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Destruction of a lost and found T-54/55

By Capt. Mike Lagace
First published in
SFOR Informer#105, January 24, 2001

Glamoc - Discovered by local hunters in September, a "War Trophy" was to find its rightful home on the ranges outside Glamoc. A fully-intact Russian T-54/55 tank, with live ammunition, was left in the bushes north of Glamoc by the warring armies during the last days of the Bosnian war, probably during Op Storm, the last major Croat tank offensive.
Suspected to have been rusting for the past five or more years, the Canadian Battle Group, Roto 7, were tasked with its daunting recovery.
The task was not an easy one. Who had rights to it? Should it fall under Operation Harvest (voluntary handing in of weapons)? What do you do with tons and tons of metal?
Finally SFOR command decided to launch the recovery operation. The first priority was to ensure it was safe to get at it in the bushes. Knowing whether it was booby-trapped was the next Engineer challenge. It was decided to use the tank for target practice.
Almost every Battle Group in Bosnia brought kit to the Resolute Barbara Range to have a go at it! The first person honoured to fire onto the active (but unoccupied) tank was Canadian Maj. Gen. Rick Hillier, MND-SW Commander. He borrowed a Dutch Leopard tank. The Canadian Anti-Armour platoon from Tomislavgrad had second dibs on the tank and, from over 2 kilometers away with their TOW missiles, hit the target alternately with the Dutch TOW ITV and Czech BMP-2 with 30 mm AC/AT-9 Fagot missile. After the combined Battle Group shoot, they backed off to the OP.
Two US Apache attack helicopters provided the finale fireworks. With the rockets firing, they hit the higher ground! The 30 mm guns zeroed their target. With a little adjusting, the Apaches found the tank.
The tank stood battered and bruised but, never-the-less, remained intact for future target practice for units visiting Barbara Range.

The Brits found one, too

Related link: SFOR at Work