Home > Reviews > Modern > Main Battle Tank T-80 - Russian Armour Volume 3

Main Battle Tank - T80



Reviewed by Adam O'Brien


Title and Publisher: Main Battle Tank - T80
by Mikhail Baryatinsky
ISBN: 978-0711032385
Media and Contents: Soft cover
Price: £14.99 available online from Ian Allan Publishing's website
Review Type: FirstRead
Advantages: Comprehensive look at UNIFIL vehicles
Disadvantages: No single vehicle explored in detail
Recommendation: Highly Recommended


The T80 Main Battle Tank appeared as a production model in 1984. Based on the T64 series, the T80 retained the 125mm smoothbore gun amongst other features. The main point of difference though was the implementation (and the first Soviet use) of a gas turbine engine. Another Soviet first was the use of a laser rangefinder which provided a major improvement to the fire control system.

Up to the release of this book, quality reference material for the modeller has been quite hard to find. There have been precious few books published that detail the T80. This gap in our knowledge has been filled though, with the release of this volume. Not only does the book detail the T80 both inside and out, it outlines the development history, combat effectiveness, and ongoing upgrades and variants, in an easy to read, well illustrated manner.

All the modeller needs now is for one of the major manufacturers to provide us with an accurate, up-to-date kit. Skif & Dragon/Zvezda have the T80 in their catalogues, but both require some work to correct inaccuracies and be brought up to modern standards.

Content outline

The size of the book will be familiar to buyers of the Osprey series (between A4 & A5). The quality of the paper is very good and the binding is quite sturdy. The book will stand up to some abuse at the modelling bench.

First up is a short introduction that outlines the very early history of the T80 and the development and inclusion of the gas turbine engine.

The book’s chapter layout is as follows –

  1. Tank Development History. This short chapter briefly outlines the vehicles on which the T80 is based and the early operational problems associated with the gas turbine engine

  2. Production and Upgrade. Here, the base model T80 and the first variant T80B are described in detail. The chapter is broken down into the various components and systems within the tank. Illustrated with a good selection of photos and line drawings.

  3. Production and Modernisation. This chapter deals with the U and UD variants in detail. Illustrated again with a great selection of photos and line drawings. Especially useful here are a series of photos of the T80 power plant. It is within this chapter that we have 6 very nice profiles (in colour) of operational T80’s. At the end of the chapter is a comprehensive set of line drawings.

  4. Combat Employment. Outlines the operational history of the T80 and its combat effectiveness.

  5. From T80U to Black Eagle. Described and illustrated here is the T80UM. First rolled out in public in 1997, this latest variant is equiped with the Arena active tank protection system, the benefits of which are outlined in the text. This final chapter differs from the rest as the photography is mostly in colour, and is of the highest quality in the book. The last pages are devoted to the latest Russian MBT – the “Black Eagle”, and we are treated to a series of quite good photos of the tank on the proving grounds.  

Generally, throughout the book, the quality and clarity of the written text is quite good and very easy to follow – considering the book was translated from Russian. I found also, the photo captions were amongst the most informative I have read in a specialist armour publication.

The quality of the photography is also very good. Clarity and sharpness is important if the book is to be used as modelling reference, and if this is your intended use, you will not be disappointed. 86 black and white and 57 colour photos are used throughout. All are of a high quality and well chosen. Especially useful are the shots of the tank from above. This angle is sometimes missing in reference books. If I have one complaint with the book it is the balance of B/W to colour photographs. I would like to have seen more colour.

The book’s value to the modeller of modern Russian MBT’s is substantial. What I found most useful, apart from the comprehensive text, colour profiles & line drawings, was the brilliant colour photography showing the tank in various states of “dirtiness”. These kind of “in action” colour photos are pure gold for the modeller wishing to apply just the right amount of weathering to their model. Mud and dirt accumulate differently from one tank type to the next, so these pictures are worth the asking price alone.


Main Battle Tank – T80, by Mikhail Baryatinsky is, at the moment the only true reference work available on this tank (that this reviewer knows of). That alone will make it required reading for anyone wishing to build a model of this MBT. The book is professionally laid out, easy to read and very informative. You will learn all you need to know about the history, development and operation of the T80 and its variants. Add to this, sturdy binding, some fine photography and 6 beautiful colour profiles. It is a book not to miss if you are interested in modern Russian MBT’s. Highly Recommended.

T-80 MBT - Further reading / Web links





Text and Images by Adam O'Brien
Page Created 10 June, 2007
Page Last Updated 09 June, 2007