T55AM2

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She's old but has a certain beauty.

"When the T-34 first appeared, it was very intimidating, and then we realized the Soviets couldn't shoot or drive for shit."

– Anonymous Wermacht solider, Company of Heroes 2

The feared muscle behind the Warsaw Pact during the 50s and 60s, the T-55 is an aged tank in 1985. The T-55AM2 however, represents a comprehensive upgrade program to attempt to bring the chassis to the modern era or at least make the crew feel somewhat less like cannon fodder. The glacis plate was thickened, a distinctive "horseshoe" brow armour was added to the turret front, and a smoke launcher was added to increase survivability. A laser rangefinder, wind sensor and a ballistic computer were added to increase gun accuracy. Finally, new gunner optics were added to enable missiles to be fired from the D10T 100mm gun. The T-55AM2 upgrades were the first prong in East Germany's plan to modernize the Panzer of the Volksarmee (the second being further procurement of T-72M).

T-55AM2[edit]

East German[edit]

Die Statistikkarte des Volkspanzers!

The T-72M may have begun phasing in with the Volksarmee's first-line armored regiments in the 1970s, but the majority of East German tankers get to make do with the T-55. Of those men, only the luckiest got the T-55AM2; only around 300 were ever given that upgrade. The T-55AM2 combines sturdy armour and a moderately powerful gun with bargain basement point cost. While NATO tanks and ATGMs can penetrate the T-55AM2, most other enemy assets on the battlefield cannot, this makes the T-55AM2 a priority target as they close the distance with the enemy, tying up enemy anti-tank assets that may otherwise be shooting at something else. The D10T 100mm can't frontally penetrate the NATO MBTs but can be dangerous if you can enter a melee where the gun can be brought to bear against side armour. The slow firing rule discourages firing on the move, once your T-55s have reached an advantageous position you'll want them to keep them stationary to fire. Dash mobility and Cross-Rating is sub par, however the poor cross can be mitigated using Movement Orders which synergizes with the NVA's superior skill rating over the Russians.

Two schools of thought have emerged when including T-55AM2s in a Volksarmee force. The more instinctive approach for horde force players is to take multiple large companies of tanks to push down the field in a wave of guns and steel in a display of might that would make the Astra Militarum proud. Simply providing more targets than the NATO opposition can hope to kill, until you can enter a messy melee fight or tie up objectives all game. But alternatively, due to a quirk in points costing, a minimum strength T-55AM2 Battalion of 10 tanks (1+3+3+3) can be taken for 7 points, making each tank cost less than a single point. While these small companies can be erased by NATO tanks in a single salvo, they can operate independently (rather than an unwieldy mess of a 10 tank parking lot) and, when taking multiple minimum strength T-55AM2 Battalions provide extra command tanks to issue more orders.

East German armies make take T-55AM2 Kompanies ranging in size from 3 tanks to 10 tanks, starting out at 2 points and topping out at 16. Basically every time you add a tank to the original 3, tack on an additional 2 points. And yes, this does mean that you can take 10 tanks where a US Player could only take 2 Abrams (and base Abrams at that).

Polish[edit]

Polish Stats, towarzysz!

The Polish T-55AM 'Merida' is Poland's locally-upgraded T-55, the best obsolete tank the Polish People's Republic has to offer. Its crews are brave and well-trained, and they'll need both to overcome the far better tanks the capitalist dogs NATO forces to the West are using. Unlike the East German version, which is affordable enough to fill the role of a spam tank even in multiple small units, the Polish version is designed to make you take large tank units: unlike the East Germans, your smallest company size begins at 5.

As with any version of the T-55 used by any country, the 'Merida' is a cheap old tank that is really good at exploding. Unfortunately, the Polish profile favours units which can survive a beating: 3+ remount and rally help you get back in the fight after getting pinned or bailed, but the T-55 is guaranteed to explode when touched by most dedicated anti-tank weapons. ATGMs, tank cannons and even man-portable anti-tank weapons like the Carl Gustav and the RPG-7 will punch through your front 50% of the time. There is little reason to invest in the Polish T-55 unless you are a fluff player: the points you spend for stats which will never be used with the exception of mine-clearing could be better spent on additional weapon systems. You are a PACT player, and your support units are devilishly cheap for what they do.

The Poles may take 5 tanks for 6 points, up to 10 tanks for 17 points.

Czech[edit]

Slide5.JPG

The T-55AM2 'Dyna' is the Czech version of the modernized T-55 platform and is arguably the best T-55AM2 variant of the PACT countries for a competitive player.

Where the Polish profile excels on the defensive, the Czechs are unmatched on the offensive where firepower decides the success or failure of your attack. For a significant discount, you can bring about 30% more units to the field. The reason that the Czechs are suited for this role is the simple fact that T-55s will never survive any fire whatsoever. Aside from autocannons, the majority of anti-armour weapons will go through your front without any issue whatsoever. The Czech 5+ remount becomes irrelevant in this case, as anything which hits you is probably going to result in a kill and not a bail. Unlike the East Germans, the Czechs favour T-55 hordes and not multiple small units. Your discount only grows the more tanks you take, and taking entire companies is essential when building a Czech T-55 spam list: your 4+ skill is far less terrifying than the sheer numbers you can bring to the field.

Keep in mind when building your list that you are still spamming T-55s: these are not units which can take objectives. 5+ courage means that minefields will stop your companies dead in their tracks, and you do not have Brutal to shred through entrenched infantry. If you are lucky or play well, you might kill a couple of Leopards or Abrams', but will need to rely on your infantry to close in for the objective.

The Czechs may take 5 points for 5 tanks to 13 points for 10 tanks. Interestingly, tank battalions may also bring one company of the other version (T-72M or T-55AM2) in your third company slot.

T-55[edit]

Featuring none of the weapons or armor upgrades of the T-55AM2, the standard T-55 is the weapon of choice for Middle Eastern tank battalions. It loses 1 frontal armour, 1 anti-tank, and the laser rangefinder on the main gun, and bazooka skirts. While it may start struggling to reliably punch through the front of the MBTs of yesteryear, a 100mm tank cannon will still turn an Abrams inside out if hit from the sides.

More vulnerable to light anti-armor without bazooka skirts, RPG-18s and LAWs have a somewhat higher chance to bail aT-55 in close range, given the numbers infantry fight in.

The "vanilla" version of the T-55 tank has not actually been released for Team Yankee as of yet, making employment of this tank in games problematic, but not impossible. Stand-in models could be used, such as the K2 Ironclad (T-54) from Flames of War: Vietnam, or the T-54/55 three-tank box released for the earlier Arab-Israeli Wars expansion of Flames of War.

Something else Battlefront Miniatures has not yet addressed: the original T-54 and T-55 tanks were retained in large numbers in the arsenals of the Warsaw Pact right up to the end of the Cold War. East Germany alone had several hundred T-54 tanks held in reserve. These would have been bottom-of-the-barrel reserves, only to be used in the event that the first-line and second-line tank regiments had already been destroyed or rendered "combat ineffective" due to heavy losses. Get some of Battlefront's K2 Ironclad models or some Arab-Israeli surplus T-54/55 models, paint them in the Warsaw Pact colors you desire, and you could employ them in the European theater with the Middle Eastern points cost and the Polish, East German, or Czech crew stats. This is a terrible and obsolete tank, in Europe or the Middle East, but like the trusty old AK-47, it's still there and ready to go if you want it.

Iraqi[edit]

A T-55, rolling off to fight ISIS.

Given the Soviet Union's none-too-friendly attitude toward Israel and Jews in general, the USSR was plenty willing to sell T-55 tanks to Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Not only did the Hussein regime hate Israel with a burning passion, they hated the United States about as much. The Soviets only got so generous with Iraq, however; the modernized T-55AM2 never made it to the Middle East and Saddam Hussein's men had to make do with the original "vanilla" T-55. It served with the Iraqi Army (not the Republican Guard; they got the good stuff), providing commanders with a fire support unit that might not penetrate anything tougher than a Frenchman on treads, but remains a deadly foe against enemy armour and infantry without heavier anti-tank weapons.

Compared to the T-62, the T-55 is identical except for the cannon. Its main gun has an AT16 FP2+ round with slow firing and lacks brutal. The armour might be paper thin against even the weakest of ATGMs, but it gives you enough protection from HEAT shells and autocannons to engage and destroy enemy IFVs without taking too many losses.

While you probably won't be taking a T-55 battalion, a single company for your infantry can serve as a VERY cheap source of fire support, and a wall of armour headed for your opponent's rear-line may distract them from your heavier weapons.

The Iraqi T-55 battalion is incredibly cheap, making it a very viable choice for spam lists. Starting at 5 points for 5 tanks, a company tops out at 10 tanks for 11 points. Additionally, you may purchase bazooka skirts for an ENTIRE company for only one point.

Iranian[edit]

The Iranians use T-55s captured from those cowardly Iraqis, as well as Chinese rip-offs. The biggest weakness of the T-55 in Iranian lists is how hard it is to take any meaningful amount. They can only be taken as a single group of 3 per formation, attached only to the T-62 Company, Mech Company and Basij Battalion. 3 Tanks per group with front armour 13 will melt and only one group per formation, they are hard to spam: which is their only strength being cheap. Not an inherently bad unit, just a bit pointless.

IRL[edit]

I am on a tank!

If the original T-54/55 is the AK-47 of tanks, the T-55AM2 is an AKM with some nice accessories. The T-55, like all Soviet tanks, is never going to look good if you judge it by Western standards. The T-55, like the AK-47, was designed as a cheap, extremely tough workhorse for an army largely composed of short-term conscripts with little to no education to speak of. It needed to be easily comprehensible to guys who had quite possibly never seen so much as a tractor before being voluntold for service to Mother Russia. The idea was that if you used enough of these at once, the superior quality of the enemy's tanks would be drowned out by the thunder of a million cheap tanks being driven by angry peasants heroic Soviet soldiers. And if you think that sounds ridiculous, it sure worked for the Soviets on the Eastern Front.

That said, even that consideration in mind it was not a bad tank at it's debut. In fact, the T-54/55 was a rather nasty shock to NATO when it showed up, and they were quite grateful when Hungarian rebels drove one into the British embassy in their country during the 1950s revolt. Presented with a powerful 100mm main cannon, good armor, and solid maneuverability in a tank that the USSR could easily produce in mass numbers, the British concluded that their then-standard 20-pounder gun was incapable of defeating it, while the Americans decided the M48 Patton was not enough either and began development of the M60. It has not aged well as a main-line tank after the better part of 100 years, but in its prime, the T-54/55 gave NATO lots to be afraid of.

The T-54/55 series is also the most widely-produced tank of all time, with numerous copies being circulated around the world and total production estimates ranging from 86,000 to 100,000 units. The People's Republic of China started their line of tanks with a copy of the T-54, the Type 59, and still maintains a massive arsenal of them today. This might be a cramped, noisy, inefficient piece of junk, but it works, and it's so cheap even the most pitifully broke nations on Earth can get one easily.

All this may still leave you wondering why the T-55 was still hanging around in the 1980s, long after newer, better models like the T-72 had been tested and put into production. See, the thing about the Soviet Union is that when you're large enough to reach from one hemisphere to another, equipping all those soldiers can be a pain in the ass. As such, the Soviet Union tried to keep its old equipment in service for as long as humanly possible and just passed them down to less important units as the newer, better stuff arrived to replace the old gear. Russia proper got the good shit, second-line units older equipment, Warsaw Pact nations got stuff a generation behind, and so on. This is why the East Germans, Polish, and Czechoslovakians in Team Yankee use the obsolete T55AM2 while the Soviets proper don't. The USSR also took a long time to retire equipment that still worked. This is why when you look up Soviet equipment you sometimes find lists of at least five different types of machine all doing the same thing.

The T55AM2 was an attempt to get more life out of the aging T-55, to give it at least some chance against the then-modern NATO tanks like the M1 Abrams and Chieftain MBT, which by that point it was something like two tank generations behind. It was a valiant effort to do the impossible- to give a very old tank a chance on the modern battlefield- but it wasn't enough. Any army fielding these against NATO in Team Tankee will likely take heavy casualties, especially against NATO heavy armor. Against light and medium armor and infantry, it will do better, but losses will still be significant simply because the T-54/55 is no longer able to stand up against the firepower of NATO anti-tank weapons the way it could have in the 1950s and 1960s.

The Slow Firing rule on this tank is because of its small size. This is NOT a big tank by any standards, and the domed turret restricts movement significantly for the three crewmen inside. The loadout of 70-pound shells is in all manner of places, meaning no ability to perform the same motions and gain the benefit of muscle memory as the loader. Additionally, ventilation is bad, the fume extractor (which the T-54 doesn't have, only the T-55) does not work well, and the loader must shove the base of each shell into the breech with his left hand due to the positioning of the gun. Loading this thing's gun is difficult at best and a nightmare at worst, such as under sustained firing as noxious fumes fill the inside of the tank.

If you play 40k and think this thing looks a bit familiar, you're not entirely wrong. The bubble top turret from the T-55 and T-62 tanks was likely an influence on the forge world "Deimos pattern Predator" tanks.

East German Forces in Team Yankee
Tanks: T55AM2 - T-72M
Transports: BTR-60 - BMP-1 - BMP-2
Troops: Mot-Schützen Kompanie - Hind Assault Landing Company
Artillery: 2S1 Carnation - BM-21 Hail
Anti-Aircraft: ZSU 23-4 Shilka - SA-13 Gopher - SA9 Gaskin
Tank Hunters: Spandrel
Recon: BMP-1 OP - BRDM-2
Aircraft: MI-24 Hind
Soviet Support: SU-25 Frogfoot
Polish Forces in Team Yankee
Tanks: T55AM2 - T-72M
Transports: SKOT-2A - BMP-1 - BMP-2
Troops: Zmotory Kompania - Hind Assault Landing Company
Artillery: Dana SpGH - BM-21 Hail
Anti-Aircraft: ZSU 23-4 Shilka - SA-13 Gopher -SA-8 Gecko
Tank Hunters: Spandrel
Recon: BMP-1 OP - BRDM-2
Aircraft: MI-24 Hind
Soviet Support: SU-25 Frogfoot
Czech Forces in Team Yankee
Tanks: T55AM2 - T-72M
Transports: OT-64 - BMP-1 - BMP-2
Troops: Motostrelci
Artillery: 2S1 Carnation - Dana SpGH - RM-70
Anti-Aircraft: ZSU 23-4 Shilka - SA-8 Gecko - SA9 Gaskin - SA-13 Gopher
Tank Hunters: Spandrel
Recon: BMP-1 OP - BRDM-2
Aircraft: MI-24 Hind
Soviet Support: SU-25 Frogfoot
Iraqi Forces in Team Yankee
Tanks: T-55 - T-62 - T-72M
Transports: BTR-60 - OT-64 - AMX-10P - BMP-1
Troops: Motor Rifle Company
Artillery: 2S1 Carnation - 2S3 Acacia - AMX Auf1 - BM-21 Hail
Anti-Aircraft: ZSU 23-4 Shilka - SA-13 Gopher - SA9 Gaskin - SA-8 Gecko - Roland AA
Tank Hunters: Spandrel - VCR/TH
Recon: BRDM-2 - BTR-60 OP
Aircraft: MI-24 Hind - Gazelle HOT
US Support: A-10 Warthog - AV-8 Harrier
Iranian Forces in Team Yankee
Tanks: T-55 - T-62 - M60 Patton - Chieftain
Transports: M113 Armored Personnel Carrier - BTR-60 - BMP-1
Troops: Iranian Mechanized Platoon - Basij Infantry Company
Artillery: M109 Howitzer - BM-21 Hail - M106 Heavy Mortar Carrier
Anti-Aircraft: ZSU 23-4 Shilka - ZSU-57-2 - SA-8 Gecko
Tank Hunters: Jeep TOW - Jeep 106mm Recoilless - M113 106mm Recoilless
Recon: Scorpion
Aircraft: AH-1 Cobra Attack Helicopter
Soviet Support: SU-25 Frogfoot