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Soviet Union's SU-85 (Samoknya Ustanokova) tank destroyer:

Photos

SU-85 tank destroyer:
Soviet Union's SU-85 Tank Destroyer
Aberdeen Tank Museum

SU-85 tank destroyer:
Soviet Union's SU-85 Tank Destroyer
Aberdeen Tank Museum
SU-85 tank destroyer:
Soviet Union's SU-85 tank destroyer
Imperial War Museum

SU-85 tank destroyer:
Soviet Union's SU-85 Tank Destroyer
Imperial War Museum
SU-85 tank destroyer:
Soviet Union's SU-85 Tank Destroyer
School of Tank Technology

SU-85 tank destroyer:
Soviet Union's SU-85 tank destroyer
Imperial War Museum
SU-85 tank destroyer:
Soviet Union's SU-85 Tank Destroyer
Imperial War Museum
Dragon Armor diecast 1/72 armor 60091:
Dragon 1/72 Diecast Armor 60091, Soviet SU-85M
Dragon Armor diecast 1/72 armor 60092:
Dragon 1/72 Diecast Armor 60092, Soviet SU-85M

Design

At the Uralmash works in Chelyabinsk a project was lead by the development bureau of General F. F. Petrov to develop a self-propelled gun on a T-34 chassis with an 85 mm gun. The designers were S. N. Machinowa, L. I. Gorlickiego, and L. S. Trojanowa.

From the beginning it was designed as a tank destroyer to take on the German Panthers and Tigers.

The SU 85 was based on the superstructure that was used in the SU-122.

Crew

The front plate had a driver's hatch to the left of center. This was mounted in a gimbal mount.

On the right side of the fighting compartment is the commander's station. There was a fixed periscope in the hatch.

The gunner is on the left side behind the driver. The loader is in the rear of the compartment and can move around behind the gun.

The driver had three foot controls, from left to right, clutch, footbrake, and accelerator. The hand controls were a lever for the brakes in the right hand and in the left a change speed lever. There was a hand operated air pump for priming the fuel system for starting. In front of him were gauges that showed oil temperature and pressure. To the left was a revolution counter, speedometer, ammeter, voltmeter, starter and electrical switches, and an air pressure gauge for the air starter.

Engine

The V2 engine was at the rear of its own compartment. On each side was a radiator and a fuel tank. There were a total of eight fuel tanks that could hold 135 gallons. An additional four auxiliary fuel tanks, that could hold 30 gallons each, were located on the outside of the engine compartment.

The block, cylinder head, and crankcase were made of aluminum.

Bosch type injectors were used in the SU-85's engine. The injectors were between the banks of cylinders.

Wheels

There are 5 rubber tired wheels on each side. The rear three wheels are evenly spaced while the front have larger gaps with the largest being between the second and third wheel. This was to distribute the weight evenly to the wheels.

The wheels are independently sprung.

Tracks

The tracks are made from cast manganese steel. On alternate links are a guide horn. The plates were drilled and slotted to assist in going through mud and snow.

Links weren't secured. The pins had a rounded head and when it started to wiggle loose it would strike against a double wedge shaped cam to push it back in.

Main Armament

The 85 mm gun was based on an anti-aircraft gun and was mounted in a ball mantlet. The main armament was mounted to the right of center in the front plate. The breech block was semi-automatic. There was a Goertz dial sight that allowed for indirect firing.

Ammunition is stored around the fighting compartment vertically and horizontally. Two clips hold each round in place.

Ammunition used by the D-5S:
Type Name Overall Weight Shot Weight Muzzle Velocity
HE O-365 15.95 kg 9.2 kg  
O-365K 16.3 kg 9.54 kg  
O-365KV 14.95 kg 9.54 kg  
O-365G 14.95 kg 9.54 kg  
AP BR-365 16 kg 9.2 kg 792 m/sec
APBC        
APC BR-365K 16 kg 9.2 kg 792 m/sec
APCR (subcaliber) BR-365P 11.42 kg 4.99 kg 1,050 m/sec
APHE   33 lb 20 lb  
AP-T       2,575'/sec
HVAP       3,650'/sec

Prototypes

There were three prototypes constructed:

  • SU-85-I: An SU-122 with a C-18 gun.
  • SU-85-II: An SU-122 with a D-5S gun. After tests it went into production with the SU-85 name.
  • SU-85-IV: An SU-122 with a C-18 gun in a modified superstructure.

Production

Production was cancelled in July 1944 when SU-100 production started.

However, due to a lack of 100 mm APC ammunition, the SU-85M was produced from August to December 1944. It was the SU-100 with an 85 mm D-5S gun.

  • SU-85
    • May - December 1943: 100, 750, 2,050
      • Manufactured by: Soviet Arsenals
    • 1944: 1,300
    • ? - September 1944: 2,000
    • Manufactured by: Uralmashzavod, Kirov, Uraimasz i Czelabinskie factory
  • SU-85M
    • August - December 1944: 315

Usage

First 100 appeared in September 1943 on the Dneiper. By early 1945 it had been withdrawn from the front and replaced by the SU-100. Used in all self-propelled gun regiments or brigades.

Specifications

  SU-85
Crew Commander, gunner, loader, radio operator, driver
4, 5
Physical Characteristics  
Weight

65,408 lb
29,200 kg, 29,600 kg
28.7 tons, 29 tons, 29.13 tons, 29.2 tons, 29.6 tons

Empty weight 28 ton
Length w/gun 21' 7", 21' 10", 26' 8", 27' 2"
6.58 m, 8.15 m
Length w/o gun 19' 5"
Height 7' 4", 7' 9", 8' 4"
2.25 m, 2.45 m, 2.54 m
Width 9' 9", 9' 10", 10'
2.99 m, 3 m
Width over tracks  
Ground clearance 15", 1' 4"
Ground contact length 158"
Ground pressure 10 psi, 11.2 psi
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 85 mm DS-S-85, 52 calibres
Late models: 85 mm D-5 S-85 A
85 mm D-5S
85 mm
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 45, 48
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) 2.1"
20-54, 54
Hull Front, Upper 3"@0°, 45, 45 @ 50°
Hull Front, Lower 45 @ 50°
Hull Sides, Upper 1.75"@0°,
45, 45 @ 90°
Hull Sides, Lower  
Hull Rear 1.75"@0°,
45, 45 @ 50°
Hull Top 20
Hull Bottom 20
Engine (Make / Model) V2
W-2, V-2
Model W-2
Bore / stroke  
Cooling Water
Cylinders 12, V-12
Capacity 38.88 liters
Net HP 500, 500@1,800 rpm
Power to weight ratio 17 bhp/ton
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type) Constant mesh, Sliding mesh
4 forward, 1 reverse
Steering Clutch brake
Steering ratio  
Starter Electric and compressed air
Electrical system Starter: 24 volt
Lighting and communication: 12 volts
Ignition  
Fuel (Type) Diesel
Octane  
Quantity 135 gallons, 100 gallons + 104 gallons in auxiliary tank, 178 gallons
810 liters
Road consumption 2.3 mpg
Cross consumption  
Performance  
Traverse 20° each way, Hand
Speed - Road 29 mph, 30 mph, 34 mph, 35 mph
47 kph, 48 kph
Cross country sped  
Range - Road 200 miles, 210 miles, 248 miles, 249 miles, 250 miles
320 km, 400 km
Range - Cross Country 124 miles, 186 miles
200 km
Turning radius  
Elevation limits -5° to +20°
Fording depth 2' 11", 4' 3"
Trench crossing 8' 2"
Vertical obstacle 2' 3.5", 2' 6"
Climbing ability 35° slope
Suspension (Type) Christie, Christie coil spring torsion bar
Wheels each side 5
Return rollers each side  
Tracks (Type) Steel, dry pin
Cast manganese steel
Length  
Width 20"
Diameter  
Number of links 72
Pitch 6.9", 7"
Tires  
Track centers/tread 8' 2", 97"
  SU-85 1943 /
SU-85M
Crew 4
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 29.2 -29.6 tons
Empty weight  
Length w/gun 8.15 m
Length w/o gun 5.93 m
Height 2.4 m
Width 3 m
Width over tracks  
Ground clearance 0.4 m
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure 0.81 kp/ cm2
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 85 mm D 5-S-85
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 48
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm)  
Hull Front, Upper 45-75
Hull Front, Lower 45
Hull Sides, Upper 45
Hull Sides, Lower 45
Hull Rear 45
Hull Top 20
Hull Bottom 20
Engine (Make / Model) W-2/34
Bore / stroke 4 stroke
Cooling  
Cylinders V-12
Capacity  
Net HP 500@1,800 rpm
Power to weight ratio 16.8 hp/ton
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type)  
Steering  
Steering ratio  
Starter  
Electrical system  
Ignition  
Fuel (Type)  
Octane  
Quantity 865 liters
Road consumption  
Cross consumption  
Performance  
Traverse  
Speed - Road 47-55 kph
Cross country sped  
Range - Road 350 km
Range - Cross Country  
Turning radius  
Elevation limits  
Fording depth 1.3 m
Trench crossing 2.5 m
Vertical obstacle 0.73 m
Climbing ability 35°
Suspension (Type)  
Wheels each side  
Return rollers each side  
Tracks (Type)  
Length  
Width  
Diameter  
Number of links  
Pitch  
Tires  
Track centers/tread  

Sources:

  1. Russian Tanks of World War II Stalin's Armored Might, by Tim Bean & Will Fowler, 2002
  2. Russian Tanks and Armored Vehicles 1917-1945, by Wolfgang Fleischer, 1999
  3. The Encyclopedia of Tanks and Armored Fighting Vehicles - The Comprehensive Guide to Over 900 Armored Fighting Vehicles From 1915 to the Present Day, General Editor: Christopher F. Foss, 2002
  4. Removed
  5. Tank Data 2, Aberdeen Proving Grounds Series, E. J. Hoffschmidt and W. H. Tantum IV, 1969
  6. Peter Porai-Koshits, Sudden Strike team member
  7. Armour in Profile #21 SU 85 and SU 100 Tank Destroyer, Colonel E. F. Offord, DSO, MBE, ?
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site