Nope

Odd equilibrium: M60A3 and T-72 Ural

You may remember Bob's thread on this. The general idea was that the M60A3 was completely outclassed by the T-64A and T-72 Ural in every single way possible. However, I have researched more than in the past, and thus I can come with decent conclusions. Maybe this will help shed some light on the matter.

 

Armor:

 

Yes, there is no contest that the Ural has superior armor. It's kind of what made it so special in the first place. However, the effective armor is not that far off. The M60A3 has a 109mm thick UFP sloped back 65 degrees from vertical. That equates to around 260mm LoS, and that's obviously really damn good. The T-72 Ural has 205mm sloped back 68 degrees, making it closer to 550mm LoS. At this point it seems that the Ural is miles ahead in terms of armor effectiveness. However, this is not the case. Israeli tankers found out that their own M111 Hetz APFSDS penetrates a T-72 Ural's hull up to 650m. Thus we get around 310mm against APFSDS as M111 Hetz penetrates 330mm at muzzle. This is not really as significant now, is it?

 

For turret armor, both are pretty close. The Ural's turret is only made of cast steel, and the thickness of the cheeks is around 280mm. This is the only area in the front that can be harmed by M456 HEAT shells and the like, but the turret is pretty short. The cheeks are also pretty flat as well. This is a significant weakspot on the T-72 Ural that was later fixed in the T-72A. The M60A3 has a 130mm thick gun shield sloped back 60 degrees from vertical, though this is a bit strange if we look at the turret shape. The front is a consistent 250-260mm thick area. This is not that far off from the T-72 Ural.

 

However, there's one thing that needs to be taken into account: ammunition. The M60 fires either APDS or monobloc APFSDS. The T-72 Ural fires a steel penetrator with a tungsten slug that is significantly worse against slopes. The effective armor of the M60 may rise at this point.

 

Firepower:

 

It may seem that the T-72 Ural wins. After all, the smoothbore is a larger gun than the L7. However, believe it or not, they are even. I'm not joking, it's true except in infantry support. While the APDS means that the M60A3 loses completely, there's still one trump card: M735 APFSDS. This monobloc APFSDS is capable of penetrating around 350mm of RHA at muzzle. This means that penetrating a T-72 Ural up to 2 km is very possible. This is one excellent round that definitely evens the odds. The T-72 Ural is stuck with a few choices. 3BM-15 will barely manage to penetrate an M60A3's hull and turret at muzzle. The M60A3 might as well be a bunker at this point. What is really a game changer is the far superior 3BM-22: standard APFSDS of the 1970s that was still used in large quantities in the 80s. This is a round that can penetrate the M60A3 at around the same range. In fact, the range advantage is minuscule. That's pretty damn amazing if you ask me.

 

Against infantry however? This is where the M60 loses its touch. Sure, it may reload faster than a T-72 Ural, but it cannot take out the same fortifications a T-72 Ural can. Russia also designed their HE shells in such a way that they are full bore despite being fin-stabilized. It can be contested in terms of rate of fire, but the T-72 Ural is quite ahead in that regard.

 

Mobility:

 

The Ural isn't equipped with as good a drivetrain as the M60A3. However, the Ural is still ahead in mobility, largely due to its weight and possibly suspension. The difference on concrete is pretty small by 2 seconds off, but off-road it is no contest. The T-72 Ural is faster than the T-62 off-road, and the T-62 is faster than the M60 off-road. Gee, what could that mean? Traverse rates are possibly similar, but when we get to the turrets... Ok, Russian turrets turn horribly. The M60A3 can rotate its turret at 22.5 degrees a seconds, the T-72 Ural does so at 18.

 

Fire control system:

 

If there's any way the M60A3 wins over the T-72 Ural, it's through this. The M60A3 is equipped with very refined thermal optics, specifically the TTS variant that even surpassed the first bunch of Abrams in that regard. The real strong point is still the ballistic computer however. This really increases first hit probability by a ton, leaving the T-72 Ural in the dust. The Ural has to deal with a coincidence rangefinder and fairly standard telescopic sights until a specific modernization package. It is not that Russia was behind in terms of digitization of their tanks though. After all, the T-64B has one since 1976. The problem was that UVZ got less deals than Kharkov. That's why the first T-72 to have a ballistic computer came out in the 1980s.

 

Visibility:

 

The T-72 Ural is a smaller tank than the M60A3, so logically it should be less visible, right? It isn't especially on thermal optics:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_luNh_a_5z4

 

Don't look at the stunt, look at the smoke. Compare it to the M60:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jccUrRqBqv4

 

From the looks of it, the smoke on the T-72 Ural is darker and denser. The amount of smoke matters in terms of visibility on thermals. This is what the T-72 Ural has significant issues with despite being a smaller tank. Thermal optics are becoming some of the most used optics in tank combat, so this is a big problem here.

 

Cost:

 

Now this is a bit interesting. The average unit cost of a T-72 in general is around $1M. This is very cheap for a composite MBT, and it's no wonder that it's a popular export tank. For the price of a single Abrams, you might get 5-7 T-72s. That's an excellent deal. The M60A3 costs far less than that, at an average price of around $200k. There is no contest here, the M60A3 is cheaper.

 

Conclusion:

 

Now, doesn't that sound pretty ok a match? The T-72 Ural is closely matched to the far cheaper M60A3. This is amazing honestly. The T-72 Ural is better only in mobility compared to the M60A3. However, the M60A3 provides a better chance of first hit kills at a much cheaper price. Who would have thought that an RHA tank is not that outclassed by a composite tank after all? However, all of this changed when the T-72A came along. The T-72A is effectively immune to M735 APFSDS, and came out at roughly the same year. The T-72 Ural is an early 70s tanks and it's being compared to a late-80s tank. But on a performance basis, both are similar.

 

This has been Professor Nope on tanks. Pay your tuition fee now.

Edited by Nope
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Interesting thoughts. I feel you missed a lot of points by being a bit too specific on your criteria, such as how you compared armour, but not other aspects of a tank's survivability (silhouette/size differences, 4 man crew or autoloader, etc). But honestly I never really thought of the T-72 Ural as a superior tank to the M60A3 because you're talking about the inception of a new tank family compared to the aging, tried and tested final iteration of one. It'd be like comparing the Chieftain Mk. 2 to the Centurion Mk. 13, the Chieftain has all the modern new features but lacked the refinement to truly make it stand out above the Cent. 13.

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Interesting thoughts. I feel you missed a lot of points by being a bit too specific on your criteria, such as how you compared armour, but not other aspects of a tank's survivability (silhouette/size differences, 4 man crew or autoloader, etc). But honestly I never really thought of the T-72 Ural as a superior tank to the M60A3 because you're talking about the inception of a new tank family compared to the aging, tried and tested final iteration of one. It'd be like comparing the Chieftain Mk. 2 to the Centurion Mk. 13, the Chieftain has all the modern new features but lacked the refinement to truly make it stand out above the Cent. 13.

 

Ah, so that's what I've missed. I could add a section for visibility. That would be interesting.

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Ah, so that's what I've missed. I could add a section for visibility. That would be interesting.

I just wanted to mention, over all pretty good. Though missing a few specific values for the readers (in speed and such), but no biggie.

 

The bit about infantry support, I've read that the US armor generally uses the HE-P round to deal with soft targets. the obvious difference is the spread of the cone between a more standard HE round and a HEP round.

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The T-72A vs M60A3 TSS would be a better comparison when it comes to time period, but then it would be completely unfair.

 

Also did you mean 650m, when you said 650mm?

 

And a few points:

*You should compare CE protection, the main advantage of composite armor.

*The Russians added a 16mm steel plate on the front hull when they found out that the Hetz could penetrate it.

*The T-72 Ural had side mounted exhaust pipes, which made it easier for infantry to support the tank from behind.

*If a RPG hit the side skirt at 30 degrees on the T-72, it would be stopped. (80*2=160mm LOS, plus 510mm airspace (1100mm of air which equals to about 292mm of RHAe) This gives a effective armor of 452mm vs CE.

*And the T-72 turret has the sides sloped at such a way that the enemy needs to see it from 45 degrees to the side to not automatically bounce.

 

Hope someone could add some more info on the M60A3

 

But anyways, it was a nice comparison.

Edited by xoonZG
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The bit about infantry support, I've read that the US armor generally uses the HE-P round to deal with soft targets. the obvious difference is the spread of the cone between a more standard HE round and a HEP round.

The only HE round we had from the M-60 to the M60A3 was M393 HEP. The primary Antipersonnel round of those days was M494 APERS. It was announced as Beehive or Beehive Time in the fire command. We also carried WP (smoke). By doctrine the M456 HEAT round could be used against infantry as well, although that is a tertiary use for it. When we got the Abrams we could fire HEP and Smoke, but could not carry them due to lack of vertical ammunition storage. Above 111 degrees F HEP and Smoke explosive filler liquefy and results are 'erratic flight of round'. The bustle and hull ammo racks on the Abrams regularly see 125F+.

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So Nope, just curious, 

how would you rate the other main NATO tanks against the T-72?

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Hope someone could add some more info on the M60A3

 

 

The book that you need to really talk about Fire Control and capabilities is FM 17-12-3 Tank Gunnery for M60A3. It came out in 1980, after 17-12-1 did (Abrams). I did my initial training on M60A3s and had about 5 years as a crewman on M60, M60A1 and M60A3 before transitioning to Abrams.

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The T-72A vs M60A3 TSS would be a better comparison when it comes to time period, but then it would be completely unfair.

 

Also did you mean 650m, when you said 650mm?

 

And a few points:

*You should compare CE protection, the main advantage of composite armor.

*The Russians added a 16mm steel plate on the front hull when they found out that the Hetz could penetrate it.

*The T-72 Ural had side mounted exhaust pipes, which made it easier for infantry to support the tank from behind.

*If a RPG hit the side skirt at 30 degrees on the T-72, it would be stopped. (80*2=160mm LOS, plus 510mm airspace (1100mm of air which equals to about 292mm of RHAe) This gives a effective armor of 452mm vs CE.

*And the T-72 turret has the sides sloped at such a way that the enemy needs to see it from 45 degrees to the side to not automatically bounce.

 

Hope someone could add some more info on the M60A3

 

But anyways, it was a nice comparison.

 

Dammit, I write too much about armor that I mix m and mm. Fixed it.

 

- I don't need to mention SC protection. The M60A3 does not have any angles steep enough to cause fuse issues like the Chieftain can. It is obviously inferior in HEAT protection and the T-72 Ural is immune to the M456 series except on the turret. I already talked about this in the OP.

 

- They did that on the T-72A and on a certain modernization of the Ural. I talk about the base Ural here.

 

- I haven't thought of that honestly. Maybe I should add it.

 

- That's pretty damn conditional if you ask me.

 

- Yeah, that's the typical Russian MBT layout. The turret rear sides are cast steel, the front side is composite.

 

So Nope, just curious, 

how would you rate the other main NATO tanks against the T-72?

 

The Chieftain is possibly on the same level as the T-72A when using L23 APFSDS. Lower mobility it may have, but it has TOGS and probably a less smoky engine as well as a ballistic computer (1980). Also gives a lot of HEAT shells some fuse issues, so it's pretty good there as well. It isn't so bad. That's mostly it for competition that can directly go toe to toe with the T-72 Ural for now. Maybe the Centurion may be able to do it, but only if there's APFSDS.

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I guess depends on the crews really.

of course against export tanks with 3bm13 t 72 may be losing

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When I said at 30 degrees, I meant 30 degrees from the front.

 

This:

image006.jpgsd

 

Having this design makes it much harder to flank the tank, and on the hull it forces AT teams to attack the tank from the sides.

It also reduces weight.

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I haven't read yet, but i clarify something right away:

 

"You may remember Bob's thread on this.The general idea was that the M60A3 was completely outclassed by the T-64A and T-72 Ural"

 

i never compared the M60A3 to the T-72 or T-64A, only to the T-64B, a 1976 tank of the same-ish era than the M60A3 (1978-79).

 

Ok now i'll read all this and answer maybe :)

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I haven't read yet, but i clarify something right away:

 

"You may remember Bob's thread on this.The general idea was that the M60A3 was completely outclassed by the T-64A and T-72 Ural"

 

i never compared the M60A3 to the T-72 or T-64A, only to the T-64B, a 1976 tank of the same-ish era than the M60A3 (1978-79).

 

Ok now i'll read all this and answer maybe :)

 

Ah, you compared the T-64B. Well that would remove the FCS advantage honestly, as the T-64B also comes with a fancy ballistic computer. The effectiveness is to be debated.

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Dammit, I write too much about armor that I mix m and mm. Fixed it.

 

- I don't need to mention SC protection. The M60A3 does not have any angles steep enough to cause fuse issues like the Chieftain can. It is obviously inferior in HEAT protection and the T-72 Ural is immune to the M456 series except on the turret. I already talked about this in the OP.

 

- They did that on the T-72A and on a certain modernization of the Ural. I talk about the base Ural here.

 

- I haven't thought of that honestly. Maybe I should add it.

 

- That's pretty damn conditional if you ask me.

 

- Yeah, that's the typical Russian MBT layout. The turret rear sides are cast steel, the front side is composite.

 

 

The Chieftain is possibly on the same level as the T-72A when using L23 APFSDS. Lower mobility it may have, but it has TOGS and probably a less smoky engine as well as a ballistic computer (1980). Also gives a lot of HEAT shells some fuse issues, so it's pretty good there as well. It isn't so bad. That's mostly it for competition that can directly go toe to toe with the T-72 Ural for now. Maybe the Centurion may be able to do it, but only if there's APFSDS.

I will read but honestly Chieftain vs T72? no way even the armor and the weapon are both muh better for t72. Also chieftain's hatch mentions bad engine for the chief.

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I will read but honestly Chieftain vs T72? no way even the armor and the weapon are both muh better for t72. Also chieftain's hatch mentions bad engine for the chief.

 

Here's the fun part: The 2A46 at the time had inferior ammunition compared to the L11. It's not a question of big guns or barrel lengths, it's all about how Russian ammunition simply wasn't good. The APDS can penetrate a T-72 at longer ranges than the latter can penetrate the UFP of a Chieftain, and L23 APFSDS just seals the deal to becoming equal compared to the T-72A. Who knew that APFSDS with small penetrators in long rods leads to pretty disappointing results?

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And then of course, we have HEAT, which would melt straight through the front :P

 

The Chieftain's UFP is a 85mm plate at 72 degrees right. So around 275mm LOS, so I am pretty sure the Soviets had a HEAT rounds for the 125mm which could penetrate more than 300mm.

 

Add in the GLATGM and the Chieftain loses also, because the T-72 can fire from further away.

 

 

And a few points and comparisons:

*You said T-72A level, meaning ERA is added, making the T-72 HEAT resistant. The Chieftain by the way had a side armor of 35mm, and was defiantly not HEAT resistant.

 

*Again in side armor the T-72 wins, with 80mm, compared to the 35mm of the Chieftain.

 

*The T-72s gun has better HEAT and HE rounds, only lacking HESH.

 

*The T-72 is faster than the Chieftain, also, it is lighter and smaller.

 

*The T-72 is more reliable.

 

 

You may add your side, but the T-72 is not as shabby as most thinks.

 

But the Chieftain defiantly wins in looks.

 

 

Cheers

Xoon.

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And then of course, we have HEAT, which would melt straight through the front :P

 

The Chieftain's UFP is a 85mm plate at 72 degrees right. So around 275mm LOS, so I am pretty sure the Soviets had a HEAT rounds for the 125mm which could penetrate more than 300mm.

 

Add in the GLATGM and the Chieftain loses also, because the T-72 can fire from further away.

 

 

And a few points and comparisons:

*You said T-72A level, meaning ERA is added, making the T-72 HEAT resistant. The Chieftain by the way had a side armor of 35mm, and was defiantly not HEAT resistant.

 

*Again in side armor the T-72 wins, with 80mm, compared to the 35mm of the Chieftain.

 

*The T-72s gun has better HEAT and HE rounds, only lacking HESH.

 

*The T-72 is faster than the Chieftain, also, it is lighter and smaller.

 

*The T-72 is more reliable.

 

 

You may add your side, but the T-72 is not as shabby as most thinks.

 

But the Chieftain defiantly wins in looks.

 

 

Cheers

Xoon.

 

70 degrees is really an odd point for HEAT shells at the time. Hitting that angle means no fusing. The Chieftain also has the advantage in FCS.

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70 degrees is really an odd point for HEAT shells at the time. Hitting that angle means no fusing. The Chieftain also has the advantage in FCS.

Its at 75 degrees, and if it does not work, then shoot it in the turret.

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I'd like to see more accurate, contemporaneous unit costs when they were new (if such a thing is possible- the T-72 Ural was out of production when M60A3 entered production).

 

I'm guessing your value for the M60A3 is pulled from a 1993 sale of heavily used (16 / 20 yrs. expected service life) vehicles in Korea (priced @ ~$212 000/ea.)? Better condition vehicles in the US (8 / 20 yrs.) had a suggested price of ~$775 000 in the same report. Price when new is listed as $1 291 000, but I don't know if that's 1978 or 1993 dollars.

 

For reference, the T-64A cost 143 000 rubles, or ~ 190 000 USD when new in 1973 (ref: T-64: The Cold War's Most Secret Tank). Even if you adjust that for inflation to 1978, that's still only equivalent to $275 000 - $300 000. Assuming the new M60A3 cost is in 1993 dollars, a more accurate comparison would be a unit cost of $582 000 vs. whatever you find to be the 1978 cost of a new T-72.

 

More accurate price figures for the T-72 and M60A3 are needed if you're going to include that as a criteria in any case. "$200 000" vs. "$1 000 000" doesn't even even seem to be in the right ball park for vehicles in comparable condition.

Edited by vonluckner
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Here's the fun part: The 2A46 at the time had inferior ammunition compared to the L11. It's not a question of big guns or barrel lengths, it's all about how Russian ammunition simply wasn't good. The APDS can penetrate a T-72 at longer ranges than the latter can penetrate the UFP of a Chieftain, and L23 APFSDS just seals the deal to becoming equal compared to the T-72A. Who knew that APFSDS with small penetrators in long rods leads to pretty disappointing results?

 

Yes and no, as i said you in PM, i will now post all we said there when i couldn't post on the forum, now i can.

 

And then again your completely forget HEAT rounds for T-72 that make L11 APDS and early APFSDS look silly.

 

Even earliest full steel 3BM9 1800m/s 125mm APFSDS has good chances to penetrate the chieftain at 2km.

 

But more details in my following posts (for other readers)

 

 

 

 

And then of course, we have HEAT, which would melt straight through the front :P

 

The Chieftain's UFP is a 85mm plate at 72 degrees right. So around 275mm LOS, so I am pretty sure the Soviets had a HEAT rounds for the 125mm which could penetrate more than 300mm.

 

Add in the GLATGM and the Chieftain loses also, because the T-72 can fire from further away.

 

Xoon.

 

You can't compare T-72B with tanks of 1960 and 1970s, the ATGM is totally irelevant here, and the T-64B had it a decade before.

 

The comparison shall stick to what Nope said: basic T-72 vs M60A3 or chieftain if we want to go a bit off topic.

 

You bet that 125mm had more than 400mm of pen, it's pretty obvious. Look my comment below for models. (PM with nope when i was temporarily banned).

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As I said, here is my reply to this thread (1 week old PM discussion)

 

________________

Ok few things....

First i find it weird to compare a base model T-72 with a 1979 M60A3 that has all the modernisation and latest electronic to it, that's why i compared it with T-64B. And the T-64B was a much more likely adversary than T-72, for US forces in europe.

But whatever, T-72 it is. So the T-72 basically has every thing "FCS related" taken from the T-64A. Well except a few things different, arranged differently, or just made differently by UVZ, notably the commander sight or gunner night sight (i think, not sure), and of course the gunner's autoloader console interface that's adapted to the very different autoloader of the T-72 compared to the T-64A. Gunner sight reticule and various detail might also be different from T-64A, as well as the zoom (probably inferior and cheaper).

When you know this, suddenly the claim about T-72 cheap monkey tank and T-64 elite tank makes no sense anymore, because for all intents and purposes, T-64A and T-72/72A have almost the same capabilities.

The T-72 however has a full steel turret, despite having the same composite glacis as the T-64A. Max thickness is not 280mm as you said, it's false. Max thickness is around 350-380mm on the turret "bulges" and that's only if you mesure it perpendicular, pure real thickness. From the face it's equivalent to 450-500mm RHA with angles. So suddenly, it's much stronger than you said. The area around the gun however, yes, it's weak at 300-250mm or so, but good luck hitting that area that's less than 30% of the frontal turret aspect. By the way T-64A has the same weakness and so do T-80 for the most part. I don't know specifically what's the armor around the gun for all T-72, T-64 and T-80 variants, but i read some 400mm for T-80U i think.

"However, this is not the case. Israeli tankers found out that their own M111 Hetz APFSDS penetrates a T-72 Ural's hull up to 650m. Thus we get around 310mm against APFSDS as M111 Hetz penetrates 330mm at muzzle. This is not really as significant now, is it?"

Israelis never got to approach a T-72. It has been debunked again and again. (recently again in a topic on tanknet). They killed some with TOW (I-TOW) in an ambush, that's it. Where are the captured T-72s, nowhere, cause there aren't. You'd see them in the famous israel tank museum otherwise.

T-64A/T-72's 80+105+20mm base armor at 68° gives 547mm LOS. Of that, you have only 100mm of laminate steel, and it's commonly accepted to cut by two the "fiberglass" thing to have its effectiveness against KE. So, 105/2=52.5. That means vs APFSDS/APDS the real glacis is 152.5. At 68°, it's about 407mm LOS and about same equivalent vs KE. Not bad. Now maybe the M111 APFSDS reduces that but we can definitely be certain that not a single L7 APDS and early APFSDS can go through it (M735). I'd say even the chiefain APDS will have big problems even at 100m. It penetrates 150-160mm at 60° point blank, and here we're talking about some 150mm at 68°. Past 60°, each ° more is significantly improving the richochet chance, past 70° it's silly so much it's good.

That's not even talking of improved glacis with aplique, or anything else.

So what you said suddenly falls apart, the M60A3 with M735 (which by the way is not a monobloc tungsten alloy but a cheap steel with tungsten core like the soviet ammo) cannot penetrate the T-72 at all, except around the gun. The HEAT and APDS can also penetrate that area (APDS only at 1km i guess).

Look now what the M60A1/3 has as armour:

BqIvomvBfEw.jpg

 

TBK9XA-oIbw.jpg

It's good, but 125mm HEAT (main ammo choice of T-64A and T-72, they always carried less APFSDS and many HE and HEAT) will go through any part of the M60A3, except maybe if it hits the overlapping mantlet+frontal turret. Middle of mantlet will spray the crew with nice sparkles of molten metal and a part of the blast, ruin the gun mechanisms. A HEAT through the glacis will be worse for the whole tank. M60A3 hull at best will be like 120-130mm at 60°, 125mm HEAT of the earliest itteration (3BK12 1960s) penetrates 210-220mm at 60°. Turret "sides" from the front are probably auto bounce. But with a 15-20° side angle they suddenly become ultra weak.

125mm HEAT rounds have a tendency to be fat and dirty: the liner is made for maximum damage rather that thin penetration on a long distance (125mm HEAT rounds penetrate "few" for their caliber, but leave big holes). The liner are often of steel or aluminium alloys, less penetrative than copper, but much more messy. These cheap and dirty ammo will one shot any NATO tank of the era from any side, killing a good part of the crew or ammoracking them, and seriously mess up any 3rd generation composite NATO tank (=any modern tank) on their flanks.

Let's look a few HEAT rounds available before 1980:

-3BK12: steel liner, 1.76kg A-IX-1, ~420mm, 1960s

-3BK14: steel liner, 1.76kg OKFOL, ~450mm, 1968

-3BK14M: copper liner (some say aluminium, tantalum, or also steel), 1.76kg OKFOL, ~480mm, 1969-1970

02%2B-%2B125mm%2BBK-14M%2BHEAT%2Bin%2Bfl

-3BK18: aluminium liner, 1.76kg OKFOL, ~500mm, 1970s (<1975)

image012.jpg

-3BK18M: aluminium or steel liner, 1.76kg OKFOL or A-IX-1, ~550mm, 1977-1978

And i'll leave it there. 1980s HEAT ammo penetrate more but they are out of scope.

These HEAT rounds above can also penetrate the early iterations of tanks like M1, challenger or Leopard 2, on various frontal parts.

A little citation from a guy on tanknet about these 125mm HEAT rounds:

"hungarians have some interesting test T-55AM firing 100mm AP BR412B on T-54, all hit at hull front - ricochets, but those ricochets tear up escape hatch from tank bottom, and driver hatch, destroyed barrel etc...


also they fired 125mm HEAT BK-14, penetrated turret through front to back, penetrated hull lower plate and destroyed driver place(driver chair split into two parts)"

Now on the APFSDS available for the T-72 before 1980, there again, you fell pretty short of the reality, the 125mm APFSDS will smash the M60A3 like butter, and the M60A3 is the best armored tank of any NATO nation before the arrival of M1 and Leopard2, maybe chieftain with stilbrew is a little bit better though.

The 3BM9 will not penetrate the M60A3 for the most part, this round is the most basic ammo made in early 1960s, (strange but it says early even though 125mm didn't exist before 1966 or 67) a downgrade from 115mm ammo in fact... They decided it's so fast from the 125mm, that it's worth doing it in full maraging steel. Certified penetration at 2km 0° is 245-290mm, and at 60°, 70-80mm. Not really impressive. Velocity of 1800m/s is great though. This round will never penetrate the M60A3 hull, but it can penetrate frontal turret and middle mantlet at some ranges. Any angled M60A3 will be penetrate easily on the turret cheeks though.

Render of the round, flat tip against ricochets, full maraging steel.

670px-3bm-9.jpg

This round is mushrooming on impact, so much that it creates a crater 5 times as wide as the caliber of the rod.... This is thanks to the maleable steel used (maraging steel APFSDS are much softer than your usual WW2 AP rounds for example, it's really DIRT CHEAP to make, a 88mm AP round has much more value and is much much more complex to make)... The 3BM9 will devastate a lightly armored vehicle (not just make a small hole, but disintegrate and spall like hell), as well as earlier tanks that cannot resist it (M47, centurion, M48, and more modern lightly armored AMX-30, leopard 1)... It also has almost no chance to penetrate the Chieftain, M103 or conqueror (if those were still used at the time) at long range.

But this round is crap, and just a training round by the 1970s.

-3BM12 appeared in 1968-69, is almost identical to 3BM9 but with a small tungsten carbide core (like early 115mm APFSDS ammo that were full steel or with a small core)... It goes also to 1800m/s. Penetration is still not enough to be certain of penetrating the M60A3 at correct ranges: 280-315mm (always at 2km) at 0° and 110-120mm at 60°... It's barely enough to penetrate M60A3 glacis at 1km, but the mantlet is vulnerable at 2.5km maybe.

But your real game changer is the 1971-72 3BM15, different and heavier, longer, with a complex penetrating cap and also with a bigger tungsten core than 3BM12. Velocity is 1785m/s.

bm15.png

3BM15 leaves no chance to any NATO tank including chieftain, and will penetrate flanks of 3rd gen tanks. The maraging steel body still mushrooms and does a ton of damage, and the tungsten core guarantees deep penetration.

This is the effect of 3BM15 on a 20cm armored steel block: entrance top, penetration bottom where the tungsten core cleanly passed. Imagine the effect of this round on something 10-15cm...

pzXn0dOJl2M.jpg
The penetration of 3BM15 at 2km: 310-340mm 0°, 140-150mm 60°.

It leaves no real chance to the M60A3 even at 2.5km.

More pics:

01%2B-%2BBM-15%2BAPFSDS-T%2Bwith%2Bprope

02%2B-%2BBM-15%2BAPFSDS-T%2Btungsten%2BP

The 3BM17 is a dirt cheap version without tungsten carbide core, its performance is almost like 3BM12, and it's much better than 3BM9 despite being also full maraging steel. Penetration at 60° would be around 110mm at 2km... This is the round that was massively exported to iraq, it faired very well against iranian tanks actually, but it failed hard vs 1991 coalition tanks, of course. Every single individual who bashes T-72 for its performance in gulf war basically picks the worst T-72 variant with the worst round available, and is totally oblivious to this fact. Like 3BM9, 3BM17 was used mostly for training in soviet army. 3BM12 also fell soon in this category, or were simply scraped to save the tungsten. 3BM15 stood in service for long and became reserve round by the late 1970s, 1980s.

Then you have an even more modern round that's not really necessary to mention, but since all 125mm tanks would have it by the late 1970s....

-3BM22. Came in 1975-1976, a newer and longer design derived from 3BM15. Like 3BM15 it's maraging steel with small tungsten core in the front (i mention front cause 3BM26 of early 1980s tested with a very successful maraging steel with tungsten core at the very rear, it allows the maraging penetrator to go quite deep, then the tungsten core with its energy goes twice as deep, penetrating the armor, on earlier rounds the tungsten core is slowed down on impact, being on front)

This round leaves really no chance to M60A3 even at 3km. And let me remind you all that this round was in service 4 years before the M60A3 even came on the frontline.... pretty scary. It also has a 1785m/s velocity, with 2km penetration rate as 380-430mm 0° and 170-190mm at 60°.

Here it is (don't pay attention to BM23, that's the name of the "assembly", the projectile is named 22.

f93916fce942.jpg

that's all for the period we are interested in, of course 1980s will see monobloc DU and tungsten alloy rounds with up to 600mm pen at 2km, and modern ones do much more than that.

In the 1970s the 125mm tank gun is uncontestably the most powerful antitank tank gun in service, chieftain is far behind, and 105mm guns are even further behind. The HE-F ammo of the 125mm gun is in itself a complex weapon that packs an enormous killing power, and had no equivalent in NATO ammunitions.

So this "The T-72 Ural is stuck with a few choices. 3BM-15 will barely manage to penetrate an M60A3's hull and turret at muzzle." is totally false. At muzzle the 3BM15 will probably penetrate the M1 of 1980. And if all fails, the HEAT will penetrate at the maximum range you can throw it accurately (~3km).

And remind that all these penetration figues are certified penetration according to soviet test criterias. The iran-iraq war pretty much showed that even the T-62 with its early APFSDS could penetrate the chieftain and M60A1 at good distances, and the T-72 even more.

Now for the other aspects: mobility, FCS, etc...

The T-72 off road mobility is nothing short of exceptional. Just look at sweden trials, among other things. M60A3 can't possibly compete with this, neither M1 abrams. They maybe have smoother drive or more acceleration/max speed (M1) but the real dirty off road makes the T-72 king. T-72 of course is harsh on the driver, and is very rudimentary in the controls and transmission. Engine is good, nothing special to say, and the range is simply outstanding, especially with the jettisonable drum tanks.

The FCS is no competition here: T-72 (and T-64A) loses in every single aspect to the M60A3, and even more the TTS variant. Hell even M60A1 RISE passive outclass them. But is it really this important in all reality? I don't think so, the T-72 is ergonomic enough to do the job properly. Of course later T-72A with LRF or even better, T-72B, are more directly comparable with the M60A3.

The point about engine smoke... meh... It's a non point.

The price is also totally irrelevant: look how much cost a T-72 for the soviet state in 1975 and do the same for an M60A3 in 1980, i'd say the T-72 is cheaper. The USD price you can buy them today makes absolutely no sense.

Both T-72 and M60A3 are good tanks, i'd say the T-72/T-64A (even more so the T-72A, T-64B and T-72B) is still superior, mostly for the mobility off road, the economy and strategic mobility, the firepower advantage, and the armor advantage. M60A3 wins in "soft" stats of course, but they are not called soft for nothing, it's the hard stats that matter more.

The autoloader is also a given for me.

The ammo danger in M60A3 is as big as that of the T-72, and much bigger if you only put the autoloader rounds in the T-72, the ready rack of the M60A3 is still horrendously vulnerable even if you remove all other ammo.

That's all for now...

 

 

 

More below (can't post all images in 1 post): EDIT: ok i need someone to post so i can post (can't do 3 posts in a row)

Edited by bigbobthewhiteWT
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nice, so here is the rest:

 

Why do you underestimate the 125mm APFSDS so much? The 3BM15 retains 1550m/s or so at 2km, when L7 APFSDS have 1450-1500m/s at muzzle...

 

Also you completely ignore the fact that soviet doctrine was to rely moslty on HEAT rounds, the least of which relagated to training had 420mm of penetration. T-64A and T-72 gunner tools perfectly allow to hit a tank at 2km with these rounds. Not even wasting time to range a target with the rangefinder, but directly through optic's battle sight and stadiametric lines.

 

So, I heard about M735A1 DU variant instead of the WHA core. The round ever was fielded?

 

Ok, here is M735 diagram:

M735_diagram.jpg

 

The core is bigger than i thought... It's probably 5times as big as cores of 3BM15/22. But the soviet rounds have massive velocity and their steel body in itself makes for a very powerful penetrator. On the M735 one can clearly guess how the steel outter body will be pulverised on impact and have no effect on penetration.

 

Also the 3BM15 and 22 have an hardened penetrating cap in front of the round and tungsten core... Penetration mechanism: penetrating cap holes the armor, probably enough to penetrate 10cm and then tungsten core pushed by the whole mass of the maraging steel body penetrates dozens of centimeters more, the maraging steel creates a big crater in the armor, and if the armor isn't thick enough, everything goes inside the tank and do terrible damage.

 

3BM15.jpg

3BM-22.jpg

 

The first round 3BM9 was crap, but it would wreck any tank less armored than M60 and chieftain, which were plenty in european armies... M48, leo1, M47... M47 was penetrated by 100mm AP rounds easily.

3bm-9.jpg

 

 

I don't know how these rounds really work, but soviets made them because they knew what it was. Compare 3BM15 to NATO APFSDS: they are dirt cheap, using a 20mm diameter tungsten core, very gentle on ressources... The 100mm 3BM8 round penetrates much less and uses a gigantic tungsten carbide core. 125mm is not only 1.5 more effective, it's also 5x cheaper i'd say.

 

As armor evolved of course, these cheap rounds were not enough... That's why 1980s saw monobloc rounds.

 

Funnily enough, 3BM15 was the absolute best round export clients and even warsaw pact got, it was the best round fielded by iraqi tanks in 1991 and 2003.... But those operators usually had 3BM17 export variant of the round, WITHOUT tungsten core.. lol. Or even earlier rounds like 3BM9 and 3BM12.... 3BM15 wasn't available to them before the early 1980s for the most part...

 

I am convinced the 3BM15 can penetrate the M60A3 no problem, its penetration can't be that low.

 

It's a freakin 125mm round at 1785m/s for god sake, soviets easily made steel targets to test these rounds against potential ennemy armor, they obviously tried 150mm plates at 60° as a minimum... it can't be otherwise.

 

s13.JPG

 

M735 is about 50cm long....

 

3BM15 is about 55cm long...

 

More info...

 

3BM15

3BM15blownout.jpg

 

These are cores of 3BM15 or 3BM22 and 3BM26 (standardized), pure tungsten carbide (when NATO only had softer tungsten alloy by that time in the APDS and early APFSDS). Tungsten carbide is worse at high slope but only as a stand alone projectile... Here it's preceeded by a steel penetrating cap and pushed by a heavy steel arrow. Tungsten carbide doesn't break or erode during penetration, as long as it has speed to it, it's going through. 3BM26 has the core in the butt, with air cavity in front of it. BM15/22 have it on front.

 

19.8x71mm (20x70 should be i guess, nominally), from 270 to 280 grams.

xz1v7B9S0L8.jpg

VG86EBzV6vA.jpg

huIShJ4RjUc.jpgpnQ8GulsbYY.jpg

 

 

+

 

on this page, i found totally different and shocking data for 3BM9...

 

http://www.russianar...hp?topic=9632.0

 

Нормативная бронепробиваемость:
- на 1000 м по нормали к броне – 300 мм
- на 1000 м под углом 60 град. от нормали – 180 мм
- на 2000 м по нормали к броне – 245 мм
- на 2000 м под углом 60 град. от нормали – 150 мм
Средняя бронепробиваемость на 2000 м по нормали к броне – 290 мм

 

Yes you read well, 60° from normal at 1km: 180mm, at 2km: 150mm.... 300mm of penetration at 1km 0°.

 

This is for the 1962 full steel blunt nose APFSDS 3BM9....

 

Not sure what it means...

 

This is excerpt from real soviet GRAU documents, even though most sources on internet claim the 3BM9 at 80mm 2km for 60°..... Here it basically penetrates twice as much 0_0

 

 

+

 

 

Look the table here, with the names of rounds and their penetration at 2km 60°...

 

https://ru.wikipedia...a.org/wiki/2А46

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Actually, this,

 

"The T-72 however has a full steel turret, despite having the same composite glacis as the T-64A. Max thickness is not 280mm as you said, it's false. Max thickness is around 350-380mm on the turret "bulges" and that's only if you mesure it perpendicular, pure real thickness. From the face it's equivalent to 450-500mm RHA with angles. So suddenly, it's much stronger than you said. The area around the gun however, yes, it's weak at 300-250mm or so, but good luck hitting that area that's less than 30% of the frontal turret aspect."

 

 

is even better than i thought: it's 350mm at the gun (seems thinner at 280-300 really just around the gun on left side of turret) and more than 400 everywhere else.... Raw thickness. LOS should be 320-360 around gun to 500-600, on most of the turret face.

1451427730-t-72-ural-turret-thicknesss-c

 

It makes the L7 APDS unable to penetrate the T-72 base model, full steel turret (also obviously T-64A, probably all T-80 and even early T-64 too, as well as T-64B and all other T-72 variants) AT ALL even at point blank range! And the M735 will struggle to penetrate that at 500m... omg.

 

You clearly vastly underestimated T-72 armor.

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