First model of the revolutionary Soviet Infantry Combat Vehicle
known as the BMP (Bronevaya Maschina Piekhota
). First built in the early 1960s, and publicly displayed
for the first time in 1967
, this was the first vehicle that could be actually be called an armoured infantry combat vehicle rather than an armoured personnel carrier
- the BMP was not only armoured, but was effectively armed for combat against tanks
and was much more mobile than most APC
s. Firing ports
for each soldier carried made it possible for the infantry to fight from within the vehicle, while a 73-mm gun firing rocket-assisted HEAT
projectiles and a SAGGER anti-tank missile launcher made it theoretically capable of fighting tanks. Pressurization and filtration systems made it ready for ABC
combat, and its amphibious capabilities were impressive.
All of these were certainly good ideas and revolutionary concepts for the time, and Western forces lived in awe of the BMP for a long period, while Soviet allies and protectees hurried to procure the vehicle. However, the BMP-1 was nowhere near as good as it was supposed to be. Certain design limitations which were exposed in 1973's Yom Kippur War made it extremely vulnerable to tank fire. Its armour, with a maximum thickness of 19 mm in the hull and 23 in the turret, was only thick enough to stop .50 caliber fire, meaning that most tank guns would penetrate at favourable angles, and the typical Soviet placement of fuel cells and ammunition storage areas meant that almost any shot that penetrated the armour would disable the vehicle or its personnel.
Furthermore, the main gun was not stabilized and could not fire accurately while moving, and had several dead zones which could virtually cripple the vehicle at crucial moments. The turret could not traverse the commander's cupola, located at roughly 10 o'clock of the turret, without the main gun (and its 7.62 coaxial machine gun and the SAGGER launcher) being elevated. Even worse, the gun could not be depressed far enough to fire from hull-down positions, meaning that in order to engage tanks the BMP-1 had to expose itself completely. And while ABC protection was a major step forward for Soviet vehicles, most of the BMP's weaponry was ineffective when the vehicle was pressurized. Many of these defects would be corrected in the highly effective BMP-2, unveiled in 1981. The Americans had to wait even longer before their first effective ICV, the Bradley, was ready for deployment.
Crew: 3, carrying 8 infantry
Length: 265.3 inch
Height: 84.6 inch
Width: 115.7 inch
Weight: 15 tons
Engine: 6 cylinder in-line diesel
Transmission: Manual 5 forward, 1 reverse
Suspension: Torsion bar
Fuel: 121.5 gallon
Main Gun: 73 mm, smoothbore firing rocket assisted HEAT
Coaxial: 7.62 machine gun
Missile: AT-3 SAGGER
Smoke System: Engine exhaust
Ammo Load: 40 x 73 mm, 2000 x 7.62 mm, 4 x SAGGER
Main Gun Muzzle Velocity: Rocket accelerated to 2300 fps
Range: 800 meters effective, 1300 meters max
Turret Power: Electric or manual, gunner traverse only.
Range Finder: Stadia
Nightvision: Passive IR
Maximum Speed: 65 kph/49 mph on road
Grade Ascending: 31 deg.
Trench Crossing: 2.5 meters
Ground Clearance: 390 mm
Range: 600 km