To Slow The Ukrainian Counteroffensive, The Kremlin Is Betting On T-55 Tanks From The 1950s

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War in Ukraine


The Russians generally aren’t deploying their 60-year-old T-62s, and especially their 70-year-old T-54s and T-55s, for armored assaults as part of combined-arms formations. Instead, they’re positioning the tanks—sometimes with just a single person aboard—a few miles behind the line of contact and using them as crude howitzers. All Russian tanks have aiming reticles that allow for long-range ballistic shooting; Russian doctrine instructs tankers to functions as artillery gunners when the situation demands it. It’s an expedient. “They make for an inefficient form of artillery,” Jack Watling and Nick Reynolds wrote about the aged tank-howitzers in a recent study for the Royal United Services Institute in London. “Nevertheless, these engagements can often be made from positions that would not be viable for artillery, because of the tanks’ greater protection and thus reduced vulnerability to counterbattery fire,” Watling and Reynolds added.