The Alsuyuf I Main Battle Tank was the first Main Battle Tank of the Armies of the Five Deserts from 1952 to 1981, replacing the Ramah Cruiser Tanks and Sayf Cruiser Tanks, as well as the Habib Infantry Tanks and Muharib Infantry Tanks.
From their introduction in 1952, the Alsuyuf I played a major role in the Decolonization Wars and after their retirement from frontline service in 1980 in favour of the Alsuyuf II Main Battle Tank, their hull was used in a variety of auxiliary vehicles, including combat engineer vehicles and, until 2010, an SPAAG.
The Alsuyuf I began its life as Design K-88 with the Arados Arsenal in 1945. Main reason for its developments were the experiences made in the Decolonization Wars, in particular in the Allaazwrd-Uprising, the Eadhra War of Independence and in the Sawmiea-Uprising. Major concern behind its development were the increasingly effective anti-tank weapons, which were supplied to the rebels by foreign backers, as well as constant reliability problems, especially with the Muharib Infantry Tanks. Speed was of little concern, but agility was, as some rebel groups had begun to trap the massive tanks on narrow roads and similar pickles.
A secondary requirement was the union between the categories of the Cruiser Tank and the Infantry Tank, to unite both and to simplify both logistics, training and tactical and strategic planning.
The first plans called for arming the Alsuyuf I with the Alqatat Gunsmiths 88mm Gun, but those were quickly dismissed in favour of the Alqatat Gunsmiths 105mm Rifled Tank Gun, which was completely new at the time (and discussed for a possible upgrade for the Muharib Infantry Tank). The welded turret, which was replaced by a cast turret in the Alsuyuf Is produced from 1956 onwards, which had to be redesigned a few times, housed the gun, the commander, the gunner, the loader and a total of 50 shells (40 with I-B). Initial plans called for a Alqatat Gunsmiths 20mm AA-Gun on the turret roof for the commander as secondary armament, with a ranging machine gun coaxial to the gun.
The Alsuyuf I ran on a so-called Fil-Suspension, the Kyrenaian Version of the Horstmann Suspension with three horizontally-sprung external two-wheel bogies on each side, hidden behind armoured skirts. When damaged by mines or other AT-weapons, the suspension and wheel units could be replaced relatively easily.
While with 76 millimeters, the front glacis armor sounds relatively thin, the Alsuyuf I's front armor plate was sloped, thus increasing the effective thickness while at the same time decreasing weight. 150 millimeter of armour protected the front of the turret. 55 millimeters of steel protected the sides, behind the drive wheels and the armoured skirts behind those (which were 15mm thick).
1956 production runs
In the production runs starting 1956, a number of upgrades were inluded, which were born out of field experience. The major improvements were a fully-cast turret and additional internal fuel tanks, increasing the range from 100 to 175 kilometers.
1968: Alsuyuf I-B
Major point of the upgrade was the Alqatat Gunsmiths 120mm Rifled Tank Gun, which replaced the 105mm gun for more penetration power and firepower.
1973: Alsuyuf I-C
Under the Reign of Razia-Sultana
The development of a replacement, the Alsuyuf II Main Battle Tank, had started in 1966, right after the end of the Decolonization Wars.
Museum Pieces and Sensha-Do
In Sensha-Do, a variety of Tank Sport fought with historic vehicles, the Alsuyuf I enjoys a bit of a cult-following. The Main Fighting Force of the Crepúsculo-Academia Sensha-Do Team are Alsuyuf-I and Alsuyuf-II MBTs.
- Heavily inspired by the Centurion Tank.