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Light Tank

PT - 76

 

The PT-76B Light Amphibious Tank

Modification PT-76 PT-76B
Entered service in 1952 1958
Crew 3 3
Dimensions and weight 
Total weight in combat order  14.2 t  14.6 t
Overall length   7 634 mm 7 625 mm
Chassis length  6 910 mm
Overall width   3 140 mm
Overall height    2 325 mm 2 255 mm
Armament
Main gun  76.2-mm D-56T Rifled Gun 76.2-mm D-56TS Rifled Gun
Barrel length 42 calibers ?
Machine gun 7.62-mm, 12.7-mm (optional)
Traverse range  360 degrees 
Elevation range  - 4 to + 30 degrees 
Maximum rate of fire 6 - 8 rounds/min
Combat load
Main gun 40 rounds
Machine gun 1 000 cartridges
Mobility
Engine power  240 hp
Maximum road speed   44 km/h 
Maximum speed on water 10.2 km/h 
Autonomy on roads  370 - 400 km  480 km
Autonomy on water 100 km 120 km
Maneuverability
Slope  52°
Vertical step   1.1 m
Ditch   2.8 m
   The PT-76 is a Light Amphibious Tank. It's Russian name PT (Plavajuschij Tank) is translated as Amphibious Tank. The PT-76 was developed between 1949 - 1951 under the leadership of Zh. Kotin. It was adopted on 16-th August 1952. It's serial production started since 1953 on Volgograd Tank Factory.Drawing of the PT-76B Light Amphibious Tank

   Overall there were built approximately 12 000 tanks including 2 000 for export. It was exported to all Warsaw Pact countries and also to a great number of Asian, African and Near Eastern countries.

   The PT-76 Light Tanks participated in combat operations in Africa, Vietnam, Middle East and India-Pakistan conflict.

   PT-76 was formerly the standard reconnaissance tank of the Soviet Army. It was intended for reconnaissance, water obstacle fording operations, Naval Infantry landings. Furthermore the PT-76 is able to transport troops, support troops with it's artillery during landing and establishment.  

   The tank has a classical arrangement design scheme with front driving compartment, middle - combat and the rear - engine-transmission compartment instead of all Soviet pre World War II period amphibious tanks.

   A pontoon shape hull is hermetical and ensures minimal resistance when tank is afloat. It is welded from a thin rolled armored steel. Usage of thin armor was necessary to provide amphibious capabilities. Frontal armor is inclined in 80.5 degrees. It's upper armor is 10 mm thin while the lower plate is 13 mm thin. Turret has a shape of truncated cone is welded from 10 - 20 mm armor steel.

   Tank's crew consists from a three crew members. Driver's seat is in the middle of the hull. Tank's commander and loader are placed in the combat compartment. Commander is seated on the left from the main gun while the loader on the right. There are no gun's operator as a crew member as this work is made by a tank's commander. Under the driver's seat there is an emergency hatch which can be used by all crew members. Commander and loader use double roof hatch.The PT-76B Light Amphibious Tank

   The frontal armor plate is fitted with a wave screen. It is turned on from the driving compartment when tank enters a water obstacle. Unless the front part of the tank use to sink. This is the only operation tank requires before entering water as it is amphibious itself.

   PT-76 main armament is a 76.2-mm Gun with coaxial SGMT 7.62-mm Machine Gun. The first serial tanks were fitted with the D-56T Rifled Gun. It had no stabilization and this was one of the greatest disadvantages. Later it was replaced with improved D-56TM (2A16) Gun. However the most technically perfect was the D-56TS Gun placed on the PT-76B Light Tanks since 1959. The D-56TS Gun is stabilized in two planes. This feature allows to fire when tank is moving. Tank's commander operates and fires the main gun. He uses TShK-2-66 optical sight, TPKU-2B observation device and two TNP day periscopes. Loader uses MK-4 observation device.

   Maximum range of fire is 4 000 meters. Maximum rate of fire is 6 - 8 rounds per minute. Combat load consists from 40 loads including 24 high-explosion fragmentation, 4 undercaliber armor-piercing tracers, 4 armor-piercing tracers and 8 cumulative projectiles. The armor-piercing projectile in 2 000 meter range pierced 60 mm armor inclined in 60 degrees.The PT-76B Light Amphibious Tank

   A great number of PT tanks were additionally fitted with the DShKM 12.7-mm Anti-Aircraft Machine Gun mounted placed on the roof during their modernizations.

   PT-76 is powered by V-6 six cylinder diesel engine. It reaches maximum power in 240 hp under 1 800 rounds per minute. Engine is completed with a cooling system, initial heater (intended for ignition when air temperature is -20ēC and below). Tank is completed with a 5 gear manual transmission similar to the well known T-34-85 Medium Tank. Transmission has 4 forward and one reverse gear.

   Chassis use individual torsion suspension. 6 rubber bearing rolls are placed from the ach board. Bearing rolls are hollow to ensure additional amphibious abilities. Furthermore usage of hollow bearing rolls increased tanks buoyancy even in 30%. The first and the sixth rolls from the each board are fitted with hydraulic absorbers. Tracked suspension is made without the supporting rolls. Driving sprockets are placed rear. Tracks are all-steel and small scale.

   The PT-76 reaches maximum road speed in 44 km/h. It manages 52° slopes, 1.1 m height vertical step and 2.8 m wide trench. Light tank manages water obstacles using hydrojet engines. Water goes threw the two openings in the bottom water is pumped in in ejected threw the rear part. Water ejects with a high speed and creates a jet stream mowing tank forward. Furthermore PT-76 Light Tank has ability to float reverse. It turns on water by closing water ejection lid of the required side hydrojet engine. One more interesting detail that PT-76 is the first world tank completed with hydrojet engines.

   For emergency situation tank is fitted with electric bilge pumps. There are also manual bilge pumps if the electric ones failures. It keeps tanks afloat even if it is hit, damaged or leaks.The PT-76B Light Amphibious Tank. There can be clarely seen additional fuel tanks.

   Tank is fitted with a tank communication device, radio station, Nuclear, Biological, Chemical protection system, automatic fire extinguishing system, thermo smoke equipment, gyro compass and a night vision device.

   During it's serial production tank was constantly improved. The main gun was replaced, placed new R-113 radio station instead of 10-RT-26E, improved hull's design and other equipment. Tank recommended itself as a simple and reliable in operation. 

   There were made two deep modernizations of the PT-76 in result appeared later modifications:

   - The PT-76B was adopted in 1958. It was completed with a new D-56TS main gun stabilized in two planes and fitted with cartridge ejector and improved muzzle brake. This modification got one more additional undercaliber armor-piercing projectile piercing up to 75 mm in 60° hitting angle in 2 000 meter range. SGMT coaxial machine gun was replaced with PKT.

   It also featured improved observation devices, electro equipment and radio equipment. Increased hulls height. Engine-transmission compartment lid is made with reverse inclination for faster water leak from it. 

   One more sufficient improvement was additional external fuel tank providing longer autonomy on roads and on water. This modification was serially produced since 1959 till 1963;

   - The PT76M has improved amphibious features by a bit larger displacement. It was intended for Navy Marines. However in this modification there were no greatly increased combat features so Navy Marines adopted usual PT-76B with snorkel, placed over ventilator preventing water from getting in.

   On the PT-76 chassis there were developed later vehicles:

   - The BTR-50P Armored Personnel carrier;

   - Launching platforms of the "Mars" and "Luna" tactical missiles. The "Luna" missile complex entered service in 1961;

   - The GSP Tracked Self-Propelled float;

   - The RSP-75 Underwater Reconnaissance Vehicle;

   - MTP Technical Support Vehicle.

   Polish produced PT-76 tanks feature separate hatches for commander and loader and 12.7-mm Anti-Aircraft Machine Gun. In China PT-76 was used as a prototype developing Type 60 and Type 63 Light Amphibious Tanks. In Israel trophy PT-76 were improved and fitted with new USA made 90-mm main gun, new machine gun, 300 hp engine, new fire control system, laser rangefinder and night vision device.

   Recently there are very few of the PT-76 still in service in the Russian Army as they were replaced by BMP and BRM type Armored Vehicles. The main BMP and BRM type vehicle disadvantage comparing with the PT-76 is an absence of a powerful armament. Otherwise they are fitted with a modern reconnaissance equipment (BRM), have quiet similar armor with a greater mobility features and can carry troops inside. However the PT's are still in service with a great number of countries.

Advantages

   Excellent amphibious abilities and reliability. Bilge pumps allow to keep tank afloat even if it is hit, damaged or leaks. The PT-76 is able to fire from it's main gun afloat.

Disadvantages

   Weak armor protection. It's armor can be penetrated by heavy machine gun. too light gun for a modern tank. No gun's operator as a separate crew member. This feature reduces efficiency of the tank's commander who must additionally make radio communications.


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