Military Review

T-54: the hard way in the series

In October 1944, the design bureau of Plant No. 183 began designing a new tank, which externally differed from the T-44 mainly in a somewhat larger turret and armament consisting of a 100-mm gun. A month later, the chief designer A. A. Morozov reported to the narcotic drug of the tank industry V. A. Malyshev about the idea of ​​creating a machine. The authorities approved the initiative and even sent the work schedule to the enterprise, as always, too optimistic: by December 1, 1944 to make a prototype, by January 15, 1945 - to complete the tests, by May 20 - to multiply and deliver the working drawings to all manufacturers.

In reality, the development of the tank ended in December 1944, and the prototype was made in January-February of the 1945. After showing the government members to the machine in March-April of the same year, it was tested at the NIBTPolygon in Kubinka, the results of which the commission found it advisable to recommend for adoption by the Red Army with the mandatory elimination of the identified deficiencies. The tank received an index T-54.

Own and others

From the serial "forty-fours" T-54 differed tower and gun, as mentioned above, as well as the engine and some details of the hull and chassis.

The 1800 millimeters cast tower with a shoulder-strap diameter had armor thickness in the frontal part of 180 millimeters (in T-44 - 120 mm) and sides - from 90 to 150 in millimeters (in T-44 - 90 mm) with variable tilt from vertical to 20 °. The welded turret roof was made of two rolled armor plates with a thickness of 30 millimeters (in T-44 - 15 mm), welded to each other.

The design of the case as a whole was similar to that of the T-44. However, the thickness of the upper and lower frontal sheets mounted respectively at the corners 60о and 45о from the vertical, was 120 millimeters versus 90 millimeters in T-44. Unlike the latter, there was no viewing slot in the T-54 hull front plate.

The armament of the vehicle consisted of a X-NUMX-mm tank gun D-100ТК and two 10-mm GWT machine guns with band feed: one was paired with a gun, the second, coursework, was installed in the control compartment to the right of the driver.

In the engine compartment (MTO) of the tank, perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the hull, a V-shaped 12-cylinder four-stroke uncompressed diesel B-54 with horsepower 520 was mounted. The fuel system consisted of four fuel tanks with a total capacity of 530 liters. In addition to the internal (main) fuel tanks outside the tank, three additional (two on the right shelf and one on the left) tanks of 55 each each were installed on the fenced shelves. On the T-54, in contrast to the T-44, additional tanks were included in the fuel system. Fuel consumption from the main tanks was made after its production from additional ones.

T-54: the hard way in the series

Cruising on the highway using additional fuel tanks reached 300 – 360 kilometers (T-44 - 235 km).

The chassis was almost entirely borrowed from the T-44, with the exception of road wheels, the width of the rubber array of which increased from 150 to 185 millimeters.

The mass of the tank increased to 35,5 tons, and the maximum speed dropped to 43,5 km / h.

649 changes

In July, the 1945-th in the design bureau of plant No. 183, taking into account the results of testing the first prototype of the T-54, developed its second prototype, which received the factory designation “137 object” and was distinguished by a new tower design, armament and undercarriage.

The cast turret was made according to the type of the tower of the heavy tank IS-3. The thickness of its spherical frontal part reached 200 millimeters, the sides - from 125 to 160 millimeters with a variable angle of inclination to 45 °. The thickness of the roof of the tower - 30 millimeters.

The turret was mounted 100-mm tank gun LB-1, which was paired with an 7,62-mm machine gun SG. Two other SG machine guns (coursework) were installed in armored boxes on the left and right fences, the mechanic-driver fired from course guns. On the roof of the tower between the hatches of the commander and loader there was an 12,7-mm anti-aircraft gun anti-aircraft gun.

The power plant of the tank remained the same as on the first prototype. The capacity of the internal fuel tanks was increased from 530 to 545 liters, the additional external tanks - from 165 to 180. The cruising range of the car along the highway, despite the combat mass increased to 39,15, did not decrease and still reached 300 – 360 kilometers. The transmission used a three-way five-speed gearbox with installation on 2, 3, 4 and 5 gears of inertial synchronizers and two-stage planetary rotation mechanisms instead of side friction clutches. In the undercarriage applied tracked propulsor tsevochnogo engagement.

In July - November 1945, the second prototype of the T-54 was tested at the NIBT site, according to their results, the tank was again recommended for mass production, but only after eliminating a number of shortcomings and finalizing the documentation that was needed after that. According to the results of the next preliminary tests by the decision of the Council of Ministers of the USSR from 29 on April 1946, the T-54 was adopted by the Soviet army.

Began preparations for its mass production. During 1946, it was planned to manufacture 165 serial machines, but in reality only three prototypes were built. State tests they could not stand. The interdepartmental government commission demanded to reduce the mass of the car, to improve the installation of weapons, running gear and control gears. During the year, the design had to make 649 changes. The plan for the 1947 year was approved in the number of 250 units, but only 22 was manufactured. In April-May of the same year, the two leading serial tanks underwent sea trials and shelling tests. According to their results, 1490 issued orders for the revision of parts and assemblies, and therefore the first series of X-NUMX T-20 tanks was released only at the end of the year. These machines received the designation T-54-54 (apparently, T-1 54 series) or T-1 rev.54 g.

Far from perfect

The T-54-1 had a classic rear-engine layout. The hull was welded from armor rolled sheets and had a sharp nose and vertical sides. The bottom to increase the strength was performed trough-shaped (redan). The monolithic upper front hull sheet with a thickness of 120 millimeters was located at an angle 60о to the vertical. The thickness of the armor sides of the hull was 80 millimeters, the roof and bottom of the hull - 30 and 20 millimeters, respectively.

The tower is a cast, large-sized, with a welded roof and a reverse bevel ("zaman") from the bottom along the entire perimeter. The thickness of its frontal part - 200 millimeters. The rotary mechanism of the tower with an electric drive was controlled by the controller as a gunner, and with the support of the commander control system - by the commander.

The X-NUMX-mm D-100T cannon, paired with the SG-10 machine gun, was installed in the turret. The angles of its vertical guidance are from -7,62о to + 43о. Two SG-5 machine guns were placed in the armored boxes on the fences, the unmarked fire from them was led by a driver. Above the loader's hatch, a 18-mm DShK anti-aircraft machine gun was mounted on a turret similar to that used on the EC-43 and EC-2 tanks. The tank ammunition included 3 unitary 12,7-mm shots (34 - in the control compartment to the right of the driver, 100 - in the fighting compartment), 20 14 caliber cartridges and 200 12,7 caliber cartridges.

The tank was equipped with a B-54 engine with 520 horse power. Fuel tanks with a capacity of 520 liters were located in the fighting compartment and control compartment. On the fences, additional cylindrical tanks, not connected to the engine power supply system, were installed. The fuel reserve of the tank is 330 kilometers.

Transmission - five-speed, with two inertial synchronizers. The two-stage planetary mechanisms served as the turning mechanism, which provided two calculated turning radii. Onboard gears - single row. Drive wheels - cast, with removable gear rims. Gearing - pin.

In the undercarriage from each side there were five double rubberized support rollers. Tension mechanism - worm type. The caterpillar is small, steel, with an open hinge. Track width - 500 millimeters. Suspension of road wheels - an individual torsion bar, in the nodes of the suspension of the first and fifth rollers of each side mounted paddle hydraulic shock absorbers.

Communications equipment consisted of a radio station 10-РТ-26 and intercom TPU-47 for four subscribers. The tank had a fire-fighting carbon dioxide installation of an automatic type. For the installation of a smoke screen at the stern of the machine, two smoke bombs of MDS were mounted, equipped with a remote fuse and discharge system.

Because of the desire to get in the T-54, the minimum volume reserved in combination with a large-caliber gun had to significantly reduce ammunition. Despite the increase in the diameter of the tower shoulder strap in the world to 1825 millimeters, due to the large size of the breech of the gun, the fighting compartment turned out to be close. The lack of a suspended polyc greatly hampered the work of the loader when the turret rotated, reducing the rate of fire, and sometimes crippling it. With intensive firing, the gas compartment of the fighting compartment was high, despite the presence of two fans - an injecting (on the tower roof) and an exhaust (on the partition of the power compartment).

The second option

In total, 1949 released the 54 T-54 tank, including 13 prototypes, 25 training and only 16 serial. The scope of design improvements is characterized by the following figures: the tower group prepared more than 400 new working drawings, corps - more than 350, motor - 300, equipment group - over 250. Tests continued until November, after which a government decree was issued on adopting a new modification - T-54 rev.1949, or T-54-2.

On the T-54-2, a new turret was installed with a narrow 400-mm embrasure for the cannon, without a backward bevel in the front and sides, with a commander's turret. Anti-aircraft gun turret replaced the new, improved design. Taking into account the statistics, according to which 90 percent of hits in the tank accounted for at a height of more than a meter from the ground, and also in order to maintain a given maximum mass for an average tank, the thickness of the upper front hull sheet was reduced to 100 millimeters.

Instead of two SG-43 machine guns, one exchange machine gun was installed in the control compartment to the right of the driver. Ammunition 7,62-mm cartridges reduced to 3500 pieces.

The power plant was different from the previous one by the presence of one multi-cyclone air cleaner with an oil bath, tapes and ejection suction of dust from the dust collector. Instead of three outer cylindrical fuel tanks, they installed two flat rectangular tanks, which were placed to the right in the rear part of the fenders. These tanks are included in the engine power system.

Transmission has undergone minor changes. The track was expanded to 580 millimeters, which made it possible to reduce the specific pressure from 0,93 to 0,81 kg / cm2. The system of electrical equipment and communications remained unchanged.

Construction testing completed

In 1950, the mass production of the T-54 resumed. During this year, only factory number 183 managed to manufacture 423 machines instead of 400 as planned. The release of 1951 has already made more than 800 tanks.

In 1951, the second modernization of the T-54 was carried out. The car received a hemispherical cast tower without reverse bevels and a stern niche with improved sealing of the shoulder strap. The TS-20 telescopic sight was replaced with a new one — the TSH-2-22 with variable 3,5 and 7 multiples. Improved protection against dust of gun trunnions, shoulder straps of turrets, turrets, commander's turrets, gun masks, sight and machine guns, switches and toggle switches. Mounting points of the roller mine trawl appeared on the lower front hull sheet. We replaced the equipment for the installation of smoke screens - instead of the two drafts, the MDCs installed two more powerful BDSH-5.

The serial production of T-54-3 (or T-54 rev.1951) began in 1952 and lasted until the end of 1954. On the basis of this machine, a T-54K commander tank was built, equipped with an additional radio station, navigation equipment and a charger, which made it possible to somewhat reduce the ammunition load of the gun.

The launch into mass production of the T-54-3 completed the process of creating and testing the construction of fifty-six, which lasted six years. The car has finally acquired its finished classic look. During this period, there were serious personnel changes in the management of the department № 520 - KB plant number 183. In October 1951, A. A. Morozov was appointed Chief Designer of KB-60 Plant No. 75 in Kharkov (now the A. A. Morozov KMDB). A.V. Kolesnikov was appointed as acting officer, who at the same time headed the support of serial production and modernization of the T-54 tank. This situation continued until the beginning of March 1953, when L.N. Kartsev became the chief designer of the plant No. 183 in Nizhny Tagil. The first major modernization of the T-54, carried out under his leadership, was the installation of a weapon stabilizer.

The D-10T gun aiming stabilizer in the vertical plane STP-1 "Horizon" was created in the 1951 year. The gun with this stabilizer received the index D-10TG. In STP-1, the principle was laid down that ensured the constant tracking of the target of the gun and the scope rigidly connected with it. This scheme had a drawback - during loading the gun was blocked at given elevation angles and the gunner was deprived of the possibility of observing the target.

Improvement continues

A tank with a gun D-10TG received the designation T-54А (object 137Г). In addition to the stabilizer, the gun was equipped with an ejection device for purging the bore after the shot and a lifting mechanism with a delivery link (it prevented the mechanism from breaking when foreign objects were touched). A safety device against spontaneous descent was introduced into the bolt of the cannon during shocks while the car was moving and the re-arming mechanism was used. Changes were also made to the compensating mechanism in order to ensure the balancing of the cannon at elevation and declination angles. An automated electric turret rotation with duplicated controls was installed, a new turret stopper and an improved TSH-2А-22 sight with an eyepiece shifted to the left and with a distance scale to the target. An active night vision device TVN-1 was introduced for the driver.

The engine of the tank also underwent some alterations: a third external tank with a capacity of 95 liters was introduced into the power system, a two-stage air cleaner with three cassettes and ejector suction of dust was installed, instead of unregulated inlet louvers above the radiators, they installed adjustable, controlled by a handle located in the fighting compartment. The remaining systems remain the same.

In connection with the installation of stabilizer units, the installation and schematic diagrams of electrical equipment have changed. The tank was equipped with a radio station P-113 and TPU P-120.

T-54A was adopted in 1954 year. In the fourth quarter it was planned to release an installation batch of 50 machines. However, due to the inconsistency of the stabilizers with the technical requirements, it was possible to manufacture only 25 units.

Debugged mass production began only six months later and was carried out from 1955 to 1956 year. In limited quantities on the basis of the T-54A commander tank made T-54AK.

Installing a system of vertical stabilization of weapons allowed 10 to increase the probability of hitting the target from 3 to 30 percent.

Approximately 17 500 tanks

By 1956, the following modification of the fifty-four, T-54B (137-2 object), was developed in Nizhny Tagil, three prototypes of which 183 plant passed back in June. Factory tests were held in the fall, and test sites in the winter of 1955 – 1955. Officially, the tank was commissioned by a decree of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the USSR Council of Ministers on August 1956 15, the corresponding order of the USSR Minister of Defense was followed on September 1956.

On the T-54B, the D-10Т2С gun was installed with the STP-2 “Cyclone” electrohydraulic two-plane stabilizer, the latter allowed to bring the probability of hitting the target when shooting on the move to 60 percent. The control of the instrument and the tower with the stabilizer on was carried out using the remote control. In this regard, the design of the rotation mechanism of the tower was changed.

To improve the working conditions of the crew members (primarily charging), the floor in the fighting compartment was equipped with a rotating platform mounted on a ball bearing and having a delivery link. This required to partially change the location of the ammunition, the number of shells in which, however, has not changed.

The tank had active night vision devices: the infrared night sight of the gunner TPL-1-22-11, the night device of the commander TKN-1 and the driver TVN-2. To ensure their operation, the machine was equipped with IR illuminators: L-2, mounted on a gun mask, and OU-3, mounted on the commander's turret. Instruments of the driver and commander were replaceable (installed instead of daytime). T-54B received equipment for underwater driving (OPVT). In the position of a marching air tube was placed on the left fender.

On the basis of a linear tank, a commander modification was also produced - T-54BK, the composition of the additional equipment is similar to that of T-54AK.

The serial production of the fifty-fours of various modifications was carried out from 1947 to April 1959 at three plants of the Ministry of Transport Engineering: No. 183 in Nizhny Tagil, No. 75 in Kharkov and No. 174 in Omsk. The latter mainly engaged in the manufacture of various combat and special vehicles based on the T-54: SAU, ZSU and engineering equipment. By the way, at the factory number 75 parallel was the serial production of heavy artillery AT-T, developed on the basis of "fifty-four", moreover, in some periods the volume of production of tanks.

Calling the exact number of T-54s built is difficult. However, it can be determined (at least approximately) by indirect data: for example, by the number of 100-mm guns manufactured. True, there is no complete information here, but there are numbers of production volumes from 1947 to 1957 a year. Over 10 years 16 197 guns were released: 10196 - D-10T, 4796 - D-10ТG and 1205 - D-10Т2С, which roughly corresponds to the number of "fifty-four" produced over the years. Approximately because the tanks built less than the guns to them. A number of the latter was installed on various prototypes, as well as used to replace the failed weapons. Considering the combat vehicles made in 1958 and at the beginning of 1959, we can talk about 17 – 17,5 thousands produced by T-54.
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  1. Canep
    Canep 20 July 2013 06: 51
    we can talk about about 17-17,5 thousand produced T-54.
    these are 42 tank divisions.
    1. Civil
      Civil 20 July 2013 09: 24
      still a million options for upgrades)
  2. Tankomaster
    Tankomaster 20 July 2013 10: 18
    Quote: Canep
    we can talk about about 17-17,5 thousand produced T-54.
    these are 42 tank divisions.

    And how many more have the Chinese done under the T-59 index.
  3. Tankomaster
    Tankomaster 20 July 2013 10: 20
    And the color photo is the T-55 and the photo is from the UPK HCBM, and Mikhail received permission to publish it in the HCBM? :)
    By the way, a very interesting specimen was with two seats for loaders.
  4. Prapor Afonya
    Prapor Afonya 20 July 2013 10: 26
    This is a tank, it is still in service with some countries, and one familiar tanker said that in the units there are these vehicles on the go!
    1. 0255
      0255 20 July 2013 16: 25
      This is a tank, it is still in service with some countries, and one familiar tanker said that in the units there are these vehicles on the go!

      why be surprised, here and there still the T-34s are in service
  5. Klin klinovv
    Klin klinovv 20 July 2013 12: 57
    And I have it in the hangar, la la la la ambush
  6. Watchman
    Watchman 20 July 2013 13: 04
    The Su-30 or Ka-52 has a difficult path to the series, and in the case of the T-54, the army’s desire is to get the best.
  7. akv0571
    akv0571 20 July 2013 13: 24
    -25 qualifying.
    The Israelis shot these tanks well, with each tank exploding from its own ammunition.
    And this is a very bad statistic.
    1. Argon
      Argon 20 July 2013 14: 06
      Dear akv0571, a very common misconception, which is NOT OBJECTIVELY NOT CONFIRMED, is exactly the same as the explosion of an ammunition load of a disease of all Soviet tanks with automated laying of anti-tank guns (AZ, MZ). All videos shown by the opponents show the ignition of charges on standing / stationary vehicles, which at least it says untimely checking and replacing the elements of the software. As a maximum about the production of the video. And do not listen to the Israelis, they will tell you something else. lol
    2. 0255
      0255 20 July 2013 16: 33
      The Israelis shot these tanks well, with each tank exploding from its own ammunition.
      And this is a very bad statistic.

      Yeah, and in Lebanon in 1982, they allegedly shot down 102 Soviet aircraft with the loss of 1 Kfir and jokingly destroyed T-72s without losing their Merkavs. The Israeli army cannot be so invincible. If the T-54 exploded like this from its own ammunition, then the United States would have attacked us in the 50-60s and conquered the USSR.
    3. Avenger711
      Avenger711 21 July 2013 01: 15
      Bullshit, the tank explodes only from a long fire, the ammunition of all tanks of those years was approximately equally vulnerable.
    4. The comment was deleted.
  8. Southerner
    Southerner 20 July 2013 17: 44
    1. Prohor
      Prohor 20 July 2013 20: 16
      An article on this link looks like a custom one, to be honest.
      On the other hand, numerous videos about the destruction of our tanks in Syria speak only about one thing - a tank can be destroyed, and that’s it. Abrams, Merkavas, Leopards and others would burn no worse, or even better, but they simply are not there.
  9. Southerner
    Southerner 20 July 2013 17: 45
    link to the theme of our tanks in Syria
    1. mehanik27
      mehanik27 20 July 2013 23: 17
      ours probably means tanks produced by the USSR and Russia, but the truth about the numerous destroyed too loudly said
  10. kartalovkolya
    kartalovkolya 20 July 2013 18: 23
    Born in agony, the T-54 was very good for its time. And there is no need to "shaggy grandmother", and read Jewish revelations less for the night - it is fraught ...
    1. Kasym
      Kasym 20 July 2013 20: 40
      He was the best in his day.
      1. bereg
        bereg 22 July 2013 12: 48
        my father served on it for 3 years as a mechanical driver in Germany. and as he says the tank of norms, only after a march of 80 - 100km did the hands dry out. one of the cases he spoke about was blown up by one guy inside the tank, the grenade itself died but the ammunition did not explode
    2. Crang
      Crang 21 July 2013 13: 59
      Not that it’s not bad, but the best tank in the world. At least from the middle. Moreover, it was more powerful than most heavy western ones.
  11. bublic82009
    bublic82009 20 July 2013 23: 29
    when all T-72s were shot in Libya, and they were primarily hunted for, the warring parties began to fight on the T-54 and T-55. and apparently did not fight badly.
  12. Volodya Sibiryak
    Volodya Sibiryak 20 July 2013 23: 49
    In our park, they put such a pedestal, it’s a pleasant fact, if it weren’t for the one-color it was painted in, I would have torn off my hands!
  13. Crang
    Crang 21 July 2013 13: 58
    Good tank. Stylish such. Along with the T-72, it looks exactly what the tank should look like. Our designers have identified a lot. If you ask the blonde who drives the Daewoo Matiz a question about what the tank looks like, I bet that the T-54 image will be drawn in her head. Well, and how else?
  14. Mooh
    Mooh 30 October 2013 19: 20
    Classic tank design. Like a Mercedes 124 - a little archaic, but very stylish :)