Restoring the T-62: Interview w/ Steve from Battlefield Vegas

My opportunity to drive and shoot a T62 tank yesterday was a ton of fun – but there is so much more to that vehicle – and everything Battlefield Vegas is doing with their motor pool – than we could cover in one video. Today, I’m taking a moment to talk with Steve, who led the restoration of this vehicle. BFV is one of the very few places in the world that will restore not just the drive train of a vehicle, but also the ancillary systems (night vision, targeting, etc) and also the main armament. The business model is based on people paying for the experience of driving and shooting, but what that funds is a truly awesome team of passionate restorers and mechanics. It is a wonderful symbiosis of keeping history alive and giving people access to it.

Steve and Dimitri and the rest of the crew have their own YouTube channel documenting much of their work on the vehicles – the real nuts and bolts that you will never see anywhere else. Check it out:


    • Problem with Battlefield Vegas is that they put all MG’s on a mount, a la some helicopter mount, and you have to shoot from that. “Policy”. The same goes for the barett .50 … no recoil, nothing. So, they have tons of firearms but it’s not always fun. Lock’n’Load Miami was way better.

    • “(…)what is a ‘t-ron’ that a captured T-62(…)”
      This looks similar to Tiran which were Israeli-used evolutions of Cold-War COMBLOC tanks, according to
      T-54 evolves into Tiran-4
      T-55 evolves into Tiran-5
      T-62 evolves into Tiran-6
      Last might be recognized by Squared rear basket, oil storage bin on left rear fender, one central .30 swivel mount, centrally mounted .50 over main gun.

  1. Captured Soviet tanks never had direct use in the IDF.
    Of course, the temptation was great, many of them were captured.
    But a sober analysis showed that in a number of important parameters they are either much inferior or completely unsuitable for direct use.
    For example, the survival rate of the crew when the vehicle is damaged was below any criticism.
    Therefore, most of them were either transferred to other users, or converted into various auxiliary machines.

    • An oversimplification. The IDF invested time and resources on the Soviet-made tanks captured from their Arab enemies. Mostly and above all, T-55s. The most noticeable modification was the replacemente of the original Soviet 100 mm main gun with a 105mm US-made M68 gun, a licenced version of the well regarded British L7 used on many Western tanks in the 1970s and 1980s. The Israelis also fitted .30 and .50 MGs on the commander and loader hatches, and, interestingly, above the main gun. Other modifications/improvements included new fire control systems, infrared lamp and a new locally made aiming device. The last version of these improved Israeli T-55 derivatives, the Ti-67s involved an even more comprehensive list of modifications.
      Of course, many have been converted into Achzarit heavy APCs since the early 1990s, but that is another story, as the saying goes.

  2. Again.
    Captured T62 tanks were not used by Israel in battles.
    After the Yom Kippur war, a brigade 440, equipped with captured equipment was created. Which was intended to train tankers in the use of captured equipment. Also, it was a reserve “for a rainy day” or for sabotage and raid operations like “Operation Raviv” in 1969, using T54 and T55 tanks.

    • Clarification
      The 440th division was manned by T54 and T55.
      T62 were in the 320th brigade.
      If I am not mistaken, for today, all of them are either disbanded or put on conservation.

      • Yes. Interestingly, the heavy APC built in Israel are based on T-55 chassis, not on T-62, due to the large numbers of the former captured.

  3. I am not familiar with the nuances. But my friend (who found both T55 and T62 during his service in 1974-75) said that the T62 is a transitional type between the T55 and T64. In terms of driving, they are practically equal.
    The T55 has better overclocking characteristics (and more speed)
    The 115mm T62 cannon is noticeably more powerful than the 100mm T55, but at the same time it has a significantly lower rate of fire, ammunition load and effective range.
    In general, the T62 was not much worse than the T55, but the T55 (perhaps because it was better developed in production) was better. 😉

    The undercarriage of both is almost the same, so it doesn’t matter which of them to make a heavy armored personnel carrier.
    Perhaps it’s just a shortage of engines, which have a very limited service life on Soviet tanks.

    • The supposedly much lower effective range of the 115m gun compared to the 100mm gun of the T-55/T-55 was mostly because of the early ammunition the Israelis had access to. It suffered from accuracy problems compared to the 100mm rifled gun. On the other hand the latter’s ammunition was much more old fashioned with APDS ammunition introduced only in 1968 and exported even later (in the 1980s). In the 1970s the Soviets were still exporting the T-55 (which remained in production longer than the T-62 for export purposes) with WW2 style APCBC ammunition as the primary anti-armor round. APFSDS for the 100mm gun was introduced in the late 1970s and only exported a decade later.

      In any case, the later APFSDS ammunition the Soviets developed for the 115mm gun in the 1970s was more accurate and for direct fire anti-tank purposes gave the 115mm gun almost as good effective range as the 100mm gun. HE ammunition remained less accurate, but very high accuracy for HE ammunition is not that critical for direct fire use.

  4. “The undercarriage of both is almost the same, so it doesn’t matter which of them to make a heavy armored personnel carrier.
    Perhaps it’s just a shortage of engines, which have a very limited service life on Soviet tanks.”

    Quite possibly both. The Tsahal captured much larger numbers of T-54/T-55, so it makes sense to work from that chassis. The T-62 is longer afaik. They also replaced the original engines with US-made Diesel units.

    Logically, the Israelis also became quite versed in enhanced/modernised T-55s, eg the Slovenian T-55 S1 – the overall expertise was provided by Israel, while some components were designed and developed locally (optics and fire direction); the whole conversion, which included L7 gun and ERA package on hull and turret, as well as tracks from Yugo M-84, was done in Slovenia (interestingly, the original engine was retained) – and the Vietnamese T-55M3, which, although based on the T-55 S1 project, has several extra bits added, including Israeli Blazer reactive box armor and a German MTU MT881 engine of 1000 hp with a new gear system (allowing a maximum speed of 60 km/h), the major difference between the Slovenian and the Vietnamese modernised T-55s.

    IWI also assisted the Vietnamese set up a new small arms factory in Thanh Hoa, where a version of the Galil ACE is now produced.

    “In general, the T62 was not much worse than the T55, but the T55 (perhaps because it was better developed in production) was better. ”

    Very true. The T-55 was a more mature product.

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