The Russian T-54 BTS Armoured Recovery Family Background
The T-54 had been developed in 1946 by the Soviet Union shortly after World War II in response to the ever-increasing tensions between itself and the Western powers which lead to the Cold War. It went into production in 1947 as a replacement to the highly successful T-34. It was first seen in 1949 and once it completed every 7000km service, it had a workshop over haul and several continuous up-grades were added.
The Russian T-54 BTS Armoured Recovery Family
BTS-1 (Bronetankoviy Tyagach Sredniy – Medium Armoured Tractor) – T-54A converted into an ARV equipped with a stowage basket.
BTS-1M – Improved or remanufactured BTS-1.
BTS-2 (Ob’yekt 9) (Bronetankoviy Tyagach Sredniy – Medium Armoured Tractor) – BTS-1 fitted with a hoist and a small folding crane with a capacity of 3 tonnes. It was developed on the T-54 hull in 1951;series production started in 1955. The prototype Ob’yekt 9 had a commander’s cupola fitted with a DShK 1938/46 heavy machine gun, but the production model has a square commander’s hatch, opening to the right. It has a combat weight of 32 tonnes. Only a very small number remains in service.
BTS-4 (Bronetankoviy Tyagach Sredniy – Medium Armoured Tractor) – ARV similar to the BTS-2 but equipped with a snorkel. In the West it is known as T-54T. There are many different models, based on theT-44, T-54, T-55 and T-62.
T-54T (Panzerzugmaschine ohne Bergesatz) – East German version of the BTS-2 with recovery and welding equipment. 10 made on Polish-made T-54B chassis. NATO code: T-54(A).
BTS-4BM– Experimental version of the BTS-4B with the capacity to winch over the front of the vehicle.
BTS-Saddam – Iraqi produced armoured recovery vehicle based on obsolete T-54 chassis. It’s equipped with small fixed turret on left of driver fitted with antiaircraft heavy machine gun, large winch in fighting compartment covered with metal sheet framework, earth anchor on rear of hull. Like most Iraqi produced equipment it was named in honour of Saddam Hussein.
In 1958 the T-54 was re-hauled and equipped for the nuclear battlefield with a basic NBC protection system which did not protect against radiation or fallout and with other up-grades, was re-designated the T-55. The T-55A entered service in 1963. It’s NBC protection was upgraded with anti-radiation internal liner and anti-radiation cover on the tank commander’s cupola.
The T54 based ARV’s served as the ARV to the T-55 family.