Saturday, 20 December 2014
Modern Soviet Tank Ergonomics
The Armoured Journal yields another article of interest, this time on human factors of tanks by M.N. Tikhonov and I.D. Kudrin: Human Factors and Scientific Progress in Tank Building, submitted on May 18th, 1991. The article mostly contains very general thoughts on things that are rather obvious to us now (ability to fight in irradiated environments, tanks that are able to drive for longer without stopping being more tiring for their crews, etc), but there is a table of something we've seen before, a table of ergonomic factors of some tanks!
Table 2. Volume occupied by one crewman in a tank, meters cubed.
Only the volumes are given this time for various tanks (commander, gunner, driver, loader, who is of course absent in the T-64 and T-72). It's not as detailed as what we've seen before, but at least we can compare these four tanks.
Comparing the heavy and medium contemporaries, the heavy T-10 and medium T-55, one might expect the heavy tank to be roomier, but no such luck here. The volumes for each crewman are comparable. The commander in the T-10 has a slightly more luxurious workspace, but its gunner is slightly more cramped. The driver of the T-10 also has a slight edge over his medium comrade, but the loader in the T-55 lives a life of royalty, as he has nearly twice as much space to work with as the T-10 loader.
Moving on to the next generation, the changing of priorities is noticeable. The article talks about how increasing penetration of modern ammunition tipped the scales away from armour. The most effective defense, now more than ever, was "don't get hit", and Soviet tanks became shorter and stouter to avoid this fate. However, the loss of one crewman meant that the change didn't impact the crew too negatively. For instance, the commander's workspace decreased to the levels of a driver of the old generation tanks, but the gunner's workspace actually grew in side by a significant amount. There was also much more room for the driver.
As for the two modern tanks, they aren't too different. The "budget" T-72 is a little smaller across the board than the T-64. The commander barely loses any space at all, but the gunner and driver both suffer significantly more. Still, they are doing much better than their T-55 counterparts.