T-54/T-55 Main Battle Tank
Gary's Combat Vehicle Reference Guide

  Basic T-54/T-55 T-55AMV
Country of OriginCIS (formerly USSR)
RoleMain battle tank
Date Of Introduction 1947 1983
Crew4 (commander, gunner, loader, driver)
Combat Weight 39.7 tons (36 mt) 44.6 tons (40.5 mt)
Ground Pressure 11.52 psi (0.81 kg/cm²) 12.66 psi (0.89 kg/cm²)
Length, Overall 29.53 ft (9 m) ?
Length, Hull 19.82 ft (6.04 m) 20.34 ft (6.2 m)
Width, Overall 10.73 ft (3.27 m) 11.81 ft (3.60 m)
Height, Without AA MG 7.9 ft (2.4 m) 7.61 ft (2.32 m)
Ground Clearance 16.7 in (425 mm) ?
  Basic T-54/T-55 T-55AMV
Engine T-54: 520 hp (388 kw) V-12 water-cooled diesel
T-55: 580 hp (433 kw) V-12 water-cooled diesel
620-690 hp (462-515 kw) diesel
Range T-54: 249 miles (400 km).  373 miles (600 km) with external tanks
T-54: 311 miles (500 km).  373 miles (600 km) with external tanks
242 miles (390 km).  373 miles (600 km) with extra tanks
Fuel Capacity T-54: 215 gal (812 l)
T-55: 254 gal (960 l)
Road Speed T-54: 30 mph (48 km/h)
T-55: 34 mph (55 km/h)
31 mph (50 km/h)
Cross Country Speed ? 16 mph (25 km/h)
Swim Speed N/A
Fording Depth 4.2 ft (1.27 m) unprepared.  15 ft (4.546 m) with snorkel 4.6 ft (1.4 m) unprepared.  18 ft (5.5 m) with snorkel
Grade 60%
Trench Crossing 9.4 ft (2.85 m) ?
Vertical Wall Climb 2.6 ft (0.8 m) ?
  Basic T-54/T-55 T-55AMV
Hull front, upper: 3.82 in (97 mm)     Turret front: 8 in (203 mm)
Hull front, lower: 3.9 in (99 mm)     Turret sides: 5.9 in (150 mm)
Hull sides, upper: 3.11 in (79 mm)Turret rear: 2.52 in (64 mm)
Hull sides, lower: 0.79 in (20 mm)Turret top: 1.54 in (39 mm)
Hull rear: 1.81 in (46 mm)
Hull floor: 0.79 in (20 mm)
Hull top: 1.3 in (33 mm)
Applique Armor Available Rubber screens and box armor.  Track skirts
Explosive Reactive Armor 1st Generation raises to 700mm-900mm against HEAT
2nd Generation raises to 450mm-480mm KE, 700mm-900mm HEAT
Active Protective System Russian Drozd available
NBC Protection System T-54: No. T-55: Yes. Yes
Smoke Equipment Vehicle engine exhaust smoke system. Vehicle engine exhaust smoke system.  Four 81mm smoke grenade launchers on each side of turret
Basic T-54/T-55
Type Mount Typical Ammo Load
100mm D-10T rifled gun Turret; manual loading; bore evacuator T-54: 34. T-55: 43.
7.62mm SGMT or PKT machine gun Coaxial to main gun 3,000
7.62mm SGMT machine gun (T-54 only) Bow
12.7mm DShKM AA machine gun (T-54, some T-55) Turret top, loader's position 500
Type Mount Typical Ammo Load
100mm D-10T2S rifled gun Turret; manual loading 43.
AT-10 anti-tank guided missiles.
SACLOS; infrared laser-beam rider
Gun-launched 5.
AT-10, AT-10 Improved
7.62mm PKT-T machine gun Coaxial to main gun 1,250
12.7mm DShKM AA machine gun Turret top 500
  Basic T-54/T-55 T-55AMV
Fire Control System Volna
Main Gun Stabilization Yes, most models M1 Tsiklon, 2-plane
Rangefinder KDT-2 laser
Infrared Searchlight Yes L-4


The T-54/55 is a non-amphibious main battle tank built in the former Soviet Union, China (as type 59), Czechoslovakia and Poland.

T-54/T-55 basic models have all-welded hulls divided into three main compartments with the driver at the front, fighting compartment in the center, and the engine at the rear. T-54/T55s have four-man crews with the tank commander and gunner sitting on the left side of the turret with the gunner in front. Both the T-54 and T-55 have smoke-laying capabilities.

GTA 17-2-8: T-54/T-55
Basic T-54/T-55 Recognition features: T-54/T-55


Variants ending with -1 denote replacement of the engine w/V-46 engine from T-72 MBT.

T-54/T-55s with "bra armor" (semi-circular add-on armor) have turret protection increased to 330 mm (KE) and 400-450 mm (CE).

Other improvements available include a hull bottom reinforced against mines, better engines, rubber track pads, and a thermal sleeve for the gun.

Optional sights and fire control systems include the Israeli El-Op Red Tiger and Matador FCS, Swedish NobelTech T-series sight, and German Atlas MOLF. The Serbian SUV-T55A FCS, British Marconi Digital FCS, South African Tiger, and Belgian SABCA Titan offer upgraded function. One of the best is the Slovenian EFCS-3 integrated FCS.

A variety of thermal sights is available. They include the Russian/French ALIS and Namut-type sight from Peleng. There are thermal sights available for installation which permit night launch of ATGMs.

Some T-54s have only four road wheels on each side. Others have a twin 57mm self-propelled, automatic, anti-aircraft gun system sitting in an open-topped turret.

A standard 12.7mm (0.50) Browning M2 HB machine gun has replaced some CIS equipped 12.7mm DShKm anti-aircraft machine guns.

Polish-produced tanks often have different stowage arrangements. The arrangement includes a rectangular box mounted on the left side of the turret, a smaller square stowage box on the left side of the turret-rear, and a slightly different rear decking.

In India, sheet steel tubes are placed on 100mm barrels to distinguish Indian T-54/T-55 tanks from Pakistani T-59s.
T-54, earlier models
An early T-54 had a distinctive bulbous shape at its turret rear and lacked a snorkel. Another model had a 12.7mm DshKM machine gun at the right cupola. Another version, the T-54A, was fitted with a D10TG gun. The T-54B, which followed, was fitted with a 100mm D10T2S.
IN0534: T-54B with 12.7mm DShKM MG
T-54/T-55 (Egyptian)
Many of these T-54s/T55s were fitted with a German AEG infrared/white searchlight to the left of the main armament and a Yugoslav lskra laser rangefinder.
T-54/T-55 (Israeli TI-67)
Israel captured a number of T-54 and T-55 tanks and modified them for their own use. Some of the modifications included the replacement and/or installation of additional track storage and included replacing existing armament with some of the following armament types:
  • 105mm M68 rifled guns.
  • 7.62mm (0.30) Browning machine guns.
  • 12.7mm (0.50) Browning M2 HB machine guns.
  • Browning 0.30 machine guns at loaders' stations.
  • Modified 105-mm ammunition racks.
Original production model. The T-55, unlike the T-54, lacks a loader's cupola or 12.7mm DshKM anti-aircraft machine gun (fitted to some models) and a turret dome ventilator. Recognition features:
  • Fully tracked.
  • Five road wheels (gap between first and second road wheels) with no support rollers.
  • Dome-shaped turret over third road wheel.
  • Sloped, low-silhouetted hull.
  • Bore evacuator at muzzle.
  • Infrared headlights.
  • Infrared searchlight for gun.
  • Straight front infantry handrail.
Added an NBC protection system.
T-55AD Drozd
Variant with Drozd but not Volna FCS and ERA.
Added the Volna fire control system (with ATGM launcher), improved gun stabilization and sights, improved engine, new radio, and increased protection. Protection included track skirts, smoke grenade launchers, applique armor, and fire protection.
Finnish Defence Forces: T-55M
Finnish Defence Forces Photo
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Finnish Defence Forces: T-55M
Finnish Defence Forces Photo
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Finnish Defence Forces: T-55M
Finnish Defence Forces Photo
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Finnish Defence Forces: T-55M
Exercise - Tuisku 04
Finnish Defence Forces Photo
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Finnish Defence Forces: T-55M
Exercise - Kärppä 05
Finnish Defence Forces Photo
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Finnish Defence Forces: T-55M
Exercise - Hiisi 06
Finnish Defence Forces Photo
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Added bra armor (an armor band around the turret) for 180° coverage.
See data above. The -AMV upgrade means substitution of ERA for the bra armor. The T-55AMV's 1K13 sight is both night sight and ATGM launcher sight; however, it cannot be used for both functions simultaneously.
Variant does not have ATGM capability or Volna FCS.
Czech version of T-55AMV with Kladivo fire control.
Polish version of T-55AMV but with Merida FCS.
Variant with the Drozd APS instead of ERA.
Flamethrower TO-55 (CIS)
The TO-55 flamethrower is in service with the CIS Army and Naval infantry. The flamethrower has a maximum range of 200 meters and replaces the 7.62mm coaxial machine gun while the 100mm gun is retained.
T-54/T-55 Dozer
Some T-54 and T-55 tanks have been equipped with the BTU dozer blade for use within tank units requiring specialized engineer support. The tank dozers accompany the armored vehicles and are used to neutralize obstacles while under fire. The BTU dozer blade can be mounted in 90 minutes and dismounted in 60 minutes.
IT0638: BTU
T-54 Bridging Tanks
CIS, Czechoslovak, and Polish bridgelayers are built on earlier T-34 and T-54 tank chassis. The bridges launch hydraulically over the front of the vehicles and fold up when not in use to reduce vehicle length when travelling. Fully open, the bridges range in size from 12.3 to 21.6 meters and can span obstacles from 11 to 20 meters.
T-54/T-55 Armored Recovery Vehicles (ARVs)
A variety of T-54/T-55s have been modified to ARVs for towing, pushing, and lifting operations. Most modifications are identified by tool and specialized equipment stowage and platforms, small and large cranes, winches, pushbars, cable-drums, spades, and dozer blades mounted strategically on the hull. Small tripod jib cranes can be erected on some versions and some modifications require the turret to be removed. Other versions have a distinctive commander's cupola on the forward right side of the hull.
T-54/T-55 Mine-clearing Tanks (Czechoslovakian and CIS)
T-54/T-55 mine-clearing tanks can be fitted with a wide range of mine-clearing equipment including singular and combined roller and plough type systems mounted on the front of the hull. Some lack turrets while others have built-up superstructures. On some versions, the driver sits at the front right of the turret while on others, the driver's position has been raised and moved to the rear as a new cupola with a 12.7mm machine gun. Turrets on some models are believed to be armed with a 14.5mm KPVT heavy machine gun replacing the normal 12.7mm gun.

A more recent mine-clearing development is the rear-mounted rocket-propelled charges. The charges are launched across a minefield and once on the ground, are detonated.
IT0638: T-54/T-55 mine clearing
IMR Combat Engineer Vehicle
The IMR is essentially a T-55 that had its turret replaced with a hydraulically-operated crane. The crane can also be fitted with a small bucket or a pair of pincer type grabs for removing trees and other obstacles. A hydraulically-operated dozer blade mounts to the front of the hull; it can be used in a straight or V-configuration only and cannot angle doze.
Threat Recognition Guide: IMR
MT-55A Bridging Tank
The MT-55A armored bridge layer, a joint project between Czechoslovakia and Russia, replaced the earlier MT-34. First produced in 1962, it is based on the T-55A tank chassis. This bridge layer is also in service with Croatia, India, Iraq, Russia, Slovakia, Yugoslavia, and some countries in the Middle East.

The bridge launches hydraulically over the front of the vehicle and folds up when not in use to reduce vehicle length when travelling. With a crew of two, the bridge takes 3 minutes to lay in position while 3 to 8 minutes are required for recovery. The bridge is 18 meters long and 3.34 meters wide. It has the ability to span gaps up to 17 meters with the maximum capacity of 50,000 kilograms.

There are two types of scissor bridges. The first model of the bridge has circular holes in the sides of the bridge, while the more recent model has solid panels. Standard equipment on the MT-55A includes a CBRN system, a snorkel, an inclinometer, and other equipment for determining the width of the gap before the bridge is laid.
Threat Recognition Guide: MT-55A FM 3-90.12: MT-55A

T-54/T-55 Photos - Click on image sample to see full size image.

RSLC: T-55
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Burning Iraqi T-55 destroyed by U.S. Marines
Operation Iraqi Freedom
An Nu'maniyah, Iraq, along Highway 27
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Paul L. Anstine III
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T-55 of 1st Iraqi Mechanized Brigade
Conducting a route security patrol
Taji, Iraq
MNSTC-I Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Lorie Jewell
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T-55 of 1st Iraqi Mechanized Brigade
Taking up a position while conducting route security patrol
Taji, Iraq
MNSTC-I Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Lorie Jewell
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NATO: T-55 cannons
Demilitarized T-55 tank cannons
Republic of Macedonia
NATO Photo
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NATO: T-55 cannons
Demilitarized T-55 tank cannons
Republic of Macedonia
NATO Photo
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