Armoured Soviet Draisine MBV-2

In 1938, the S.M. Kirov factory in Leningrad built several ‘motorised armoured wagons’ (MBV) which reached 80km/h (50 mph) and carried a dual-purpose armament for ground and antiaircraft use. The base vehicle used components and three turrets from T-28 tanks (which had been built in the same factory). The tank turrets were armed first with the 76.2mm PS-3 gun then the longer L-11 and F-34. The secondary armament comprised 7.62mm DT machine guns divided between the turrets, rear and sides, and anti-aircraft defence was provided by a quadruple Maxim mounting situated between No 2 turret and the command cupola. With a crew of just forty men, the railcar was practically the equal in firepower to an armoured train, being self-sufficient in ammunition with 365 shells, 10,962 rounds for the DTs and 22,000 for the Maxim machine guns carried on board, but was a great deal more versatile. The armour protection ranged from 16–20mm on the sides, the central command cupola and the turrets. The roof was armoured to 10mm. The whole machine weighed 80 tonnes and could reach 120km/h (75mph) on the 400h of its M17-T petrol engine. The prototype was tested during the Finnish War on the Viipuri-Viborg-Leningrad line in March 1940.

The Soviet T-28 and T-35 tanks not only served in the armored units during the Second World War. where they had an important role in different combat operations. Components of the T-28 were also fundamental in the development of a new generation of armored rai road vehicles. At the beginning of the 1930’s, Russian military strategists considered the idea of rejecting those “classic” trains in service with their railroad net (RKKA) in favour of heavy armored cars. The work on design of such vehicles began in 1935 in the SKB-2 department located in the Kirov of Leningrad plant (currently Saint Petersburg). The development was under the direction of O. M. Ivanov, who later was arrested and accused of being a member of the “Trotsky Zinoviev” organisation. He was summarily executed on May 7th 1937. Besides him, other designers that worked on the concept of the new vehicle were S. P. Bogomolov, K. l. Kuzmin, P. P. Mikhailov. P. T. Sosov. I .F. Sytohev and S. V. Fedorenko.

The armored MBV-2 was built with overlapped welded sheets of armour plating that was inclined 10° from the vertical axis. For the three main turrets. those of the medium tank T-28 were used without any modification. Each turret was armed with a KT-28 gun and two 7.62mm DT machine guns, plus one other DT machine gun in an antiaircraft assembly. One DT machine gun was mounted in the back of the car, and four Maxim 7.62mm guns were mounted in the lateral ones. A quadruple system of 4 Maxim (4M) machine guns was installed between the second turret and the commandant’s superstructure, and was covered with an armored hatch when it was necessary. The MBV-2 had an escape hatch in the floor of the wagon allowing the crew to escape in the event of an emergency.

The MBV-2 was propelled by the M-17F engine, also used in the T-28. Parts of the mechanical transmission also carne from the same vehicle. In addition, the MBV-2 was provided with numerous systems of communication (radio and telephone) including a 71-TK-l radio.

The MBV-2 was much shorter that any other armored train and it also offered a silhouette of reduced size with a lateral area of only 52 square meters. It was also much quicker and more manoeuvrable than any other armored train, it and had the advantage that it didn’t emit clouds of smoke like vapour locomotives do.

The MBV-2 #2 carried out more than 25,000 kilometres of tests and in March of 1939 the standard vehicle was accepted for service in the Red Army. The objective was mass production of the MBV while gradually substituting to the armored trains based on old locomotives.

With the beginning of the war on the East Front in June of 1941, both MBV-2 #2 and #60 served in the LBTKUKS unit. In August of 1941, they covered the retreat of the Red Army in the region of Chudovo-Mga. When the Germans captured Mga, the unit was divided, with the MBV-2 being sent to Leningrad, while the Armored Train was dedicated to Kirishi and would later serve on the Volkhov front. During September of 1941, the MBV-2 #2 was subjected to important repairs in which its KT-28 guns were replaced by the more potent model L-ll. The panoramic PTK periscope for the commandant replaced the old periscope.

In October of 1941, the MBV- 2 #2 was assigned to the 3rd Platoon, 1st Battalion of the 12th Regiment of Cars, with Lieutenant JR. G. Konovalov as its commander. On November 16th, 1941, #2 was sent to the region of Pontonnaya-Sapernaya-lzhory in order to accompany the armored train “Narodniy Mstitel” (Revenge of the People). In May of 1942, the 71st Armored Trains Division (ODBP) was set up with “Narodniy Mstitel”, the “Stalinets-28” armored train, and the MBV-2 #2, under direct control of the 55th Army. Later, in February of 1943, the MBV-2 #2 was dedicated to the 14th ODBP of the 23rd Army that defended the Isthmus of Karelia, next to the armored trains “Stremitelniy” (Impetuous) and “Stoikiy” (Firm). The last train had been designated Train Armored #60 of the Baltic Fleet, and both trains crews, were formed by sailors. with Captain Dotsenko as the train commander.

During 1943, the main turrets of the MBV-2 #2 were rearmed with the F-34 guns of the T-34 Tank, and this is the vehicle that I have reproduced. The vehicle returned to combat in autumn of 1943, participating in the end of the battle of Leningrad in January of 1944. Later, it fought in operations in Vyborg as mobile artillery, to cover the 142nd Infantry Division. Later it was subordinated to the control of the 2nd Army and fought in Narva and Tallin.

The MBV-2 #1 was integrated in the 30th ODBP before the battle of Leningrad, and saw combat since the spring of 1942 on the Northwest Front with 34th Army. In March of 1943, the train was transferred to the Southern Front in Rostov in the region of the Don. Its combat record concluded in the Crimea in May of 1944.

After the war, the MBV-2 #2 was transferred to the 65th Deposit of Railroads in 1948. They were refitted with modifications such as the substitution of the M-17F motor for a V-2 motor, a new electric system, new telephones and radio set, and a modernised controls system. The 4M Maxim machine gun assembly and the generator were discarded. After intensive repairs, the vehicle was proven in a 100km test between Bryansk and Trozan in August of 1951. In May of 1952, it was again subjected to tests in a 180km journey between Bryansk and Novaya, during which the motor was reheated and extracted from the vehicle in order to be repaired. Due to these reasons and other deficiencies, the repairs were not made, and the train was sent to the polygon NIIBT of Kubinka (Museum and Center of Investigation of the Armored Weapon) where it rests at the present time.

The main turret of the T-28 and its armament of 76.2 mm was also used as additional armament for the “Obiekt 1124” and “1125”, both of which are armored ships. When the war broke out in 1941, the turrets of T-28 in both ships had already begun to be replaced by those of the T-34.

The turret of the T-28 and the turrets with machine guns were also used in armored trains as the “Istryebitel Fashisma” (“Destroyer of the Fascism”) of the 66th Armored Trains Division.

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