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Polish T-55L Tanks in an interesting camou scheme
The AFV ASSOCIATION was formed in 1964 to support the thoughts and research of all those interested in Armored Fighting Vehicles and related topics, such as AFV drawings. The emphasis has always been on sharing information and communicating with other members of similar interests; e.g. German armor, Japanese AFVs, or whatever.
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Dirk
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2006 8:15 am
Post subject: Polish T-55L Tanks in an interesting camou scheme





This tank is a runner.

Enjoy Wink

Dirk
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JimWeb
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2006 12:29 pm
Post subject: Re: Polish T-55L Tanks in an interesting camou scheme

Its a T-54 for a start - though it may be more accurate to say it started out in life as a T-54....

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Dirk
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2006 1:05 pm
Post subject: Re: Polish T-55L Tanks in an interesting camou scheme

- JimWeb
Its a T-54 for a start - though it may be more accurate to say it started out in life as a T-54....


Thanks for the correction.

According to the following PDF document listing all preserved tanks in South Africa
PDF Document : Preserved Tanks in South Africa
this tank is a T-55L manufactured in Labedy in Poland.

Cheers

Dirk
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L.Delsing
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2006 2:07 pm
Post subject: Re: Polish T-55L Tanks in an interesting camou scheme

Hello Dirk,
Nice photo's! If possible, check the constructionnumber on the glacis plate. It is then relatively easy to see who built it and in what year. The only problem, Mostly they use a letter to indicate the year of production and the 1974 I don't know the letter for Polish production so I'am very interested in that.

To see the difference between a 54 and a 55 I always look for the small ventilator on top of the turret. I understand there are more ways to recognise them, but this is for me the easiest one.

regards,
Lesley
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L.Delsing
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2006 2:09 pm
Post subject: Re: Polish T-55L Tanks in an interesting camou scheme

By they way, some Polish T-55 c/ns as example how it could be;

T-55 c/n 34A675E = 1971
T-55 c/n 59N1069D = 1970
T-55 c/n 17H41B = 1968
T-55 c/n 11N41C = 1969

The last letter is indicating the year of production
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JimWeb
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2006 3:12 pm
Post subject: Re: Polish T-55L Tanks in an interesting camou scheme

The easiest way to identify one is that drivers MG hole in the glacis plate... it stands out like a sore thumb!

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Hellfish6
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2006 4:36 pm
Post subject: Re: Polish T-55L Tanks in an interesting camou scheme

Is this one of the tanks that ended up with the Rhodesians?
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Dirk
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2006 5:17 pm
Post subject: Re: Polish T-55L Tanks in an interesting camou scheme

- Hellfish6
Is this one of the tanks that ended up with the Rhodesians?


Could be one of the Ugandan tanks siezed at Durban, some being shipped to Rhodesia, or war booty from Angola.

So my guess is one of the Rhodesian tanks , as one was retained by the then SADF.

Hope this info is correct Mr. Green

Dirk

PS - Please correct me if this info is wrong
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Hellfish6
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2006 5:25 pm
Post subject: Re: Polish T-55L Tanks in an interesting camou scheme

I actually thought they all made it to South Africa after Operation Quartz was cancelled - I can't be sure though. Info about anything concerning RSA or Rhodesia is pretty hard to come by around here. I know eight were given to Rhodesia for sure, but no concrete evidence on how many made it back. IIRC Zimbabwe only ever operated Chinese Type 59-IIs, though. Maybe some of them were destroyed/sabotaged before the turnover?
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Maple_Leaf_Eh
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2006 7:11 pm
Post subject: Re: Polish T-55L Tanks in an interesting camou scheme

I like the sounds of Hellfish6's posting. The Rhodesians had Polish tanks before the ceasefire, and there is a series of photos of the crews listening to the radio station announcing the transition. (Google: Operation Quartz Top Secret) Guys in one-piece coveralls. I'd have to go back to my library to read up on the disposal or dispersion of the tanks. I suspect the RhACR moved them out of the country to keep their so-cooperative neighbour safe from a new government with MBTs. The postwar global armies reference books suggested the Zim forces had Chinese tanks.
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Esa_Muikku
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 15, 2006 2:23 pm
Post subject: Re: Polish T-55L Tanks in an interesting camou scheme

Hi!

The tank is a T-55, not a T-54. Hull MG hole is not a proof identification feature in any direction, but the welding seam in the lower part of the glasis is!!
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JimWeb
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 15, 2006 7:17 pm
Post subject: Re: Polish T-55L Tanks in an interesting camou scheme

I can show you any number of T-54 images with the weld seam... you want to show us a T-55 with the MG hole?

BTW my original point was that it started out in life as a T-54 and all the accounts of the captured FRELIMO tanks speak of T-54s. It obviously went through the polish rebuild facility at some point.

Cool

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timroberts
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 15, 2006 8:16 pm
Post subject: Re: Polish T-55L Tanks in an interesting camou scheme

see here Jim,
This is definitely a t55! with the mg hole, lots had it!

www.bharat-rakshak.com...s/0020.jpg

Actually that T55 in the original post is a new build Polish T55L , not a T54U (Polish rebuild to T55 standard).

If you look at the turret lower edge this is bevelled, that never occured on T54 from any country of manafacture.

I have lots of shots of this tank, that I did not take, I have asked the copyright owner for permission to post here.

Best Wishes

Tim
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bsmart
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 15, 2006 9:54 pm
Post subject: Re: Polish T-55L Tanks in an interesting camou scheme

And people wonder why I just say T54/55

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JimWeb
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 16, 2006 10:12 am
Post subject: Re: Polish T-55L Tanks in an interesting camou scheme

You could argue for hours on whether one is a T-54 ot T-55. The trouble is that many have been through rebuilds and have emerged as T-54 hulls with T-55 turrets and vice versa - its totally confusing and probably the reason why NATO is changing back to the T-54/55 designation.

Anyway to end all this...

The tanks the south africans had were a batch confiscated from a French ship, the “Astor�, which had been transporting a heavy weapons consignment from Libya for Idi Amin in Uganda. Amin’s regime collapsed on the day that the ship docked in Mombasa and it was redirected to Angola. The ship called in to Durban where the cargo, including ten Polish-built T-55LD tanks (part of a batch of 200 T-54s rebuilt in 1975), was seized, South Africa at that point considering itself to be at war with Angola. Two of the tanks were kept by the South Africans for evaluation.

The remaining eight were transported to Rhodesia, together with SADF advisers for the purpose of training Rhodesian crews. The rumour was spread that the tanks had been captured in Mozambique, in order to obscure South Africa’s part in the deal. The tanks, now part of the Rhodesian Armoured Car Regiment - in a newly-formed "E" Squadron - were driven around on tank transporters for several months in order to give the impression that the Rhodesians possessed a large number of heavy tanks. On arrival the T-55s had sported the original Libyan camouflage scheme. Major Winkler ordered them repainted in American camo, which was eminently unsuitable, and finally the South African instructors had them painted in anti-infra-red South African camo, which proved perfect for Rhodesian conditions. The tank crews came from 'D' Sqn RhACR, regular force soldiers who had signed on for a minimum of 3 years. A few of the men had tank experience already, but initially there was a lot of experimenting and reliance on the manuals, until Army HQ arranged for proper training by members of the SADF School of Armour.

Command of 'E' Sqn was given to a Captain Kaufeldt, an experienced tanker from West Germany.

The Soviet-manufactured radios were removed from the tanks and replaced with the South African radios and headsets used on the Eland 90 AFVs. These used a throat-activated microphone system and were far superior to the Soviet models. In Soviet tanks the radios were operated by the loader, in addition to his task on the main gun. The Rhodesians, reasoning that the loader already had enough to keep him occupied, moved the radios to the tank commander's position.

Now looking at the attached images you can see they are different tanks to the one at the museum but more about that particular tank later.

To Be Continued...

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