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|WorldWar2.ro Forum > The post-WW2 and recent military > T-54 and T-55 tanks in romanian army use|
|Posted by: ANDREAS February 19, 2012 02:43 pm|
| From the materials I have read and the informations I have received, the first T-54 soviet medium tanks entered the Romanian Army use in 1958, probably equipping the Mechanized Division from Constanţa. From unverified informations, provided by an enthusiast (like me) in this field, in 1962 already exist in this division over 100 T-54, when the first T-55s began to be delivered to our army! First major units which seems to receive the new T-55 tank are the Mechanized Divisions from Timişoara, Iaşi and Bucureşti. The T-55 tank remains the backbone of our tank forces until the 1980s, when, theoretically, was to be replaced with more modern (theoretically) TR romanian made tanks. At least numerically It would remain the most numerous tank even in 1989, and even later, when the theoretically most modern romanian TR-77 and TR-85 tanks, were to be cut first, when reducing the number of tanks equipping our army was a necessity!
Feel free to add details or informations on this tank who equipped so long time the Romanian army!
|Posted by: Petre February 19, 2012 04:45 pm|
| Someone wrote on Wikipedia (romanian version) :
This was spread on the NET (romanian and english), although something seems to be wrong
|Posted by: ANDREAS February 19, 2012 05:43 pm|
|Well Petre I don't believe in this numbers! Why? First because many other sources (f.i. in found in old numbers of the newspaper of our Ministry of Defense called Armata Romaniei (1997-1999)) gave several times information about T-55 tanks as entering in service in 1962 (in our army service, of course!), in the 1993 number of World Defence Almanac and a french militay magazine called Raids from 1995 they said we had 757 T-55 tanks and no T-54, I saw photos of the military parade held in Bucharest in 1964 with T-55 marching...|
|Posted by: Petre February 19, 2012 06:15 pm|
|Posted by: Mircea87 February 19, 2012 08:38 pm|
I think I wrote those numbers a year or two ago; they are not always accurate and I haven't updated that article for some time. The info about those 850 T-55 tanks and the licensed-built TR-77-580 are based on SIPRI arms transfer database. The 150 tanks delivered to Irak via Egypt (actually, they were delivered to Egypt, according to Romanian sources and some foreign ones) are also based on SIPRI, but in fact the TR-77 tanks exported to Egypt were ex-Romanian ones, hastily refurbished. There was a big scandal with the quality of the tanks as they weren't supposed to be exported, only to train tank crews. Also, they were not adapted to desert conditions. The 2010 data is based on The Military Balance 2010, which is not actually very accurate. UN Disarmament database is more accurate (we never had 93 TR-85M1 tanks...the exact number is actually 54; I think they were 56 with prototypes included, but one was delivered to MMN and another one probably to the tank school in Pitesti). I also have some data about some 423 T-54A tanks from Poland (http://www.jurnalul.ro/jurnalul-national/nicolae-ceausescu-si-programele-industriei-de-aparare-507253.htm), which I can't confirm, and some 250-320 tanks which were going to be acquired between 1976-1980 according to a 1973 document (source: Petre Opris, again).
|Posted by: ANDREAS February 19, 2012 08:45 pm|
| Thanks Petre,
I saw that in the pdf document it's mentioned that T-54 tanks entered our army service at the end of the 6th decade (maybe in 1958) of the XXth century, and the T-55 tanks at the beginning of the 7th decade (maybe in 1962)! Exactly as I knew! We have a start here!
|Posted by: ANDREAS February 19, 2012 09:06 pm|
| Thanks Mircea87,
The data you mention seem more credible (so worthy of consideration!) than the almost science fiction story I heard recently! According to this Romania received a number of T-55 tanks from ... Israel, after 1968, when the Soviet threat was very high! This story tells that from 1968 until 1970 no Warszaw Pact country was allowed to export tanks to Romania, and since Israel had a big number of captured egyptian T-54 and T-55 they deliver us a number of these! This story is not serious because as I read a big number of MiG-21 fighter were delivered in this period to the Romanian aviation, so why then put an embargo on tanks? I just mentioned the story to show how rich is the popular culture regarding even the tanks.
Right now I found something interesting here:
The interesting element is that this Tank Regiment was formed in autumn 1968, probably in a period of 1-2 years. But intriguing is the fact that they found T-55 tanks to equip this new unit! From what I've heard the newly established units from 1968 received T-34-85 tanks at their beginnings!
|Posted by: Petre February 20, 2012 09:11 am|
|Posted by: ANDREAS February 20, 2012 11:21 pm|
|In a russian book called "Soviet armored equipment 1945-1995" published in 2000, are mentioned several countries that have used T-54 tanks, including Romania. The first interesting information is that the model referred to has been supplied by the USSR to Romania was the T-54B (who entered in the soviet army service in late 1956), and the second interesting information is that, apparently, the T-54B get out of our army endowment in the '80s. No numbers given by the book regarding Romania's T-54.|
|Posted by: Petre February 21, 2012 08:27 am|
|So, did the romanians really built tanks under T55 license ?|
|Posted by: ANDREAS February 21, 2012 05:01 pm|
|Petre, according to these books, no! The Soviets said (I also believe it's true, though officially our specialists who were involved in our tank program said no!) that we enjoyed some support from China (without detailing what kind!) in the design and construction of our first tank, known as TR-77/-580. From their point of view, our tanks (both TR-77/-580 and his descendent TR-85/800) were in the same class as T-55, not in the class of their T-62 tank, regarded as superior by the soviets. Their opinion is questionable, if you ask me!|
|Posted by: Florin February 26, 2012 12:14 am|
Why after 1989 was the Romanian made equipment deactivated before the older imported equipment? The Romanian tanks were made at 23 August (former Malaxa), right?
|Posted by: Petre February 26, 2012 08:49 am|
|I think that is proof the T were the most reliable, and I think I'm not wrong. And also, those with worse technical condition left first... The tankmen know...|
|Posted by: Mircea87 February 26, 2012 12:54 pm|
The TR-580 and TR-800 were not at the same level as the T-55 in terms of reliability, quality and actual combat performance. The Romanian tanks also had high fuel and oil consumption. The tanks were assembled at 23 August plant (FMGS section, Fabrica de Masini Grele Speciale). The turrets were casted there, but the rest of the components came from different factories (Brasov, Drobeta Turnu Severin, Iasi etc). Also, the T-55s were modernized locally during the late 80s to T-55AM (though not all of them). The T-55AM is a far more potent weapon than the TR-580/800, though in comparison with modern tanks, it was already obsolete in the 1980s. The Romanian army undertook tests in the late 80s with a modernized T-55AM and found out that:
- a TR-125 could perforate the frontal mantlet of the turret with standard ammunition (not even advanced sabot rounds, the usual AP ammo of the T-72M...)
- a Malyutka AT rocket can perforate the armour (it wasn't even an advanced AT rocket)
- a 7 kg mine could do a lot of damage to the reinforced floor.
|Posted by: ANDREAS February 26, 2012 06:40 pm|
I do not contest the result of firings carried out on T-55M/AM (model 1983) but in the book called "Soviet armored equipment 1945-1995" published in 2000 its written that in combat actions taken in 1992-1994 in Georgia and Nagorno Karabakh, they have often proved a serious opponent for the most modern T-72 tanks (obviously when they were lead by well trained crews). More than that tests conducted after 1992 by Bundeswehr on East German tanks valued as superior the protection by armor of the T-55M/AM tanks than the one of T-72 tanks (except reactive armor from T-72AV/BV tanks). In any case the T-55M/AM were superior to our TR-580/-800 not only in armoured protection but also in targeting systems not to mention the reliability in which even the older T-55 and T-55A stood better than our tanks.
|Posted by: Mircea87 February 27, 2012 11:56 am|
This is the only paragraph that I've found in Urdareanu's journal that mentions something about the origin of the Romanian tanks. Sorry about the quality, it's a mobile phone camera. Urdareanu mentions later in the book that he visited China once, but does not specify for what reason. He was going to visit China again in late 1986 or 1987, but he was cut off from the list.
Based on this paragraph (I don't have the book "Cararile destinului") and the fact that China appears to have delivered Romania only industrial machinery for a tank factory and not documentation, I think the TR-580 was a modified reversed engineered version (similar to the TR-125), not a licensed-built T-55 or of Chinese origin.
|Posted by: ANDREAS February 27, 2012 07:27 pm|
| As usual Mircea87, you come with very interesting materials!
My belief about a cooperation between Romania and China in designing the Romanian tank TR-580 was based on constructive similarity between the Romanian tank and the Chinese Type 80 tank, on the adoption of the chinese fire control system (the romanian Ciclop system was a copy of the chinese one, at least so I read!). But what is interesting is that in an old newspaper "Armata Romaniei" from 1994 is described a Romanian modernization program of the T-55 park, accompanied by photos which depict a Soviet T-55AM modernised tank fitted with a Romanian laser rangefinder type Ciclop. In the images found on the Internet, from the newspapers and magazines I have I have seen both Czechoslovak, Soviet and Romanian versions of the modernized T-55. I wonder if it was (as I read) a indigenous T-55 modernization program or just an attempt of our specialist to modify the imported Soviet or Czechoslovak T-55M/AM tanks?
|Posted by: Mircea87 February 28, 2012 09:44 am|
| I don't think Romania ever bought T-55AM tanks. USSR gave Romania the documentation for modernization and the T-55s were modernized locally between 1984-1989, according to Urdareanu. Documentation for the Volna fire control system, a cheaper and simpler solution, also appears to have been delivered by USSR to Romania because Urdareanu mentions talks with the Russians to deliver the documentation. The thing is the countries involved in the modernization (USSR, Romania, Poland, GDR, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and Hungary) never quite agreed upon the FCS. Merida was allegedly of poor quality and only Poland implemented it. Kladivo permitted the use of the usual optics found on T-55 and thus was cheaper (in only added a laser rangefinder and a crosswind sensor to the Volna). GDR, Hungary and Romania (small numbers) bought it, while Czechoslovakia produced it.
In 1983 Romania acquired the Kladivo because it's own production of Ciclop was insufficient and seriously lagging behind. The Ciclop FCS, which was produced at Intreprinderea Electromagnetica (in coop with other factories) if I remember, was not really Chinese. The only thing that was Chinese on it was the laser telemeter, which was bought from China simply because we couldn't produce it locally. Ciclop development was ready in 1986, but production was seriously lagging. The Kladivo FCS delivery was two years late. In late 1985-early 1986, when it arrived, it was installed and tested. The performance of the FCS was not impressive, but Urdareanu claims that they "couldn't have produced the Ciclop without buying Kladivo" and that Kladivo could have been transformed later into Ciclop (which I think happened after 1990?)
Initially, the TR-580 was going to have a Swedish FCS built under license. The funds were cut off and so the Ciclop had to be developed. There were also plans to adapt Ciclop to the T-34, but as production was insufficient for the TR-580/800, it never happened. It was not an easy task as the parts did not fit. Apparently, there is more info about the Ciclop in "Cararile destinului".
|Posted by: ANDREAS February 28, 2012 10:48 pm|
| Indeed Mircea87, its obvious what you wrote Romania has not bought any T-55 tanks after maybe 1975. Therefore the whole issue is whether modernization of T-55 tank fleet was made in our country or the Soviet Union and/or Czechoslovakia.
Thanks for the details given, I didn't know them! Its also interesting what you say about Merida FCS because on a Polish site that provides very much information and technical data about Polish T-55s, the FCS Merida is presented as the most advanced of the Treaty (the Warsaw Treaty). Poland was one only one who bought it (as it's written there) because it was the most expensive of them all (the soviet Volna FCS and the czech Kladivo FCS), having better performances than Volna FCS and similar to those of the Kladivo FCS. But having no alternative sources I do not argue with what you wrote! Your sources are anyway more reliable than those mentioned there! I recently found in another magazine "Viata Armatei" from 1995 a mention of a Romanian modernization program of T-55 tanks conducted after 1990. There aren't many details about it, just that it used the improved V-55U engine (620 hp), has been retrofitted with the improved R-173P radio system, and incorporates a new gunner's sight and also the new Ciclop fire control system that includes a laser rangefinder, a ballistic computer, a new sight and a modern gun stabilization system (I quote from the magazine).