Several vintage Soviet-made T-54 MBTs were reportedly discovered at a train station in the Russian Far East on March 22, 2023, as seen in a video shared on Russian social networks Telegram and VK. It has been reported that Moscow intends to send T-54 and T-55 tanks to the front in order to replace the contemporary MBTs that have been lost or damaged.
Our research indicates that prior to the conflict in Ukraine, the Russian military possessed around 13,000 tanks, including more than 2,850 combat tanks, 650 T-72B/BAs, 850 T-72B3s, 530 T-72B3ms, 310 T-80BV/Us, 140 T-80BVMs, 350 T-90s, T-90As, and an unknown number of T-90Ms, and more than 10,200 tanks stored in depots.
According to publicly available data, the Russian military has lost more than 1,850 tanks due to various causes (including destruction, damage, abandonment, and capture). Fighting in Ukraine has resulted in the loss of about a third of Russia’s modern, combat-ready tanks.
Heavy casualties among Russia’s main battle tanks have compelled the country’s defense minister to bring back tanks from earlier generations, like the T-54 and T-55.
Many T-54 and T-55 tanks are available in Russian armed forces warehouses or held in reserve, which can be rapidly deployed if necessary. The tank is relatively simple in design and construction, making it sometimes easier to maintain and repair.
The T-54/T-55 tanks’ effectiveness on the battlefield is enhanced when combined with that of other unit types, including infantry, artillery, and air support. These combined armament teams, when working together, can help make up for the T-54’s weaknesses and produce a more formidable fighting force.
The T-54/T-55 excels in asymmetrical conflicts with less obvious weaknesses, such as guerilla warfare or urban fighting. The T-54 excels in these conditions as a mobile defense vehicle and fire support for infantry.
The T-54/T-55 is best utilized in defensive roles, such as static fortifications or ambush tactics, to increase its survival and firepower. T-54/T-55 tanks can still be dangerous even against modern foes if their defenders take advantage of the tank’s protection and firepower in fortified defensive positions.
The T-54 tank, although outdated compared to modern main battle tanks, still has some combat capabilities that can be used on the battlefield.
The tank is equipped with a 100 mm D-10T rifled gun, capable of firing high-explosive armor-piercing anti-tank rounds. Although this gun is less powerful than modern tank guns, it can still threaten the lightest armored vehicles and infantry.
The T-54’s hull and turret are made of cast steel armour, making it somewhat resistant to small weapons fire and artillery pieces. Nonetheless, it can be easily destroyed by tank rounds and contemporary anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs). In order to better defend against shaped charge warheads, certain T-54 tanks have been outfitted with reactive armour.
The T-54 can travel up to 48 kilometres per hour (30 miles per hour) on the motorway thanks to its V-54 12-cylinder diesel engine, and it has a range of about 500 kilometres (310 miles). Even though it can’t keep up with modern tanks in terms of speed, it’s still useful for making tactical manoeuvres on the battlefield.
The T-54 was first introduced as a Soviet main battle tank in the late 1940s. It was meant to take over for the T-34, the mainstay of the Soviet army in WWII. The T-54 was produced in numerous versions throughout its lifetime, gradually improving its design, armor, and weaponry.
The T-54A is one of the most recent iterations, and it features a new stabilisation system for the D-10TG 100mm cannon, which improves its accuracy when moving. It also had a revised driver’s compartment and a more powerful V-54 engine.
The T-54B received other improvements, such as an improved gun stabilization system, night vision equipment, and an infrared searchlight for night operations.