That T-72 – so hot right now!

This is a recent footage from Iraq. Before you go like “OMG” – nobody died in it. Thanks to Artem for the video.

We can see a T-72 ammunition burn and explode, but… what happened? The vehicle was not hit by enemy fire, the fire happened on its own. I had a short discussion about this with some of the best tank buffs I know and I think that the explanation offered by Madestcat is the best one.

It’s a widely known fact that Arab vehicles (regardless whether they are Syrian or Iraqi) are poorly maintained. This is partially due to the difficult conditions (it is a desert after all and sand does NOT mix very well with tanks), partially due to the “Arabs suck at warfare” meme but mostly because it’s war. You run out of oil, you don’t get enough time to take care of the tanks properly because you are using them 24/7.

What I think happened was this – the bore evacuator wasn’t working due to poor maintenance and some hot debris stayed in the barrel. As soon as the automatic loader inserted the next piece of ammunition, it caught fire from the smoldering remains in the barrel. The crew saw the breech on fire and immediately bailed out. They wouldn’t be able to if this was a violent combat ammo rack explosion.

I am actually surprised there are any functional T-72s left in Iraq between the massive losses in the war with the Americans and the subsequent constant fighting with various terrorist groups…

6 thoughts on “That T-72 – so hot right now!

  1. It can not happen like that with bore evacuator failure. It works differently. At firing 1.Gun recoils 2. Breech opens,un-combustible casing-base (stub) is ejected and catched by discarding mechanism. 3. Loading cycle can be started now. 1)Spent casing-base is discarded (through the hatch in the rear of the turret), 2)propellant casing and shell is elevated, 3) shell is loaded and rammed, 4) propellant casing is loaded and rammed, 5) breech is closed. In other words, because shell is rammed first, it will clear smoldering debris before propellant charge is inserted. Also bore evacuator in more of a fume extractor, than something that stops smoldering debris remaining in the barrel. Because it is not that much of the problem, that debris does not have high enough temperature do ignite propellant casing (in such short amount of time time)

    The fact that we see flames trough gun barrel as well, means that loading cycle has not yet started,but breech is open.

    Most likely it was partial combustion of propellant-casing (old or badly stored ammo), basically stub with still burning combustible casing was ejected, what burned inside of the turret also setting new ready-to-load ammo on fire (unlike debris in barrel, this produces temperature high enough to do it). Or a failure in electric system, what at first caused fire under autoloader, and eventually started propellant fire (T-72 autoloader is electromechanical, with several electric engines powering it) .

    • the russians don’t use compressed air together with bore evacuators? sure it’s extra equipment and thus extra weight but it still brings advantages, no matter how slight

      • Many tanks, does not have it. While it is a good system. It helps do avoid flarebacks and clear the barrel from debris.

        Flareback is a situation when gases in the barrel ignites, while coming in contact with oxygen after opening the breech and vents back into turret. It can ignite propellant charge nearby.But it happens much faster than in the video. If flareback would have caused propellant fire, we would have seen tank brewing up immediately after firing, it happens fast and violently (well under a second) and has almost 0 survivability, because there are no time do escape.

  2. As I have experienced the loading routine of western t0nkz only I can at least second the very well explained statement of Mario.