The Primary Nemisis.... the Soviet Army (still more!)
The T-72 does have trouble with the engine compartment, and this is a similar problem to that experienced with the T-62. The T-72's 780hp diesel is larger, and yet the engine compartment has only grown slightly. However, engine cooling has been significantly improved, allowing T-72 crews to operate their tanks in the desert heat with the rear deck grill doors closed. The T-62 occasionally ran into troubles with overheating, and it was not uncommon to see them operating in the Afghan summer with the rear grill door propped open.
The T-72 can operate on three different types of fuel: diesel, gasoline, and kerosene. The driver has a switch to establish settings for whatever fuel is being used.
Interestingly, this engine is once more an upgrade of the original T-34 type engine. However, Soviet engineers have finally solved many of the teething toubles in the version mounted in the T-62, and this version runs smoothly and relatively smoke free.
Later models of the T-72 have an 840hp engine.
The turret of the T-72 is mostly armor... literally. The entire front
half is armor plate. There is still speculaton about whether or not
the front turret includes composite materials such as that on the
M-1 Abrams (Chobham or Burlington armor). However, it is highly
unlikely that exported versions would have this feature, since Soviet
manufacturers build "monkey models" which have critical modern
improvements stripped from the vehicles. Later versions of the T-72
are suspected of having some type of advanced armor package in
within the turret.
The T-72M has thicker frontal turret armor than earlier T-72s,
thereby earning the knickname "Dolly Parton." The commander
sits on the right, with the gunner on the left. A battery of
electrically fired smoke dischargers can be seen on the front left of
the turret. The bracket on the right side is for a "dazzler," a device
which emits an electronic pulse to disrupt the guidance system on
Several features of the T-72 can be clearly seen in the photo at
right. This is the displayed T-72M1 at the Patton Museum.
First, to the right of the turret, the small cylinder is the "dazzler"
device used to disrupt ATGMs. Second, one can see that each
smoke discharger is angled differently. This is to provide an
adequate spread of smoke when fired. The "V" shaped wave
deflector is obvious on the front glacis plate. Furthermore, the
driver's hatch reveals the presence of the anti-radiation lining
under the hatch itself. The driver also has only one prism block
for driving while buttoned up. Therefore, peripherial vision is
The M1 version has even thicker frontal turret armor, receiving the
knickname "Dolly Parton 2" or "Super Dolly Parton." Later
versions have the smoke dischargers moved to the left rear of the
turret in order to provide room for explosive reactive armor (ERA).
As to the speculation about the armor composition of the turret, the curator of the Patton Museum indicated there would be no way the Defense Dept. would cut open their vehicle!
At right, a nice unpublished shot of a DDR NVA (East German Army) T-72M (also known in the old East Bloc as the T-72G). This tank belonged to Hauptman Stefan Kotsch, commander of the 7. Kompanie, 9. Panzer Division.
Note the maintanence bays in the background, along with the remaining tanks of the company. Also, note the absence of the main gun thermal shroud and smoke launchers.