Soviet-build T-55 tank is the basis of the Israeli Achzarit APC
The Israeli army and industry at one time created a rather massive modification of a heavily armored personnel carrier based on the T-55 medium tanks that the IDF captured from the Arabs. These combat vehicles are used by the Israel Defense Forces to this day.
It is surprising that the Soviet and Russian armies, having experience of 9 years of combat operations in Afghanistan, and then the experience of urban combat in Grozny, did not come up with the idea of creating a massive heavy tracked armored personnel carrier.
There were all the prerequisites for this: real combat experience, industrial capabilities, and huge stocks of T-54/55 and T-62 tanks in storage bases.
The appearance of such heavy armored personnel carriers can save the lives of thousands of soldiers in combat conditions. Moreover, such a technique would have appeared earlier than the decades-long tests of Bumerang IFVs and Kurganets tracked amphibious.
The world’s first heavily armored personnel carrier
Achzarit became the world’s first heavily armored personnel carrier. The emergence of this technique is due to two reasons.
First, Israel’s cautious approach to the use of all available weapons. Second, the need to protect infantry from modern weapons. In Israel, they put the life of the soldier above the safety of military equipment.
Israel’s experience, including the 1982 Israel-Lebanon conflict, showed that the tanks that the Israeli army tried to use as armored personnel carriers proved very resistant to anti-tank cluster munitions.
Based on this, as early as the 1980s, Israel began to implement the concept of creating heavily armored personnel carriers based on various tanks. Thus, stocks of captured T-54/55 medium tanks appeared on the agenda.
Achzarit is better than M113
From 1988 to 2011, about 500 tanks went through the conversion process into armored personnel carriers in Israel. More than 100 of these armored personnel carriers, created based on the T-55, continue to remain in service, despite the appearance of specialized heavy armored personnel carriers, created based on the main battle tank Merkava. We are talking about the Namer armored personnel carrier with a combat mass of 60 tons.
Achzarit armored personnel carriers remain in service and are actively used in urban settings. They are most effective where M113 APCs are vulnerable due to the enemy’s heavy use of anti-tank grenade launchers.
Characteristics of the Achzarit APC
Externally, all Achzarit APCs are T-54/55 tanks from which the turret has been removed. The engine and transmission have also been changed. The Mk.1 variants were fitted with a new, more compact General Motors diesel engine rated at 650 HP, and the Mk.2 engine was increased to 850 HP.
The installation of a new, more compact engine made it possible to free up space between the starboard side of the combat vehicle and the power plant. Behind, on the starboard side, a stern armored ramp appeared.
This door has a unique design that allows you to increase the opening [due to the mechanism for lifting part of the roof when the door is opened]. This allows the paratrooper to exit faster and back to get inside the combat vehicle without twisting into three deaths.
Weight and armament
The hull of the tank itself was significantly re-equipped, placing a full-fledged military compartment for 7 people in it. Three more people make up the crew of the combat vehicle: a driver, a weapons operator, and a commander.
After removing the tower, the weight of the tanks reached 27 tons, but the weight of the Achzarit armored personnel carrier was 44 tons. Almost all of the weight increase was spent on additional armor for the armored personnel carrier, including the installation of combined armor and dynamic protection.
As Akhzarit weapons, turrets or remote-controlled turrets with machine guns were installed. It had both 7.62mm machine guns and a large caliber of 12.7mm.
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