7 August 1973 an event occurred that became known to the public only in 1990-ies - by the joint resolution of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the USSR Council of Ministers No. 554-172 the T-72 main battle tank (MBT) established in the Urals was adopted by the Soviet Army design bureau of transport engineering and produced at the Ural Carriage Works.
Today it is the most numerous, well-known and "belligerent" MBT of the world. In popularity, it surpasses only that Kalashnikov assault rifle. Unlike many other MBT T-72 causes only two feelings: they either admire or, on the contrary, are subjected to the most destructive criticism. Not a single soldier or engineer who dealt with the "seventy-two war" remained indifferent to her. And T-72 is the visiting card of UVZ and UKBTM in 1970 – 1990-e.
“Seventy Dvd” is not just a fighting machine with a certain set of properties and characteristics, but also a monument to the national industrial culture materialized in metal, combining the experience of the Tagil school of designing combat vehicles, the unsurpassed mastery of mass production and the original fusion of domestic and borrowed technologies.
Of particular value is the fact that the list of countries that have managed to independently develop the design and master the technology for mass production of MBTs is shorter than the list of states that have their own aircraft manufacturing industry. So, simply recognizing the value of Soviet and Russian industrial culture in the field of tank building is completely insufficient. It must be studied, and the conclusions must be taken into account when solving modern problems and tasks. And if you turn to the main character of our publication - tank T-72, it is much more important to know not what kind of tank it is, but to understand why it is so. In other words, we must delve into the logic of the innovation process, into the system of thinking and values of the designers, technologists and military, who created and tested the T-72.
That is how the past can teach lessons to the future.
LESSON FIRST AND MOST IMPORTANT: HURRY DON'T HURRY
As is known, tank building originated in Nizhny Tagil in 1941, as a result of the evacuation of the Kharkov plant No. XXUMX. In 183, unlike many other displaced enterprises, the plant was left in the Urals, and in Kharkov, on the basis of the shops that had survived after the occupation, a new one under the number 1945 and a new design bureau appeared. Thus, today the legal successor of the pre-war Kharkov plant number 75 is Uralvagonzavod.
In 1950, Kharkiv citizens began to gradually return to their homeland. By the end of 1950, everyone who wanted to work in Kharkov received this opportunity. Nevertheless, a significant group has already voluntarily remained in Nizhny Tagil, and right up to the 1960-s the former employees of the pre-war plant No. 183 equally constituted the core of the Kharkov and Tagil design bureaus.
The surviving evidence suggests that the decision to remain in Nizhny Tagil or to return to Ukraine, in addition to a mass of personal factors, was also based on a different approach to creating promising armored vehicles. Supporters of "revolutionary" methods (new tank - fundamentally new and most progressive units and assemblies), led by Alexander Morozov, gathered in Kharkov to develop a promising machine, not particularly worrying about the continuity with predecessor tanks. Proponents of evolutionary development and the gradual improvement of combat vehicles remained in Nizhny Tagil.
And then the following happened. Morozov and his colleagues, freed from the problems of servicing the serial production of the T-54 tank, starting from 1952, they were engaged only in a promising tank. At the end of 1966, the T-64 was able, not without problems and intrigues, to push into the arsenal of the Soviet army. And it was immediately known that this was a temporary and intermediate model, which in the coming years had to be replaced by a more powerful T-64A tank - which happened in the 1968 year. And both cars were quite raw. The number of breakdowns and identified design flaws turned out to be such that at the beginning of 1970-ies, USSR Defense Minister Marshal of the Soviet Union Andrei Grechko seriously raised the issue of stopping the release of sixty-fours - at least machines with the 5TDF basic engine. However, it did: the plant and the design bureau were able to bring their offspring to the level of military requirements. In 1973 – 1974, the T-64А tank was considered a combat-ready and more or less reliable vehicle. However, here’s a paradox: by the time technical difficulties were overcome, the car was already inferior to a competitor from Nizhny Tagil (this will be discussed below), and it turned out that it is difficult to modernize.
The total “issue price” today can hardly be set, but it is known that the project resulted in the removal of X-NUMX T-250 prototype tanks - due to their complete incompatibility with mass-produced products and the impossibility of reworking at moderate costs.
And what happened in the meantime in Nizhny Tagil? Uralvagonzavod bore full responsibility for equipping the tank units of the Soviet army with middle-class machines, and in the most dangerous years of the Cold War, full of local conflicts. In order not to fall behind in the arms race, over the course of the 1950-ies, one after another, more and more advanced modifications of the T-54 were created and put into mass production: T-54A, T-54B, T-55. The beginning of the 1960-ies was marked by the creation of the T-62 tank, a fighter of enemy vehicles, equipped for the first time in the world with a smooth-bore 115-mm gun. And finally, in 1969, for the first time in the world, a tank-based IT-1 fighter with antitank-guided missiles as the main weapon was adopted for mass production and mass production.
It should be noted that the promising tank building in Nizhny Tagil after the “sixty-two war” was deliberately inhibited by higher authorities, in order not to create competition for Kharkiv citizens. However, the ban somehow managed - mainly under the flag of the modernization of serial machines. This is how the experimental tanks “167 object”, “167Т object”, “166J object”, “166М object” and others appeared. Tagilchanes run around a promising undercarriage on them, gained experience in operating high-powered engines, worked out their own automatic loader with the installation of 125-mm guns, etc.
And when in the year 1968 opened the opportunity to express themselves in the creation of a “mobilization” version of the T-64, all this wealth immediately migrated to the experienced tanks “object 172” and “172М”. The latter, after the most severe tests that the military, who had been burned to T-64, could have figured out, became a T-72 tank. From the "sixty-four" on it were only the outer contours of the hull and turret, as well as on-board gearboxes. At the same time managed to limit the minimum cost. The number of experimental machines, even taking into account the products of the first half of 1960-s, was approximately 70 units.
As for the military-technical level created in Nizhny Tagil MBT, then, according to the calculations of the branch institute "VNIITrasmash", made already in the post-Soviet period, it exceeded T-23А of the 64 model of the year by 1969%.
And now let us ask ourselves a question: why did the Kharkiv team, despite the magnificent design, the freedom of the hands and the benevolent attitude of the management, lose all their advantages to the finish? There are no reasons for personal property: Alexander Morozov and his closest employees were a brilliant design team. We don’t have to speak about the lack of state support: help in fine-tuning Kharkov tanks was simply unprecedented; this never happened stories not only the Soviet, but, perhaps, the world tank design.
The case, as we see it, lies in the other, namely, in the methodology of creating a new tank.
In the report of Professor Major-General Nikolai Gruzdev, “State of Tank Technology during the War”, read in March 1944 at a meeting of the Tank Section of the Scientific and Technical Committee of the People's Commissariat of the Tank Industry and having a great influence on the post-war development of the national tank industry shows that only the design provides a quick entry into the series, which is based on pre-worked units, that is, design, as a combination of used units. Therefore, continuous improvement of the aggregates is necessary. Designing a new tank while at the same time creating new aggregates means, as a rule, handing over a series of unfinished machines. ”
Alexander Morozov, in an effort to drastically, in a tactical and technical manner, break away from serial products, decided to literally create a new tank. The idea was great, but the burden was overwhelming. Already 5 June 1958, Morozov wrote in his diary: “The task of creating ed. “430” is very complicated, everything is practically new. I have not solved such problems before. ”
Tagilchane acted consistently and evolutionarily - and quite consciously. This is evidenced by the words of the chief designer of that time, Leonid Kartsev: “We always went towards the same goal, but in different ways. Kharkiv had an advantage over us, since in Moscow everyone, up to the Central Committee, relied on them and helped them in every way. On the other hand, the Kharkiv citizens had tremendous difficulties, since they, having no reserve of used components and mechanisms, immediately decided to significantly break away from the production tank in terms of tactical and technical characteristics. We were moving in separate steps, taking and introducing quickly into the serial tank everything that appeared new in science and technology. ”
The opinion of Leonid Kartsev is confirmed by outside observers.
Worked hand in hand with the Tagil designers army tester A.I. Lukyanov later noted an important feature of the work of the Ural KB, which appeared during the creation of the “172M object”: “What was indicative of this whole business? This is the speed of testing. And it was provided with the presence of pre-tested units. As a result, the whole cycle from the start of development to the adoption into service took only three years. So, it seemed, we need to do further: to order advanced units, and then on their base to create a new tank. So far this is probably the only example. Usually it always turned out the opposite. We ordered a new tank, and a new development began - everything from the first to the last bolt again. Here both the ambitions of the chief designer and the connivance of the customer work. ”
And Lukyanov worked no longer with Kartsev, but with his successor as chief designer Valery Venediktov. Traditions of evolutionary development were then supported by other chief designers: Vladimir Potkin and Vladimir Domnin. They persist today, when UKBTM is headed by Andrei Leonidovich Terlikov.
Unfortunately, the desire to solve problems “fundamentally and for years to come” was inherent not only and not so much to designers, but above all to the country's top leaders. Kharkov “revolutionaries” invariably presented brilliant draft designs against which the modest proposals of the Tagil “evolutionists” looked gray and unconvincing. The fact that the “revolutionary” versions will be only partially fulfilled, at the wrong time and at the expense of gigantic costs, and the “evolutionary” versions will be realized with superb accuracy, was too often revealed in hindsight when the game was already played.
LESSON TWO: THE PRICE IS VALUABLE
In specialized publications, from time to time there are publications on the topic of necessity, along with the production of conventional MBTs for the creation and small-scale production of a “tank of limiting parameters,” which absorbed the most advanced ideas, designs and best materials - regardless of their cost.
For the 1980-s, such a tank was a T-80 with a gas turbine engine, opposed to those who were considered more primitive and even “oak” T-72. "Eighties" in the first place and in full received the most advanced fire control systems, armor steel electroslag remelting, etc. On the T-72 went what was left, or cheaper substitutes. As a result, tanks with GTE invariably had, compared to diesel peers, though not too big, but an indisputable advantage in WT coefficients.
The first in the infallibility of well-established assessments was doubted by one of the prominent figures of the Soviet Tankprom, Yuriy Kostenko. No, he did not dispute the VNIITransmash data, but considered the criteria used insufficient and, in particular, ignoring the cost factor. We consider it necessary to give the reasoning of Yuri Kostenko in more detail: “Let us evaluate the specific situation in the domestic tank building that took place at the beginning of 1989 of the year. Consider two of the same type of tank, which were in mass production and in service. Conventionally, we denote their tank number 1 and tank number 2. In accordance with the existing methodology, the coefficient of the technical level of the tank No. 1 is equal to 1,25, and the tank No. 2 to 1,15. Without taking into account economic characteristics, tank No. 1 has some advantage. What are the values of these characteristics? The cost of tank number 1 is equal to 824 thousand rubles., Including the engine - 104 thousand rubles. The cost of the tank number 2 is 280 thousand rubles., Including the engine - 15 thousand rubles. Serial production of tanks No. 1 is significantly less than tanks No. 2, but this circumstance determines the high cost of the tank No. 1, but its design and technological complexity. ”
Designations of Yuri Kostenko - tank No. 1 tank No. 2 - not too difficult masking of the T-80 and T-72. Only one Soviet tank engine - GTD-1000ТF - cost 104 thousand rubles; and the wholesale price of the T-72B tank, according to the 1988 data of the year, was 271,1 thousand rubles, that is, even less than the figure adopted in the calculations of Yuri Kostenko.
It turns out an interesting picture: for the amount required to produce one T-80U tank, it was possible to build three T-72B tanks. Therefore, Yury Kostenko introduced one more indicator into the calculation of VTU - cost - and received the following figures: if VTU of a T-80 tank is 1,25, then a T-72B tank is 3,38. In other words, in the framework of the criterion "efficiency - cost" T-72B is 2,7 times as large as T-80У.
To the above, it can be added that in Soviet times, the cost was directly associated with laboriousness. This means that the labor and power required for the production of three T-72B tanks ensured the release of only one T-80. Of course, in a battle, one "eighty dozen" cannot replace three "seventy-twenties".
The gap in operating costs for T-80 and T-72 is not as great as in production, but also expressed in convincing figures. According to the calculations made in 1997 for the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, the cost of capital repairs and depreciation-operating costs for 1 km of run for “eighty dozen” are tens of percent higher than for T-72.
THIRD LESSON: FAMILY BUILDING
Unfortunately, the saying “Everything new is well forgotten old” still does not lose its relevance. All the prospects of modern tank building associated with the development of "platforms" - light, medium and heavy. And each of them will consist of an extensive family of deeply unified, modular combat and engineering vehicles.
The idea itself is not new: it was formulated by the VNIITransmash specialists in Soviet times. And then the first attempts were made. Business did not reach modular design, but the use of a single base seemed promising.
In fact, this happened only in relation to the T-72 tank. Through the efforts of several design bureaus, primarily Nizhnetagilsky UKBTM and Omsk KBTM, in 1970 – 1980, armored repair and recovery vehicles, engineering demarcation machines, bridge layers were created and put into mass production. Then the first combat vehicle based on the T-72 entered service. This is a heavy flamethrower system TOC-1 "Buratino". The situation was different with the Msta-S IG. Its creators, the designers of Uraltransmash, initially focused on the use of a relatively cheap and, most importantly, accessible base of "seventy-two". However, the suspension of the car turned out to be unsuitable for use on a leading self-propelled fire over long distances. Launching was quite feasible, but the high contracting parties did not agree on the deadlines for execution. The Uraltransmash team had to use the chassis of the T-80 tank. Thus, a hybrid appeared in the form of a chassis with the MTO of the T-72 tank and the chassis of the "Eighties".
In the post-Soviet period, improved WRI, BREM and MTU were created and started on a more modern T-90 base. And in the 2000-ies, UKBTM began to offer consumers redesign projects into special and engineering vehicles of obsolete T-72 tanks, which are abundantly available in different countries.
At the same time, a new technique for the battlefield appeared. This is an armored mine clearance vehicle and a tank support combat vehicle - the founder of an entirely new class of armored vehicles. Today, BMPT exists in several versions: the newly built vehicle based on the T-90 tank, modifications of the T-72B tanks, as well as various older versions of the T-72.
Note that they are actively engaged in the transformation of T-72 tanks into various combat and engineering vehicles abroad. Currently, the T-72 / T-90 type tanks are the base for the world's largest armored vehicle family and do not have any serious competitors in this regard.
And now we ask ourselves the question: why exactly T-72? In the USSR, by the end of the 1970s, there was also a more advanced base in the form of the T-80 tank. Some technical problems with its use existed, but there was nothing unsolvable. Here, apparently, a completely different circumstance was played: the high labor intensity of the machine and, consequently, the insufficient number of them did not allow spending expensive equipment for auxiliary needs. Constantly there was a temptation to apply something simpler. The basis for the "platform" can only serve as a relatively cheap, and most importantly, simple to manufacture and therefore a mass machine such as the T-72.
The scale of a newspaper article, of course, does not allow even in the first approximation to provide the reader with all the lessons and the entire experience of domestic tank construction in the second half of the 20th and early 21st centuries. However, we believe this is enough to draw attention to the need for a thorough study of this topic, and in order not so much historical as for the sake of practical purposes, not to repeat past mistakes and misconceptions.
As for the T-72 tank, in its most advanced production versions - the T-90A and T-72B3 - it will serve 20 for years in the Russian army. Modernization of the "seventy-twenty" with the installation of the combat module, presented today on the T-90MS, will allow the old car to live even until the middle of the XXI century.
All of the enterprises, design bureaus and scientific institutions listed in the article, except for the Kharkov plant, are included in the Uralvagonzavod research and production corporation.