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SU-85 Tank Destroyer

SU-85 Tank Destroyer

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SU-85 Tank Destroyer

The SU-85 was a Soviet tank destroyer based on the SU-122 assault gun, which was itself built on the chassis of the T-34 Medium Tank. During 1942 the Soviet high command had been convinced that the 7.62cm guns of the T-34 and KV tanks were powerful enough to deal with any German tank, but in January 1943 a Tiger I was captured during the fighting around Leningrad. The armour on this tank was too strong to be penetrated by the 7.62cm gun at any acceptable combat ranges, and an urgent programme was put in place to develop a weapon capable of dealing with it.

The first priority was to develop a tank gun capable of penetrating the Tiger’s armour. Tests revealed that the 85mm anti-aircraft gun and 122mm A-19 corps artillery gun were both able to do this. The design bureau of General F.F. Petrov was given the job of producing a gun that could use the same shells as the 85mm gun, and be mounted in an armoured vehicle. Their work produced the D-5S 85mm gun.

The next step was to mount this gun on the chassis of the SU-122. This vehicle resembled the German Jagdpanther, with a fully armoured fighting compartment at the front of the tank, and the engine at the back. The SU-122 carried a 122mm howitzer, and did not have the correct optical gear for a direct fire anti-tank weapon. L. Gorlitskiy’s design team at Uralmash, who were responsible for mounting the gun, produced a new ball mount for the 85mm gun. The new mount was equipped with a TSh-15 telescopic sight. The new gun and mounting also required a redesigned superstructure, although the basic outline of the vehicle remained the same.

Production of the SU-85 ran from August 1943 to September 1944, when it was phased out in favour of the SU-100. It was used to equip 12-strong separate self-propelled battalions, allocated to army and front commands for use on special missions, and in medium self-propelled regiments, equipped with four batteries of four SU-85s and a T-34 command tank, and used as part of the mechanised corps. During 1944 they were also used as part of the anti-tank artillery brigades.

The SU-85 was designed to operate behind the infantry or tank force it was supporting, picking out the thicker armoured German tanks from long range. The lack of a defensive machine gun made it very vulnerable if it got too close to German infantry. It entered combat in the fighting on the Dnepr River and in the Ukraine late in 1943, and gave the Red Army a weapon capable of dealing with the newly introduced Panther Medium Tank.

SU in this case stands for Samokhodnaya Ustanovka – self propelled carriage – and should not be confused with Su, the designation given to aircraft designed by Sukhoi.

Number produced: 2,050
Produced: August 1943-September 1944
Length: 8.15m or 6.58m without gun
Hull Width: 3.00m
Height: 2.45m
Crew: 4
Weight: 29.2 tons
Engine: 500hp V-2 Diesel
Max Speed: 47 km/hr
Max Range: 400km road, 200km off-road
Armament: D-5S 85mm





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T-34 Overview - T-34 Variants - T-34 Production - OT-34 Flamethrower Tank - SU-85 tank destroyer - SU-100 assault gun - SU-122 tank destroyer


With the appearance of the heavy German tanks on the Eastern Front in the summer of 1943, the T-34s of the Soviet Army fell behind. A tank was urgently needed that could cope with the new Panther and Tiger tanks . A tiger captured near Leningrad was subjected to intensive fire tests. Only the 85 mm Flak L / 52 and the 122 mm A-19 Korpskanone were able to penetrate the armor of the Tiger at a greater distance. Therefore, Uralmash in Sverdlovsk received the order to develop a new tank destroyer which, in order to save development time, was to be based on the chassis of the T-34 and the structure of the SU-122 . The ball diaphragm and structure of the SU-122 did not work well and had to be redesigned. The 85 mm flak was modified to the D-5S and equipped with the new TSch-15 telescopic sight. It was installed to the right next to the driver's seat. In the course of development, three prototypes were constructed (SU-85 I, SU-85 II, SU-85 IV), among which the SU-85 II was ultimately chosen. As many components as possible were taken over from the T-34 in order to avoid time-consuming training for new crews and to keep production costs as low as possible.

Background [ edit | edit source ]

The SU-85 was a self-propelled gun designed by Lew Trojanow in response to a call for a dedicated anti-tank armored fighting vehicle capable of fighting Panther and Tiger tanks. Combining the SU-122's casemate chassis with the newly developed 85mm D-5 gun, the SU-85 entered production at the Uralmash factory in mid-1943, with first operational units issued to frontline units in August. Production was halted in the spring of 1944, after T-34/85 mass production intensified. "Only" 2 050 units were produced, with production shifting to the much more powerful SU-100.

SU-85 Tank Destroyer - History

To help speed up production of the Su-85, the chassis of the T-34 medium tank was used along with an 85mm anti-aircraft gun armament.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 06/07/2018 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

After the invasion of the Soviet Union by former ally Germany, the Red Army was put on its heels in attempting to stem the tide of the mighty Wermacht. The arrival of the fabled T-34 medium tank changed battles in favor of the defenders for a time, where her thick armor, speed and capable gun coped well against the primary tanks of the German Army - the Panzer III and Panzer IV series. This forced the hand of the Germans to develop even more potent machines which inevitably became the excellent Panther medium and Tiger heavy series. In turn, this prompted the Soviets to deliver a tank-killing system, which was attempted with the development of the SU-122. However, the gun of the SU-122 proved only effective as an "assault gun" in support of infantry actions and tackling enemy fortifications and troop concentrations and less so for the specified role of killing tanks.

The lackluster draw of the SU-122 led Soviet authorities to continue their search for a dedicated tank-killing system. As a starting point, and to facilitate grand scale production, the hull of the SU-122 (itself a copy of the T-34 hull) was utilized and an existing 85mm anti-aircraft cannon was fitted. Utilization of these components ensured that the new weapon system could be produced quickly and in the required numbers while keeping expenses under control. A prototype was made available in August of 1943, evaluated and accepted into production as the SU-85 to which 750 examples were delivered by the end of the year.

By this time, the original 76mm main gun of base T-34 tank models were proving rather ineffective against the new generation of German tanks. The 85mm gun proved the next logical step for the series and the new T-34/85 was born. In effect, the arrival of the T-34/85 rendered the dedicated SU-85 somewhat redundant which led to production of the latter wrapping up in September of 1944, completing the delivery of some 2,000 examples.

As the SU-85 was on its way out, its replacement became the SU-100 mounting the more powerful 100mm main gun. The SU-100 entered service the same month that the SU-85 was discontinued.


World War II Edit

Dedicated anti-tank vehicles made their first major appearance in the Second World War as combatants developed effective armored vehicles and tactics. Some were little more than stopgap solutions, mounting an anti-tank gun on a tracked vehicle to give mobility, while others were more sophisticated designs. An example of the development of tank destroyer technology throughout the war are the Marder III and Jagdpanzer 38 vehicle, that were very different in spite of being based on the same chassis: Marder was straightforwardly an anti-tank gun on tracks whereas the Jagdpanzer 38 traded some firepower (its Pak 39, designed to operate within the confines of a fully armored fighting compartment, fires the same projectiles from a reduced propellant charge compared to Marder's Pak 40) for better armor protection and ease of concealment on the battlefield.

Except for most American designs, tank destroyers were all turretless and had fixed or casemate superstructures. When a tank destroyer was used against enemy tanks from a defensive position such as by ambush, the common lack of a rotating turret was not particularly critical, while the lower silhouette was highly desirable. The turretless design allowed accommodation of a more powerful gun, typically a dedicated anti-tank gun (in lieu of a regular tank's general-purpose main gun that fired both anti-tank and high explosive ammunition) that had a longer barrel than could be mounted in a turreted tank on the same chassis. The lack of a turret increased the vehicle's internal volume, allowing for increased ammunition stowage and crew comfort. [2] Eliminating the turret let the vehicle carry thicker armor, and also let this armour be concentrated in the hull. Sometimes there was no armored roof (only a weather cover) to keep the overall weight down to the limit that the chassis could bear. The absence of a turret meant that tank destroyers could be manufactured significantly cheaper, faster, and more easily than the tanks on which they were based, and they found particular favor when production resources were lacking. After hard lessons early in the war, machine guns were mounted for use against infantry, but the limited traverse of the mounting meant that they were still less effective than those used on turreted tanks. [ citation needed ]

Major combatants Edit

Germany Edit

The first German tank destroyers were the Panzerjäger ("tank hunters"), which mounted an existing anti-tank gun on a convenient chassis for mobility, usually with just a three-sided gun shield for crew protection. For instance, 202 obsolete Panzer I light tanks were modified by removing the turret and were rebuilt as the Panzerjäger I self-propelled 4.7 cm PaK(t). Similarly, Panzer II tanks were used on the eastern front. Captured Soviet 76.2 mm anti-tank guns were mounted on modified Panzer II chassis, producing the Marder II self-propelled anti-tank gun. The most common mounting was a German 75 mm anti-tank gun on the Czech Panzer 38(t) chassis to produce the Marder III. The Panzer 38(t) chassis was also used to make the Jagdpanzer 38 casemate style tank destroyer. The Panzerjäger series continued up to the 88 mm equipped Nashorn.

German tank destroyers based on the Panzer III and later German tanks were unique in that they had more armor than their tank counterparts. One of the more successful German tank destroyers was actually designed as a self-propelled artillery gun, the Sturmgeschütz III. Based on the Panzer III tank chassis, the Sturmgeschütz III was originally fitted with a low-velocity gun, and was assigned to the artillery arm for infantry fire support. Later, after encountering Soviet tanks, it was refitted with a comparatively short-barreled high-velocity anti-tank gun, usually with a muzzle brake, enabling it to function as a tank destroyer. The Sturmgeschütz III from its 1938 origin used a new casemate-style superstructure with an integrated design, similar to the later Jagdpanzer vehicle designs' superstructure, to completely enclose the crew. It was employed in infantry support and offensive armored operations as well as in the defensive anti-tank role. The StuG III assault gun was Germany's most-produced fully tracked armoured fighting vehicle during World War II, and second-most produced German armored combat vehicle of any type after the Sd.Kfz. 251 half-track.

Although the early German Panzerjäger carried more effective weapons than the tanks on which they were based, they were generally lacking in protection for the crew, having thinly armored open-topped superstructures. The "open-topped" design format of the Panzerjäger vehicles was succeeded by the Jagdpanzer ("hunting tanks"), which mounted the gun in true casemate-style superstructures, completely enclosing the crew compartment in armor that was usually integral to the hull. The first of these Jagdpanzers was the 70-ton Ferdinand (later renamed Elefant), based on the chassis, hulls, and drive systems of ninety-one Porsche VK4501 (P) heavy tanks, mounting a long-barreled 88 mm cannon in an added casemate, more like the earlier Panzerjägers had with their added-on armor shielding for the gun crew, but in the Ferdinand completely enclosing the gun and firing crew in the added casemate, as the later purpose-built Jagdpanzers would. However, the Ferdinand was mechanically unreliable and difficult to maneuver, and once all ninety-one unturreted "Porsche Tiger" hulls/drive systems were converted, no more were built. The German Army had more success with the Jagdpanther. Introduced in mid-1944, the Jagdpanther, of which some 415 examples were produced, was considered the best of the casemate-design Jagdpanzer designs. [3] It featured the same powerful PaK 43 88 mm cannon used on the unwieldy Elefant, now fitted to the chassis of the medium Panther tank, providing greatly improved armor-penetrating capability in a medium-weight vehicle.

Facing an increasingly defensive war, the German Army turned to larger and more powerfully armed Jagdpanzer designs, and in July 1944 the first Jagdtiger rolled off the production line it was the heaviest German armored fighting vehicle to go into active service. [3] The Jagdtiger featured a huge 128 mm PaK 44 cannon and heavy armor protection. Only 88 Jagdtiger vehicles were produced, barely matching the total number of the earlier Ferdinand/Elefant vehicles. They were first deployed to combat units in September 1944.

The decision of German armored vehicle designers to use a casemate-style superstructure for all tank destroyers had the advantage of a reduced silhouette, allowing the crew to more frequently fire from defilade ambush positions. Such designs were also easier and faster to manufacture and offered good crew protection from artillery fire and shell splinters. However, the lack of a rotating turret limited the gun's traverse to a few degrees. This meant that the driver normally had to turn the entire tank onto its target, a much slower process than simply rotating a powered turret. [4] If the vehicle became immobilized due to engine failure or track damage, it could not rotate its gun to counter opposing tanks, making it highly vulnerable to counterfire. [5] This vulnerability was later exploited by opposing tank forces. Even the largest and most powerful of German tank destroyers were found abandoned on the field after a battle, having been immobilized by one or more hits by high explosive (HE) or armor-piercing (AP) shells to the track or front drive sprocket. [6]

Italy Edit

The most famous Italian tank destroyer of the Second World War was technically not a tank destroyer, but self-propelled artillery. The Semovente da 75/18, based on the M13/40 frame, was developed to support front-line infantry, and therefore has fixed armament: a 75 mm gun in casemate. However, thanks to its low height (185 cm) and the caliber of its gun the 75/18 also had good results in anti-tank combat, fighting against British and American (but not Soviet) units. After the Armistice of 1943, the 75/18 remained in use by German forces.

Built on the same frame, the Semovente da 105/25 was equipped with a 105 mm gun and known as "bassotto" (Italian for dachshund) due to its lower height. As manufacturing began in 1943, the 105/25 was used by German forces. A further development was the Semovente da 75/46, which had a longer gun than the 75/18 and inclined armour 100 mm thick, making it similar to Sturmgeschütz III. Only 11 of these were manufactured.

Before the Semovente da 75/18, the L40, built on an L6/40 frame, saw action in Africa and in Russia, but with disappointing results.

Soviet Union Edit

As with the Germans of 1943, most of the Soviet designs mounted anti-tank guns, with limited traverse in casemate-style turretless hulls, in a general design format looking much like the Germans' own Jagdpanzer vehicles. The results were smaller, lighter, and simpler to build weapons that could carry larger guns than any contemporary tank, including the King Tiger. The Soviets produced high numbers of the 85 mm SU-85 and 100 mm SU-100 self-propelled guns based on the same chassis as the T-34 medium tank the heavier-duty powertrain and hull of the IS-2 heavy tank were instead used to produce the heavier-hitting 122 mm -armed ISU-122 and 152 mm -armed ISU-152, both of which had impressive anti-tank capabilities earning each of them the Russian nickname Zveroboy ("beast killer") for their ability to destroy German Tigers, Panthers and Elefants. The predecessor of the ISU 152 was the SU-152, built on the KV-1s chassis and shared many similarities (including its gun) with the ISU-152. The ISU-152 built as a heavy assault gun, relied on the weight of the shell fired from its M-1937/43 howitzer to defeat tanks. [7] In 1943, the Soviets also shifted all production of light tanks like the T-70 to much simpler and better-armed SU-76 self-propelled guns, which used the same drive train. The SU-76 was originally designed as an anti-tank vehicle, but was soon relegated to the infantry-support role. [8]

United States Edit

U.S. Army and counterpart British designs were very different in conception. U.S. doctrine was based, in light of the fall of France, on the perceived need to defeat German blitzkrieg tactics, and U.S. units expected to face large numbers of German tanks, attacking on relatively narrow fronts. These were expected to break through a thin screen of anti-tank guns, hence the decision that the main anti-tank units—the Tank Destroyer (TD) battalions—should be concentrated and very mobile. In practice, such German attacks rarely happened. Throughout the war, only one battalion ever fought in an engagement like that originally envisaged (the 601st, at the Battle of El Guettar). The Tank Destroyer Command eventually numbered over 100,000 men and 80 battalions each equipped with 36 self-propelled tank destroyers or towed guns.

Only a few shots were expected to be fired from any firing position. Strong reconnaissance elements were provided so that TDs could use pre-arranged firing positions to best advantage. Flanking fire by TDs was emphasized, both to penetrate thinner enemy side armor, and to reduce the likelihood of accurate enemy return fire.

All American tank destroyers were officially known by exactly the same collective term used for American self-propelled artillery ordnance, gun motor carriage. The designs were intended to be very mobile and heavily armed. Most of the tank-hull based designs used special open-topped turrets of a differing design to the original tank it was based on, which was meant to both save weight and to accommodate a larger gun. The earliest expedient design was an M3 Half-track mounting an M1897 75 mm gun in a limited-traverse mount, and called the 75 mm Gun Motor Carriage M3. Another, considerably less successful, early design mounted a 37-mm anti-tank gun in the bed of a Dodge 3/4-ton truck—the 37-mm GMC M6. By far the most common US design, and the first that was fully tracked and turreted (which became the American hallmark of World War II "tank destroyer" design) was the 3in Gun Motor Carriage M10, later supplemented by the 90 mm Gun Motor Carriage M36—both based on the M4 Sherman hull and powertrain—and the 76 mm Gun Motor Carriage M18 (Hellcat), based on a unique hull and powertrain design, with a slight visual resemblance to what was used for the later M24 Chaffee light tank. The M18 came closest to the US ideal the vehicle was very fast, small, and mounted a 76 mm gun in a roofless open turret. The M36 Jackson GMC possessed the only American-origin operational gun that could rival the vaunted 88 mm German anti-tank ordnance, the 90 mm M3 gun, and the M36 remained in service well after World War II. The only dedicated American-origin, casemate hull design fighting vehicle of any type built during the war, that resembled the German and Soviet tank destroyers in hull and general gun mounting design, was the experimental T28 Super Heavy Tank, which mounted a 105 mm T5E1 long-barrel cannon, which had a maximum firing range of 12 miles (20 km), and was originally designed as a self-propelled assault gun to breach Germany's Siegfried Line defenses.

Of these tank destroyers, only the 90 mm gun of the M36 proved effective against the frontal armor of Germans' larger armored vehicles at long range. [9] The open top and light armor made these tank destroyers vulnerable to anything greater than small-arms fire. As the number of German tanks encountered by American forces steadily decreased throughout the war, most battalions were split up and assigned to infantry units as supporting arms, fighting as assault guns or being used essentially as tanks. In this sense they were an alternative to the Independent tank battalions that were attached to various Infantry Divisions.

The expectation that German tanks would be engaged in mass formation was a failed assumption. In reality, German attacks effectively used combined arms on the ground, fighting cohesively. American tank destroyer battalions comprised three tank destroyer companies supported by nine security sections. The single-purpose tactics of the tank destroyer battalion failed to account for non-tank threats. [10]

In the 1950s the goal of providing airborne forces with a parachute-capable self-propelled anti-tank weapon led to the deployment of the M56 Scorpion and M50 Ontos. The concept later led to the M551 Sheridan light tank of the mid-1960s.

United Kingdom Edit

British tanks in the early years of the war, both infantry tanks and cruiser tanks, were (with the exception of the pre-war Matilda I design) equipped with a gun capable of use against contemporary enemy tanks—the 40 mm Ordnance QF 2 pounder. This was replaced with the 57 mm Ordnance QF 6 pounder when that became available. There was extra impetus given to the development of anti-tank weaponry, which culminated in the 76mm Ordnance QF 17 pounder, widely considered one of the best anti-tank guns of the war. [11]

Towed anti-tank guns were the domain of the Royal Artillery and vehicles adapted to mount artillery, including anti-tank self-propelled guns such as the Deacon (6pdr on an armoured wheeled truck chassis) and Archer (17pdr on tracked chassis) and US-supplied vehicles, were their preserve rather than the Royal Armoured Corps..

The self-propelled guns that were built in the "tank destroyer" mould came about through the desire to field the QF 17 pounder anti-tank gun and simultaneous lack of suitable standard tanks to carry it. As a result, they were of a somewhat extemporized nature. Mounting the gun on the Valentine tank chassis in a fixed superstructure gave the Archer, looking somewhat like the light-chassis German Marder III in appearance. The 17 pounder was also used to re-equip the US-supplied M10 Tank Destroyer, replacing the American 3-inch gun to produce the 17pdr SP Achilles.

In 1942 the General Staff agreed on investigating self-propelled mountings of the 6-pounder, 17-pounder, 3-inch 20cwt guns and the 25-pounder field gun/howitzer on the Matilda II, Valentine , Crusader and Cavalier (Cruiser Mark VII) tank chassis. In October 1942 it was decided to progress using the Valentine chassis with a 17-pdr (which would become Archer) and 25-pdr (which entered service as Bishop) [12]

While there was a general move to a general purpose gun that was usable against both tanks and in supporting infantry, there was a need to put the 17 pdr into a tank for use against the enemy's heavy tanks. The Cruiser Mk VIII Challenger was a project to bring a 17 pdr tank into use to support the Cromwell cruiser tank. Delays led to it being outnumbered in use by the Sherman Firefly—but a derivative of Challenger was the more or less open-topped variant Avenger, which was delayed until post war before entering service. A cut-down 17 pdr, the 77mmHV was used to equip the Comet tank in the last year of the war.

The closest the British came to developing an armored tank destroyer in the vein of the German Jagdpanzers or Soviet ISU series was the Churchill 3-inch Gun Carrier—a Churchill tank chassis with a boxy superstructure in place of the turret and mounting a 3-inch anti-aircraft gun. Although a number were ordered and fifty delivered in 1942 [13] , they were not put into service as the immediate threat passed. The design was rejected in favor of developing a 17 pounder armed Cromwell tank variant, ultimately leading to the Comet tank. The Tortoise "heavy assault tank", intended for use in breaking through fixed defensive lines, was well armoured and had a very powerful 32-pounder (94 mm) gun, but did not reach service use.

By 1944, a number of the Shermans in British use were being converted to Sherman Fireflies by adding the QF 17 pounder gun. Initially this gave each troop (platoon) of Shermans one powerfully armed tank. By war's end—through the production of more Fireflies and the replacement of Shermans by British tanks—about 50% of Shermans in British service were Fireflies.

Other combatants Edit

Romania Edit

Having faced big problems against Soviet T-34 and KV-1 tanks on the Eastern Front, the Romanian army leadership sought for ways to improve its anti-tank capabilites. The initial plan was the creation of a tank comparable in characteristics to the T-34 [14] instead, Romania went for a number of tank destroyers, since they were more adequate for its industry.

The Mareșal is probably the best known Romanian AFV from the war historians Steven Zaloga and Mark Axworthy state that it inspired the design of the later German Hetzer. [15] [16] Standing at only around 1.5 m tall, which would have made it very difficult to hit for its enemies, the Mareșal was a lightly armored, but highly mobile vehicle. It was armed with the Romanian 75 mm Reșița M1943 anti-tank gun, which proved to be among the best of its class during World War II. During tests, the Mareșal proved to be superior in many aspects to the StuG III G, against which it competed. Those facts suggest that the Mareșal would have been a very effective tank destroyer, had it been deployed into combat. However, it never saw action because the invading Soviet army had stopped its production. [17]

Other Romanian tank destroyers include the TACAM R-2 and TACAM T-60, which were converted from R-2 and T-60 light tanks respectively. Both of them saw action. One TACAM R-2 survives today and is displayed at the National Military Museum in Bucharest. [18] Another conversion was the VDC R-35, Romania's only turreted tank destroyer. Two other proposed tank destroyers existed: the TACAM R-1 and TACAM T-38. [19]

Poland Edit

Variants of the Polish TKS and TK-3 tankettes up-armed with 20 mm gun (23–26 vehicles) were operationally deployed in the invasion of Poland. [20] They were used as an anti-tank component of the reconnaissance units. There were also 37 mm armed TKS-D (2 experimental vehicles) and 45 mm armed TKD (4 experimental vehicles). It is not certain whether they were used operationally at all.

France Edit

Due to the quick defeat of France, few French vehicles were built. The Laffly W15 TCC (Chasseur de char) was an attempt to quickly build a light tank destroyer by mounting a 47 mm SA37 anti-tank gun onto a lightly armored Laffly W15T artillery tractor. Other French tank destroyers were being developed, including the SOMUA SAu-40, ARL V39 and various ad hoc conversions of the Lorraine 37L. [ citation needed ]

Post-World War II Edit

In the face of the Warsaw Pact, a general need for extra firepower was identified. In the late 1960s, West Germany developed the Kanonenjagdpanzer, essentially a modernized World War II Jagdpanzer mounting a 90 mm gun. As Soviet designs became more heavily armored, the 90 mm gun became ineffective and the Kanonenjagdpanzers were retrofitted for different roles or retired. Some provisions were made for the fitting of a 105 mm cannon, and many of the vehicles were modified to fire HOT or TOW missiles in place of a main gun. These upgraded variants remained in service into the 1990s. [21]

With the development of flexible anti-tank missiles, which were capable of installation on almost any vehicle in the 1960s, the concept of the tank destroyer has morphed into light vehicles with missiles. With the weight of main battle tanks growing to the forty to seventy-tonne range, airborne forces were unable to deploy reasonable anti-tank forces. The result was a number of attempts to make a light vehicle, including the conventional ASU-85, the recoilless rifle-armed Ontos, and missile-armed Hornet Malkara armored car and Sheridan light assault vehicle. The latest entry into that category is the 2S25 Sprut-SD, armed with a current-issue 125 mm tank gun that is also capable of launching missiles like the 9M119 Svir.

Many forces' infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) carry anti-tank missiles in every infantry platoon, and attack helicopters have also added anti-tank capability to the modern battlefield. But there are still dedicated anti-tank vehicles with very heavy long-range missiles, and ones intended for airborne use.

There have also been dedicated anti-tank vehicles built on ordinary armored personnel carrier or armored car chassis. Examples include the U.S. M901 ITV (Improved TOW Vehicle) and the Norwegian NM142, both on an M113 chassis, several Soviet ATGM launchers based on the BRDM reconnaissance car, the British FV438 Swingfire and FV102 Striker and the German Raketenjagdpanzer series built on the chassis of the HS 30 and Marder IFV.

A US Army combined arms battalion has two infantry companies with TOW missile-armed Bradley IFVs and can bring a large concentration of accurate and lethal fire to bear on an attacking enemy unit that uses AFVs. They can be complemented by mobile units of AH-64 Apache helicopters armed with Hellfire antitank missiles.

Missile carrying vehicles however are referred to as anti-tank missile carriers instead of tank destroyers.

Some gun-armed tank destroyers remain in use. China has developed the tracked PTZ89 and the wheeled PTL02 tank destroyers. The PTZ89 is armed with a 120 mm smoothbore cannon while the PTL02, developed by NORINCO for the PLA's new light (rapid reaction) mechanized infantry divisions, carries a 100 mm one (a version armed with a 105 mm rifled gun is available for export). The PTL02 is built on the 6×6 wheeled chassis of the WZ551 APC.

Italy and Spain use the Italian-built Centauro, a wheeled tank destroyer with a 105 mm cannon.

Active service history

The SU-100 arrived in operational units in October 1944 and immediately became popular with Russian crews. It was able to defeat almost every German tank on the battlefield, only to be outmatched in 1945 by the King Tiger. Popular songs and movies reflect this popularity. It became instrumental in fending off German units during Operation Frühlingserwachen at Lake Balaton in Hungary, March 1945, and helped the great offensives in eastern Prussia. Some were even found fighting in the streets of Berlin due to their awesome bunker-piercing capabilities, despite the fact they were never designed for infantry support. Like the SU-85, they lacked any secondary weapons and were conceived to fight in coordination with other covering units to deal with infantry and aircraft.

No peacetime variant was adopted and production came to an end in July 1945. No less than 2335 (or 2350 depending of the sources) were built, of which many were transferred to Asia in August 1945 for the large offensive in Manchuria. Its exceptional stopping power kept the SU-100 in first line units until 1957. Production was reactivated until 1947 and transferred to Czechoslovakia during the fifties. Most were transferred to friendly countries and throughout the Warsaw pact. They saw service in Korea and Vietnam and with many other countries until the end of the Cold War. Two postwar variants were designed, the Yugoslav M44, and the Egyptian SU-100M (for "modified"). This last was a modernized, tropicalized version for the Middle East. They saw action during the 1956 Suez crisis, 1967 Six Day War and 1973 Yom Kippur war.

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Soviet prototype self-propelled gun developed during World War II. Turretless, tracked armoured fighting vehicle designed by the Yekaterinburg-based Uralmash design bureau between autumn 1944 and spring 1945. Wikipedia

Medium tank first developed and produced near the end of World War II by the Soviet Union. The successor to the T-34, offering improved ride and cross-country performance and much greater armor. Wikipedia

This article deals with the history and development of tanks of the Soviet Union and its successor state Russian Federation from their first use after World War I, into the interwar period, during World War II, the Cold War and modern era. After World War I, many nations needed to have tanks, but only a few had the industrial resources to design and build them. Wikipedia

The Kliment Voroshilov (KV) tanks are a series of Soviet heavy tanks named after the Soviet defence commissar and politician Kliment Voroshilov which operated with the Red Army during World War II. The KV tanks were known for their heavy armour protection during the early stages of the war, especially during the first year of the German invasion of the Soviet Union. Wikipedia

The Tiger I, a German heavy tank of World War II, operated from 1942 in Africa and in Operation Barbarossa, usually in independent heavy tank battalions. Designated Panzerkampfwagen VI Ausf H during development but was changed to Panzerkampfwagen VI Ausf E during production. Wikipedia

Romanian tank destroyer used during World War II. Built by removing the turret of captured Soviet T-60 light tanks and building a pedestal to mount a captured Soviet 76.2 mm M-1936 F-22 field gun in its place. Wikipedia

Soviet light self-propelled gun used during and after World War II. Based on a lengthened version of the T-70 light tank chassis and armed with the 76 mm divisional gun M1942 . Wikipedia

World War II Database

ww2dbase The Samokhodnaya Ustanovka 85 (SU-85 for short) tank destroyers were designed by Lew S. Trojanow and they were put into production in mid-1943 as a response to the need to counter the heavier German tanks that were beginning to appear on the front lines, and to meet the changing Soviet tank strategy that focused more so on the lethality of guns rather than the thickness of armor. They were built by mating the chassis of T-34 with high velocity 85-millimeter D-5T anti-tank guns. The first production examples reached the front lines in Aug 1943 and were assigned to Soviet units of Russian, Polish, and Czechoslovakian nationalities. In late 1944, T-34-85 medium tanks with a similar primary weapon entered full production, thus the production of SU-85 design was ordered to cease 2,050 examples were built by this point. They continued to see combat until the end of WW2. After the war, they were retired from active service in the Russian military, but they were exported to other Soviet states such as Poland, North Korea, and Vietnam.

ww2dbase Source: Wikipedia

Last Major Revision: Nov 2011


MachineryOne V-2 12-cyl diesel engine rated at 493hp
Armament1x85mm D-5T gun
Length8.15 m
Width3.00 m
Height2.45 m
Weight29.6 t
Speed55 km/h
Range400 km

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SU-85 Tank Destroyer - History

En plus du SU-85 et du SU-85M, plusieurs variantes expérimentales furent également réalisées à partir du SU-85.

In addition of the SU-85 and the SU-85M, several experimental variants were equally realized from the SU-85.

Durant l'automne 1944, après avoir étudié le Jagdpanzer Tiger(P) Ferdinand, le GAU ordonna de développer un chasseur de char plus puissant capable de s'opposer aux chasseurs de chars lourds allemands. Il fut proposé d'utiliser les canons allemands PAK 43 de 88 mm capturés. Le premier projet proposé par le bureau d'étude de Petrov, devait être réarmé avec un 85 mm D-5S modifié, le D-5S-85BM doté d'un tube plus long. Ce canon utilisait les munitions standard de 85 mm mais avec plus de poudre de propulsion. La vélocité initiale des munitions perforantes était de 950 m/s. Ce canon fut installé dans la caisse standard du SU-85. Le nouveau chasseur de char fut nommé SU-85BM (BM = bol'shaya mosh'nost ou poudre spéciale). A partir de janvier 1944, jusqu'en en mars de la même année, le nouveau modèle fut testé mais le SU-85BM ne fut jamais accepté pour le service.

During the autumn 1944, after to have studied the Jagdpanzer Tiger(P) Ferdinand, the GAU ordered to develop a more powerful tank destroyer able to oppose itself to the German heavy tank destroyers. It was proposed to use the German 88 mm PAK 43 guns captured. The first project proposed by the study office of Petrov, had to be rearmed with a 85 mm D-5S modified, the D-5S-85BM endowed with a longer barrel. This gun used the standard munitions of 85 mm but with more of propellant powder. The initial velocity of the armor piercing ammo was of 950 m/s. This gun was installed in the standard hull of the SU-85. The new tank destroyer was named SU-85BM (BM = bol'shaya mosh'nost or special powder). From January 1944, to March of the same year, the new model was tested but the SU-85BM never was accepted for the service.

Toujours durant l'automne 1944, le bureau d'étude de Petrov proposa un autre modèle armé du 100 mm B-34, en fait recalibré en canon de 85 mm. Le nouveau canon fut renommé D-10-85PM et le char, SU-D-10-85. Cette arme utilisait des projectiles de 85 mm avec des douilles de 100 mm. Durant l'été 1944, le nouveau chasseur de char fut testé mais ne fut pas accepté finalement pour le service.

Always during the autumn 1944, the study office of Petrov proposed another model armed of the 100 mm B-34, in fact re-bored in 85 mm gun. The new gun was named D-10-85PM and the tank, SU-D-10-85. This weapon used projectiles of 85 mm with 100 mm cartridge. During the summer 1944, the new tank destroyer was tested but was not accepted finally for the service.

Le bureau d'étude de Grabin durant le printemps 1944, développa le SU-S-34-1 armé du 85 mm S-34-IB. Ce canon utilisait des projectiles de 85 mm avec des douilles de 100 mm. Durant l'été 1944, il fut testé et ne fut finalement pas accepté pour le service.

The study office of Grabin during the spring 1944, developped the SU-S-34-1 armed of the 85 mm S-34-IB. This gun used projectiles of 85 mm with cartridge of 100 mm. During the summer 1944, it was tested and finally was not accepted for the service.

The M10 Tank Destroyer was mass-produced by General Motors and Ford from 1942 and saw around 6,406 built. Unusual in tank destroyer designs, the M10 featured a fully rotating turret. The M10 was built on an M4A2 Sherman tank chassis.

It was the most numerous American tank destroyer of the war. Yet as the war progressed, it suffered from obsolescence when going against Germany's more modern tanks like its latest Panther tanks. Still, it was used to the end of the war and served not only in the American Army, but also with the British and Free French.

In conclusion, there are lots of interesting and forgotten tank destroyers in WW2 that often get overlooked and more attention given to their main battle tank relatives.

WhistlinDiesel put the reliable pickup's indestructible reputation to the ultimate test.

Aaron is best known for his dad jokes and his tendency to hitchhike around the world. Hailing from New Zealand, you just never know where this wandering Kiwi will turn up (occasionally its actually New Zealand). While Aaron may have graduated in accounting, it soon became clear that a more outdoorsy and adventurous lifestyle is what would suit him. He has a flare for writing and has taught English around the world for years. A nerd, he is always interesting in researching different topics of interest including the past and the future history of English.

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