Russian Tanks Show Up for Parade, Proceed To Destroy City Streets

Even a relatively light tank will chew up asphalt roads.

dress rehearsal of victory day military parade held in moscow
Mikhail JaparidzeGetty Images
  • Tanks have traditionally been banned from parades in the U.S. due to their use of asphalt-chewing metal tracks.
  • The inability to feature tanks was one reason why Trump’s 4th of July military parade was canceled.
  • A series of photos from Russia shows just how quickly a tank can ruin the asphalt on a city street.

    Officials have banned army tanks from parades in the U.S. for more than half a century, and new pictures from Russia make it painfully clear why. The photos, from preparations for the country's annual V-E day military parade, show a tank’s treads chewing up a Moscow street during a parade rehearsal.

    Russian blogger and armor enthusiast Yuri Pasholok uploaded pictures of the T-34/85 tank to his blog. The tank was part of a contingent of military vehicles brought to Moscow as part of the 2020 V-E Day commemoration, an event that typically involves a parade of military tanks, armored vehicles, and aircraft. The parade is being held later than usual this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    The T-34/85 medium tank was an improved version of the original Soviet T-34 tank. The T-34/85 featured a larger 85-millimeter gun, improved armor, and a cupola for the tank commander, giving him 360-degree protected vision. More than 17,000 tanks were produced worldwide, many serving well into the 1970s and 1980s. The main Soviet tank of World War II, the tank played a key role in the destruction of Nazi Germany.

    The T-34/85 weighs 32 tons fully loaded. Like all tanks, the T-34 uses tracks instead of wheels to give the vehicle better cross-country performance and to spread the tank’s weight over a wider area, giving it lower ground pressure per square inch than a wheeled vehicle. Tracks are meant to gain traction in whatever surface lies underneath the tank and then exert huge amounts of torque that propel the tank forward.

    t 3485
    Yuri Pasholok

    Obviously this could be a problem on asphalt-lined roads, and tanks have been banned from military parades in the U.S. for precisely that reason. In 2017 President Trump declared he wanted a 4th of July military parade similar to that held in Paris for Bastille Day. Trump wanted tanks and other military vehicles but was dissuaded after the Pentagon explained the cost of the parade and how tracked vehicles could ruin Washington D.C.’s streets. Exacerbating the problem is the sheer weight of modern military vehicles: a U.S. Army M1A2 main battle tank weighs 68 tons—more than twice as much as the T-34/85.

    Pasholok blog entry shows several T-34/85s in parade colors, apparently practicing on Moscow’s Tverskaya Street. These tanks are apparently of Czechoslovakian origin, having been built by Czechoslovakia under license and imported by the Russian Army for ceremonial activities. Russia imported another 30 T-34/85 tanks from Laos in 2019.

    Source: Yuri Pasholok

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