Ukrainian forces were spotted using guns from the 1940s as old weapons make a comeback in Russia’s bloody war

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This article by Jake Epstein was originally published by Business Insider.

Ukrainian forces fending off the Russian invasion have made good use of advanced, high-tech military hardware to inflict punishing damage on Moscow’s troops, but the bloody and grinding conflict has also seen a return of decades-old weapons that may seem out of place in the midst of modern warfare. 

Kyiv’s troops were recently spotted firing, possibly in training, decades-old anti-aircraft guns identified as KS-19 100 mm systems. The video was flagged by UA Weapons Tracker, an open-source monitor for weapons used in the war in Ukraine. Other videos of the weapon in use have circulated around social media over the past few days. 

The KS-19 is a towed Soviet anti-aircraft gun that has seen operational use in a handful of wars across Asia and the Middle East since it was first introduced in 1947, just a few years after the end of World War II. 

UA Weapons Tracker identified the rounds that were used by the Ukrainians as ones manufactured in the early 1960s and able to travel around a dozen miles. It added that the weapons will be used against ground targets, as opposed to their originally designated use against threats in the air. Task & Purpose reported on Sunday that Russian KS-19s were previously spotted in Ukraine during Kyiv’s blitz-style counteroffensive in the northeastern Kharkiv region last fall.

Old and outdated weapons have made a comeback during Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine, with both sides deploying often obsolete Soviet-era military hardware — sometimes to make up for shortages in newer and more advanced systems.

Related: Russia uses ‘relic’ weapons in Ukraine, including the 9K111 Fagot anti-tank system

An old Soviet 9K111 anti-armor weapon. The 9K111 is just one of the old weapons being resurfaced for the war in Ukraine. (Creative Commons)

For Ukraine, available equipment includes Soviet-era air defense systems like the Buk-M1 or S-300, T-64 and T-72 tanks, MiG-29 fighter jets, and more. And Ukraine has even older weapons too, such as the aforementioned KS-19s and World War I-era Maxim machine guns. These systems have been complimented on the battlefield by continuous waves of Western security assistance, some of which contains much-sought-after weapons like combat drones, air defense systems, and multiple rocket launchers.  

Meanwhile, Russia has been forced to bring its old and obsolete military hardware out of storage to make up for significant battlefield losses. Some examples of this include Soviet-era tanks like the T-62, which are more vulnerable to Ukrainian attacks, and less-accurate missiles that are more like to cause greater collateral damage. More recently, Russia was seen pulling what appeared to be T-54 tanks from the 1940s out of storage.

Highlighting Russia’s dependence on outdated weaponry, Britain’s defense ministry said in October 2022 that Russian reservists sent to fight in Ukraine were even arriving with rifles introduced in the late 1950s that were likely to be “barely usable” because they were stored in poor conditions. 

Feature Image: A 100mm KS-19 model 1947 gun. (Photo by Lvova Anastasiya/Wikimedia Commons)

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