Unveiling the mighty T-62: A deep dive into its specifications, variant evolution, and battle-tested operations

With the deployment of the first smoothbore cannon in 1961, the Soviet T-62 medium tank revolutionised armoured warfare. It affected later tank design as it evolved through variations such as the T-62M. Armed with a powerful 115mm cannon and serving in both the Soviet-Afghan and Russo-Ukrainian Wars, the T-62 is still a very potent weapon.

As a Soviet medium tank, the T-62 marked a substantial advancement over the T-55 series when it was first released in 1961. The T-62 was the first production tank equipped with a smoothbore cannon, however, it retained important design features such as a low profile and substantial turret armour. This set it apart from standard tanks. This was a significant improvement over the rifled tank guns of earlier models as it allowed it to fire APFSDS rounds at a higher velocity. It’s important to remember that the first tank ever constructed with a smoothbore cannon was the American prototype T95 medium tank.

Although the T-62 became the norm for tanks in the Soviet arsenal, the T-55 was still available in export markets. Its higher manufacturing costs and more maintenance needs in comparison to its predecessor were the main causes of this. While succeeding variants replaced the T-62 in the Soviet Union’s successor states, the weapon was nevertheless in action on the front lines in other nations and reserve roles within the former USSR.

Since many of the T-62’s design improvements were standardised in succeeding models, they had a long-lasting effect on later Soviet and Russian mass-produced tanks. Although the T-62 played a significant historical role and advanced tank development, its legacy continued long after it was retired from active duty, impacting the appearance and capabilities of subsequent armoured cars.

 

Specifications:

The vehicle in question is a 37-ton tank (41 short tonnes; 36 long tonnes) in bulk. Its length, when the barrel is facing forward, is 9.34 metres (30 feet 8 inches), and the length of the hull alone is 6.63 metres (21 feet 9 inches). The tank’s height is 2.40 metres (7 feet 10 inches), while its width is 3.30 metres (10 feet 10 inches). The commander, driver, gunner, and loader are the four members of the crew.

There is a cast turret on the tank with dimensions of 214 millimetres (or 242 after 1972) on the front, 153 millimetres on the sides, 97 millimetres on the back, and 40 millimetres on the roof. 20 millimetres on the bottom, 31 millimetres on the roof, 46 millimetres at a 0° angle on the back, 79 millimetres on the upper sides, 15 millimetres on the lower sides, and 102 millimetres at a 60° angle on the front make up the hull’s installation.

With a capacity of 2,500 rounds, the 7.62mm PKT coaxial general-purpose machine gun is used in addition to the tank’s primary 115mm U-5TS (2A20) smoothbore gun. In addition, a 12.7mm DShK 1938/46 heavy machine gun (optional till T-62 Obr.1972) can be installed for anti-aircraft defence.

A V-55 12-cylinder, 4-stroke, one-chamber, 38.88-litre water-cooled diesel engine producing 581 horsepower (433 kW) at 2,000 rpm powers the tank. It had a 14.5 horsepower per tonne (10.8 kW per tonne) power-to-weight ratio, a torsion bar suspension system, and 425 mm (16.7 inches) of ground clearance.

 

Variants:

Over time, numerous enhancements and alterations were made to the Soviet Union’s T-62 main combat tank. An SGMT coaxial machine gun was a feature of the T-62 Obr 1962, the first manufacturing version. With a rebuilt engine deck and a PKT coaxial machine gun, the T-62 Obr 1967 was unveiled in 1967. Introduced in 1972, the T-62 Obr 1972 included improved tracks and the 12.7mm DShKM machine gun, which was absent from earlier models. A laser rangefinder positioned above the main armament was added to the T-62 Obr 1975 when it was first released. 

The 1962-introduced T-62K was the command version, carrying fewer rounds and more radios. Finally, a series of updated T-62 tanks, known as the T-62M, had come up. These diverse iterations demonstrate the T-62’s evolutionary advances, which range from increased firepower to cutting-edge features like laser range finders and command capabilities.

 

Operations:

From the 1960s till the present, the T-62, a main battle tank built in the Soviet Union, has been actively involved in several conflicts all over the world. Notable examples of its use were in the Iraq War (2003–2011) and the Soviet–Afghan War (1979–1989). The T-62 proved its adaptability in difficult environments by playing a vital role in Afghanistan’s rough terrain. It also participated in the 2008 Russo-Georgian War, where it proved to be an effective tank in a variety of conditions. 

The T-62’s continued use on the contemporary battlefield is demonstrated by its deployment in both the current Russia-Ukrainian War (2022–present) and the Second Libyan Civil War (2014–2020). As the tank can function in a range of environments, such as mountains, deserts, and cities, it has proven to be an adaptable tool in conflicts from the Middle East to Eastern Europe. As a result of its sturdy construction and versatility, the T-62 has proven to be a potent weapon in numerous combat zones throughout the years.