Since my last article/video on Russia’s ‘turtle tanks’ the adapted vehicles have continued to be used on several fronts but on Monday, 17 June Ukrainian forces captured their first turtle tank intact.

Known by numerous names by both sides including ‘Blyatmobiles’ (Блятьмобиль) and ‘assault garages’ (штурмовые гаражи), ‘Tsar Mangals’ (Царь мангал) or simply ‘sheds’ (сарай) the tanks are characterised by them being equipped with large counter-FPV shells made from readily available sheet metal (and other non-standard materials) and are sometimes equipped with electronic warfare jammers to provide additional protection against drones and sometimes with mine clearing devices such a mine rollers or ploughs. They appear to have been developed to provide improvised breaching vehicles capable of penetrating Ukrainian minefields, withstand drone attacks and in some cases deliver troops to an objective.

Front of the Turtle Tank captured in the field (via ArmyInform)

From posts on Ukrainian social media the tank was reportedly captured by troops from the 22nd Separate Mechanised Brigade but the vehicle was first encountered near Klishchiivka by soldiers of the 244th battalion of the 112th Territorial Defense Brigade that had been seconded to the 5th Assault Brigade.

The turtle tank allegedly became lost in the Klishchiivka area and saw an M113 APC belonging to the 2nd Battalion of the 5th Assault Brigade and began following it. When the M113 crew spotted the enemy tank it attempted to hide. The tank, however, continued to follow and on reaching the M113 a member of the turtle tank’s crew said to be the driver got out to ask for directions. He was captured by medics of the 244th Battalion. From the footage available it appears that the following morning troops of the 22nd Separate Mechanised Brigade approached the tank and captured an undisclosed number of Russian troops who were travelling in the rear of the turtle tank’s counter-FPV shell. Despite numerous sources and accounts the timeline of the tank’s capture remains somewhat unclear.

The immobilised Turtle Tank captured in the field (via 22nd Separate Mechanised Brigade)

Subsequently released footage from a 22nd Mechanised Brigade drone appears to show the Turtle Tank being damaged by a drone dropped munition before it was captured. The post with the video claimed that the turtle tank’s crew became disorientated after the drone attack and mistakenly drove towards Ukrainian lines. Lt. Colonel Serhiy Misyura, of ArmyInform, also noted that the vehicle was struck by an FPV. Lt.Col. Misyura claims that the drone dropped munition detonated next to one of the tank’s road wheels and immobilised it. After it was captured Ukrainian troops were able to get the tank moving again and drive it to the rear.

Drone footage then shows the capture of the tank’s crew and the vehicle moving off towards the Ukrainian rear. Teoyaomiquu shared a short clip filmed by a member of the 93rd Mechanized Brigade which showed the captured tank passing by, the 22nd Mechanised Brigade’s flag can be seen flying from the top of the tank. In a photograph of the tank and some of the men who captured it the same flag can be seen. Another piece of footage showing the tank close up also appeared online on the 18th June. The video shows the front, rear and left side of the tank’s counter-FPV shell.

Right side of the captured Turtle Tank (via ArmyInform)

On the 19th June, the 112th Territorial Defense Brigade shared a short video showing the confused captured tank driver sat in the rear of an M113. On the 20th June, ArmyInform, the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ news outlet published a video on their YouTube channel giving us an up close look at the captured tank in detail during which Lt. Colonel Misyura describes it as a ‘marvel of modern Russian engineering’.

The Ukrainian Army were quick to capitalise on the propaganda value of finally capturing one of the Tsar Mangal (Tsar’s Barbaque) / assault sheds in tact, at the time of publication the video has over 650,000 views on YouTube alone.

Examining The Turtle

Since late April we have seen many variations on the ‘turtle tank’ theme, this example is certainly one of the least refined. Firstly, the tank does not appear to have been equipped with mine clearing kit as some of the other tanks have. However, it has been outfitted with what appear to be some sort of EW jammer to counter drones. Additionally, we can clearly see several UDSh smoke generators, held in a pair of brackets on either side of the shell. These have sometimes been misidentified as standard TM-62 anti-tank mines but the UDSh is a smoke generator which mimics the mine’s shape for training purposes. In this case they have been repurposed to enable the tank to create a mobile smoke screen. According to CAT-UXO the UDSh can be initiated electronically or manually and once ignited discharges smoke for 8-10 minutes. In the ArmyInform video it is also noted that the Kontakt ERA blocks seen on the tank’s glacis are empty.

Ukrainian troops pose in fron of the captured Turtle Tank (via social media)

The tank itself is a T-62M and according to Ukrainian sources the turret is fixed in place and the tank carried no ammunition for its main gun, making it largely defenceless in isolation from supporting elements. The counter-FPV shell is crudely assembled made up of a mish-mash of materials including metal sheeting which ranges from rusted bare metal to various worn paint colours, wire fencing and metal caging. There also appears to be rubber matting attached front and rear to help keep dust down. The top of the shell over the tank’s engine deck appears incomplete and may have been damaged. In the ArmyInform video which shows the area in-detail it is clear that the counter-FPV shell’s support struts were welded directly to the top of the hull and a number of large and small shrapnel holes in the shell are visible.

Top of the captured Turtle Tank (via ArmyInform)

It appears that between when the vehicle was captured and when the ArmyInform video was filmed the Ukrainian have removed the assemblies, which may have been EW jammers, on the front of the tank. Its unclear how long the adapted tank has been in service but their is evidence of past repairs and there are numerous spray painted slogans on its panels including ‘god is with us’, ‘Hero-Z’ and ‘154 RUS’ (a possible joke reference to Russian vehicle registration plates). If this is the case it might hint at the origins of the Russian crew. ‘154’ is a registration code for the Novosibirsk Oblast which is the home of the 41st Combined Arms Army. In one clip of the tank it also has what appears to be a stolen ‘1941’ sign (possibly from a Great Patriotic War memorial) attached to the rear of its shell.

Check out our previous article/videos on the turtle tanks here.

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