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3VBM-13 125mm APFSDS-T round

Soviet made DU round for T-64B, T-72, T-80 and T-90 tanks

3VBM-32 Projectile for Russian 3VBM-13 Round

The 3VBM-13 was first produced in 1985. It is one of a family of armour piercing rounds produced for T-64B, T-72, T-80 and T-90 tanks. Earlier rounds were produced with tungsten and steel penetrators.

Ammunition for this family of tanks comprises a separate projectile assembly and charge (see picture below of an unidentified Russian APFSDS round). The projectile for the 3VBM-13 round is known as the 3BM-32. The 3BM-32 is 486mm long, and weighs 7.05 kg.

The 3VBM-13 grew out of a research project known as 'Vant', and was the first Soviet DU round. When fired it is said to have a muzzle velocity of 1,700 m/s and penetrate 250mm of rolled homogeneous armour at a 60° angle and range of 2,000m.

Unidentified Russian 125mm APFSDS round The round is apparently most effective on rolled homogeneous armour (RHA), and was not designed for the more modern explosive reactive armour (ERA). A successor to the 3VBM-13, the 3VBM-17, was designed for ERA and features a segmented tungsten penetrator. Jane's speculates that other DU ammunition may have been built, but is not aware of any specific rounds. A research topic called 'Svinets', begun in 1985 apparently incorporated a DU penetrator of the maximum length possible within the dimensions of the round. The projectile was given the designation 3BM-46, but it is not clear if it was incorporated into a full round, or produced in bulk.


Even if it is the only mass produced Russian DU APFSDS round, the 3VBM-13 is reportedly one of the most widely spread round in the Russian inventory.

It has also been reported that Soviet armour piercing ammunition was able to keep pace with Western tank armour developments until the addition of DU armour to the M1A1 HA (Heavy Armour) was produced in 1988, and that there has been little development of ammunition since that time. It may well be that the separate projectile assembly and charge design place limits on the penetrator length in this family of ammunition, as with ammunition for the British Challenger tank.