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The SU-85M is a rank III Soviet tank destroyer with a battle rating of 5.3 (AB/RB) and 5.7 (SB). It was introduced in during the Closed Beta Test for Ground Forces before Update 1.41. The SU-85M is basically the beefed up version of the regular SU-85 with an increased frontal armour thickness from 45 mm into 75 mm that can save it from shots that would've been lethal for the SU-85. It also has an APCR shell modification for increased lethality against enemy tanks.
When taking the vehicle out the first time, two things will be instantly noticeable: The armour and slow movement of the gun. The former being welcome and the latter being very painful. With the right ammunition between AP and the APCR, the SU-85M is a very good vehicle in the role of a sniper and ambusher. Weary tanks will pop out of corners, unhappy to see a SU-85M locked and loaded. The SU-85M can also be used as a long range sniper due to the 85 mm's good velocity and damage, which could destroy vehicles in just one shot. Range also comes at an advantage as the 75 mm of front sloped armour at a distance of more than 1,500 m is impervious to most tanks of its BR.
Survivability and armour
- Rolled homogeneous armour
- Cast homogeneous armour (Gun mantlet, Driver's hatch)
|Hull|| 75 mm (49-50°) Front glacis
45 mm (60°) Lower glacis
70 mm (50°) Driver's hatch
| 45 mm (15-41°) Top
45 mm Bottom
| 45 mm (48°) Top
45 mm (48°) Bottom
|Superstructure|| 75 mm (49-50°) Front glacis
75 + 75 mm (0-89°) Gun mantlet
|45 mm (15-41°)||45 mm||20 mm|
|Cupola||45 mm||20 mm|
- Suspension wheels and tracks are 20 mm thick.
|Weight (tons)|| Add-on Armor
|Max speed (km/h)|
|Engine power (horsepower)|
|Power-to-weight ratio (hp/ton)|
|85 mm D-5S|
|Turret rotation speed (°/s)|
|Mode||Stock||Upgraded||Prior + Full crew||Prior + Expert qualif.||Prior + Ace qualif.|
|Reloading rate (seconds)|
|Stock||Prior + Full crew||Prior + Expert qualif.||Prior + Ace qualif.|
|Ammunition|| Type of
|Penetration in mm @ 90°|
|Ammunition|| Type of
Mass in kg
| Fuse delay
| Fuse sensitivity
| Explosive Mass in g
| Normalization At 30°
|60||46 (+14)||31 (+29)||16 (+44)||1 (+59)||No|
Usage in the battles
As a tank destroyer, the SU-85M's job is to hunt down and ambush tanks and destroy them. When aiming at a tank, prioritize the area the enemy gunner sits at as if the first shot does not completely destroy the enemy vehicle, the downed gunner forces the enemy to fallback as the SU-85M goes through the lengthy reload time.
Do not attempt to brawl with this vehicle as it is unsuited for mobile, frontal assaults due to the fixed gun traverse. Keep calm and wait for the enemy to roll into the gun sights instead so while the enemy panics upon the sight of the tank destroyer, the SU-85M can use this time to aim for a good hit.
Heavy tanks and medium tanks should be engaged with caution due to their lethality against the SU-85M's armour. Heavy tanks are a concern as some have enough armour and angling to prevent a reliable penetration by the 85 mm, like the M4A3E2 (76) W Jumbo, IS-1, IS-2, and Tiger I. Have them distracted against teammates first to avert their cannons from the SU-85M's location. While they are engaged against them, aim the 85 mm onto weak points on their front armour, or flank around and attack them on their side armour. Though most medium tanks will be able to be destroyed by an 85 mm shot, some medium tanks could resist the 85 mm shot by a high degree such as Panthers.
- M4A3E2 (76) W Jumbo: Engage with caution. The 76 mm could penetrate through the front hull with ease at average combat ranges. The front hull armour is impervious to APCR in most cases and could bounce most AP shots if angled correctly. Focus on weak spots such as the lower side armour and the turret ring, or even the shot trap on the lower sections of the gun mantlet.
- 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-85M before it is in position to fire back. Only engage if certain the Emil is unaware of the SU-85M'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-85M to allow for an 85 mm shot into the thin armour on it.
Pros and cons
- Modest Armour
- 85mm gun is still effective for all vehicles at close range (except, in some cases, the IS-2)
- Access to APCR ammunition.
- Good speed of 40 km/h with great manoeuvrability on most angles and surfaces
- Gun depression is painful, even on a gentle slope
- Turret turning time is enough for an enemy to aim and do a point-blank shot (from 250m)
- Like most tank destroyers, it comes without a turret
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 1000 meters 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 meters 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.
"The increasing armour thickness of the enemy's new heavy tanks necessitated a more powerful SPG. A newly planned 100 mm weapon was being reworked. So in July 1944, the 85 mm D-5-S85 cannon was installed in a newly designed SPG cabin with thicker 75 mm frontal armour, a spacious fighting compartment and a command cupola. This SPG was designated SU-85M and was produced until December 1944. The vehicle, equipped with a new gun mantlet, fired at a rate of 6-8 shots per minute. Its elevation angle was -5° to +25°, and its traversing angle was 20° (up to 10° to each side). In contrast to the SU-85, the vehicle's ammunition capacity was increased to 60 shells. The SPG's crew used PPSh submachine guns and F-1 hand grenades for self-defence.
In 1944, 315 SU-85M SPGs were manufactured in total.
The SPGs were used as cover for medium tanks and to offer them fire support when necessary. They were able to quickly move around the front both defensively and offensively. In defence, SU-85s often made use of ambush tactics. The vehicles hid at convenient distances along the enemy tanks' path and, letting them approach to within 300-600 m, opened precision fire. Before T-34-85 tanks went into mass production, this SPG was the primary means of effective battle against German tanks and played the important role of a mobile tank destroyer in the Red Army.
Captured SPGs of this type were used by the Wehrmacht. There were entire regiments of tank destroyers consisting of these vehicles - the 23rd Tank Division, for example.
SU-85 and SU-85M SPGs were put into service in the Polish Army.
In spite of all the SPG's advantages, its firepower was insufficient to combat enemy heavy tanks at long ranges."
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|USSR tank destroyers|
|Light||SU-5-1 · ZiS-30 · SU-57 · SU-57B · SU-76M · SU-76M (5th Guards Cavalry Corps) · YaG-10 (29-K) · SU-85A|
|Medium||SU-122 · SU-85 · SU-85M · SU-100 · SU-100P · SU-122P · SU-122-54|
|Heavy||SU-100Y · ISU-122 · ISU-122S · SU-152 · ISU-152 · Object 268 · Object 120 "Taran"|
|Rocket||BM-8-24 · BM-13N|
|Airborne||ASU-57 · ASU-85|