Putin’s WWII victory pageant goes up in smoke when ‘unstoppable’ tank destroyer catches fire

For the second time in five years, Russian heavy metal has broken down during the annual parade. 

Updated: June 26, 2020 - 10:02am

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Russia's newest “unstoppable” military vehicle dramatically caught fire during President Vladimir Putin’s annual World War II victory pageant – the second time in five years that Moscow heavy metal has broken down during the parade. 

At a pageant Wednesday, while Moscow parade-goers lined the route, cell phone cameras in hand, the newest version of the VPK-7829 Bumerang rolled into view.

Touted for its swimming ability, the vehicle proceeded atop its wheels on the streets of Moscow. While trundling within metres of families with children in tow, the Bumerang commenced belching ever-thickening clouds of dense smoke across Moscow's Red Square.

While unseen people yelled with alarm, the oily dark smoke streamed from the front, sides, and top hatch, and eventually enveloped the Bumerang. As captured on video posted to Twitter, the combat vehicle ground to a halt.

The crew appears to have fared unscathed in the short term, without being burned. In one video, when the smoke dissipates, the driver pops his helmeted head from the hatch, while another soldier walks to the front and rests his hand on the vehicle.

The annual pageant is a major event in Russia, commemorating the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II. Modeled after the Soviet Union’s 1945 victory parade, the Russian version that began in 1995 has emerged as a showcase for Kremlin military might, placing troops, tanks and aircraft on public view. 

In recent years, Kremlin authorities have invited international leaders, along with other dignitaries and journalists.

This year, during the 75th anniversary jubilee, parades and fireworks took place in 28 Russian cities, plus on Russian military bases in Syria and Tajikistan.

The largest ceremony was in the Red Square. There, more than 13,000 military personnel, plus military units from 13 foreign states, took part, according to the Russian Ministry of Defense.

The multipurpose Bumerang, an armored personnel carrier that doubles as a tank destroyer, has been described by the Moscow-based news agency Sputnik as “unstoppable.”

Russian military officials reportedly told Sputnik that the versatile army vehicle also would be used by Naval Infantry forces.

At the Moscow event Wednesday, the Bumerang appeared last in the lineup of the mobile column portion. 

The mobile contingent included the famed World War II T-34 tank, of the type once commanded by AK-47 inventor Mikhail Kalashnikov. It also featured the T-14 Armata main battle tank, whose 2015 appearance in the victory parade may have presaged what happened with the Bumerang.

During the 2015 event, the new T-14 broke down in Red Square during dress rehearsals, and would not budge even when lashed to a tow vehicle.