The T-54 and T-55 tanks are a series of main battle tank introduced just as World War II ended. The first T-54 prototype appeared in March 1945 and entered full production in 1947. It became the main tank for armoured units of the Soviet Red Army, armies of the Warsaw Pact countries, and many others. T-54s and T-55s were involved in many of the world's armed conflicts during the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
Production of the initial series of T-54s began slowly as 1,490 modifications were made. The Red Army received a tank that was superior to World War II designs and theoretically better than the newest tanks of potential opponents. The 100 mm gun fired BR-412 series full-calibre APHE ammunition, which had superior penetration capability when compared to the T-34 that it replaced. It also had thicker hull armour (80 mm on the sides, 30 mm on the roof and 20 mm on the bottom) than the T-34.
The T-54/55 series eventually became the most-produced tank in history. Estimated production numbers for the series range from 86,000 to 100,000.
T-54 in The Hot WarEdit
Very early in the fighting, it was discovered that the T-54 had a design flaw: the 100mm gun wouldn't depress as far as the main armament on the American and British tanks they were facing. That meant that the T-54s, when on a reverse slope, had to move farther forward and expose themselves when they fired, leaving them vulnerable to the enemy.
Still, despite these flaws, the Soviets used the T-54 in concert with their overall troop strength to push across western Europe.