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The first production T-64s rolled off the production line at the Malyshev Plant in October 1963.

While the first vehicles of the T-64 type started to roll off the production line, studies for its improved version were already under way at the Design Bureau.

As the T-64 tank was well in advance of other tanks as to the protection and mobility characteristics, a decision was taken - in order to preserve long-term advantage over all Soviet and foreign tanks - to considerably increase its firepower.

This was achieved by fitting the tank with a 125mm smoothbore gun of high ballistics (D-81).

At the same time some other changes to the vehicle design were made:

  • a more accurate optical range-finder was installed;

  • hull front protection was enhanced;

  • protection in the area of the driver's hatch was enhanced;

  • protection of sides against hollow-charge projectiles was enhanced by installing protective screens;

  • the commander's and gunner's stations were made more comfortable by increasing their volume;

  • chemical and radiation protection of the crew was ensured by mounting the NBC equipment.

The tank with the above modifications was designated the Obiekt 434. The technical design of the new tank was completed in 1964, and the Design Bureau immediately started to produce working drawings and technical documentation. The prototypes were manufactured in 1966-1967, and following extensive trials in May 1968 the tank entered service with the Soviet Army under the designation of the T-64A.

The T-64A tank had an optimal design, as it was a harmonious combination of the firepower, reliable complex protection and high mobility at the minimum possible weight of the tank.

Some principally new design solutions were used in the T-64A tank, viz.:

  • automatic loading system was introduced, which made it possible to achieve very rapid firing rates of the main gun;

  • reduction in the size of the crew to three;

  • a number of systems and assemblies of fire control were designed (range-finder sight, two-axis stabiliser, computing element in the fire-control system), that ensured a high efficiency of fire;

  • principally new combined protective barriers were designed, which increased the protection against high-explosive anti-tank and armour-piercing projectiles by more than twice compared with the newest at that time T-62 tank;

  • protection of the crew against initial radiation of nuclear explosions was ensured;

  • principally new scheme of layout and design of the power pack compartment was created;

  • for the first time in the Soviet tank building a planetary transmission with hydraulic control was created, which ensured dramatic decrease of the weight and dimensions of the tank power pack compartment;

  • the lightest in the tank building running gear with wheels with internal shock absorption was created;

  • for the first time the problem of deep fording without time or distance limits was solved.

The new layout and design solutions together with high tactical and technical characteristics and relatively small (36.5 tonnes) weight determined a high technical level of the T-64A tank.

Remaining within the weight limit of a medium tank, the new tank's armament and protection capabilities were identical to those of a heavy tank. Thus, due to the creation of the T-64A tank the division of tanks into medium and heavy ones was finally eliminated (this confirmed the concept put forward in the Design Bureau as early as 1954), and a new concept emerged - the main battle tank. The T-64A tank was the first main battle tank of the Soviet Union.

This event marked another victory of the Soviet tank development, a qualitative leap forward compared with tanks of the leading tank producing nations - the new, third generation of Soviet-designed tanks emerged.

The T-64A tank was created by way of constant creative quest, by way of gradual approach to the requirements of the time, from the first design concepts of a new vehicle (Obiekt 430, 1954) to the first series production tank (1969). The Chief Designer of the T-64A tank was A.A. Morozov. He received the Lenin Award for creation of this tank.

T-64 Series

So successful was the design and layout of the T-64A that other tank design bureaux started to use many design solutions for vehicles of later design, such as the T-72 and T-80 tanks.

In 1962 Department No 62 of the plant was included into the Design Bureau. This department was a special design bureau for designing flame thrower tanks headed by F.A. Mostovoy, who became the Deputy Chief Designer. This team of designers created the OT-54 and TO-55 tanks and the experimental tank called the Izdeliye 483 (Product 483). Series production of these vehicles was undertaken at the Omsk Transport Machine Construction Plant by using the documentation developed in Kharkiv.

F.A. Mostovoy

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