Tanks Encyclopedia – TAA – Tun Antitanc Autopropulsat

19

Author: SovietTenkDestroyer

Drawings by David Bocquelet

3D Model by Giganaut

Main Article

Thanks for TE and the Author for allowing me to post this.

 Romania (circa 1978-1985)
Tank Destroyer – Schematics only

 

TAA

The Tun Antitanc Autopropulsat (1/72) by Tank Encyclopedia’s own David Bocquelet.

The Romanian tank destroyer apex

Ever since the mid-1950’s, Romania was slowly distancing itself from the Communist block. All while staying loyal to the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, but steadily loosening the Soviet grip on Romania’s economy and military. After Nicolae Ceaușescu, the Communist leader of Romania (1965 – 1989), condemned the 20th of August 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, relations between the Romanians and the Warsaw Pact significantly diminished. The Romanian military was no longer under the control of the Soviets and the Warsaw Pact due to the incident, although they were still formally part of the Warsaw Pact. From the 1970’s onwards, Romania was generally free to develop and manufacture whatever equipment they were capable of, while buying some equipment from Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union.

taa right

The right side of the TAA tank destroyer

This caused the inception of the TR-77-580, TR-85-800, TR-125, MLVM, IAR-93, IAR-95, IAR-317, IAR-330 development as well as various other examples. The TAA, a recently discovered design, was another of Romania’s domestic designs. A truly unorthodox design for a nation that mostly focused on slight or relatively insignificant alterations of existing Soviet designs.

The TAA was an elusive Romanian project originating from the 1980’s that involved an “MLI” chassis and an unspecified 100 mm gun. Until now, the vehicle was known as the “Tun Antitanc Autopropulsat model 1985”, “TAA-85”, or the “TAA md. 85” with the ‘model 1985/-85/md. 85’ part of the name likely a fabrication or misunderstanding.

The TAA was designed specifically for anti-tank purposes with direct fire and from concealed positions. It also provided a unique crew and equipment layout which theoretically further protected the crew.

Prior to the discovery, the only information available for the TAA-85, as it was called, was from the Romanian Wikipedia page about the vehicle. According to the patent however, the tank was simply referred to as the ‘Tun Antitanc, Autopropulsat’ meaning ‘self-propelled anti-tank cannon’. This could just be the name for the patent of a tank destroyer design, but the Romanians created designations for their armored vehicles with acronyms that stand for simple descriptions of the purpose of the vehicle. For example, ‘TR’ in TR-77-580, TR-85-800, and TR-125 (Romanian MBT designs) stand for ‘Tanc Românesc’ which translates to “Romanian tank”. As a result, it is not far-fetched for them to call it the ‘TAA’ with varying numbers that stand for the caliber of the gun or year of service.

History

TAA front

Frontal view of the TAA Tank Destroyer. Take note of the extremely narrow front profile turret.

The history of the TAA is obscure. The earliest known mentioning of this vehicle was in 1978 when the Romanian Command of Artillery was authorized to figure out how many domestically produced artillery pieces and what type they were going to need. They decided that 1716 self-propelled 100mm anti-tank guns mounted on the “MLI” chassis (uncertain if they were referencing the MLI-84, a slightly longer BMP-1 clone) were going to be needed. This meant that the tank was developed sometime around 1978 to 1985 (or possibly earlier) until it was patented in September, 1985.

The tank was patented by Institute 111 from Bucharest, Romania for its unique crew and compartment layout. They were responsible for designs such as the TR-85-800. The designers who were credited were Buracu Mihail and Darvariu Paul. No other information is currently known about them.

Overall design

Merkava TAA

The photograph above is one of the Merkava’s prototype, which shares some broad similarities between the TAA. While no direct link between the two projects has been found, it is an interesting coincidence nonetheless. Like the Merkava, the TAA would have the engine and the transmission at the front which meant that the crew would have extra protection from a frontal hit (with the exception of the driver, he was not given the same luxury). However, any frontal penetration would most probably have rendered the tank immobile. The TAA and Merkava both share the method of entering from the rear for into the fighting compartment for the crew and the rather thin turret.

The tank had a crew of four. The commander was situated at the rear of the turret in his own small cylindrical compartment with a cupola above and between the rear ammunition compartments. The gunner was located on the left side of the gun with his head inside the turret closest to the mantlet. The loader was located on the right side of the turret closest to the commander and the ammunition compartment. Additionally, the loader and the gunner were given their own hatches. The driver was furthest to the front, besides the engine, with a window for a reasonable view ahead of the tank and a periscope (which means there was probably some armored shield provided for the window), and an access hatch. As mentioned earlier, the fighting compartment could also be entered by the rear through two doors.

TAA left

View of the internals of the TAA. Take note of the driver not being illustrated. 

From the design as shown, the TAA had thin armor at the rear, top, and bottom, however the cupola, the ammunition compartment, and presumably the sides featured relatively thicker armor. The crew would have been protected by approximately 100 mm of frontal hull armor accompanied by the engine and transmission as further protection although, as stated earlier, the driver didn’t receive the same benefit. In addition, the turret featured a thick mantlet intended to defeat high explosive anti-tank rounds (HEAT) for further frontal protection coupled with an additional 100mm of approximate armor.

The tank was designed with an isolated ammunition compartment with blowout panels, similar to what is seen on the M1A1 and M1A2 Abrams, one of the main reasons for the patent’s existence. It was designed to contain the explosion of the propellant from the crew and the tank itself. However, from what can be interpreted from the drawings, if the turret was to rotate around thirty degrees to the right or left, it could possibly put the commander in a position of injury or possibly death by the impact of blowout panels or the extreme temperatures from the combustion of the ammunition. The TAA was equipped with a unique auto-loader. The loader would be given two trays that could hold an unspecified amount of rounds, sort of like a magazine. The trays would then have to be filled with the designated ammunition type and the separate propellant cartridge. After the loader completed his task of filling the tray, the elevator would then raise the tray to a position where the round can be inserted into the breach. The gun must be at a pre-determined position, presumably approximately level with the tank, for it to be loaded. After the loader is done loading his initial tray, he is then tasked to fill his second tray with the propellant cartridge and the designated ammunition. The cycle then continues. In this way, the commander and/or gunner can designate different ammunition types to the loader and/or gunner which are prearranged and set which increases loading speed.

TAA top

A top perspective of the TAA tank destroyer.

The TAA was armed with an unspecified 100 mm gun with a laser range finder on top of the mantlet. One might be mistaken by thinking it was a 125 mm gun, but it’s likely an upgraded variant of the 100mm M1977 Resita, or a whole new gun entirely. The weight and the horsepower of the engine aren’t given, but it is likely a more potent engine compared to the MLI-84’s 355 hp engine due to the extra space available compared to the MLI-84. It could either be the T-55 and TR-77-580’s 580 hp V-55 engine or the 830 hp engine allegedly based off of the Leopard I’s powerpack that would be eventually be used on the TR-85-800.

Using the 100mm sized bore of the gun as a reference, the size of the TAA is approximately 2.5 meters (8.2 feet tall), 3.4 meters (11.15 feet wide), 7.35 meters (24.11 feet long) (hull only), and 8.4 meters (27.56 feet long) including the gun. This makes the TAA a slightly taller, slightly wider, and significantly longer than the T-55 when it comes to the size. This gives the tank a somewhat low profile and the chance of it getting hit further decreases due to the thin turret. The weight and speed of the vehicle is also not given. The fuel, lubricants, spare parts, and tools are located on each side of the TAA exposed to any threat. The suspension is of the torsion bar variety, a fairly simple and effective suspension that was and still is widely used on many armored vehicles.

Conclusion

The TAA never came into fruition likely due to it being unnecessary, costly, impractical, or Romania wasn’t ready to make a vehicle that complicated. If it did enter service the way it is presented in the patent, the tank would have been a very unusual tank to have fielded in Europe in the 1980’s but would have suffered many problems from retraining crews from a “normal” tank layout to the cost of the machine when Soviet tanks were easily available. The TAA until now had been a forgotten design, a remarkable piece of design from a country not well known for tank design and a testament to the skills of the designers and engineers involved.

Sidenote

Wikipedia has a reputation of providing dubious information on armored vehicles, particularly the type with little information available on them. This article uses a TAA-85 article from wikipedia.ro as a source. However, it should be noted that it only uses a specific portion of the article that uses a patent site called breveteonline.ro that is no longer seemingly accessible as a source on the internet. The specific portion of the wikipedia.ro article mentioned earlier and the recently rediscovered patent do closely correlate, so this, in turn, proves the legitimacy of at least the specific portion of the wikipedia.ro TAA-85 article that was mentioned.

Sources

“165 ani de existență a artileriei române moderne” by Col. dr. Adrian STROEA (coordinator). Col. Constantin AFRIM, Col. Dobrică BUTUC, Col. (rz.) Ion CANĂ, Col. (rz.) Marin GHINOIU, Col. Nicolae MITU, Lt.col. Gheorghe BĂJENARU, Mr. Florin BARBU, and Mr. (rz.) prof. DUMITRU CONSTANTIN
Link to the TAA patent
Link to the wikpedia.ro page about the TAA-85

 

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19 comments on “Tanks Encyclopedia – TAA – Tun Antitanc Autopropulsat

  1. Nafre says:

    That’s one gorgeous tank. Shame about the time frame as it kinda makes it unusable by wargaming.
    Not sure if there is any article yet but you might want to look into “maresalu” which was a peculiar td design from Romania in ww2. Used a very powerful gun




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    • Thanks! One of the things on my bucket list is to create an article on the Maresal. I have a plethora of new information on it, however it’s not enough since only 3 pictures exist of it and only 2 out of 6 of the prototypes were photographed.




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      • Nafre says:

        I actually seen an army repair centre as a child but haven’t done much research. I could possibly do that someday if I visit my birth country. I heard the 75mm resita canon on the maresal impressed the German high command in its day.
        Wargaming is solely responsible for my drive to research military hardware from ww2. Really love this page for the Hardware articles even if they don’t make it into the game. I find it fascinating




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  2. ryanlj says:

    Nice ammunition rack and goofy optics. I like the design though, really neat concept for the time.




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  3. OMG….. HT X from UK…. Fv215B…….. LOL




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  4. Anonymous says:

    Nice article !




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  5. Mircea says:

    I wrote the article on Romanian Wiki, the tank destroyer wouldn’t have ended up looking like that… it was a budget project. Think of MLI-84 hull with a turret like the ones found on river boats with the 100 mm gun. Nothing like the photos. Sorry. In fact, there are no photos available, maybe in the original plans but they’re not ready available.




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    • Don’t take this offensively, but most of the claims made on the Wikipedia article are unsubstantiated,

      These illustrations on this article came from the patent. The original Romanian patent with the arrows photoshopped out. It also coincides very well with the part of wikipedia article using the Romanian patent site, breveteonline.ro as a source.

      From Wikipedia (translated)

      -In the war room it was is the marksman, sitting on a chair fixed to the armored floor. Behind this lies the commander. Check

      -In a cylindrical compartment with an observation dome. Check.

      -The ammunition locker was located in the rear of the chassis,in a square section. Check

      -The supply of ammunition was made through two armored doors at the back of the vehicle. Check

      That being said, it all matches up with the illustrations int he article.

      http://imgur.com/Lzl5J2s

      The link above is the patent of the TAA tank destroyer. If you want a full resolution patent just say so and I can give it to you.




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      • Mircea says:

        When I wrote the article, the patent had 0 pictures or a real description of the vehicle. Look at the edit from 24th of April 2012, I removed a picture that was basically a BMP1 turret with 100 mm gun. Really surprised you have the full patent description with photos and all that, as it looks really modern in comparison to what the country could design or produce at the time.




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      • Do you have anything on the patent? Anything at all? Did it say 100mm gun in the patent or MLI for that matter.

        My patent makes no mention of the MLI as well.

        I recently bought Mr. Tiberiu Urdareanu’s journal, he was a general of Romania’s tank and auto command. He mentions the TR-125 as early as 1979.

        I’m making an article on the TR-77-580 it will be the most accurate and comprehensive article on it as of yet.




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      • Mircea says:

        A lot of years have passed since I wrote that, I think the MLI chassis/100 mm gun reference was used in the other source, a book about artillery. I have Urdareanu’s book too, but it’s not that good, you have to guess a lot of things. I think you need to find his other book, Cararile destinului, which might say more about his work. It’s not on sale, sadly. Check the Romanian Wikipedia for the article about TR-77, it’s based on Urdareanu’s book and some other Western sources about the export of the tank.




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  6. Eun Ae Sun says:

    “Wikipedia has a reputation of providing dubious information on armored vehicles, particularly the type with little information available on them”

    Same with this tank encyclopedia…




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    • I see you still hold some antipathy towards us 🙂

      Anyways, while agree that TE’s older articles aren’t very good, our newer articles, particularly by some of our writers have been very good. Bob Semple article is solid.




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    • Mizutayio says:

      Now that statement offended me a lot as i’m an author on Tanks Encyclopedia as well and i ONLY use documents i find in the swiss archives.
      And please let us know why you think that we ( TE) provide dubious information. Because i know that every author on TE uses highly legitimate sources. And the people doing the proofreading are very strict on the sources as well.




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  7. Oh hi 215b

    Also…oh man, I’d hate to be that guy sitting on top of an ammo rack haha




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  8. Scarvet says:

    Very Nice 3-D model, although it does look like a very malnutrition Conqueror.




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  9. Anonymous says:

    BEST TANK EVER




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  10. Anonymous says:

    So, is Jingles still smashing you in the gash or what?




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