Craziest DIY Military Vehicles
Here are some handmade military vehicles that dominate the battlefield.Weird
When you think of military vehicles, you probably picture tanks, helicopters, and warships, covered in the same olive green paint. However, unofficial paramilitaries, criminals, and war enthusiasts the world over build their own makeshift vehicles to bring into battle. Let's check out some rough and ready arsenal, looking at minigun motorbikes, compact car cannons, and zombie-proofed trucks as we take a tour of the craziest handmade DIY military vehicles!
We usually associate tanks with trained soldiers and muddy battlefields, but in some parts of rural Mexico, there are several criminal cartels who operate tanks in regular city streets. The so-called Narco Tanks are often composed of regular SUVs and trucks that have been tooled up with armor, turrets, and mounted weapons to battle the police and intimidate locals.
As you can imagine, people who see these tanks in person often don’t live to tell the tale, so most of the information we have about specific Narco tanks comes when the police manage to capture them during gunfights.
Back in 2011, one of the tanks was seized, from members of the Los Zetas cartel. Dubbed the Z Monster, the Narco tank’s battering ram, gun ports, and machine gun turret are all pretty fearsome, but incredibly, the whole vehicle was built around the body of a regular Ford F-350 truck.
Ford’s F-Series is the bestselling range of trucks in the world, but while most people use their Ford’s to haul hardware equipment, the cartel members used the Z Monster for far less wholesome activities, to say the least.
The Z Monster’s weaponry is pretty impressive, but the tank’s most unique feature was its satellite communication system, which allowed it to listen in on police radio frequencies. This bit of technology meant that the cartel could stay one step ahead of law enforcement at all times, at least until the vehicle was captured.
BMW Isetta With a Mounted M2 Browsing 50 Cal
Let’s travel to Germany now, as we look into a BMW Isetta with a unique modification. The 1955 BMW Isetta is one of the smallest microcars on the market, but in 2022, web users discovered a version of the compact car that packed a serious punch, after an anonymous owner fitted it with a M2 Browning Machine Gun.
The insane vehicle was posted for sale in Utah, and it was listed as having a fully working chain-fed machine gun, with a 50-caliber box magazine that held 105 rounds. Of course, considering the fact that the recoil on Browning guns was enough to bend the frames of 1.25-ton Jeeps during World War 2, you can see why it might not be practical to attach one to a 350-kilogram Isetta.
After all, a weapon of such size would probably flip the car when fired, so it’s likely that the creation was more of an elaborate joke. Either way, the owner explained that he was only selling the car as his home was being repossessed, and he needed to pull together some money to pay off the house. It isn’t clear whether the car actually sold, or how much it was listed for.
Back in 2016, a motorcycle company called Tailgunner took the principle of ‘big gun, small vehicle’ a step further, by attaching a working minigun to a motorbike. The 2 wheeled tank is the Interceptor, a bike that was created as a collaboration between Tailgunner and an arms company called Dillon Aero.
Both the minigun and the motorbike are fully operational, and the vehicle is reportedly able to travel at up to 150mph, while simultaneously firing 3,000 rounds per minute. With that kind of speed and firepower, the Interceptor is the ideal zombie apocalypse vehicle, but it isn’t the only minigun motorbike out there.
Back in 2009, a Hollywood stuntman called Eddie Paul designed his own military vehicle, by covering a Boss Hoss motorcycle with thick metal armor, a Lexan bulletproof windscreen, and two 7.62mm Gatling guns.
Unfortunately, the Gatling guns on Paul’s model are only replicas, but if you swapped them out for the real thing, you’d be left with a seriously dangerous vehicle that could give the Interceptor a run for its money. If you were insane enough to do it, that is.
Davy Crockett and The Nuclear Jeep
The next strung-together vehicle is actually an official military issue; but if we’re talking about big guns strapped onto regular-sized vehicles, it would be way too crazy not to mention.
Sticking a minigun to a motorbike might seem pretty extreme, but back in the 1950s, the US military did something even more unhinged: they decided to take a Nuclear Warhead and strap it to the back of a jeep.
It might sound like something out of a video game, but the M-28 Davy Crockett Weapon System was actually a part of the US military’s push to increase their nuclear arsenal after World War 2.
The Davy Crockett was essentially the first rocket launcher that could shoot a low-payload nuclear warhead straight at the enemy. It could be fired from the ground like a mortar, but it was also frequently fitted on the back of jeeps, allowing soldiers the ability to pull up on the battlefield and launch a nuke at the enemy before driving away again.
As you can imagine, the nuclear drive-by would be devastating, and the military soon became concerned that the radiation emitted by the weapons blast could put their own soldiers at risk.
Each Davy Crockett launcher required a 3 man crew, and if these soldiers were standing downwind of the target they were firing at, there was a high chance of them receiving a lethal dose of radiation from a blast, even at the weapon’s maximum firing range.
As a result, the 2,100 Davy Crocketts that were produced during the Cold War never saw any use in combat, and the insane weapon was completely retired from service in 1971. So, sadly, no one ever got the chance to strap one of these bad boys onto a motorbike.
Hamas Parading Fake Tank
DIY military vehicles aren’t always flawless pieces of engineering and the next vehicle certainly reiterates that idea. Back in 2016, the Palestinian Militia Hamas shared some images, alongside a claim that they’d successfully built their first tank from scratch.
The existence of a locally made tank was a huge step for Hamas, so they decided to parade their creation through the streets of Gaza, in front of a crowd of thousands of people. The group shared images of the tank online to show off their military force, but unfortunately, some netizens discovered another set of images, that revealed something surprising about the vehicle.
When they zoomed in on these images, they noticed that the tank appeared to be sitting on four regular tires, instead of its tracks. With this realization, netizens confirmed that the vehicle wasn’t a tank at all; it was actually a model of a tank’s body, built around a regular 4-wheeled truck.
Before long, netizens started to make fun of the militia online, joking that their supposed tank was probably made of plywood. As the image went viral, Hamas was left blushing. It isn’t clear what the mock tank is actually made from, but it probably wouldn’t stand up to enemy gunfire.
Military Citroen 2CV
The Citroën 2CV is a classic compact car that’s been whizzing through the streets of Paris since its invention in 1948. 2CVs have transported countless baguettes and cigarettes over the years, but in 2009, a former US Marine called Gregory Marshall fitted his Citroen with something even more lethal, an 88-millimeter cannon.
Gregory is a 72-year-old ex-marine who currently lives in Burgundy, France. Since moving to Europe, the veteran has decided to blend his love for the American military and French culture, by buying a quintessentially French car and turning it into an Americanized military vehicle.
As well as fitting a giant cannon to the Citreon’s roof, his car also features US marine-inspired livery and an attachment on the wheels that allows the vehicle to be driven on train tracks. The add-on features aren’t particularly practical, but as Gregory blasts through the French countryside in the car-train hybrid, it’s bound to leave spectators saying ‘ooh la la’ at the badass car.
Dump Trucks With Missiles
While most of the DIY vehicles we’ve discussed so far have been pretty loud and proud about their weaponry, others out there are more concerned with being a little more inconspicuous.
In the Middle East, one common tactic amongst militant groups is to covertly hide missile launchers inside civilian dump trucks. The vehicles often contain makeshift explosive devices, comprised of empty propane gas tanks that have been filled with scrap metal, explosives, and ball bearings.
The so-called Improvised Rocket Assisted Munitions, or IRAMS, are then attached to rockets, which are fired out of the dangerous dump trucks with devastating effects. The vehicles have been used to attack military bases in the Middle East, as the insurgents drive the seemingly innocuous trucks in close proximity to their targets, before firing their hidden weaponry.
The unique design makes the vehicles perfect for covert operations, however, when insurgent groups want to use even larger missiles to attack their enemies, they’re forced to throw stealth out the window.
This viral image attached below, shows a comically large rocket, strapped to the back of a civilian dump truck.
Unfortunately, there are lots of conflicting reports about the origins of this DIY vehicle. Some online sources claim that the launcher was used by insurgents in Fallujah, Iraq, while others believe that the vehicle was actually created by ISIS in Syria.
STZ-3 Tractor and the NI Tank
Let’s move from the sketchy DIY vehicles that are constructed by unofficial militias, to a tank that was constructed from scraps by a legitimate military force during World War 2. On the 8th of August 1941, Axis forces attempted to invade the Ukrainian city of Odesa and take it away from the USSR, starting a nasty siege that lasted for 73 days.
During the siege, the USSR troops defending the city started to experience some shortages in weapons and tanks. So, the workers in Odessa’s factories decided to build their own fighting vehicles. The workers started by taking an agricultural STZ-3 tractor and fitting it with armor and turrets from damaged vehicles found on the battlefield.
The STZ-3 is made for hauling crops and grain, but the makeshift tanks hauled some serious weaponry, often armed with a mix of machine guns, turrets, and flamethrowers, that were protected by armor made from naval steel taken from ships.
The improvised vehicles were dubbed NI tanks and around 70 of them were produced during the siege, allowing the Soviet troops to hop inside their souped-up tractors and defend Odessa.
Unfortunately, after 2 and a half months of fighting, the USSR was forced to surrender the city to the Axis forces, but despite the loss, the NI tank became a symbol of Soviet resistance, showing how far the Allied forces went to win World War 2.
Not all hastily assembled military vehicles are used purely for defense, and indeed, offensive DIY tanks can be just as powerful as the real deal. Back in 2004, Marvin Heemeyer from Granby, Colorado proved it by going on a rampage through the city in a customized D355A bulldozer that’s now known as The Killdozer.
The story started in 1992 when Marvin decided to sell 2 acres of land to a local cement company run by the Docheff family. The Docheffs wanted to build a new concrete plant on Marvin’s land, so they agreed to buy it for $250,000. Unfortunately, Marvin soon changed his mind, increasing the price to $375,000, before raising it again to a deal worth $1 million, far above the concrete company’s price range.
The Docheffs were forced to reject the deal and scrap the planned concrete plant, until 2001, when Granby’s zoning commission approved the construction of the plant on a plot of land next to Heemeyer’s 2 acres. As the Docheffs started to build the plant, Marvin was pretty upset that he’d missed out on the $250,000 deal, and he claimed the new plant would obstruct access to his remaining property.
As a result, he decided to seek revenge, by starting the construction of his Killdozer. Over the next year and a half, Marvin took his standard D355A bulldozer and fitted it with layers of metal sheets, concrete, and bulletproof plastic. He also built 3 gun ports into the interior, allowing him to shoot his rifles out of the vehicle.
On June 4th, 2004, Marvin climbed into the completed Killdozer and went on his rampage through Granby, driving through the walls of the newly built concrete plant, the mayor’s house, and Granby’s town hall, targeting the Docheff family, and anyone connected to Granby’s zoning commission.
As Marvin destroyed half of Granby, the police force tried to chase him down, but their weapons weren’t powerful enough to shoot through the Killdozer’s armor, and Marvin’s creation was too heavy to ram off the road. As a result, Marvin’s rampage went on for over 2 hours, and it only finished when the bulldozer became stuck in a store’s basement.
As the police surrounded the Killdozer, the saga came to an end. All in all, Marvin’s Killdozer destroyed 13 buildings and caused over $7 Million in damages, however, he didn’t actually harm any civilians during his rampage. Still, the level of property destruction that the bulldozer brought to Granby establishes it as one of the most powerful DIY military vehicles of all time.
Garda Panteri Tanks
Let’s take a short trip to Central Europe, as we check out a group of DIY military vehicles from the 1990s. From 1992 to 1995, the Bosnian War oversaw the creation of some of the most powerful, brutal, and unusual-looking DIY military vehicles of all time.
The conflict was fought by sides comprised of Bosnians, Croatians, and Serbians, who either represented international militaries or unofficial militias. At certain points in the war, weapons, and vehicles were in short supply, so a unit in the Bosnia Serb Army called The Garda Panteri decided to build their own experimental tanks.
The unit turned to their abundant supply of Tam5000s, a heavy-duty military truck, designed to transport soldiers, weapons, and military materials across the battlefield. The vehicles were made for hauling, not hurting, but the Garda Panteri decided to turn them into fighting machines, by stripping the TAM trucks down to their chassis and rebuilding them with thick angular armor and giant machine guns.
The end result may look like different variants of the batmobile, but the wacky design does serve a purpose. When building a military vehicle, placing its armor at an angle increases the chances of deflecting any incoming fire, and stopping a bullet from actually penetrating the tank.
This strong defense, combined with the 37mm anti-aircraft gun mounted on its exterior, makes the tank an effective military vehicle, even if it does look like a videogame car that hasn’t been rendered properly.
The Bosnian War was part of the breakup of Yugoslavia, a former country that was composed of the states now known as Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia, Bosnia, and Serbia. Yugoslavia broke up into these separate countries during the 90s after a series of brutal wars, including the Croatian War of Independence.
From 1991 to 1995, Croatian forces fought against the Yugoslav army to become an independent country, but unfortunately, the Croatian Military was pretty weak at the start of the war, and they only had a few operating tanks. As a result, the Croatians started building makeshift vehicles to take on the enemy, developing DIY tanks like the Sokol 1.
At first glance, this vehicle may look like a giant metallic shoe, but it was actually constructed by adding armor to the chassis of an old Zastava 640 truck. The Sokol 1 was a transporter, so it didn’t feature any external weaponry, but its heavy armor was strong enough to withstand enemy fire, making the once commercial truck suitable for battle.
With an arsenal of improvised vehicles, and growing stockpiles of weaponry, the Croatians were able to win the war in 1995 and earn their independence, and incredibly, several of their DIY vehicles outlasted the professional tanks used by Yugoslavia.
Today, several of these surviving makeshift vehicles can be visited in Croatian museums, showing that, unlike the state of Yugoslavia, the Croatian DIY vehicles were truly built to last.
Zombie Apocalypse Tank
Back in 2011, the insane truck in the image below was listed on eBay for just under $14,000, and before long, web users started describing it as the perfect vehicle to survive the zombie apocalypse.
The truck definitely looks like a zombie fighting machine, but incredibly, the only thing that the vehicle was originally created to fight is snow. The truck is actually a customized Tucker Sno-Cat, a type of tracked vehicle designed to be used for expeditions in the Arctic and Antarctic.
The custom, bolted steel exterior of it is thought to have been created as a prop in the notoriously terrible live-action Last Airbender movie; so at least we know something good came out of that cinematic trainwreck! That being, the perfect vehicle to fend off a horde of hungry zombies in the dead of winter!
Staying on the post-apocalyptic vehicle theme, in 2013, Hyundai decided to try their hand at survivalism, by creating some post-apocalyptic versions of their cars in collaboration with The Walking Dead. First, they created a zombie-proofed Hyundai Veloster, equipping the standard 2-door coupe with roof-mounted machine guns, and a pair of twin chainsaws on the front bumper.
They also crafted a custom Hyundai Elantra that featured a large plow on the front to push attacking zombies to the side. These vehicles were both showcased at Comic Con San Diego, as the car company put the die in Hyundai, showing fans of The Walking Dead how to cruise through the post-apocalypse in style.
The Bottom Feeder Submarine
Let’s move from Hyundai’s mockup survival cars to another DIY military vehicle that’s still just a concept. At first glance, this vehicle below looks like a futuristic submarine, moving through the bottom of the ocean to seek out and fight enemy combatants.
However, the vehicle is far less fearsome than it initially appears, and the submarine is actually a miniature creation of Max Dorey, a professional set designer and modelmaker from Bristol, England. The submarine model is actually a piece of art called ‘Bottom Feeder,’ and the creation is almost entirely made from a modified Dyson Vacuum cleaner.
The sub may be made from a vacuum, but the design definitely doesn’t suck, showing that when you decide to dream up an imaginative DIY military vehicle, only the sky or the bottom of the sea is the limit.
I hope you were amazed at these crazy handmade military vehicles! Thanks for reading.