Photos: Did a Russian Howitzer Explode in Ukraine Because Of Improper Storage?
Photographs shared online this week appear to show a Russian D-20 152mm howitzer torn apart and destroyed, but not from Ukrainian strikes. Military and weapons reporter Neil Gibson commented on the photographs, suggesting that the explosion may have been caused by the over-pressuring of the gun. “This would seem to be an in-bore premature of the HE projectile, which can be due to many reasons,” Gibson wrote. “Over-pressuring of the gun due to problems with the propellant occurs far earlier in the ballistic cycle & primarily causes the breech [sic] and/or cartridge case (if present) to fail. In the photographs, the weapon appears to be effectively split in two.
This particular howitzer belonged to pro-Russian Luhansk People’s Republican (LNR) forces fighting in the Donbas. Russia has been forced to bring many Soviet-era machines out of storage to assist with its ongoing invasion of Ukraine – and the photographs shared online this week suggest that some of the weapons leaving Russian warehouses may not be safe to use on the battlefield. The D-20 howitzer is a towed weapons unit manufactured in the 1950s based on a design from the 1940s, making the weapon roughly 80 years old. #Ukraine: A D-20 152mm howitzer, belonging to Russian LNR forces, was ripped apart due to a malfunction. For this reason, it’s hard to tell how old the destroyed howitzer really is and how long it was stored.
Russia has spent months pulling older weapons out of storage, including Soviet-era tanks. The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence noted at the time that the older weaponry would be vulnerable to modern anti-tank weapons. As Russia continues to pull old machinery, weapons, and vehicles out of storage, sufficient time will be required to ensure that the vehicles are properly repaired and prepared for use – or Russian troops could find themselves injured or killed by malfunctioning equipment. Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York.
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