The Tank Museum Teams Up With William Cook Defence to Send Tank Tracks to Ukraine

Photo Credit: Yuriy Mate / Global Images Ukraine / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Yuriy Mate / Global Images Ukraine / Getty Images

The Tank Museum in Bovington, United Kingdom has teamed up with William Cook Defence to reverse engineer Soviet-era tank tracks for deployment to Ukraine. The partnership comes as the Russo-Ukrainian War enters its third year, and follows a request from the Ministry of Defence, which urged the latter to provide tank tracks for the Ukrainian fleet.

T72 driving along a dirt road
Captured Russian T72 in the service of the Armed Forces of Ukraine takes part in military exercises in Ukraine, 2023. (Photo Credit: Roman Petushkov / Global Images Ukraine / Getty Images)

Upon receiving the request for tank tracks from the British government, William Cook Defence turned to the Tank Museum for support. According to a press release from the latter, “Using incomplete Soviet-era drawings, specimen tank links from Ukraine, then the inspection of vehicles, manuals and the loan of track specimens from the Tank Museum, Cook reverse-engineered the tracks and drive sprockets for MTLB, BMP, and T72 vehicles.”

William Cook Defence has been the recipient of numerous contracts to supply spare parts for up to 500 Ukrainian-operated military vehicles. Along with tracks for the Soviet-era tanks, the company was also tasked with supplying them for the tanks Britain donated to the Ukrainian forces, such as the Challenger 2.

Tank track placed on the ground near a T72 that's on display
Example of the new T72 track link gifted to the Tank Museum. (Photo Credit: The Tank Museum / Press Release)

“We have a long history of supply tracks for all the armoured vehicles of the British Army and many allied militaries, but delivering these contracts for Ukraine has been a very different challenge,” The Manufacturer reports William Cook, the company’s managing director, as saying.

Several issues had to be navigated while reverse engineering the tank tracks. A new steel alloy needed to be produced, so the pieces would match the original Soviet specifications, while welded and forged components needed to be redesigned for the modern manufacturing process.

T72B3 tank driving along a dirt road
Ukrainian training trips on trophy Russian T72B3 tanks take place on a military outdoor firing range in Ukraine, 2023. (Photo Credit: Roman Petushkov / Global Images Ukraine / Getty Images)

Speaking in the press release, David Willey, curator at the Tank Museum, said:

“The Tank Museum’s collections are used for many purposes. The Museum tells the story of the Royal Armoured Corps story to the public, teaching soldiers, and helping ‘corporate memory’ on the subject is also a core function. When we can help industry and our allies, of course we should. We are very pleased to hear the reproduced track is now arriving in Ukraine.”

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William Cook Defence has manufactured tracks for British armored fighting vehicles since 1941.

Clare Fitzgerald

Clare Fitzgerald is a Writer and Editor with eight years of experience in the online content sphere. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from King’s University College at Western University, her portfolio includes coverage of digital media, current affairs, history and true crime.

Among her accomplishments are being the Founder of the true crime blog, Stories of the Unsolved, which garners between 400,000 and 500,000 views annually, and a contributor for John Lordan’s Seriously Mysterious podcast. Prior to its hiatus, she also served as the Head of Content for UK YouTube publication, TenEighty Magazine.

In her spare time, Clare likes to play Pokemon GO and re-watch Heartland over and over (and over) again. She’ll also rave about her three Maltese dogs whenever she gets the chance.

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