CZK - Hrušecký tank

Podomácku dělaný tank (1970)
Pear Tank 1970 OR TANK "HOME MADE"

I will try to outline to you the enormous efforts of one man who did not accept the regime in what was then Czechoslovakia and in 1970 tried to cross the border in a relatively original way. The article is written as the machine was born, ie the idea and technical origin of the machine up to the final brief "deployment". I deliberately omit political and other similar considerations.


The idea of crossing the border to the west under totalitarianism attacked almost everyone at the time. However, only a few daredevils proceeded to implement it. Means to cross the border also differed, Tatra truck, train set (so-called D-Zug 11.9.1951), gyroscope, rogalo, anti-aircraft lizard (HPM 12/2005), armor from World War II (July 1953), etc. Perhaps it was the crossing of the border in the well-protected armor SdKfz 254 with which six people left the republic was the inspiration for Mr. Beneš from Hrušek in the Břeclav region. Unfortunately, in the 1970s, World War II armor was somehow no longer available, so he approached a similar device. A modified serial frame of a vehicle that was then available at the time is used as a basis. It is installed with a pair of engines, a seat, controls and controls along with some improvised space for the crew. The inner tubular structure welded to the frame is a supporting element for armouring formed by four layers of sheet metal. The designer ingeniously prepared for the passage of the border zone wires. A manually operated mechanism for lifting an improvised barrel is installed in the turret. The wires were to slide over it behind the dancer. The barrel is, of course, from a military point of view unusable, it served only for the purpose described above, perhaps in part to intimidate.


Four-wheeled, twin-engine, sheet metal armored car for 3-4 (?) People.

Frame/Axles/Steering: Use probably modified original frame of one of the cars, then "bazaar" available. From the photos I would deduce a personal machine Wartburg. Probably the old Wartburg 311 in the 70's. The 353 version was produced for 4 years, but due to its unavailability (waiting queues) on the then communist market, this version is not probable.

Front steerable axle suspended by transverse leaf springs. Number of leaves 10. The steering was controlled by the driver using a steering wheel with a gear. This transmitted the cruel force to the steering rod leading to the transmission using a classic bicycle chain. The rear axle is firmly mounted, without suspension. It also comes from a Tatra vehicle and is equipped with a differential.

Engines: Front - two-stroke water-cooled two-cylinder petrol engine with a gradient carburettor probably Škoda.

Rear - four-stroke air-cooled carburetor two-cylinder Tatra with cylinders placed against each other. The engine again used a gradient carburetor.

Gearboxes: In both cases, original gearboxes are used, always in a monoblock with the engine. Manual shifting, for the rear Tatra transmission on the right hand next to the seat, the front was operated with the left hand on the left side of the steering wheel.

Brakes: Mechanical, drum, friction, controlled by a foot pedal using a system of rods and a steel cable.

Exhaust pipes: It consisted only of ordinary pipes without mufflers, as the exhibit has them.

Body/Armor: The whole machine is clad with four layers of 1.2-1.5 mm thick black sheet metal. The sheets are partly attached to the tubular internal structure. The tubular structure is welded to the turret from the inside. The front part of the body stands out with a sharp angle of inclination of the armor, the stern is constructed in the same way, but there are more welds. This is due to the fact that the dimensions of the then obtainable sheet simply did not allow to form a one-piece casing. Therefore, the resulting triangles had to be supplemented with remnants. According to witnesses, the supplier of the sheets was the then state enterprise Gumotex Břeclav. At that time, the unobtainable welding set was replaced by a powerful electric motor with a locked armature. He gave through the system sliding steel belts with holes needed "amps" for cooking.

Tower: It is made of a steel disk of a truck.Part of the disc (around the holes for attachment to the wheel hub) is cut out for easier boarding of the vehicle. There is a 1.5 mm sheet metal cladding around the tower around its perimeter. The sheet metal is 3-5 cm away from the disk and the resulting gap is filled with concrete. A model of the cannon is installed in front of the tower, at the end of which there is an imaginary muzzle brake. The turret cannot be rotated, the cannon moves up and down. The tower is and was solid non-rotating.

Wheels and Tires: Outside wheels: three tires are Barum brand size 6.00x16, the fourth tire (right in the front in the direction of travel) is Riesa Gummiverk brand (not easy to read) of the same size. These are ordinary tires with a road pattern. Off-road or arrow bikes were probably not available, although the possibility of crossing the terrain would improve several times. The front tires are fitted on five-hole discs mounted on the hub upside down. The rear covers on the discs (four holes), also fitted upside down. Different numbers of bolt holes are given by two different axle manufacturers. Inner steel wheels: these are modified steel discs intended to make it easier to cross the terrain and move on the road in the event of a tire shot. Unfortunately, welding transverse "flatteners" to discs does not seem to be the best technologically, steel teeth would be more suitable. However, they would most likely extend over the edge of the tires and would rattle as they passed through the village, or the creator did not think of that.

Camouflage/Designation: The vehicle was of course also given camouflage. The original one is already covered with a completely imaginary and incorrect camouflage. The original camouflage shines in some places, but is no longer visible. It was formed by the underlying green color on the entire surface of the tank. Stains of various colors were applied to it with a brush. It was remotely reminiscent of the German style of camouflage, the so-called ambush. Probably for Western reporters, according to witnesses, the tank was marked with the code R70 (1970) painted white on the side of the vehicle. This is evident from the only known period photography.

Vehicle dimensions: (roughly !!)

Length: 4.32 m

Width: 2.10 m

Hull height from the base of the tower to the side: 0.95 m

Side height: 0.5 m

Length of the lower edge of the sidewall: 3.68 m

Length of the upper edge of the sidewall: 3.20 m

The total height of the tower is 0.28 m

Tower diameter: 0.6 m

Tower length: 0.75 m

Overall length of the barrel: 1.35 m

Barrel diameter: 5.5 cm

Muzzle brake length: 10 cm

Muzzle brake diameter: 7.5 cm

Early in the morning of May 19, 1970, the vehicle moved forward for the first time. The path to freedom was blocked by the brick wall of the garage behind which it was secretly manufactured. After depressing the accelerator pedal, the armor dealt with it without any problems. He drove across the yard for the first time over the sprawling bricks. The crew, of course consisting of Mr. Beneš, his wife and two children, set out on the most adventurous journey of their lives. The dancer drove through the village in complete disinterest of the surroundings - everyone was asleep. Behind the village, he took a low-traffic road towards Břeclav. The journey continued past the railway embankment under the bridge crossing the track. Unfortunately, opinions differ over the next event and it is not clear what caused the immobility of the tank here. One of the versions speaks of an electrical failure, the vehicle was only to run on battery power, ie with a faulty charging. The second version leans towards engine failure. The latest theory speaks of an electrical failure due to the vehicle running into a deep puddle standing under an incriminated bridge for almost a year to this day. Most likely, Mr. Růžička's interpretation was then provided by the assistant of the supervisory department at Břeclavská VB. According to a later investigation, the tank got to the outskirts of Břeclav (Stará Břeclav) where there was a fault in the wiring in the vehicle (ignition and charging). Then it was clear to Mr. Beneš that the machine would not reach the border, so he turned the tank and went back. Due to a charging failure, the machine only ran "on a flashlight" via the starter. Thus, the tank traveled about a kilometer and just at the place under the bridge, due to complete squeezing of the battery, the pilgrimage of the machine was to end.

Either way, the tank stopped here. The further action of the crew is clear even less than the reason for the decommissioning of the tank.All that is known is that Mr. Beneš quickly went home and cycled across the border somewhere near Valtice. Some even claim that he still had his coat hung on the wires. The fate of his wife and two children is still not reliably clarified. Again, there are several versions. One claims that Mrs. Benešová and her children went home, the other that they stayed in the tank and were discovered in the morning only by ČD employees. The alleged testimony of one citizen Hrušek, a then employee of ČD, also speaks for the second version. When he started working on the railway gate, the armored man saw him standing under the bridge, but he passed the incident with the fact that it is a military vehicle, so he does not have to worry. After a long time, he went from the bridge to look at the machine, and in the morning silence he allegedly heard a child crying from the tank. Then he freed the children and Ms. Benešová together with several colleagues.

You can imagine the effects on the rest of the family in what was then Czechoslovakia. The tank therefore covered only about 5-6 kilometers. However, even this is a relatively good performance, considering at what time the tank was created and any driving test was completely impossible.

The next fate of the machine was already in the hands of the then UK. Relatively soon after it is left by the crew, the dancer is discovered by a citizen passing by. This person immediately reported the finding to the Břeclav UK. As Mr. Růžička stated when writing this article, the person was in a very drunken state, so the finding of the tank aroused rather humorous responses among the members. However, as the duty ordered them to investigate each case, he went out with his superior to examine the place of the finding. According to Mr. Růžička, the tank was found at about 2 to 3 o'clock in the morning. The first idea was, thanks to quality welds and armor, that it was a military vehicle (a military trainer is about 1 km away). However, the experienced eye of the member revealed inconsistencies in the inspection of the interior of the tank. As he humorously stated, "...... wires, levers, rockers, a tank from a motorcycle and a steering wheel from a passenger vehicle, .." testified to domestic production. The tank was empty. The classic procedure of the then UK followed. After dawn, the machine was towed to the yard of Břeclavská VB. The dancer was subjected to a technical inspection by VB technicians. The production label on the Tatra engine took care of determining the owner of the machine. The original owner was found in the file register of road vehicles, coincidentally from the neighboring Moravská Nová Ves. He sold the engine to Mr. Bebeš and it was no longer a problem for VB to find out the connection. According to memories, he was in the yard of the VB station for a maximum of two months. Further information is not yet available. But he enjoyed the interest of the police. This is evidenced by alleged photos from the police court and a detailed description that some of the citizens know. Eventually, the machine traveled to the museum's exposition.


From today's point of view, the construction and the attempt at the transition may seem nonsense, I do not intend to evaluate it. I will try to evaluate the possibilities of the car as such. I will omit the discomfort of the crew carried in the back of the tank and the terrible rumble of the two engines inside. In any case, the machine was not sufficiently adapted to pass through the terrain. Ordinary tires designed for off-road use could only be sufficient for a slightly unpaved field or forest road. Under no circumstances should you travel through the fields if it is damp or wet. A certain advantage could be the installation of iron off-road wheels, unfortunately the transversely welded web is not suitable in this case because it becomes clogged very quickly in muddy terrain. So-called arrows or teeth would work better. The big advantage was the 4x4 arrangement, which increased the kinetic power of the vehicle and the chances in the field. The system of the lever for lifting barbed wire and the model of the cannon in one is solved very well. The wide end imitating a muzzle fit into two triangles welded to the front of the hull. The wires slipped over them and hit the barrel. The driver could mechanically lift the barrel via a gear and at the same time slip the wires over the turret while driving. But everything went well with the barrel lowered. In no case could the wire get stuck somewhere. The round curves of the machine and its overall shape do not correspond to this. The barbed wires that formed the border at that time were only hammered on the poles and would probably not put up strong resistance to the running vehicle.The armored protection of the vehicle consisting of laminated sheet metal would withstand firing from a submachine gun at a greater distance, thanks to the sharp angle to the horizontal plane. The driver's head, protected by a steel wheel disc around the perimeter, was sufficiently protected. The driver watched the terrain in front of him through a window under the main. At first, it seemed illogical to me not to use a deflector in front of the window to bounce bullets. I was convinced of the purposefulness of the absence of this device by a visitor to the museum for a long time looking for where the driver was looking out. Simply, a potential border defender would not know where the observation window is - a possible weakness of the vehicle. Everything was most likely bet on a single card - a moment of surprise. Partial knowledge of the terrain would also play an important role. The use of any heavy machine gun, grenades, etc. would mean some destruction of the vehicle and the lives of the crew. Grenades thrown under the machine would cause total destruction because the vehicle did not have a floor for the most part. To sum up, the tank would pass if it tried to cross the border on a dirt or forest road in drier weather and with knowledge of the terms of the border patrols. I can vividly imagine a moment of surprise at the border guards until the dancer started tearing the wires, they would probably remain in silent amazement. The idea of a moment of surprise is also illustrated by the lack of interest of the workers of the then ČSD, who found the dance in the morning and did not notice it. If it was painted dark green and had the number 634 on the turret, ie similar to the appearance of CSA vehicles, …… ..In addition, a long barrel always arouses respect. …………………. .

NOW: The tank is located in the garden exposition of the current Museum of the Police of the Czech Republic in Prague. It is newly painted (fortunately). Unfortunately, the reconstruction of the camouflage is completely bad and its purpose is (apart from protection from the weather) probably visible to the visitor. The condition of the vehicle as such is very good even after 35 years outside! He points out, among other things, quality work. Upon closer inspection of the interior, I found that the tank is missing the front engine cooler, ignition parts, carburetors, steering chain, exhausts are blinded, etc. These were probably dismantled by forensic scientists after the confiscation of the vehicle against its possible re-use by clever Czech smugglers. There is no original hatch on the tower, it has probably broken over the years. The current makeshift performs its function well and does not flow into the car. When visiting the beautiful expositions of the Lešany Technical Museum, he will only miss the fact that this machine could also have its covered diorama, for example with a "gas", staring border guards and a piece of barbed wire, ………… ..

The footage of the tank was used several times in documents about the border crossing both on Czech Television and most recently on TV NOVA in 2004 in the September broadcast of the program Then in the East. Several inaccurate pieces of information were given on ČT 1 in the program about leaving the republic. Maybe the tower is rotating - it's not !!

************************************************** *******

How was it really .....?

I am supplementing the article with new findings obtained through the study of materials in the archives of the Ministry of the Interior of the Czech Republic in Brno Kanice. File number 161/70 (V-4877 Brno).

A few notes on the manufacture of the vehicle. Mrs. Benešová states that she was never interested in the production of a soil tiller and did not go to the garage. It follows from the protocol that the sheets were brought home by truck, allegedly from Hodonín, the second version speaks of the delivery of sheets from the Transporta company via Mr. J.Š. Forensic scientists were still looking for the welder whose vehicle was cooked. At the same time, they were almost within reach. As stated in the report from the search of the family house in Hrušky, an old electric motor, a selenium rectifier for 220V at 38 volt-ampere (number 7765/56), a home-made charger (12V) and a rubber electric cable with welding tongs were found in the garage. According to several local "technicians", this was a home-made welder.

The statements in the file show that the construction of the tank began about a year before its last ride.

On May 26, 1970, Mr. Beneš completed preparations for departure. Three days ago, he demolished the garage door (so that the tank could pass) and temporarily covered it with sheet metal.He showed the built vehicle on May 26 at 7 pm to his wife, who under the weight of the circumstances, the degree of determination of her husband and the fear that she would take the children she agreed to leave. Departure was scheduled for night hours. After the necessary preparations, they mount the tank turret inside. It departs at half past two in the morning on May 27, 1970. In addition to the driver and his wife, there are four children in the vehicle. Mr. Beneš starts in the garage and leaves for the yard. He opens the gate and goes out into the street. He turns left and around the windbreak he heads for the road to Břeclav. But already at home, as can be seen from the statement, an irregular operation is observed with one engine. However, the tank moves further to the outskirts of Stará Břeclav (to the transformer). Here he started to skip the engine and the machine had to stop. After a short agreement, they decided to return. Mr. Beneš therefore tried to take the vehicle at least somewhere in the fields. The tank is going very hard "after five meters". This is where the ride under the railway bridge ended. Here, the version of the statement differs slightly. In one of them (May 28, 1970 in Hrušky) it is stated that they walked along the track home in the other (from June 19, 1970 from Brno) that they left home by renting a car from an acquaintance. The family was at home all day waiting for someone from the StB. But no one drove. After the family discussion, the wife tried to persuade Mr. Beneš to report the whole thing to Břeclav in the then UK. 27.5 pm (7.30 pm) Mr. Beneš leaves the house. He told his wife that the whole thing could be announced ..... he had not come home.

He crossed the border at Valtice (section of the Valtice-Rajsna company) in the area of HM X/12 720 meters from the picket. The escape is discovered on May 28, 1970 at 4.50 am. The transition itself, as stated in the PS protocol, took place between 20.30 (27.5) and 4.50 (28.5.). Lightning sniffed the trail to the village of Úvaly. There is a note in the record of the action .. "No objects were found on the escape route outside the intruder 's tracks". The escape route led from the Valtice-Sedlec railway crossing (where he arrived on a women's bicycle) around the then Sedlec state farm in the direction of Úvaly. The village bypasses and the vineyards get to the wires. Four cords were found over the wires on the signal wall. Mr. Beneš tied the wires so that he could pass. He succeeded so skillfully that the low-current signaling did not notice anything, or as it is stated ... "he tied the wire obstacles with twine, thus decommissioning the engineering-technical means" .... However, on the last obstacle made of barbed wire, a detective found a piece of a jacket that he tore when climbing.

From the Czech Republic, his journey led through a camp in Traiskirchen to the USA.

June 19, 1970 an indictment was filed, ........

On July 6, 1970, a tank from the District Department of the UK in Břeclav was handed over to the Ministry of National Defense at the Border Guard Museum in Prague.



Open outside Mondays from 10 am to 5 pm


Police Museum of the Czech Republic

Pears, citizens of their village. Almanac, Pears 1998

Author's archive

Memories of citizens Hrušek


The Museum of the Police of the Czech Republic in Prague, Mr. Kopecký (Prague), Mr. Růžiček (Tvrdonice) and the inventor of electronic mail.
CZK - Hrušecký tank -

CZK - Hrušecký tank -

CZK - Hrušecký tank -

CZK - Hrušecký tank - Levá přední část (tyč řízení a převodovka)  - z pohledu řidiče

Levá přední část (tyč řízení a převodovka) - z pohledu řidiče
CZK - Hrušecký tank -

CZK - Hrušecký tank - Foto ze spisu STB

Foto ze spisu STB
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