T-34s Still In Action, December 2020

December 18, 2020

The tragic war in Yemen between Iranian-backed Houthi tribesmen and the Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia is often portrayed as a “David-vs-Goliath” affair. The Houthi’s are generally seen as lightly equipped mountain fighters whilst the Saudi’s field one of the most up to date militaries in the world, with no expense spared on equipment and the latest Western weapon systems.

But this obscures the fact that the Saudi’s are also using a large number of foreign mercenaries to fight this war, principally from Sudan, and those troops don’t have the technical skills or education to operate modern equipment.

So, it appears, they are resorting to some very well tried and tested weapons. Footage of a Houthi attack purportedly on December 15, 2020 against positions supposedly held by Sudanese mercenaries and Saudi troops shows the defenders using at least two T-34/85 tanks.

Famed for its use in the Second World War, these vehicles first went into production in 1944 and came out of production in 1958, with the last of them being built in Czechoslovakia. That means these vehicles are at least 62 years old, and possibly far older.

The tank has been obsolete for decades and mainly to be found in museum collections or as memorials. But they are rugged, reliable and above all simple; ideal for equipping poorly educated forces, especially if they are simply holding ground. Although, it is surprising to see them operating still in the front lines.

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