On Tuesday, it was announced via social media that the Ukrainian military was forced to destroy a T-80BVM that had been nicknamed “Bunny” after it was infamously captured by Kyiv in the early stages of the war a year ago.
The tank was immobilized and damaged by 240mm mortar fire, so was set on fire by its crew to avoid capture by Russian forces. ⏬ pic.twitter.com/lF3oMjOpeb
— ???????? Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) April 11, 2023
Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) reported that the tank, which has been in Ukrainian service, was destroyed in Bakhmut in the Donetsk Oblast after it was immobilized and damaged from 240mm mortar fire. The crew set it on fire to avoid its recapture by Russian forces.
The sad news of the destruction of the tank comes during the Orthodox Christian “Holy Week” – so clearly, this Bunny won’t be coming to town anytime soon.
Serious War Trophy
Though Kyiv’s forces have captured hundreds of Russian tanks, Bunny was special.
The T-80BVM was seen as a significant war trophy for Kyiv after Ukrainian 93rd Mechanized Brigade units seized it in early March 2022. The tank had been abandoned by its Russian crew in a field on the outskirts of Kharkiv just weeks after Russia mounted its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
It was likely among the first Russian tanks to be abandoned and recovered by Ukrainian forces. Though it may have dated back to the Cold War, it had reportedly seen little to no service before being deployed to Ukraine.
A former software engineer turned sniper who was identified only as “Alex” discovered the tank, and he was soon given command of it.
“This is like my personal tank. I am [the] tank commander and tank owner,” Alex told CNN last year. Based on reports, Alex has served with the tank over the course of the past year.
Back in Service Against Russia
According to Newsweek, the captured tank was given a “makeover” that included the addition of side armor.
At the same time, it was further modernized to allow it to use a variety of ordnance including guided missiles. Given the nickname “Bunny,” the T-80BVM returned to the front and reportedly destroyed two dozen Russian military vehicles in fighting near Izium.
This Bunny has also delivered knock-out blows to at least six Russian main battle tanks (MBTs), including the only T-80UM2 tank known to be deployed to Ukraine.
Ukraine Weapons Tracker further shared a number of photos of the tank, including images from last year that highlighted Bunny after it received new improvised explosive reactive armor (ERA) on its skirts and sides.
This was not the first time Bunny had taken significant damage.
“Prior to destruction ‘Bunny’ was seriously damaged in combat at least once, presumably by running over anti-tank mines, but was repaired and returned back to service,” a follow-up tweet noted while @UAWeapons shared a photo of Bunny as it was being repaired.
There may be hoped that when the war is ended, Bunny could be recovered and perhaps restored as a symbol of Ukrainian resistance. It is also worth noting that Brickmania, the company that produces LEGO-style war toys, produced a limited edition scale version of Bunny last year that sold out over the Christmas holidays.
We’ll have to watch to see if Brickmania is persuaded to produce another run to honor this truly special tank.
Author Experience and Expertise:
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.