T-54/T-55 Main Battle Tank

Last updated on February 19th, 2019 at 08:52 pm

T-54 and T-55 main battle tanks have been among the most widely used tanks in the world. The USSR supplied the North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong with T-54 and T-55 tanks during the Vietnam War.

In1947, the Soviets built the first prototype of the T-54 main battle tank. This was based on the T-44 medium tank, a tank that entered service toward the end of World War II. The T-44 itself was based on the T-34 medium tank, the Soviet Union’s main World War II medium tank.

The T-54 entered service in 1950.

It weighs 35 tons (36,000 kg) and has armor with 7.99 inches (203mm) maximum thickness.
T-54 main battle tank
The hull is all-welded and the turret is cast iron.

The T-54 main battle tank has a torsion-bar type suspension, with five road wheels on each side of the tank. The drive sprocket is at the front and the idler is in the rear. The top of the track rests on the top of the road wheels, so there are no return rollers.

It is powered by a 520 hp V12 diesel engine.

Four crewmen operate the T-54: a driver, a commander, a gunner and a loader.  The driver sits at the front of the hull, on the right side. The commander and the gunner sit in the left side of the turret, and the loader sits in the turret on the right.

Main armament on the T-54 is a 3.94 inch (100mm) gun. Secondary armament includes a 0.3 inch (7.62mm) coaxial machine gun, a 0.3 inch (7.62mm) machine gun in the bow, which the driver operates, and a 0.5 inch (12.7mm) anti-aircraft gun that is mounted on the loader’s hatch.

The T-54 can lay a smoke screen by injecting diesel fuel into the exhaust outlet on the left of the hull.

With the aid of a snorkel, the T-54 can ford bodies of water 18 feet (5.5 meters) deep.

The T-55 first appeared in 1960. It had a more powerful 580 hp engine

In 1963, the T-55A appeared.  It had shielding to protect the tank from radiation.  

Most versions of the T-54 and the T-55 main battle tank have infrared night vision equipment.

Many variants of the T-54/T-55 have been built.  These include command versions, bridgelayers, armored recovery vehicles, combat engineering vehicles, firefighters, mine clearers, flame throwers, self-propelled guns and an armored personnel carrier.

Versions T-55M and the T-55MV can each fire an AT-10 Stabber laser-guided anti-tank missile. The T-55MV has explosive reactive armor as well.

The Soviets used the T-54 main battle tank when they invaded Hungary in 1956.

The Soviet Union stopped producing the T-54/T-55 main battle tank in the 1980s.

 Although the T54/T55 is not in service in Russia, it remains in service with many countries around the world. Some of these countries have developed their own variants.

Currently (early 2011), the T-55 main battle tank is being used by both Gadaffi’s forces and by rebel forces during the uprisings in Libya.

T-54s and T-55s were used by Egypt and Syria during the 1967 Six Day War and during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

India used the T-55 during the 1971 war between India and Pakistan.

Yugoslavia and Macedonia used the T-55 during the War in Kosovo in the late 1990s and during the 2001 conflict in Macedonia.

Iraq used the Type 69 main battle tank, a Chinese variant of the T-54, during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, during the 1990/1991 Gulf War and during the 2003 Gulf War.

Soviet Union

T-54 Main Battle Tank

Active: 1950
Crew: 4
Weight: 35 tons (36,000kg)
Length: 19ft 9in (6.0m)
Height: 7ft 10in (2.4m)
Width: 10ft 7in (3.3m)
Weapons: Main – 3.94in (100mm) gun, Secondary – 1 x 0.3in (7.62mm) coaxial machine gun, 1 x 0.3 in(7.62mm) machine gun in bow, 1 x 0.5 in(12.7mm) anti-aircraft gun
Armor Maximum – 7.99in (203mm)
Engine: V-12 diesel, 520hp
Speed: 31 mph (50kph)
Range: 317 miles (510 km)