Full-size mock-up of Object 490, late 80s
Since the late eighties, the Kharkov Design Bureau of Mechanical Engineering (KHMB) has been working on various options for promising tanks. One of the most interesting and daring developments of that time was the “Object 490”. This project proposed the construction of an unusual type of tank, a characteristic layout and special characteristics. Consider this machine in terms of measures to increase the level of protection.
During R&D on the topic “490”, several architecture options for the promising MBT were worked out - both classic and several new ones. High performance promised a new layout with the division of the tank into several compartments for various purposes. In this case, the body was made in the form of a horizontal wedge with a sloping roof. It was proposed to divide a single caterpillar mover into two pairs of tracks.
The tank of the new architecture was to be distinguished by an increased level of resistance to all major threats. The combat qualities were planned to be improved due to the automated fighting compartment and increased caliber guns. A new unusual chassis improved mobility.
The main feature of the “Object 490” was an unusual layout with the separation of the hull and tower into compartments with different equipment and tasks. The proposed option for the placement of units in itself made it possible to cover the most important elements of the tank, as well as protect the crew from the main threats.
The nose compartment, it was proposed to give for the placement of a large fuel tank, separated by longitudinal walls. The armor and tank were supposed to cover other compartments, protecting them from the main threats from the bow angles. The tank design in case of damage allowed the loss of part of the fuel, but allowed to maintain mobility and combat efficiency.
Behind the fuel compartment and under the tower was located the engine-transmission compartment. With this arrangement, the engine and transmission were covered with armor, a tank and a tower. All this minimized the likelihood of damage and complete loss of mobility.
The layout of the machine. 1 - a fuel compartment; 2 - MTO; 3 and 4 - fighting compartment; 5 - crew compartment
The fighting compartment was divided into two parts. The first, including weapons and part of the automatic loading system, was arranged in the form of a tower of the monitors on the roof of the building. The mechanized laying of the ammunition and the means of supplying shots to the turret were placed in its own compartment in the hull, behind the MTO. Like the engine, the styling had the highest possible protection due to several factors.
For the crew provided their own compartment capsule in the stern of the hull. This placement of the capsule virtually eliminated crew damage from the front corners. When attacking an anti-tank weapon that hits a tank from the upper hemisphere, the likelihood of hitting the capsule also decreased due to its reduced area. The habitable volume was equipped with a system of anti-nuclear protection.
Thus, the layout of "Object 490" has been optimized with t.z. mutual arrangement of units and taking into account the most probable threats. When attacking from the main directions, front and top, compartments and units covered each other, providing the best protection for the most important. In addition, a powerful crew protection was provided.
Reservation of “Object 490” was worked out taking into account protection from armor-piercing shells of foreign 120-mm guns. It was proposed to use combined and homogeneous reservations, as well as dynamic protection units.
The upper frontal part was carried out at the same time with an inclined roof of the body in the form of a combined barrier with the possibility of mounting DZ. Also in the forehead was used steel armor with DZ, covering the fuel compartment. The roof with an inclination of 81 ° had the maximum possible reduced thickness and the corresponding level of protection. With all the advantages, such a roof of the hull seriously complicated the development of shoulder straps for the tower.
Crew protection was provided by circular reservation of the aft compartment and combined protection from above. The aft wall of the capsule had openings for hatches.
The frontal part of the tower was also supposed to receive a combined frontal barrier. The roof and sides were made of homogeneous armor of limited thickness. So, the roof of the tower with a slight slope forward had a thickness of only 50 mm - but a significant reduced thickness when fired from the front.
It was proposed to use the bottom of the hull with differential booking, incl. with combined plots. Under the most important compartments and assemblies was a 100 mm bottom, on others - from 20 mm.
The main elements of the armored hull were proposed to be performed in the form of combined protection from two sheets of steel with a filler between them. It was proposed to combine steel grades to reduce the bare-walled effect of the fragments. External and medium elements of the reservation were required to be made of high hardness steel, internal - medium hardness.
It was planned to supplement the metal reservation with dynamic protection. In the eighties, the Research Institute of Steel developed new types of such products, and with their help it was possible to strengthen the reservation of tanks. The use of armor and remote sensing allowed not only to protect the tank from modern threats, but also to provide a reserve for the future.
Speed and maneuver are one of the components of the survivability of MBT on the battlefield. In the project "490" these factors were not only taken into account, but also were one of the key. It was with them that the creation of a special power plant based on two power units, working with two tracked engines, was connected.
With an estimated weight of up to 52-54 tons, the Object 490 needed a power plant with a total capacity of up to 1450-1470 hp. The presence of two engines and two transmissions not only ensured the operation of four tracks, but also to some extent increased survivability. The defeat of one of the power units did not deprive the tank of mobility.
According to calculations, the frontal projection of "Object 490" really could withstand the hit of existing foreign armor-piercing shells. The upper projection of the hull had resistance to cumulative ammunition equivalent to 600 mm of homogeneous armor. At the same time, the roof of the tower was much less durable.
However, the defeat of the tower not in all cases could have fatal consequences. In particular, a single penetration of armor threatened only with the failure of individual devices of the fighting compartment and, in the worst case, only one unit of the power plant. After such a defeat, the tank retained mobility and, possibly, combat effectiveness. It is important that the chances of the crew to survive and maintain health increased many times over.
Thus, at least at the level of theory, a promising tank had significant advantages over existing equipment in the field of protection and survivability. “Object 490” could engage in battle with modern and promising enemy MBTs and be exposed to minimal risk. To a certain extent, all this was to facilitate the fight against enemy armored vehicles and the solution of combat missions.
At the stage of the layout
The development of “Object 490” with the characteristic features of protection was completed in the late eighties. By this time, KHKBM produced a number of models and prototypes for testing various ideas and solutions. The result of such work was the construction of a full-size prototype MBT "490". However, the project did not advance further.
At that time, the political and economic situation did not contribute to the further development of the project and the launch of the series. Due to the collapse of the USSR, the prospects for many projects have become hazy. Subsequent events actually put an end to the “Object 490” and other developments of HCMB. The army of independent Ukraine was not interested in promising domestic tanks, and there were no other potential customers.
Long and important research and development gave a real result in the form of a mass of developments on various topics, but most of them were never used in practice. Nevertheless, the main decisions of the "490" project are still of great interest, both with technical and historical points of view.