Saturday, December 08, 2012

Vintage photo: Soviet Army T-54/55 tank

Like Mrs. Marathon Pundit, her late brother Harijs was a camera buff. He was drafted into the Soviet Army in the mid-1960s, and my wife is pretty certain that he took the photograph in this post.

I'm not positive but based on when the picture was taken and research I did on Soviet tanks, below is either a T-54 or a T-55 tank. Some sources don't differentiate between the two armored vehicles and they dub them the T-54/55--and I'm going to do that here.

The T-54/55 had advantages over American tanks such as the Patton series. They were easy to operate and were smaller--which of course presented a smaller target for the enemy. But that compactness meant a smaller compartment for the four man crew--so much so that maneuverability was a problem for the T-54/55--despite its light weight. The cramped soldiers were in each other's way.

The T-54/55 is the most-produced tank in history, and given the style of contemporary warfare--terror driven conflicts--it doesn't have to look over its shoulders for any up-and-comers.

The Warsaw Pact armored strategy in a conflict with NATO was to overwhelm the West with more, albeit inferior, tanks. Here's another way of looking at it--think of more jackals attacking fewer lions.

Who would have won? Here's a clue: The T-54/55 didn't perform well in the Six Day War against the American tanks of the Israeli Defense Forces.

In 1967 Harijs was home in Latvia.

And the contemporary Latvian Army has at least one T-55 in its arsenal.

Related post:

Soviet Army Christmas and New Year cards and photos

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