T-62 Main Battle Tank

By: the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.  | 
The Soviet T-62 Main Battle Tank was developed from the T-54/T-55 series. It mounts a 115mm main gun. See more tank pictures.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Key Takeaways

  • The T-62 Main Battle Tank is a Soviet-era armored vehicle.
  • It was designed in the early 1960s and saw extensive use during the Cold War.
  • The T-62 featured advanced technology for its time, including a smoothbore gun and composite armor.

The T-62 Main Battle Tank (MBT) was the last in a series of excellent Soviet tank designs that began with the T-34 in the late 1930s.

The T-62 MBT signaled the end of the class of heavy tanks worldwide. As heavily armed and gunned as the heavy tank but far lighter and more mobile, the MBT now reigned supreme.


The United States had been heading in this direction since the end of World War II, but a diehard faction still insisted on the heavy tank. The last American heavy tank was the M-103, which was built only in small numbers and used primarily by the Marine Corps.

The T-62 was an up-rating of the T-55 MBT that appeared in the late 1950s. The T-62 had a more powerful main gun, heavier armor protection, and a smaller, more powerful, and more dependable engine, but it weighed only about one ton more than the T-55.

T-62 production began in 1962, and an estimated 20,000 were built during the next eight years.

The T-62 was not as successful as Soviet designers had hoped. Its main gun could not be aimed low enough to deal with attacking infantry, and its rate of fire was slowed by the complicated fire control system.

In the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, the T-62 proved no match for the Israeli Merkava in firepower or armored protection.

The T-62 Main Battle Tank entered service in the late 1950s but was eventually replaced in all Soviet frontline armored forces.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

The T-62's outer hull resembles the T-55's. In fact, telling the two models apart can be difficult. The T-62 turret is larger but has the same shape as that of the T-55. Both are equipped with rails for crew members and infantry to hang on to.

The T-62's main gun has a barrel that is fatter than the T-55's. The cylindrical bore evacuator is close to the muzzle on the T-55, whereas it is located one-third of a barrel length back from the muzzle on the T-62's 115mm gun.

Both tanks lack return rollers, but the T-62 has six road wheels on a side while the T-55 has only five. The T-55 has a gap between the first and second road wheels only, while the T-62 shows a gap between each road wheel.

The hull configuration of the T-62 is also similar to that of the T-55. It is divided into the standard three compartments: driving in front, fighting in the center, and engine in the rear.

The driver sits in the hull on the left side. The commander and gunner are in the turret on the left side; the loader on the right side. The commander has a cupola and the loader has a rear-opening hatch.

The turret is cast in one piece and is 9.5 inches thick on its forward face, compared with the T-55 turret's 8 inches. The commander has four periscopes and the TKN-3 gun sight, which has day/night and infrared capability.

The gunner uses the TSh2B-41u telescope for laying the main gun. The fire control system is somewhat cumbersome.

For more on T-62 Main Battle Tank equipment, continue to the next page.


T-62 Main Battle Tank Equipment

The T-62 Main Battle Tank saw extensive action in the Middle East with Syrian and Egyptian forces during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Some T-62 Main Battle Tank equipment was carried over from the T-55. The torsion bar suspension and hydraulic shock absorbers are similar to the T-55's suspension system. The fire suppression system can be manually activated by the commander or driver or automatically activated through heat sensors.

The T-62 has a nuclear radiation protection system that automatically seals the tank when a preset level of radiation is encountered. A blower and filtration system removes radiation-contaminated dust and other particles. There is no biological or chemical protection system, and the crew must wear contamination suits.


The T-62 uses the standard Soviet smoke screen system -- diesel fuel sprayed into the exhaust manifold. In normal configuration the T-62 can ford rivers up to 4.6 feet deep. When a snorkel is fitted -- an eight-hour procedure -- the T-62 can handle water up to 15 feet deep.

The T-62's main gun is the 115mm U-5TS smoothbore. Because of the length of the shell, the main gun elevates after each recoil. This, coupled with the complicated fire control system, means the tank can maintain a rate of only four to five rounds per minute.

Also, the turret cannot be traversed during the loading sequence. This combination of drawbacks made the T-62 particularly vulnerable to Israeli tanks during the 1973 Yom Kippur War and the 1982 invasion of Lebanon.

Only 40 rounds of main-gun ammunition can be carried. One 7.62mm PKT machine gun is located coaxially with the main gun, and a 12.7mm DShKM machine gun is mounted on the turret for antiaircraft use.

The T-62 and T-62A -- larger, differently contoured turret, no loader's hatch, and an externally mounted 12.7rnm DShKM machine gun -- were updated with a laser range finder, a solid state ballistic computer, infrared driving and searchlights, and an image intensifier for night work.

The T-62M version was fitted with the same track used on the T-72. Appliqué and reaction armor have also been installed on some T-62s.

The T-62 is in use by some 19 countries today. Iran and Iraq both fielded it during their 1980-1988 war, though Iraq's T-62s have since been scrapped.

The United States obtained T-62s from Israel and Egypt and uses them at the National Training Center. Israel also uses the T-62; their supply was captured from Arab antagonists.

See the next page for specifications of the T-62 Main Battle Tank.


T-62 Main Battle Tank Specifications

American A-10 Warthog attack jets swoop over a Soviet T-62 Tank.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

The T-62 Main Battle Tank carried on the Soviet tradition of producing excellent tanks and made advances in such areas as its smoothbore main gun. Below are specifications for the T-62 Main Battle Tank.

Date of service: 1961


Country: Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

Type: Main Battle Tank

Dimensions: Length, 6.63 m (21.7 ft); width, 3.3 m (10.8 ft); height, 2.39 m (7.8 ft)

Combat weight: 40,000 kg (44 tons)

Engine: Model 55 V-12 diesel 580 horsepower

Armament: One 115mm U-5TS smoothbore main gun; one 7.62mm PKT machine gun; one 12.7mm DShKm machine gun

Crew: 4

Speed: 50 km/h (31 mph)

Range: 450 km (279 mi)

Obstacle/grade performance: 0.8 m (2.6 ft)


Frequently Asked Questions

How did the T-62 Main Battle Tank compare to its predecessors?
The T-62 Main Battle Tank introduced several advancements over its predecessors, including a more powerful 115mm smoothbore gun and improved mobility.
What role did the T-62 Main Battle Tank play in military conflicts?
The T-62 was extensively used in various military conflicts during the Cold War era and beyond, showcasing its effectiveness in armored warfare.