Colt Canada / Diemaco C7 Rifles & C8 Carbines in Ukraine

We’ve seen a large number of different small arms being transferred to Ukraine. The large number of different 5.56x45mm chambered rifles is especially interesting. This is the first of a series of videos examining the variety of different 5.56x45mm rifles which have been seen in the field. These range from US M4A1s to FN F2000s and everything in between. 

We’re starting the series examining the use of Colt Canada produced rifles and carbines. We first began to see Colt Canada C7 rifles appearing in the hands of Ukrainian personnel in May. They have continued to be seen in use with units including the Belarusian Kalinouski Regiment, International Legion Units and most recently one was seen in the hands of Ukrainian special operations forces landing on the Kinburn Spit. 

Members of the International Legion with C7A1 rifles fitted with ELCAN SpecterOS3.4x (C79) (via social media)

Diemaco, renamed Colt Canada in 2005, began producing the C7 in 1982. These were derived from the US M16A1E1 programme which led to the development and adoption of the M16A2. The C7 differs from the M16A2 in a number of ways but principally in that it retains the M16A1’s rear sight set up and its semi- and full-automatic fire modes, rather than the A2’s 3-round burst. The versions seen in use in Ukraine are C7A1s, which replace the fixed carrying handle with a modified Weaver rail for mounting optics.

The primary users of the C7A1 are Canada (who have since moved to the C7A3), Denmark who issue the C7A1 as the M/95 and the Netherlands who adopted the C7A1 in the early 1990s. 

Member of the Kalinouski Regiment with a C7A1 rifle fitted with an ELCAN Hi-Mag optic (via social media)

I reached out to the Dutch, Canadian and Danish defence ministries and while the Dutch and Danish ministries declined to comment the Canadian Ministry of National Defence responded to confirm that Canada has not, to-date, provided any C7 pattern rifles. Instead, the Canadian spokesperson confirmed that Canada has provided an unspecified number of C8 carbines. 

Another indicator of this is that some of the photographs show the original Diemaco stylised ‘D’ roll mark on the magazine housing. Canadian C7A1s have the ‘D’ roll mark above the trigger, with a Canadian maple leaf engraving on the magazine housing. Sources state that Colt Canada refitted most of Canada’s C7A1s into the C7A2 configuration, with a collapsing buttstock, in the 2010s. 

Ukrainian servicemen with C7A1 rifles fitted with ELCAN Hi-Mag optics (via social media)

This means that the C7A1 rifles seen in Ukraine were likely provided by either the Netherlands or Denmark. The Netherlands adopted the C7A1 and fielded it with ELCAN SpecterOS3.4x (C79). Interestingly, there has also been at least two sightings of a 6x ELCAN Hi-Mag on a C7A1 in early October. The Hi-Mag was adopted by the Dutch military as a machine gun optic which may point to at least some of the rifles coming from a transfer from the Netherlands. I have not been able to find any mention of the Danish armed forces using the Hi-Mag.

The C7A1s have been seen fitted with a mix of ELCAN C79s, Aimpoint Comps, various reflex sights and some with original Diemaco/Colt Canada rear iron sights. Some have already been adapted with some pretty interesting paint schemes and fitted with suppressors.

Various C7A1 rifles with suppressors (via social media)

An anonymous source familiar with Canada’s aid to Ukraine noted that the C8 Carbines transferred were C8 SFWs (C8A3s with railed forends). This means that the C8s so far seen in use in the field may be from Denmark, the Netherlands or another supplier. The first appearances of C8s in videos shared to social media that I could find date to September, but they’ve likely been in use prior to this. This piece of combat footage which was shared on social media around the 19 September is especially interesting as we see C8 carbines with ELCAN Specters but at least one has a red dot and magnifier set up. We can also see TRIAD rail mounts which are attached around the front sight base. This may indicate the carbines are C8A3s but its difficult to make out the other defining features of the A3. The TRIAD was developed to allow attachment of accessories without changing out the hangdguards, in this case most of the guys appear to have fitted vertical front grips

Ukrainian serviceman with a C8 Carbine, with Triad rail and a suppressor (via social media)

An individual on the Kherson front has also shared numerous images and videos featuring his personal weapon – a C8 with a suppressor and what appears to be a more modern ELCAN Specter. The individual also shared some footage of himself and others running a contact drills. 

In future articles/videos we will explore the plethora a 5.56×45mm chambered rifles, carbines and light machine guns transferred to Ukraine.


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SAS Weapons (1984)

In this video/article we’ll examine an internal British Army film about the Special Air Service Regiment or SAS. Produced in 1984 by the SSVC, the Services Sound & Vision Corporation, the 35 minute film provides an introduction to the SAS. It gives some insight into how the regiment’s members are selected, trained and goes into the roles of the four troops: Air, Boat, Mobility and Mountain, which make up the regiment’s four squadrons. The film also outlines the SAS’ role in close protection training and perhaps their best know role as an elite counter terrorism unit. 

It’s definitely worth watching the whole thing, its available up on the Imperial War Museum’s online archive. In this video we’ll take a look at some of the weapons featured in the film. We’ll split these up into a number of categories: foreign weapons, personal weapons and support weapons.

Foreign Weapons

Most of these clips relate to familiarisation with non-service weapons. These are weapons that might be encountered in the field either with allies or enemies. Several Combloc weapons a briefly seen including an RPD and a Chinese Type 56 rifle.

Some of the western small arms featured include brief clips of the FN Minimi and the HK21 – both weapons used by NATO allies – and also neutral Austria’s Steyr AUG bullpup – which SAS operators might encounter on operations. All three of these weapons were relatively new, the Minimi especially.

Personal Weapons

In terms of personal weapons we get a good look at a number of the in-service weapons which the SAS were issued at the time. The film opens with some footage of members of the SAS doing a static snap shooting drip, the troopers in the line are armed with a mix of weapons including an AR-15, a couple of L2A3 Sterling submachine guns and an Browning Auto-5 shotgun, which had found favour with British troops during operations in Malaya and Kenya. The SAS at the time also used the Remington 870. In another clip we see a trooper doing a contact drill with an L1A1 SLR.

Later in the film we see men from one of the mountain troops on operations. Much like the Royal Marines’ Mountain & Artic Warfare Cadre the SAS favoured the AR-15, like Colt 602 or 604s as well as another AR-pattern rifle, possibly a Model 603, fitted with an M203 under barrel grenade launcher. Worth noting that these guys also have 30 round magazines which had begun to be used in the early 80s.

In another short clip of some soldiers disembarking a helicopter during a section of the film about operations in Oman we see another AR pattern rifle and a metric FN FAL with a combo flash hider.

Close Protection & Counter Revolutionary Warfare Wing 

The film then goes on to explain the role the SAS take in training personal protection details and mounting personal protection for important figures. It briefly shows an MP5K and possible an appearance of an HK Operational Briefcase.

Possibly the SAS’ most famous element, the Counter Revolutionary Warfare Wing, is also featured, first showing with an operator in what’s known as ‘black kit’ with a respirator firing an MP5SD. Then a short sequence showing hostage rescue techniques, with a nod to the famous Iranian Embassy Siege operation. The operators are seen with MP5A3s, one of which has been adapted with a front grip and mounted with a Maglite-type weapon light. A room clearance drill is shown with a mix of MP5A3s and one operator has a MAC 10. The MAC 10 was one of the weapons which was surpassed by the MP5 and had been in use with UK special forces (including the SBS) throughout the 1970s.

Support Weapons

Finally, the film also features a variety of support weapons including L7 GPMGs mounted on Pink Panther Land Rovers of the Mobility Troops. Earlier in the film there are brief clips of what appears to be an M1919 Browning being cocked and a 66mm M72 LAW being readied to fire.

There’s also an interesting sequence explaining designating targets for aircraft featuring a Ferranti Laser targeting Module. Finally, we also get a very brief mention of the Operations Research team (responsible for equipment testing and experimentation) and a glimpse of an early machine gun reflex optic mounted on a GPMG. The film offers an interesting insight into the weapons, equipment, tactics and organisation of the SAS during a period where their notoriety grew exponentially. I highly recommend watching the full film over on the IWM’s archive.


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Bibliography:

‘The Special Air Service’, British Army/SSVC, (source)

Thanks to MajorSamm for pointing me in the direction of the video and to Vic for his help with this one.

Supercut: Ukrainian Farmers Stealing Russian Tanks

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February large quantities of vehicles and equipment have been captured or destroyed on both sides. Fighting a war in the social media age means we have an unprecedented amount of first hand footage and of course from this memes are going to evolve. Almost as soon as the war began videos of Ukrainian farmers towing Russian vehicles began to be shared on telegram, tiktok and instagram. Often salvaging abandoned equipment the videos soon made unlikely heroes of Ukraine’s farmers. So much so they’ve been commemorated not just by Saint Javelin merchandise but also an official stamp from the Ukrainian post office.

I’ve collected quite a few videos of the farmers in action over the last few months and Rob Lee over on twitter has been keeping a running thread too. So here’s a supercut of videos showing Ukrainian farmers towing away everything from trucks to Grad launchers to T-80 tanks!


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Bibliography:

Famous for towing captured Russian tanks, Ukrainian farmers step up for war effort, CBC News, (source)

Winning design in Ukraine’s second design contest features tractor and tank, Linn’s Stamp News, (source)

Ukraine Celebrates Its Tank-Towing Farmers, VOA, (source)

French HPD2A2 Mines in Ukraine

Earlier this week (7 November) Alexander Borodai, the former leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic now a member of the Russian Duma for the separatist region, was seen in a video showing a near miss with a French HPD 2A2 anti-vehicle mine. The video, believed to have been filmed south of Kherson, showed the lead vehicle of Borodai’s convoy damaged by a mine, while another mine was seen next to his vehicle. The lead vehicle appears to be badly damaged with the front of the vehicle seemingly taking the brunt. If the vehicles was damaged by a HPD 2A2 it is interesting that the 4×4 vehicle was able to set off the mine which is designed to be triggered by heavier armoured vehicles, though some sources state movement of even smaller metal objects near by can trigger the mine. Similary Borodai is lucky not to have triggered the mine’s anti-tamper system.

The mine is clearly identifiable as a French HPD-2A2 with the lot number 01-BT-19. Various sources suggest around 400,000 of the HPD series of mines have been produced and they’re in service with the French, Norwegian, Belgian and Swiss armed forces. From Borodai’s video we can see the mine has a serial number of ‘9131229‘. Another example photographed in early October has the partial serial number ‘91296..’ visible. Both mines are from the same lot and the end digits seem to denote year of manufacture – 2019.

Russian sources suggest the mines have been in theatre since August but the first images of the mines were shared in early July, pictured in the back of a Ukrainian van with German DM-22 off-route mines and DM-31s. Some video was released by a Ukrainian explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) officer in July which is claimed to show a Russian vehicle destroyed by one of the HPD-2A2 mines.

The HPD family of mines (which includes the HPD 1, 2 and 3) began to be developed in the early 1980s by Thomson-CSF and Daimler-Chrysler Aerospac. The HPD2 (or MI AC HPD F2 in French service) was introduced in 1988. The mines use a 3.3kg charge made up of an RDX/TNT mix to create an explosively formed penetrator using the Misznay–Schardin effect. The mines are said to be able to penetrate armour between 100 to 150mm thick. The mines have a 10 minute arming delay once set and can be active for up to 30 day before they deactivate themselves. Because the mine can be triggered by the electromagnetic field of a metal detector it has been said that this contravenes the Geneva Convention’s Protocol II (May 3, 1996).

The HPD-2 is made up of two sections: a fuze assembly with a magnetic influence sensor and a two battery power supply, the self-neutralising system and the arming mechanism and the mine’s explosive charge. It reportedly has an anti-handling device sensitive to motion and the signals produced by metal detectors. The mine is detonated when the seismic sensor reacts to vibrations made by passing vehicles and a magnetic sensor is activated. The magnetic sensor uses variation in the earth’s magnetic field caused by the proximity of a vehicle’s large metal mass. Sources suggest the magnetic sensors is triggered by vehicles over 8 tons.

While there has been no official confirmation the mines are believed to have been provided by France as part of their military aid to Ukraine which has also included VAB armoured vehicles, Mistral short range air defence systems and anti-tank guided missile systems including MILAN and Javelin.

We’ve previously examined the German DM22, Estonian PK-14 and Russian PTKM-1R mines in use in Ukraine.


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Bibliography:

HPD-2 Landmine, CAT-UXO, (source)

MI AC HPD F2 Landmine, Fenix Insight, (source)

HPD Mine, Lexpev.nl, (source)

HPD Mines, Rufor.org, (source)

MI ACH 88, RMS, (source)

State Duma deputy’s security car blows up on French HPD anti-tank mine in Ukraine’s Kherson region, EuroWeekly, (source)

Arms For Ukraine: French Weapons Deliveries To Kyiv, Oryx, (source)

Sweden’s KSP-58 Machine Guns In Ukraine

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February we’ve seen a number of FN MAG variants appear in use with Ukrainian forces. By far the most common appears to be the US M240 series. However, in recent months we’ve also seen a number of Swedish KSP-58s appear in imagery from the field.

Sweden has long supported the Ukrainian war effort providing a shipment of 5,000 Pansarskott m/86 anti-armour weapons (perhaps better known as the AT4) back in late February. The transfer of an additional batch of 5,000 m/86s was announced on 2 June. Most recently on 30 June it was reported that Sweden would provide a fresh batch of light anti-armour weapons and also machine guns as part of a transfer worth $49 million. When delivery of this aid was made is unconfirmed but the KSP-58s are reported to have been in theatre possibly as early as July – August.

While the type of machine gun was not confirmed, since the beginning of September we’ve seen imagery of a number of KSP-58 GPMGs appear in theatre. Easily identified by their wooden stocks, grey-green-coloured receiver finish and enclosed front sight. Sweden was one of the earliest adopters of the FN MAG and the Kulspruta 58 or KSP-58 entered service with the Swedish armed forces in the late 1950s and was originally chambered in the 6.5×55mm Swedish round. The KSP-58B was introduced following the adoption of 7.62x51mm. The guns were made under license from FN at the Carl Gustav Stads rifle factory in Eskilstuna.

A KSP-58B in use with Ukrainian troops c. September 2022 (via social media)

These have been seen in the hands of International Legion units and also regular Ukrainian Army units centred around Mykolaiv and Kherson. All the the examples of the weapon sighted appear to be KSP-58Bs, none of the guns seen have the Picatinny rails seen in the KSP-58F. 

Speaking to Kaiser [frontline_view_kaiser] a German volunteer with the Ukrainian Army, he said his unit encountered a “a brand-new, never used KSP with original factory delivered Box and all accessories untouched”. His colleague Yuri [nucking_futs_yuri] has shared some videos filmed in late-August, during a training session he ran on FN MAG variants for various Ukrainian units. Yuri said their were about 20 guns on the range during the training session, with the majority being KSP-58s. Yuri shared a video in mid-September firing a through a KSP-58B, from the hip, filmed after the training session had been completed. 

Yuri with a KSP-58B c. September 2022 (nucking_futs_yuri)

While we can’t confirm that the KSP-58s came directly from Sweden it seems likely. Another potential origin for the weapons may be the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania). Sweden gifted an unconfirmed number of KSP-58s to the Baltic States in the 1990s. Today, the guns remain in service with the Latvian Army and National Guard, the Estonian Army and Estonian Defence League and the Lithuanian Army and National Defence Volunteer Force. Both Estonia and Lithuania began searching for a replacement for the KSP-58 in mid-2021. Given the Baltic states’ support for Ukraine the guns may potentially have originated from there, rather than Sweden itself. We have already seen the Baltic States have transferred former Swedish equipment including the PV-1110 recoilless anti-tank gun which were given to the Baltic states in the early 1990s.

It remains to be seen if we’ll see more of the KSP-58s in the field but in future articles/videos we’ll look at other FN MAG variants are in use in Ukraine.

Thank you to Kaiser and Yuri for their input – definitely check them out on their social media!


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:

Kulspruta 58, Forsvarsmakten, (source)

KSP-58, Soldf.com, (source)

Sweden to boost military aid to Ukraine, Politico, 29 Aug. 2022, (source)

Sweden to send military aid to Ukraine, Reuters, 27 Feb. 2022, (source)

Sweden assists Ukraine with the Robot 17, SVt.se, 2 June 2022, (source)

Sweden to send more anti-tank weapons and machine guns to Ukraine, Reuters, 30 June 2022, (source)

Estonia to acquire new weapons for EDF, Defense League, ERR, 18 Nov. 2022, (source)

Lithuania buys machine guns for EUR 34 million, Defence 24, 20 Aug. 2022, (source)

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)

Second World War Anglo-American Ammunition Contract

Recently a very interesting document surfaced in an online auction, while it eventually sold for more than I could afford, I thought it was worth sharing some of the interesting images of the document that were shared in the auction.

Front page of a draft contract for ammunition, drawn up between the British Purchasing Commission and the Western Cartridge Co. (via War-Office)

The document is a draft of a contract to order .303 ammunition from the Western Cartridge Company, part of the Olin Corporation. Before the US passed the Lend-Lease Act, in March 1941, which cleared the was for greater material assistance from the US to Britain the British Purchasing Commission was tasked with procuring arms, ammunition and materials from US companies.

First page of the contract (via War-Office)

The document, originally drawn up in December 1940 called for a mind-blowing 75 million cartridge per month. To do this the Western Cartridge Company needed to expand its production capacity. The contract deals with the intricacies of expanding the company’s manufacturing base and how this expansion would be paid for.

A still from a British newsreel c.1942, showing a British ammunition factory.

The contract states that the .303 ammunition would be for aircraft, for use in weapons like the belt-fed .303 Browning machine guns used in the RAF’s bombers and fighters. The contract mentions that a total of 750 million rounds are required. 20% of these could be requested, at a month’s notice, to be tracer rounds.

It is fascinating to see not only the typed and stapled amendments but also the handwritten notes in the contract’s margins which change quantities, dates and other details. The ammunition is described in ‘Exhibit F’ of the contract as being ‘MkVII .303’. The contract also mentions that the Western Cartridge Company could use its own smokeless powder for the first 100 million rounds and subsequently either their own or powder from Du Pont or the Hercules Powder Company. This means that the ammunition was probably MkVIIIz, as the cartridges did not use Cordite. It is unclear whether the projectiles to be used in the Western Cartridge Co. cartridges used the MkVIIIz boat tail .303 projectile.

A still from a British newsreel c.1942, showing .303 ammunition being tested at a British ammunition factory. The ammunition is being tested in a Vickers Gun, a Bren LMG, a Vickers K and a .303 aircraft Browning

The Western Cartridge Company was not the only US ammunition manufacturer to produce .303. Winchester, another Olin Corporation manufacturer, and the Peter’s Cartridge Company also produced .303 MkVIIIZ.

Sadly we don’t have the rest of the document to examine but these pages offer a really interesting insight into how Britain was procuring ammunition for various weapons during the early part of the war when the situation looked increasingly desperate.

Pages from the March 1941 contract (via War-Office)

A subsequent auction listing for ‘Contract No. A-1562. Requisition No. U.S.233. Dated March, 1941’ also calls for a substantial amount of ammunition, some 400,000,000 rounds. The 42 page contract refers to the ammunition as MkVII and notes the use of Hercules Hivel 300 powder and describes it as ‘S.A. Ball .303 with American modifications dated 7 November, 1940’. The March 1941 contract also states that depending on testing it could be used for ground or air use.

If you found this interesting check out our article/video on a unique Remington M1903 Prototype chambered in .303 built for Britain around the same time!


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:

The .303 British Service Cartridge, R. Tebbutt, (source)
Original WW2 British Contract for Manufacture of .303 Ammunition by Winchester, Dec. 1940 eBay/War-Office (source)
Original WW2 British Contract for Manufacture of .303 Ammunition by Winchester, Mar. 1941 eBay/War-Office (source)

British Military Small Arms Ammo, (source)

The Browning Machine Gun – Rifle Calibre Browning Abroad, D. Goldsmith, (2006)
British 303 Cartridge Case Identification, S. Taylor, (source)

Footage:

Manufacture and testing of 0.303″ Ammunition in 1942 (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.


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PK-14 Directional Mines In Ukraine

Recently another interesting anti-tank mine was spotted in use in Ukraine. The Estonian PK-14 or M14 directional mine appeared in photographs which were shared online around 9 September. The PK-14 is a directional mine capable of penetrating about 50mm of armour at a distance of 50 meters.

Photos of the PK-14 in the field were shared for the first time on 9 September (via Social Media)

Unlike the German DM22, which is also in service with Ukrainian forces, the PK-14 utilises the Misznay–Schardin effect with 1.5kg charge of PBX used to create an explosively formed penetrator. The PK-14 is capable of damaging most light IFVs and AFVs. It can be set up on a small tripod or even mounted to a tree, telephone poll or post – useful for attacking targets from above.   

The Estonian defence company who manufactures the mine list it as both the PK-14 and M14.  The mine is produced by Terramil under license from another Estonian defence company, Eesti Arsenal, who also offer several training systems.

The PK-14 assembled (nucking_futs_yuri)
The PK-14 assembled, tripod in the tall configuration (nucking_futs_yuri)
The PK-14 assembled, tripod in the low configuration (nucking_futs_yuri)

The PK-14 has a diopter sight which attaches to the top of the mine and allows it to be laid across the expected path of a target. The sight itself is a inexpensive moulded plastic tube with a narrow aperture which was described to us by an American serving with the Ukrainian armed forces as looking “like a scope you would find on a cheap toy gun at the corner store”. The mine’s casing is cleverly designed with a series of grooves that allow the sight to be slid into place and for the mine itself to be mounted on its tripod.

The PK-14’s sight tube (nucking_futs_yuri)

This instructional video from the manufacturers shows how the mine can be set up. The mine is command-initiated using a shock tube integrated system (STIS). This means that the mine isn’t tripped by a wire like the German DM-22 or by movement as in the Russian PTKM-1R, but in person by an operator. In practice the operator would set up the mine at a location the enemy is expected to pass, unspool the shock cord back to a concealed position and wait for the enemy vehicle to move within range of the mine.

In theory it is possible to rig the mines up with a makeshift pressure plate detonation system you could take the pressure plate from a conventional anti-tank mine like a TM-46 or TM-57 and wrap some detcord with a blasting cap at the end around it so when a vehicle rolls over it detonates the mine. The mine can be set up to strike from above so it hits the tank’s weak top armour or buried in the middle of the road so it can strike up through the vehicle’s belly armour.

The PK-14’s basic components (nucking_futs_yuri)

Special thanks to nucking_futs_yuri, who is best known as the turret gunner who ran an M2 Browning and was handed some AT4s by his vehicle crew when he called for more ammunition in a recent viral video. Yuri has provided photos and video of a PK-14 in his units inventory. Check out his video showing the components of the mine here.

It’s a small, affordable mine but it is currently unknown how many PK-14 mines have been sent to Ukraine but Estonia, along with the other Baltic states, has been a significant supporter of Ukraine since before Russia’s invasion in February. Estonia began procuring the mines for the Estonian Defence Force in 2015.

nucking_futs_yuri’s video showing the components and set up of the PK-14

In terms of how they may be deployed in Ukraine, the small size and light weight of the PK-14 may be useful for small Ukrainian reconnaissance and special forces teams operating behind Russian lines. Yuri explained that they’re preferred over convention Soviet TM mines as they’re lighter, he stated that:

“normally we each take 2 or more with us, set up our ambush and wait. We could mount them high if need be and get the top of the turret or even bury them in the middle of the road… so it explodes under the center of the tank.”

Check out Yuri’s YouTube channel and Instagram page.


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Bibliography:

PK-14 Landmine, CAT-UXO, (source)

‘The “smart” mines produced by an Estonian company will receive their first combat missions in Ukraine’, Forte, (source)

Anti-armor mine PK-14, Terramil, (source)

PK-14 Side Mines, Eesti Arsenal, (source)

Accuracy International Rifles in Ukraine

In this article/video we’ll examine the use of Accuracy International rifles in Ukraine. This was prompted by an interesting video that was shared by the Belorussian Kastus Kalinoukski volunteer regiment a few days ago. They explain some of the rifles characteristics and how they employ it. 

The rifle shown in the Kalinouski Regiment’s video is described as an Arctic Warfare (AW) model or L118A1 (the British service designation for the rifle) but in the video the sniper mentions it is chambered in .338 Lapua Magnum, meaning its actually an Arctic Warfare Magnum (AWM). It’s fitted with a Schmidt & Bender 5-25×56 PM II optic with a P4FL reticle.

Ukrainian sniper with an AXMC mounted with an Archer TSA-9 , March 2022, (via Social Media)

Our first sighting on an Accuracy International rifle in the field came around the end of March when a Ukrainian sniper was pictured with an AXMC mounted with an Archer TSA-9 thermal scope. A week or so later on the 11 April, members of the Georgian Legion were seen with an AWM. 

In a video from the 17 April another AWM can be seen in a video filmed by a member of the Georgian Legion. On the 21 April a photo of international legion volunteers training included another AWM. At the very end of the month a well equipped Ukrainian Territorial Defence Force unit, reportedly made up of international volunteers featured another AWM.

Member of the Kalinouski Regiment with AWM, September 2022, (Kalinowski Regiment)

At the beginning of May a volunteer was seen in a number of photos, first posed with a French flag holding an AT308 (Accuracy Tactical), the latest evolution of the AW. On around the 4 May another photo of a TDF unit included the same sniper and rifle – in this photograph the bolt handle and action is more visible and its profile and the presence of an AICS (Accuracy International Chassis System) PMAG suggest the rifle may be a Remington 700 in an Accuracy International chassis. Finally, on 17 May, a short clip of a  sniper in a hide position. He’s armed with a rifle which looks to be the same as seen in the earlier photographs. 

A member of the Kalinowkski Regiment with an AWM (via Social Media)

On the 19th May a photo of a member of the Kalinoukski Regiment was shared holding an AWM in a black stock. Several weeks later on 26 June, snipers of the Georgian volunteer unit posed, with one armed with what appears from the stock shape to be an AWM. On 17 September Russian telegram channels began sharing a photo of a Ukrainian sniper’s AW rifle captured in the Bakhmut area.

a Ukrainian sniper with a suppressed AX308, May 2022, (via Social Media)

Other Accuracy International rifles have also been sighted, in April 2022 Chechens were pictured with a captured AXMC and a photo of a Ukrainian sniper with a suppressed AX308 with a NightForce optic was shared in late May.

In terms of where the rifles originated from the only confirmed source for at least some of the rifles is a reported transfer of rifles from the Dutch military. From the limited data set available we can see that the AWM are the most commonly seen in the field. But as with any survey which relies on open source intelligence this isn’t an exhaustive look at where the rifles are being used and which units have them. 

Check out our earlier article/video on the use of Savage Arms rifles in Ukraine.


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