How do Moscow riot police water cannons work?

The police immediately answer: of course, psychology works first. The very appearance of an armored water cannon on the streets of the city cools even the hottest heads. Special vehicles look menacing and with all their looks they say: no more ceremonies, now there will be a war. Nevertheless, for the entire time the Moscow OMON has been working with water-jet installations, they have never had to be used against people. A couple of times they took to the streets - it was, but only as a safety net, just in case. Still, the water cannon is, to a certain extent, a weapon of the “penultimate trait, ” then the fighting, and until the real street battles the last time came in a memorable ninety-third.

Nevertheless, the water-jet special car can be called a humane means. The art of the shooter is, among other things, to keep the crowd out of the really dangerous — for people, not for cars — distance. At a distance of 20-30 m, the impact of a water stream is palpable, it throws a person or an obstacle to the side, pushes him, without causing injury. But you can’t shoot at five meters: serious injuries can be inflicted.

"Storm" (however, Mercedes-Benz, too) resembles an armored turtle, fully justifying the nickname given to water jets in the mid-1970s.

However, in addition to the destructive function, water cannons carry a completely peaceful load - they are able to extinguish fires, and at very considerable distances. Especially for our material, the police installed, poured gasoline and set fire to the construction of boards and boxes. It blazed spectacularly, the flame rose three meters, and a water cannon shot down the fire and put out the fire in a few seconds, and from a very decent distance of 35-40 meters. The riot police say: it would be good if they only used it against the fire.

Paint, foam and gas

We tested two water jets - domestic and German-Israeli, compared their functions, shot at obstacle barrels and felt the power of both cars. From the point of view of build quality, comments are superfluous - can a Russian car compete with a Mercedes? Unfortunately not. But the cars are almost equal in functionality, and this implies that the Storm based on KamAZ-536053 can do much more than its German counterpart. What should a modern water cannon be able to do?

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Wasserwerfer 10000. The last word in waterjet technology is the Austrian Wasserwerfer 10000, developed by Rosenbauer and entered into serial production in 2011. The first customers of the Wasserwerfer 10000 were the police of Berlin and Hamburg - where the new water cannon replaced the outdated 9000. The water cannon is built on the Mercedes-Benz Actros chassis and, with a fairly compact size, holds 10 tons (!) Of water. It is equipped with three carriages - two front (range - 65 m) and one rear (range - 50 m). The pump unit is driven by a Deutz TCD 2012L06 engine. In other functions, the machine is similar to its analogues; Chlorobenzalmalonodinitrile and chloroacetophenone are used as irritants.

Both models belong to the “special vehicles of the middle class to suppress group illegal actions and riots” - thus, the set of basic functions they have is about the same. This type of water jet machine is equipped with two carriages - lower and upper. The top one, located on the roof, in fact, is a cannon for dispersal of rallies: its pressure is 11-12 atm. Moreover, the Mercedes engine (the pump unit is driven by a separate power unit located at the rear of the car) can “accelerate” water to 15 atm and is equipped with a factory limiter for safety reasons. The gun can shoot in several modes: short or long bursts and continuously. The lower carriage has about half the power and is designed for fire fighting. In addition, if the crowd comes too close, it can also be used during acceleration.

A brief history of water jets

The place and time of the appearance of the first water cannon in history is precisely known: Berlin, 1930. It was an armored car with a tank based on Mercedes. The shooter stood inside the cabin and watched the surroundings through the loopholes in the turret located on the roof and equipped with a hose. Just that - and he arranged a “bathhouse” for the demonstrators. According to the principle of operation, that machine was also different from modern ones in that it could only shoot in a stationary position, since the wheels and the pump were driven from one engine.

But the pre-war water cannon was more likely an oddity than a trend. But after the division of Germany into Germany and the GDR, there were much more demonstrations - and the Germans approached the issue thoroughly. In the 1950s and 1970s, both Germany produced water cannons on all kinds of chassis (Magirus, Mercedes, MAN, Bussing), and their number significantly exceeded demand. Something was exported, but in general, most military vehicles performed fire functions in peacetime. In these machines, the pump was already driven by an additional engine, without taking power from the main power unit.

The first water cannons of the modern type, the so-called "armored turrets, " appeared in the late 1970s - again in Germany, this time in West Berlin. In terms of layout, such cars almost did not differ from today's ones, and they were based on the usual Mercedes chassis. The layout included a cabless armored cabin with barred windows and two cannons on the roof plus a 4.5 t tank, which is not very much.

The leader in the production of water cannons was (and today, in general, remains) the Austrian company Rosenbauer, known primarily for its fire engines. The most popular model was the Rosenbauer RWD 10000 on the Mercedes chassis - it was supplied to many European and South American countries. It was in the 1980s that additional types of defense and attacks appeared: gas-irritant added to water or sprayed from the sides, paint and foam for fire fighting. In addition, the “turtles” got rid of the turrets that dominated the designs of water jets from the very beginning - now the control was remote, from the cockpit.

Water cannons were also built on the bonnet of the bonnet, but they did not prove themselves very well, since they had more weaknesses: it was easy to climb onto the bonnet.

But water is only one of the components. The water cannon has three additional containers of 60 l each - with gas, paint and foam (the main tank holds 6 tons of water). The paint is mixed into water to “tag” particularly active demonstrators. It is made on a beetroot basis, safe and poorly wiped from clothing and leather. Thus, tinted buzoters can be "caught" by red marking after the main events. Gas - a regular pepper-based tear - is also mixed into water. Foam is served only on the lower carriage, it is intended solely for fighting fire.

Sitting in the cockpit in place of the shooter, you feel like a hero of a computer game. I want to shoot and shoot. We even asked the police if there was such a reaction in the field. They were surprised: no, that you, there is an order - we shoot, no - we are waiting, we are not playing toys.


Almost all water jets of the 1980-1990s had, in addition to a water cannon, additional weapons. Modern water cannons are most often more “humane, ” but the Storm still has a retractable grenade launcher for eight charges. If necessary, you can use flashlights or gas grenades with pepper gas.

Self Defense Courses

No less attention than attack is given to the defense of a combat vehicle. The crowd is a terrible force, it is able to turn over tanks and destroy walls, and a special water-jet car is the first target for any demonstrator. Large, bright, noticeable - easy to hit with a stone or Molotov cocktail. Therefore, water cannons without fail have their own fire extinguishing systems. On the roof of the Mercedes six nozzles are clearly visible, supplying water from above, and on KAMAZ there is a special system for extinguishing the wheels. By the way, here foreign designers to some extent did not calculate, since the roof is iron and, in extreme cases, it can be extinguished from the gun itself, but rubber tires are a serious target for arson, and it’s not enough on what surface a special machine will have to pass.

RCU 6000-I RU. The Israeli RCU 6000-I RU system on the Mercedes chassis looks more impressive than the Russian one in terms of design and is made in German more qualitatively, although it is slightly inferior in functionality, in addition, access to the roof and evacuation from the car are difficult if necessary. Summing up, we can say that the machines are completely equivalent.

Serious protection is provided for from demonstrators who are ready to climb onto a water cannon: nozzles are installed on the sides of the cars (the Storm has six, the Mercedes has four), creating a cloud of pepper gas about a meter around the car: you can’t get close, you won’t get to the roof . At the same time, the KamAZ cabin is sealed, and an isolated life support system is turned on, filtering the incoming air from the outside. There is no such system on the Mercedes, therefore there are fewer nozzles, and they supply gas back, away from the cab.

By the way, in the design of machines there are elements that clearly demonstrate the national mentality. For example, in the roof of KamAZ there is a hatch that allows you to get upstairs and, if anything, fix the jammed gun. But the top of the Mercedes can be climbed only by a ladder: the Germans are confident in the quality of their products. More precisely, not his own, but Israeli: RCU 6000-I RU water-jet systems on the Mercedes-Benz MB1818AK chassis are installed by Beit Alfa Technologies Ltd.

Water cannons in the USSR and Russia

No water cannons were made in the Soviet Union. On the contrary, in newspapers and magazines regularly appeared articles with creepy shots of dispersal of demonstrations using water guns, as well as comments on “bourgeois dictatorial regimes”. However, in the 1980s, when there was a need for water cannons, they tried to convert fire engines, and then bought several special Hydromil 2 special vehicles in Poland on a Jelch chassis. Hydromil, a descendant of German developments twenty years ago, was awkward and weak - and on special orders created the first Soviet Typhoon-K water cannon based on the MAZ missile tractor. It was just a prototype. The first production car of this class was the Avalanche on the BAZ missile chassis - a powerful, passable, with a tank for eight or ten (depending on version) thousand liters of water. In 1994, the Lavina-M mobile fortress appeared, equipped, in addition to the carriages, with two three-barreled grenade launchers, ammunition firing systems, a smoke screen and gas protection.

The third incarnation of the Avalanche was the Avalanche-Hurricane on the Ural-532365 chassis, created at the Vargashinsky fire-fighting and special equipment plant. A 9000-liter tank, four water cannons (two lower and two upper), video cameras, an eight-barreled grenade launcher ... It would seem that here it is - a good car for the Russian police ...

We were shown the "Avalanche-Hurricane" - it still stands in the garage of the Moscow riot police and is even listed in the ranks. The police honestly said that the huge water cannon is extremely slow and completely incapable of fighting in the narrow Moscow streets, except on the avenues like Kutuzovsky or Leningradsky. In addition, it is extremely poorly made, the comfort inside is Soviet-style minimal, there is rust on the sides, and the “gluttony” of the “Hurricane” exceeds all the standards for delivering fuel for military needs. As a result, “Hurricane” has not yet been decommissioned, but, apparently, it is waiting for this — and it is the middle class water cannons that are quite compact and protected, because Vargashi began to produce a more or less convenient Storm.

KamAZ also has another difference from the German - an eight-barreled grenade launcher, leaving the roof. If it’s really bad, you can shoot light-noise or gas grenades. But this is an extreme case. It is difficult to imagine a situation in which an armored unit with barred windows and a powerful dump for demolishing barricades would be in truly serious danger. Although during the filming we managed to damage the KamAZ dump. Yes, riot police say, it’s weak, it’s good for snow, but it’s likely that it will bend about the barricade ...

We or they?

But are such cars needed at all? After all, never in the entire modern history of Russia did they shoot at people - even the mighty “Avalanches” of the 1990s only left to frighten with their appearance. And which are better - domestic or imported?

In principle, water cannons are armed with police in any civilized country. In the same Germany, which for a long time was a trendsetter in the technical fashion in this area, there are more than 120 (!) Water cannons - against just a couple dozen in Russia. Water-jet special vehicles are built on the chassis of Tatra and Oshkosh, Mercedes-Benz and Scania, Daewoo and MAZ, etc. The equipment is installed on them most often by the same companies that make fire fighting equipment and all kinds of special vehicles - from graders to airfield tractors. In the CIS market, Israelis from Beit Alfa Technologies Ltd. densely settled down, working with various chassis, but mainly with Mercedes; today they offer 24 (!) various models from the ultra-small on the basis of GM to heavy armored cars. The cost of Russian and imported water cannons are not too different: a middle class car costs about 10 million rubles.

In principle, the progress of the Russian water-jet engineering industry is evident: from the Avalanche of the 1990s to the Storm, there is a whole chasm in the technology, quality and capabilities of the machine. There is something to be worked out - until the Mercedes still reach out and reach out, but on the whole it makes sense, as they say, to support the domestic manufacturer - it is quite possible that active export will develop over time.

As for the operation, it remains to wish that water guns continue to be used only as a fire extinguishing agent. Well, as a last resort, you can go to some square and sternly look at unauthorized demonstrators through the bars and bulletproof glass. Shooting at people is not the case at all, as the police themselves say, and one cannot disagree with them.

The article “Water strike” was published in the journal Popular Mechanics (No. 12, December 2012). Like formidable tanks and planes, combat robots and smart missiles?

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