The BTR-60PB is not a bad armored personel carrier, but it's not great. Armed with a 14.5mm and 7.62mm machine guns, it is powered by two 90hp gasoline engines, which drive opposite axles. Gear synchronization between the two is often poor, forcing crews to disengage one of them. When powered by only one engine, the BTR-60 is unable to even climb a gentle slope, especially after water operations. Furthermore, troops carried must dismount from the side or top, exposing them to fire. Nevertheless, the BTR-60 is a good all-round personel carrier. Crew: 3; troops: 8. Fully amphibious.
About the photos: the photos on the left and above were taken at Grafenwoehr, and this vehicle was used by U.S. troops for OPFOR training. The vehicle on the right is part of a shot up armored column in Eritrea, 1997.
Chap. Mike Klein
The BTR-80 is the latest in the series of Soviet made wheeled armored personel carriers. The BTR-80 is powered by a single 260hp diesel engine, eliminating the problems of the BTR-60 / 70 series. Firing ports are also redesigned, and split hatches on either side allow for troops to dismount under cover. The turret mounts a 14.5mm and 7.62mm machine guns, capable of 60 degrees elevation. Crew: 3; troops: 8. Fully amphibious.
An interesting characteristic of the BTR-80 is its silence when creeping at 5mph. At this speed, it is virtually impossible to hear, even when standing nearby.
photos: Chap. Mike Klein
About the photos: these BTR-80s were part of the Russian (read here, "Soviet") operation in Bosnia.
The T-34/85 was the primary medium tank of the Soviet army during World War II. However, it also saw extensive post-war service, not only in Korea, but also in Vietnam, and is still the principle tank in the arsenals of some Third World countries. Armed with an 85mm gun, and powered by an excellent V-2-34 12 cylinder diesel which provides a road speed of 30mph, the T-34/85 is a solid, if unrefined battle tank. Over 12,000 of the 85mm gunned model were produced, with production going on as late as 1964. Welding and the finishing work on the tank is crude, and the inside simplistic. The gunner sits on a seat which is a small wooden platform, while the loader's "seat" is composed of 3 crossed web straps. Also the turret floor doesn't rotate. But since early versions T-34 has a hand cranked turret, it is not essential for the floor to rotate (later types had electric power). In design concept and functionality, the T-34 was possibly the best tank of World War II, and greatly influenced designs of the future. Oddly enough, the chassis was an American design, developed by Walter Christie. However, it was rejected by the U.S. Army. Crew: 5; main gun: 85mm M-1944 ZIS-S53; 2x 7.62mm machine guns.
About the photos: this T-34/85 "I" belongs to the Patton Museum at Ft. Knox, KY. It is still a "runner," and was brought out occasionally for demonstrations. However, it now sits motionless within the friendly confines of the Patton Museum's display building.
Moving briefly from medium to light tanks, we come to the PT-76 light amphibious reconnaissance tank. Armed with a 76.2mm D-56T GP gun, the PT-76 is very lightly armored. The thickest armor, on the gun mantel, is only 45mm, while in most places it's no more than 15mm. The PT-76 swims by having water pulled though two intakes on the side near the back, and then pushed out the back through ports normally covered by clam-shaped covers on the back. The PT-76 has seen extensive service around the world, and is still found today in many Third World countries. It has been supplanted, though not totally replaced, in Soviet units by the Recon version of the BMP.
About the photos: this PT-76 was in a motorpool at the gunnery post of Grafenwoehr, Germany. It, along with other Soviet vehicles in the motorpool, was used for OPFOR training. Often, U.S. soldiers dressed in Soviet uniforms would operate the vehicles to enhance realism. In the lower photo, a T-62A is in the background.
Let's look at Soviet armor! For me, armor is a passion, and Soviet armor is a double-passion! These photos are not inclusive, but they are unique, since you won't find them in any book.
Left to right: Tank Corps Badge; Motorized Rifle Badge (Specialty 1); Soviet Military Liaison Mission (SMLM) vehicle plate.
The SMLM plate will bring back memories to many who did service in Germany!