Rhino Tank

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Tactical Analysis

  • Old warrior, new tricks: With all the new generation tanks in the world, the Rhino is still able to fight like ever. The fast-loading 85mm gun can still pierce the enemy hulls with not much of an effort, like the gun of Hammer. And when the crew targets an infantry unit, the over-the-barrel "Dushka" machine gun will quickly take care of them.
  • What you can't see...: After the Iran modernization, the Rhino was equipped with smoke grenade launchers on the turret to more adopt it to the conflict with the GLA. Tank commanders can use it whenever they deem it necessary, such as when they need to quickly escape and cover their retreat, or to close the distance to enemy positions and hit them up close, where these rebels are weak!
  • Nothing is invincible: Despite the application of reactive armor to increase Rhino's armor protection and thus survival in combat, it is still vulnerable to anti-armor weaponry, and has nothing to retaliate against helicopters and fighters. Also, with the additional weight it is slower, and thus more vulnerable to long-range attacks.
  • Fire, Fire, Fire!!!: For the most decorated and experienced tank crews are entrusted the T-58Z3 versions, which are equipped with gun cartridges of smaller HE shells, enabling the crew to fire three detonating shots in a quick succession. These shells are not as strong as the standard shells, in total they can deliver more damage to whoever will be as bold to face them. And for the Dushka machine guns they are issued new incendiary bullets to set them in flames. Not a hard thing with the tropical heats they are fighting in.

Operational History

Background

''Calling all those who fight for the Global Liberation Army, I don't know who you people are and I don't know what you people want. If you're looking for ransom, I can tell you I don't have money... but what I do have are a very particular set of strategies. Strategies I have acquired and honed over my entire life while in the army. Strategies that make me a nightmare for terrorists and democrats everywhere. If you surrender now, that will be the end of it - I will not hunt you down, I will not chase you... but if you don't, I will look for you, and if we ever encounter you ... may Allah have mercy on you because we will bury you on the graves we prepared for the whole lot of you."

- "Charger" Rostami, a highly-decorated Rhino Tank commander to the rest of the GLA, via radio.

At the time of modern tanks, the 17 years old Rhino still stands as a testimony to the ability of the Russian engineers to produce a reliable and efficient weapon that can be easily produced and maintained, like the ADK-45 assault rifle. As a main battle tank of the Soviet Union, it is no wonder that Rhino is employed by the Iranian Red Army. With only two divisions of Hammer Tanks in their disposal, Iran have to put more emphasis on the Rhinos to do the anti-armor job. Thought with the first shipment of the tanks one cardinal design flaw. As it originated from the areas where temperatures were most of the day below zero Celsius, they were outfitted with heaters for the harsh winters, which were useless in the deserts of the Iran, rather a irritating hindrance. For this reason the military engineers removed them and in their place installed air-conditioners, on the contrary to cool the crew during tropical days, especially during the engagements.

The first Iranian version of the Rhino, T-58Z, beside the air-conditioners was also modified with the filters for the diesel-Tesla hybrid engine to protect it from the sand and dust, as well as the ventilation of the crew compartment, and exhaustion of the gun fumes in the compartment. These modification kits were produced by Defense Industries Organization and distributed to the armor divisions and applied in the field stations. The Soviet officers did not opposed it because they experienced these hot weathers on their own skin, and that Iranian leaders were more benevolent than those in the Russia. The Iran tank crews were satisfied with this version, and in a matter of three weeks all Rhino tanks were modified into T-58Z version. Their first combat operation was when the Soviet High Command give an orders to take over half of Iraq, where GLA was roaming freely, pillaging the citizens, at the time half of them were supporters of the socialism and communism.

Initially the IRA had no problems with the terrorist organization's forces, the well-trained regulars quickly dispatched any rebels they have met, the modern jet fighters shot down any propeller plane GLA had in air, or even the improvised jets made from junk or even balloons, and Rhinos had no match in the area, with the only opposition being the Sand Scorpion tanks, which had a pitifully weak guns, their bolt-on rockets being the only threat to the Soviet tanks. However, when the quick and decisive victory was over, the Iranian forces that were stationed in Iraq started being targeted by smaller splinter cells, using the hit-and-run tactics, attacking the convoys or smaller military outposts. Also, when the White Guard, an ally of the GLA from Saudi Arabia arrived with their Marauder tanks, the Rhinos have faced a more dangerous foe than the small Scorpion. The tank destroyers with their 120mm cannons could easily penetrate a Rhino from a large distance before quickly retreating into the desert, where the Rhinos which were send after them fell into traps, either a buried bombs or group of burrowed Marauders in a U formation, firing on Rhinos from three sides. This required a big change to the design to help the war afford against the cowardly GLA.

The DIO department was given a task to somehow increase the survivability of the Rhinos without any major overhaul of the design to keep it simple to maintain and produce. The engineers and technicians were trying various methods, such as bolting armor plates to the hull and turret (inadequate, the increased thickness was not as efficient to penetrations, and to make it cannon-proof the weight will put too much stress on the transmission), attaching armor plates externally (hardly effective against 120mm cannon shells), a ceramic boxes and sandbags (small degree of success) and even experimental "magnetic repulsors" (used from several decommissioned Tesla Coils, too expensive and complex for easy maintenance but very effective at diverting shots). The solution seemed to be unreachable, when one engineer, a recent graduate from university of mechanics in Tehran, got a splendid idea when visiting his friend in military scrapyard. he seen there the remains of Soviet vehicles that were damaged beyond repair by the GLA, and among them were several destroyed Ore Collectors, some with the reactive armors, which were made from sheeted alloys of Hammer and Apocalypse tanks. When looking on this, in engineer's head popped up an idea; Why not put this reactive armor on the Rhino? When presenting this to his comrades in DIO, it was met with agreement and the idea was then expanded.

The Lion of Persia

After a month of designing, calculating and testing, the first prototype T-58Z2 Rhino Tank was tested in the trials, mounted with the same reactive armor like the Soviet Ore Collectors (if thinner to save up some weight) on the turret and hull, the improved transmission to deal with the additional weight and with several other new features and modifications that were suggested by the tank crews, among them the launchers of smoke grenades pointing to all sides, to give the tank commanders a means how to protect themselves against the flank-attacking Marauder Tanks in case of going into a trap, or getting to the tank destroyers closer and flank their sides and rear. And with a small change of the wiring, the gunners can now fire from both the main gun and machine gun simultaneously, but they rather use one against its intended targets. The T-58Z2 Rhino was adopted into service and all armored divisions in Iran and Iraq started refitting the Rhinos into this model, which earned itself a nickname from the troops "Jahangir" after fourth Mughal Emperor.

The new tank proven to be exactly what Irans needed. While they were now slower than before, Rhinos were able to survive few shots of the Marauder or group of Scorpion Tanks to close the distance and bear its 85mm cannon to wipe them out from the face of the world. The RPGL shots of the rebels were also weakened, and immediately riddled by the heavy machine gun's rounds. The Iranian Rhino tanks started being referred as "Lions of Persia" by the Allied intelligence reports, which soon spread across the world, earning these tank crews a fame rivaled by German tank divisions. After the victory of the left-wing in Syria and formation of the Arabian Socialist Government, the IRA promised their help in case of need, Rhinos being the primary tank support which Syrians and Iraqi greatly appreciates.

Recently, the DIO was working on another model of Rhino, T-58Z3 "Alamgir", which differed from the T-58Z2 only in a redesigned 85mm gun and new ammunition to the DShK "Dushka" machine gun. The gun is in performance the same, but the back section was modified to enable the insertion of "shell cartridge", a magazine-like boxes containing shorter 85mm high-explosive shells which can be fired in quick succession into a single target, delivering devastating damage to most armored and fortified targets. Thought the reload time between each salvo is longer than previously, the greater damage input makes up for it with quickly taking out the enemy in one salvo than firing three shots with a delays. For the other weapon, the standard ammunition boxes were replaced by incendiary ammunition, which gunners especially appreciated to use for its potency in the scorching heats. The Rhino "Alamgir" tanks are issued only to the tank aces, who have decorated themselves in the field, either by destroying a large number of targets or by rescuing the infantry platoons by its body and covering by the smokescreen wall.

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