Obyekt 279 was a Soviet prototype heavy tank developed in the Kirov industrial plant, Leningrad by a group headed by the engineer L. Troyanov at the end of 1959 ("В конце 1959 года был построен опытный образец"). The work on the tank started in 1957, which was based on a heavy tank operational requirements developed in 1956. The special-purpose tank was intended to fight on cross-country terrain that was inaccessible to conventional tanks and act as a vehicle to break through enemy defensive positions. It was planned as a tank of the Supreme Command Reserve. This tank was a unique version boasting increased cross-country capability. The tank featured four-track running gear mounted on two longitudinal, rectangular hollow beams, which were also used as fuel tanks. The tank hull (with 269 mm armor) was covered by a thin, elliptical shield protecting it against HEAT shaped-charge ammunition and preventing it from overturning due to the shock wave of a nuclear explosion. It comprised large cast irregular shape structures of variable thickness and slope. The all-cast front part of the hull was rounded in shape with thin armor panels against HEAT projectiles, which ran around the edges of the front and sides of the hull. The sides of the hull were also cast and had similar protective armor panels.
The all-cast turret (front armor thickness 305 mm) was rounded, with anti-HEAT protective panels mounted at a seventy degree angle. The turret ring was also heavily protected.
The tank was fitted with a 130 mm rifled M-65 (firing APDS rounds with a muzzle velocity of 1000 m/s), and a co-axial 14.5 mm KPVT heavy machine gun, stabilized in two planes by a "Groza" stabilizer. The gun was provided with a semi-automatic loading system. Firing control system comprised optical/radar rangefinder, auto-guidance system and L2 night-sight with IR searchlight.The tank suspension was hydro-pneumatic with complex hydrotransformer and three-speed planetary gearbox. The track adjuster was worm-type.
The tank was also fitted with NBC protection and auto fire-fighting systems, smoke laying equipment and combat compartment heating/cooling system.
The specific ground pressure of this heavy vehicle did not exceed 0.6 kgf/cm2. The track chain, running practically along the whole track length provided for increased cross-country capabilities on swampy terrain, soft soils and area full of cut trees, Czech hedgehogs, antitank obstacles and the like. The powerful 16-cylinder 1000-hp engine 2DG-8M enabled the 60-ton vehicle to attain 55 km/h speed with active range of 300 km on one refuel.
Eventually, one of the reasons this tank project to be abandoned, as other heavy tank projects, was the fact that the Russians stopped operating with heavy fighting vehicles of that type (tanks and similar) as of 1960. Since then, the heaviest ones are kept at about 50 metric tons of weight, that is without counting in any additional equipment such as additional reactive armor, mine clearing devices (mine ploughs, mine rollers) etc. It was something concerning the current Soviet policy. On July 22, 1960 at the demonstration of new technology on the range of Kapustin Yar, Khrushchev strictly forbade any tanks with a weight of more than 37 metric tons to be adopted by the military, having thus written off the entire program of heavy tanks which proven to be so successful). Nikita Khrushchev himself was a supporter of guided-missile tanks (which apparently added to the decision), such as the IT-1 (ИТ-1) which was armed with Dragon (Дракон) ATGMs. Furthermore, the Russians wanted tanks with a suitable weight for crossing their own bridges (in case of homeland defence situations, similar to the WWII ones), which at that time seemed to be unreliable for heavy vehicle crossings. Other reason was the fact that a number of serious deficiencies of the running gear appeared during the trials, such as low nimbleness, the efficiency loss during swampy area crossings, complex and expensive production, maintenance and repair, and impossibility of reduction in the overall height of the tank.
The only sample of this unique tank is today exhibited at the Kubinka Tank Museum, 50 km from Moscow.
- Year of production: 1959.
- Weight: 60 metric tons.
- Armor: 305 mm (turret front) 269 mm (hull front).
- Cannon: 130 mm 60 caliber M-65 rifled cannon.
- Loading speed: 5-7 shells in min.
- Loading system: semi-automatic.
- Machineguns: 14.5 KPVT machinegun, coaxial.
- Armament: 24 cannon shells and 300 machinegun rounds.
- Cannon stabilizer: "Groza" 2 dimensional stabilizer.
- Night sight: L2 with active IR searchlight.
- Engine: 2DG-8M or DG-1000.
- Power: 1050 hp or 950 hp.
- Roadspeed: 55 km/h.
- Range: 300 km.
- NBC protection: yes.
- Crew: 4 (commander, gunner, driver, loader).
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