5 Unintentionally Hilarious Soviet Versions of Good Ideas

We admit it: We are pretty hard on the Soviet Union, partly because a lot of us grew up doing nuclear war drills in preparation for a Soviet first strike, and partly because almost everything they did was hilarious.

For instance, because the Russians were always running behind the West in technology, their entire technological development process involved waiting for their enemies to invent something, at which point they would grab a photo of it and demand their engineers make an exact copy using less money and time and lower quality materials.

The results were often ridiculous. Like ...

#5. The Armored Troop Transport That Didn't Have a Roof

Via Ausairpower.net

The Original:


The obtusely named Landing Vehicle Tracked (LVT) was America's way of making a grand entrance in the Pacific during World War II. Introduced in the early 1940s, the LVT troop transports were the first things to hit the sand when we invaded the islands. They were heavily armored and could travel through water, and the Japanese really hated them because they were so damn effective.

Via Wikimedia Commons
Otherwise known as a "Charlton Heston fishing boat."

There were a number of versions, some outfitted with heavy artillery and cool things like flame throwers. We'll repeat that: There were amphibious tanks that could pop out of the water and shoot fire at you. Of course every kid on the block wanted one, including the Russians.

The Sad Soviet Copy:


The Russians thus built the BTR-60. It looks like the same thing. It's armored and it carries troops. The armor on it could withstand any small arms and shrapnel fire and could stop a bullet as large as 7.62 mm from any range.

Via Wikipedia
Plus, all those wheels meant it could do a wicked donut in the neighbor's lawn.

The vehicle quickly moved into mass production. There was just one problem: the BTR-60 had no roof. It was basically the sporty convertible of all armored vehicles.

Via Missing-Lynx.com
Note to military vehicle designers: "Sunroof" equals "grenade magnet."

Due to the lack of a roof, the BTR-60 could be taken out by even the simplest of explosives. Take a grenade and throw it at any other armored vehicle -- it just bounces off the side and explodes as the armor protects the crew. Now throw one at the BTR-60 -- it goes in the giant gaping hole at the top and explodes directly in the troop compartment, killing absolutely everyone. All that armor does little good when the explosion is happening on the inside, and in fact just helps keep all of that killing energy trapped inside where the people are.

It's not like they couldn't put a top on it; the Red Army even requested one. But the designers basically said, "Screw you guys," or, to be more precise, they argued, "The limitation of losses wasn't the emphasis." Oh, well good. Glad we got that settled.

Via Wikimedia Commons
"Your lives are less valuable than stirring propaganda photos."

Their solution? Cover it with a tarp. Explosions and bullets rip right through it, but at least it kept the soldiers out of the rain.

#4. The Extremely Combustible Nuclear Submarine

Via Weapons.dk

The Original:

USS Nautilus

The Nautilus, now currently known as a manufacturer of exercise equipment, was in 1955 the world's first fully operational nuclear-powered submarine.

Via Wikipedia
In its first trip, it lost over 2,500 pounds.

In its first year of service, it broke several world records, including two on its first test drive alone. It could stay underwater for up to four months at a time. It could also go underneath the North Pole. Oh, and guess who lived on the other side of the North Pole, envious of their rival's new toy ...

The Sad Soviet Copy:

November Class Submarine

The Soviet's first nuclear-powered submarine was ironically not named the Red October but the November Class. Apart from sounding like something Realtors have to attend when their licenses are about to expire, they did have some cool features. Like the Nautilus, they could stay under water for months at a time. At least until they decided to spontaneously combust, that is.

Via Virtualtrilogy.com
But at least it had a roof.

But if you can believe it, that wasn't the real problem. The Soviets, knowing that fires kill people, installed a nice fire suppression system for the crew. The fire suppression system on the November-class submarine was largely carbon dioxide, or CO2. Since fires, like people, have to breathe oxygen, CO2 kills fires very effectively. Now guess what it does to the people.

On September 8, 1967, submarine K-3 caught fire. Swinging into action, the fire suppression system promptly activated and proceeded to kill everyone in the first two compartments, no matter how close the crew was to the actual fire. Later when the remaining crew opened up the hatch to the first two compartments, the CO2 gas spread even more, creating more problems.

Via Wikimedia Commons
"No problems here, guys -- looks all clear in h--" *thud*

Naturally the Soviets realized that a fire-safety system that killed people wasn't very effective. So they did the sensible thing: They covered it all up and pretended nothing ever happened. Then on April 8, 1970, the K-8 caught fire and sank entirely. The entire crew was lost. And the vast majority of deaths were not due to the fire or the flooding of the submarine. It was -- you guessed it -- CO2 poisoning.

Yet despite this huge problem, they built 14 of these underwater coffins anyway.

Via Wikimedia Commons
It's exactly as safe now as it was back then.

#3. The Biggest and Most Impractical Gun Ever

Via Wikimedia Commons

The Original:

M65 Atomic Cannon

Nothing spurs an arms race like a big, giant, phallic gun. From the very first moment the cannon was invented, something electric came alive inside the male mind, and from that point on no man could bear to be on the side that didn't have the biggest. This is why, in 1953, the U.S. developed the M65 Atomic Cannon, and nine months later every artilleryman's wife gave birth.

Via Wikimedia Commons
Somehow, it just feels better to spend money on this than health care or education.

Look at that shit. It's more than 80 feet long. The shells are 11 inches wide. If we ever get around to building our giant robot, we know exactly where we're mounting that baby.

We can't imagine how fast the Soviets worked to build their own, seeing their own testosterone levels dropping at an alarming rate every minute it remained unfinished.

The Sad Soviet Copy:

2B1 Oka Nuclear Cannon

It only took them until 1957, when they banged out this:

Via Wikipedia
"Project Rasputin was a complete success, comrades."

BOOM! That barrel is more than 65 feet long. The shells were 16.5 inches across. And with the ability to lob a nuclear warhead 28 miles, you'd think the Soviets might actually have the U.S. beat in this competition.

The only issue here, really, is that in the course of making a gun that would restore their manhood, the Russians also made one that would destroy itself after every single shot. The recoil was so massive it tore out the transmission, damaged the drive sprockets (the treads), smashed the gun mounts and basically twisted most of its other parts into an unrecognizable shape.

When the gun was first unveiled to the public, Western observers thought it was fake because it was just too cartoonishly big.

Via Wikimedia Commons
Christ, you could use other tanks as ammunition for that thing.

Then there was the whole issue of how they were untransportable because the guns were too damned big. And we're betting that if you brought up any of those issues with the gun's designers, they would answer, "Sir, you are missing the point."

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