Disabled Iraqi T-62 near the border between Iraq and Iran.

T-62 – History

History of the T-62, a main battle tank used by the Soviet Union and its allies starting from the 1960s.

The T‑62 is a Soviet main battle tank built in the 1960s. It is an enlarged version of the T‑55, expressly created for mounting a more powerful armament.


At the end of 1950s new tanks were introduced in the West, whose frontal armour was impenetrable to the shells of the D-10 100 mm (3.94 in) rifled tank gun mounted on the T‑55s then in service. Accordingly, while waiting for the development of the new T‑64, an interim solution was adopted, in order to mount a more effective weapon.

The choice fell on the U-5TS 115 mm (4.53 in) smoothbore gun, which was however too large and heavy for the T‑55 structure; thus the tank was redesigned, lenghtening the hull and enlarging the turret, giving birth to the T‑62.

Technical description

Deriving from the T-55, this tank kept the same low silohuette, thus sacrificing the comfort for the crew. This was made of four people: commander, gunner and loader in the turret, and driver in the front driving compartment.


The features of the new gun allowed it to hit effectively the Western tanks, thanks to the smooth bore —the first of its genre— which allowed a very high initial velocity, and to the adoption of kinetic energy (APFSDS) rounds. On the other hand, it resulted in a loss of precision at long distances.

Besides the aforementioned kinetic energy rounds, the gun fired also shaped charged shells (HEAT) and high explosive grenades. Moreover, it could launch the "9K118 Sheksna" anti-tank laser guided missile.

The secondary armament consisted in a coaxial PKT 7.62 mm (0.3 in) machine gun, as well as a 12.7 mm (0.5 in) DShK anti-aircraft machine gun (optional until 1972) mounted on the turret roof.


The running gear was similar to the one used in the T-55. It consisted, for each side, in five rubber-tired steel road wheels, a rear drive sprocket and a front idle wheel. To counter the increased weight of the main gun, the three frontmost road wheels were less spaced than the other ones.

The T-62 used the same engine of the T-55, a 12-cylinder, 38.88 liter V-55 diesel, providing a power of 581 hp. Thus, due to the increased weight (37 metric tonnes in total), it had lower performances, in terms of speed and range, than its predecessor.

The maximum speed was 50 km/h (31 mph) on the road and 40 km/h (25 mph) offroad. The maximum range was 450 km (280 miles), but it was increased of other 200 km (120 miles) using external detachable fuel tanks.

Operating history

The T‑62 started its service in the Soviet Union in 1961; it fought in the brief border clash with China in 1969 and later in Afghanistan. Starting from the 1970s, it was gradually superseded by the T‑72. However, it is still present in the Russian Army reserve units.

The Soviet Union exported this tank to several countries, especially in Middle East. It fought with the Syrians in the 1973 Yom Kippur War against Israel, which captured a great number of them and put them into service, as war prize, with the designation of Tiran 3; later it modernized them, giving birth to the Tiran 6. Iraq, instead, used them in the war against Iran in 1980-1988, and during the First Gulf War in 1991.

The T-62 was a powerful tank for the time, but expensive and hard to use for an unexperienced crew. It performed well against the tanks of the same generation (M48, M60, Chieftain, Centurion), but has been hopelessly outperformed by modern ones like the American Abrams.

From Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia

Medium tank T-62 model 1962.

Museum of the Great Patriotic War, Kyiv, Ukraine.

Image sources: 1, 2

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