Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sends a message about how superpower Russian forces are in terms of war. The magnitude of their authority in the realm of weapons, tanks, and its troops is genuinely evident. But there’s a catch. Ukrainian forces discovered a way that weakens one of the Russian tankers it used to annex the country.

In April, since Moscow began its onslaught, it is estimated that hundreds of Russian tanks have been downed. The British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace estimated that Russia had lost as many as 580 tanks. Other estimates put the number over 1,000

 The Ukrainian forces apparently figured out how to set off an explosion inside this Russian tank that is so destructive that it frequently rips the turret right off the vehicle.

However, Moscow’s concerns extend far beyond the loss of tank weaponry. The “jack-in-the-box effect” is a term used to describe a flaw known to western forces for decades. According to experts, photos from the battlefield demonstrate how Russian T-26 have incurred this flaw. 

Since 1969, the Russian armed forces have been working on developing their Soviet-era T-72 tank. During the previous fifty years, Russia has reportedly produced somewhere in the neighborhood of 25,000 T-72 tanks. The T-72 is imported into the militaries of forty countries worldwide.

Upgrades to the turret armor and a more sophisticated laser rangefinder are some of the progressive enhancements that have been made to the T-72. But, its overall composition and configuration have remained unchanged since 1969. In addition, gaps in its base structure allowed the Ukrainian Ground Forces to obliterate the T-72s with a single blow. 

Ukrainian Ground Forces destroyed a Russian T-72 tank in Mariupol during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Source: BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

This phenomenon, called the “blow-out effect,” is caused by how shells are stored in the tank. The T-72, in contrast to Western tanks, does not keep its ammunition in a separate chamber that is located away from the crew. Instead, the turret of the T-72 tank is filled with around 40 rounds of 125 mm cannon. This is because the T-72 has an autoloader with a carousel rack beneath the crew.

Because of its design and automatic loading system, the T-72 can quickly begin a fire, producing a high density of attacks that can be used to suppress the opponent. According to an analysis from Sam Bendett, consultant for the Russian Studies Program at the Center for a New American Security, placing ammunition in the turret of the T-72 tank not only frees up space but also makes the tank lower and more challenging to target during combat. Unfortunately, a single blow to the turret is all it takes to set off a chain reaction that blows up all of the shells within the tank. This leaves the tank extremely defenseless.