Sunday, November 16, 2014

Kartsev on the genesis of the T-72

Many people claim that the T-72 was designed as a cheaper T-64; however the head designer of the T-72, L.N. Kartsev gives a different a view of the matter. In his memoirs he recalls how the T-72 came to be:
     "In connection with the T-62 entering production, and work on the object 167, Kharkovites started working on a modernized T-64 tank with a 125 mm smoothbore gun and a loading mechanism. Once I decided to look at this tank at a proving grounds. I climbed in. I didn't like the loading mechanism and the ammunition rack in the turret. The shells were positioned vertically along the turret ring and impeded access to the driver. If he was wounded or concussed, it would be hard to get him out of the tank. When I sat in the driver's seat, I felt like I was in a trap. Metal all around me, limited ability to communicate with the crew.

When I came home, I ordered Kovalev and Bystritskiy to develop a new loading mechanism for the T-62. The comrades approached the task with great enthusiasm. They found a way to place the shells in two rows underneath the turret basket, which improved access to the driver and increased the tank's lifespan under fire. By the end of 1965, the mechanism was finished, but there was no point in introducing it, as an order was issued to begin production of the Kharkov tank.

Since the Kharkovites struggled to get their tank to mass production condition, we volunteered out 115 mm autoloader for their 125 mm gun. External dimensions of the guns were identical. Usually all work done on our own initiative was attached to some historic date. This one was dedicated to 50 years since the October Revolution. Soon, one experimental T-62 tank with a 125 mm gun was finished.

On October 26th, 1967, S.A. Zverev came to our experimental plant towards the end of the work day. He saw our T-62 with a 125 mm gun and E.E Krivosheya with L.F. Terlikov on the turret. I started explaining to the minister what the tank was, and he blew up: "Are you scheming against Kharkov again!?" to which I replied "Sergei Alekseevich! Why are you so nervous? The Americans and Germans modernize their production tanks, why can't we?" He calmed down, climbed on the turret, and asked to see the loading mechanism. Krivosheya and Terlikov descended into the tank and tuened on the loader. The shell flew by so fast that the minister did not have time to see it. He could not see any other shells either, as they were covered by the turret basket. The minister liked the device, and he said, with great fanfare, "Let's put this device into the Kharkov tank!"

"Only with Trashutin's new engine" I replied, but Zverev did not agree. This thought occurred spontaneously. I did not know what the results would be, as no calculations were done. I relied on my work on the object 167, and intuition told me it was posible.

On October 26th, in the factory Palace of Culture, a celebratory gathering was held. The minister awarded a Jubilee Red Banner to the factory. The other day, I was called into I.V. Okunev's office in the morning. I come in, and Zverev is there, they're both happy. Zverev says "Fine, I agree with your idea. Put your device into Kharkov's vehicle with Trashutin's engine, just preserve the transmission and suspension. How many tanks do you need?" "Six should be enough" I replied. That day, the minister left for Moscow.

After the holidays, we got to work on what we called object 172. We discussed it and decided to use the suspension from the object 167, and develop a new hydromechanical transmission with the tank NII. We invited representatives from the institute, they asked what we were going to do, and agreed to help. They left...and reported to Zverev that Kartsev thinks he's a big fish and is trying to tear everything Kharkov made out of the new tank."

No comments:

Post a Comment