What were Soviet tanks afraid of? Memories of designer Leonid Kartsev

Tank T-72V3M

“I served and operated both of these machines and I will say that this is not so. The T-62 was a dead end in development, and it could not surpass the T-55 in any ... specified indicator. "
svp67 (Sergey)

Designers tell. It so happened historically that at one time I was invited to edit one of the books of the authors of the Kirov factory about the tanks that they produced, and this gave me a lot of very interesting information. Then they were invited to the editorial board of the journal "Equipment and armaments". This post, of course, was purely nominal, for the list in the output of the magazine, and I wrote my articles there on a common basis, so I continued to write. However, there was a preference - a free subscription to this magazine. And it published very interesting memoirs of our designers and aircraft engineers, and rocket launchers, and tankers. That is, people who cooked in the cauldron of their business in the most direct way. I was especially interested in the memoirs of L.N. Kartsev, chief designer and creators of the T-72 tank. There is a lot of everything in them, and not always specific, and related to the topic, so their very close literary retelling is presented to the attention of VO readers. So to say, information about what I sometimes rely on as an author of certain materials, making my own conclusions. My remarks and explanations are also present in the text. But what without this: they are needed to show what conclusions can be reached by reading these memoirs.

Treasured the brand of the plant

One of the problems of our Soviet national economy as a whole and in particular factories (both military and producing peaceful products) were the so-called nonsuns. Their motto was the significant phrase: "You are the master, not the guest, take away even a nail." However, Kartsev himself wrote about this a little differently. From time to time, an exhibition of “objects” seized by his guards at the checkpoint was arranged at his factory. And there they came across homemade pistols, and revolvers, and knives, and pistons with piston rings, and many other homemade products; moreover, the pistols, both in design and in the quality of their manufacture, were the best in the field. Once, even a sealed enclosure to a motorcycle stroller, made very carefully, was tried to be taken out of the factory. A seven-ton hammer worked in the workshop where it was banged, riveting only one detail - the axle for railway cars, and then they made a stroller on you! And then the factory director, under Kartsev, turned to the shop manager and said that, if I had given you the task of making such a stroller, you would have asked for at least 50 designers, technologists, in addition to the staff ... ”And here - once , two and you're done! And what is this talking about? But only that in Soviet times, his own shirt was closest to the body, and that you could work for yourself much more efficiently than for society.

By the way, Kartsev writes that the directors of the plant were constantly asking: why is he at risk of introducing new machines? To this he replied that, firstly, he valued the plant’s brand, he wanted to be ahead of Kharkov in tanks, and besides, otherwise he would not be able to economically keep the plant afloat.

“Okunev’s last phrase needs clarification,” Kartsev wrote further, and explained it in such a way that until 1965 the Stalinist system of government operated in the industry, worked clearly and yielded positive results. “Then every year in February the production norms were tightened by 15% by directive. If for the manufacture of any part they paid, for example, one ruble, then from March 1 already 85 kopecks, and next year 72 kopecks, etc. ” One of his colleagues joked about the next reduction in prices: “I have been working at the plant for many years, the norms are being tightened every year, now the plant has to pay extra for tanks, and not get money.”

Therefore, in order to make a profit, the factory tried to reduce the labor intensity of production, introducing ever newer and more productive equipment or completely “Soviet” laying in the norms an extra “fat”, so that later there would be something to tighten. However, this is wrong. In fact, this same "fat" is nothing more than a direct deception of its own state of workers and peasants, the Soviet people and "universal justice." And what did such a postscript policy lead to? L. Kartsev gives an example: “the laboriousness of manufacturing T-55 and T-62 tanks was almost the same, and due to an improvement in the combat characteristics of the latter, its price was 15% higher than that of the T-55 tank." But this is wrong! Manufacturing plant weapons should be based on actual labor costs, and not which product is "better", but which is "worse." Moreover, the approach to lowering prices with the aim of introducing a new technique is incorrect. We need a scientific calculation of increasing labor productivity based on the introduction of new technology, a plan for this calculation, since it was planning that was the foundation of our society, and a plan - new equipment. And already after their application would have yielded results, it would have been possible to reduce prices, since this would not have affected the workers' salaries. This is the only possible approach in a socially oriented state.

It is interesting that L. Kartsev liked the introduction of the economic councils, and that is why.

“With the introduction of these new regional governance structures, we immediately felt a big difference with the former ministries, in which swagger, arrogance and red tape flourished.” But the economic councils liked him for his accessibility. That is, somehow ... "at home" they worked, without this very red tape and other things, that's even how. In the Sverdlovsk economic council, at first there was no access control at all. And they introduced him for one “important reason”: that outsiders should not go into the dining room of the economic council. ”

Moreover, Kartsev himself in his memoirs repeatedly critical of N.S. Khrushchev, but here is his brainchild, as the economic councils, as you see, the chief designer of tanks liked.

According to Kartsev, economic councils allowed the creation of enterprises of various industries in one region. This has accelerated the sharing of best practices. As a result, it turned out that the factories of our Sverdlovsk State Economic Council alone were able to manufacture and fully equip any tank ... But the main thing, in his opinion, were new people, production specialists who came to them. And he writes that he was very disappointed when in 1965, after the removal of Khrushchev, the economic councils dissolved and revived the structure of managing the national economy from a single center.

And here is his opinion (as the chief designer) about the activities of the so-called leading industry institutions. How three of them functioned, he knew especially well. They themselves were not directly involved in the development of design documentation for new machines before introducing them into production. Their main task, according to Kartsev, was completely different, namely, to please everyone in the line ministry up to the very last official. Moreover, any orders of local party bodies should be unconditionally followed. The main thing was to find out “where the wind is blowing”, and then bring the “scientific” base to any idea that the higher authorities expressed. But the worst thing was that they, like vacuum cleaners, pulled talented personnel from industry.

For example, such “wonderful, talented designers as I. Bushnev, N. Izosimov, Yu. Gancho, A. Skornyakov, I. Khovanov, S. Lorenzo and others” left the Kartsev design bureau for a tank research institute. eyes, while others simply became drunk with boredom. That is, people who could benefit the state by falling into this “administrative swamp” ceased to do this, but ... they received regular salaries.

He bothered the "tankers" and our Soviet life. So, in the summer of 1969, two Object 172 tanks were transported from Nizhny Tagil to Central Asia. Well, of course, knowing that there are refrigerators on sale that for some reason were absent in Nizhny Tagil, the plant’s chief gave the money to purchase them to the chief of the train. We bought 65 refrigerators, covered with a tarp and drove.

But it turned out that the commandant of one of the stations, examining the train, looked under the tarp, saw these refrigerators and immediately called OBKhSS. As a result, an echelon arriving from Central Asia with tanks was not allowed into the plant, it was kept “under arrest”, and employees who donated money to the refrigerators were alternately summoned for interrogation “where necessary” for a month and a half. They did not find crime, but they made people nervous and delayed work on tanks.

“I have never bowed to anyone”

In the process of creating new tanks things were constantly happening, not just curious, but even such that it was impossible to give them a decent definition. Kartsev was appointed chairman of the commission for the acceptance of the layout of the new tank model of the Kirov Plant. One of the remarks was this: the size of the tower roof does not allow to put hatches for the crew, as expected, that is, its axis across the tower. The Kirovites, however, found a way out: they set them, deployed 90 degrees. It is clear, it seems, not even to a professional, which is uncomfortable. You do not have to be an engineer to notice and understand this. And one more thing - military affairs does not suffer inconvenience. But ... but!

When Kartsev indicated this, the chief designer of Kirovsky replied that the size of the hatch exactly corresponds to GOST. Kartsev had to ask: “Nikolay Sergeyevich, is the door in your office made in accordance with GOST?” He, of course, answered: “Yes.” It was then that Kartsev invited him to turn the door 90 degrees, and exit through it ... As a result, the layout was not approved. But it was obvious from the very beginning. But yesterday’s schoolchildren didn’t do it!

Further more interesting. In 1974, the General Staff ordered the Nizhny Tagil R&D to determine the combat effectiveness of tanks. Moreover, the T-55 tank was taken as a sample, the efficiency coefficient of which was taken as a unit. Two industrial research institutes and the Military Academy of Armored Forces participated in this work. Understood the odds for two years. Moreover, Kartsev, although he was the chief designer of the plant in Nizhny Tagil, at first did not participate in this work, since he did not see productivity in it. Anyway, nothing changed in tanks.

Finally, the General Staff demanded a summary table of this “important work”. To speed up the work, Kartsev proposed not to count the hundredths, but to stop on the tenths. And what happened? The coefficient of the T-62 tank became 1,1 and the same was for everyone else. Then Kartsev, who was supposed to be responsible for this table, asked the audience if they knew how the Pope was chosen in the Vatican? Nobody knew, and then he said that he himself would go to dinner, and they would only block and release them when they agreed on all the points. Needless to say, everything was agreed while the chief dined. True, it remained to determine the coefficients for the promising tank.

And then Kartsev came to the rescue again история"When Suvorov took Ishmael, he said, they informed him that the tsarina wanted to know how many Turks were killed?"And he ordered:"Write more, is it a pity that these Basurmans?""So we will do the same, - the main one was found. - Let’s take the largest numbers of all those proposed, because no one knows what kind of tank it will be". And everyone immediately agreed with this proposal and immediately went to dinner. Because tanks are tanks, and there is something you really want right now. An hour later, the table was already printed. Everyone signed it. And Kartsev went to Babajanyan, and he immediately approved it. That's how the two-year work was completed on just one especially insignificant piece of paper!

No less indicative is the story of tanks from Syria. It was in the winter of 1978. A complaint was received from Syria about poorly executed tank repairs that were being repaired at our repair plants. As always, they immediately gathered a group of specialists and sent to understand. Kartsev arrived as a member of a group in Kiev, where these tanks were being repaired, and he saw that the workers carefully repaired the heater, but some pipes were plugged at the radiator.

Syrian T-62

A friend of Kartsev worked at the enterprise, and when he expressed his comments to him, he explained that everything was done according to the instructions.

“I asked him to give me this instruction. It was done incorrectly: the column “allowed” lists parts and components of poorer quality than the main one, although according to the rules everything should be the other way around. I read the line “radiator”: in the main column - the 1st category, in the column “allowed” - the 2nd category. And so on all the details and nodes. If you assemble a tank from parts according to the column “allowed”, it will not budge at all. ” As a result, Kartsev asked a friend to redo everything “as a friend,” and when he returned from a business trip, he wrote in the report that the poor repair of the tanks delivered to Syria was guilty ... instructions issued by the department of the head of the tank troops. ”

Needless to say, no reaction to his paper was ever followed? After all, the boss cannot be wrong.

Kartsev said to one of the military representatives who had dragged out the terms of the business trip of several engineers, just not having put the signature on the necessary report on time:In response to your bullying, I’ll lock you up in this room and release you until you sign the report.! ”And it is clear that he immediately signed everything. But ... he immediately concocted a letter to the Central Committee of the CPSU, in which he accused Kartsev of statements that defamed N.S. Khrushchev, R.Ya. Malinovsky and some other leaders of the country. And besides, before sending it, he demanded to consider it at a meeting of the party committee of the plant.

In general, everyone, to the best of his imagination, can imagine what exactly was written and read at that meeting. Kartsev was given the floor, and he replied so bluntly that he did not agree with the technical line in tank construction, which is now supported by the apparatus of the CPSU Central Committee. But the person and Khrushchev, and Malinovsky, their lives, characters, and behavior, he does not care. Then a word was given to this military representative and he began to read out: "Such a date L.N. Kartsev said that R.Ya. Malinowski cannot be trusted even to nurse grandchildren". Well, then everything is the same.

It is good that one of the party committee members was found here and said that everyone knows Kartsev, that he is a direct and principled person, a patriot of both the factory and our country. But who is this ... How much did he save these notes? In general, everything ended well, but when Kartsev left that party committee meeting, he, as he writes, was simply thrown into a cold sweat. But what if all this happened in 1937? So honest, loyal to Soviet power then people died on denunciations of these!

It's funny that, according to Kartsev, it was the designers and technologists who were the most disadvantaged people in the workplace at that time. So, for 16 years of work as the chief designer, he never received a single award for the constant implementation of quarterly plans for the release of new equipment, not to mention the fact that these plans were constantly exceeded by the plant. And for a long time he did not even realize that these bonuses exist and that the factory administration of his enterprise receives them regularly. In addition, the T-54, T-55, T-62 tanks were licensed in many other countries, in addition, they were sold abroad. But none of the designers received a single penny for this promotion. But it was a question of millions of dollars and rubles received by the state, and from all this wealth it was possible to unfasten its creators at least a couple of percent ?!

Kartsev speaks extremely negatively about the history of the T-80 tank, when in mid-1976 the chief designer of the Kirov plant in Leningrad and a member of the Central Committee of the CPSU, N.S. Popov managed to convince the military and political leaders of the USSR that it was extremely important for us to adopt the T-80. ” Meanwhile, if we compare it with the T-64A and T-72 tanks that we already had, it turns out that he had the same weapons with them, similar indicators in terms of protection and maneuverability, but it is much larger (i.e., approximately 1,6–1,8 times) spent fuel per kilometer, and although its reserve on the tank was significantly increased, its direct range was reduced by 25–30%.

In addition, the T-80 used a fighting compartment taken from the T-64A tank. And it used vertical stacking of shots, which in a battle, according to Kartsev, reduced the survivability of the tank. Another drawback was the impossibility of direct communication of tankers who were in the tower with the driver, and especially his evacuation in case of injury. In general, this tank was more complex, cost more and was less reliable than the same T-64A, not to mention the T-72 tank.

T-80 Impressive leap, right? The leaders of the party and government felt the same way.

Production of the T-80 was started not in Leningrad, but at the Omsk plant, where the T-55 had previously been made. Meanwhile, according to Popov, another new tank will be ready in Kharkov. “These“ miracles, ”writes Kartsev,“ were primarily contributed by D.F. Ustinov, Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR L.V. Smirnov, Head of the Industrial Department of the Central Committee of the CPSU I.F. Dmitriev and other high-ranking officials with the inaction of L.I. Brezhnev. "

In addition to Kartsev’s words, we can add only the following, that hardly all these people were “spies” and “traitors”, “anti-Soviet and Russophobes”. It's just ... they saw it that way, thought it would be better for the country, and for the system, and for themselves. And did not see anything wrong with that! This became clear only later, but so far the fact that they were mistaken was certainly seen by many, but they could do absolutely nothing, including Kartsev himself.

As for the Kharkov T-64A tank (“Object 430”), according to Kartsev, the conceptual idea of ​​this led to the fact that this machine completely lacked development prospects. And the engine, and the running gear, and all its other components, and mechanisms did not have the necessary safety margin and worked to the limit of their capabilities. Due to the peculiarities of laying shots, the crew in it also had a hard time.

Kharkov T-64

Not so with the T-72, which with the T-64A had only one gun the same. Having been accepted for service on August 7, 1973, it was primarily designed for mass production at existing plants and used equipment. The crew living conditions have been improved. Significant reserves for modernization were laid in the tank, as well as the possibility of creating special purpose vehicles on its basis. Well, the fact that all this is exactly so, and not the praise of the designer to his own brainchild, confirms the experience of operating the T-72 in various countries of the world and that it was the most massive tank of the second half of the XNUMXth century.

Kartsev’s opinion on the reasons that caused 1991 is also interesting, although, of course, he considers them from his own familiar side. In his opinion, taking advantage of the fact that our tanks were relatively simple and cheap, "state leaders made rash decisions. ” “Tanks began to be produced in unreasonably large quantities. As a result, the labor of many thousands of people and large material means were spent in vain, which partly contributed to the collapse of the statesa".

“The country was at an impasse, climbed into colossal debts. The leaders of the state sometimes acted as Ellochka the cannibal from the novel by Ilf and Petrov “The Twelve Chairs”, which tried to copy the daughter of an American billionaire. ”

And then, judging by the fate of this chief designer, the “people of the top” simply did not forgive him his talent, conviction, and ... the correctness of his views. When the T-72 "went", the "Moor" was no longer needed, and he was transferred to one of those branch research institutes, whose activities he did not like. Apparently, he did not always politely speak about those whom he considered ... "not too smart" people. But the big bosses, especially in uniform, do not like this. But this part of his memoirs is especially revealing:

“I see satisfaction with my life only in the fact that I never bowed to anyone and did not seek out anyone, did not please anyone in power, did nothing against my conscience. Having never put up with humiliation of myself, I, being vested with administrative power over people, tried to do my best to not offend their human dignity in any way. ”

Wonderful words, isn't it?

Instead of an epilogue

And now, as a kind of epilogue, an example from ancient history will be given to the final paragraph of our story about man and tanks. It is also very revealing and interesting in its own way.

... the great Pericles dies. Around him gathered the best citizens of Athens, his friends, and began to decide how to honor his memory and what to write on his tombstones. One said that he put nine trophies in honor of his military victories, that is, he was a worthy commander; others - that he erected the Parthenon and the Propylaea, while others noted his high moral qualities and the authority of a politician. And then Pericles, about whom they thought he was unconscious, opens his eyes and says that all this, of course, is correct, but you, worthy Athenian men, have forgotten about the most important thing! You can imagine their embarrassment, because they somehow thought that he did not hear them. Finally, one of those present made up his mind and asked: “O glorious Pericles, say what you yourself consider to be your main merit to the fatherland. We went over everything! ”

And Pericles answered as few politicians of the past and present could answer this question. And he said this: “Having been in power in Athens for 14 years and possessing all its fullness, I ruled so wisely and carefully that not a single Athenian can say that it was my fault that he put on a black cloak of grief!” And everyone gathered decided that yes, all his other merits fade before this. And agreed with him!


Kartsev L.N. Memories of the chief designer of tanks. - Equipment and weapons. - 2008. No. 1-5, 8, 9, 11.
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