Home > Tanks > T-64
modified: Nov 10, 2012
T-64 was a Soviet main battle tank developed in parallel with the T-72. It is the first mass produced main battle tank to use non-metallic armor. It is also the first to use an autoloader. The T-64 weighed 38 metric tonnes and was armed with a 125mm gun. This armament was very powerful on a relatively lighter vehicle compared to NATO counterparts of the time. The T-64 became the basis for all Soviet main battle tank designs until the early 1990s. It was developed by Morozov design bureau in Kharkov starting in the late 1950s. The T-64 has several variants including missile carriers.

In the 1960s, Khrushchev's administration ended production of heavy tanks. Soviet Ground Forces still wanted a tank with the long range firepower and thick armor of a heavy tank. The Morozov design bureau wanted to explore new tank technologies on experimental vehicles. The project that evolved into the T-64 was designated Obiekt 430. It was based on the 115mm D-68 (2A21) smoothbore gun.

T-64 has several advantages over the T-62. T-64 uses an autoloader, which was nicknamed "Korzina" (Basket). It is able to fire 10 rounds/min compared to 4 rounds/min for the T-62. In addition, the T-64 is equipped with a TPD-43B coincidence rangefinder which provides improved accuracy at longer ranges. Therefore, the gun's effective range of firing APFSDS kinetic energy projectiles was 1.1km (compared to 0.9km for T-62) and firing HEAT shaped charge projectiles was 900m (compared to 600m).

The gunner traversed the autoloader to the desired ammunition type and the projectile was fed in. After firing, the casing was slipped back into the empty carousel slot.

Since the T-64 was intended to accompany the BMP into action, its speed had to be increased. The T-64 was powered by a new 5TDF two-stroke, multi-fuel engine which had five pairs of horizontally opposed cylinders. This configuration made it more compact than the similar British Chieftain engine. The 5TDF engine was similar in design to the Fairbanks-Morse locomotive engines that were obtained through Lend-Lease during the Second World War. The engine was fitted with a governor to protect it against excessive wear. The vehicle's top speed was 60km/h.

T-64's suspension had internal shock absorbers instead of the traditional rubber rim. It used shortened torsion bars with the 1st, 2nd, and 6th roadwheels having an additional telescopic hydraulic shock absorber. This suspension was several tons lighter than conventional suspensions which allowed the amount of armor carried on the tank to be maximized.

The armor used on the T-64 was called "Combination-K" and was a mixture of steel and ceramic inserts. The ceramic component provided superior defense against HEAT shaped charge projectiles which at the time were common ammunition for NATO tanks. The suspension was protected by "gill" armor panels which were sprung outward during combat to reduce the effectiveness of HEAT projectiles fired at the suspension area. The angled steel armor of the T-64 was equivalent to 410mm of steel against APFSDS and 450mm of steel against HEAT warheads, more than double that of the T-62's angled steel armor.

A preproduction batch was authorized in 1963. A total of 54 T-64 tanks based on the 115mm gun design had been completed by late 1964. It was accepted for service in December 1966. Production ended in 1969.

Several serious problems deferred further production. The gun autoloader which operated in cramped spaces was unreliable, and sometimes snagged on the crew's loose-fitting clothing. The transmission had a pair of single-stage planetary clutches, and significant power loss would occur if oversteered.

Initially, about 600 T-64s were built. They carried 40 rounds of ammunition, of which 30 rounds were in the autoloader. Later, they were modified to T-64A/T-64B standards and re-designated T-64R (remontirovanniy, rebuilt).

Nikolai Shomin, who took over after Morozov retired, proposed a modernization program in the late 1960s. The project was designated Obiekt 434. The 115mm D-68 gun was replaced with the new 125mm D-81 (2A26) gun with a thermal sleeve and modified automatic loader.

The first twenty trial vehicles were completed in 1964. Tests were conducted in 1967 and it was accepted for service in May 1968 as the T-64A. Production was undertaken in Kharkov and Omsk with over 1400 being manufactured.

The 125mm gun is stabilized in both elevation and traverse. It can be laid and fired while the T-64 is moving across country and the commander can override the gunner if required. The main gun has an ammunition of 38 rounds, lowered from 40 rounds for the earlier version. The 12.7mm anti-aircraft machine gun has electric elevation from -5 to +70° with manual controls being provided for emergency use. It can be aimed and fired from within the tank.

The commander's sight is designated the TKN-3V. The gunner's sight is designated TPD-43D. The 12.7mm anti-aircraft sight is designated the PZU-5.

The IR searchlight was mounted on the left of the main gun. There are two or three boxes of 12.7mm ammunition mounted on the left side of the turret. The T-64 has two snorkels for deep fording, one fitted to the turret and the other over the engine compartment. On the T-64A, the ZIP tool stowage bin on the right front side was replaced by an additional fuel cell. The tool stowage bin was moved to behind the turret.

The commander's cupola is electrically operated with the mount being designated PZU-5. A new PPO fire detection and suppression system was introduced.

In 1973, development of the T-64A to allow it to fire the Kobra 125mm tube-launched anti-tank missile started with first trial launches taking place in 1975. This was accepted for service in 1976.

Originally designated Obiekt 446, the T-64AK is the command version of the T-64A. It was accepted for service in 1973. It has an additional command radio set operating in the HF band, a demountable antenna, navigation equipment and an auxiliary generator.

When deployed in the stationary position, a 10m high telescopic mast can be erected over the turret and this is held in position by stays that are pegged to the ground.

The T-64AK lacks the 12.7mm NSVT machine gun over the commander's station.

The handrails on either side of the turret front were omitted and the forward stowage boxes on the right-hand sponson were replaced by additional external fuel tanks as on the left-hand sponson.

T-64B was a variant that introduced a new generation of hull and turret armor which was lighter while offering similar or better protection. This variant also introduced the new 9M112 Kobra radio-command guided anti-tank missile (NATO: AT-8 Songster). A radio-command antenna box for the missile was fitted forward of the commander's right turret station.

The T-64B has a napalm-resistant defense system, smoke grenade launcher system, quick disconnect system for barrel and breech assemblies, side skirts, and increased suspension travel.

The commander has a TKN-3V combination day/night binocular periscopic sight with 5x magnification in the day mode and 4.2x in the night mode. He also has a TPNO-16 and two TPNA-65 day vision blocks. The anti-aircraft machine gun mount is fitted with a PZU-5 monocular periscopic sight with panoramic head that provides a 50° field of view. The gunner has an optical monocular sight with laser rangefinder that has a two-axis stabilized field of view and magnification of 3.9x and 9x. In addition, the gunner has unity power day prismatic view blocks and a TPN1-49-23 night sight that operates in conjunction with the L-2AgM IR searchlight.

The new fire-control system is designated 1A33 and enables the T-64B to engage stationary and moving targets while the vehicle itself is stationary or moving. It includes the two-axis stabilized IG42 laser rangefinder sight, the 1V517 tank ballistic computer with automatic data inputs, the 2Eh26M armament stabilizer, and the IG43 fire-control panel, among other elements.

The T-64B carried 36 rounds of 125mm ammunition and 6 Kobra missiles. The gunner can select the type of round to be fired by pushing a button.

Over 1200 T-64Bs were built. It was given NATO designation SMT (Soviet Medium Tank) M1980/2, SMT M1981/1 when equipped with smoke mortars.

T-64BK is the command version of the T-64B. It had additional communications equipment and a land navigation system.

T-64B1 is a T-64B but without the Kobra missile system. It was first fielded in 1981. Only about 400 were built. T-64B1K is the command variant of the T-64B1 and has additional communications equipment installed.

T-64BV/T-64B1V was a variant retrofitted with explosive reactive armor (signified by the "V"). ERA was developed under the direction of V.N.Bryzgov. T-64BV1K is the command variant fitted with additional communications equipment.

T-64BM is a T-64B variant with a 6TD engine.

Other variants
T-64A (rebuilt) is a rebuilt of T-64 or T-64A. It incorporated improvements such as replacement of the gill armor with a rubber side skirt as well as addition of glacis plate hull armor applique.

A driver instruction vehicle version of the T-64 was developed. The standard T-64 turret was replaced with a new superstructure which is part of the upper crew compartment of the BTR-60 APC.

T-64T was a prototype with a helicopter gas turbine engine.

The T-64 series was to have been retrofitted with the 6TD engine under the designations T-64AM, T-64AKM, T-64BM, and T-64B-1M. However, none of these were mass produced.

Ukraine selected the T-64B and T-64B1 to be upgraded to the new T-64U (Usovershenniy, improved) standard which brings them up to almost the T-80UD/T-84 standard in terms of armor and fire-control system.

The T-64BV and T-64BV1 were equipped with locally developed ERA similar to the Russian Kontakt-5 installed on the hull and turret. These are designated T-64BM2.

Obiekt 447AM1 is a model fitted with the 1A42 aiming system. This includes the IG46 laser rangefinder and 1V528-2 computer, the TO1-KO1 optical system with the thermal TPN-4E Buran-E and L-4 searchlight. It also has the 9K117 Reflecks barrel-launched laser-guided missile, the 6ETs-43 automatic loader and the roof-mounted DVE-BS wind sensor which replaces the Russian IB11 system.

Obiekt 447AM2 is a model fitted with the 1A45 Irtish fire-control system. This includes the 1A42 laser rangefinder, TO1-KO1 without the L-4 searchlight and PNK-4 with TKN-4S Agat sight, PZU-7 anti-aircraft sight, and the 1Ets29 control system.

Missile tank variants
Obiekt 775 was a missile carrier tank project based on the T-64. It had a two man crew, both located in the turret. The commander also served as gunner. The driver was placed on the right side of the turret with his station automatically rotating so that he would always face forward. Since the crew was in the turret, the hull could be made significantly lower and can stow more ammunition.

Obiekt 775 carried 24 guided missiles and 48 general purpose rounds which are fed by a semi-automatic loader. It had a short-tubed rocket launcher which could fire a radio-guided anti-tank projectile with a HEAT warhead, or a rocket propelled general purpose projectile with a high explosive fragmentation warhead. The gun system was fully automated.

The prototype underwent trials in 1962. However, serious reliability issues led to the termination of development.

Obiekt 287 was a missile carrier tank also based on the T-64 chassis. It was intended to offer long range firepower to complement the T-64. It was designed with a pop-up launcher in the hull rear which was armed with 15 radio-guided missiles. Located to the front sides of the launcher were two small unmanned containers armed with 73mm 2A28 Grom low-pressure guns for short-range self-defense. Each 73mm gun had 32 rounds of ammunition.

The crew consisted of a driver and a commander/gunner. The engine was located in front. The project was abandoned because the missiles were liable to jamming and the loading system was difficult to operate.

References: TaT, JAA5, JTCV