Desperate Russians build ‘Frankenstein tanks’ with guns cannibalised from ships

Russian commanders who are desperately short of battle-ready tanks have taken to building improvised “Frankenstein” tanks out of spare parts to send to fight in Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin’s forces have already lost more than 1,700 tanks in Ukraine, and elite armoured divisions that were supposed to be equipped with advanced T-14 Armata tanks are instead relying on 60-year-old T-62 units.

A report from the UK’s Ministry of Defence says that even the 1st Guards Tank Army, one of Russia’s most prestigious armoured units, had been equipped with dated Cold War-era T-62s.

And some commanders appear to be even worse off.

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Images emerging from Ukraine appear to show a Soviet-era MT-LB amphibious fighting vehicle that had been customised by having a twin-barrelled 25mm 2M-3 naval anti-aircraft turret crudely welded to its superstructure.

Justin Crump, an intelligence and geopolitical risk analyst, told The Telegraph that it’s likely Russia had used the turret – most likely from a naval patrol boat – because its navy still had a plentiful supply of equipment.

By contrast, Russia’s land army has been decimated by Ukrainian drone, artillery and missile attacks.

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Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a former British tank commander, told The Sun that he had only previously seen “Frankenstein” vehicles like this used by Islamic State fighters in the Middle East.

He said: "The fact that a supposed first-world army is cobbling together different bits of kit not dissimilar to terrorist organisations like al-Qaeda and ISIS hopefully shows the perilous state of the Russian army."

Many Russian tank commanders have been seen adding odd scraps of armour to their vehicles in the hope of warning off Ukrainian missile attacks.

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Customisation like this dates back to the earliest days of tank warfare, with metal plates and even wooden logs strapped to armoured vehicles in hope of detonating incoming warheads prematurely, preventing the full force of the explosive from penetrating the hull.

But in the modern era, sophisticated reactive armour has largely taken the place of those early experimental modifications.

The sight of Russia’s hastily-customised “post apocalyptic” vehicles suggests that Russian troops don’t have much faith in the equipment they’ve been sent in to war with.


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