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

Makeshift Fire Extinguisher RPG Warhead

In December images of Chechen volunteers fighting with the Ukrainian Armed Forces began to feature an interesting craft-made weapon – an RPG munition made from the body of a small fire extinguisher. 

These RPG-warheads improvised from fire extinguishers have appeared in numerous videos and photographs of the Sheikh Mansur Battalion. The battalion was formed back in 2014 and is made up of exiled Chechens who reject Russian control of their region. The battalion itself is named after an 18th century Chechen military leader Sheikh Mansur. The battalion had disbanded in 2019, but reformed in March 2022 following the invasion. Since then they have reportedly seen action during the Battle of Kyiv, in the Donbas, during the Battle of Sievierodonetsk and most recently in the fighting around Bakhmut. 

There’s a long history of improvised warheads adapted for launch from the RPG-7 but I think this is the first time I’ve seen a fire extinguisher body used, at least in this phase of the fighting in Ukraine. 

A section of the Sheikh Mansur Battalion, with a craft-made fire extinguisher munition, Bahkmut, December 2022 (via Sheikh Mansur Battalion)

It appears that the fire extinguisher body has been emptied and filled with whatever explosive and shrapnel material is readily available and then adapted to fit the sustainer motor and booster assemblies. They appear to use V-429 or V-429E point detonating fuzes. These fuzes were developed for use on high explosive (HE) projectiles used by various Combloc weapon systems including the T-12 and MT-12 100mm anti-tank guns and the 115mm main gun of the T-62 and 125mm main guns of the T-64, T-72, T-80 and T-90 series tanks. Some other fuzes appear to be used too but conceivably any impact fuze would work. The inertia armed fuzes normally arm within 5-15m of the muzzle once fired from a conventional barrel. It appears that the fuzes have been epoxied into place.

Close up of a craft-made fire extinguisher munition, Bahkmut, December 2022 (via social media)

How the mass and shape of the improvised round impacts the velocity of the warhead once it is fired is unclear. But Bild correspondent Bjorn Stritzel, who recently met with members of the Battalion while writing an article about them, told me that the range of the warheads is about 100m. He noted that the Chechen’s have found them to be ‘very effective in Bakhmut’ and that ‘apparently its firepower surprised RF entrenched in houses’ according to radio chatter picked up by the Battalion. 

While we don’t have a perfect close up of them the extinguishers themselves appear to be small 2kg (or 5lbs) units which contain powder. From a quick survey of some Ukrainian websites which sell the extinguishers, the price of these ranges between 300 and 500 Hryvnias (or $8 & $14).

A member of the Sheik Mansur Battalion demonstrates a craft-made fire extinguisher munition, Bahkmut, December 2022 (via Sky News)

The fire extinguisher rounds are probably being used as anti-personnel weapons which would be fitting for the sort of fighting occurring around Bakhmut where the majority of the imagery is said to be coming from. The thin steel body of the extinguisher may provide suitable fragmentation or depending on the metallurgy it may just rupture. According to Stritzel the filling of the warheads is around 50% explosive and 50% shrapnel material. He also noted that the Chechen’s described the warhead as being “three times more powerful than a normal OG-7V [fragmentation RPG-7 round]”. 

Two craft-made fire extinguisher munitions, Bahkmut, December 2022 (via Bjorn Stritzel)

The first video featuring the improvised warheads was published by the Sheikh Mansur Battalion on their social media in around mid December. In a Sky News report from the 22 December, a member of the Battalion demonstrates how one of the extinguisher warheads is loaded. A video posted to the Battalion’s social media on the 27 December showed a number, perhaps four, of the improvised rounds stacked ready for use with booster assemblies attached. 

On the 31 December, the Battalion shared a photograph of a group of eight Battalion members, one of which can be seen holding an RPG-7 with one of the improvised extinguisher rounds loaded. During the second week of January, a short, undated, video of an individual in a fighting position firing one of the craft-made warheads was shared. We get some idea of the weight of the round in this clip.

The most recent video (see stills above), posted on TikTok, on the 12 January, shows two of the improvised munitions being fired. These warheads follow the same design but differ slightly in that the fire extinguisher body appears to have been cut open at the centre and then welded back together. Perhaps this is done to easier fill the munition or perhaps to shorten a longer extinguisher body. For the first time we also get to see the explosion of the rounds down range. This video again gives us a good indication of the weight of the round from the movement of the shooter. It also illustrates the distances the rounds can travel. Notably it appears to be used here against a Russian field work rather than against a building.

With fighting continuing in Bakhmut we are likely to see more of these improvised fire extinguisher rounds in use, especially if they are as effective as the Sheikh Mansur Battalion suggest.


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:

V429 Fuze, CAT UXO, (source)

V429E Fuze, CAT UXO, (source)

‘They prefer death to Russian torture’, Bild, (source)

The Chechens fighting Putin in Ukraine, Sky News, (source)

US & Canadian M67 Grenades In Ukraine

A range of Western, Eastern European and Russian hand grenades have been seen in use in Ukraine over the last eight months. One of these is the M67 Fragmentation Grenade which are believed to have been provided by the US and Canada.

The M67 evolved from the earlier M33, it began to be fielded in 1968. They are produced by Day & Zimmermann, who state they have produced over 43 million of the grenades. It is a spherical anti-personnel fragmentation grenade which has a Composition B filling. Composition B is made up for a RDX and TNT mix. The M67 explosive filling weighs in at 6.5oz (180g). It uses the M213 fuze which provides a 4 to 5 second delay after deployment.

There is a spring clip which interacts with the spoon and safety pin. On detonation the grenade’s steel outer body fragments to create an injury radius of around 15 metres (50 feet). The fragmentation is caused by scoring on the inside of of the grenade’s outer body.

A captured M67 Grenade (via Social Media)

The US government has confirmed that hand grenades have been provided to Ukraine but specific mentions of them in the regular fact sheets breaking down aid have not been common since the spring when it was said that ‘over 1 million grenade, mortar and artillery rounds’ had been provided. Canada has previously, on 3 March, confirmed the supply of 7500 hand grenades of an unspecified type. 

Imagery of the grenades first began to be circulated online in May with the Azov-Dnipro 98th Territorial Defence Battalion sharing several videos featuring them. In their first video they showed a couple of transit chests, each containing 30 individually packed grenades. They then showed the individual packaging of the grenades. In another video posted a few days later the show an M67 alongside a French OF37.

On the 15 June, Russia’s Zvezda News shared a short interview with a soldier from the separatist Luhansk People’s Republic showing off captured weapons including an 66mm M72 LAW and an M67 grenade. Describing the grenade he said: “We are already walking around with American [grenades]. The grenade is convenient, it flies far.”

M67 Grenade in its cardboard transit tube (via Social Media)

A short video of one of the grenades was shared in late June and in late July the 98th Territorial Defence Battalion shared a clip showing soldiers training with live grenades. On the 18 August, Valgear shared a short video showing an M67 he believed has been provided by Canada. An M67 and its individual packaging was shown in another video posted by a Ukrainian soldier on 23 August.

In August several videos featuring M67s were also shared by Russian forces. The first video showing off a captured example of the M67 was posted on 3 August, featuring a DPR officer examining a grenade. On the 28 August another brief clip of a captured grenade was also shared. 

In September the Russian YouTube channel ‘Big Calibre Trouble’ published a video testing the blast effect of several grenades including an M67. Similarly, Ukrainian YouTube Channel ‘Boys from the Forest’ also demonstrated the M67 and German DM51. Most recently several photos of M67s have been shared.

M67 Grenade (via Social Media)

From the sources available it appears that Canadian-made grenades are marked with a ‘CA’ prefix. So far the grenades we’ve identified in the photos and footage from the field all of the grenades appear to have US markings. Exactly how many M67s have been provided to Ukraine, and by whom, remains unclear but the number seems likely to be in the tens of thousands.  

Research Note: Two lots of M67 grenades have been visually confirmed from available imagery:

DAZ20F022-006 – 5 confirmed examples

DAZ21C022-014 – 3 confirmed examples


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:

M67 Hand Grenade, Day & Zimmerman, (source)

M33, M59, M67 & M68, Lexpev.nl, (source)

C13 Fragmentation, Lexpev.nl, (source)

M67 Hand Grenade, CAT-UXO, (source)

Breakdown: How Many Ukrainian Troops Has the US Trained?

The US Department of Defense recently announced that they would be expanding their training of Ukrainian personnel in January. The new training program will aim to train 500 Ukrainians per month giving them instruction on combined arms operations and tactics from the squad to the battalion level. 

Long before the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February the US and other NATO nations had been heavily engaged in training the Ukrainian military to NATO standards. The US, UK and Canada established a Joint Commission for Defence Reform and Security Cooperation In July 2014, which later expanded. The Canadian training operation was known as Unifier while the British operation was known as Orbital, which has now   been superseded by Operation Interflex.

Just before that announcement, however, the US also confirmed how many Ukrainian personnel have been trained so far. A US European Command Spokesperson shared a breakdown of how many troops have been trained on a number of major systems. 

In a statement a European Command spokesperson told me that:

“Training is key to Ukraine’s continued success on the battlefield by ensuring that Ukraine has the skilled forces necessary to sustain its efforts to push back on Russian aggression. Since the U.S. started to provide security assistance to support Ukraine in defense of their nation, the United States has trained approximately 3,100 members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces”. 

The breakdown of training provided to Ukrainian personnel covers a number of different systems and platforms: 

The system which has seen by far the largest number of Ukrainian troops trained is the M777 155mm howitzer. As of 9 December the US has provided Ukraine with ‘142 155mm Howitzers and up to 1,004,000 155mm artillery rounds’. To operate these guns in the field the US has trained approximately 870 Ukrainian gunners. In addition to this 310 personnel have been trained on the M109 155mm self-propelled howitzer, M109s have been donated by the US, UK and Norway.

Other troops have been trained on the lighter 105mm M119 howitzers, 36 of which have been provided by the US with further guns coming from the UK. Around 500 Ukrainian gunners have been trained on the 105mm howitzers by US personnel, with more being trained in the UK by a multi-national training cadre. 220 Ukrainian personnel have also received training on the M120 mortar.

Finally, US EUCOM’s breakdown outlined that approximately 610 Ukrainian personnel have been trained on the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System. So far 38 227mm HIMARs have been transferred to Ukraine by the US.

US personnel have also provided training on a number of vehicles, training 140 Ukrainians on M113 armored personnel carriers. With all of the vehicles and weapon systems it is unclear what ratio of these troops included instructors, mechanics and crews. At the time of writing the US has provided 200 M113s with European allies providing including Denmark, Spain, the Netherlands, Australia, Germany, Portugal, Lithuania and Austria also providing a similar number of M113 variants. The EUCOM spokesperson also noted that an unspecified number of Ukrainian troops had been trained on the M1089 Wrecker, a recovery vehicle which is part of the Medium Tactical Vehicles family. The latest Department of Defense factsheet on equipment provided to Ukraine notes that “22 Tactical Vehicles to recover equipment” have been transferred.

While the provided breakdown of systems Ukrainian troops have been trained on by US personnel outside of Ukraine isn’t exhaustive it also included 450 personnel who have received training on ‘other’ systems such as the M1089 and various Unmanned Aerial Vehicle platforms. 

Much of this training has been carried out at US military sites in Poland and Germany but as we’ve already seen in previous videos Ukrainian troops are also being trained in the UK by a multi-national training force, in Lithuania and elsewhere.

This article was adapted from my earlier article at Overt Defense.


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!

Ukraine’s Newest Howitzer Is An Antique

Plenty of old weapon systems are in use in Ukraine and artillery is no exception. This week the first footage of a batch of 105mm howitzers from Lithuania in action was shared online.

Lithuania has transferred an undisclosed number of M101 towed howitzers. While the 105mm gun lacks the range and punch of the 155mm M777s, Caesars, AHS Krabs and PzH 2000s which have made headlines in recent months, the venerable M101 is a proven weapon.

Introduced in 1941 as the M2A1, the gun has seen service around the world. First during the Second World War and later in Korea, Vietnam and in dozens of regional conflicts around the world. Now it finds itself equipping Ukrainian Army batteries.

The M101 weighs in at 2.5 tons or 2,260 kg and firing conventional M1 high explosive shells has a maximum range of 11,500 metres or just over 7 miles. The M1 round is made up of the  the M1 High Explosive projectile, the M14 Cartridge Case, the M67 Propelling Charges and the M28 Percussion Primer.

The Baltic nation of Lithuania, has been a staunch supporter of Ukraine throughout the conflict providing equipment, arms and training. Lithuania  originally received 54 of the guns from Denmark in 2002. Now, as Lithuania upgrades to 155mm systems the old guns have found a new home. While it is unconfirmed whether Ukrainian troops trained to use the guns in Lithuania, Ukrainian troops have been training in the Baltic nation.

The first guns were shipped in September, with the Lithuanian Minister of Defence announcing the transfer on his social media, but the first footage of them in action in Ukraine didn’t surface until late November.

While the M101 may be old it has the major advantage in that if fires the readily available family of 105mm NATO ammunition. This 105mm ammunition is used by a number of light artillery systems including the more modern US M119A3 and L119 towed 105mm howitzers. As of November 2022, the US has provided 180,000 rounds of 105mm. 

While the M101 may seem like a step down from the 155mm systems in use it has a number of factors which mean the guns are still effective. Firstly, they are used in conjunction with drones which help adjust fire in real time to produce improve effect on target. Secondly, they can use M927 rocket-assisted projectiles which increase the gun’s range by 40%, around 17km. M927’s were first seen in late August being used in conjunction with L119 light guns.

The M101 is certainly an improvement over the 85mm D-44 guns that some Ukrainian Territorial Defense Force units have been seen using and the venerable 100mm MT-12 which has a range of just over 5 miles. While the M101 can’t hope to go toe to toe with Russian 152mm artillery, if used in its original role as an infantry support gun the venerable M101s will prove useful. 


Update 07/12/22: Another short clip of an M101 in action was shared on the 7 December, showing the more closely than previous footage.

Update 12/01/23: Gunners of the 66th Separate Mechanized Brigade practice firing 105mm M101 howitzers.


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:

M101s for Ukraine, Arvydas Anusauskas, (source)

Lithuania sends howitzers from its reserve to Ukraine, LRT, (source)

Ukraine Aid Fact Sheet 23 November 2022, US Department of Defense, (source)

Ukraine received 105mm M927 high-explosive rocket-assisted projectiles, Mil.In.UA., (source)

British Brimstone 2 Missiles in Use in Ukraine

Footage of Brimstone anti-armour missiles being launched in Ukraine surfaced for the first time on 12 May but recent footage points to Ukraine now potentially deploying the Dual Mode Brimstone 2. In this updated video we look at what the missile is capable of, how they came to be in Ukraine and how they have been deployed.

A still from footage of a launch from the ‘Brimstone technical’ with the missile potentially being a Brimstone 2 with a translucent seeker head, shared online in early November (via Social Media)

In our earlier video on Brimstone use in Ukraine we examined the system’s capabilities, history and the new ad-hoc ground launch platforms in use. In this updated video we look at evidence of Brimstone use over the summer and autumn of 2022 and discuss the transfer of Brimstone 2 and its capabilities.

Brimstone 2 missiles being loaded aboard an RAF transport aircraft at RAF Brize Norton – perhaps around 48 missiles appear to be on board. (UK MoD)

The UK Ministry of Defence publicly confirmed the transfer of ‘Brimstone 2 Operational Missile Dual Mode’ to Ukraine on the 27 November with a short video. Dual Mode refers to a variant of the missile which can be used both as a ‘fire and forget’ system but also have a ‘man-in-the-loop’ capability which was originally developed as part of an Urgent Operational Requirement for a low-collateral damage weapon. According to MBDA Brimstone 2 has “an overall increase in performance with improvements in range and engagement footprint”, this is enabled by improved seeker, improvements to the missiles airframe with a more modular design and software updates.

Read the full, updated, article on Brimstone in Ukraine here.


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!


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!


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:

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)

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!

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!

M14s in Ukraine

Over the past month or so we’ve seen an increasing number of photographs of M14 rifles appearing in Ukraine. Developed in the 1950s and chambered in the brand new 7.62x51mm cartridge it entered US service in early 1960. They’ve since seen service around the world, most recently in Ukraine.

While the US Department of Defense has confirmed the transfer of 7,000 assorted small arms so far, these rifles are largely thought to have originated from the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia who have been extremely supportive of Ukraine since the weeks preceding the Russian invasion in February. We can’t be certain from which country or countries the rifles originated from. The Baltic states received large numbers of the rifles from the US via Security Assistance packages when they began to work towards compliant with NATO standards in the 1990s. The transfers were reportedly made under the Excess Defense Articles program. All three of the countries eventually joined NATO in March 2004. 

Latvian marksmen with upgraded M14s (Latvian Armed Forces)

Latvia received its first batch of 10,000 M14s in 1996 with a larger second back of 30,500 arriving in 1999. Latvia’s National Guard continues to use M14s in a designated marksman role with an interesting new railed forend for optics and accessory mounting. No M14s in this configuration have been seen in Ukraine.

Lithuania reportedly received 40,000 from the US in the late 1990s and continues to retain the rifle in its inventory, updating substantial numbers to their M14 L1 spec, with scopes. Other elements of the Lithuanian Armed forces also use the MK14 EBR. In 2019 it was reported that the US had transferred a further 400 rifles fitted with scopes and bipods. The M14 is also in use with the Lithuanian National Defence Volunteer Forces

Lithuanian troops with M14s c.2012 (Lithuanian Armed Forces)

Estonia also received a considerable number of the rifles in the 1990s, with estimates suggesting that 40,500 were transferred in 1998. Estonia is in the process of a major small arms modernisation programme and may have transferred surplus rifles to Ukraine. Estonian troops used scoped M14s in Afghanistan and at least two accurised versions of the rifle have been developed, the M14 TP in 2000 and the M14 TP2 in 2008. The M14 TP2 utilises a Knight’s Armament RAS- 14 rail mount and a Schmidt and Bender, Inc. 3-12×50 mil dot reticle day scope.

The M14s seen in Ukraine have some variation. There has been a mix of both wooden stocked and fibreglass stocked rifles, some have been fitted with optics, others have only standard iron sights. The first sightings of M14s came in mid March with both wooden and fibreglass stocked rifles seen. The rifles first began to appear in mid-March. 

Ukrainian Territorial Defence Force personnel training, June 2022 (Ukrainian MoD)
Ukrainian Territorial Defence Force personnel training, June 2022 (Ukrainian MoD)

Then in April another photo of an M14 with a wooden stock and iron sights emerged, reportedly in the hands of an international volunteer. In May, several more photographs surfaced with Territorial Defence Force troops seen with fibreglass stocked rifles. A short video which appears to show a standard M14 in the field also appeared via TikTok while the first video demonstrating disassembly of the rifle also surfaced towards the end of the month.

June saw a number of photographs of the rifles shared on line. On the 31st May, the 121 Kirovohrad Territorial Defense Brigade, shared photos taken during training showing M14s with wooden stocks and iron sights. As well as a photograph from a Czech photographer showing a fibreglass stocked M14 with an optic, at the base of an International Volunteer unit operating near Donetsk.

On June 3 the Armed Forces of Ukraine social media shared a series of photographs heavily featuring a member of the southern department of the Territorial Defence Force with a scoped, wooden stocked M14.

A member of the 121st TDF Brigade with an M14 (Ukrainian MoD)

So far we haven’t had any clear photographs of rifle markings and we don’t yet know just how many M14s have been transferred to Ukraine. The TDF training photographs shared by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence at the start of June give us some indication of how some of the rifles might be issued and used. We see that in a squad two scoped M14s have been issued alongside an RPK-pattern light machine gun and some AK-74s. The nature of issue for the non-scoped rifles is still unclear.


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:

M14 Rifle History and Development, L Emerson, (2010)

USA transfers more than 400 upgraded M14 rifles to Lithuanian Army, Army Recognition, (source)

400 More M14s, Lithuanian Army, (source)

Why The Estonian Military Nickname For America’s M14 Rifle Means “Fully Terrible”, National Interest, (source)

M-14 rifles modernized with the help of financial support from the population are already in the armed forces of the country’s army, Delfi, (source)

M14, Lithuanian Army, (source)

Afghanistan Estonian Scout Sniper Combat Firefight on Helmet Cam (source)

Frontline Diary: The enemy is 7 miles away. But he has eyes everywhere, Seznam Zpravy, (source)