Note: This suggestion is imported over from the old WT forum. As more information about the Tiam tanks were available since the suggestion was first posted, I will include these information in the suggestion
Hello, today I would like to suggest the addition of the Tiam Main Battle Tank from Iran. This peculiar tank is a hybrid mashup of the American M47M hull and a modified T-55/Type 69 turret derived from the Safir 74, with some Iranian flavor added.
The Tiam MBT during the military parade in 2022.
To understand how Iran managed to got their hands on the equipment of the US and China, we need to look back into the Imperial era of Iran. Prior to the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iran was a major ally of the United States to counter the balance of power with the Soviet Union, due to this, Iran enjoyed a large amount of American military support.
Among the numerous American equipment sold during this period are the M47M Patton tanks, which is an export-only model of the M47 Patton with the improved porpulsion and fire control system of the M60A1, of which 400 were sold to Iran during the 1960s. After the fall of Shah in 1979, the new Islamic Republic of Iran faced sanctions from the US and later involved in the war with Iraq in 1980. During this time, Iran purchased a surplus of Type 69 from China to fulfil their armored vehicle needs in absence of the US.
After the war with Iraq, Iran has started to develop their own arms industry to reduce the reliance on foreign support, with the domestic arms industry within the country experimenting with NATO and Eastern bloc equipment to create a unique mash-ups. This would come into fruitition in the early 2010s when Iran unveiled several home-grown vehicles and upgrades, among them were the Tiam MBT, the domestically upgraded variant of the M47M.
The Tiam MBT in 2023. This image shows the back profile of the turret, showing what appears to be a T-55/Type 69 turret encased with applique NERA/ERA layers.
The Tiam (literally means “Eyes” in Persian, also means “Darling” in poetic Persian) made its first debut on 13 April 2016 in prototype stage. The tank is described by Iran as an “optimized” version of the Sabalan, an early modernization attempt on the M47M, which features a domestically-built, yet poorly-protected turret, and were thus not accepted for service.
The peculiar decision of choosing to outfit the M47M with a turret from the Safir 74 over using an entirely new turret from the Sabalan has led to some speculation that the Tiam was chosen due to the Sabalan’s refit being too costly for its worth compared to using a proven Safir 74 turret design as a base for the new tank.
This seems to be correlating with the Iranian official statement which states that the Tiam will cost 1/3 of the production cost of the Zulfiqar 3E MBT. Essentially bolstering the more modern Zulfiqar 3E and Karrar (that were revealed a month after the Tiam prototype) with an affordable and effective monderization.
The Tiam MBT prototype during its debut in April 2016.
Close-up image of the Tiam prototype’s driver hatch. Note the straight-edge corner of the tank compared to the more rounded and flatter hatch of the M47. This is most likely to accomodate the new turret.
At the first glance, the Tiam appears to be the M47M with the Type 69’s turret and several ERAs on it. The strange appearance of the Tiam has caught the interest of various military commentators. The initial prototype appears to be turret swap based on the Sabalan and the Safir 74, a T-55/Type 69 that were also equipped with a 105 mm M68 gun, modernized electrical equipments, and a capability to fire the 9M117 Bastion ATGM from the gun.
When it comes to difference, Iranian sources stated that the gun was a “smoothbore” derivative of the M68 gun. The hull also has a noticable bulk increase around the turret ring, possibly to accomodate the new turret.
The Tiam MBT in a 2018 parade. Note its “wedge” ERA layout, applique NERA around the turret front and sides, and different sideskirt compared to the 2016 reveal.
Close-up side profile of the Tiam MBT in 2019, next to the Sayyad AFV. Note an applique NERA on the UFP.
In 2018, the Tiam’s finalized design was revealed. The tank now has applique composite armor, as well as several rows of ERA bricks around the turret and UFP of the hull. The tank are also equipped with one 12.7 mm DShK heavy machine gun in a swiveling mount, as well as a 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun (source seems to be conflicting about the exact model of the coaxial MG).
Similar to the M47M variants, the Tiam has four crew members; commander, driver, loader, and gunner. Varying source stated that 160 of the M47M tanks were later converted into Tiam’s standard.
Some extra images:
In War Thunder
The Tiam MBT is perhaps a perfect example of an “East Meets West” tank design of the Iranian armed industry. While the M47M’s chassis are fairly outdated, the tank are reinforced with a considerable amount of NERA and ERA on the hull and turret and was designed essentially as a second-line of defense and to support the more advanced tanks like the Karrar and the Zulfiqar, especially with its capabilities to launch the 9M117 missile. So I think such an exotic tank has a place to be represented in War Thunder.
Note: Due to the lack of info in most parts, most of these statistics were estimate at best
Mass: 44.1 tons
Crew: 4 (commander, driver, loader, and gunner)
Engine: Continental VDS-1790-2 V12 diesel 750 hp (560 kW)
Suspension: Torsion bar
Operational range: ~500 km
Top speed: ~56 km/h
Hull: Persuambly the same as the M47M, with applique NERA armor and ERA covering the UFP.
Turret: Persuambly the same as Safir 74 (i.e. T-55/Type 69), with an addition of NERA covering the frontal and side of the turret in wedge shape. There are also multiple layers of ERA blocks on the turret.
Main armament: 105 mm smoothbore gun (derived from the 105 mm M68 gun), capable of fring all NATO 105 mm ammunition and 9M117 Bastion ATGM
Machine guns: 12.7 mm DShK machine guns on a flexible mount, 7.62 mm machine guns of unknown model on the coaxial position
Other: 8 x 76 mm smoke launchers (prototype only)