Military & Aerospace

With the Russian field-modified ‘turtle tanks’, we have come full circle
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 22 Apr , 2024

With the First Person View kamikaze drone emerging as the greatest threat to tanks on the Ukraine battlefield, the Russian army is resorting to desperate measures.  They are bolting rough, made-on-the-spot armoured shells onto their T-72s and T-90s.  These ‘turtle tanks’, as they have been dubbed, have struts welded to their chassis to support the shell, limiting the traverse of the gun to the forward arc only.

In fact, these monsters look amazingly like the first German tank design, which was operational in the First World War.  They are equally slow and ponderous.

Presumably the ‘turtle shell’ will absorb a drone’s explosive charge and if there is penetration, the tanks own armour will protect the crew.  As yet the turtle tanks (there are only a few) have not been tested.  And the solution, if this is one, comes with problems of its own; limiting the tanks mobility and firepower.

Such field expediency is as old as war – if the boffins and back-room boys have not found a countermeasure to a threat, the frontline troops will try their own hands at one.  It can be recalled the US Army Shermans had steel ‘rhino horns’ welded to the front of their lowers hulls tocut through the bocage hedgerows in Normandy.  Or that sandbags layered the floor of South African armoured vehicles to mitigate the blast of landmines.Or that metal cages were fitted to American patrol vehicles to prematurely detonate insurgent RPGs.

All the same, the ‘turtle tank’ is surely one of the most regressive and crude field modifications ever.  It’s almost as if someone got hold of a picture of First World War Leichter Kampfwagen II (as shown above) and said, “That should work!”

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One thought on “With the Russian field-modified ‘turtle tanks’, we have come full circle

  1. Not only have the turtle tanks been repeatedly tested in combat during the last couple of weeks, they are:

    1. Extremely effective as spearheads of armoured columns with lighter armour following behind.

    2. Highly mobile (there’s a video of one doing a doughnut) and

    3. Heavily armoured vehicles with fixed forward firing guns leading armoured columns were introduced by Germany at Kursk in 1943. It is not a WWI concept

    Someone writing for the Indian Defence Review should have known all that.

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