This tank can be considered a symbol of the nuclear war that never happened. Its construction is optimal for opposing to shock waves, four-crawler track undercarriage – to move in the conditions of a nuclear winter…
Heavy tank “Object 279” was unique and had no competitors. It had an unusual ellipsoidal shape protecting the tank from overturning if hit by a shock wave of a nuclear explosion.
Let’s have a closer look at the vehicle.
Object 279 became of the models to replace T-10 tank. It was designed in 1957 by the Kirov factory according to the requirements of the Soviet Army. It was intended for defence penetration and combat actions in barely passable localities.
The tank had a cast body with differentiated armoring.
Being assembled from four cast elements, the body was covered with a slat armor along the perimeter that made it look ellipsoidal. Under armor hull volume was reduced to the maximum (11, 47m3), the armor thickness was absolutely unique – the front armor was 192 mm thick, the side one – up to 182 mm. The cast turret had a round armor 305 mm thick excluding the hull back.
The tank was armed with a 130 mm weapon M-65 and a 14,55 gun (ецутен-four shots and 300 cartriges for the gun). The combat fire rate 5-7 shots per minute was provided by the team-work of the loading and cartrige semi-automatic devices.
The fire control system was provided with a stereoscopic rangefinder sight with visual field stabilization, a biplanar electrohydraulic stabilizer “Groza” and a full set of night vision devices.
Tank power package was made in two versions – diesel DG-1000, 950 hp at 2500 RPM and 2DG-8M – 1000 hp at 2400 RPM. Both engines are four-stroke, 16-cylinder, H-type ones. Tank transmission was unsual too, it was hydromechanical and has a planetary three-speed gearbox (automated gear change).
But the most interesting component of the tank, that drew the eye first, was its four-crawler undercarriage.
The chassis was mounted on two longitudinal hollow beams that served as fuel tanks. Such construction provided a good cross-country ability on deep snow and saturated terrain.
The tank could easily overcome vertical obstacles, the average ground pressure was equal to 0,6 kgf/cm2 (close to the one typical for a light tank).
In respect to one track mover the chassis consisted of six track rollers, three carrier rollers, one track adjusting wheel and a drive sprocket. Tha tank had an individual hydropneumatic adjustable suspension. Clearance was not important – the tank could overcome vertical obstacles without any risk to stuck with its bottom on them.
The contact pressure factor was low too – only 0,6 kgf/m2, so the tank could move along deep snow and swampy areas. The disadvantages of the undercarriage were a poor maneuverability and increased resistance to motion. It was difficult to repair due to the complicate construction and inaccessibility of the inner pair of caterpillars.
Experimental prototype of the tank was made in 1959 and started to be tested but quite soon they realized that so expensive vehicle had no chances for serial production.
A crew of the tank consisted of four persons, three of them – a commander, a gunlayer and a loader – were in the turret. The mechanic-driver had its place in the front part of the body, in the center where the hatch was located.
Object 279 can be seen today in the Museum of Armored Vehicles in Kubinka (Moscow region).