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"Balancing tank equation challenge" Topic

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Zookie18 Oct 2018 9:52 p.m. PST

Remember balancing equations in school? This is basically the same idea but with Main Battle Tanks (so a lot more interesting).

Here is how it works. Given the parameters of the scenario below how many tanks of each type would be needed to create a roughly comparable force? In other words if any of the given forces were to face off in the provided scenario what number would be required so that each side had a roughly equal chance of destroying the other.

5 M60A1s (USA)= X Centurion Mk 9s (UK)= Y T-55A (East German) = Z T-62 (USSR)

Solve for X, Y and Z


For the proposes of equipment, ammunition, training, doctrine ,etc. assume that the year is 1965 and that the each forces has what was standard for their respective nations at that time. Assume that morale and motivation is equal. Assume that training and leadership is slightly above each nations average at the time but that no force has actual combat experience.

All forces are fully supplied and well rested.

The battlefield is rolling grasslands with scattered farms (so the odd barn, shed and house here and there, crops are not high enough to obscure a tank). The gentle hills are spaced 2-5 km apart from hilltop to hilltop. Weather is dry and visibility clear. Both forces start the battle 25 km from one another and it is about 1 hour to sunset. The battle is considered over when one side suffers "mission kills" for each fielded tank.

The battle is a closed system, so no other support (for example infantry or air support) is factored in.

Remember the goal is the balance the forces to sufficiently that each side would have a roughly equal chance of winning.

Thresher0118 Oct 2018 10:31 p.m. PST

Hmmm, not really familiar with the Mk. 9 Cent,, but gun is pretty much the same, so perhaps 1:1, or 5:5 for it and the M60A1s.

15 x T-55s.

10 x T-62s.

FoxtrotPapaRomeo18 Oct 2018 11:26 p.m. PST

Two Osprey Duel books look a good start

1. Duel 30 Nordeen and Isby M-60 versus T-62 Cold War Conbatants 1956-1992

The results of the two kinetic tank duels were both tremendously one-sided. Both at the Chinese Farm and in the liberation of Kuwait, Israeli and US M60A1s wiped out large numbers ofT-62s with minimal loss, with only a single possible M60 loss to a T-62. These outcomes reflected less the comparable strengths and limitations of the two tank designs and more the nature of the opposing forces. The Israelis and Americans were, at the tactical and operational levels, much better prepared, trained, and competent compared to their opponents. The tactics, techniques, and procedures of Israeli and US tankers repeatedly prevented the capabilities inherent in the T-62 design from having any effect in the form of knocked-out tanks. While the T-62 design was, on paper, just as capable as the M60A1, better gunnery and more effective tactics provided lopsided results. In the words of Brigadier General Crow, "at the end of the day, the best trained and drilled crews would carry the day."
2. Duel 21 Simon Dunstan's Centurion Versus T-55 1973 Yom Kippur War

Similar conclusion that superior trining and flexibility were the difference, and that both tanks were similar in capabilities.

3. Duel 71 M-48 Patton Versus Centurion Indo-Pakistani War 1965

Here both sides were probably equally trained and tanks on both sides performed well enough.

Bottom line is look at the strengths and weaknesses of the various tanks, crew training and the strategies and tactics of the respective armies.

Timbo W19 Oct 2018 1:27 a.m. PST

1hour to sunset, 25 km away hmm, which tanks had better night vision gear?

mysteron Supporting Member of TMP19 Oct 2018 1:55 a.m. PST

Just to add to what Foxtrot has stated. It does depend on the morale ,the skill of the crews ,electronics package and the state of the tanks themselves.

I have just started reading up and researching the Iran Iraq war and came across a snippet about the Battle of Dezful whereby the Iraqi losses amounted to around 40+ T55s and T62s and the Iranian losses where around 100 M60 and Chieftain tanks. If those M60s and Cheiftains were manned say by US and British crews respectively , I think the result would be very much different.

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP19 Oct 2018 7:37 a.m. PST

I suck at math … so just call in a few [dozen] airstrikes … evil grin


Similar conclusion that superior trining and flexibility were the difference, and that both tanks were similar in capabilities.

Training, experience and leadership generally makes the difference …

whereby the Iraqi losses amounted to around 40+ T55s and T62s and the Iranian losses where around 100 M60 and Chieftain tanks. If those M60s and Cheiftains were manned say by US and British crews respectively , I think the result would be very much different.
In that war neither side showed any real tactic expertise. But I agree strongly and it is very, very true, US and UK crews in those M60s and Chieftains respectively would have made a Huge difference. The Iraqis in both Gulf Wars were outclassed tactically and technically, etc. …

I also believe today the Iranians have not gotten much/any better since that war. As well as they have had not real combat experiences since then in Armor/Mech Warfare. Even if they may have better MBTs, etc. then in the 80s'…

But again, crew quality and leadership at all levels makes a very big difference. I highly doubt it would ever occur, e.g. but in a Tank on Tank action today. The US and/or the UK would soundly "smash" the Iranian armor forces as both did to the Iraqis … Neither Iran or Iraq understand modern mobile combined arms warfare.

Save for the IDF, most militaries in that region including the Turks even though the are in NATO[for now ?] had/have demonstrated little tactical expertise, etc. in modern war fighting IMO … History generally proves that out.

Zookie19 Oct 2018 9:40 a.m. PST

Here is my take:

X=7 Y=14 and Z=16

So 5 M601 = 7 Mk 9's = 12 T-55A = 14 T-62

Here is my thinking.

The M60 and Mk 9 have the same gun. But UK Centurion crews were famous for their fast and accurate fire and the Centurion had a great fire control system . If it came down to an equal showdown between a US and a UK crew in 1965, I would say the Centurion would land the first round.

But UK tank design and doctrine lent itself to the "patient hunter." Find a good hull down positing and knock out the opposition as it comes.

But in this scenario early in the battle visual range would out strip effective gunnery. The forces would have to close to fire, and be less likely to be able to ambush one another. As the battle dragged on IR systems would be needed as the sun set. I think US and UK systems were comparable but it would negate the UK likelihood of getting a first shot kill.

That puts the advantage with the M60. Both faster and more armored it lends itself to a more mobile battle (a tactic the US crews would be well suited for). Allowing the M60a to relocate to better positions when needed and flank Mk. 9 position.

That is not to say that US crews, or the M60 were inherently superior. In a more rugged or wooded battlefield in full daylight the story could be different.

As for the soviet designs. Both would face the Americans and British in a similar way. Neither were suited for hull down fighting and the ranges were shorter. So a full on assault of multiple groups leap frogging each other not only fits doctrinal training but makes tactical sense.

Even though soviet IR was not great, a sunset battle would be an advantage as it would make it harder for US/UK crews to get a first shot kill. It is unlikely that even in ideal situations the T-55s or T-62s would get a first shot kill. They would need that second shot, maybe a third too.

Oddly enough I think the T-55A would do better here. Based on my what I have read over the years the East German Army ran a much tighter ship than the Soviet Army. Even though the Soviets had better equipment I think an East German crews would be better coordinated and be better drilled.

Also in a swarming assault maneuverability is key. The T-55 and T-62 had about the same top speed, but the lighter T-55 was more maneuverable. True the T-55 gun was lighter but even if a frontal hit could not knock out an M60 or Mk 9 it would stun the crew allowing for a second T-55 to maneuver for a side armor shot.

The T-62 could take out any of these tanks with a frontal hit, but its weight would make the "shoot and scoot" maneuvering it would need to do harder. Also it had a slow turret turning rate. (I think it might have been slower than the T-55 but don't quote me on that).

So I think the T-55 would outperform the newer T-62s. Now a T-64 with a Soviet Guard crew, well that is another story but given the scenario this is my best estimate.

In the end this is just fun though exercise as none of these tanks, or their crews, were intended to fight in a vacuum like this. But it is interesting to see how different tanks, doctrines and training interplay with each other.

Personal logo optional field Supporting Member of TMP19 Oct 2018 11:17 a.m. PST

Are we talking about the shitty Soviet export models of the T-55 and T-62 or the good Soviet use only versions? There's a world of difference between the different versions.

Zookie19 Oct 2018 11:33 a.m. PST

Optional field:

The Typical T-55A available to East Germany in 1965 (so I do not think that different from a Soviet model) and a top of the line Soviet T-62 as of 1965.

Thresher0119 Oct 2018 12:01 p.m. PST

Bottom line, as mentioned above, is crew training and experience.

"X" factor is surprise.

I assumed equal training and experience when coming up with my estimated ratings.

T-62 gets the nod from me, since its gun is more powerful, and presumably may have better sighting and fire on the move capability.

Both it and the T-55A have difficulty hitting targets beyond 1,500m, due to poor fire control/sighting, and HEAT ballistic trajectories.

"The T-62 was armed with the world's first smoothbore tank gun, giving it considerably greater muzzle velocity than the Western 90 mm and 105 mm tank guns of its time.[11][12] It can fire BM-3 APFSDS-T, BK-4, BK-4M HEAT and OF-18 Frag-HE rounds. The 115 mm gun introduced the first successful APFSDS ammunition, albeit with a steel penetrator. A smoothbore gun allowed a significantly better performance (from 10% to 20%) from HEAT ammunition, which was considered the main ammunition type for fighting enemy armour at medium and long ranges.[1][2] The gun can be elevated or depressed between −6 and +16. It is reloaded manually and gets automatically reset to +3.5 of elevation after it is fired if the stabilizer is enabled. Empty cartridges are automatically ejected outside the vehicle through a small hatch in the rear of the turret. The gun has a range of effective fire of about 4 km during day conditions and 800 m (with the use of night vision equipment) at night. This tank was fitted with a Meteor two-axis stabilizer, it allows the T-62 to aim and fire while moving, according to tests conducted by the US army the Meteor gave the T-62 a first hit probability of 70% for a moving target at 1000 meters with the tank moving up to 20 km/per hour. This gave the tank a good advantage in dynamic battlefields and breakthrough operations, especially in Central Europe where most of tank battles would take place under the 1500 meters range".

"The T-62 has 5% thicker armour on the front of the hull (102 mm at 60) and 15% thicker armour on the front of the turret (242 mm) than the T-54/T-55. The turret armour is 153 mm thick on the sides, 97 mm thick on the rear and 40 mm thick on the roof. The hull armour is 79 mm thick on the upper sides, 46 mm thick at 0 on the rear and 20 mm thick on the bottom. Although the armour on the front of the hull is thicker than in the T-55, the lower side armour (15 mm) and the roof armour (31 mm) are actually thinner".

"The T-62 maximum average rate of fire is limited to 8 rounds per minute, which falls behind the capabilities of Western 105 mm gun equipped tanks".

"It takes 20 seconds for the T-62's turret to rotate through a full 360, which is 5 seconds longer than the time needed by the US M60A1 Patton tank.

The US Army considered the T-62's gun more accurate than that of the M60A1 within 1500 meters, but less accurate at greater ranges".

7:5 seems to be a decent, possible ratio for the Centurion to the M60A1, in addition to the 5:5 ratio I mentioned.

1968, Soviets/WARPAC get new ammo.

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP19 Oct 2018 1:08 p.m. PST

And again terrain & situation play a factor along with the other things I mentioned.

Lion in the Stars19 Oct 2018 7:17 p.m. PST

Because the Soviets designed their guns for <1500m engagements, I'd expect the M60 and Centurion to get the first few kills at ~2500m.

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP20 Oct 2018 7:53 a.m. PST

Yes, that is what the M60A1 and M1IP crews I served along side were going for. Plus a lot of CAS, FA and Gunships to add kills to the score, so to speak.

BattlerBritain21 Oct 2018 5:04 a.m. PST

Looking at this mathematically I'd work out the chance of hit and chance of kill for each tank+ammo combination against a stated target type, eg M60A1 using APDS vs T-62 at 500m intervals say.

As the terrain is fairly open and the OP states both sides 25km apart both sides have got to move 10km+ each in order to get into sighting and firing range. Hence both sides intially are moving. Whether each would be firing on the move is a question but each side has higher chance of hit when firing from stationary.

Then it comes down to optics and who sees who first and who fires first. M60 is a tall tank so should spot first but also could be spotted first. If using turret down or hull down in rolling terrain I'd still have M60 and Centurion as having better optics, spotting first and firing first.

I'd also have Cent and M60 firing first at longer ranges than T-62 as, despite the post above extolling the virtues of a T-62, it really wasn't that good. M60 and Cent would be engaging at 2.5km with T-62 not really able to hit much above 1800m. Then it comes down to how often each side fires, displaces (or not) and fires again. Call it an 'Engagement' number rather than rate-of-fire. M60 and Cents could get 8 to 10 rounds a minute down the barrel, T-62 realistically only about 4rpm. Number of engagements is a function of training, how mobile the tank is and any terrain restrictions on movement.

Reading up on examples of real life engagements 1973 is probably best and Isreali Cents vs T-62s in Golan an example. From that some examples show Israeli Cents taking out about 8 to 10 opposing tanks an hour. I'd say about 1 engagement every 15 mins at ranges of 1500m+, increasing at lower ranges. When it gets to <500m that's when number of engagements goes towards actual rate-of-fire.

From 'gaming' this I come out with M60 and Cent as about the same with 1 M60/Cent to about 10 T-62s.

Also see Lanchester equations.

Hope this helps, B

Zookie21 Oct 2018 1:29 p.m. PST

BattlerBritain: I think that 10 to one is too high in a low light meeting engagement. Also a big, big issue here is the Israeli Cent (Sho't) had a stabilizing system, the Cent/M60 from this scenario from 1965 would not. I might have low balled the NATO side in my estimate but I think that Warsaw pact equipment and more importantly crews would out perform the Syrians in 1973. Honestly even the Egyptians would have done a better job. The Syrians were the worst of the Arab nation armies in the 60 and 70s. I think that 4 to 1 for a NATO/Warsaw Pact match up is as high as I would go if I were to say it was an even fight.

FugazzaWithCheese01 Feb 2019 11:22 a.m. PST

Don't modern wargame army lists come with a points value for every unit?

Lion in the Stars02 Feb 2019 11:45 a.m. PST

Doesn't mean that the points are accurate to the capabilities of the unit!

FugazzaWithCheese05 Feb 2019 4:29 a.m. PST

This hardware-centric speculation reminds me of '60s USAF vs PAVNAF predictions. Longer range missiles, bigger engines and more powerful radars were supposed to translate into a kill ratio of 1 to… 130?
Then army list values should reflect more who's inside the T-55 than the thickness of its armor.

Lion in the Stars05 Feb 2019 12:23 p.m. PST

@Fugazza: And those predictions might have been accurate, had the Rules of Engagement allowed the USAF to use BVR missiles.

FugazzaWithCheese05 Feb 2019 8:45 p.m. PST

Well, the Sparrow had a pretty disappointing Pk anyway, didn't it? About 10% IIRC. Keeping ROE and policy out of the equation is also a miscue.

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP16 Feb 2019 9:01 a.m. PST

And again, don't forget the crew quality, i.e. training and experience plus leadership expertise. The Iraqis and Iranians were a good generally a example of the lack of all of those. And more …

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