Starting in the late 1980s, the official name of this project was T-55 Al Faw.

Known as the most popular tank in the world, many countries have tried to upgrade the T-55, and Iraq’s Enigma was one of the most notable upgrade efforts in the 1990s of the last century. Starting in the late 1980s, the official name of this project was T-55 Al Faw. This was an upgraded version of the T-55 which was considered the most modern of its time in an attempt to upgrade its armor.

Iraq was one of the main operators of the Soviet T-54 and T-55 tanks. The first 250 T-54 tanks was delivered to Iraq in 1958, the next 50 were delivered in 1965. During the Yom Kippur War, many Iraqi T-54 tanks were lost. In 1973, another 300 T-55s were ordered. In 1980 Iraq acquired 50 T-55 tanks from surplus stocks of East Germany and another 400 T-55 tanks from Poland. In 1981 a total of 250 T-55 tanks were acquired from Egypt, 400 T-55s from the former Soviet Union, and possibly 150 tanks from Romania. During 1980s about 1,500 Type 59 and Type 69 tanks were acquired from China.

Because of the large number of T-54 55s gradually becoming obsolete in the 1980s, Iraq developed upgrades to modernize its fleet. The upgrade concerned giving the vehicle a huge amount of crude, but effective, composite armor. Essentially, large armor boxes have been fitted to the turret and front and sides of the hull. These are held in place mostly by bolts and brackets. As a result, the weight of the tank was increased to an estimated 41 tons, compared to the T-55’s 36 tons, no doubt making the tank a lot less agile.

This Iraqi tank is fitted with a fully-stabilized 100 mm gun. It can fire accurately on the move. At a speed of 12 km/h the tank has a first round hit probability of about 60%. A total of 43 rounds are carried. The vehicle is operated by a crew of four, including commander, gunner, loader and driver.

Despite the major improvements, the Enigmas suffered from one major flaw – it was based on an outdated chassis. As a result, in their short combat history, Enigmas were simply no match for Coalition forces, even if the vehicles could resist Anti-Tank missile strikes. It is estimated that no more than eight Enigmas ever existed, with at least four on display in museums today.


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