When it first rolled off the line at the Kharkiv plant, the T-64 took the world by storm. With a low height, wide stance, auto-loaded 125mm cannon, and revolutionary composite sandwich armor to thwart HEAT rounds, this tank was unlike anything seen before, and it heralded a new age of main battle tank design.
Decades later, in the mid-’80s, various upgraded versions of the T-64 still formed the backbone of the USSR’s massive tank fleet, and despite its age, the T-64A model was in wide circulation. Outfitted with new ammunition, it could still pose a severe threat to NATO’s armored forces, despite its now outclassed armor and optical equipment.
The T-64A is the first Soviet-crewed tank introduced to GHPC, a complicated machine with a unique combination of strengths and weaknesses. In exchange for underwhelming armor protection and an obsolete optical rangefinder system, it packs an absolute wallop, serving up one of the strongest APFSDS rounds in the whole theater.
This guide will cover everything you need to know in order to use the T-64A effectively in GHPC.
In GHPC, the T-64A has a fully voiced Soviet crew using the Russian language. In keeping with the appropriate doctrine, the crew will announce target alerts using a Soviet-specific direction system: the hull azimuth compass. While it is not necessary to memorize this system to play the T-64A in GHPC, it can be useful to understand what the crew mean by these callouts, so you can make use of the information seamlessly during combat.
Hull azimuth in Soviet vehicles is measured using a 6000-mil circle, abbreviated to a 60-unit circle with a 100-unit refinement ring. Two needles point at both rings, like the hands of a clock, to indicate where the turret is pointing at any time. Zero is directly behind the hull, with 30 (30 on the main circle, 00 on the other, for 3000 mils) at the front.
When a target is announced, the commander will include the rough direction to the target from the tank hull's orientation. "At 30" means the target is directly ahead of the hull. "At 15" means the target is fully flanking on the left, "at 45" means directly to the right, and so on. If you generally keep your hull oriented toward the enemy during missions, most targets will appear between 25 and 35.
TPD-2-49 gunner’s sight
Players who have previously tried the T-72M/M1 in GHPC will find the T-64A’s primary sight extremely familiar, as it has the same kind of range wheel and aiming reticle as the TPD-K1 optic. The main difference is that, unlike the newer TPD-K1, the TPD-2-49 has no laser rangefinder. Instead, it is manually adjusted using the range controls (default: LCtrl + Mouse Wheel, or PgUp and PgDown). An optical coincidence rangefinder of the “split image” variety is linked to the sight in order to facilitate rangefinding.
As the range is adjusted, the wheel at the top of the gunsight rotates to show the range setting in hundreds of meters (e.g. a setting of “12” means the system is adjusted for aiming at a point 1200 meters away).
Historically, the TPD-2-49 and its coincidence rangefinder were used in a variety of early Soviet MBTs, including the T-64, T-72, and the earliest builds of the T-80. However, this system was quickly phased out in favor of updated ones with laser rangefinders and other new features. The T-64A, by virtue of being a prolific tank in the frontline units of the Soviet army, managed to remain fielded with the old optics in large numbers well into the ‘80s.
A notable quality-of-life feature in this gunsight is the “delta-D” mechanic. As the tank closes with a target by driving forward, the delta-D system will measure the expected change in distance (hence “delta” meaning change and “D” meaning distance) and adjust the range setting automatically as the vehicle moves. If you set range for 2000 and then advance 500 meters toward the enemy position, your gunsight will now be set for 1500 without any manual intervention needed. This isn’t a big deal in the T-72M/M1 with its laser rangefinder, but for a manually ranged tank it can save plenty of time when performing an assault!
The system accounts for variations in driving angle by measuring the turret direction and assuming that you will keep the turret pointed toward the target the whole time. If this does not happen, the delta-D system will gradually accumulate errors that make it provide a slightly incorrect range setting. You may need to occasionally confirm the range to the target if this happens.
While the T-64A in GHPC has delta-D enabled by default, it can be useful in some cases to turn the feature off. If that becomes necessary, Ctrl+Rangefinder (default: Ctrl+E) will toggle delta-D on and off. It will also respond to the “Dump Lead” command in the quick menu.
The optical coincidence rangefinder
A coincidence rangefinder works by taking two separate viewpoints from widely spaced apertures and combining them in the user’s eyepiece, then allowing the user to adjust the viewing angles so the two views of the target will match (coincide). When coincidence is achieved, the two apertures must both be aimed at the target, and some simple triangulation built in the mechanical system produces the correct distance reading.
In the TPD-2-49 system, the rangefinder is of the “split image” type. In contrast to the M60A1’s rangefinder, which uses a “ghost image” method, the T-64A’s rangefinder view does not fully overlay two images of the target view. Instead, the rangefinder view is split into two halves: top and bottom, optically fed by apertures on opposite sides of the turret.
The gunner must place the horizontal center line of the rangefinder circle onto the target. At this point, adjusting the range setting will “slide” the target’s bottom half left or right. When the halves align and the target appears as a single unified image, the range setting is correct.
The rangefinder view is activated with the rangefinder key (default: E) and deactivated in the same way. In the real tank, the gunner would be able to view the rangefinder with one eye and the main gunsight with the other, opening and closing the eyes in order to change which elements were in view. In GHPC, this is abstracted slightly as a simple toggle of the rangefinder portion of the view.
Using the toggle feature of the rangefinder is not just a good way to keep the gunsight view clean; it can also help verify that you have the right range setting. Flicking the rangefinder view on and off repeatedly will cause any range error to show as a sideways “jump” in the view from the lower half of the rangefinder circle. If you see your target’s lower half jumping left and right as you toggle the rangefinder, you may need to re-adjust your estimate until that jumping no longer appears.
Limitations of the coincidence rangefinder
Though it works perfectly well in theory, the TPD-2-49 in practice leaves something to be desired. It has numerous flaws in GHPC’s context.
First of all, optical rangefinding is slow and fiddly. If the enemy can spot and engage you at any moment – or worse, already is – there’s no time to sit and measure image alignments for long. Your best bet is always to pre-range likely target areas using landmarks, such as buildings or trees. If you’re good at map reading, the tactical map (default: M) with its 1 km grid squares can also provide you with clues on what your range setting should be as you prepare for the next encounter. A “battlesight” range setting of 1200 or 1500 for APFSDS ammo is also useful, as it will have a high likelihood of providing a first round hit for any target within that distance, without any adjustment necessary.
Next up, the rangefinder in the TPD-2-49 system is physically incapable of aligning its apertures to triangulate a point less than 1000 meters from the tank. This means that for gunsight range settings of 0-1000 meters there will be no visible change in the rangefinder view; it will simply show a 1000 meter setting. Once the range is adjusted to 1100 and above, the rangefinder view will visibly change.
But that brings us to the opposite issue: by the very nature of its operating principles, the longer the distance measured by a coincidence rangefinder, the less apparent the shift in the target view will be as it changes. Once the target distance gets above about 2000 meters, it starts to become challenging to read the small shifts in the target image. Due to this situation, the effective range limits of the TPD-2-49’s rangefinder are about 1000-2500 meters. At distances below 1000, you can set range to 1000 and aim directly at the target. For distances above 2500, use the map or landmarks to guess a range, select APFSDS ammunition if available, and prepare to adjust and follow up with more shots.
An additional limitation in GHPC’s representation of the rangefinder is that some objects can produce artifacts or “smearing”, especially off of the left side of the object. This is a side effect of the shader-based methods used to render the separate viewpoints without needing to render the scene twice and sacrifice performance. If the rangefinder image is not making sense, try to use the right side of the target to judge alignment.
Fitted with the tried and true TPN-1-49-23 night sight, the T-64A holds no surprises in the night fighting department. Night vision is the “active” type, pairing an early generation intensifier sight with an infrared searchlight of the “Luna” series. With the searchlight switched on (default: N) and no obstructions, the gunner can resolve targets out to about 1000 meters. The night sight can be accessed using the night vision key (default: T).
The markings in the night sight correspond to fixed distances for various ammo types and are designed to work with the range setting reset to zero. The top end of the top line segment is meant for zero or near-zero distance, and the chevron mark roughly corresponds to battlesight range for HEAT ammunition. APFSDS ammunition should be aimed lower due to its extremely high muzzle velocity, which causes it to fly far flatter at combat ranges.
Much like other vehicles that use active night vision, the T-64A creates a giant beacon pointing straight back to itself when the IR searchlight is switched on. Any enemy equipped with IR-sensitive night optics will be able to see the light beam and trace it to its source. In GHPC, this is implemented as a significant boost to spotting speed and distance for AI vehicles that are looking at the illumination-using target. It’s best to leave the searchlight turned off unless the risk of being seen first is worth it, or combat has already begun.
Though its composite sandwich glacis was an astonishing leap in armor design when first introduced, by the 1980s the T-64 was nothing special as far as protection was concerned.
The glacis armor, a steel-textolite stack very similar to that found in early T-72 models, is capable of dealing with most mid-grade HEAT warheads, including the base model TOW but not the improved I-TOW. By contrast, it struggles against NATO kinetic penetrators, failing to stop M833 and M774 APFSDS at combat ranges unless the angles are supremely favorable.
As a side note: by the mid-’80s, T-64A tanks were starting to get an additional high hardness steel plate welded on top of the glacis for added protection. However, this process was often done when tanks were rotated out for service, and as such, a large chunk of the fleet in Germany would have remained in its original configuration by 1985. We have chosen to omit the weld-on plate from GHPC’s T-64A for this reason, and to keep things interesting in the context of future Soviet tanks coming to the game.
Far from the familiar design of the hull composite armor, the turret of the T-64A is uniquely quirky among its peers. Rather than something more conventional, like the T-72A/M1’s “Kvartz” ceramic inserts, the T-64A features a double-layered lattice arrangement of corundum ceramic balls suspended directly in the cast steel construction. The Soviets dubbed this material “ultraporcelain”, and the ultraporcelain ball armor was used from the late legs of the T-64A production run all the way through the full T-64B production. Unfortunately, for all the complexity, this design in 1985’s threat landscape is not significantly better than a Kvartz sandwich layout: it thwarts most HEAT warheads but fails to stand up to APFSDS rounds at expected combat ranges.
The T-64’s ball armor represents an interesting sidetrack in Soviet composite turret design. The early T-64s started off with massive aluminum turret pockets, followed by composite sandwich inserts made of different kinds of steel, before finally switching to the ultraporcelain setup. Yet the production of this armor was so troublesome and the benefit so small, Soviet designers ended up going straight back to trusty Kvartz inserts for the T-80B turret. But more on that another time.
For all its idiosyncrasies and disadvantages, the T-64A has one great thing going for it: access to brand-new Soviet ammunition. In 1985, the cream of the crop was the legendary 3BM32 “Vant” APFSDS round, a subcaliber dart capable of punching through a serious amount of armor. With this round at the ready, even the outmoded T-64A is capable of taking on an Abrams – and winning!
In GHPC, 3BM32 can perforate the M1IP’s turret within around 800 meters in favorable conditions, and for the base model M1, that distance is doubled. For both tanks, the lower front plate remains vulnerable out to long ranges. This is all in stark contrast to the plight of the unfortunate East German T-72s, which are not granted anything better than 3BM15 APFSDS and therefore struggle to deal with an Abrams frontally.
As the 3BM32 is so new and early in its service life, it will very quickly run out in campaign mode if logistics scores for the Pact side should falter. In that case, it will be replaced by 3BM22 "Zakolka", a fine round in its own right but not nearly as powerful as Vant.
Backing up the new Soviet dart is a full complement of the usual 125mm HEAT and HE-Frag ammunition, which remains as effective as ever against less-armored targets. Much like the T-72, the T-64A can use HEAT rounds to handle anything up to and including an M60 series tank, as its homogeneous armor is no match for a cumulative warhead.
The T-64A is equipped with an “MZ” type carousel autoloader, holding a full combat load of ammunition in a ring pattern ready to pick and load into the gun. By contrast with the “AZ” autoloader system in the T-72, the MZ system does not eject casing stubs as it reloads; it simply returns the remnant of the fired charge to its place in the carousel before moving on. It also has a higher ready capacity than the AZ carousel. Unfortunately, this comes at a cost: the MZ carousel arranges the ammunition propellant charges vertically rather than horizontally, making them slightly easier to hit with a hull shot.
Once again, though, the T-64 has a redeeming factor to offer. A far cry from the T-72 with its spare ammunition pieces scattered throughout every free space in the fighting compartment, the T-64 has minimal ammo storage outside of the carousel and the “wet rack” cavities in the hull front fuel tank. A penetrating hit on the T-64 above the turret ring is significantly less likely to cause a catastrophic ammo detonation than the same hit would be on a T-72.
Though not the most cutting-edge tank in the Soviet fleet in mid-’80s Germany, the T-64A is an iconic presence and punches far above its weight when wielded correctly. Its powerful ammunition and use of composite armor elevate it to a deadliness far greater than the average glass cannon, and it serves as a harbinger of the red storm on the horizon.