Thursday, May 18, 2023

There's no word in Russian for "OSHA"...

A little-known tale from the wind-down of the Cold War is the fascinating story of what the Germans had to do to some of the Bundeswehr's newly-acquired fleet of Soviet-built BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles acquired from the ex-East German army in order to bring them into line with western standards of usability.

Some modifications were simple, like adding protective covers over the sharp-edged vision blocks for the dismounts' periscopes and a heater to keep the troop compartment warm in the winter. Some were practical, like locking out the top gear in the transmission to reduce wear and tear from high-speed operation.

Then there was the safety stuff, such as folding rearview mirrors, convoy lights, nonskid patches on the upper decking...oh, and, like replacing all the driveline components and gaskets containing asbestos with ones that wouldn't cause half your draftees to wind up in a cancer ward before they were old enough to collect a pension. They also removed the extra fuel tanks that were sandwiched in the thin armor of the rear troop compartment doors, which was the favorite BMP feature of Western infantry during the Cold War.

Best of all, because the 73mm main gun spewed toxic propellent gases back into the firing compartment, the West Germans just put an ixnay on firing the thing at all in peacetime.

As it was, even with the conversions, the BMP-1A1 "Ost" was just a stopgap, something for the newly absorbed units of the last round of Nationale Volksarmee conscripts to ride around in until they could be given Marders.

When the German army shriveled in size, the former East German IFVs wound up getting sold on to Greece and other countries.

Not a cell phone in sight, these NVA landsers are just living in the moment, huffing asbestos particles and freezing their asses off in the unheated crew compartment, hoping nobody shoots the rear doors with APIT.