|This page is about the Soviet tank destroyer SU-85. For the other version, see SU-85M. For the open-topped SPG, see SU-85A.|
The SU-85 is a rank III Soviet tank destroyer with a battle rating of 4.3 (AB/RB/SB). It was introduced during the Closed Beta Test for Ground Forces before Update 1.41. This vehicle is a successor of SU-122 bearing an 85 mm cannon instead of a howitzer.
Survivability and armour
The frontal armour on the SU-85 may look not impressive but it is sloped, therefore many rounds will lose effectiveness against it over distance. That's why this tank destroyer must always sit at a distance from targets it engages. To further push the advantage, the SU-85 should be angled to the left about 10-15 degrees when it's not firing. While this often exposes the right side with the commander, it is a necessary evil, as for many tanks it becomes near impossible to penetrate the main body, which usually results in ammo rack, fuel explosion or crew knock-out. To further reduce enemy chances of destroying the SU-85 in one hit, only take half of the shells with you.
Avoid attacking tanks on the high ground unless you can fire first, as otherwise the frontal armour loses its angle advantage and will be penetrated by literally anything. Be careful with the tall tanks for the same reason.
Due to the lacking armour it is a delicate balance, which one can only guess by the feel in each particular encounter, so practice it while you don't have to fight experienced tankers of rank III or IV, which will aim much faster and better, specifically targeting out your weak spots and are less prone to firing randomly when surprised. Angling also works to some extent on future SU tanks, but the further down the tech tree, the less efficient it is due to appearance of new weak spots, popularity of tall tanks and improvement of enemy's weaponry.
- Rolled homogeneous armour
- Cast homogeneous armour (Gun mantlet, Driver's hatch)
|Hull|| 45 mm (49°) Front glacis
45 mm (58°) Lower glacis
70 mm (49°) Driver's hatch
|45 mm|| 45 mm (48°) Top
45 mm (48°) Lower
|Superstructure|| 45 mm (49°)
52 mm (0-63°) Gun mantlet
|45 mm (17-40°)||45 mm (12°)||20 mm|
- Suspension wheels and tracks are 20 mm thick.
- Front glacis has tracks placed on it, adding 18 mm at their location.
|Game Mode||Max Speed (km/h)||Weight (tons)||Engine power (horsepower)||Power-to-weight ratio (hp/ton)|
Modifications and economy
|85 mm D-5S||Turret rotation speed (°/s)||Reloading rate (seconds)|
|Ammunition|| Type of
|Penetration @ 0° Angle of Attack (mm)|
|10 m||100 m||500 m||1,000 m||1,500 m||2,000 m|
|Ammunition|| Type of
| Fuse delay
| Fuse sensitivity
| Explosive mass
(TNT equivalent) (g)
|48||43 (+5)||41 (+7)||29 (+19)||17 (+31)||1 (+47)||No|
- Racks disappear after you've fired all shells in the rack.
- Left side empty: 29 (+19) shells.
Usage in battles
The SU-85, as a tank destroyer, should be played in a sniper format due to its powerful gun, but subpar armour. The 85 mm gun is able to take out many tanks at its battle rating due to being the lowest BR vehicle with the gun. However, the armour is only decent and is basically an enlarged T-34 front hull for front armour. At the battle rating, this armour quality is no longer able to withstand the enemy shots such as that of the Pz.IV G. Thus, this makes it a bad idea to be near the front line and instead sit back behind the fighting and take out distant enemy targets, maximizing the low silhouette to hide and distance to improve armour effectiveness.
Be warned that penetrations from shells with explosive fillers are often fatal due to the cramped nature of the crew compartment. Either most of the crew will be knocked out or the modules damaged and these will drastically hinder the SU-85's ability to fight and survive. It is imperative that the SU-85 hit the enemy and be the first one to fire the 85 mm gun to win an engagement. This is especially true in realistic and sim battles where the low profile will grant the SU-85 an advantage of stealth.
Enemies worth noting:
- Panther D: The Panther D is one of the most common tanks around BR 5.3, and they pose a great threat with their deadly long 75 mm cannon, thick frontal armour and adequate speed. You want to avoid engaging them at long range as the SU-85 has only x3.5 scope magnification, making long-range shooting super hard. Engage the Panthers within 500 m and avoid shooting their frontal hull. Their biggest weak spot is the gun mantlet, which is only 100 mm thick and has a flat part in the middle. That is where you want to aim at, the SU-85's APHE has sufficient damage to instantly destroy the Panther even from its turret. There also is a shot trap under the Panther's turret mantlet in which a penetrating shot will destroy the Panther, but that requires some finesse in aiming, especially at long ranges. The second weak spot is the sides, which more often than not instantly destroys the vehicle. Generally, APHE is enough to deal with the Panthers, and no APCR is needed. The APHE shell loves to chew through the Panther's thin side armour, even if it's angled.
- Tiger H1: The Tiger's weak spots are the opposite with the Panthers. Their hull is unsloped and rather thin, while the gun mantlet is weirdly shaped and can absorb quite some shells. The best engaging range remains the same, within 500 m. If the Tiger is angling, aim at the turret ring to disable the gunner and destroy the turret traverse, or aim at the hull side below the side skirt, which is only 60 mm. If it is not angling, aim between the driver's vision port and the MG for an instant kill. Avoid shooting at these two parts as they tend to bounce/absorb shells. Just in case if you see a Tiger E, don't shoot at the lower glacis as there will be add-on tracks installed there, making it harder to penetrate. Its transmission will also absorb all damage.
- Panzer IV/70(V), Jagdpanzer 38(t): These small tank destroyers with their well-angled frontal armour can be quite a problem from a distance. With APHE, you can disable their transmission by shooting at their lower glacis. Now if you can, flank them. The 85 mm APHE does a great job at penetrating sloped, thin armour, so you don't have to get to their absolute sides. For the Pz IV/70, you can also aim at the downward part of the gun mantlet since the shell might ricochet downwards into the hull, knocking out every crew member. The Jagdpanzer 38(t) doesn't have this problem, so side-shooting is required to destroy it effectively.
- M4A3E2 Jumbo: This is another common enemy. It is recommended to use the BR-365A, the one with less penetration but more explosive filler. The reason is that it is better at penetrating sloped armour, which the Jumbo has. With that shell, you can easily destroy an M4A3E2 who's not angling. If it is, aim at the hull side just above the tracks, or load APCR and shoot straight at its gun mantlet. Against a 75 mm M4A3E2, you can relax a bit as it will struggle to penetrate your armour, but your cupola is a rather large weak spot and a shot through there can knock out the SU-85. Be more careful with the M4A3E2 76 W, as they can easily pierce through your armour.
- Sturer Emil: Picking a long-range fight with Sturer Emil from the front is suicide, the Emil's 128 mm will reach and penetrate the SU-85 before it is in position to fire back. Only engage if certain the Emil is unaware of the SU-85's presence on its flanks, or point it out to allies for more mobile friendlies to engage and destroy it. Allies could also divert its attention from the SU-85 to allow for an 85 mm shot into the thin armour on it.
Pros and cons
- Great 85 mm gun, with effective post-penetration damage and good penetration rates
- The BR-365K and BR-365A have enough explosive filler, pretty much any penetrating shot will be an instant knock-out
- Amazing sloped armour penetration
- Good mobility akin to the T-34, you will be one of the first ones to the cap point
- Low profile, you will be able to utilize small hills and slopes for cover
- Decently sloped armour and angles, "wiggling" the tank will cause rounds to ricochet
- Armour is only that of a T-34's and will not stop many rounds at this rank
- As is common in every Soviet tank, very limited gun depression
- Lack of APCR ammo, in case you have to go against heavies like the Jumbo
- Small combat compartment can cause quick crew knock-out from any penetrating shot
The development for this vehicle began in 1943 to supplement the firepower the T-34 and KV-1 has. Before then, the T-34 and KV-1 tanks are more than adequate to deal with the German Panzer forces, but by the end of 1942, the appearance of the Tiger I revealed that the German armoured forces were becoming more developed and more armoured. This reveal showed the Red Army that needed better guns in order to deal with the rising threat of these new German vehicles.
The search for a better gun led to the development of the D-5 85 mm gun, which was a modified anti-aircraft gun made by design bureaus of Vasiliy Grabin and Fyodor Petrov. It was found that the new gun was unable to be mounted on the current T-34 or KV-1, so it was to be mounted as a self-propelled gun like the SU-122, which is a self-propelled gun made on a T-34 chassis. The vehicle to be produced was designated the SU-85 and was similar to the SU-122, just replacing the 122 mm gun with an 85 mm one. The gun that was to be mounted in the self-propelled configuration was designated the D-5S (S for self-propelled) and the vehicle was produced at the Uralmash factory. Modifications were made overtime during its production such as a telescopic sight and a new ball gun mantlet, these modified vehicles were designated the SU-85-II. Up to 2,050 units were produced from mid-1943 to late 1944.
The SU-85 saw service in August 1943 in Soviet service, which coincides the time the Soviets engage in a counteroffensive against the Battle of Kursk. It was praised for its low profile to be able to conceal itself and its excellent mobility. The initial production batch had low visibility due to lack of optics, with only four periscopes in the design, but this was improved on the SU-85M with a commander's cupola seen on the later variants of the T-34. The 85 mm gun was able to destroy a Tiger tank from 1,000 me out, proving much capable against the newer German tank designs. Though capable, its firepower was still seen as lacking considering the Tiger could still destroy it and T-34s from up to 2,000 m away. The lack of range on the SU-85, plus the up-arming of T-34s from the 76.2 mm F-34 gun to the same 85 mm gun as well in the T-34-85 caused the production of the SU-85 to be cancelled in late 1944 as it no longer provided any beneficial firepower over the standard tank unit.
Even after it was retired from Soviet service, replaced by the more powerful SU-100, it was exported to Soviet allies in the Warsaw Pact after World War II. The SU-85s were either kept as tank destroyers or converted into armour recovery or command vehicles. These vehicles saw service in North Korea, Vietnam, and may still be in service today by Central European countries like Albania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, and Romania.
Tactical deployment of the SU-122 showed that in order to fulfill its task of accompanying and supporting tanks, its rate of fire needed to be increased. The new SU-85 SPG was developed and put into service at the end of the summer of 1943. It was created based on the T-34 tank and equipped with an 85 mm D5-S85 cannon with a 48.8 calibre barrel length. The penetration of the new weapon's shell was 75% higher than the T-34's 76 mm cannon shell and 45% higher than the 122 mm howitzer on the SU-122. These qualities resulted in a 1.5 times increase in its effective firing range against armoured vehicles. Its ammunition capacity totalled 48 shells.
The SPG was comparable to the SU-122 in its design, with an aft-located engine compartment and a cabin armoured from all sides with the cannon installed in the front. The self-propelled vehicle was primarily intended for direct fire during short stops. It was also armed with a panoramic sight to allow it to fire from cover. A 9R or 9RS radio set was mounted on the SPG, along with the TPU-3-BisF intercom. With its superior mobility in comparison to enemy heavy tanks and SPGs, the SU-85 was able to successfully do battle with them in spite of its weaker armour.
Between August 1943 and July 1944, 2,337 of them were made in total. The new vehicles were put into service in separate SPG regiments (up to 16 vehicles per regiment) and were widely used in the conflicts of the Great Patriotic War.
The SPG's flaws included its lack of a machine gun for defending the vehicle from infantry in close quarters, its small ammunition capacity and relatively weak armour.
- Vehicles equipped with the same chassis
- Other vehicles of similar configuration and role
|Ural Heavy Machinery Plant (Уральский Завод Тяжелого Машиностроения)|
|SU-85||SU-85 · SU-85M|
|SU-122||SU-122 · SU-122P|
|See Also||Morozov Design Bureau|
|USSR tank destroyers|
|SU-76M||SU-76M · SU-76M (5th Gv.Kav.Corps) · SU-85A|
|SU-57B||SU-57B · SU-76D|
|T-34 Derivatives||SU-122 · SU-85 · SU-85M · SU-100 · SU-122P|
|Heavy Tank Derivatives||SU-100Y · ISU-122 · ISU-122S · SU-152 · ISU-152 · Object 268|
|SU-100P and Derivatives||SU-100P · Object 120 · 2S3M|
|Airborne||ASU-57 · ASU-85|
|Rocket||BM-8-24 · BM-13N|
|ATGM||IT-1 · Shturm-S · Khrizantema-S|
|Other||SU-5-1 · ZiS-30 · SU-122-54|