The T-64 tank in World War III
The T-64 tank was, at the time of the Third World War, the standard Soviet main battle tank in Category I and II tank divisions and in independent Tank Regiments in Eastern Europe, European Russia, and in the Soviet Far East. The tank was intended to be replaced in Cat I units by the T-80, however, no units equipped with the T-80 deployed to North America at the beginning of hostilities. The tank continued to serve throughout the war in North America, as well as seeing service in Eastern Europe during the 1989 campaign. The tank has seen combat in many of the postwar conflicts in the former USSR, and is still seen in many post-Soviet states today. This work covers the T-64 versions that saw combat in the Third World War.
T-64: Initial production version with same 115-mm gun as mounted on the T-62. Four-man crew.
T-64R: Modernized T-64s, with same external equipment as T-64A, but retaining 115-mm gun. Mainly used for training.
T-64A: Main production version with 125-mm D-81T gun, automatic loader, night gunnery and driving sights. Full NBC system and coincidence rangefinder installed. Remote-controlled NSVT machine gun for tank commander. Upgraded with smoke dischargers and D-81TM gun but no AT-8 missile.
T-64AK: Command version of T-64A for company, battalion, and regimental commanders.
T-64B: Improved T-64A first seen in 1976. Improved 125-mm gun (D-81TM), AT-8 Songster missile fired through main gun, smoke dischargers, and improved fire-control.
T-64BK; Command version of T-64B. No AA machine gun or AT-8 capability.
T-64BV: Fitted with reactive armor and rearranged smoke dischargers.
T-64AM, AKM, BM, BKM, and BVM fitted with improved engine (5DTFM with 850 hp).
The Soviet Army was the only wartime ComBloc user of the tank. Primarily issued to Cat I tank divisions in Eastern Europe and the USSR, and in independent tank regiments. Some Cat II TD in Beylorussia and the Ukraine also equipped. Issued to some units as replacement for T-80 losses 1988-89. Encountered in Northern Theater and Southern Theaters. Last known wartime combat in Brownsville Pocket, 1989.
Mexico: Inherited a number of T-64s of various models after the Armistice. Extensive use in Mexican Army COIN operations, and faced U.S. Army and USMC units in the Baja War in 2010, coming off second best. Some have also fallen into the hands of rebel movements in Mexico.
Several captured specimens evaluated by U.S. Army, Britain, and Canada. Unlike the T-72, no captured specimens known to have been used in combat. Mainly used for OPFOR training.
Post-Soviet use has been numerous: the vehicle has seen combat with the Russian Republic, Ukraine, the Far East Republic, and the Rump USSR. It has also seen use in several conflicts in both the Caucasus and in Central Asia.