Tank IFVs – or Tank CFVs

The BMT-72 and BTMP-84 are concoctions of the Morozov design bureau in Kharkiv, Ukraine, representing a tank-IFV, that can carry, besides three crew and a 125mm gun, five soldiers. The BMPT-84 at least had a rear door and raised rear compartment, while the BMT-72 plopped in a troop compartment between the turret and the engine with roof hatches (it looks as ergonomic as it sounds).

I’ve seen it be widely criticized, and understandably so. It takes two vehicles with contradictory roles and mushes them together. However, there’s a part of me that thinks it could be somewhat salvagable as a (western-style) cavalry vehicle, with the dismounts acting as something other than line infantry, something other than just “ok, rather than dismounting from the BMP/BTR behind the tank, they dismount from the tank itself”.

Of course, a separate vehicle holding the cavalry scouts that puts the eggs in more than one basket is still probably the better option, but it’s the least bad way I could think of such an unconventional tank to be used.

T-72-120

The T-72-120 upgrade explains how tank development can pass the point of diminishing returns. It’s a Ukrainian upgrade of a T-72 to have a bustle autoloader for a 120mm NATO tank gun along with the usual advanced electronics. There was a very similar variant of the T-80/84 called the “Yatagan” as well.

t72120

While it looks impressive, it’s easy to see why this tank sputtered out.

  • In exchange for for somewhat safer ammo storage (which is still in a scrunched-up Soviet tank) and a 120mm caliber gun, you have to redesign and rebuild the entire loading system of the tank. The cost-benefit isn’t the best.
  • The post-USSR tank glut doomed it just as easily as it doomed almost every other design of the period. You want a 120mm tank, you get a surplus Leopard II.

That being said, I like the look this tank and the Yatagan had, this sort of “east-west fusion” of low-slung tanks with prominent ERA and long bustle turrets.

USMC Divisions in World War III

So, a RAND study on the (sideshow) southern theater of World War III included this graph.

Notice how low the USMC divisions are placed. Even the WP bottom-of-the-barrel Romanians outdo them. I have my quibbles with this kind of “Battle of the spreadsheets” system, but a look at the USMC’s force structure, especially at the time shows that they were not suited for this kind of mobile continental war.

The Low-Pressure Missile Tank Age

Only a few actually made it into mass production, but around the world, there was eager development in the 1960s of low-pressure gun/missile launcher tanks, the kind best emphasized by the M551 Sheridan and M60A2. The Soviet designs have turrets that resemble”squashed” versions of the classic dome turret.

The impetus was how to extend the firing range of the tank. This arrangement was ultimately made obsolete by the development of better fire control (for western tanks) and barrel-launched ATGMs that could be used in conventional tank guns (for Soviet ones)

But they’re still an interesting footnote.

 

My Book Backlog is Done!

So, every book on my big backlog I’ve read or at least sampled and then put aside to read later. Some of them made it to Fuldapocalypse or are in the review ‘stack’, others did not and will not.

Perhaps the most famous entry is Heinlein’s original Starship Troopers. The most charitable things I can say about it are that it probably aged poorly and that I understand how it can scratch a “he gets it” itch for veterans because of its realistic depiction of boot camp drudgery. Otherwise, I didn’t like it. It has this overly “bouncy” and somewhat rambling writing style that I found to knock down both the boot-camp-coming-of-age main plot and the modest amount of actual action.

My military sci-fi itch is pretty much subsided-of the four remaining books, three were military sci-fi. I did find Jonathan Brazee’s works good for my current ‘cheap thriller’ tastes and will be checking out more of them, but I think it best to put the remaining “guy in armored space suit” books on the back burner until the genre fatigue wears off. Those made up the bulk of my holiday purchases, so returning to the delightfully technothrillery Thunder of Erebus was a good ‘grand finale’.

Going forward, I have two general priorities. One is slightly more highbrow works of fiction-I love cheap thrillers, but think going a little higher would be helpful. I definitely plan on reading and reviewing the classic Forever War, for one example. The other priority is tanks, because while some of the books had tanks in them, none were really in a starring role. So I’m planning on reading more tank books (and yes, that includes sci-fi tank books).

This whole experience was fun, and I hope to encounter more literary gems.

Saddam’s Ring of Doom: Corps Defense of a Large City

The “Ring defense of Baghdad” that was the ideal goal of Saddam in the 2003 Iraq War was illustrated by a later CIA illustration as this:

The “rings” were a British-influenced line system. Yellow is the initial deployment of forward screening forces, green the initial line of main forces, blue the first fallback line, and red the final one, where the survivors would switch to a positional defense after a fighting withdraw.

In practice, the shambolic 2003 army facing an overwhelming opponent was unable to implement it in any meaningful way. Even in theory, it uses the mobile heavy divisions as part of the ‘anvil’ rather than a separate Stalingrad-style “hammer”. Yet it remains an interesting example of a plan to have a large corps-sized unit defending a very large city.

6 October 1973

Today marks the anniversary of the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, frequently called the Yom Kippur War. The conflict featured the largest post-World War II armor engagements up to that date and the widespread use of anti-tank and anti-air missiles.

yomkippurwarcyclorama2

Egyptian troops storm the east bank of the Suez Canal in a propaganda painting.