When the war in Ukraine started, Ukrainian defenders found themselves converting civilian cars and other commercial items into weapons of war. These technicals, battle buggies and modified drones helped the initially outgunned forces repel assaults on Kyiv and central Ukraine. Now well into the second year of the war and Russia is now also utilizing its own Frankenstein’s Monster-type weapons platforms. 

Take, for instance, this T-55 tank fitted with a 57mm S-60 cannon. 

Or this naval gun put onto an armored vehicle. 

As Motherboard pointed out, these kinds of cobbled together artillery and armor pieces are becoming common on the battlefield. Old armored vehicles and tanks have been fitted with newer guns taken from artillery systems or ships, giving the outdated armor pieces some more modern firepower. 

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There’s a good reason for it. The war has been devastating to Russia’s armed forces. It has lost as many as 2,000 tanks, being forced to pull increasingly older Soviet-era tanks out of storage to be fielded on the battlefield. Most recently tanks from the 1950s have been spotted in Ukraine. Many of the vehicles not outright destroyed have been captured, being used by Ukrainian forces in a kind of deadly Uno reverse card move. With fighting in the last six months turning into somewhat static, artillery-focused combat, Russia needs more artillery and fire support to keep up. These mix-and-match weapon systems show a mix of desperation and innovation by Russian forces.

This isn’t that uncommon. Mounting weapons on vehicles not generally designed for them is a tried-and-true tactic in war. It’s been done across Europe, Africa and the Middle East, from the Great Toyota War of the 1980s between Chad and Libya to a Libyan militia that more recently fitted a massive 90mm cannon onto a Humvee. If the vehicle can handle the weight and recoil of each weapon, it can be effective on the battlefield. And these relatively low-tech solutions, combined with some older weapons like World War I-era Maxim machine guns, have still proven to be effective in the war in Ukraine. 

Despite the many setbacks and museum pieces being brought out of storage, Russia so far has been able to keep up its positions in eastern and southern Ukraine. A report by the British think tank the Royal United Services Institute looked at Russian tactics in the second year of the war and noted that it has adapted its use of armor, using it instead for fire support to supplement artillery that might be low on ammunition — a tactic also used by Ukrainian troops

It looks like that also includes some very customized vehicles.

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