TechUkrainian Leopard 1A5 tanks transform into massive shotguns with new ammunition

Ukrainian Leopard 1A5 tanks transform into massive shotguns with new ammunition

A Ukrainian loading M1040 canister ammunition into the Leopard 1A5 tank gun.
A Ukrainian loading M1040 canister ammunition into the Leopard 1A5 tank gun.
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12:00 AM EST, January 27, 2024

The Ukrainians have already delivered some of the promised 160-plus Leopard 1A5 tanks. Despite being vintage models with insufficient armor, they have excellent mobility and a highly accurate cannon. They are also equipped with a reliable fire control system, including thermal imaging, a feature not present in the USSR-era T-72 tanks or older models like the T-62 or T-54/55.

Interestingly, the Ukrainians have also received the distinctive M1040 canister ammunition designed to battle soft targets such as infantry soldiers. Since rats from storm-Z units, consisting mainly of prisoners, frequently carry out solo attacks, this kind of ammunition is precious.

Understanding how canister ammunition works

Standard fragmentation projectiles aren't always effective against fortified enemies. Programmable ammunition is relatively scarce in Ukraine and only compatible with certain vehicles. In such situations, the deployment of canister ammunition can be advantageous. These ammunitions create a literal hail of deadly tungsten fragments that can be lethal over several kilometers.

The entire M1040 unified cartridge weighs approximately 44 - 50 lbs and contains a payload of 2000 tungsten balls. These are stored in a polymer or aluminum sabot, disintegrating upon exiting the barrel and dispersing them sideways. This results in a formidable torrent of fragments with a range of up to 550 yards, essentially "sweeping" everything in its path.

In effect, these tanks mimic the behavior of a traditional smoothbore shotgun loaded with buckshot ammunition, albeit on a significantly larger scale. Given the distances over which battles may take place in Ukraine, an effective range of less than 550 yards is deemed sufficient. A single tank, therefore, can effectively clear a line of trenches.

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