"We will bury them!"
- – Rhino tank, Red Alert 2
The T-72 is Soviet second generation MBT employed by a variety of nations. In classic Russian fashion, it is rugged, relatively easy to produce, and simple enough that any soviet peasant can hop in and spread the revolution with utmost efficiency. The T-72 incorporates some of the latest advances in Soviet weapons technology, mouning an auto-loading 2A46 125mm main gun, which is capable of firing fin stabilized ammunition, and is protected by BDD composite armor similar to the Chobham armor used on western tanks.
Note that this article covers the actual T-72 only, the version produced and intended strictly for Soviet use. A downgraded export model, the T-72M, was produced for foreign sales and licensed for production by certain countries, like the Polish People's Republic. T-72s remain in the modern Russian Army's armored forces, but it has largely been replaced in Russian use by the improved T-72B3 and T-90, both of which are modernised overhauls of the original T-72.
In Team Yankee
Updating this section for Team Yankee V2.
The T-72A is an iconic Red Army MBT, representing the middle ground between a horde of T-55AM2s and a tiny company of T-64Bs. Being also the first tank introduced to the game alongside the M1, it has been powercreeped into obscurity. If you're still reading this, you are a true Soviet patriot.
This budget T-64 plays the role of a jack-of-all-trades tank, but compares poorly to it's earlier cousin, the T62m, due to it's points cost. Whether you need a tank for linebreaking, assault or fire support, the T-72 can do it all, just not very well.
Lets start with the boomstick. The T-72 mounts a 125mm 2A46 gun which is quite capable of punching through early model NATO Main Battle tanks and stands a decent chance of damaging later models with it's AT value of 22, and with the FP of 2+, practically anything you penetrate you are going to blow up. It's also rather good at dealing with unarmored targets like infantry and light vehicles as the Brutal rule means that they have to re-roll their successful saves. The T-72 can fire on the move with near impunity as the stabilizer negates the negative effects of moving and the laser rangefinder negates the penalties of firing on the move. The only downside is the fact that the 2A46 only has a ROF of 1, both halted and on the move, which means that you must mass tanks to mass fire, as is the case with practically all Soviet tanks. Importantly, the presence of the stabilizer means that the T-72 can really move when it needs to, and this is an aspect that many commanders forget about when calculating flank and spank distances. Although it suffers a penalty to hit, getting a flank shot when you need it means the distance between victory and defeat.
Oh, there is also a pair of machine guns; one 12.7mm AA mounted on a pintle and a 7.62mm mounted coaxially.
It's when the T-72 begins taking fire rather than dishing it out that things can get a bit dicey. The Frontal armour only has a paltry rating of 16, and the sides have a rating of 8. This value lies in the worst sweet spot for armor values, as common anti-tank weapons like the TOW, MILAN and other ATGMs will send turrets flying faster than you can say "cyka". To make things worse for our exploding hot pocket, new TOW 2 and 120mm DU rounds will simply tear through the T-72's front like it wasnt there. The T72's best defense is its mobility. Make full use of it's adequate 3+ cross to ensure you are hugging cover and make Uncle Sam work for his kills.
Things do get a little better as the T-72 is equipped with BDD armour, which bumps the side armour up to 13 against things with HEAT. Like the T64, the T-72 can assault fairly well and is suited to bullying US infantry, or other infantry when you have taken out their Carl Gustavs.
Despite these quirks, the T-72's points cost is the true deal breaker. At the onset of Team Yankee, a platoon of 3 for 12 points seemed like insane value when compared alongside the M1, but since then time has marched on and cheaper and better units, particularly the T-72's knockoff cousin, the T-72m, have all but kicked our poor stalwart to the curb like most Soviet WW2 veterans. A single tank add-on at 5pts each is simply too much to bear (ahem) for this poor workhorse. Hence, If you are somehow forced to use the T-72, fielding them in platoons of 3 in a full company of 10 is probably the best way you can flog a dead horse. There are better options out there (looking at you T62m) for fire support or for zerging. Dont say we didnt warn you!
Like many Soviet tanks, the T-72 is among the most massively-produced post-WWII tanks out there, seeing service in many countries outside Soviet borders. Like all things Soviet, (except their cars), its chief features are cost-effective design and simple but efficient lethality. Even while the modern Russian Army has replaced the venerable T-72 with newer tanks (namely the T-90, which is basically just a T-72 with more current weapon systems), the T-72 is still solid enough that it has been repurposed for a wide variety of combat roles that it wasn't originally designed for, including the BMPT Terminator used for urban pacification (and simultaneously sporting one of the most menacing names for a tank ever), or the TOS-1 Buratino. If your confused by that and remember T-72's getting Roflstomped during the Gulf War, the answer is that those were T-72M which are the export version of the T-72 and were not as advanced as the ones used by the Russian army and eastern bloc nations proper along with the reported inability of Middle Eastern armies in mastering the art of Soviet Doctrine (AKA Attack Move) (or any doctrine, really. Read some books about Arab-Israeli wars, they are so one-sided it's not even funny). Well the Republican Guard of Iraq did actually have sound defensive tactics but ultimately were overwhelmed by M1 Abrams tanks rushing over their defensive positions.
There's a bit of an old wives' tale regarding the T-72's and other Russian tank's autoloaders: namely that it's autoloader would every so often accidentally eat the Gunner's arm. This is a myth likely originating from Bryan Perrett's "Soviet armour since 1945" that haven't been true of the T-64's even when they were new as they simply wouldn't have been entered production otherwise. While yeah, T-64's were more complex and therefore less reliable compared to T-72, broken thread, suspension system or engine is one thing, but dead or seriously injured gunner is another. Let me give an example: in 1941 the Red Army had a grenade named RG-41, and it was more than a match to more common RGD-33, weighting less while having the same amount of explosives. The only problem was its safety system: if you fucked up the initiation sequence (and it was not as simple as "pull the pin") and it malfunctioned, that baby could blow in your hands right in the moment you were about to throw it. After less than a dozen recorded incidents (and mind it, not a word in press or anything!), soldiers simply stop using those grenades, preferring to throw RGDs-33 or not using anything at all, which lead to RG-41 quickly being replaced with much safer RG-42. A tank that can bite your arm off is a very, very bad thing for morale, and no one in the right mind would sit in it, am I right?
Incidentally: the T-72 was not the most modern tank in the Soviet Arsenal by the time of Team Yankee 1985 start date for world war three. That title belongs to the imminently incoming T-80, first introduced in 1976, well in time for this 'dust up'.
|Soviet Forces in Team Yankee|
|Tanks:||T55AM2 - T-62M - T-64 - T-72 - T-80|
|Transports:||BTR-60 - BMP-1 - BMP-2 - BMP-3|
|Troops:||Motor Rifle Company - Hind Assault Landing Company - Afghansty Air Assault Company|
|Artillery:||2S1 Carnation - 2S3 Acacia - BM-21 Hail - TOS-1 Buratino - BM-27 Uragan|
|Anti-Aircraft:||ZSU 23-4 Shilka - SA-13 Gopher - SA-9 Gaskin - SA-8 Gecko - 2S6 Tunguska|
|Tank Hunters:||Spandrel - Storm|
|Recon:||BMP-1 OP - BRDM-2|
|Aircraft:||SU-25 Frogfoot - MI-24 Hind|