10 Weapons That Backfired Horribly

9. The T-64 Tank


For decades, NATO commanders lived in fear of a flood of Warsaw Pact tank and mechanized infantry divisions breaking through Germany’s Fulda Gap. The spearhead of the offensive would be the T-64, a main battle tank that was certainly formidable on paper. A small target at just 2.17 meters (7 ft) tall, the T-64 was relatively light (allowing it to traverse muddy fields or flimsy bridges with ease), composite-armored, and armed with a smoothbore 125mm gun that could fire guided missiles. It also had the advantage of an autoloader that reduced the required crew to three (as in the famous Soviet Armored Guards hymn, “Tri Tankista“).

But in reality, the T-64 was a complete dud. The sophisticated suspension and transmission were flimsy and broke down more often than the rugged T-62 unit. The autoloader also frequently broke down and the turret was not designed to allow for manual loading when that happened. But the real danger was if the autoloader actually worked: it was so badly designed that it could trap the gunner’s limbs, maiming or even killing him. All it took was for a sleeve to be snagged by the mechanism and the gunner’s whole arm would be wrenched into the breech, often requiring amputation as a result. Until conflict broke out in Ukraine last year, more people had been wounded or killed operating the tank than being shot at by it. Its combat performance is currently less than stellar, being easily outclassed by modern anti-tank missiles and artillery.