News 2022

CNN: Russia sends T-55 tanks to war. Museum exhibits

Russia is moving old Soviet T-55 tanks to the front line in Ukraine, but they can still be effective, CNN reports.

Russia sends T-55 tanks to the war against Ukraine, first adopted by the Red Army of the Soviet Union in 1948. They are so old that they can be found in museums.

Historian John Delaney, senior curator at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford, explained that it was the first main battle tank used by the Soviet Union during the Cold War era.

"Until this point, there were three very distinct types of tanks, light, medium and heavy, fulfilling different roles on the battlefield. From the mid-50s onwards, there was this concept that tried to create a tank that could do a little bit of everything, and which became known like a main battle tank," he said.

Russia began to retire the T-55 from service in the 1980s. However, they were mothballed, not disposed of. Delaney believes that a significant number of them are sitting in sheds and waiting to be reconfigured.

Satellite images taken April 21-22 show Russia was moving dozens of tanks from a warehouse at a base in Arseniev in the country's far east. They show that one of the tanks stored at the base is the T-55. In April, Western officials told CNN they spotted an old tank near the front line.

Intelligence website Oryx claims it has visual evidence that Russia has lost more than 1,900 tanks since the invasion of Ukraine began, nearly two-thirds of the initial stockpile of about 3,000.

Robert Lee, a former US Marine and senior fellow at the US Institute for Foreign Policy Research, noted that Russia has lost a lot of equipment and it is difficult to produce new ones.

"They're making some new tanks, they're still making T-90s, but on a (required) scale, they need more equipment than they can handle, so they're relying on increasingly older tanks to make up for it," he said.

In addition, Trevor Taylor, director of the Defense, Industry and Society Program at the Royal United Services Institute, noted that Western sanctions are also slowing down Russian arms production.

Lee believes that the use of the T-55 will be limited: "Some of these systems will probably be used in the rear first. Therefore, the tanks do not necessarily go forward, it can be a form of long-range fire."

At the same time, Delaney believes that the T-55 may be useful.

"One of the things you can obviously use this one for (tank - ed.) if you're trying to avoid a tank-to-tank fight is to bury them in defensive positions, put the tank in a hole so you can only see the turret, then they can be used to protect the front line from a counterattack," he said.

He added that such use of tanks for the aggressor country could be effective for static defensive positions.

The Russians have to rely on a draft army less trained than their opponent's. And T-55 tanks are easy to use for poorly trained soldiers.

“I think that when faced with Western weapons, the Russians should expect very heavy losses if they plan to move forward using the T-55 system. To use weapons of this type is an act of desperation,” Taylor said.

Delaney added that the T-55s would lose every time in a tank battle against a Leopard or a Challenger.
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