T-90 Standard Tank: The First Tank of the New Russia

Published: February 7th, 2018     
Product Image
Book cover
Author: Steven J. Zaloga; Illustrator: Felipe Rodríguez
Reviewed by: 
Andrew Birkbeck, IPMS# 27087
Company: Osprey Publishing
ISBN #: 9781472818225
Price: $18.00
Product / Stock #: New Vanguard 255


The T-90 "Standard Tank" was an evolutionary development of the Soviet T-72 tank, the latter being a prime component of Soviet tank forces during the mid-1970's to the mid 1990's. The T-72 was also exported widely, including to the armed forces of Saddam Hussein's Iraq. During the 1991 Gulf War, the Iraqi T-72 tanks suffered very badly against such tanks as the U.S. M1 Abrams. Whether this was due to the T-72 being notably inferior to the West's main battle tanks or poor training and tactics on the part of the Iraqis is irrelevant: the perception in many nations following the 1991 war was that the Soviet tank was inferior. Thus, there was pressure within the Russian military-industrial complex to get rid of the "T-72" name. Hence naming the first tank out of the newly formed "Russia" the T-90.

Finding good books on Cold War/Modern Soviet/Russian military vehicles is difficult, but thankfully Osprey Publishing has been commissioning well-known writer Steven Zaloga over the past couple of decades to help fill the gaps. All the major Soviet Cold War tanks have been covered by Mr. Zaloga: The T-54/55, T-62, T64, T-72, T-80 and now the T-90. If you have read any of the previously published titles, this new T-90 publication will be familiar to you. Each of these books, like the T-90 book reviewed here, is just shy of 50 pages in length. Like these others, the T-90 book gives a good potted account of the developmental history of the tank, including coverage of its protection systems, both active and passive, the main gun and its various forms of ammunition and its automotive components including the suspension and engine.

Coverage of the failures of the T-72 and other Soviet tanks such as the T-64 and T-80 in the Gulf Wars and the Chechen War are detailed, together with the success of the T-90 at winning major export orders from the Indian Army. There is a good discussion of the various developments of the T-90 program, including the T-90, T-90A and T-90M and the export derivatives T-90S and T-90MS. The book also discusses Russian rivals to the T-90, such as upgraded versions of the T-80U, the eventually canceled T-95, and the T-14 Armata. Coverage is also given to T-90 derivatives such as the BMPT "Terminator" tank support combat vehicle, and the TOS-1 artillery rocket system. The well-written text is supplemented by approximately 40 color photos, 12 color side views plus various production tables. There are two diagrams of the T-90MS, but the fortunate-page color layout, this is somewhat ruined by being printed across the centerfold. I do wish publishers would stop this practice.

If you have any interest in modern main battle tanks or the history of Soviet/Russian military forces, this book is for you. It is well written and illustrated, and given the paucity of resources devoted to such subjects in the English language, one of the best you are likely to see! My thanks to Osprey Publishing for generously providing IPMS USA with the opportunity to review this excellent publication.

  • T-90 color profile
    T-90 color profile

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