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Supreme Command Reserve Tank

In 1956, in the wake of the disastrous Hungarian Uprising, Soviet High Command, better known as STAVKA, saw the first proof of what they had known, and had tried to tell Stalin, for years: their heavy tanks were obsolete. Modernisation efforts were begun on several existing designs, such as the ISU-152K, which entered production in that same year. New designs were then drafted by the leading Soviet tank designers, such as Zhosef Kotin, Nikolai Shashmurin, and Lev Trojanov.

Object 279 at the Kubinka Proving Grounds

Three clandestine tank projects were drawn up to replace the T-10, which was already undergoing modernisation. In spite of the fact that NATO referred to the T-10 as “the monster hiding behind the Iron Curtain,” STAVKA knew that its performance in its original configuration would have been unsatisfactory on a modern battlefield. The first replacement to be drawn up was Object 277, which was very similar, apart from a lengthened chassis and larger turret mounting a 130mm cannon. Object 278 was similar again, but slightly larger, mounting a 140mm cannon. The front of the hull was also changed from a pike nose to an elliptical shape, similar to that of the American M103 heavy tank. However, Lev Trojanov came with a design radically different from any tank before or since: Object 279. This bizarre tank had four tracks supporting a boat-shaped hull, whose aerodynamic shape would prevent it from being flipped over if caught in the secondary blast radius of a thermonuclear warhead. By this time, tanks were already equipped with NBC protection to shield the crew from radiation, but Object 279 was designed for nuclear war. Object 279 had the lowest ground pressure of any tank ever built, and the suspension arms were mounted to hydraulic track pods. The wheels could be retracted for driving on particularly soft ground, or when the tank was parked. At least one prototype was constructed and tested at the Kubinka proving grounds in 1957; some sources claim more than one was built, but only one still exists. As Object 279 weighed 60 tonnes, it was subject to cancellation when Nikita Khrushchëv ordered in 1960 that no tank over 37 tonnes be produced. None of the innovations unique to Object 279 were seen again on a Russian tank until the development of the Armata universal combat platform in 2014.

Models available:

Object 277

Object 278

Object 279