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Home > Tanks > T-55
Production History
The T-55 with the T-54 was the Soviet's front-line main battle tank from 1947 until 1962 and is active in many client states of the Soviet Union. With over 95 thousand units built, it's the most produced tank series in history. The T-54 and T-55 are very similar and difficult to distinguish visually. It was manufactured in the Soviet Union, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and China (known as Type 59). The T-55 has a high velocity gun with exceptional long-range endurance. It is fully tracked, five-road-wheeled chassis with low-silhouetted hull and a dome shaped turret mounted over the third road wheel. There is space between the first and second return road wheels and there are no return wheels. It was introduced in 1958 and has the refinements and improvements of the T-54 without significant change of design or appearance. The T-55 has a larger V-12 water-cooled diesel engine than the 580 hp engine of the T-54. It has a cruising range of 500 km and an additional 215 km with the use of two 200 liter auxiliary fuel tanks carried on the rear. The main gun has a two-plane stabilization and a basic load of 43 rounds. It has ford depths of up to 1.4 meter without preparation and additional snorkel equipment (15-30 minutes set up time) allows crossing of depths of up to 5.5 m at a speed of 2 km/h. There is a PAZ radiation detection system equipped and some are also retrofitted with full NBC collective protection system (air filtration and overpressure). Available improvements include a hull bottom reinforced against mines, better engines, rubber track pads, and a thermal sleeve for the gun. It could also could be made watertight. The T-55 is most effective against light to medium armored vehicles. The external fuel tanks make it vulnerable and the armor is thin. There is limited ability to depress the main gun which hinders the tank's fires in defilade from high grounds. The lack of turret basket presents loading difficulties. The driver, commander and gunner are all in line. The tank is not airtight thus the crew must wear individual masks and clothing against chemical and biological agents. It also must pass through contaminated areas rapidly and then must be decontaminated.