Home > Tanks > PT-76
modified: Nov 10, 2012
PT-76 (ПТ-76, Russian: Плавающий Танк, Plavayushchy Tank, floating tank with 76mm gun) is a Soviet amphibious tank that became the standard reconnaissance tank of Warsaw Pact armies. The Russian army has replaced the PT-76 with main battle tanks or specialized variants of BMP-1/BMP-2.

The Russian Army required a light amphibious tank and an amphibious APC after the end of the Second World War. Trials were conducted on prototypes designated P-39 (light tank) and P-40 (APC). Afterwards, the Higher Scientific Research Institute for Transport Machinery Construction (VNII TransMash) and the Chelyabinsk Kirov factory were given the responsibility to design and build a new light amphibious tank under the leadership of Zh. Ya. Kotin.

The light amphibious tank project was designated Obiekt 740 while the amphibious APC was designated Obiekt 750. The first prototypes were completed in 1950. After trials and modifications, the tank was accepted for service in 1951 as the PT-76. Production took place at the Volgograd Tractor Factory from 1958 to 1967.

The hull of the PT-76 is of welded steel. The driver seat is at the front, the two-man turret of all-welded steel in the center, and the engine compartment in the rear.

The driver has a single-piece hatch cover that swings to the right. Three TNP day periscopes are mounted forward of the hatch cover. The middle one can be replaced by a PER-17A day periscope, raised, enabling the driver to see over the front of the tank when the trim vane is erected. The center periscope can be replaced by a TVN-2B infra-red periscope. The driver also has a GPK-48 gyrocompass. An emergency hatch, located in the floor under the driver's seat, can be used by the entire crew.

The commander/gunner seats on the left in the turret while the loader is located on the right. A circular cupola is mounted on the left side for the commander. The commander has a TPKU-1 day sight with a magnification of 5x and two TNP day periscopes. The loader has an MK-4 observation device.

The first production vehicles mounted a 76.2mm D-56T rifled gun with a multi-slotted muzzle brake in a turret that can traverse 360°. The gun has a semi-automatic vertical sliding wedge breech block, a hydraulic buffer, and a hydropneumatic recuperator. The most common PT-76 version has a 76.2mm D-56TM (2A16) gun with a double baffle muzzle brake and bore evacuator.

A 7.62mm SGMT machine gun is mounted coaxially to the right of the main gun. Some vehicles are fitted with a roof-mounted 12.7mm DShKM anti-aircraft machine gun.

PT-76 is fully amphibious and propelled in water by two water-jets mounted at the rear of the hull. Prior to entering water, the trim vane has to be erected and two electric bilge pumps turned on. A manual bilge pump is provided for emergency use. Steering is achieved by opening and closing the hatches for the water-jets. To turn 180°, one water-jet sucks in water while the other one pushes it out.

As the tank operates in cold climate, an engine preheater is fitted as standard. The manual gearbox has five forward and one reverse gears. Steering is of the clutch and brake type. There are six roadwheels on each side with torsion bar suspension. The first and sixth roadwheel stations have hydraulic shock-absorbers. External fuel tanks contain 180 liters of additional fuel and can extend the maximum road range to 480km.

The PT-76 is not fitted with an NBC protection system. A white light searchlight is mounted on the right side of the turret roof. Some models have an infra-red searchlight on the turret.

When used by the Naval Infantry, the PT-76 is often fitted with a complete set of navigation lights as well as a snorkel extension piece.

PT-76B is a variant with a fully stabilized 76.2mm D-56TS gun. It was accepted for service in 1962. It is fitted with two auxiliary fuel tanks, each with a 95 liter capacity.

For improved buoyancy, the height of the hull was raised by 130mm and the bow lengthened. The stern was given a slightly steeper reverse angle.

The PT-76B has an FVU air filtration and ventilation system and PAZ anti-nuclear protection system.

The driver is provided with a TVN-2E night vision device. The FG-100 and FG-102 headlamps are replaced by FG-125 and FG-126 versions. The R-113 radio and R-120 intercom are replaced by the R-123 and R-124 respectively.

Afghanistan, Benin, Cambodia, Congo, Croatia, Cuba, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Indonesia, Iraq, Laos, Madagascar, Nicaragua, North Korea, Uganda, Vietnam, Yugoslavia and Zambia are some of the nations that employed the tank at some point. Type 63 is an improved version of the PT-76 with a new turret mounting an 85mm gun produced by China.

References: JAA5, JTCV