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At various points (e.g. 00:14) in this BBC documentary on Mostar's Stari Most (Old Bridge) you can see dozens of car tyres hanging from the bridge prior to its destruction in the Croat-Bosniak conflict.

Histories of Mostar's role in that conflict mention the tyres (and mattresses) which were employed "in vain" by its defenders to protect its weakest points from the shelling. It seems the bridge withstood several hits by artillery so perhaps the tyres did help a little.

Were the tyres some use in protecting the structure from shelling?

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Two options, I think: fenders like on boats or on jetties, or protection against low-velocity shells (HE, HE-FRAG, HEAT) like rubber screens on tanks. It's just my version, I can not give any references. –  spyder Jul 17 '13 at 9:49
    
Fascinating @hawbsi, I've never heard of this practice. Other gbooks mentions: "to try to absorb the shock of the shells and reduce damage" books.google.it/… and here p184: books.google.it/… "tin, wood, and old rubber tires created a patchy shield" –  kmlawson Jul 18 '13 at 20:22
    
and decent photo with the tires on the bridge here: books.google.it/… –  kmlawson Jul 18 '13 at 20:22
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As far as I can remember, tyres were put on the bridge mostly as a protection against mortar shells which have small velocity. Tyres indeed help with low velocity shells and help absorb the explosions.

However, tyres do not help (much) with high velocity artillery shells and tank shells fired from the sides like the ones that bring the bridge down.

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