TechRussia's belief in using wood as a defense against drones persists

Russia's belief in using wood as a defense against drones persists

Russian howitzer 2S3 Akatsiya with wooden armor.
Russian howitzer 2S3 Akatsiya with wooden armor.
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6:02 PM EST, December 9, 2023

Russia has been experimenting with enhancing vehicle protection by using scrap or even wood for almost two years. This article explores the effectiveness of wooden armor.

Russian forces displayed their preference for wood as a protective material during the early stages of the conflict in Kyiv, where they used it to shield truck radiators from firearms. While this theoretically improved radiator protection, it also reduced airflow, leading to engine overheating.

There have also been instances of oil tanks being camouflaged as wood-carrying trucks, and some crews of armored infantry fighting vehicles from the BMP-3 family with logs. Recently, a photograph surfaced showing a 2S3 Akatsiya self-propelled howitzer equipped with an anti-drone cage and additional side reinforcements on the turret in the form of baskets for wooden logs.

The use of wood as armor

Using wood as armor isn't an optimal solution due to its low protection-to-weight ratio, but it can be useful in some situations. For example, it provides some protection against weapons with a shaped charge, like the PG-7VL grenades that are frequently used in improvised kamikaze drones.

This is because, despite the shaped charge jet's powerful armor penetration capabilities, it has a very limited range. So, detonating a warhead with a penetration capacity of about 20 inches, at a distance of about 24 inches from the actual armor, provides good protection.

In such situations, a lightweight filler might be used either to detonate the warhead prematurely or to serve as a barrier in front of the actual armor. Wood is moderately suitable for both purposes. Light composite overlays would be a better choice, but under field conditions, even rod armor made from welded-together fencing elements would weigh less than wooden logs.

Compared with the alternatives suggested above, wooden logs add excessive weight, which can adversely affect vehicle mobility. This could result in faster wear and tear and an increased frequency of breakdowns.

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