Canadian Small Arms & Light Weapons In Ukraine

After seeing a considerable number of Colt Canada C7 rifles and C8 carbines being used in Ukraine I decided to investigate their origins. I reached out to various Ministries of Defence to enquire if they had provided the rifles. The Canadian Ministry of National Defence not only confirmed that they had provided various small arms but their spokesperson was also kind enough to confirm some of the types of small arms and light weapons which Canada has transferred to Ukraine since February 2022. 

Due to operational security the quantities of weapons transferred obviously couldn’t be confirmed but there’s some interesting weapons in the list that might not be what was expected. 

Canada aid arriving in in Ukraine (Ukrainian MoD)

In terms of anti-tank weapons we already know that at least 100 Carl Gustaf M2 Recoilless Rifles were transferred, along with 2,000 rounds of 84mm ammunition. We have seen a number of M2s which are potentially of Canadian origin in the field. Also confirmed back in March was the transfer of as many as up to 7,500 hand grenades and up to 4,500 M72 LAW anti-tank weapons. These have probably been seen in the field but without close ups of markings and with so many countries transferring LAWs its difficult to ID them specifically in imagery from the field.

A potential Canadian Carl Gustaf in Ukraine (via Social Media)

In terms of small arms things get interesting, as mentioned C7A1 rifles have been seen in a considerable number of photos and videos from Ukraine. Produced by Diemaco, now Colt Canada, it seems obvious that these rifles originated from Canada. However, the spokesperson from the Ministry of National Defence confirmed that Canada has not provided any C7 pattern rifle. Instead, they confirmed that Canada has only provided C8 carbines. Sources familiar with the carbines sent to Ukraine noted that the weapons were C8 SFWs with a railed forend. So far the only photo which may visually confirm the presence of Canadian C8 SFWs is this one of some Ukrainian SSO operators. An operator in the middle of the photo (see below) has a C8 with a railed forend, with a vertical front grip attached. Other operators around him have C8s with the earlier non-railed handguards.

73rd Naval Special Purpose Center operators with what may be a C8 SFW, along with earlier unrailed C8 carbines (via Social Media)

It was also confirmed that both C9 light machine guns and C6 general purpose machine guns have been transferred. The C9 is Canada’s designation for the FN Minimi while the C6 is their designation for the 7.62x51mm FN MAG. Canada currently uses the upgraded C9A2 with a 4 position stock and longer rail.

Colt Canada C8 Carbines in Ukraine – these C8s were not provided by the Canadian government (via Social Media)

The spokesperson also confirm the types of precision rifle transferred to Ukraine noting that “both medium .308 and .338 calibre, and heavy .50 calibre sniper rifles were provided.” Earlier media reports had suggested that .50 calibre sniper rifles were transferred but there had been no mention of medium caliber rifles. It was not stated whether the .338 rifles were .338 Norma Magnum or .338 Lapua Magnum.

While the Canadian military currently fields the C15 Long-Range Sniper Weapon (the McMillan TAC-50) the Ministry of National Defence did not confirm what exact model had been sent to Ukraine. There have been a number of sightings of TAC-50s, and while a number of countries field them, some of those seen in Ukraine may have originated from Canada.

An anonymous source familiar with the program to transfer weapons to Ukraine confirmed that CADEX Defence CDX series rifles had been sent to Ukraine from the stores never sent to Kurdish forces. These are believed to have included CDX TAC rifles in .338 and CDX-50 Tremors in 12.7x99mm.

The weapons initially sent to Ukraine were reportedly drawn from a selection of weapons worth an estimated $10 million, which had originally been procured in 2016 for Kurdish forces fighting ISIS in Iraq. The plan to arm the Kurds stalled in 2017 and since then the weapons have been in storage at the Canadian Forces Supply Depot in Montreal. This equipment included sniper rifles, 60mm mortars, Carl Gustaf anti-armor weapons and small arms. It is from these stores that many of the sniper rifles have been drawn. In February, just before the Russian invasion was launched it was reported by a number of Canadian media outlets that the weapons sent to Ukraine came from the stores originally destined for the Kurds.

CADEX CDX photographed in Ukraine in March (via War_Noir)

In the past Canada has also provided Ukraine with .50 caliber LRT-3 rifles from PGW Defence Technologies, this type may have again been provided either via the Canadian government’s transfer or privately donated by Canadian citizens.

Based on information from sources familiar with the transfer the ‘.338’ chambered medium caliber rifles are believed to be CDX TAC rifles from CADEX rather than the C14 Timberwolf MRSWS (Medium Range Sniper Weapon System) from PGW Defence Technologies, which is currently in use with Canadian forces. The .308 chambered rifle mentioned is less clear, it may be a reference to the 7.62x51mm Parker-Hale C3 sniper rifle which is still in service or possibly a .308/7.62x51mm chambered rifle from PGW or CADEX. They are unlikely to be Tikka T3s which recently entered service with the Canadian Rangers as the C19.

Interestingly, the pistols which were transferred were not Browning HiPowers, which is Canada’s current standard service pistol – soon to be replaced by the SIG Sauer P320, but Glock 17s. Very few images of Glock 17s in use in Ukraine have surfaced so far. Sources suggest that the Glock pistols were also a part of the selection of weapons originally destined for Kurdish forces fighting ISIS.


Support Us: If you enjoyed this video and article please consider supporting our work here. We have some great perks available for Patreon Supporters – including early access to custom stickers and early access to videos! Thank you for your support!


Bibliography:

https://www.canada.ca/en/global-affairs/news/2022/02/canada-sending-additional-25m-military-aid-to-support-ukraine.html

https://www.canada.ca/en/department-national-defence/news/2022/03/defence-minister-anand-announces-additional-military-support-to-ukraine.html

https://www.canada.ca/en/department-national-defence/services/operations/military-operations/current-operations/operation-unifier.html

RPG-30: Russia’s Dual Tube Rocket Launcher

The RPG-30 is one of Russia’s more advanced disposable anti-armour weapons. Developed in the early 2000s by Bazalt it is designed to overcome reactive armour and active protection systems. It entered service in 2012 and has seen extensive use during the fighting in Ukraine. 

The 7P53 RPG-30 “Kryuk” or ‘Hook’ is a 105mm fin and spin stabilised rocket propelled munition with a tandem HEAT shaped charge warhead. The RPG-30 overcomes ERA and APS by using a 42mm IG-30 decoy projectile, which is believed to be inert, coupled with the main rocket’s tandem warhead. This can be seen in a secondary, thinner tube running along the side of the weapon. The precursor decoy causes premature activation of the APS and allows the main warhead to exploit the gap in the tank’s protection. The theory being that the target’s APS takes some time, perhaps half a second, before it can engage again. The gap between the firing of the two rockets is measured in milliseconds and the lag does not appear to be significant enough to effect the user’s aim or accuracy on target.

RPG-30 (Vitaly Kuzmin CC BY-SA 4.0)

The RPG-30 uses the PG-30 tandem HEAT warhead, similar to the PG-27 used by the RPG-27. It can reportedly penetrate 750mm of rolled homogeneous armour and up to 650mm of rolled homogeneous armour after ERA. Effective range estimates vary with the average suggesting 200m.

The weapon’s sights are simple and consist of a folding ladder front sight and rear sight – there does not appear to be provision for mounting optics. Flipping up the rear sight also cocks the weapon. The disposable tube(s) is made of aluminium with a fibreglass outer layer. Sources suggest it weighs around 10.3kg (22.7lbs) and has an overall length of just over 1m (1,135mm/44.7in). 

A pair of RPG-30s captured in April 2022 (via Social Media)

Unlike other Russian weapon systems few videos of its use have been shared by Russian state media or Russia’s defence exports corporation Rosoboronexport. The ongoing war in Ukraine, however, has provided our first real look at the weapon in action. As soon as the Russian invasion was launched on 24 February, RPG-30s began to be seen in use with Russian forces. By late February and early March imagery of captured examples was shared on social media. 

Russian soldier posing with RPG-30, March 2022 (via Social Media)

The first images of the weapon came from Russian sources in late February, just after the invasion. This was quickly followed by imagery of captured examples, most notably from the column of Tigr-M armoured infantry mobility vehicles in Kharkiv.  A photograph of a further two captured RPG-30s appeared in April, while another example was photographed in Donbas in early May. Later in May a photo of a Russian soldier posing with one was shared on social media and in September significant caches of weapons were captured in Kherson and Balakliya. 

Still of a Russian soldier firing an RPG-30, August 2022 (via Social Media)

In late August we got our first brief look at the RPG-30 being fired in a montage video of VDV weapon systems (see image above). Earlier in mid-August a sort of ‘unboxing video’ was shared giving us a good close up look at some of the packaging the RPG-30s are shipped in and the markings on the side the weapon. Most recently in some further video of the RPG-30 being fired on a Russian Western Military District range also surfaced giving us a good look at the weapon in action.

RPG-30s captured in April (via Social Media)

Of course the weapon is designed to be simple to use, anyone with training on a similar shoulder-fired disposable anti-armour weapon can operate it. While it has been said that its widespread use in Ukraine is somewhat ironic given that Ukraine does operate any APS equipped tanks, the weapon is still useful against less sophisticated tanks. While the precursor might potentially deliver some limited kinetic damage to the ERA block, the RPG-30’s tandem warhead is capable of defeating the ERA fitted to most Ukrainian tanks, though of course, the same can be said of Russia’s other anti-armour weapons which use tandem warheads.

Update 27/10/22:

The Georgian Legion recently shared a short video looking at a captured RPG-30. The video also includes firing footage of the weapon.


If you enjoyed this video and article please consider supporting our work here. We have some great perks available for Patreon Supporters – including custom stickers and early access to videos! Thank you for your support!


Bibliography:

105mm PG-30 Rocket, CAT UXO, (source)

RPG-30 Kryuk (Hook), US Army TRADOC, (source)

Russian Army receives cutting-edge antitank rocket launchers, TASS, (source)

Ukraine’s New & Improved Home Made Self-Propelled Gun

Back in August we took a look at an improvised vehicle built by Ukrainian troops near Mykolaiv. It paired an MT-LB tracked armoured fighting vehicle with an MT-12 100mm anti-tank gun. Now engineers from Ukrtransgaz – Ukraine’s state-owned gas pipeline company, have taken that concept and developed an improved version of the home made self-propelled gun.

On Monday 26 September, Ukrtransgaz shared a post on their facebook page about the new vehicle saying:

“Our colleagues were approached by the soldiers of the TpO [Territorial Defence Forces] detachment with a request for the manufacture of such an installation. The idea of ​​combining an armored personnel carrier and a cannon into an improvised self-propelled gun was borrowed from the Mykolaiv military, which in August produced and successfully tested the first such installation in battle. So they decided to “improve” the trophy Russian MT-LB with the Ukrainian Rapira for their own needs.”

Ukrtransgaz noted that the vehicle took a team of six engineers two weeks to construct. Beneath the facebook post the company also shared a short, sadly low resolution, video of the vehicle being tested. TAB reached out to Ukrtransgaz for a better version of the footage but sadly they didn’t have one available.

The team behind the gun had assistance from an unnamed ‘specialized university’ who helped increase the gun’s elevation, which is normally capped at +20°, and in theory increase the gun’s range. It’s unclear which ammunition is being used with Ukraine’s MT-12s, whether it’s APFSDS or HEAT.

The company states that the vehicle is ready for operations and has successfully passed tests on the range, ready to be deployed. They also note that the team intends to manufacture at least two more such self-propelled guns.

Examining the Ukrtransgaz SPG we can see that the roof of the MT-LB has again been cut back but the the mounting of the gun is slightly higher and armour protection has been built up around the sides for the gun crew. From the footage shared we can see that theres room for around six troops to sit in the rear of the vehicle. Unlike the earlier Mykolaiv-built vehicle there does not appear to be the pair of hydraulic supports to stabilise the vehicle when firing.


Update 15/12/22: A video from the Ukrainian government’s United24 project showcased a further example of the homemade MT-LB mounted anti-tank gun vehicles. This time mounting the older T-12 100mm anti-tank gun, the T-12 is the predecessor to the MT-12 and uses the same family of ammunition. The vehicle seen in the video is on operations around Bakhmut, acting as a self-propelled gun. It lacks the armour shield to protect the gun crew seen on earlier examples of the homemade MT-LB based vehicles but it does have the supporting struts at the rear of the vehicle.

Update 23/12/22: Another interesting undated video of one of Ukraine’s MT-LBs with a 100-mm gun MT-12 mounted. Note the movement of the vehicle on firing, this example has the support struts at the rear of the vehicle, to minimise this and remove the need to re-lay the gun, but they have not been deployed. Unlike the version seen in the 15 December update this version utilises the MT-12s original gun shield but does not have additional protection added.


If you enjoyed this video and article please consider supporting our work here. We have some great perks available for Patreon Supporters – including custom stickers and early access to videos! Thank you for your support!

PTKM-1R: Russia’s Most Advanced Anti-Tank Mine

In recent weeks Ukrainian forces have shared photographs of captured PTKM-1R mines. These are without doubt Russia’s most advanced anti-tank mine design. The PTKM-1R’s main feature is that it is a top attack munition, much like a Javelin or NLAW. It can strike down from above at a tank’s least protected point – its roof and engine deck.  

PTKM-1R photographed in Ukraine in April 2022 (via social media)

The mines essentially brand new and were only publicly unveiled by Rosoboronexport in November 2021 at the Army 2021 exposition and later at EDEX 2021. They have been adopted by the Russian armed forces on a limited basis. The PTKM-1R was first seen in Ukraine back in late April, appearing to show it deployed. Russia have released no footage of the mines in action.

PTKM-1R submunition detonating and projecting its EPR down on a target during a 2021 demonstration (Rosoboronexport)

The PTKM-1R is a top-attack anti-tank/anti-vehicle mine which is designed to detect the passage of target vehicles using acoustic and seismic sensors. The launching charge then detonates and projects a submunition up into the air toward the target. As the sensor-fuzed submunition flies over the target and detects movement below it detonates firing an explosively formed penetrator (EFP) down onto the vehicle – attacking it where its armour is weakest. 

Sectioned PTKM-1R (Rosoboronexport)

The mine can engage targets at between 5 and 50m but can detect a target out to 100m. Targets are initially identified by the mine by comparing the detected signature with acoustic and seismic signatures in its internal database. Once a target is detected the mine calculates a flight path and the launch unit tilts 30-degrees toward the target to create a parabolic ballistic trajectory over the target. While the mine can detect targets in a 360-degree arc the mine itself has a limited arc, limited by the need to tilt before firing, the mine has a an arrow with ‘towards target’ for orientating the mine in the direction of expected engagement but in an Army 2021 presentation Rosoboronexport suggest that the mine can turn itself to face its target, and track it if needed.

Rosoboronexport graphic showing the trajectory of the PTKM-1R (Rosoboronexport)

The submunition is launched into the air at a speed of 30m/s to a height of approximately 30 metres. It then uses infrared sensors and radar to pinpoint its target before detonating its shaped charged to create an explosively formed penetrator. Rosoboronexport claim the mine can penetrate ‘at least 70mm’ of armour. 

The PTKM-1R can be considered an off-route mine like the German DM-22 and Estonian PK14s which are known to be in use with Ukrainian forces but its ability to strike from above sets it apart. The nearest similar system is the short-lived US M93 Hornet developed by Textron in the 1980s.

PTKM-1R captured in its transit chest, 10 September (via social media)

The launch unit (or transporter-launcher) incorporates eight feet that are lowered when the mine is deployed these provide a stable platform. According to Rosoboronexport the PTKM-1R weighs 19.9kg while its payload is said to be around 2.8kg of explosive. Two seismic sensors, which sense the vibrations caused by approaching vehicles, are deployed and there are also four cardiod microphones at the top of the unit which listen for the sounds of heavy armoured vehicles.

PTKM-1R captured by Ukrainian forces during Kharkiv offensive, 10 September (via social media)

On around the 10th September a second mine was photographed showing an undeployed PTKM-1R still in its transit chest. The mine was captured, reportedly by SSO, in the Kharkiv region on the eastern front where fighting has been significant and Russian forces appear to be rapidly falling back.

Update 17/10/22: On the 17th October, Ukrainian Telegram channels began sharing a short video of a PTKM-1R which appears to have launched its top-attack munition. The Telegram posts did not state where the footage was filmed. In the video we can see that the mine’s base unit has angled (supposedly towards its target) and has launched its munition.

Update: 23/11/22: A video from the DPR/DNR People’s Militia Press Office featuring a Russian sapper (possibly from the 56th Guards Air Assault Regiment operating in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast) explaining the deployment of the advanced Russian PTKM-1R top-attack mine. [Machine translation in video captions] H/t – Patrick Senft.

Update 26/11/22: Photographs of a deployed and detonated PTKM-1R have surfaced online.

Update 5/12/22:


If you enjoyed this video and article please consider supporting our work here. We have some great perks available for Patreon Supporters – including custom stickers and early access to videos! Thank you for your support!


Bibliography

Russian PTKM-1R Top-attack Anti-vehicle Mine Documented in Ukraine, ARES, (source)

PTKM-1R: Top-Attack Anti-Tank Mine, Rosoboronexport, (source)

PTKM-1R Landmine, Cat-UXO, (source)

PTKM-1R, Fenix Insight, (source)

Swedish PV-1110 Recoilless Guns In Ukraine

On 18 August Russian Telegram channels began sharing photographs of weapons claimed to be captured from Ukrainian forces, near Sloviansk, including a DShK, a damaged MG-42/59 and most interestingly a Swedish PV-1110.

The Pansarvärnspjäs 1110 or PV-1110 is a recoilless gun developed by Bofors which saw service with the Swedish military between 1959 and the late 1990s/early 2000s. While not the only recoilless rifle/gun in use in Ukraine, others include the Carl Gustav and SPG-9, the 90mm smoothbore PV-1110 is perhaps the rarest. With sources suggesting that fewer than 2,000 PV-1110s were manufactured this would make the PV-1110 one of the rarest anti-tank weapons in use in Ukraine.

A Swedish PV-1110 claimed to be captured from Ukrainian forces (via Russian telegram channels)

Developed in the early 1950s it was adopted by Sweden in 1959, the PV-1110 could be mounted on vehicles but also on a wheeled carriage with the barrel suspended from an ingenious ball joint mount. In the photographs of the captured example, showing its serial number #5936, we can see this two-wheeled carriage for the weapon. 

The ball joint was intended to compensate for firing from an uneven position. The PV-1110 weighs in at around 260kg (just over 570lbs) and has an optical sight on the left side of the barrel as well as a spotting rifle, based on the Ag m/42 chambered in 7.62x51mm, mounted on top. The PV-1110 has an effective range of up to 1,000m but engagement of moving targets is limited to around 700m according to the Lithuanian Army. With a good crew it is capable of firing up to 6 rounds per minute. The older m/62 HEAT round could penetrate up to 380mm of rolled homogeneous armour (RHA), the m/77 can penetrate up to 500mm and the m/84, the most modern and capable round can penetrate up to 800mm of armour. It’s unknown what ammunition has been provided for the guns.

A Swedish PV-1110 claimed to be captured from Ukrainian forces (via Russian telegram channels)

While it could be suggested that recoilless guns and rifles like the PV-1110 are obsolescent the continued use of the SPG-9 shows they still have their uses. The PV-1110’s low-profile combined with its still quite effective penetration means its still a viable weapon against most armoured vehicles its likely to encounter.

Following on from the first sighting in Ukraine on 22nd August footage of a PV-1110 firing from a defensive position surfaced and we can see the gun on its very recognisable mount.

Still from video of the PV-1110 in Ukraine, c.22 August 2022

But how did Ukrainian forces come by their PV-1110? There were likely transferred from one of the Baltic nations which have supplied Ukraine with considerable military assistance. Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia all received a number of PV-1110s from Sweden when they were retired from service. It is unclear how many weapons each of the three countries originally received.

Troops of the Lithuanian National Defense Volunteer Force training with the PV-1110 c.2014 (Lithuanian Army) 

The Estonian Defence League reportedly had over 100 in inventory as of 2018 while the Latvian National Guard have a similar number. Lithuania’s Army and National Defense Volunteer Force have previously been seen to be equipped with the PV-1110 in recent years but they have reportedly since been placed in wartime reserve storage. No country has publicly confirmed the transfer of the PV-1110s, so with the Baltic nations slowly removing the guns from service it’s likely that the PV-1110s either came from the remaining guns held by the Swedish Army or from the stores of Lithuania, Latvia or Estonia. Regardless of their origin they represent one of the rarest recoilless guns in service in Ukraine.

Update 18/10/22:

Some recent footage of the PV-1110 in use in Ukraine. It is unclear where or when this footage was filmed but it surfaced on social media around 15 October. I suspect it was filmed during training rather than when in action. Regardless, it represents one of the few pieces of footage we have of the Swedish recoilless guns in action in Ukraine.

Update 25/01/23:

The recently raised 47th Separate Assault Brigade have shared several photographs of a PV-1110 on their social media pages, between 10 and 15 January. The photographs were likely taken during training. The first is a point-of-view shot down the weapon’s barrel while the second is a side profile shot – both taken during firing.

Bibliography:

Pansarvärnspjäs 1110 Avvecklad, Soldf.com (source

Prieštankinis beatošliaužis pabūklas PV1110, Lithuanian Army, (source)

Lithuania Volunteers Train with PV-1110, Lithuanian Army, (source)

90mm Recoilless Rifle promotional video, Bofors, (source)


If you enjoyed this video and article please consider supporting our work here. We have some great perks available for Patreon Supporters – including custom stickers and early access to videos! Thank you for your support!

Ukraine’s Homemade Tank Destroyer

On 12 August videos of an improvised vehicle built by Ukrainian troops began to circulate online. While we’ve seen technicals and an increasing number of trucks turned into multiple rocket launcher systems, usually using spare or salvaged parts, in recent months the new vehicle is even more interesting.

Gun at full elevation (via ArmyInform)

The available footage shows an MT-LB tracked armoured fighting vehicle paired with an MT-12 anti-tank gun. Traditionally, the MT-LB and MT-12 aren’t an unusual pairing as the MT-LB was, and is, often used to tow artillery, including the 100mm MT-12 anti-tank gun.

Gun in action (via ArmyInform)

The Ukrainian General Staff shared a video of the homemade tank destroyer or self-propelled gun (SPG) in action on the 13 August, with the caption:

“Ukrainian soldiers demonstrate their own development, made from captured muscovite equipment. MTLB army tractor + MT-12 Rapira anti-tank gun = self-propelled anti-tank gun. The infantrymen did all the design and construction work on their own. The system has already been tested and is in the combat zone.”

The caption said that the footage had been filmed in the Mykolaiv region in early August by members of the Department of Public Relations of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. A further video shared by ArmyInform, simply titled ‘Kraken’ (perhaps the name given to the vehicle as the Kraken is a popular symbol among Ukrainian forces), shares much of the same footage and the same description text.

The gun and vehicle are both of Cold War vintage with the 100mm smoothbore MT-12 entering service in the early 1970s and the MT-LB coming into service in the late 1950s/early 1960s.

The hydraulics supports added to the rear of the MT-LB (via ArmyInform)

From the footage we can see that the vehicle has been substantially modified to mount the gun, part of the rear roof of the vehicle appears to have been removed to allow the crew to operate the gun with some protection and to also achieve the gun’s maximum 20-degree elevation. Perhaps most interestingly, at the rear of the vehicle the builders have added a pair of hydraulic supports to stabilise the vehicle when firing, these can be seen descending from the rear of the MT-LB. These may be built using the MT-12’s original trail.

A view of the rear of the gun and vehicle (via ArmyInform)

The video even shows that a barrel travel lock has been fitted to lock the gun in place when the vehicle is on the move. The video does not show the interior of the vehicle so it is unclear how much the vehicle and the mounting point for the gun has been reinforced. The gun itself weighs just over 3 tons or 2, 750kg, though some of this weight from the carriage has likely been removed through the cannibalisation of the carriages when the gun was mounted. The video doesn’t indicate how much ready ammunition the vehicle can carry either. The video also shows the gun being fired by crew outside the vehicle pulling a long lanyard. Sources in Ukraine have said that in the field the system is fired by both the lanyard and the firing lever on the gun.

Barrel travel lock added to the vehicle (via ArmyInform)

While at first glance the gun looks like it could also be an older DD-44, which have been seen in use, the characteristic muzzle brake suggests its the later MT-12. While the official Ukrainian Army statement suggests both the MT-LB and gun were captured both were in Ukraine’s inventory in significant numbers before the current conflict. Before the Russian invasion in February the Ukrainian Armed Forces were said to have up to 500 MT-12s in service, in 2020. Similarly, Ukraine operated over 2,000 MT-LB before the invasion but there is visual confirmation of numerous Russian MT-LBs being captured.

Gun ready to fire (via ArmyInform)

So why go to the trouble of adapting an MT-LB to be capable of firing a gun from its roof? Perhaps the most likely answer is speed into action. While an MT-LB towing an MT-12 can in theory get the gun into action in under 2 minutes the creation of this ad hoc tank destroyer allows the gun to be brought into and out of action faster. With the need to unlimber and position the gun removed the improvised self-propelled gun can, in theory at least, shoot and scoot.

A photo of an adapted MT-LB, possibly a different vehicle from the one seen in the video shared by the Ukrainian General Staff (Photo redacted for OPSEC purposes)
A view of the rear of the vehicle showing the considerable reinforcement where the roof has been cut away (Photo redacted for OPSEC purposes)

Sources in Ukraine suggest that more than one of these vehicles has been constructed with work ongoing since at least July. Photographs shared with TAB support this with the vehicle pictured sporting the Ukrainian digital camouflage pattern. The photographs show the mount and the reinforcement done to the vehicle to support the MT-12. They are reportedly used more as assault guns, than ‘tank destroyers’, with the guns being used against Russian fixed positions and in support of infantry manoeuvres.


If you enjoyed this video and article please consider supporting our work here. We have some great perks available for Patreon Supporters – including custom stickers and early access to videos! Thank you for your support!

Talking PIATs with Military History Visualised

Had the absolute pleasure of chatting about PIATs with Military History Visualized.

Ever since I wrote my book about the PIAT I have been passionate about explaining why it was actually a pretty decent bit of kit, just much maligned.

Always great to Bring Up The PIAT! Do check it out below:

A Look Inside A Heavily Damaged M3 Grant

I recently attended the We Have Ways of Making You Talk podcast’s history festival and one of the most striking things on display was a very rusty, heavily damaged M3 Grant! 

The tank, T24193, was one of the first M3 Grants to arrive in Britain in 1941. It was used for cross country and gunnery trials before later in the war it was used as a range target. The owner was kind enough to share some photographs of the tank before it was salvaged.

The tank was salvaged from Pirbright Ranges in Surrey in 2003 and restored mechanically but its external damage is going to be retained as a visual display of its history as a range target. According to the tank’s owner the M3 was used to test captured German Panzerfaust and Panzershreks and has approximately 100 10mm diameter holes from Panzershreks and nearly 400 12-13mm diameter wholes from Panzerfausts fired at the tank. There also appears to be larger holes, perhaps some HESH round damage and lots of small arms strikes or spalling marks.

Here are some photos of the tank:

I would love to read the report on that testing to see what they were trying to find out – a possible research project for the future. The Panzerfaust (capable of penetrating up to 200mm) and Panzershreks (capable of penetrating up to 160mm) definitely penetrated the M3 Grant’s 2 inch frontal and 1.5 inch side armour. 

With the tank on display I couldn’t resist getting some video of it, the surreal sight of light coming through both sides of the tank’s hull becomes sobering when you consider that Allied tanks faced the weapons which made the holes, in actual combat.


If you enjoyed this video and article please consider supporting our work here. We have some great perks available for Patreon Supporters – including custom stickers and early access to videos! Thank you for your support!

Ukraine’s Molotov Cocktails

Almost as soon as the war began we started to see evidence of Molotov cocktail manufacture. The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense was keen to highlight and encourage it to show civilian resolve in the face of the Russian invasion and there’s been numerous news reports and tv news segments on Molotov production. 

Footage of Molotov manufacture spread across social media and was quickly seized upon by the world’s media. Videos from across Ukraine showed children, students, the elderly and ordinary people working makeshift production lines. 

Kyiv civilians gather in a basement downtown to make Molotov Cocktails (Yan Boechat/VOA)

On the 26 February, two days after the Russian invasion women of Dnipro were featured on TV news making Molotov, shaving polystyrene for use as a thickening agent. In Lviv reports from 28 February suggested that 1,500 Molotovs were being made a day at just one makeshift factory. The Pravda brewery in Lviv also garnered attention with its employees and bottles turned over to Molotov production. The brewery manager said that they had produced 2,000 as of 18 March and shipped some to Kyiv. The former Ukrainian Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov even posed with Molotov Cocktail he’d made using a bottle of 1998 Château Mouton Rothschild. On 7 March the mayor of Lutsk, Ihor Polishchuk, estimated the city had a stockpile of as many as 7,000 Molotovs.

Ukrainian graphic showing where to throw Molotovs at a BTR-82A (Ukrainian MoD)

The morning after the invasion the Ukrainian National Guard posted a graphic showing how to make a Molotov and on the 28 February, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces share some graphics suggesting the best places to hit Russian vehicles with Molotovs. And there have also been billboards posted with instructions on how to make a Molotov and another with a simplified graphic showing good spots to throw them. 

We have also seen a number of interesting delivery systems developed ranging from a medieval-inspired catapults to a pneumatic mortar. On 28 February we got our first video of a Molotov being used. With a short video showing a Molotov drive-by, with a Ukrainian’s throwing a Molotov against the rear of a Russian vehicle before speeding away. Since then a handful of other videos have shown Ukrainian civilians or Territorial Defence Force members destroying abandoned Russian vehicles and equipment.

A Russian support vehicle struck by a Molotov Cocktail early in the conflict (via social media)

Historically speaking, petrol-based improvised incendiary bombs have been used since the 1930s. Perhaps the first prominent use came during the Spanish Civil War. The weapons gained their nickname during the Winter War after Soviet foreign minister Molotov. During the Second World War Molotov cocktails were one of the first weapons made by the fledgling British Home Guard, with them remaining in their arsenal well into the war. Both the British and US regular army’s trained with Molotovs during the early years of the war and they were certainly used by Soviet forces. Since then they have been used in countless riots, uprisings, revolutions, insurgencies and conflicts around the world.  

Soldier preparing to throw a Molotov cocktail at Ft. Belvoir, August, 1942 (US National Archives)

How widespread the use of Molotov cocktails has been is pretty much impossible to know at this point. Despite having a comparative wealth of footage and photos from the ground we still only have a tiny picture of what is going on. It does appear that some have been used by the Territorial Defence Force units to destroy abandoned Russian vehicles and some have even been thrown at Russian vehicles – either as part of individual acts of defiance or as part of more coordinated attacks on Russian forces.

While Molotovs may seem futile in the face of a 40+ tonne T-72, they remain a cheap and effective weapon and checkpoints across Ukraine have been seen to have ready supplies of them. For the urban fighting that was expected in cities across Ukraine they make perfect sense as a plentiful, simple weapon which can be used to pepper Russian vehicles. 


If you enjoyed this video and article please consider supporting our work here. We have some great perks available for Patreon Supporters – including custom stickers and early access to videos! Thank you for your support!


Bibliography:

‘‘I haven’t told my granny’: Ukraine’s student molotov cocktail-makers’, The Guardian, (source)
‘Ukraine conflict: The women making Molotov cocktails to defend their city’, BBC, (source)
‘Ukrainians Prepare Molotov Cocktails in Kyiv’, NYT, (source)
‘Vulnerable areas of enemy machinery’, Ukraine General Staff, (source)
‘Stark photos show Ukrainians, and even a local brewery, making Molotov cocktails to defend their cities’, Insider, (source)
How To Make a Molotov, Ukrainian National Guard, (source)
‘Catapult for throwing “Molotov cocktails” created in Lutsk’, Rubryka (source)
‘Ukrainian brewery switches from beer to Molotov cocktails’, France24, (source)

Javelin In Ukraine

The transfer of Western anti-armour weapons started before the war even began. The United States transferred significant shipments of Javelin anti-tank guided missiles along with M141 SMAW-D Bunker Defeat Munitions and Stinger MANPADS. 

At the same time as an initiative from the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia – Estonia also delivered Javelin missiles. For reasons of operational security we don’t know how many Javelins have been delivered to Ukraine by the US and Estonia at this time. However, Estonia is believed to have had several hundred in stock.

Ukrainian troops training with January in February 2022 (Ukrainian MoD)

What is Javelin?

Javelin is an infrared guided man-portable fire-and-forget anti-tank missile. It’s been been in service with over a dozen countries for over 20 years and is still produced by a joint venture between Raytheon Missiles & Defense and Lockheed Martin. It weighs about 22kg or 46 lbs ready to fire and had a detachable Command Launch Unit (or CLU) . Its effective range depends on the type of CLU but the improved Lightweight CLU introduced in 2020 can engage targets out to 4,000 metres (about 3 miles). As of 11 March, Lightweight CLU has not yet been seen in Ukraine. The earlier block 0 and 1 CLU can engage targets out to 2,500 meters (1.5 miles). The CLU enables this with a number of optics including a 4x day sight, a 4x night sight a 9.2x thermal sight. The CLU is also a useful tool for reconnaissance when other NVG and thermal imagers aren’t available. Once the gunner has their target and establishes a lock the missile can be launched.

Javelin’s CLU (US Army)

Javelin’s missile has a soft launch system which limits back blast and firing from relatively enclosed spaces. Once launched the main rocket motor kicks in at a safe distance. It uses automatic infrared self-guidance and has two modes of attack: direct for use against lightly armoured targets and structures and top-attack. In top-attack mode the missile climbs above the target and then plunges down on it to penetrate thinner top armour.

The missile has a tandem shaped charge high explosive anti-tank round. The initial charge can detonate any explosive reactive armour used by the enemy target vehicle while the second shaped charge will penetrate the target’s main armour. When the round detonates it super heats the metal of the armour and creates a high velocity stream of metal which enters the vehicle. More on the complex science behind shaped charges here. It can destroy vehicle’s drive systems or if it enters the fighting compartment it can kill or injure the crew and detonate munitions. 

History

Javelin was developed by Texas Instruments in cooperation with Martin Marietta. In the mid-1980s it beat off competition from Ford Aerospace and Hughes Aircraft to win the US Army’s Advanced Anti-Tank Weapon System—Medium program.

A Ukrainian Depot, early March 2022 (Ukrainian MoD)

In June 1989 Texas Instruments and Martin Marietta were awarded a development contract and the Javelin was adopted as the FGM-148. Javelin continued development and testing throughout the 90s before entering service. Since then it’s been adopted by countries including the UK, Australia, France, Norway, Poland, Taiwan, and many others. According to Raytheon the system is scheduled to be in inventory until 2050.

Javelin In Ukraine

Ukraine adopted Javelin in April 2018, ordering 210 missiles and 37 CLUs with a further order for 150 missiles and 10 CLS in December 2019. Since the threat of invasion became increasingly likely the US provided a series of aid packages worth $260 million. Reports suggest that at least 300 Javelin missiles were delivered as part of these packages. Since then the US has agreed a further package worth $350 million. 70% of this package is said to have been delivered as of 9 March. It’s difficult to estimate how many missiles and CLUs have been delivered so far but the number of missiles is likely over 1,000.    

Still from a Ukrainian training film on Javelin (Ukrainian MoD)

From the sparse evidence available we know that at least some of the Javelin transferred to Ukraine are confirmed to be  from older Block 0 stocks, which includes FGM-148A/B/C and D. The vast majority of Javelins in Ukraine are likely to be Block 0 variants. Block I, the FGM-148E came into service with the US in 2008 and has an improved CLU and rocket motor. Javelin’s shelf life is around 20 years, so it makes sense for these older production but still fully capable missiles to be sent first.

In early February the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense shared a short video showing troops testing the newly-arrived Javelins against tank hulks which had been fitted with so-called ‘Javelin Cages’, a metal structure which Russian tanks have recently added to their turrets. It is believed the cage is intended to detonate the initial charge of a Javelin before it contacts with the tanks explosive reactive armour or the hull itself. However, it is also believed that it is intended to defeat drone-fired micro munitions like the Turkish MAM series. The cage detonating the micro munition before it reaches the tank. The footage shared by the Ukrainian MoD showed that Javelin easily defeated the cages.

Update 15/3/22: We have now seen evidence of Block 1 FGM-148Es in Ukraine. Amael Kotlarski, Janes Infantry Weapons Editor, speculates that these may have originated from the Baltic states’ stocks. At least one example of the Block 1 and a number of Block 0s have been captured by Russian forces so far.

Ukrainian Defence Minister announcing arrival of a shipment of Javelin in January 2022

While at the time of publishing this video there has been no confirmed footage of Javelin in action in Ukraine, no doubt due to good Ukrainian OPSEC, we have seen the system in theatre. 

We got our first confirmation on 3 March, when Ukraine’s Operational Command “North” shared photos of troops being briefed on the use of NLAW and Javelin anti-tank weapons. In the photos we could see numerous Javelin transport cases stacked while troops were briefed on the Command Launch Unit (or CLU). On 6 March, the Ukrainian Armed forces shared a short instructional video on Javelin, showing how the battery is inserted and what the CLUs controls do.

How Capable is Javelin?

The penetration capabilities of Javelin are listed as classified with the USMC’s manual stating “The Javelin penetrates all known armor, “well” in excess of 30 inches [or 760mm] of rolled homogeneous steel.” This means Javelin is more than capable of knocking out any Russian armoured vehicle in Ukraine.

Javelin Missile (US Army)

In terms of performance in Ukraine, one report from 3 March, quoted an anonymous US Special Operations officer who is monitoring the conflict, suggested that of 300 Javelin fired, 280 knocked out vehicles. Time will tell.


If you enjoyed this video and article please consider supporting our work here. We have some great perks available for Patreon Supporters – including custom stickers and early access to videos! Thank you for your support!


Bibliography:

Javelin – Close Combat Missile System, Medium, FM3-22.37, US Army, 2008 (source)
Rundown: Western Anti-Tank Weapons For Ukraine, Overt Defense, (source)
Introduction to Crew Served Weapons, USMC, (source)
NLAW In Ukraine, Armourer’s Bench, (source)
As Russia Pounds Ukraine, NATO Countries Rush In Javelins and Stingers, New York Times, (source)
$60 Million Worth of US Military Aid Arrives In Ukraine, Overt Defense, (source)
First batch of Estonia-donated Javelin missiles arrive in Ukraine, EER, (source)
New US Military Aid to Ukraine Includes 300 Javelin, nv.ua, (source) Shaped Charge, Global Security, (source)