Military Review

Medium tank Al Faw / Enigma. Simple modernization of the T-55 in Iraqi

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Iraqi T-55 tank abandoned during the retreat, February 1, 1991. Photo by the US Army


Soviet averages Tanks T-55s were delivered to many foreign countries, and some of them eventually developed their own options for the modernization of such equipment. A very interesting project was created in Iraq in the late eighties, its task was to increase the level of protection. This version of the T-55 gained fame under the names Al Faw and Enigma.

Forced measures


Unfortunately accurate история The Enigma project is still unknown. Iraq during the reign of Saddam Hussein was a closed state and was in no hurry to disclose all the data on its military equipment. Nevertheless, various sources are known from various sources, which make it possible to make an overall picture.

The appearance of the Al Faw project (the alleged Iraqi name) can be considered one of the consequences of the Iran-Iraq war. During the conflict, it turned out that the existing medium tanks cannot effectively counter modern anti-tank weapons. A radical renewal of the fleet of armored vehicles was required.

Medium tank Al Faw / Enigma. Simple modernization of the T-55 in Iraqi
The first demonstration of the Type 69 tank with an Al Faw kit. Photo Tanks-encyclopedia.com

Own production of tanks was absent, and its launch was not possible. The purchase of new tanks abroad was ruled out due to a weakened economy. The only way out was the modernization of cash machines on their own. Using certain solutions, it was possible to increase some characteristics of armored vehicles and thereby improve its combat capabilities.

The basis of the Iraqi armored forces was the T-55 medium tank and its production options in several countries. Initially, such equipment was purchased from the ATS states, then the supply of Chinese copies began. By the end of the eighties, the army had a mixed fleet of 2,5-3 thousand tanks of different models. It was the T-55 and its derivatives that were to undergo modernization.

Features of the project


Probably, design work began at the final stage of the Iran-Iraq war. The project immediately faced serious difficulties: the T-55 is obsolete and needed to be replaced or updated with all the main systems. However, the replacement of weapons or fire control systems was impossible, and updating the power unit was extremely difficult. As a result, it was decided to do only by strengthening the reservation of the frontal and side projections.


The full face of the serial Enigma. Figure Tanks-encyclopedia.com

The regular homogeneous armor of the hull and turret was supplemented by overhead combined protection units. Each such block was a box of 5 mm steel with a special filling. The block contained 5-6 bags of 15 mm aluminum sheet, 4 mm steel sheet and 5 mm rubber sheet. Between the packages there were voids 20-25 mm wide. The blocks could have a different shape corresponding to the installation site.

Larger overhead blocks were installed on the upper frontal part of the body; they were distinguished by the presence of rectangular cutouts for towing hooks. A pair of smaller blocks were placed on the fenders. Eight blocks of various shapes and sizes were assembled into a screen covering the front half of the side and chassis. The rest of the sides and feed did not have additional protection.

The forehead and cheekbones of the tower received eight patch blocks, four to the right and left of the gun. Tower blocks differed in beveled shape and formed a kind of skirt that increased the projection of the dome. The installation of additional armor on the forehead of the tower led to a change in balance and threatened to jam the shoulder strap. For this reason, brackets with a rectangular counterweight block appeared at the stern.


Enigma Trophy Tank at the Bovingt Tank Museum. Elements of strengthening the frontal projection are clearly visible. Wikimedia Commons Photos

It is believed that a set of additional armor was supposed to protect the tanks from old and modern means of destruction. Combined armor on top of the regular homogeneous allowed to count on protection against cumulative or sub-caliber armor-piercing shells of tank guns. Also, some sources mention that the Al Faw tank was able to withstand the hit of an unidentified MILAN missile. Early versions of this ATGM could penetrate 350-800 mm of homogeneous armor.

The protection of the tank was improved at the cost of a noticeable increase in the combat mass. A set of blocks for the hull and turret weighed more than 4 tons. As a result, the combat weight of the upgraded T-55 tank grew to 41 tons, and the specific power fell from 16,1 to 14,1 hp, which led to some reduction in mobility and patency.

Mysteries of Production


In 1989, a tank with the Al Faw kit was shown for the first time at a military exhibition in Baghdad. It is curious that the T-55 was not used as a prototype, but its Chinese modernization, Type 69-II. The exhibition tank received additional blocks of armor, but did not have a counterweight on the tower. This unit appeared a little later, probably according to the test results.


The same car, rear view. A counterweight is installed on the tower. Wikimedia Commons Photos

According to a common version, the serial modernization of cash tanks started in the late eighties and lasted just a couple of years - in fact, between the two wars. Volumes of production are unknown. According to various estimates, Iraq managed to refine at least five tanks. The upper limit of their numbers is estimated from eight units to several tens.

Subsequently, the study of wrecked or captured tanks showed that the modernization was carried out at a low technological level. Standardization of production was minimal. Overhead blocks differed from each other and, probably, in each case were adjusted to the installation site. Interchangeability and maintainability left much to be desired.


The frontal block of the tower is raised, its internal structure is visible. Wikimedia Commons Photos

There is a version according to which a few tanks with improved protection were distributed between different units and used as commander tanks. This explains the fact that Al Faw subsequently worked in the same battle formations with other tanks of the T-55 family.

Tanks in battle


Al Faw first took part in the fighting at the end of January 1991 during the Battle of Khafji. In the attack on the territory of Saudi Arabia participated approx. 100 Iraqi tanks, including a number of cars with enhanced reservation. The military of the UN International Coalition had not previously encountered such a technique, which is why it was given the nickname Enigma ("Riddle" or "Secret"). It was under this name that Iraqi tanks became widely known in the world.

During the battles at Khafji, the Iraqi army lost 30 tanks of various types. The coalition was given the opportunity to study several of the crippled Enigms and draw conclusions. It turned out that the patch armor can protect the tank from being defeated by various anti-tank weapons. However, a missile hit could disrupt the block from its place. In addition, one of the upgraded tanks had a hole in the gun’s area - an enemy shell fell into the gap between the additional protection units.


Padded Iraqi tanks after the Battle of Khafji - T-55 and Al Faw. Photo Tanks-encyclopedia.com

Subsequently, Al Faw / Enigma tanks were repeatedly used in the new Gulf War battles, but their operation was not mass due to the limited number. The technical and organizational superiority of the enemy led to well-known results. T-55 and Enigma constantly suffered losses; part of the equipment in one state or another has become trophies.

Limited success


In general, the Iraqi project, known as Al Faw or Enigma, cannot be considered the best option for modernization of the T-55 medium tank. Due to a number of objective limitations, the project affected only one aspect of the combat vehicle, and its practical results were far from ideal.

As the events of the Gulf War showed, the Enigma armored tank really differed from the base T-55, Type 59, or Type 69 for the better in terms of resistance to anti-tank weapons. However, for the rest it was almost the same machine with the same firepower and deteriorating mobility. By the sum of the characteristics, the modernized T-55 lost to almost all of the enemy’s tanks.


T-55 Enigma at the Aberdeen Museum, USA. Photo Tanks-encyclopedia.com

From the point of view of the coalition forces, the basic tanks and the upgraded Enigma were almost the same, and their defeat was a "matter of technology." All this led to well-known results for both tanks and their operators.

According to known data, at least 4-5 T-55 and “Type 59/69” tanks with additional reservation packages have been preserved. Now they are in museums in the USA, Great Britain and other countries. All these machines were taken as trophies during the events of 1991. In 2003, such trophies were absent, which may indicate a cessation of production in the early nineties.

Most of the information about the Enigma / Al Faw project is still a mystery and may never be known. However, even the available information allows us to draw important conclusions. The Iraqi project has once again confirmed that the T-55 can be modernized in various ways and get very interesting results. However, it was also shown that the modernization of technology should be comprehensive. Strengthening the armor minimally helped the Enigmas in battles and actually did not affect the course of hostilities.
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  1. Kote Pan Kokhanka
    Kote Pan Kokhanka 17 May 2020 05: 20 New
    14
    Thanks for the "samovar" !!!
    It makes sense to talk about other modernizations of the T-54 (T-55). Romanian “six”, Israeli “Tirana” and other delights of technical thought to improve the indestructible product of the Nizhny Tagil Tank Industry!
    Including about domestic modernizations on the themes "Drozd", "Bastion"!
    Regards, Vlad!
    1. Kuroneko
      Kuroneko 17 May 2020 05: 53 New
      +3
      Quote: Kote pane Kohanka
      other delights of technical thought to improve the indestructible product of the Nizhny Tagil Tank Industry!

      Why suddenly "Nizhny Tagil" something? The T-55 was developed in Kharkov (at the Morozov Design Bureau), and it was also produced there, and also in Omsk - and by no means only at UVZ. = _ =
      1. Kote Pan Kokhanka
        Kote Pan Kokhanka 17 May 2020 06: 07 New
        11
        T-55 brainchild of KB Kravtsov, who worked in Nizhny Tagil at the factory N183! By the way, "183" was the leading factory, which was responsible for the mass production of the T-54 and T-55.
        There are documents from the Omsk and Kharkov factories in the UVZ archive, the latest ones signed by Morozov, on technical issues.
    2. The leader of the Redskins
      The leader of the Redskins 17 May 2020 06: 21 New
      +3
      The coolest (but more expensive) is the Kharkov modernization. With 125 mm, automatic, etc.
      Happy weekend, colleagues! hi
      1. Kote Pan Kokhanka
        Kote Pan Kokhanka 17 May 2020 06: 48 New
        15
        Hao, Leader of the Redskins !!!
        Half a century (well, almost) before the Kharkov delights of an independent Ukraine, Zverev was offered the six-wheeled T-55 and T-62 designs with a 125mm gun and automatic loader. Alas, they didn’t pass, and therefore an extra quarter of a century was riveted at the Omsk T-55 factory!
        If memory fails in the 90s, an exhibition project T-55 + 1 skating rink, with towers from T-80U and the Black Eagle, was exhibited at the exhibition in Svetly. Alas, it didn’t go beyond beautiful pictures, as with BTR-T!
        However, the Kharkovites still have everything ahead, the T-64 and T-80 are over, now they are modernizing the “darn tagilians” - the T-72! Soon they will end so that ahead of the bright raging modernization of the T-54 and T-55. when I don’t propose to remove them from the T-34 pedestals and upgrade them !!!
        Well, the last "nail". Design Bureau Morozov was developing the T-54 on the Nizhny Tagil "183"! This plant, as it was evacuated to the Urals, never returned to Kharkov. In fact, according to the legislation, the legally real Kharkov plant begins its history with the T-44! Which, by the way, was also developed by Morozov in the Urals, but mass production was established in the liberated Kharkov.
        R.s. Guys and girls, despite their localism, I am well aware that without Koshkin, Morozov and Kharkiv people who raised Tagil, there was no real UVZ! However, as without Leningrad-Chelyabinsk tank city!
        Yours!
        1. The leader of the Redskins
          The leader of the Redskins 17 May 2020 07: 03 New
          +5
          So it’s mock-ups, and here it is in metal:

          Well, some tanks in storage they have, according to new official data, t 64 - 700 units, t-72 - about 500. About "80" and old models were not mentioned. So it's enough to revive for a long time ...
          1. Xenofont
            Xenofont 17 May 2020 08: 51 New
            +1
            And this data does not indicate how much of the presence is not looted? The whole era of independence passed under the sign of "cannibalism" of technology, because if it was impossible to sell the whole tank, then it was sold for parts.
            1. The leader of the Redskins
              The leader of the Redskins 17 May 2020 08: 59 New
              +3
              I indicated the last official from publicly available sources. The scandals that opened after the checks, when the conflict began, have already died down. Here is the fact that not everything is in place inside the buildings, that's for sure. We and some of them ... Shells stood!))) According to the papers - BTR, and visually - BTR, and climb inside ... I don’t even know if the engine was there.
              1. Lopatov
                Lopatov 17 May 2020 10: 40 New
                +1
                Quote: Leader of the Redskins
                We have some in part ... The corps stood!))) According to the papers - an armored personnel carrier, and visually - an armored personnel carrier, but you’ll climb inside ... I don’t even know if the engine was there.

                And how did they pass the checks?
                We even in 1998, with the total absence of everything and all the equipment of the regiment started
                1. The leader of the Redskins
                  The leader of the Redskins 17 May 2020 10: 45 New
                  +1
                  I can not know. But I remember how I was taken to Su 152 for scrap. And that APC 50. And it stood before me, and after ...
              2. bk0010
                bk0010 17 May 2020 17: 29 New
                +6
                -Who are you? Introduce yourself!
                - The commander of the tank corps, Lieutenant Pupkin!
                “Isn't it too cool for a lieutenant to command an entire tank corps ?!”
                - The tower is cn ..., the tracks are about ..., only the casing remains ...
      2. Bad_gr
        Bad_gr 17 May 2020 08: 37 New
        +3
        Quote: Leader of the Redskins
        The coolest (but more expensive) is the Kharkov modernization. With 125 mm, automatic, etc.

        They have even cooler "modernization": the T-55 has changed the chassis (from the T-64). Or the T-64 was equipped with a turret from the T-55. It's like it is more convenient for someone to look at it.

        1. The leader of the Redskins
          The leader of the Redskins 17 May 2020 08: 50 New
          +2
          In principle, as an option, especially for such conflicts as now in the Donbass.
          Tank battles are not planned, and the tank is more often used as a large sniper rifle - left, two three shots and back. Here, AZ and MZ are not needed.
    3. Alekseev
      Alekseev 17 May 2020 08: 59 New
      0
      Quote: Kote pane Kohanka
      It makes sense to talk about other modernizations of the T-54 (T-55).

      That's right!
      But at the same time, it is advisable to know whether these modernizations were successful, or so-so, transferred the good to the city ...
      Tanks of the late forties
      1. Alekseev
        Alekseev 17 May 2020 09: 27 New
        +2
        we’ll continue, the T-54 -55 cannot be brought to the level of modern tanks, but, with increased protection of their remote sensing, curtains, installation of a thermal imager, it is quite possible to fight in Syria or in the Donbass.
        There are still modernizations invisible from the outside but very necessary inside. wink
        So, even more than 30 years ago, I saw on the BPS (55 base) pneumatic boosters on the gearbox, facilitating gear shifting. A trifle, but a very popular modernization!
        1. iouris
          iouris 17 May 2020 12: 45 New
          +1
          Quote: Alekseev
          T-54 -55 not bring to the level of modern tanks

          This is a trivial conclusion. The tanks are modified for the conditions of a particular theater, so it makes sense to evaluate the improvements only from this angle.
        2. Bad_gr
          Bad_gr 17 May 2020 17: 37 New
          +2
          Quote: Alekseev
          So, even more than 30 years ago, I saw on the BPS (55 base) pneumatic boosters on the gearbox, facilitating gear shifting.

          On the gearbox or to squeeze the main clutch?
          I served on the T-62 (similar in control to the T-54-55) (1976-78); the non-air player was on the main one there, but no one used it. I think many did not know that she was there. To turn it on, it was necessary to remove the stopper on the main clutch drive pedal, then the pedal does not pull any pulls, but when fully depressed, the button is pressed, pneumatics are triggered and it pulls the traction going to the motor clutch to the main clutch. I did not use pneumatics, since they didn’t even stutter about it in the training manual, and when I got into linear ones, I did not change the usual controls. Yes, and shift gears manually is much faster than with air.
          1. Alekseev
            Alekseev 17 May 2020 18: 58 New
            +1
            It was a tractor made in the Czech Republic or Poland, and the pneumatic booster was not only on our GF drive, but on the drive for shifting gears.
            The mechanical drive for such a powerful propulsion system requires ACE and careful adjustment and amplification, although experienced mechanics are already used to it ..
        3. Baron pardus
          Baron pardus 1 July 2020 17: 56 New
          0
          The Israelis managed to modify the T-54 to acceptable results about 40 years ago. They called TIRAN. To begin with - the M68 gun + new NVD, stabilizer and SLA. The EMNIP engine with the transmission was also changed, and the Blazer armor was hung from above. Well, the M68 / L7 even now remains relevant. Of course, Abrams and Leopard 2 will not take Leopard 1.5 from XNUMX km, but they will definitely upset him in the side.
    4. hohol95
      hohol95 17 May 2020 14: 19 New
      +1
      IN
      Options for upgrading the tank T-55
      October 2 2013
      1. Kote Pan Kokhanka
        Kote Pan Kokhanka 17 May 2020 14: 20 New
        +2
        Thank you very much! hi
    5. Vitaly gusin
      Vitaly gusin 17 May 2020 20: 55 New
      +2
      Quote: Kote pane Kohanka
      It makes sense to talk about other modernizations of the T-54 (T-55). Romanian “six”, Israeli “tyrants”

      I previously wrote about the T-54 \ 55.
      After the 1967 war, almost four hundred T-54 T-55 became trophies of Israelis
      Some of them were put into service, and some served as a kind of donors of spare parts. In total, the troops got about one and a half hundred of these machines, which received the designation TI-67 "Tiran".
      They installed new means of communication, American machine guns. Later, the standard 100-mm cannon was replaced by a 105-mm, similar to those that were then on tanks made in the United States and Great Britain in the October 1973 war. According to various sources, no more than a dozen of these vehicles were lost in those battles. At the same time, heavy armored personnel carriers "Akhzarit" were created on the basis of T-54 and T-55.

      IDF Tiran / Ti-67 series tank production line in the 70s: in the foreground are the original T-54/55 hulls awaiting processing, in the rear
      lane and left, restored buildings and ready to install towers.
      And today in the tank museum in Latrun you can see

  2. LastPS
    LastPS 17 May 2020 08: 28 New
    +2
    Most of the information about the Enigma / Al Faw project is still a mystery and may never be known.

    What other information is needed? Iraqis hung semi-artisan combined armor blocks on the T-55, that's the whole mystery.
  3. iouris
    iouris 17 May 2020 12: 44 New
    +1
    Engineering thought works! But experience is not enough.
    1. Kote Pan Kokhanka
      Kote Pan Kokhanka 17 May 2020 13: 55 New
      +1
      Quote: iouris
      Engineering thought works! But experience is not enough.

      Given that the modernization project for the Iraqi T-55 was made up by specialists from Germany, it sounds strange.
  4. DDT
    DDT 17 May 2020 18: 28 New
    0
    Hmm ... I now think that even the T-72 is no longer worth the money invested in their modernization, and the Iraqi comrades did not think so. The question is for experts, and is it not easier to turn these tanks all together into heavy armored personnel carriers, or at worst use them as self-propelled guns? Does 122 mm stand the chassis? And will armor protection be an order of magnitude better?
  5. Cer59
    Cer59 17 May 2020 19: 42 New
    0
    interesting discussion of 55 matches. but the fact is that everyone drives the caliber of the gun, trying to increase kinetic energy. you can go a different way, on the contrary, reducing the caliber and increasing the speed of the projectile. at a certain point, we can return to multi-tower tanks. now virtually no limit engine power. put a miniature nuclear reactor ... what is not possible? yes as well.
    at all times there was one problem engine. permeability? bullshit is yesterday's problem. a tank weighing 2-3000 tons will create many problems and most likely it will appear. the reasons for the sunset of multi-tower tanks were different, but there was always one and she was in the combat control of the commander. Now with the introduction of AI, this can be solved.
    the oil painting crawls a multi-tower brick that way sh-20, d-40, in - 15 meters. combined armor, electronic warfare systems and active armor. and what to do with it? when passing weakly soils, I cut in jet engines and, iii, flew over like an air cushion.
    and if not to joke, then 55 is really a beautiful tank. it’s scary to think its development has been going on since 1944, t-44, t-54 .... after all, many seem to be interested in why the t-34s were riveted until 1954? when the t-54 and t-55 were in full swing. if not right correct. It will be nice to hear your opinion.
    and at the mnogobashennik I played in the 2003 strategy. Then the site with the game disappeared.
    and so it was a sweet deed to endure anything and everything. the truth was a serious problem with the wear of the trunks and the supply of fuel and ammunition. there the main thing was not to go far from our own. the main thing is again the overload of the commander.
    1. bk0010
      bk0010 17 May 2020 20: 31 New
      +1
      Quote: Cer59
      the reasons for the sunset of multi-tower tanks were different, but there was always one and she was in the combat control of the commander
      The sunset of multi-tower tanks occurred due to the appearance of anti-tank artillery. For medium and heavy tanks (which were multi-turret) it was necessary to sharply increase armor, which led to a landslide reduction in reserved volumes.
      1. Cer59
        Cer59 17 May 2020 21: 09 New
        +1
        The sunset of multi-tower tanks occurred due to the appearance of anti-tank artillery. this is also one of those reasons. I have no experience driving a tank. but he controlled light and heavy bulldozers. so all the difference comes from the task of using and again the engine power to which all the other parts are welded.
        the engine flew on Caterpillar. a rare case. It is difficult to order ash stumps in the states in Soviet times. Yes, they actually paid in gold.
        a craftsman was found who pinned him a diesel engine with a T-550 or 500 Cheboksary. in a word they shoved them from the workshop.
        specialists said in a week will die. threshed three terms while working. although the caterpillar was almost twice as heavy as ours.
        so give me an engine and i .....
  6. seagull
    seagull 18 May 2020 00: 51 New
    0
    Well, that’s modern, beautiful ... For its time .... Such a modernization for Syria, only to put a basket on the tower as a counterweight and close the stern with anti-cumulative gratings. Active armor blocks add.
    The way the Syrians are dropping their tanks with concrete blocks, no way ...
    1. Essex62
      Essex62 18 May 2020 09: 55 New
      0
      Well, Iraq, at that time, was a little richer, there was no civil war and occupation. The equipment park looked very impressive. Do not interfere with the Masons, S. Hussein could well pile on his neighbors.
      Regarding the built-in plates in the blocks, judging by the photo of the raised block, the distance between the plates is no less than 25 mm, as indicated in the article.
  7. Barb
    Barb 27 May 2020 15: 03 New
    0
    Quote: Kote pane Kohanka
    Soon they will end so that ahead of the bright raging modernization of the T-54 and T-55. when I don’t propose to remove them from the T-34 pedestals and upgrade them !!!

    You can’t use the T-34, the T-34 of their favorite Nazis wound around the tracks!