Basra or Bust

Challenger 2 destroyed Basra 2003

The allied operations in Iraq were not without losses. This is a photo of a destroyed Challenger 2 from the famous Basra incident. What Wikipedia says:

25 March 2003: A friendly fire (“blue-on-blue”) incident in Basra in which one Challenger 2 of the Black Watch Battlegroup (2nd Royal Tank Regiment) mistakenly engaged another Challenger 2 of the Queen’s Royal Lancers after detecting what was believed to be an enemy flanking manoeuvre on thermal equipment. The attacking tank’s second HESH round hit the open commander’s hatch lid of the QRL tank sending hot fragments into the turret, killing two crew members. The strike caused a fire that eventually led to an explosion of the stowed ammunition, destroying the tank. It remains the only Challenger 2 to be destroyed on operations.

That puts the photo a week later. For comparison, here’s a Chally patrolling Iraq in a much… healthier state.

Challenger 2 Iraq

Israeli Light Tank

Hello everyone,

Another interesting thing for you today :)

Israeli light tank

This is an unknown Israeli light tank, developed in parallel with the Merkava Mk.3 development, which puts it into the late 1980s. It was apparently developed as a cheaper alternative to the Merkava using existing technologies – the engine comes from the Azcharit, which itself was a Soviet T-55 converted into an AFV. That would make the engine the 650hp Detroit Diesel 8V71TA. The suspension was based on the Merkava design. Only one prototype was apparently built, it was never mass-produced.

At least that’s what I’ve been able to glean from the source that’s obviously written in Hebrew. I don’t read or speak Hebrew, so if any of you do, the text starts roughly on page 85 of this book.

Urals in Syria

Hello everyone,

I was just going through my picture folder and realized that this whole blog could be filled with interesting stuff going on in Syria and with various arcane vehicles that appear there randomly. It’s not the direction I want to take this blog, but from time to time, it doesn’t hurt. So, without further ado, let’s delve again into the pits of stronk snackbar engineerink.

T-72 Ural Syria

Just a random T-72? But this is no ordinary T-72! Check the turret – no “dolly parton” armor (the “cheeks” on the turret where the composite inlay is installed on later models starting from T-72A) or upgraded FCS. That’s the original T-72 Ural (Object 172M), likely the export variant (Object 172M-E) from 1975 (was replaced by 1979 by the T-72A). As you can see, the turret has no ERA holders. ERA became a standard T-72 equipment only in 1985 (Kontakt-1, the typical “bricks”).

The hull of the original Ural tank is no match for modern ATGMs, which is why it was rigged by Kontakt-1 blocks. There are HUGE differences between various iterations of T-72 hulls, T-72 to T-72A to T-72B were big leaps in protection. Here, to give you an idea about the composition, a schematic by Artem Gavrilov:


On today’s battlefield, the original T-72 Ural is no match for modern weapons and can basically serve as a fire support vehicle, not in direct tank combat versus more modern variants. It’s also very unsafe but in the absence of anything better… yeah. This particular vehicle looks like it belongs to Ahrar al Sham (basically Al Qaeda leftovers in Syria).

To follow the latest news about Syria conflict, I recommend joining one of the Facebook groups dedicated to Syrian weaponry (for example this one) or follow Looser’s Syrian thread on Sturgeon’s blog (updated daily)

T-90A Striptease

Hello guys! Okay, moving away from the Picture/Photo of the Day format because I couldn’t keep it up every day. Instead, I’ll just use normal titles. Even though, “normal”… okay.

T-90A Snackbar

This photo shows a recently captured T-90A MBT, driven by snackbars (not sure who, I think it’s not ISIS but the “moderate heacutters” aka FSA, hence the high-tech escort). If you are wondering where the ERA is – it’s missing, revealing a nice look at the welded T-90A turret (the standard T-90/T-90S has a round, cast one). The Syrian Arab Army “Tiger” forces managed to basically ruin everything inside the turret with a grenade and the optics are blown to shit from the outside, so this vehicle is completely useless for combat and can be used as a tractor only.

Picture of the Day – 25.3.2017

Hello everyone,

Today, guntracks are commonly associated with islamist terrorists (aka snackbars), but one thing’s for certain, the middle eastern “engineering school” didn’t invent them. They were around even before the First World War. Even after the second world war, they were used by some first world armies.

guntruck portugual in angola 1960s

This is a guntruck of sorts, deployed by the Portuguese during the Portuguese Colonial War in the 1960s. I can’t imagine that driving around off road was comfortable for the person inside the armored “news stand” (or however you call it), but against insurgents armed with vintage WW1 rifles, it was probably enough. Of course, then the war escalated and only ended 15 years later with the collapse of the Portuguese colonial empire, but during the early days, such trucks were not uncommon.

Photo of the Day – 21.3.2017

“When you allahuakbar just right…”


I’d say this is an Iraqi Abrams, destroyed by an IED. The destruction level was likely caused by an ammo explosion (the blowout panels are, well, blown out) and one roadwheel was torn from the suspension (that’s where the bomb likely exploded).

Photo of the Day – 20.3.2017

Continuing with the photos of weird or at least lesser known tanks – check this out.

M60 christobel spain

M60 christobel spain 2

This is the Spanish M60A3E1 Cristobita, a prototype upgrade for the aging M60A3 from the early 1990s. Three prototypes were built after the rejection of the expensive Lince program. It seems to just consist of spaced armor, maybe some composites in the front, but I think that’s unlikely (look at the rear of the turret how attached it is, looks pretty flimsy). Very few details are known. The idea was rejected in favor of purchasing the Leopard 2.

Picture of the Day – 18.3.2017

Sorry for the sporadic updates, it’s been another tough week. This time, however, I do have a special picture for you, courtesy of Artem Gavrilov.

HEAT explosion

Check this out. War in Syria, of course. The tank is probably a T-55 or some of its variant. Not important. Check the explosion (detail in lower left corner). What happened here is a HEAT shell was fired by another tank and detonated in mid-air when triggered by flying debris. The dust trail you see next to the tank is actually the HEAT shell “jet” traveling through air. The original video is unfortunately no longer available.

You don’t see that kind of timing much on photos :)

Photo of the Day – 14.3.2017

Chief Mk.5

This is a Chieftain Mk.5 originally delivered to Iran and captured by Iraq in the 1980s during the Iran-Iraq war. The photo wouldn’t be that strange, only – it’s from last year from Basra. The Iraqi actually repaired it with the intention to use it in battle along with some more obsolete vehicles such as the AMX-10P IFV. What became of it is unknown.