T-72B3 tanks in Ukraine

The blog “War is Boring” has released a new article about the Russian built T-72B3 tanks being used in the conflict in Ukraine.


In any war, certain weapons come symbolize one side in the fighting, specific tactics or political factors. In that spirit, a specific tank has become the icon of Russia’s secret war in Ukraine.

On June 3, 2016, Ukrainian blogger “sled_vzayt” posted a batch of evidence showing advanced T-72B3 tanks  —  as well as other armored vehicles and heavy weapons  —  and their Russian crews in eastern Ukraine’s Donbass region and right across the border in Russia.


While the post uses numerous photographs to identify specific tanks, the vehicles themselves offer some of the clearest proof that the Kremlin’s troops are actively supporting rebel forces in Ukraine.

“In the Ukraine conflict, many have scoured the military equipment sightings on social media to find evidence of Russian involvement,” Veli-Pekka Kivimäki, a Finnish doctoral student and open-source intelligence expert, wrote in a piece for the investigative Website Bellingcat on May 28, 2016.

“The modernized T-72B3 main battle tank has been an example of military equipment that is out of place in a conflict where Russian government actively denies military involvement.”

Read the full article here.

Ukraine announces 1500HP version of 6TD engine

p1645974According to IHS Jane’s, the State Enterprise Malyshev Plant in Ukraine is marketing a 1500 HP version of the 6TD series of engines.  The 6TD is a liquid cooled, two-stroke multifuel engine with six cylinders and 12 pistons.  According to the Jane’s article, the engines “ejection-type cooling system enables the MBT to operate in high ambient temperatures of up to 55°C without loss of power when using diesel fuel.”  The article also notes that “the highly efficient cassette/cyclone air filter is claimed to ensure air filtration with an efficiency rating of up to 99.8%, which is critical for operating in desert conditions”.

The 6TD was developed from the earlier 5TD engine which originally equipped the Soviet T-64 MBT.  As the names imply, 5TD was a five cylinder engine while 6TD is a six cylinder engine.  The 6TD was introduced in 1979, tanks equipped with the 6TD usually designated with an “M” added to their designation, for example, T-64AM, T-64BM, etc.   The 5TD was rated at 700 HP, the original version of the 6TD (6TD-1)rated at 1000 HP, with later versions of the 6TD (6TD-2) being rated at 1200 HP.

The 6TD is an unusual engine in that it is a two stroke diesel with an opposed piston configuration.  The opposed piston design allows for two pistons per cylinder, leading to a rather compact unit with high power output (not to be confused with a “flat” engine layout such as the Continental AOS 895.)  This style of diesel engine was first pioneered by Germany in the 1930’s with the Junkers Jumo 205, one of the few successful diesel aircraft engines.  In the postwar period, but the USSR and the UK developed tank engines based on the Jumo concept, the USSR creating the 5TD and the UK the Leyland L60 which powered the Chieftain MBT.  Both the L60 and the 5TD suffered a fair number of issues when first put into service, requiring a fairly lengthy period to iron out the “teething” problems.  Since the T-64 and its engine were developed by the Kharkiv based Morozov Design Bureau and the Kharkiv Diesel Factory No. 75, these facilities became part of independent Ukraine following the break up of the USSR in 1991.  Currently, the 6TD engine serves as the powerplant for the Pakistani al-Khalid MBT.

Ukraine’s “Azov Engineering Group” factory

Motherboard has posted an article about an old tractor factory in Ukraine occupied by the Azov Battalion. The article provides pictures and descriptions of the efforts by Azov at this facility to build their own armored vehicles. Particular attention is paid to the homemade vehicle “Azovette”, a heavily armored T-64 chassis:

144232650802589Zvarych invited us inside the workshop, where a small team of student welders, engineers, and guys who worked here back when the factory made tractors, are finishing off their latest creation, “Azovette.”

Zvarych walks us around the metal beast, pointing out the layers of armor, each 7cm thick and lined with explosives intended to disperse the impact of any strike. Most projectiles capable of penetrating the 7cm of armor will be shaped-charged missiles, consisting of a hollow cone that lays concave to the tip of the projectile and is backed by explosives. When detonated, the explosives hit the apex of the cone and propel it forward, effectively turning the cone inside out and forming a focused jet of explosive energy that drives the projectile forward for maximum impact. The explosives in Azovette’s armor are intended to counteract the shaped-charge by driving energy in the opposite direction so the cone can’t turn inside out to focus the blast.

The armor is spaced out in layers, creating chambers that keep any damage contained to that layer of armor. There are seven chambers of this reactive armor up front and three on the sides.

“Usually a tank has 10 or 20cm of armor (in the front) but we put in 1.4m. This tank can take anything, even a big missile from a plane. It can take all the modern equipment of all the armies,” says Zvarych.

He says Azovette is the perfect tank and compares the 50 tonne 5-seater to Nazi Germany’s super-tank, Panzer VIII Maus, a fully enclosed, 188 tonne goliath of mythological proportions that never passed the prototype stage.

The article only devotes two sentences to pointing out the obvious Nazi imagery used by the Azov Battalion and their association with far-right and white supremacist ideology.    Given this history, perhaps it is not surprising that they would compare their homemade tank to that most ridiculous and grandiose AFV of the Third Reich, the Maus.

T-90A tanks reportedly spotted in Ukraine

Ukraine Today is reporting that T-90A tanks have been identified operating near Luhansk in east Ukraine.  If true, this would be evidence of Russian involvement in the fighting in Donbas.  According to the article, Ukrainian activists on August 14-15 published photos of the Russian armor on their facebook page.

Frankly, we are not experts on modern Russian armor so we will leave it to others to correctly identify the exact model of the vehicles in these images.  We are not vouching for the accuracy of this article, however we thought it was news worthy and will let the reader make up their own mind.  Tank and AFV News is an apolitical site.  We do not take any stance in regards to the situation in Ukraine, we are only interested in reporting on news relating directly to tanks and AFVs.  Please be advised that comments of a political nature will not be approved.

Ukraine accepts modernized T-80

20150717060241_1Jane’s is reporting that the Ukrainian military has received a batch of eight modernized T-80 MBTs from the Kharkiv Morozov Machine Building Design Bureau (KMDB).  The article notes that the T-80 tanks will soon be committed to combat operations in east Ukraine.  Specifically, the T-80s will be delivered to a mobile armored unit of the Ukrainian airborne forces.  The modernization work is stated to have included changes to the vehicle’s turrets, hulls, and the installation of Kontakt explosive reactive armour (ERA).

Full article here.

Rebooting graveyard tanks in Ukraine

Ukraine Today has posted a video of T-64 tanks being renovated at “a secret depot in the city of Kharkiv.”  The video is fairly short and contains some inaccuracies (128mm gun?) but still, it’s worth watching for the footage of the refurbished tanks and the repair facilities.

Bored soldiers race T-72 vs T-64 in Ukraine

The Daily Mail is reporting that video footage has emerged of Russian separatist troops conducting a race between a T-72 and a captured Ukrainian T-64 Bulat MBT.  The contest, which took place over a distance of 402 metres, was filmed by drones as well as from inside the losing tank. The resulting video, complete with musical accompaniment (which we recommend muting), was placed on YouTube.  Due to the similarity in appearance between the to vehicles, it can be a bit hard to tell which is which, but the T-72 can be seen clearly outpacing the Ukrainian T-64. It eventually finished a good distance ahead, much to the delight of the Russians.  According to the Daily Mail article, both tanks emerged undamaged after the race.  One of the tank-drivers’ call name was Boroda and the other’s was Syphon.


Russian T90A tanks conduct drills near Ukraine border

International Business Times is reporting that the Russian military conducted drills earlier this week with dozens of modern T-90A tanks in Russia’s Krasnodar region, located south of the border it shares with Ukraine.. The training exercise was the latest instance of Russian military activity that has caused tension with government leaders in Ukraine and the West.  The T-90A is sometimes referred to as the  T-90 “Vladimir” and differs from the original production T-90 in that it has a welded turret. Russian tank crews drove through mud and fired shells for target practice according to Ukraine Today.

Video of armor repair facility in east Ukraine

Earlier this week AFP posted a video showing a facility in the Ukraine were battered military armor is repaired by Ukrainian separatists.

Ukrainian Separatists turn machine plant into “tank factory”

718460750Gulfnews.com has published a story about how Ukrainian separatists have converted a machine plant into a tank repair and refurbishment facility in the rebel-hald city of Donetsk.  The Corum Donetskgormash plant, which is owned by Ukraine’s richest man, steel billionaire Rinat Akhmetov, was occupied late last year by rebels.  According to the article, numerous  T-62 and T-64 tanks, armoured personnel carriers and self-propelled artillery are stored in the plant, all of which are “trophies” taken from Kiev government forces on the battlefield.  Separatists claim to be able to produce one working vehicle from every two or three that are captured, turning out one or two vehicles every day.  The majority of the vehicles were captured from government troops when they beat a retreat from the town of Debaltseve after a months-long siege, which culminated with the rebels storming the transport hub on February 18, three days into a ceasefire.  Full article here.