Homemade tank joins the battle in Syria


What does a hacker do when going into battle for the freedom of their country? He builds a tank from scratch, of course. It’s a little bit of a stretch calling it a tank as it lacks treads. But it’s got a high-caliber gun mounted on top and has been heavily armored.

There is room enough inside for two people. What may look low tech in this picture is a different story from the cockpit. A pair of LCD monitors display images from five different cameras. You can see the shrouds that protect three of them on the front of the vehicle with a fourth acting as the rear view. A fifth camera mounted on the gun gives the passenger a look at where he’s aiming. A PS1 controller can rotate it and we assume has a fire feature as well. Check out the demonstration video embedded after the break.

[via Reddit]


  1. Michael Chen says:

    I gotta admit it, I’m impressed. I guess necessity is the mother of invention after all.

    • wretch says:

      Agreed. I like the sloping armour up front. I don’t know whether that’s by design or simply because it’s easier to do. It’d be nice if they’d made the side armour sloping as well.

      • Engineer says:

        I don’t know if they did it intentionally, but, the rational behind the sloped armor is that it creates a thicker effective cross section the bullet needs to penetrate. I.E., thicker armor using thinner steel.

        • Raukk says:

          II’t also makes the shells more likely to ricochet. Sadly the armor looks like it is only about as thick as a WW1 tank.

          • Alex Rossie says:

            Looks like ½ inch of steel don’t think I’d like to go up against a AK47 in that thing.

          • Glenn says:

            A half inch of sloped steel would easily stop the AK47’s 7.62×39 round. Ask me how I know.

          • Whatnot says:

            @glenn: Because you purchase lousy second rate ammo at wall mart?

          • Pilotgeek says:

            1/2″ is okay for small arms. Sure, maybe if you got some really hot loads for your AK and shot at the same spot from a few feet away… but it’s better than no cover or the thin sheet metal in a car.

      • Aaron says:

        Yeah, I like how the glacis will deflect whatever doesn’t penetrate, at an angle that’ll send it straight up into the camera housings. I wouldn’t feel all that great about taking this thing out against just .50 caliber stuff like a technical’s MG can probably throw, to say nothing of what an RPG designed for killing real tanks will do to it. Sad, really — compared to somebody who’s happy to go into combat with a machine gun mounted in an unarmored truck bed, this thing may as well have “please don’t hurt me!” sprayed across the front, yet getting its crew killed is the only thing it’s good for.

      • Ren says:

        Yes, like Han Solo telling Chewie to angle the deflector shields on the Millennium Falcon as they dodge the Tie Fighters.

  2. kdajme says:

    Awesome build!
    … but why didn’t they use 3D goggles for the front cameras?

  3. Heroic.Doses says:

    As awesome as that is… you can disable it with a spike strip

  4. Blofeld says:

    Does it come in black?

  5. Clifdweller says:

    very cool but I wouldn’t want to go into an actual firefight with it. one rpg later and the occupants would be having a bad day

  6. giacomo says:

    I’m of two minds on this. From my armchair it seems that this machine is best used as a psychological device more than anything. I have my reservations about that armor – how bullet-resistant is 2.5cm of light steel? Plus, there’s lots of fragile electronics in there. Explosive goes off close by and bam, your LCD is cracked/wire breaks/camera gets fouled/whatever and you have no way to aim or see where you’re going. That said if this thing can resist small arms fire (AK, etc) then already it’s going to be quite useful. As soon as this thing is deployed though it will immediately attract the attention of heavier weaponry which it has no chance of resisting. Better than nothing I guess, as long as I’m not the one in it :)

    Now remote control it and bam! Things change. Unlike war, which never changes :(

    • Anonym says:

      I guess it’s a start, but they should really protect the cameras better.
      But of course that’s hard.
      And I certainly wouldn’t want to sit in there, they should really remote-control it.

    • Aaron says:

      Remotely controlling it would be an even greater waste of resources in the kind of war where people motivates to fight and die are, or should be, the most abundant resource available to either side. That the rebels, so called, feel the need for this kind of nonsense, suggests that this is not such a war — either that, or, as I think likely, this is what you get from a bunch of geeky engineering students trying to impress the insurgent cool kids.

    • rb says:

      All these things happen now.

    • Zee says:

      The point is to transport the occupants more safely than a car so remote controlling is useless.

      • Whatnot says:

        Not completely sure it’s more safe, it looks very heavy and thus slow and hard to steer, and a small fast car might make a better getaway, although it all depends on the circumstances i guess.
        They need a james bond style setup where you can press a button and the armor opens and you drive out in a small fast car to get the hell out of dodge.

    • Whatnot says:

      Yeah it’s more to make an impressive checkpoint thing where you can sit in to watch some mkv’s on its screen to pass the time.

  7. Chirpinchuckthehumanduck says:

    Just enough confidence to go in to deep, without the protection needed when everything concentrates its fire on the best target out there = demolished.

  8. Danjul says:

  9. Mark says:

    I feel bad because that is an awesome creation, but those guys are dead meat.

  10. Redneck styled engineering at its finest.
    They must be kin to me.

  11. Al says:

    Paint it yellow, can charge for ride.

  12. JoejoedancersMom says:

    that remote controlled gun is sick!

  13. Greg says:

    re: “Small arms”

    AK-47 using 7N23 ammo (anti-armor/piercing), which is widely available, when shooting from ~25 meters, in most cases makes a hole THROUGH the industry standard P65 RAIL (it’s thinnest part) – as in the thing used to build railways through… … definitely thicker/stronger than metal used in this project.

    So, seems like practical use (apart from protection from debris) is pretty limited.

  14. corporano says:

    I wouldn’t classify this as a redneck type act. Considering the situation it looks rather well thought out and built for the resources they had. The armor does paint a target on it’s back, but if it were remote controlled…the Syrian military would have a new thing coming.

  15. Vonskippy says:

    From the school of engineering where if it “looks” like an object, it must “perform” like said object.

    Hopefully their opponents are armed to the teeth with bb guns and paintball shooters – otherwise it will be a very short one way ride.

  16. Shaddack says:

    A more sophisticated design used a bulldozer as the core vehicle, and homemade composite armor (steel-lined concrete).


    • Galane says:

      The bullies in the town government decided to destroy his business by making it both mandatory and impossible to connect to the sewer system. So he struck back by destroying their businesses.

      Just shows you shouldn’t @#%$ with people because you never know who is going to react very badly to getting @#%$ed. Some resort to lawyers, but when even the lawyers are on the @#%$ers side – killdozer. Which wasn’t used to kill anyone, just demolished buildings.

      • the disappoint says:

        I’d rather have it not be this way, but without threat of violence such as these situations being brought up frequently, you get the mess of systematic corruption and greed that is the plight of ‘too civilized’-civilization.

        • Joe1 says:

          Should have seen the termites that came out of the woodwork when they posted that (granted, propaganda since it wouldn’t really work that well) 3D-printed AR-15 magazine article. People act like they’ve never heard of corrupt city hall.

  17. blujay42 says:

    That’s the Killdozer bro. There’s like, a whole fanfare for that nut.

  18. Mark says:

    This thing is definitely designed to motivate, not fight. I didn’t see any way to adjust the pitch of the gun for one. Single axis shooting = fail. Plus the armor is a joke as previously stated. Cool project, not practical for a theater of war.

  19. Dodo says:

    Looks cool but it seems you can only rotate the gun around one axis. I think this will make hitting something hard… I don’t know much about armor, but it looks thin to me. I think it would be really good with remote control.

  20. alxy says:

    If these can be mass produced very quickly and cheaply, they have a use. But given that Russia Today featured this, I’m pretty sure the govt forces are on to these guys.

    If it’s just one, well packed with enough explosives it could be useful in a suicide mission.

  21. digeobb says:

    I really, really, don’t like to see weapons on HAD.

  22. mosheen says:

    It’s a death trap. 5.56 or 7.62 penetrator rounds will go right through it. a 20mm or 50 would go clean through it.

  23. RandyKC says:

    Was it just me, or did everyone else think that this would be perfect for the “zombie apocalypse” when they first saw this?

  24. Galane says:

    Could this be the first game controller with a fire button that actually does what it says?

  25. Occam49 says:

    What a POS … That thing is nothing but an RPG/50 Cal magnet.

  26. orenbeck says:

    Compared to “bare skin” it’s a win. And- you simply don’t know what’s under the sheet metal

    All. that shows may not be as it seems. . I could think of several composites that would be a truly effective defense up to copper slag threat levels. High Tech materials often are in non-obvious places all around us. Kevlar’s a nice ballistic trap fiber but there’s related stuff in industrial common uses that a clever Tanker could rework for some serious damage absorption. It’s a game of trading mass against threat levels with any hope of survival. And don’t forget, there’s creative applications of scrapyard Hackery some of us have been contemplating.

    Consider a bundle of steel cables strung with roller bearings inner&outer race tack spotted/soldered/epoxy dropleted together thence spaced by cross weaves of “something” as a stand- off surface. Envision the energy deflection profile of even a 50 cal round encountering ultratough bearing bits in their shells.. that moves in on it’s suspension cables. In theory? Same with even HEAT rounds if you have a few layers of stand off to protect you, though concussion will be hell on the occupants AND bystanders. It’s not a perfect stopper tech but? In the real world- there’s going to be cases of even a crap plate hack tank defeating idiots with pistols and shotguns no sweat.

    • kernelcode says:

      The video seems to show the inside is just bare steel, looks around 25mm thick.
      I’d say this is much worse than skin – say I’m stood on the back of a Hilux with a 50 cal, someone has to actually hit ME.
      In this thing, any volume of fire on the outside is going to turn into a mess of spalling on the inside and a pair of shredded occupants. It’s a big target with inadequate armour, which is actually probably worse than standing in the open

    • Occam49 says:

      It’s much worse that bare skin because it will draw attention and heavy fire … It’s a death trap. The only thing that would make it worse is to paint it in day-glow green fluorescent paint. The clowns that built it are clueless morons

      • orenbeck says:

        Depends- Not every situation has Heavy Weapons as a concern, and there’s always the open query of intentionally being a target – by remote control?

        Or an operator that gives not a damn for dying if it keeps their family alive. When your friends and family are already dead- it changes one’s mission parameters. To exterminating the folks who killed them. Either by getting close enough to detonate a tank full of ANFO that becomes an impressive AP Fragmentation shrapnel cloud, or- By Any Means Necessary.

        I frankly could see the sentiment of having killers as one’s honor guard, to meet again in hell.

        And any Hack one has that increases the chance of revenge being successful, becomes a worthy attempt. Need I remind us that we’re not talking games. This is real death and damned likely many of us WOULD be grimly welding such things together had we been so attacked. Make no mistake- the chance of anyone making a stand with such hardware being an aggressor as opposed to defender is infinitesimal!

        Many of us have not been in a fight since school ages. And have not killed more than household pests. So our world is not even in the same galaxy as folks in a live fire combat zone see life.

      • Joe1 says:

        Buy hey, when the war’s over, we can flip it over and make a backhole shovel! :P

  27. metabolizam says:

    I’m really concerned if any human with a gun was fighting for freedom. Behind every armored tribe lies only greed and thirst for power, domination. Trust me, I was just a kid when that war-game reality show took a ride during 1990’s former-Yugoslavian decay…

  28. xorpunk says:

    According to Russia and the Syrian Government, these are terrorists, not citizens…

    • xorpunk says:

      All the children publicly executed by the presidents brother using Russian weapons must of been high-ranking terrorists…

      Hopefully this terrorist weapon break down and isn’t used to hold hostage the operators home…

      • gudik says:

        and all the children decapitated by the children “trained” by this army of freedom (which by the way rewards its soldiers for the number of people they kill) must have been… whatever.

        this post boils down to a classic example of mis(dis?)information.

    • echomrg says:

      Russia has been switching sides lately, since their, now ex, friend started brandishing chemical weapons in the face of civilians…

      • xorpunk says:

        Russia will shift when there is a threat of it being too obvious they are fueling most of the worlds dictatorships and rogue armies. There are entire parts of the country meant to hold and segregate people who point this out from within Russia…

        American intelligence is too incompetent to know what happens when they break what little ties they have with Pakistan government.. Russia and it’s allies are already preparing for this, these small civil wars are nothing on a larger scale, but diversions…

        • echomrg says:

          totally agree.
          i wasn’t trying to make Putin and his cohorts look like the good guys here.

          simply they are starting to withdraw support to Assad because if he actually used chemical weapons on civilian while they were still supporting him their facade with the western world would start to show some serious creaks…

          • xorpunk says:

            I’m Russian and I’m pointing out our corruption. You’ll never convince people UN or US are the good guys cause it’s in human nature to hate the people who have easier lives…

            There are plenty of double-standards forced on the US to keep them looking bad till Russia gets enough nations to annihilate US, which will happen..

            On Russian news they tell everyone in US votes for the wars cause democracy exists there. When I worked in America voter counts didn’t matter and everything was ran by corporate interest, the actual people were just laborers…

        • Joe1 says:

          Not that we didn’t help the Southerners learn to kill themselves in Operation Condor AKA Plan Kondor in some languages.

      • Mike7 says:

        Oh guys, this is second time (first was Iraq where nobody found any chemical weapons, but we got genocide of iraq nation with uranium weapons of west). Sorry, but you so naive. Where is the logic to use chemical weapons? This is automaticaly mean, then UN will give grant to attack Sirya and judge Asad. There are no any logic at all. The same as to use snipers as always show western propaganda. This is so stupid to use snipers over big mass of people, when in such situations needed muchine gun… Snipers needed only to cause more aggression of citizens. I even silen over situation, how “peacefully citizens” can war with regular army over one year :D Or how in west people belives like students in 90s in Chinese few days have war with Chinese army and even destroy few tanks. Students destroy tanks :D (maybe because this was not a students, but army of Taiwan).

        And yes, I sure we will see chemical weapon, but it will be used by this terrorists and western intelligence. Why? Because this is geopolitic and big game. While in Syria there no any islamic fanatics, like already in all other countryes of magrib region, west can’t move all this mass to north and east, to Cinese and Russia for big war (both have large regions with muslims nations). So, in first will fall Syria, then Iran, then we – Chinese and Russia, but already in third world war. In russia right now very massively open a lot military schools for childrens, doubled fly time of military pilots, non stoped military exercises, radically accelerated military program with greatly increased budget, everyday few news about new supplies of vehicles to army, all shypards are full and new in process. I’m just regular citizen, but I understand that we preparing to big war :(

        And else – Sirya was our friend? :) In next time you will said that Saudi Arabia and Katar also our friend? Asad fully integrated in west, it studied in west, place money in west and was fully puppet of west. This is French colony that have less history, than most of people. Russia have no any friend in that region, it fully was under western control last centuries.

        • echomrg says:

          quickest thing i found:


          so, yes, i’d say russia and syria were friends.

          with this:
          “In addition, Russia’s only Mediterranean naval base for its Black Sea Fleet is located in the Syrian port of Tartus.”
          and this
          “Since Russia forgave Syria of three-fourths, or $9.8 billion, of its $13.4 billion Soviet-era debt and became its main arms supplier…”
          being a key part in being friends.

          but we’re veering a little too much on the off topic for hack-a-day…

          • Mike7 says:

            In first, this is “Material-Technical Support Point”, not a “naval base”. This is few baraks with tech personal, two piers and only… four navy guys (FOUR!). Naval base is coordinary another thing, with extraterritoriality law (state of being exempt from the jurisdiction of local law) and a lot navy guys with weapons. Any non biased country will open such “base” as in Tartus for money for any country. Such “bases” have even private companies, for logistic needs.
            And don’t forget, how two years ago “someone” stole from this “base” and then kill major-general of GRU (GRU is russian analog of USA’s CIA). On real base even rats can’t freely walk.

            About money – don’t forget that Russia is second military supplier in world, most countries in world buy russian weapons and vehicles, even USA does. And what? Siria was a fully integrated to west, “western puppy”. As and also the same was with Mubarak. West need islamic fanatics, that why it eliminated all own puppy secular regimes in magrib and replace it with radical islamistic regimes, that already talking about introduction of sharia laws and sacred war against Russia.

    • Facilitator says:

      Lets not forget that many countries (my country, America, included) were founded by radicals overthrowing an oppressive regime. That is a text book definition of a terrorist.

  29. rb says:

    I hate to give them any credit, but it ain’t no T-2000, or T-90 or T-80 or T-72 or T-54. It is a good start. It all started as an amored gun truck. All that to move a med-MG? They are on the way to an amored half-track(carried about 10 people) that some countries are crazy about. 1940’s tech.

  30. foo says:

    While as many have said it’s probably not going to stop a lot of stuff, the psychological impact is great, and it’s great engineering for a bunch of terrorists. When they’re knocking up this kind of stuff, it’s not hard to see why the US was unprotected against 9/11.

  31. xorpunk says:

    I say agree that America is evil, empower Russia and it’s allies, and let all these ignorant anti-American Americans get a taste of our culture where if you don’t get a degree and work for nothing you sleep in the rain or a prison…

    Some people are too spoiled, America needs stop producing lazy elitists who trash their own country from an arm-chair…

  32. thebes42 says:

    These “freedom fighters” are mostly NOT Syrian.
    They are also blowing up schools and mosques, killing innocent civilians.
    Great thing to glamourise huh?????

  33. orenbeck says:

    Folks- I’m gently redirecting this:

    Politics is not the focus. It’s the TECHNOLOGIES! We’re the Technical class so to speak?

    I’ve posted my take on DEFENSIVE Tech with no use in originating damages to others.

    A Shield is not a Spear. Yes Spears can be thrown by a Shielded person-. So? We’re not going to eliminate Spears by eliminating Shields. A perfect Shield sort of makes Spear throwers consider other means- Hopefully, Diplomacy as opposed to bloodshed. We’ve not the “Perfect Shield” yet. When we make it, It will be likely built by HACKERS.

    Mitch Altman has led us by example in walking away from DARPA money.

    Have we overlooked why?

    Do consider a real perception hack of sobering power. Those folks by that Hack Tank could be you- defending your home. I frankly wish they had chosen cameras instead of guns. Document atrocity BEFORE it happens and perhaps we prevent deaths? Crimes are potentially deterred if it’s known that the leaders will have no opacity from the world’s eyes. Recommended Read:


    The politics are often not as we’re led or misled to believe. Sad truths of that historical evidence are written in human blood. This is NOT a fracking Video Game or LARP.

    Our DEFENSIVE technology can save lives. Creating OFFENSIVE technology really is something we’d best reconsider as not smart.

    Make Shields, not Spears.

  34. Whatnot says:

    Interesting to see such hacks, but the the statement “for freedom of their country” is best avoided, less we feel a need to point out what folly that statement is and we get into our own fights.

  35. IVIyth says:

    In my experiences in the Middle East they always “get better” with time. It starys somewhere and someone improves on it. Take EFPs for instance they started with 155 and misc mortar round IEDs and have gradually escalated to more advanced versions. I’m sure they have shared this info with other people and the snowball has begun to roll.

  36. j s says:

    I say the chassis is probably an old diesel Citroen…I understand there are quite a few of them in that part of the world…

  37. T says:

    If you look at the thickness of the plating when the camera goes through the cupola it looks about half an inch thick. I’ve seen 7.62 bounce off far thinner steel than that. Granted, it’s not gonna stop an RPG round or a mine but for casevac or rolling cover it’s better than a poke in the eye.

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