Armoured trains of the Russian army in the Great War

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I. A short history of the armored trains

The first armoured trains were built and used in combat during the American Civil War at the beginning of the sixties of the nineteenth century. It wasn't even about armoured trains in today's sense, but rather of cannon, mostly heavy, placed in an improvised way on the common rail wagons, later with a specially constructed chassis. The effectiveness of the new weapon in the fighting proved to be unexpectedly high, so that on both opposing sides quickly pushed through and was at that time widely used.

Europe, in which military specialists of all major armies very closely watched the American conflict, received the new weapons not long after – in the Franco-Prussian war was a Prussian cannon mounted on railway car used with great success for the shelling of the besieged Paris.

The sad experience prompted the French soon after the end of hostilities to the generous project – due to the anticipated manoeuvre method of fighting in the next war, and associated with it the need for rapid relocation of the artillery, especially the medium and heavy – set out to research and design of a modern heavy railway artillery. Known artillery engineer Ing. Canet elaborated projects on 120 mm and 155 mm railway cannons which he has managed to successfully solve the current Achilles heel of this weapon – the intensely destructive effects of recoil when fired on the chassis, and partly on the railway track. Designed for this purpose so-called sliding gun carriage with a sloping ramp, after which the hydraulically braked gun carriage after the shot ranged. According to the results of the test projects then was built the first special railway cannon calibre 190 mm, adopted as the vz.1873 to the French armament. Extensive development and production of this type of weapons then in France continued and was followed by other European powers.

Armoured train in today's sense of the word arose at the turn of the 19. and 20. century in South Africa for the Anglo-Boer war. Boer commando commandos destroyed even in a deep British the rear of the rail lines, which the English in vast areas of the country necessarily needed to supply their units. You, therefore, for their protection, they began to build makeshift fortresses on wheels, connecting to the freight and passenger trains. Armed with have been very diverse – sometimes even the light guns, sometimes machine guns and sometimes rifles – and against the fire of infantry weapons were protected by bags of sand, fret, etc. Gradually and then, after obtaining the necessary experience, crossing the English from primitive and just hardly satisfactory improvisations to the first truly armoured cars and later even to type armoured cars, which have proven to be very effective and maybe even the decisive factor in this specific protipartizánském the fight. At a later period of the conflict were built three different types of cars. The first was ordinary covered freight wagons of the protected 6 – 7 mm armoured plates or 1-inch boilerplate. In their upper part has been around the car long slit serving as a sight glass to observe the surroundings and ventilation, used at the same time as the loophole for the standing shooter. The next embrasure, serving time for lying or kneeling the shooter, were in the lower part of the walls. In the front wall of the wagon then was cut out a square embrasure for the rapid-fire gun. All the loopholes and portholes were in the case of the needs of the sealable odsuvnými stops for boarding and alighting of a crew and transported the away team has served the armour odsuvná door in the walls of the wagons. To the construction of armoured cars of the second type serve polokryté four-axis rail freight cars. At a small distance from their wooden walls towards the centre of the car was built to the design of the iron sheets and the resulting gap was vyskládána the rails. This protected the walls reached a height of about 2 meters and were in the gun ports for submachine guns (one in the front and rear of the car), machine guns and rifles. The roof consisted of canvas stretched, if necessary, on special frames. To the observation area, the cars were equipped with an armoured turret with lockable visors exceeding about something walls and built in the middle of the car on a specially created design. The third and at the same time the simplest type of armoured wagons were common, flatbed railway cars protected to a height of 91.5 cm naskládanými the rails. If not on hand a sufficient quantity of rails, it was to protect the crew used anything else – sleepers, sandbags, boilerplate, etc. Outside of these three type of construction of the armored wagons were, of course, used other – most of them were ordinary freight cars, whose walls, made of sheet metal with cut-out loopholes, were in the direction to the axes of the car zešikmeny, so shots on them, hitting them it slid up which of course significantly improved protection of the occupants. Most of the described armored cars not equipped with the door and the crew therefore had to boarding and alighting to climb over their walls and had no roof, which was partly sorted out the ventilation of the internal space while shooting and it made it easier to use in a circular observation area a variety of fixed or portable construction. The threat for the transport of troops, weapons and supplies Booroos gradually reached such proportions that the English had to start widespread use of wagons with iron walls and attach armoured cars to polio almost every freight train. Combat conditions soon caused even the use of armour protection on the locomotive, which damage and immobilize the entire train made him a welcome target for the Boer marksmen and mean, especially at the beginning of the conflict, more than a significant loss on the side of the English. To protect the locomotives, armoured trains were used first chains hung slapdash in several layers on the tender, the boiler and the cab driver were later used by the boiler and armour plates. To be the locomotive protected as much as possible were placed in the middle of sets, which in addition allow for free fire forward and backwards in the axis of the route of the cannons placed in the front and end car. As the cannon armament of the armoured trains was in the largest extent used by ordinary field cannon calibre 76.2 mm, however, sometimes have been used substantially more powerful pieces of the calibre of 150 mm or 220 mm. Kits nemívaly more than 10 cars, mostly 3 – 4. Coated were the cover colours. To illuminate the track at night served, the electric spotlight which produced a stream of the dynamo. In the assembly of some of the armoured trains were armoured draisines system Sims is a four-member crew, protected by steel sheets of thickness 5 – 7 mm and armed with malorážovým quick-firing gun Maxim. Their petrol engine had a power of 7 pcs and allow them to reach a top speed of up to 35 miles per hour. Served mainly to survey, repair and protection of the tracks, support the breast of the armoured train in battle and his rapid connections with the hinterland.

The English experience with the use of a new type of armoured trains were in Europe very closely monitored all the military experts, who were interested in the use of unorthodox combat equipment for the needs of the projected combat operations in the conditions of modern war and the idea of using armoured trains found their followers, especially when Europe was heading towards a global conflict.

II. Before the war

The first information about the armoured trains in Russia are from the years 1900 – 1902 (the period of uprising and war in China) where the trains of the private companies "Kitajsko-vostočnoj železnoj darogy" (Sino-far eastern railway) to attack Chinese militants known in Europe as the Boxers. Its leadership, therefore, developed a project according to which the Putilov factories in Petrograd vyrobilo15 armour sets for wagons and 5 locomotives, which were already at the beginning of the year 1901 transported to Manchuria. (Of course, that begs the question of how is it possible that a private commercial company could have armoured trains. The far east but was a separate chapter of tsarist Russia and under the conditions that then prevailed, this company has become a practically independent and almost sovereign state in the state. Formally existed under the auspices of the ministry of finance, it, however, in fact, directly supervise. It had not only its own territory but also their own white-and-yellow flag, river fleets on the Amur and Sungaře, naval fleet and even a private army.) At the behest of the minister of finance, With.J.Vitteho were in addition through Argentina for planned armoured trains ordered from Krupp field guns calibre 75 mm, which should have better parameters than the then latest home field cannon calibre 76.2 mm vz.1900. (Russian war department this purchase was treated as a severe insult and humiliation – and rightly so, because it was the minister of finance, with the minister of war had much in love, probably even intended!) Due to the fact that the strands diverge considerably, is not quite certain, whether the construction of the armoured trains actually occurred, but it is certain that after the end of hostilities were armoured ensembles stored in the warehouses of the company.

Regardless of the project armoured trains were at the same time personal first-class coaches used on the trans-Siberian railway near the Chinese territory affixed at the bottom of to half the height of the windows of the armour that is resistant to bullets from small arms and passengers, it was recommended that in the case of firing the ambush laid or sat down on the floor.

In May 1904, at the time of the Russo-Japanese war was due to the consideration of the use of armoured trains on this battlefield created a special commission acting with the management of the railways. Its members after a thorough talk about all aspects of coming to the conclusion that the use of armoured trains against the strong, and artillery, well-equipped units, the opponent would most likely be completely ineffective. At the same time, but they considered most necessary the use of armoured locomotives in combat areas. Their projects, developed in Putilovském and Koloměnském race, have been submitted already in May of the same year. Putilovský the project was evaluated as significantly better than his opponent, however, full fail him and he, therefore, returned to the designer for further clarification.

III. The Great War - years 1914 to 1915

The next stage in the history of the Russian armoured trains happened period 1. world war this time however concerned no longer exclusively the military and their structure not only with theoretical considerations, where appropriate, projects.

The first armoured train of the Russian army built already at the beginning of August 1914, i.e. at the very beginning of combat operations, 9. the railway battalion in Tarnopol. Interesting is that a number of its elements came from the enemy. Initially consisted of captured Austrian locomotives fitted with armour, and three cars, one a mort and the two machine-gun. His whole armament came from the loot obtained on the enemy. Gun truck consisted of a flatcar with a protected undercarriage, on which was the armoured superstructure on the revolving platform placed Austro-Hungarian light field cannon M. 5/8 calibre 76.5 mm. Machine-gun cars were armed with each five kořistními heavy machine guns type Schwarzlose M.7/12 calibre 8 mm. According to preserved photographs was on their roof placed rotating armoured turret with open plan machine gun loophole or indoor reflector. A locomotive protected the armour of a thickness of 15 – 20 mm, combat cars, then about the thickness of 10 – 12 mm. The crew consisted of 2 officers and 46 men. The train was assigned to 3. the army and its first commander was appointed lieutenant Bělov. Operated in lvovském space, were already 22. August in the attack on Stanislawow conquered the unexpected lunge an important bridge which the Russian troops allowed a quick occupation of the city. For this act, he was Bělov awarded the St. George's cross. (The train was later designated as the Armored train Well.8. In 1916 he got another gun truck, a new locomotive of type Ov, the Russian production, and apparently even the Russian armament.)

In November 1914 he was on the basis of the order of the commander 6. Siberian division 4. railway banner apparently near Lodz (Warsaw?) rapidly built an armoured train consisting of two armoured čtyřosých coal cars type Foks – Arbel and passenger locomotives of the type Ja. Each of the wagons was armed with one 37 mm naval gun and four heavy machine guns. The armour had a thickness of 7 – 12 mm and the crew consisted of 102 men. The first time was operationally deployed 19. – 24. November at the station Koluszki in the space of Lodz, in the spring of 1915 he participated in the fighting at Warsaw, and Ivangorodu. In August 1915, he was handed over to the Maritime regiment of special destination, in which the assembly then fought up to the end of the war. Its characteristic feature is a white anchor, on his hips sailors painted. During the year 1915, the train was strengthened – he got yet a third armoured car of the same design and equipment as were the two previous.

Another armoured train, made at the beginning of August 1915, 3. railway banner, hit the already 16. August to exit the fighting at Brest, and that a decisive manner. Not only that he was able to fend off three German attacks, whose aim was the destruction of the Perejeslavského infantry regiment, but in the subsequent counterattack even managed to seize their starting positions. Shortly afterwards he was transferred to the 5. your Siberian railway battalion, along with him was moved to Riga, and there was included in the crew of the fortress Ust Dvinsk. This armoured train was composed of two armoured machine-gun cars, armed each with three heavy machine guns, one open mort car with the 76.2 mm mountain cannon vz.09 on a wheeled carriage and polopancéřované locomotive of type Ov. Armour plate thickness 4 – 5 mm was attached to a backing of oak planks thickness of 102 mm. The crew consisted of 2 officers, 37 NCOs and riflemen, 6 artilleries and 7 railwaymen. The train was later marked Well.1.

The widest deployment of the Russian armoured trains was on the battlefields of the south-west front, where there were the most suitable conditions of the relatively dense network of railways. In the spring of 1915, operated in the area of Krakow armored trains 2. the Siberian railway battalion (originally an improvised armored train built as a backup defense in the besieged Austro-Hungarian fortress of Przemyśl, obtained after the fall of the Russian army, which it corrected and included into the own armaments, his fortunes since the autumn of 1915 are unclear, 2. Siberian railway battalion took over the modern OV type Chunchuz.) and 9. the Siberian railway battalion and these two units were then in May of the same year deployed to cover the retreat of Russian troops from Přemyšlu.

Great combat effectiveness, significant operational possibilities of their use and the indisputable success of actions involving, among which particularly stood out a raid of the armoured train 2. the Siberian railway battalion to the rear of the Austro-Hungarian troops near the city of Krasnystaw, were the reason for the decision to equip each of the railway battalion of armored train. These, however, but should not be impromptu-built self-help, but the serial construction according to the previously prepared and thought out plan.

I guess the best results could boast 2. zaamurská railway brigade, commanded by major general Mikhail Viktorovič Kolobov. (1. world war this brigade part of a Separate zaamurské brigade of the border guards, whose task was the maintenance and protection of the Company's sino-far eastern railway. At the beginning of the war was part of this brigade moved to the west and included in the reports of Russian troops as a 2. zaamurská railway brigade.) The construction of the serial armoured trains in it ensured her a 4. company 2. the battalion, led by captain Daniel, in the Main railway workshops of the southwestern railway in Kiev. With the construction of the first five armoured trains, built according to pre-prepared projects, it was started already at the end of the month of June. It was about four standardized armored trains referred to by the name of the first dohotoveného as a type of "Chunchuz" according to the project general Kolobova and armored train called "the General Anněnkov" (General Mikhail Nikolayevich Anněnkov (1835-1899) was an important personality in the history of the Russian conquest of Turkestan in the 19th. century. He was a builder of the route strategic trans-Caspian railway through the territory of today's Turkmenistan, which allowed the bloody defeat of the Turkmen at the fortress of Geok – Tepe lying 28 miles north-west of Ashgabat in the year 1881. Vvýznamnou role to play in 1885 in the Afghan crisis, when almost a war broke out between Great Britain and Russia.) built according to the project staff captain Pilsudski for 8. the railway battalion. The construction was incredibly fast, to the completion of the train type Chunchuz enough to just 16 days.

Armoured train "Chunchuz" that the soldiers from the far east named according to their former opponents, the mighty Chinese bandits, with whom they fought in the years 1900 – 1905, was admitted to the loadout 1.9.1915. Consisted of the armoured locomotive of type Ov, and two biaxial armoured combat vehicles. Both were inside divided into two parts – a rotating gun turret and machine gun casemate. Machine-gun armament of each car consisted of 12 kořistních Austrian heavy machine guns type Schwarzlose M.7/12, 5 in střílnách on each side and 2 in the střílnách placed in the axis of the car for the gun turret. (For the first two trains of this type could be machine guns placed in turrets to shoot only in the axis of the car through the tower, with the other two, thanks to the use of special spontonů even into the hips.) To cool the machine guns in the shooting was serving a special distribution of water leading from the tender of the locomotive to the radiator support each of them. For machine guns, it was then taken to the train a total of 150 600 rounds of ammunition of which was 1 500 pieces (10 strips) stored as contingency stock in special boxes for each weapon. Cannon tower, located in the front of the car was mounted on the rotating ring and constructed so that it can be manually rotated only a man, and that despite the fact that she weighed 1 920 kg. Protected was boilerplate formovaným to the required shape on special templates. Armed was of 76.2 m mountain cannon Mk. 04, which had a smaller range than the commonly used field cannons, its significantly smaller dimensions but for the location in the somewhat confined space of the tower is ideally suited. (This weapon was officially in April 1914 decommissioned of the armaments of the Russian army and replaced by a mountain cannon Mk. 09 the same calibre, it was, however, a sufficient amount of in the warehouses and was therefore not a problem to get it.) Gun tower was 220° and the gun in it was then taken to the train a total of 105 rounds (80 shrapnel and 25 grenades) stored in special spaces under the pivot circle. The total vezená supply of artillery ammunition could be reportedly up to 900 pieces. Battlefield watching the commander of the combat vehicle from a low observation turret, not exceeding the roof of the car with the observation angle 270°, covered the hatch and placed behind the gun turret. (Combat experience has shown that even the seemingly satisfactory breadth of view is insufficient, and the combat cars were thus equipped with a new turret with the possibility of observation in the angle of a full 360°.) In the rear part of the roof of each of the combat car was a covered hole for the sliding spotlight and in the floor were the emergency sunroofs. Cars should have installed an efficient steam heating guided in tubes on the floor along the walls directly from the locomotive, the metal walls were well thermally even protihlukově isolated two-centimetre layer of cork covered from the inside šestimilimetrovou plywood. Inside, the cars were painted with white paint on the outside should cover the masking coating. The commander of the train had their battle stations on the locomotive. Equipped with was an observation tower with a circular view and was equipped with four cutouts lockable in the case of the needs of the armoured visors with milled narrow viewing slits and the divorce plate electric traffic lights with multicoloured bulbs for connection with the commander of combat vehicles. The connection was to be safe plus fail-safe signal bells and tubular ear canals are similar to ships. The necessary electrical energy was produced by a dynamo located in the cab of a locomotive and powered by a steam turbine. All electrical and water lines between the locomotive and cars were protected by the steel pipes. The armour had a thickness of 12 – 16 mm, and its lower parts were for the ease of access to the chassis mounted hinges. The whole assembly was equipped with auxiliary pairs of wheels for the case of operations on the Austrian or German railways with a smaller gauge. The crew of the train was divided into three sections, artillery, kulometného and technical and so-called locomotive brigade and consisted of a total of 4 officers and 90 non-commissioned officers and privates. Equipment and on this type of weapon literally luxurious working conditions were trains of the type "Chunchuz" clearly the best of the Russian and later Soviet trains of the first world, civil and the second world war, whose osádkám about the comfort crew "Chunchuzu" never dreamed of.

As already stated, the armored train "Chunchuz" was recognized as a combat-ready 1.9.1915. On that occasion, it examined the commander in chief of the Russian army grand duke Nikolai Nikolaevich and with that what he saw was extremely satisfied. My satisfaction on the spot expressed thanks and commendation to the supervisor of the work of captain Daniel and money, which shared the other soldiers, who took part in the work. 2.9. was passed 1. zaamurskému the railway battalion and 9.9. after adding the crew of the artillery of the 1. spare batteries of mountain artillery left under the command of lieutenant Krapivnikova at their combat operations on the rail line Kovel – Sarny. 13. September was assigned 102. the division, whose command of him shortly afterwards, on the evening of 23.9., assigned to the first combat mission - support attack your 408. regiment of the austro-Hungarian units. After the arrival to the station Rudočka a survey was conducted of the track leading to the leading adversary zákopům and at four o'clock in the morning the armoured train quietly came to the enemy line. The course of the combat action described by lieutenant Krapivnikov in his report as follows: "After the zoom in to the first line of okopů the enemy to them was launched side firing from all the guns and the front cannon, which the enemy forced to abandon the trenches and put on the run. In the trenches there were a number of dead and wounded. Then the train again started, and the sharp kulometným and artillery fire cleared the second line of enemy trenches. At the next forward movement drove předběhový wagon load of rails, sleepers and other material needed for repair of the track, unexpectedly into the pit after the artillery shell, which could not be behind the curve covered the embankment in time to spot. I sent soldiers, who derailed wagon, which completely blocked the track, they shut down and train for the inability to continue forward began to return. Soon, however, the explosion of a heavy artillery shell destroyed the rails and just behind the train and a derailed rear car blocked his further movement, and thus escape from the fire of the enemy. Shortly thereafter struck by an artillery shell into the gun turrets of the front of the combat car and killed the commander of the artillery squad Lazarus and four artillerymen. After this incident I gave orders to leave the train. The fight lasted 40 minutes and during that time shots were fired 73 rounds and 58 500 machine-gun rounds.

Broken train stood between the lines of 3.5 months. In the night from 11. 12. 1. 1916 managed a group of volunteers led by lieutenant Paškevičem get to the train, fix the track, stand on the tracks the rear armoured car and take it into their own lines. The rest of the train was obtained until after another couple of months, during the summer offensive of the Russian army, but he was so devastated, that was written off and sent to scrap.

At the beginning of September took their armored trains of the type "Chunchuz" i 2. and 3. zaamurský railway battalion, fourth was handed over to 2. your siberian railway battalion in October. When you change the numbering of armoured trains at the end of 1915 was such trains assigned numbers Well. 2, 5 and 3.

Armored train "General Anněnkov" when completed was 10. October passed 8. the railway battalion and brought to the commander of the southwest front, general Ivanov, who had it highly rated and the soldiers involved in its construction financially rewarded. The train consisted of two cannon cars, armed with every kořistním 76.5 mm austro-Hungarian light field cannon M. 5/8 in revolving towers with odměrem 180° and a supply of ammunition, 300 pcs per gun and up to eight heavy machine guns for which it was then taken to the train 8 000 rounds of ammunition for each, therefore, was a substantially more powerful gun armament than the "Chunguzy", but less guns. Armor protection fixed on the 25 mm base of the oak planks had a thickness of 10 – 20 mm. The cars were heated by steam conducted from the locomotive, the telephone connection between them and the locomotive was secured yet light and mechanical signalling. The crew consisted of 3 officers and 48 men. (The austrian cannons were later replaced by the standard Russian light field cannons vz. 02-caliber 76.2 mm. This train was allegedly used for their personal use, the prime minister of the Russian provisional government of Kerensky, after his escape with him in November 1917 they seized the bolsheviks. In 1918 he got into the armament of the newly established Finnish army and after the modernization participated in the battles of the second world war. Now it is exposed in the Finnish military museum in Parole.)

In August 1915 was for the needs of the 8. the military at the personal request of general Brusilova launched in the mobile artillery workshops of the construction of the armored train according to the project artillery engineer Ing. Balla. It was completed in the railway workshops in Kiev and handed over to 4. your siberian railway battalion. Consisted of two artillery cars and one car kulometného, drive gather armored locomotive of type Ov. To the construction of the gun cars were used a variety of tender bogies, one powered and one triaxial, for which they were on a revolving platform covered tubular body placed 76.2 mm light field cannons vz.02. and four heavy machine guns, for that was in the side and end wall adapted several gunports covered, if necessary, odsuvnými visors. Machine gun car with seven kulometnými loopholes on each side, two armored rotating kulometnými turrets and high cylindrical observation tower on the roof was armed with nine heavy Maxim machine guns vz. 10 7.62 mm. In the arsenal of the train, however, were captured austro-Hungarian heavy machine guns Schwarzlose, which was in the case of an air attack can take out of the car and fastened on to the anti-aircraft fire especially constructed wooden tables, which were part of the equipment train. It is possible that these guns originally accounted for the entire machine-gun armament and Maxim machine guns were used until later. Armour thickness was 12 – 16 mm.

And now a few words about armored trains on other fronts. The end of the year 1914 were in the Caucasus in tbiliských railway workshops built four armored trains. Each of them consisted of polopancéřované locomotive, two armoured fighting vehicles and armored car transport of ammunition. The combat cars were armed with every one a mountain cannon vz. 04 and eight heavy machine guns, their armor and the armor on the engine reaching a thickness of 12 – 16 mm and the crew consisted of four officers and 70 men. According to the requirement of command should be their armament removable and therefore neither cannon nor machine guns have no additional special modifications. Trains have been deployed : No.1 in Karsu, Well.2 in alexandroulis to, Well.3 in Nachičevanu and Well.4 in Tbilisi and their crew have been assembled from soldiers 1. separate the caucasian railway brigade. About their combat deployment and the fates don't have enough information, some sources, however, indicate that the armored train Well.1 was in the fortress of Kars buried into the ground and used as "infantry fort".

As little information is even on the armored train used on the Finnish lines. He knows that was available to the commander of 42. army corps on the station Ulenborg and that in the spring of 1917 was apparently cancelled. Its main task was most likely the defense of the coast.

IV. Years 1916 – 1918

In the last quarter of 1915 in the southwestern part of the Russian – austrian queue began to show a marked tendency to transition to a positional way of fighting. Rail tracks in the vicinity of the queue and especially those that led through the queue to the enemy were mass-destroyed, and it strongly limited the possibilities of the use of armored trains. At the beginning of the year 1916 was on all the battlefields of the Russian western front to a total of 11 armored trains (8 in the south-west front and one at the West and the north-west front and one in Finland) and on the caucasian front, the other four.

The forced inactivity was used both to move two armoured trains (No. 2 and 3) to strengthen the Northern front and the other two, heavily worn-out intensive combat use, to necessary repairs and of. In the background were shipped kit 2. and 9. the siberian railway battalion with the intention to replace the hitherto used captured locomotives for the standard for the Russian armored trains used slackens the type of Ov with the type of armour. Locomotive train 9. the siberian railway battalion got the armor protection of the same type as the locomotive "General Annenkov", the locomotive of the train 2. the siberian railway the battalion was in turn covered by armor that used for the trains of the type "Chunchuz". Remodeling took place in the works by odessa railway workshops and implement it 4. company 1. zaamurského of the railway battalion, led by captain Krzivoblockým. Outside work on the armoured trains built in Odessa and two motorized armored vehicles armed with any two heavy machine guns in armoured revolving turrets. Four-member crew to protect osmimilimetrový armor, vehicle weighing about 7 tons, powered by gasoline engine with a power of 30 pieces, was able to develop speed up to 40 km/hr.

In April 1916, the commander of the palace guards Vojejkov on the direct order of tsar Nicholas II. he turned to the chief of military operations, a Strike (high command) general Rokožina with a request to allow members of the Personal of the railway regiment of His Majesty join in the fighting as well as them no longer engage members of his personal protection and his personal infantry regiment, and therefore to chose one of the armored trains located on the most affected section and forward it to their use. 23.4.1916 therefore arrived armored train Well.3 type "Chunchuz", serving in the meantime for 2. zaamurského of the railway battalion, to the station Moloděčno, where selected members of the personal of the railway regiment, took over. After their training in the instructions was at the end of may taken to repair the locomotives in the railway workshops in Minsk. At the same time there was a strengthening of its armaments - according to the project staff captain Kuzminského was on the ceiling of the water tank of the tender mounted rotating gun turret armed with a 76.2 mm mountain cannon vz.09 installed so that it can shoot not only against terrestrial, but also against air targets.

In June 1916 they were all of a type of armoured trains once again moved to the south west front, where they actively engage in the promotion of his summer offensive. Deployed as in a breakthrough with Lucy on the line Kovel - Sarny, where have shown a high combat value. Scored here mainly armored train Well.5 3. zaamurského of the railway battalion. In the night from 14. 15. July collaborated with 11. Pskovským regiment which is why this could in just 45 minutes to conquer and occupy enemy trenches. During the same night then intervened in the fighting in repelling the enemy counter-attack four more times. His technical squad at the time was working on the construction and repair of roads in the surroundings of the track. The commander of the 3. division, to which 11. the regiment belonged to, argued for a significant boost in the fight the commander of the train thanks. Another important event was to support the attack of 25. sevastopolského regiment of the armoured train "General Anněnkov" on stanislawowském section of the front on 25.7. when that pulled down the fire of several enemy artillery batteries, and himself fired a total of 273 of artillery and 15,000 machine-gun bullets. Armored train No.8 9. the siberian railway battalion helped the same day Bělgorodskému regiment for their bold attack to conquer the enemy trenches and 17. – 22. September supported the fire at Břežan attack of Russian troops on hill 348.

After stopping the Russian offensive and the stabilization of the queue it's almost an annual downturn of combat actions. Armored trains subordinate Southwest front in this quiet period, often operating as a movable battery of artillery and to direct shelling of the enemy's front positions had been taken only sporadically. Or in other frontů the western front at this time, the action of the armored trains nevyznačovaly some special activity. Train Well.1 5.the siberian railway the battalion was pulling out shelling enemy positions only sporadically and armored train Well.4 M (Morskoj) Separate the maritime regiment of special purpose, which is at the beginning of march 1916 took part in the fighting at the lake Naroč, with 10.3. he fell into a prepared ambush, was seriously damaged and lost the front car destroyed fire of German guns, he was in the railway workshops in Homlu repaired until December.

A unique project, and it on a global scale (Few people know that from a technical perspective so ahead of its time as a four-engine heavy bomber Ilya Muromets), was an armored motor car "Zaamurec", designed by the chief of the army of the railway section of the Southwestern front lieutenant colonel Butuzovem, whose construction in January 1916 embarked a company of the captain Krzivobockého. His foundation has served čtyřosý chassis type Foks – Arbel on which was built the armored superstructure made of reinforced sheet metal thickness 12 – 16 mm. For the best ballistic protection was put maximum emphasis on the use of the areas skeweds under different angles and also at the lowest possible silhouette, in order to provide the barrage of enemy the smallest possible target. The wagon was divided into five parts – two end of machine-gun and observation sections, two artillery sections, and the central casemate. In the end sections was always an observer observing the surroundings of the portholes in the walls and kulometníci controlling 2 guns with odměrem 90° and elevation angles of 15 – 20°. The cannon sections, the follow-up on the end sections consisting each of a revolving cannon of the dome on the ceiling of the car armed with 57-mm coastal guns Nordenfeld with the rate of fire of 6 shots per minute, which elevation angle of 60° allow for fire against air targets. (The normal rate of fire of these guns was a 15 – 20 shots per minute, at the "Zaamurce" however, this performance could not be achieved for the too cramped space of the towers. These cannons used by the Russian army at the beginning of the 20. century in the coastal fortresses for close defence, for the russo-japanese war, however, did not demonstrate the desired effectiveness and have therefore been decommissioned. As well as the 76.2 mm mountain cannon vz. 04, used e.g. for armored trains of the type Chunchuz, the equipment had become obsolete and had already discarded the weapon. Mountain cannon vz.04 did not have very good ballistic properties and range of the 6.5 kg heavy grenade only 4 of 250 m, as well a heavy shrapnel then 4 150 m. Nordenfeldův cannon, however, was still significantly worse – his grenade weighed only 2.26 kg and shrapnel with osmivteřinovým lighter, stuffed with 59 balls with a diameter of 13 mm, dostřelil a maximum of 2 400 m. the Cramped spaces of the towers in addition to significantly reducing the potential rate of fire and lack of lighting martial spaces almost impossible timing of shrapnel, so it use was more than problematic, yet that accounted for a significant portion of the vezeného firing diameter. ) Firing both the guns was controlled from one command center. In the middle part of the car in the so-called kazematě, there were both four side machine-gun embrasure on each side, placed two by two in her front and rear, first, there were placed propulsion and auxiliary aggregates - petrol engines Fiat and Florencia on the strength of 60 ks each, gearbox, cardan clutch, dynamo, compressor, batteries, and fans. To the inner connection served phone and auxiliary light signaling. Equipped was 8 periskopů, 2 rangefinders system general Cholodovského and 2 spotlights. Inside was a wagon covered with heat and sound insulated and equipped with heated using heat of the exhaust gas. Compared to conventional steam armored trains "Zaamurec" was marked by a considerable readiness to use and autonomností (didn't need time to melting those boilers and water supply), the big advantage was its mobility and small size. In the middle of the year 1916 was practically completed, for the delay in delivery kardanů of Putilovských races and gear, however, could be test driving until 18. 22. October. Stood at at them speeds of up to 45 km/h and proved the ease of handling and fulfilling all on it in the project imposed requirements. 19.November was presented to the representatives of the high command and was then sent to the front. From the end of the year 1916 he served in the subordination 8. the army and it was used most often as a floating anti-aircraft artillery battery. In may 1917, had in of chicken of the railway workshops of overhaul, and in July participated in a failed attempt to a big summer offensive. Combat use revealed some of its shortcomings the most serious of which was a too tight interior space (height) cannon dome. In the autumn of 1917, therefore, have been in the works by odessa railway workshops removed and supported by special steel barbetami. For a better chance observations have been moreover from the cannon dome removed the existing periscopes and replaced by a quadrilateral armored turrets with visors. In the fighting on the fronts of the first world war, however, has already intervened. (In the winter of 1917 – 1918 passed from hands to hands, from local bandits tyranizujících the Odessa area until after the anarchists, in February 1918, it occupied a section of the red armored train with a martial name "Freedom or death" (commander of the sailor Andrey Polupanov) to which was subsequently attached. In April became part of the red armored train Well.4 "Polupanov" which was sent to the eastern front. For fighting with the czechoslovak legionaries to the reds in a no-win situation toppled to the Volga where he was 22.7.1918 legionaries fished out and after the repair, included in the armored train "Orlik". But he was also used to separate actions, and that under the name "Orlik 1". After running out of ammunition caliber 57 mm were cannons Nordenfeld replaced by a modified field cannons vz. 02, which significantly strengthen its armament. From the legionaries got to the japanese army, then the white russians and after their retreat to China to the assembly of the chinese army, more specifically the armed forces charbinských militarists. In 1930 it again seized by the Japanese and his subsequent fate is unclear.)

In the summer of 1917 began to be on the initiative of 7. battery line of artillery formed the so-called "storm troopers of death". As is apparent from the name, it was the special sections, which should be at the forefront of the attack of the higher units (from battalion after the division) thanks to the courage and sacrifice of their soldiers to break the enemy front. In theory, looked like the whole event very promising, but due to the internal collapse of the Russian army and especially the fact that not all soldiers in their ranks were the enthusiasm of the volunteers were the results of their use more than meager. In July-August in their ranks were even armored trains Well.2, the Well.3, Well.8, Well.9 and "General Anněnkov". Together with other armored trains participated in the summer offensive, and after its collapse sacrificing to cover the retreat of Russian troops. In Tarnopol, where at the beginning of July Russian troops were recklessly their positions and in the panic receded, especially ii kit No.7 and Well.4. Together with an armored detachment of special purpose, 9. section of armored cars and a few sotní cossacks proved for more than two days hold back the onslaught of German troops. (9. July train Well.7 unexpectedly attacked advancing German columns near the station Děnisovo, causing them to panic and for a longer time of their procedure stopped. At the station Sloboda, located in the rear of the whole event, but by that time there was a delay of departure and the accumulation of freight trains, which blocked the retreat and the crew was forced to damage the train and the guns and retreat on foot. Combat losses and the necessary repairs have caused that in the second half of the year 1917 was the Russian army available for combat action only 7 armored trains.) Armored train No.8 back in the days 17. – 19. July attack on enemy positions in the space station Husiatyń in order to force his troops to retreat from the river Zbruč. In August 1917 he was then on the initiative of its commander, captain Kondyrina, molded rail armored strike section in which the assembly were still armored train "General Anněnkov", obrněněný wagon "Zaamurec", armored trolley and two armored cars. This was the first attempt to create a variable of the combined armoured units directly designed to pierce the enemy front. Neither this section, nor the crew of other armored trains, however, were no longer capable of preventing the degradation of the Russian army by late 1917.

A very important part of armored trains were their locomotives. At first they were used the most diverse machines that were available, whether domestic production or prize. Gradually, however, there was the unification drive of armored trains by freight steam locomotives of the type Of. These machines were manufactured from 1893 and 1912 have been upgraded by the introduction of a new type of divorce couples to the system Valshard and were given the designation Ov, according to which they were called "Sheep". These machines were then used in practically all armoured trains of the first world, civil and the second world war and in the 30's. and 40. years of the 20th. century also served to transport heavy railway guns of caliber 356 mm tagged TM-1 (14 pcs), 305 mm marked TM-2 (12 pcs) and TM-3 (12 pcs) and 180-mm guns TM-1 (18 pcs). However, it is necessary for the truth to state that the Sheep were called and almost identical locomotive types From, Ok and He. In Russia and later in the USSR, although there were much stronger freight or faster passenger locomotives, but the Sheep with their tactical-technical parameters and manoeuvrability abilities have proved to be the best. The weight of all of the above-mentioned locomotives type About without armour ranged around 52 t, their maximum speed was 50 km/h and managed to tighten the load up to 730 t.

Exactly how many armoured trains were built in the Russian army during the First World War, including the short-acting improvisations, is not known. This article, therefore, addresses only the most prominent of them.

A) Armoured train of the 9th railway battalion (later Nr. 8). Initially, 2 armoured wagons with machine-gun armament, one gun wagon with a rotating tubular body and captured Austro-Hungarian locomotive. In 1916 added another gun wagon and the locomotive replaced with a Russian type Ov with armour similar as for the armoured train "General Anněnkov". Each machine-gun wagon was armed with 5 Austro-Hungarian heavy machine guns Schwarzlose M.7/12, and a gun wagon with the Austro-Hungarian field gun M.5/8-caliber 76.2 mm.

B) Armoured train built on the initiative of the commander of the 4th railway battalion in November 1914, passed to the Marine regiment of special purpose. Initially 2 armoured four-axis coal wagons of the type of Foks-Arbel and personal locomotive type Ja. Each wagon is armed with one 37 mm marine cannon Hotchkiss and 4 heavy machine guns. The armour thickness of 7 – 12 mm, the crew of 102 men.

C) Armoured train of the 5th Siberian railway battalion (later Nr.1). 2 armoured wagons, each armed with 3 heavy machine guns, 1 open wagon with a mountain cannon Mk. 09 on the wheeled carriage, a half armoured locomotive of type Ov. Armour 4 – 5 mm on 102 mm of oak wood. The crew of 2 officers and 37 gunners, 6 artillery gunners and 7 railwaymen. The service started in August 1915 near Brest, later in the same year operated in the vicinity of Riga and Ust–Dvinsk in the subordination of the 1st army.

D) Armoured train type "Chunchuz", 4 sets. Two biaxial combat cars, each with one mountain cannon Mk.04 in the turret and the twelve heavy machine guns. Armour 12-16 mm, the crew of 4 officers and 90 men. Locomotive Ov.

E) Armoured train "General Annienkov". 2 cannon wagons, each with captured Austro-Hungarian field gun M.5/8 in swivel cannon tower and eight heavy machine guns. Armour 10 – 20 mm, the crew of 3 officers and 48 men. Locomotive Ov.

F) Armoured train of ing. Balla. Built on Brusilov order. 2 cannon wagons (one biaxial and the second with three axes) with swivel armoured superstructures, armed with the cannon Mk.02 and 4 heavy machine guns. Machine gun truck with two swivel machine gun turrets on the roof armed with a total of 9 heavy machine guns. Armour 12 – 16 mm. Locomotive Ov.

G) Armoured train of the Caucasian front – 4 sets. Each 2 combat wagons, armoured wagon for the transport of ammunition and half armoured locomotive. Armament combat wagons – each of them one mountain cannon Mk. O4 and 4 heavy machine guns. Armour 12 – 16 mm, the crew of 4 officers and 70 men.

H) Armoured trolley - 2 pieces. 2 heavy machine guns in revolving armoured turrets, the armour of 8 mm, the gasoline engine power of 30 hp, max. speed of 40 km/h, the crew of 4 men.

I) Armoured train obtained as loot after the conquest of Przemysl. It consisted of a locomotive and two wagons (the armament of each of them supposedly of the field cannon and 2 machine guns?). We do not have more information.

J) Armoured train on the territory of today's Finland. There is no information.

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Author : 🕔07.04.2019 📕2.108