In an undisclosed location of Northern Utah lies a fully functional relic of the Cold War. Featured previously in Recoil Magazine, this OT-90 JPJ owned by Mike Pappas of Dead Air Armament needs no introduction. Weighing in at around 24,000 lbs, and being powered by a 19L (1,159cu in) V6 diesel, this beast wasn’t missing much when it arrived stateside. However, there was a lack of firepower on-board that needed to change.
Previously this OT-90 turret would’ve housed a KPVT 14.5mm heavy machine gun, alongside a smaller PKT light machine gun. Mike decided to take a more NATO approach and swapped the KPVT for the tried-and-true M2 Browning. With surplus .50 BMG ammo and M9 links readily available, it was a no-brainer. Importing a KPVT you can’t find ammo for just doesn’t make sense.
Stealing the show on this M2 is the added B.E. Meyers Flash Hider (an early prototype can be seen in this TFB article on GSL Technology). Not only does it reduce muzzle flash, but a large chunk of the concussive blast as well. The result is an unremarkable muzzle signature that’s far from what you’d expect.
Located just forward of the rear crew, and just behind the commander’s chair lies the main gunners chair. Mounted to the turret itself the chair swivels with the traverse and elevation movements of the turret. Storage racks on the right hand side carry ten 100 round ammo cans for the main gun.
In the top right, you can see where the ammo cans are housed during firing. Roughly a foot to the left is the optical sight, and below are the traverse and elevation knobs to move the turret into position.
Looking up and to the left from the gunner’s seat, are the fire control switches for the turret and the dome lighting inside.
Sitting up and to the right of the gunner is where the M2 rests. Unlike traditional M2’s, this one feeds from the right side, as is needed to use the existing ammo cans. Even more peculiar is the solenoid fire control system mounted on the buffer tube at the rear of the receiver. Built by Mike himself, a locally sourced solenoid was wired to use the existing Amphenol connectors.
Located on the right-hand traverse knob are the fire controls for both the primary and (future) secondary weapons.
Note: The reticle is wired for illumination in low light situations using an existing Amphenol connection.
Acquiring targets using the original KPVT/PKT telescopic sight is remarkably easy. With a huge field of view and crystal clear reticle, engaging point targets at a distance is a breeze.
Send the Lead
Sending rounds downrange from Mike’s OT-90 is a surreal experience. Take everything you know about shooting, and throw it out the window. There’s no correct stance, recoil to deal with, or any of those pesky fundamentals you may or may not remember. Simply acquire your target, arm the weapon, and push a button to start sending lead downrange. There’s no recoil, no concussion, and a remarkably low sound signature. This strange disconnect is only thwarted by the clanging of brass and links falling next to you.
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Don’t think this is where this tale ends. This additional firepower won’t be the last of the modifications to the OT-90. Mike Pappas has the mind of a creative genius, so who knows what’s next for this piece of tracked armor. Who knows, maybe we’ll see a 1919 paired with that M2 in the near future. Whatever it may be, if Mike Pappas built it, it was built right.