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Concord # 7503 Russia's Main Battle Tank T-80U

Tony Leung

Mini Colour Series #7503  Published by Concord Publications Company , Hong Kong  Authors: Steven Zaloga and David Markov 48 pages , soft cover, full colour pictorial. Price CAD$15.68 plus GST

The T-80 series of tanks is currently the most advanced main battle tank design produced by Russia and Ukraine. This soft cover book is mainly composed of colour photographs of the tank taken at international arms exhibitions held in the Middle East and within Russia. In addition to the colour photographs, there is a two page fold out line drawing of a T-80U without the Shtora IR dazzler and laser detectors mounted. In keeping with the format of this series, there are also four colour plates of a T-80BV of the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany 1992, T-80UM of the Russian Army in Nizhni Novgorod 1993, T-80UE of the Russian Army in Siberia 1999 and a T-84U of the Ukrainian Army displayed at Abu Dhabi in 1999.

The first two pages of the book is text info about the various models of the T-80 tank. The photographs which are the "meat " of this book are divided up into sections for each of the various marks of the T-80. Three pages (14 photos) covers the T-80BV. This is one of the earlier versions of the tank which mounted the small explosive reactive armour bricks. In this series of photos, there are some interesting shots of BVs that were brewed up in Chechnya and as well a single photo of one of the ERA bricks that was sectioned to reveal the "innards".

Seven pages of photos (22 pictures) covers the T-80U, which was the version which first displayed the mounting of the "clam shell " like Kontakt 5 ERA suite and made its first public debut at the IDEX hosted by the United Arab Emirates back in May 1993. But most of the photos here appear to be taken from an exihibition held in Russia showing the T-80U churning up mud on a demonstration obstacle course. Included here is a nice photo of the external APU mounted on the back end of the tank. The Dragon kit is probably one of the early production models of the "U" as it still has the old style snorkel tube. The "U" shown in the book has the later Brod M snorkel "box" mounted on the back of the turret. I don't recall off hand if the Dragon kit included the external APU mounted on the back left hand corner of the hull.

The T-80UK command tank (8 pages , 25 photos) is covered in a series of photos mainly taken at IDEX 95 held in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Among these photos in this section of the book are four pictures taken inside the turret. The Abu Dhabi photos appears to be the same tank shown in film footage from a TV series called Fire Power 2000 shown on the Discover Channel. Not surprisingly, Steve Zaloga was also among the credits for that particular chapter of Fire Power 2000 which I am refering to.  The T-80UE tank is covered as well. This is a relatively new model of the T-80. This is described in the book as a T-80UK minus the command radios and other expensive upgrades. The four pages covering the T-80UE has 13 photos of the tank painted in a "garish camouflage finish of bright yellow and dark purple brown".

The T80UM-1 "Snow Leopard" is the first version of the T-80 series to mount the Arena active defense system. Arena is made up mainly of a large radar mast mounted onto the back of the turret whose job is to detect incoming projectiles threatening the tank. Once the threatening projectile is within range, one among a series of explosive charges which line the circumference of the turret is lobbed upwards and from above and into the direction of the incoming projectile in order to destroy it with a shower of shrapnel. Those who own a copy of the Darlington Publications book "Soviet / Russian Armour and Artillery Design Practices 1945 to the Present will recognize that a colour photo of this tank appears on the back cover of that book as well (also written by the same authors). THere is a good close up shot of this radar mast as well as top down photos of the turret itself, illustrating all the various attachments. A total of three pages with eleven photos cover this version of the T-80. An alternative to the Arena active defense system is the Drozd and this is fitted to the T-80UM-2. The Drozd system has two rectanglular box-like radar mounts fitted to both left and right sides of the turret. Four special rockets mounted on each side of the turret are fired to destroy incoming projectiles. Three pages (11 photos) illustrate this version in the book. There are some close up photos of the rocket launchers and radar mounts.

Next to Russia, Ukraine is also a producer of the the T-80. As a result of the break up of the USSR, Ukraine inherited a fair proportion of theT-80's production facilities, but the turret was originally supplied from Russia.  As a result, Ukraine's version of the T-80, called the T-84 mounts a welded turret instead of a cast one. Seven pages (23 photos) cover the T-84 and the latest T-84U. The welded shape of the Ukrainian tank turret gives it a distinctively different profile from its Russian cousin and no doubt the use of slightly different turret fittings helps to alter the look even further. This series of photos illustrate well enough the different engine deck and turret of the Ukrainian tank. Also worthy of mention is one photo on page 35 of the Pakistani T-84 on parade in Islamabad. The lastest version of the T-80 family is the mysterious "Black Eagle". Eight photos show this tank charging through the mud. Unfortunately the mock up turret is covered up in camo netting. A photo of a trade show display model is provided. This photo appears to be the same as the one on the front cover of the Russian hobby magazine Modelist konstrucktor. The last four pages of the book has photographs of the 2S19 Msta 152mm Self propelled gun and the BREM-80U armoured recovery vehicle. Both are derivatives of the T-80 series. This is a highly recommended book for all fans of modern Russian armour.

Now if only a model manufacturer will produce a fairly good sample of one of the latest T-80s and T-84s to complement this book?

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