A Man Once Turned In a Soviet TANK to a Czech Weapons Amnesty Program

Photo Credit: Policie ČR / Twitter
Photo Credit: Policie ČR / Twitter

When police in the Czech Republic used a tank in their advertisement to promote weapons amnesty, they didn’t realize someone would actually take it seriously. The weapons amnesty program was designed to allow people who own weapons but not the required paperwork to bring them in and obtain the proper documentation, so they can legally keep them. It was rather fruitful, with thousands of weapons being presented to officials.

Czech police didn’t expect the amnesty program to produce a tank

Pink T-34-85 parked behind a chain link fence
Pink T-34-85 tank that was presented to authorities during the 2021 Czech weapons amnesty program. (Photo Credit: Policie ČR / Twitter)

The Czech weapons amnesty program in question occurred in 2021, at which time the man from Hradec Králové decided it was the perfect opportunity to bring in not only a Soviet-era T-34-85 tank, but an SD-100 tank destroyer. The tank was rather unique in that it had been painted pink. No explanation was ever given as to the paint job.

When asked about how he came to possess the armored vehicles, the man explained they’d came into his possession in the 1990s and that he believed he’d obtained them legally. However, he was unsure if they’d been properly deactivated.

Czech police inspected both and found they’d been rendered harmless, but that the methods used weren’t entirely in keeping with current laws. As such, the owner was allowed time to fix any outstanding issues, so he could keep them in his possession.

T-34s were a popular tank during the Soviet era

Men sitting atop a line of T-34s
T-34 tanks preparing to head to the frontlines during World War II. (Photo Credit: RIA Novosti Archive, Image #1274 / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0)

The T-34 tank was an iconic armored vehicle that dates back to the Second World War. It played a key role in pushing back the German invasion of Russia, thanks to its armor and firepower.

Unveiled in 1941, the tank immediately caught the German forces off guard. Its wide treads made it more maneuverable in both the snow and mud, and its sloped armor, speed, efficient gun, reliability and ease of maintenance made it a superior battlefield weapon. In fact, it was so effective that it influenced the development of future main battle tanks (MBTs).

Outside of World War II, the T-34 and its variants saw use in a number of conflicts, including the Korean, Soviet-Afghan, Six-Day and Vietnam wars.

Which T-34 variant did the man present to Czech police?

T-34-85 on display
T-34-85 tank on display at the Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk, Poland. (Photo Credit: Jakub Hałun / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0)

The T-34-85 presented to Czech police as part of the 2021 weapons amnesty program was a more recent, upgraded version of the original tank. It featured an improved 85 mm gun, a necessary upgrade toward the end of WWII, given the Germans had adapted their own tanks to counter the Soviet armored vehicle; the increased armor on enemy tanks meant the Red Army needed a more powerful gun on their own.

In total, over 22,500 were produced, with the variant proving itself to be an improvement over older models.

The USSR continued manufacturing the T-34-85 after the conflict. When newer, improved tanks came off the production line, the older models were given to Soviet allies and satellite countries.

SU-100 tank destroyer

SD-100 parked between two buildings
SD-100 presented to authorities during the 2021 Czech weapons amnesty program. (Photo Credit: Policie ČR / Twitter)

The SD-100 is the Czech version of the Soviet SU-100 tank destroyer. The latter was developed toward the end of the Second World War, entering the battlefield with bang, thanks to its D-10S 100 mm anti-tank gun, which later served as the primary armament of the Soviet T-55 under the “D-10T” designation.

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While it was phased out followings the 1960s, the tank destoyer was still sold to Soviet allies and Warsaw Pact countries. It was extensively used in this regard, being equipped during the Six-Day and Yom Kippur wars, as well as throughout the Suez Crisis. The latter saw it up against Israeli-manned M4 Shermans.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE