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Is the T-90 Just a Reworked T-72?


Poopstain
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Gents I will keep this short and sweet:

 

Saw a youtube video a couple of days ago that asserted that the T-90 is an embarrassing piece of junk that is, in effect, just a re-work of the abysmal T-72.

 

WIthout blowing me to bits for not finding a prior thread on here that has already addressed this (and I did look) -- is this so?    And is the T-80 a re-worked T-64?

 

Are all current Soviet tanks not called T-14 nothing but explosive coffins on tracks?   

 

Thanks in advance,

 

Poopstain.  

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Welllll... there's an evolution of technology, so in the sense that the M60 is a reworked M48 that is a reworked M47 the T-80 is a "reimagined T-64" and the T-90 is an evolution from the T-72 base design. The question is, where do you draw the line between "slightly modified", "heavily modified", "new design", and "revolutionary new design" if you leave out the history of the people involved. Can - should - a mechanical engineer ignore prior experience with a certain design, possibly his own design?

I'm not even sure if I share the sentiment that the T-72 is "abysmal". The question is, against what threat profile was it designed (M60 with 105mm gun), and what were the design constraints (had to be cheap and mass-producable by the Soviet heavy industry with its capabilities and limitations). I think the T-72 held up very well against the M60 ... up to about 1991 when the West discovered that there was no 105mm APFSDS round in inventory that could reliably kill the T-72 frontally with range parity or even overmatch. Confronted with M1s, a generation younger and revolutionary in pretty much all aspects - firepower, mobility, sensors - and equipped with obsolete munitions, the T-72 didn't fare well. Conversely, a hypothetical T-72 with thermals would have teared through AMX-30 and Leopard 1 formations at the same time.

That the collapse of the Soviet Union slowed down the modernization of the Russian tank fleet and severely delayed the introduction of new designs cannot really surprise anyone paying attention to their situation. And the Armata's initial problems at roll-out don't appear substantially worse than, cough, Ajax, Puma, and other new AFV designs at introduction. Leopard 2 and M1 worked fine from the start (by and large, at least) because all the major mistakes were made with the MBT-70.

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T-90 was originally designated T-72BU, thus you could argue it is an evolution. On the other hand so many components have been upgraded that they have little in common. Latest T-90M has a different gun, transmission, FCS, turret, ERA tiles...

On the other hand, I would not agree to stating that T-80 is a reworked T-64. When a turbine tank was developed in the USSR it was found that the T-64 chassis could not take the turbine power, thus a new chassis was designed (Design bureau was based in Leningrad and not Kharkov as for T-64). Both designs did share components (FCS and even turret in some variants) but I would not say that T-80 is a T-64 that has been reworked.

Edited by alejandro_
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It's like the "Ship of Jason" question. How many parts do you have to swap in repairs/modernizations before the identity of a thing changes. The usual smartass answer from philosophers is that it entirely depends on your definition of identity. 😛

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16 minutes ago, Ssnake said:

It's like the "Ship of Jason" question. How many parts do you have to swap in repairs/modernizations before the identity of a thing changes. The usual smartass answer from bad and/or Sophistic philosophers is that it entirely depends on your definition of identity. 😛

FIFY

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1 hour ago, Ssnake said:

It's like the "Ship of Jason" question. How many parts do you have to swap in repairs/modernizations before the identity of a thing changes. The usual smartass answer from philosophers is that it entirely depends on your definition of identity. 😛

 

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Long story short, T-90 is a further evolution of T-72B.

T-90 or Object 188 was developed as a cheaper and simpler alternative to a more advanced Object 187. With time passing on, some solutions developed for Object 187 were introduced in to T-90, most visible one is welded turret which was introduced first in T-90S for India and later in T-90A for Russian Army. However turrets are not identical. Object 187 turret is slightly different, tough general geometry is similar.

 

T-90 as further evolution and improvement over T-72B, also includes subsystems from other tanks, like 1A45 and 1G46 sight-laser range finder from T-80U and T-80UD series.

In a very similar way, T-80U/UD was developed, where the base to move forward was Object 476, which was further evolution and improvement over T-64A and T-64B, main improvements was new turret and 6TD engine.

Later when Object 476 was terminated, turret was further developed and reused in Object 219A and Object 219AS which become the T-80U. This turret and 6TD engine was also reused in Object 478 and finally in Object 478B which had become T-80UD.

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8 hours ago, Ssnake said:

It's like the "Ship of Jason" question. How many parts do you have to swap in repairs/modernizations before the identity of a thing changes. The usual smartass answer from philosophers is that it entirely depends on your definition of identity. 😛

Early model M4 vs M4A3E8.  Different hull, gun, turret, engine, ammo storage, tracks, suspension added to the original one element at a time.

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4 hours ago, R011 said:

Early model M4 vs M4A3E8.  Different hull, gun, turret, engine, ammo storage, tracks, suspension added to the original one element at a time.

A minor quibble.  The M4A3 is not an evolution of the M4, it was built concurrently with the M4, just as were the M4A1, M4A2, and M4A4.  Each sub-model of M4 underwent its own evolution pretty much as you stated. 

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43 minutes ago, DKTanker said:

A minor quibble.  The M4A3 is not an evolution of the M4, it was built concurrently with the M4, just as were the M4A1, M4A2, and M4A4.  Each sub-model of M4 underwent its own evolution pretty much as you stated. 

True.  The point being that the last Shermans produced had little in common with the first ones made, yet were the "same" tank.  Even the last Sherman I while having the same engine had changed almost everything else.

Edited by R011
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A whole new tank would be a design that was clean sheet from the start vs one that was parts evolved over time, this bigger, that slightly redesigned, etc. 

As to M3s and M4s, one could almost say they were a family of vehicles with common parts. Like the CMP's were with cabs, engines, chassis and gear boxes either being derivative or completely different (Ford Flat Head V8 vs a Chevy Inline 6. But common specifications. A CMP Cab 13 F8  looks a heck of a lot like a Cab 13 C60X, but there's some strong differences in everything from axles to gear boxes to engines, but sure they have the same cab and are setup mostly the same way. If you can work on one, you can work on the other. 

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34 minutes ago, rmgill said:

A whole new tank would be a design that was clean sheet from the start vs one that was parts evolved over time, this bigger, that slightly redesigned, etc. 

Yeah, but how many components are still allowed to be taken from an older design (because there's nothing wrong with them) and it's still a "clean sheet"? A lot of engineering is similar to evolution where you have gradual changes over different generations. You never completely reinvent the wheel. I'm not trying to reduce this to absurdity; clearly, nuts and bolts of standardized format don't count for undoing a "clean sheet". But you have to draw the line somewhere, and you can always squibble about where exactly that line should be. I'm saying, aside from the first tank designs, at least the ones coming from the same construction bureaus are probably never a "clean sheet" but rather evolve from prior design, keeping as much intact as is still possible while meeting the design specifications.

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A factor at play even if irrational due to it being entirely non-physical is the organization structure the tank/tank-series is within. Words are created with specific meanings to serve identification and differentiation but only to the point where it best facilitiates communication. If its just plain more practical to identify a tank-series by a single base tank name, then that factor enters into play. The M4 progressed at a time of rapid tech advancement but also due to extremely high production demand meaning different ways of making the tank were accepted for the sole purpose of meeting high production requirement. It would  combersome for different M4s to be called as M4, M5, M6, etc. hence the sub plain, A2, A3, A4 models. If production demand for M4 was not so high, then a single sub model probably would enter production.

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On 1/3/2022 at 6:46 PM, Ssnake said:

Yeah, but how many components are still allowed to be taken from an older design (because there's nothing wrong with them) and it's still a "clean sheet"? A lot of engineering is similar to evolution where you have gradual changes over different generations. You never completely reinvent the wheel. I'm not trying to reduce this to absurdity; clearly, nuts and bolts of standardized format don't count for undoing a "clean sheet". But you have to draw the line somewhere, and you can always squibble about where exactly that line should be. I'm saying, aside from the first tank designs, at least the ones coming from the same construction bureaus are probably never a "clean sheet" but rather evolve from prior design, keeping as much intact as is still possible while meeting the design specifications.

I guess if you're down to fasteners then you're clean sheet. 

If you're basing new design components off of tweaks of the previous generation of the same product and doing it around the same layout, same configuration, etc

M35, M35A1, M35A2, M35A3 used the same frame, drive line, axles, and cab/bed. Differences between models was mostly engine and some tweaks in the transmission with the 4th and 5th gears being swapped around. Engines was Gasser, Diesel and then Multifuel, then Cat Diesel. The A3s added an automatic transmission, but you could find on M35A3's axles that had been rebuilt and came off of, originally trucks that were Gassers built in the 50s. 

Compare that to the LMTV. Aside from basic greeblies like turn signal controls, some of the Military Breakers and stuff, I'm not sure that ANYTHING is common. Maybe the steering wheel or something is, but S&S did a clean sheet on tactical truck design. 

On something like the M1 Abrams and the M60...was there anything evolutionary between them other than sub components like say MGs or periscopes or the gun? Are road wheels even common? 

 

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I read somewhere years ago a T-90 was basically a T-72 hull with a T-80 turret. The reported improvement was that it combined the best of the T-72 with the best of the T-80. I further read that it was important to be able to "sell" a new Russian tank design in the 1990's cuz when someone said "T-72", the first thought to pop in the mind was a burning Iraqi tank.......I don't know how accurate my first part is.

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12 minutes ago, ex2cav said:

T-90 was basically a T-72 hull with a T-80 turret.

It has little in common with the T-80. Which T-80, by the way? The 1G46 and the commander's cupola with the 12.7 mm remote control MG were really new.  The welded turret came later. Most Russians say that the new name should give the impression of something completely new and regain lost confidence.

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4 hours ago, rmgill said:

On something like the M1 Abrams and the M60...was there anything evolutionary between them other than sub components like say MGs or periscopes or the gun? Are road wheels even common? 

From the M26 through the M60A3 there is a progressive evolutionary line, with some of the components of M60A3s being able to be swapped into an M26.  Aside from ancillary equipment such as machine guns, radios and NBC equipment, I can think of no evolutionary connection between that lineage and the M1 lineage.

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I can see that in the M26 through the M60. Each step is basically what came before tweaked in various values of size, thickness, weight capacity, power, etc.  

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19 hours ago, ex2cav said:

I read somewhere years ago a T-90 was basically a T-72 hull with a T-80 turret. The reported improvement was that it combined the best of the T-72 with the best of the T-80. I further read that it was important to be able to "sell" a new Russian tank design in the 1990's cuz when someone said "T-72", the first thought to pop in the mind was a burning Iraqi tank.......I don't know how accurate my first part is.

T-90 uses exactly the same turret and hull as T-72B, and exactly the same armor as T-72B. Fire Control System is based on T-80U.

T-90A introduced new welded turret which is based on turret of experimental Object 187.

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While hull is based on T-72B (and had same armor layout in 1st version at least) it is somewhat different in dimensions around engine bay.

Edited by bojan
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Ssnake hit the nail on the head..

for tanks.. the evolution of technology and progression of model after model is a viable developmental path

and one area how it differs from say, combat aircraft, especially fighter jets, where you are better off with a clean sheet design.

 Not mentioned yet, are the Chinese tanks, which are all more or less, steady evolutions from the T-54.  Its current iteration being now far from the original source

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Chinese ones are weird, there is Type 96 that can be traced back to T-54, but there is also Type 99, which is weird fusion of the eastern and western elements.

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An even better example of confusing naming conventions would be the US M109. At this point a M-109A7 has nothing in common with the original vehicle other than general layout. But it got the same designation. It wasn't until a new long range gun and breach (and eventually auto loader) came along that the US Army decided to use a brand new number. Arguably this differentiation served the purpose of separating the role of long ranged destructive fires ('Long Range Precision Fires') of dedicated arty brigades from the more traditional suppressive fire role of M109A7s organic to armor/mech brigades. But given all the other times a variant of the M109 completely changed the gun, drive train, etc, it is a rather arbitrary designation from a purely engineering point of view.

Edited by Josh
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Posted (edited)

Thank you for all the responses gentlemen.

Interesting stuff. 

Speaking of T-80, how "good" a tank is it?   Could it give the Abrams a run for its money?    

Edited by Poopstain
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Which model T-80, which model of M1, crewed by whom, used by which army in what kind of scenario?

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