… …and no contender for anything out there on the battlefield. With its very poor integrated fire control system… …lack of ammunition, and of course… …the ability where the ammunition… …actually catches fire and causes problems inside the turret… …it really is now an obsolete vehicle.

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