Trojan Tank

In 1974 after several periods of violence between the ethnically split inhabitants of Cyprus, two NATO countries went to war with each other.  Today I’ll be looking at some of the armour actions of that conflict on the small Mediterranean island.

In the early hours of July 20th 1974, a fleet of Turkish ships appeared off of the coast of northern Cyprus. Originally they were attempting to land and create a bridgehead at Glykiotissa, however, finding this landing site unusable they switched to Pentemilli and began landing.  In the first waves there were about 3000 men and 20 M113’s.  Two days later the first Turkish armour landed, 15 M47 Pattons were brought ashore.

Facing them was the Greek Cypriot National Guard, most of its heavy weapons were of Second World War British origin, such as 6 and 25 pounder guns, although it did have some more modern weapons.

The GCNG had an armoured branch on the island but these were T-34/85 tanks brought from the Soviet Union and shipped via Egypt in 1964.  They were a mash up of models and parts, but had been fitted with US made M2 .50 calibre heavy machine guns.  Old when they were delivered, after a decade of use they were utterly worn out.

The first clash of armour came at 10:00 on the first day of the invasion.  A handful of T-34’s supported by their infantry attacked the bridgehead, destroying two M113’s.  In return in a separate engagement two T-34’s were destroyed by Turkish handheld anti-tank rockets.  Already the strain on the tanks was beginning to show, several tanks had broken down and were abandoned.  Another attempted counterattack that night and two more T-34’s broke down, while a third got stuck in a dried up river bed.

The next morning The Turkish Air Force destroyed the two broken down tanks, while the one stuck in the riverbed was captured and freed by the approaching Turkish forces.  Three days into the fighting and the Turkish force launched a breakout.  The last local T-34’s had run out of ammunition and were abandoned in place.

With a secure beachhead the Turkish forces were comfortable with a ceasefire, to see if a diplomatic solution could be found.  Meanwhile both forces prepared for another clash.  The Turks brought in more forces, while the GCNG dug in.

While the diplomats talked, there were still several clashes and outbreaks of fighting.  The most important to our story is the Battle of Kornos Hill (Hill 1024), located near to Mount Pentadaktylos.  In the morning of the 2nd of August, the hill was attacked by a Turkish force.  The defenders threw the attack back.  In the afternoon a much larger force was brought up and smashed the defenders aside.  The Turkish armour pushed on.  Leading the column was a pair of M47 tanks, followed closely by two M113’s.

The armour wound its way along a narrow road cut into the hillside.  The road itself was only a few inches wider than the M47 tanks with a sheer cliff face on one side, and a wooded drop on the other.  The lead tank hit a mine, which blew its track off.

This was the cue for the defending GCNG infantry battalion to open fire with its ambush.  The infantry was armed with M40A1 106mm recoilless rifles.  Their first shot hit the 4th vehicle in the column, one of the M113’s.  The 106mm HEAT warhead burned through the fragile light weight armour which was only intended to stop shrapnel and caused it to go up in flames.  The other M47 and M113 were trapped and unable to move, with the M47 barely able to rotate its turret due to the closeness of the cliff face.  The Turkish forces were forced to retreat.

The following morning a recovery team from the GCNG’s Mechanized Battalion arrived at the site of the battle.  They managed to free the two trapped vehicles, and both were returned to their depot for repairs.

At the depot the M47 was found to have a broken hydraulic turret traverse, in fact all the Turkish M47’s had had that system disabled. The GCNG soon had the tank fully operational. In a stroke of luck the M47 was not repainted.

Meanwhile the diplomatic efforts to find a peaceful situation were going badly, and soon failed.

The Turks launched a new phase of offensives on August the 14th.  Although they had lost some tanks, the Turkish armour managed to drive 80 km’s in the first day, smashing aside the defenders.

North West of Nicosia lies the village of Skylloura.  The Turks attacked on the 15th with about 30 tanks reinforced with two battalions of paratroopers.  The defenders consisted of five companies of infantry, and one tank, the previously captured and now fully operational M47.

Early in the battle the infantry used a 106mm recoilless rifle to knock out one of the attackers.  The Turks encircled the village and thats when the Greek M47 struck.  In an audacious move she moved through the confusion and joined the back of one of the Turkish tank columns.  The Turks just saw a friendly tank joining their attack.

With total and utter surprise the M47 was able to attack the Turkish tanks.  For two hours she roamed amongst the confusion of the battle using her superior gun traverse to out manoeuvre the Turkish tanks.  Often disappearing then reappearing, the Turks didn’t know if it was a friendly tank or not.

They found out the hard way as the 90mm gun suddenly and with frightening speed swung in their direction before sending a shell roaring towards them, followed closely by the loud clash of the shell striking armour.

After two hours the Greek M47 escaped from the battle back to friendly lines.  Behind her seven Turkish tanks lay destroyed and burning.

That M47 remained in service with the Greek Cypriot National Guard until 1993.

David Lister

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British Pre-WWII Tank Rearmament

Throughout the 1920s and 1930s the development of tanks was not well co-ordinated, which, in light of the acute funding shortages, was far from ideal. The formation of the Mechanisation Board in 1934 was an attempt to improve matters. The person responsible for tank development was the Director of Mechanisation at the War Office who controlled MWEE and the Design Departments at Woolwich. The Mechanisation Board could acquire tanks from three sources:

a.  In-house designs by the Superintendent of Design at Woolwich;

b.  The Board placing contracts directly with industry;

c.  Procuring private venture vehicles from firms such as Vickers.

This meant the funds available to DD(V) at Woolwich were very limited. The situation was not helped by the General Staff frequently changing requirements for armour, vehicle speed and armament. Hence when rearmament started in the 1930s the status of tank design in Great Britain was at a low.

The lack of focus and clear requirements resulted in fifteen different tank projects during the period from 1934 to the start of the Second World War. One factor that influenced the subsequent inadequacies of British tanks during the Second World War was the policy to focus on three classes of tank:

Small light machine-gun-armed tanks for reconnaissance;

Cruiser tanks with an emphasis on mobility;

Infantry tanks with an emphasis on protection but requiring a low top speed.

The requirement for three classes of tank was formally endorsed as policy in the 1937 Annual Report of the Mechanisation Board.

The emphasis on either mobility or protection meant that firepower was often neglected, even though the proponents of mechanised warfare recognised that the best counter to tanks would be other tanks. The overall balance of performance of the resulting tanks was often poor and even though some did have reasonable attributes the army tended to buy light tanks because they were cheaper and were seen as having utility for operations throughout the British Empire.

In 1926 the Superintendent of Design had started work with Vickers to develop the A6 Medium Tank, which was intended to replace the Medium Mark II. A design driver was a weight limit of 15.5 tons which led to the nickname of ‘16 tonners’. A mock-up was completed in March 1927 and the first two of three prototypes were delivered to MWEE in June 1928 for trials. Various engines, both petrol and diesel, and turret arrangements were tested, but overall the vehicle was considered inadequate leading to a redesign. The new design, called the Medium Mark III, had a revised turret and improved armour. Three Medium Mark IIIs were built, one by Vickers and two by the Royal Ordnance Factory at Woolwich, but it was considered too expensive and no further production was undertaken. Development activities on the Mark III stopped in 1931. One novel feature of the vehicle was that it had a very early implementation of a ‘collective protection’ system. This is a system where filtered air is provided to the crew compartment to provide ventilation in a chemical warfare environment. Trials of the ‘Porton Filtration Unit’ were carried out in June 1931 and Major R.A. Hepple of the Royal Army Medical Corps, noting the clearance of the smell of oil and ‘fug’ when the unit was running, reported that, ‘The installation of the Porton filtration unit caused a distinct improvement in hygienic conditions in the fighting chamber, and will undoubtedly have a beneficial effect on the health of personnel of the Royal Tank Corps.’ The three Medium Mark IIIs were taken into service by the HQ of the Tank Brigade and one was fitted out as a Command Tank.

In 1929 the Chief Superintendent of Design started work on an experimental medium tank and the Ordnance Factory at Woolwich produced three prototypes of what was the A7 Medium Tank. Development of this vehicle stopped in 1937, but it helped form the basis of the A12 Matilda Infantry Tank, which was developed by the Vulcan Foundry.

In 1934 Sir John Carden of Vickers-Armstrong designed the Cruiser Mark I (A9), which was intended as a cheaper alternative to the A6. Design of a heavier but slower version with thicker armour (A10) was started soon after. The resulting vehicles ended up very similar to each other, but both went into production as the Cruiser Mark I (A9) and Cruiser Mark II (A10). They saw action in France and the Western Desert although numbers built were limited as by the time production contracts were ready (1937 for the A9 and 1938 for the A10) work was underway on the superior A13.

After years of limited funding the remains of expertise in tank design was to be found in Vickers-Armstrong and DD(V) at Woolwich, but when rearmament started a number of other contractors were brought in to develop tanks. These included Bedford, Leyland, the LMS Railway works, Nuffield Mechanisation, the Vulcan Foundry and Harland and Wolff. Nuffield Mechanisation was one of the more prominent of these companies. It had been formed by the Morris Motors group to build aero-engines, but orders did not materialise so the organisation turned its attention to tanks.

In September 1936 Lieutenant Colonel Martel, in his role of Assistant Director Mechanisation, visited army manoeuvres in the Soviet Union where he was particularly impressed by the performance of the Soviet BT3 tanks. The design of this tank had been based on the M1931 tank designed by John Walter Christie in the USA, two of which had been bought by the Soviets. The War Office therefore asked Nuffield Mechanisation to act as their agent in buying a Christie vehicle. Following receipt of this request Mr Oliver Boden, an ex-Vickers employee who now worked for Nuffield, contacted Christie and arranged to buy a vehicle for £8,000. The vehicle bought was the M1932, an improved version of the M1931 which had been offered to the US Army. They had turned it down mainly due to frustrations in trying to work with Christie. To meet US regulations the basic vehicle was exported to the UK as an agricultural tractor with the more war-like parts said to have been sent separately as ‘grapefruit’. The vehicle reached the UK on 17 November 1936 and it was delivered to MEE for trials. Tested over 687 miles, of which 327 were cross-country, the vehicle was reported to have reached a speed of 63.4mph on a slightly downhill run. Despite the impressive automotive performance it was assessed that, as it stood, it was unsuitable to meet British Army requirements. It was, however, used by Nuffield Mechanisation as the basis for the A13 Mark I or Cruiser Tank Mark III.

The A13 was wider and higher than the M1932, in order to mount a 2pdr gun, and was 2 tons heavier. The basic concept was defined by January 1937 and an initial order for sixty-five followed a year later in January 1938 with the first vehicles being delivered in December that year. The A13 Mark I was followed by the A13 Mark II, which had an improved turret and was the first vehicle to use spaced armour. The A13 Mark I and II saw action in France and the Western Desert. The final version of the A13, the Mark III, also called the Covenanter or Cruiser Mark V, was designed by the LMS Railway Company with input from the Mechanisation Board. Delivery started in 1940 when tanks were needed quickly after the fall of France, but it proved to be very unreliable and although over 1,700 were built it was only ever used for training.

Meanwhile Vickers-Armstrong had developed the A11 Matilda 1, which met a request for a tank ‘built down to a price’ and cost only £6,000. The requirement for the A11 stated that the ‘heaviest possible armour was essential’ although it was only required to have a top speed of 5mph and was armed with a machine gun. A total of 139 were built and some saw action in France.

Work on two experimental heavy cruisers was started in 1938, neither of which went into production. The A14 was built by the LMS Railway Co., who had design support from the DTD, and the A16 was built by Nuffield Mechanisation. The A16 weighed over 21 tons and used a heavier version of the Christie suspension. An interesting aside with the A16 was that when a major design problem arose with the vehicle Thomson and Taylor, a Brooklands-based racing-car firm who had been involved in the design of the Bluebird Land Speed Record car, was asked to help; they very quickly carried out some redesign work and built some components. Later the prototype was used to investigate transmission and steering problems in the A13s and became the first tank fitted with a ‘Merritt’ controlled differential steering system.

One in-house design by the DTD was the A20, which met requirements for an assault tank with a long track length for crossing trenches. The prototype was built by Harland and Wolff, but development was subsequently taken over by Vauxhall Motors and became the basis of the A22 Churchill. Another project of interest was the TOG (The Old Gang) tank designed by the Special Vehicle Design Committee. This committee included a number of those involved in the development of the original First World War tanks including Swinton and designers at Fosters of Lincoln. It was a slow-moving unwieldy 70-ton vehicle with solid suspension conceived to attack the Siegfried Line. The project was dropped when it became apparent that the nature of warfare was very different from the defensive trench warfare of the First World War. The DTD had some involvement in the TOG programme and, for example, supported the design of the TOG 2 turret. This was manufactured by Messrs Stothert & Pitt Ltd under a contract placed by William Foster and Co. The turret was made from 3in armour plate supplied by the Admiralty with an inner layer of 0.5in steel. DTD provided advice on design and testing. For ballistic trials purposes the turret was fitted with an obsolete mantlet designed to mount a 2pdr gun, 3in howitzer and a machine gun. This mantlet had been designed to meet a requirement for armament that had been seriously proposed as an alternative to mounting a 6pdr gun in cruiser tanks and would have been a nightmare for the crew. Trials, which included attacks by 6pdr anti-tank rounds and 25pdr proof shot, demonstrated the ability of the inner skin to provide protection against secondary fragments should the outer shell be damaged or bolts dislodged.

At the start of the Second World War the majority of tanks in service were light tanks and efforts to address inadequacies in the quality and availability of vehicles was hampered by a lack of resources as aircraft and ships were given priority. The expenditure on tanks in the build-up to rearmament was:

1931    £357,000

1932    £309,000

1933    £315,000

1934    £501,000 (The year Germany started rearmament)

1935    £772,000 (The year Italy invaded Abyssinia)

1936    £842,000 (The year Germany reoccupied the Rhineland)

1937    £3,625,000

The £500,000 spent in 1934 represented only about 1 per cent of the total army budget. Further problems had arisen from the office of the Master General of the Ordnance (MGO). At the time of rearmament the MGO was General Elles who had originally commanded the Tank Corps in the First World War; however, instead of being an advocate of tanks he was convinced that the development of anti-tank guns had so reduced their utility he was unwilling to commit significant funds to their procurement. It was only when it was demonstrated that the Infantry Tank Mark I was proof against 37mm and 47mm anti-tank guns that procurement started in earnest.

Following the Experimental Force Trials in 1927 and development of the doctrine captured in the ‘Purple Primer’ it had been agreed in 1933 that a single Tank Division be formed although even by the start of the Second World War it was still not fully equipped. The British Expeditionary Force in France was equipped with 342 light tanks, seventy-seven Matilda 1s, twenty-three Matilda 2s and 150 Cruisers consisting of twenty-four A9s, thirty-one A10s and ninety-five A13s. Even at this stage the inadequacies of British tanks were recognised by some; before deploying to France Brigadier Vivian Pope, the adviser of armoured vehicles at the General Headquarters of the British Expeditionary Force, wrote to the War Office to say, ‘We must have thicker armour on our fighting vehicles and every tank must carry a cannon. The 2pdr is good enough now, but only just. We must mount something better and put it behind 40 to 80mm of armour.’ His concerns were well founded and during the fighting leading to the fall of France the light tanks were all but useless, and although the Cruisers showed some utility they suffered from a lack of armour. Only the infantry tanks had any significant success when on 21 May 1940 fifty-eight Matilda Mark Is and sixteen Matilda Mark IIs took part in a counter-attack. This caused much confusion amongst German forces, who found them largely impervious to their anti-tank guns, and it delayed their advance to the extent that it made the withdrawal to Dunkirk and subsequent evacuation possible. Unfortunately the counter-attack itself was not supported and could not be sustained.

Following the fall of France a very limited number of tanks were left to defend the United Kingdom. Exact numbers are not clear but probably consisted of around 407 light tanks, 141 cruiser tanks and 140 infantry tanks. Therefore the priority became re-equipping the army to defend against invasion. In 1938 the Secretary of State for War had put forward a proposal that led to the formation of the Ministry of Supply. This was set up with the Liberal MP Leslie Burgin, previously Minister for Transport, as Minister for Supply from July 1939 to May 1940. A key principle behind the thinking and policies of the ministry was that successful businessmen would have the skills for mobilising industry for war. Organisations within the War Office concerned with the Design, Development and Procurement of weapon systems were transferred from the War Office to the Ministry of Supply – with the office of MGO placed in abeyance. Thus the responsibility for delivering tanks was separated from the War Office and hence from direct contact with the operational user. This resulted in the situation where the priority of the Ministry of Supply was to meet the production targets it was being set and it did not want to put delivery at risk by the design changes or new designs being requested by the War Office. Existing contracts and production lines were kept running, leading to the delivery of more light tanks that were already known to be largely useless.

The “OLD GANG” strikes back

The multi-turreted tank that launched a fad

Syrian “Trophy System”

Syrian armed forces develop new upgrade for its range of combat vehicle with local-made armour cage to increase protection against anti-tank-missile and RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade). Many pictures are published on the website ARMY RECOGNITION  showing T-72 fitted with armour cage, but also the ZSU-23-4 Shilka anti-aircraft gun.

Syrian “Trophy System”[1] The Syrian armed forces have upgraded its combat vehicles with a local-made armor cage, to increase protection against anti-tank-missile and RPG. According some military sources, the combat vehicles have been upgraded to be protected during urban combat operations. The hull of the Syrian ZSU-23-4 self-propelled anti-aircraft gun is covered at the front, rear and on each side with an armor cage which seems to be designed and fitted locally. The lower part of this armor is fitted with closely spaced chains with ball ends.

[1] Reference to the same-named more sophisticated Israeli design in Israeli and US armies.

The Trophy system proved its high effectiveness in repelling single launches of anti-tank missiles and rocket grenades, including launches from different directions. However, the active protection system still can’t sustain fighting two or three anti-tank munitions launched at a minimum interval. This technology is used in Russia’s latest systems, for example, the upgraded Kornet system and single-use grenade launchers,” the source said.

Specifically, these are the Russian-made Kornet-EM self-propelled anti-tank system and the RPG-30 single-use grenade launcher. The Kornet-EM is capable of firing two missiles in one beam with a minimum interval while the RPG-30 is furnished with a decoy rocket fired immediately before launching the main rocket. The Trophy active protection system still needs to work on effectively fighting anti-tank weapons based on this principle, the source noted.

The Trophy active protection system is operational in the Israeli and US armies. According to the data of the Israeli defense technology company Rafael, the system has logged 500,000 hours of its continuous operation on various types of armor. This past March, a new contract to the tune of $79.6 million for the delivery of Trophy active protection systems for US M1A2 Abrams tanks was signed.

THE KITTY-KILLERS: HEAVY TANKS, T29-T34, 1945 DESIGNS

Heavy Tank T29: Development of this vehicle started in March 1944 in an attempt to produce a heavy tank with firepower and armour protection superior to that of the T26E3 (M26). It was intended to fit the Cross-Drive transmission and a Ford tank engine uprated to 750HP. Approval for building pilot models was given in September 1944. Hull was similar to that of the T26E3 but lengthened to take a massive new cast turret to hold the 105mm T5 gun. The General Staff authorised production of this type in February 1945 for use in the war against Japan where heavy calibre weapons were considered necessary for firing against bunkers and caves. Army Ground Forces, however, were opposed to vehicles as large as this and stated that they had no requirement for them. With the cessation of hostilities, production was limited to a batch of pilot models only for testing and development. These were delivered in 1947. Details: combat weight: 138,000lb; crew: 6; armament: 1 x 105mm gun T5; length: 25ft (excluding gun); width: 12 ½ ft; height: 10ft 7in; top speed 18 ½ mph; ammunition stowage: 63 rounds; engine: Ford 750HP.

T29 Specs:

6 man crew

Combat Weight: 70.75 tons

HULL

Upper Front: 174mm effective

Lower Front: 132mm effective

Front Sides: 76mm effective

Rear Sides: 51mm effective

Upper Rear: 52mm effective

Lower Rear: 40mm effective

Top: 38mm effective

Front Floor: 25mm effective

Rear Floor: 13mm effective

TURRET

Gun Shield: 203-279mm effective

Front: 206mm effective

Sides: 127mm effective

Rear: 102mm effective

Top: 38mm effective

105mm Gun T5E2

Loading: Manual (6 rds/min with 2 loaders)

Stablizer: None

Vision:

T143E1 Telescope

M10E5 Periscope

1 x .50 Caliber M2 HB Flexible AA on commanders hatch

2 x .50 Caliber M2 HB Coaxial

1 x .30 Caliber M1919A4 Bow Mount

Ammo Load:

63 Rounds 105mm

2420 rounds .50 Caliber

2500 rounds .30 caliber

—————–

The 8th T29 built was modified to provide for the installation of the range finder T31E1, and became the T29E3.

T29E3 Heavy Tank

This tank probably has a significantly better rangefinder rating than anything except probably laser rangefinder equipped tanks in game terms, because of the sheer size of the rangefinder; the wider the base of the rangefinder, the better and more accurate it is; the T29E3 had a 274.32 cm rangefinder ; while the Panther F had a 132 cm rangefinder, and the Tiger II a 160 cm one.

T29E3 Specs:

6 man crew

Combat Weight: 72 tons

Speed: 22 MPH

HULL

Upper Front: 174mm effective

Lower Front: 132mm effective

Front Sides: 76mm effective

Rear Sides: 51mm effective

Upper Rear: 52mm effective

Lower Rear: 40mm effective

Top: 38mm effective

Front Floor: 25mm effective

Rear Floor: 13mm effective

TURRET

Gun Shield: 203-279mm effective

Front: 206mm effective

Sides: 127mm effective

Rear: 102mm effective

Top: 38mm effective

105mm Gun T5E1

Loading: Manual (6 rds/min with 2 loaders)

Stablizer: None

Vision:

T31E1 Range Finder

T93E2 Telescope

M10E5 Periscope

1 x .50 Caliber M2 HB Flexible AA on commanders hatch

2 x .50 Caliber M2 HB Coaxial

1 x .30 Caliber M1919A4 Bow Mount

Ammo Load:

63 Rounds 105mm

2420 rounds .50 Caliber

2500 rounds .30 caliber

Heavy Tank T30: This was a parallel design to the T29 evolved and produced at the same time and within the same programme. Principal difference was the installation of a Continental 810HP air-cooled engine in place of the Ford unit, and the mounting of a 155mm gun T7 in place of the 105mm weapon. This vehicle included a rammer in the turret for loading the gun which fired separate ammunition. Both the T29 and T30 were classified “limited procurement” types in April 1945. T30 details as for T29, except: armament: 1 x 155mm gun T7; combat weight: 144,500Ib; ammunition stowage: 34 rounds; top speed: 16tmph; engine: Continental 810HP.

T30 Specs

6 man crew

Combat Weight: 71.3 tons

Speed: 22 MPH

HULL

Upper Front: 174mm effective

Lower Front: 132mm effective

Front Sides: 76mm effective

Rear Sides: 51mm effective

Upper Rear: 52mm effective

Lower Rear: 40mm effective

Top: 38mm effective

Front Floor: 25mm effective

Rear Floor: 13mm effective

TURRET

Gun Shield: 203-279mm effective

Front: 206mm effective

Sides: 127mm effective

Rear: 102mm effective

Top: 38mm effective

155mm Gun T7

Loading: Manual with hoist and spring rammer (2 rds/min with 2 loaders)

Stablizer: None

Vision:

T143E1 Telescope

M10E9 Periscope

1 x .50 Caliber M2 HB Flexible AA on commanders hatch

1 x .50 Caliber M2 HB Coaxial

1 x .30 Caliber M1919A4 Bow Mount

Ammo Load:

34 Rounds 155mm

2200 rounds .50 Caliber

2500 rounds .30 caliber

—————

Statistics of 155mm T7 Gun:

40 calibers

2 rounds/minute with two loaders

It was never provided with an AP shot as far as I can tell; but I would imagine a 95 pound HE shell would mess up any tank’s day; and given the calibre of the gun, a HEAT round from it would be truly terrifying.

Heavy Tank T34: This resulted from the adaptation of the standard American 120mm AA gun to a form suitable for mounting in a tank. The design of the T29/T30 series was modified to take the 120mm gun T53 by suitable changes in the gun mount, but with no fundamental alterations to the basic design. One T29 and one T30 pilot model were each fitted with the 120mm gun and re-designated as Heavy Tank T34. Approval for this development was given in April 1945, but the pilot model T34s were not delivered until 1947. No production orders followed but the post-war M103 heavy tank design stemmed from the T34. Details as for T29/T30 except for 120mm gun.

T34 Specs

6 man crew

Combat Weight: 71.8 tons

Speed: 22 MPH

HULL

Upper Front: 174mm effective

Lower Front: 132mm effective

Front Sides: 76mm effective

Rear Sides: 51mm effective

Upper Rear: 52mm effective

Lower Rear: 40mm effective

Top: 38mm effective

Front Floor: 25mm effective

Rear Floor: 13mm effective

TURRET

Gun Shield: 203 to 279mm effective

Front: 184mm effective

Sides: 127mm effective

Rear: 203mm effective

Top: 38mm effective

120mm Gun T53

Loading: Manual (5 RPM with 2 loaders)

Stablizer: None

1 x .50 Caliber M2 HB Flexible AA on commander’s hatch

1 x .50 Caliber M2 HB Coaxial

1 x .30 Caliber M1919A4 Bow Mount

Vision:

T143E2 Telescope

M10E10 Periscope

Ammo Load:

34 Rounds 120mm

2090 rounds .50 Caliber

2500 rounds .30 caliber

———————-

120mm Gun T53 Specs:

60 Calibers

5 RPM, two loaders

AP Shot:

198mm @ 30 degrees @ 914m

173mm @ 30 deg @ 1829m

HVAP Shot:

381mm @ 30 deg @ 914m

318mm @ 30 deg @ 1829 m

T32E1

Heavy Tank T32 and T32E1: This was an improved version of the T26E3 (M26) designed to provide better armour protection without impairing the performance or reliability of the M26. Hull was the same as that of the M26, lengthened by one bogie wheel each side and with armour maximum increased to 125mm at the front and 75mm at the sides. Turret had 200mm frontal armour. Improved T15E1 90mm gun was fitted and a counterweight was added on the turret rear. Engine was uprated to 750HP and cross-drive transmission replaced the Torquematic transmission of the M26. Apart from increased length and increased weight, other details were as for M26 series vehicles. A batch of pilot models was ordered from Chrysler (Detroit Arsenal) in February 1945, but were not completed until early 1946. No production order followed. The T32E1 was similar to the T32 except that it had a welded hull front instead of the cast front, while the hull machine gun was eliminated.

T32 Specs

5 man crew

Combat Weight: 60 tons

Speed: 22 MPH

HULL

Upper Front: 216mm effective

Lower Front: 184mm effective

Sides: 76mm effective

Rear: 52mm effective

Top: 38mm effective

Front Floor: 25mm effective

Rear Floor: 13mm effective

TURRET

Gun Shield: 298mm effective

Front: 309mm effective

Sides: 199 to 154mm effective

Rear: 152mm effective

Top: 25mm effective

90mm Gun T15E2

Loading: Manual (4 RPM)

Stablizer: None

1 x .50 Caliber M2 HB Flexible AA on commanders hatch

1 x .30 Caliber M1919A4 Coaxial

1 x .30 Caliber M1919A4 Bow Mount

Ammo Load:

54 Rounds 90mm

550 rounds .50 Caliber

4000 rounds .30 caliber

Vision:

M77E1 or M71E4 Telescope

M10E4 Periscope

————————–

90mm T15E1/2 Gun Data:

70 Calibers

Penetration:

T43 AP Shot (APBC-T; 3,200 ft/sec)

132mm @ 30 degree angle @ 500 yds

127mm @ 30 degree angle @ 1000 yds

124mm @ 30 degree angle @ 1500 yds

122mm @ 30 degree angle @ 2000 yds

T44 HVAP Shot (APCR-T; 3,750 ft/sec)

244mm @ 30 degree angle @ 500 yds

221mm @ 30 degree angle @ 1000 yds

196mm @ 30 degree angle @ 1500 yds

173mm @ 30 degree angle @ 2000 yds

M2/M3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle

The M2/M3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle is an integral part of the United States armoured forces of today. Serving both an as infantry fighting vehicle and for cavalry reconnaissance and scouting, its ability to fight alongside the Abrams Main Battle Tank is central to US warfighting doctrine.

The M2/M3 Bradley fighting vehicle established a commendable combat record during deployment in the 1991 Gulf War and the invasion of Iraq in 2003. During the Gulf War, Bradley vehicles from several troops of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment of the U.S. Army engaged and destroyed a number of Iraqi armoured vehicles in the Battle of 73 Easting and other engagements.

Although the Bradley was found susceptible to improvised explosive devices (IED) and rocket-propelled grenades during Operation Iraqi Freedom, its crew survivability rate was excellent. In some cases, the Bradley defeated Iraqi tanks with its TOW missiles. Special-purpose vehicles based on the Bradley include a forward observation variant and anti-aircraft and anti-tank platforms.

The first of the ‘battle taxis’, the US army’s trend-setting M75 APC, entered service in 1952. It carried a driver, a commander and a squad of ten men. It was of all-steel construction and was high, making it difficult to conceal, and it was not amphibious; it also had a petrol engine. Nevertheless, it was an impressive start. The M75 was followed by the M59, which entered service from 1954 onwards. This too was of all-steel construction, but was cheaper than the M75 to produce and was amphibious in calm conditions.

Still not satisfied, the US army persevered and its efforts in this particular development chain culminated in the M113 APC, which became the archetypical APC between 1960 and 1985. The original US army requirement was to provide a lightweight armoured personnel carrier for armour and infantry units; it had to be capable of amphibious and air-drop operation, have superior cross-country mobility, and be adaptable for multiple functions by means of kits and/or modification of its superstructure. The designers succeeded in meeting all of these objectives, and the M113 proved to be one of the most successful military designs of all time, with over 80,000 being produced for service in at least fifty armies in a production run which lasted from 1960 to the early 1990s.

The M113 had a body fabricated from welded aluminium, which protected the crew (commander, driver and eleven infantrymen) from shell splinters and small-arms fire. It was powered by a diesel engine, giving a maximum speed of 64 km/h and a range of 320 km (later increased to 485 km). The infantrymen sat on two benches facing inwards, and exited through a downward-opening rear ramp. The basic vehicle was armed with a pintle-mounted 12.7 mm machine-gun, although many users mounted heavier weapons, of which the largest to enter service was a turret-mounted 76 mm gun in an Australian version. The M113 was fully amphibious with little preparation, being propelled in the water by its tracks. Apart from the normal infantry versions a large range of specialized versions were produced, including bulldozers, flame-throwers, mortar carriers, radar vehicles, anti-aircraft gun/missile carriers, command posts, anti-tank weapons carriers, and transport for engineers, communications and recovery operations.

The M113 was very successful, but one of the reasons for its longevity was the difficulty experienced in finding a successor. By the early 1960s the US army had decided on a requirement for a mechanized-infantry combat vehicle (MICV), the first attempt at which was a vehicle designated MICV-65, of which five prototypes were produced, but it was considered too large and development ceased. In 1967 the Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicle (AIFV) appeared, which was in essence an M113 adapted to meet the MICV requirement, but this too was deemed unsatisfactory and development ceased, although the design was later produced in large numbers for the Belgian and Dutch armies.

In 1972 the XM723 programme started, which was intended to lead to a vehicle which would serve in both armoured and infantry units, carrying a crew of three plus eight dismounting infantry. After many vicissitudes, repeated reviews (most of them antagonistic), much criticism and many redesigns, this programme resulted in the M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) and the initial production vehicles were eventually handed over in 1981, with the first unit forming in March 1983. Forty-one M2s were issued to each infantry battalion, where they replaced M113s, although many M113s continued to serve in other roles.

The M2 was constructed of welded aluminium with spaced, laminated armour on the front and sides, and was armed with a turret-mounted 25 mm chain-gun, a coaxial 7.62 mm machine-gun and a twin TOW anti-tank missile launcher. The vehicle crew consisted of commander, driver and gunner, and seven infantrymen were carried, of which six were provided with firing ports and periscopes. Thus, after a protracted and very expensive development process, the US army finally obtained a MICV which was only marginally better than the German Marder, which had preceded it into service by some fifteen years.

With its roots in the Vietnam era, the M2/3 Bradley fighting vehicle did not enter service with the U.S. Army until 1981. Even then, controversy swirled around its perceived combat capabilities.

At the height of the Vietnam War, the U.S. Army was seeking a replacement for its M113 armoured personnel carrier. Combat experience had revealed that the M113 was difficult to manoeuvre in jungle terrain, its high profile was susceptible to shoulder-fired anti-tank weapons such as the Soviet-made rocket-propelled grenade (RPG), and its armament was insufficient to lend substantial direct fire support to infantry.

Although there were clearly defined specifications for the new fighting vehicle that eventually became the M2/ M3 Bradley fighting vehicle, progress was slow. Some sceptics questioned its light armour protection and the real contribution its 25mm (0.98in) main weapon could make on the battlefield. The concerns raised were largely based on the poor performance of the Soviet BMP-1 troop carrier during the Yom Kippur War of 1973. Nevertheless, the requirement that a new fighting vehicle maintain offensive pace with the emerging main battle tanks of the period and the need for rapid reconnaissance and the advance of infantry to take and hold territory remained paramount.

Brokering the Bradley

Named in honour of General of the Army Omar N. Bradley, a hero of the Allied victory in World War II, the Bradley fighting vehicle weathered controversy, Congressional inquiry and funding battles on Capitol Hill before production was authorized in February 1980 and the M2/M3 entered service in 1981, a full 15 years after the research and development that produced it had begun.

The Bradley has been constructed in two basic configurations. The M2 infantry variant was initially designed to carry a crew of three and seven combat-ready infantrymen who entered and exited the vehicle through a rear access hatch. Later, the troop capacity of the M2 was reduced to six. The M3 cavalry version carries the three-man crew and a pair of scout infantrymen. Produced by BAE Systems Land and Armaments, nearly 6800 Bradleys have been built.

Calculated Combination

In keeping with the armoured equation that attempts to balance firepower, armour protection and mobility, the Bradley has been designed and steadily upgraded to perform scouting and infantry support missions. In combat during the Gulf War of 1991 and the invasion of Iraq in 2003, its tank and armoured vehicle killing prowess came into sharp focus as well.

The Bradley is powered by a Cummins VTA-903T eight-cylinder diesel engine capable of a top speed of 66km/h (41mph). Its torsion-bar suspension is adequate for rapid movement across desert sands and through marshy or uneven terrain with a power-to-weight ratio of 14.7 kilowatts (19.74hp) per ton. Armour protection is, out of necessity, light compared to main battle tanks. Spaced laminate armour and additional steel plating are sufficient to protect against small arms and shells up to 23mm (0.98in), enhancing the base protection of aluminium alloy 7017 explosive-reactive armour (ERA).

While it may be considered a light weapon, the M242 chain gun is capable of penetrating the armour of enemy vehicles firing armour-piercing ammunition with a core of dense depleted uranium. High explosive shells are effective against softer targets. The gunner chooses the appropriate ammunition through an automated remote dual selection system and is, therefore, able to engage multiple and varied targets in quick succession. The Bradley carries 900 rounds of M242 ammunition.

Anti-tank armament includes the proven TOW missile system carried in a collapsible rack on the left side of the turret. Seven missiles are routinely carried in combat zones. Infantry support is also available with a coaxial 7.62mm (0.3in) M240C machine gun with 800 rounds loaded and ready and 1540 rounds stored in reserve.

Veteran Variations

Following the Gulf War combat experience, an ODS (Operation Desert Storm) upgrade was authorized for the Bradley. Countermeasures against missiles were introduced, as well as the introduction of global positioning and digital compass systems, a tactical navigation system and better laser rangefinding equipment in the A2 variant. The A2 variant is also capable of interfacing with the Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2) command system. Infantrymen are accommodated with bench seating and heating elements for the preparation of hot meals.

With the follow-on A3 upgrade, FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared) sighting was installed along with an electro-optical imaging system and better fire control. Currently, the GCV fighting vehicle is in development following the cancellation of the earlier Future Combat Systems Manned Ground Vehicles programme in 2009. The successor to the Bradley is anticipated by the end of this decade.

LOC Performance awarded $67.6M for M2/M3 Bradley Kit Installation

Bradley M2/M3 – Tracked Armoured Fighting Vehicle

WWI Armoured Cars: 3 of 3 Parts

THE FRENCH ARMORED WHEELED VEHICLES

Already in 1902, the company C. G. V. (Charron, Girardot & Voigt) presented the first known French armored vehicle, the CGV 1902 at the Motor Show of that year. Actually, it is the adaptation of an armored cylinder in the rear seats of an ordinary automobile. The armament consisted of a Hotchkiss 8mm ma- chine gun. The vehicle was evaluated in Chalons the following year, but that eventually ended.

With the participation of Commandant Guye, the company CGV submitted to the Ministere de la Guerre the CGV modele 1906, its first entiérement Blindée Automobile de Guerre. This vehicle was evaluated in the fall of that year. The main drawback of this vehicle was its unsatisfactory power to weight ratio but did employ some successful innovations such as the engine being located inside the vehicle as well as tires that could be used for up to 10 minutes after being pierced by a bullet or something similar. It seems that the French army used four Charron armored vehicles. Russia ordered twelve vehicles and then two more to replace two that were requisitioned by the German Government in the transit to Russia via Germany.

The French Army also acquired some Mitrailleuse Hotchkiss 18 HP automobiles (1903), Panhard-Genty 24 HP (1906), Clément-Bayard (1908), Panhard 24 HP (1911) all in small quantities.

In the first weeks of the war, several Automitrailleuses Improvisées and Voiturettes Automitailleuses were created on the ground using commercial vehicles of various brands such as Delahaye, Delaunay-Belleville, Mercedes, Panhard, Peugeot, Renault, Legrand, etc.

AUTOMITRAILLEUSES BLINDÉES AND AUTOCANONS PEUGEOT

The first armored cars were hastily produced by Peugeot and modified in August 1914. They were based on a commercial vehicle, the Peugeot 4×2 153, built in series between 1913 and 1916. These early conversions used a machine gun, usually a Saint-Étienne Modéle 1907 centrally mounted on a pivot or on a tripod in the rear of the vehicle and was provided with a small shield. The first side plates were 5.5 mm and eventually applied to the entire vehicle.

In late August 1914, the Lieutenant-Lesieure Desbriere proposed to Général Gallieni, that in order to fight the Germans and their wheeled armored vehicles, they would have to convert some of the Peugeot 146 18 HP into 37mm Marine Auto Canons, giving them a small 37mm gun Modéle 1885. Things quickly got under way and the first modified vehicles fire tests were conducted on September 13 in Vincennes. Gallieni gave the order to start production of numerous vehicles armed this way. A few days later, Lesieure-Desbriere went to the Parisian factory in Saint Chamond to address the issue of the shields.

These vehicles were assigned to the Marines, organized in Groupes d’Autocanons de 37 mm de la Marine, with two sections of four vehicles, three armed with cannons and a fourth as a supply vehicle which was unarmed. Later, two Automitalleuses and a shuttle car were added to each section. Général Gallieni had decided to form 24 Groupes d’Autocanons de 37 mm, with a total of 192 Peugeot chassis although only 144 were armed. Général Joffre estimated on October 22nd that twelve groups would be enough, one for each Cavalry Division and two kept in reserve, so finally, production was reduced to 90 Auto canons de 37 mm and 31 supply cars.

As we have previously indicated, each section of the Groupes d’Autocanons of 37 mm de la Marine was assigned with two Automitailleuses. The first twelve sections were improvised vehicles equipped by five different factories. Those five factories were Renault, Peugeot, Delaunay-bel, Delhaye, and Panhard. From the seventh group on, they were standardized vehicles with Renault Automitrailleuse ED type of 18-20 HP. A hundred units were built in Lyon, whose deliveries began in late October 1914.

In December 1914, a specifically designed variant appeared. Conceived by Capitaine Renaud, this vehicle barely resembled earlier versions. It was now covered by armored plates. The radiator was protected by steel doors despite the extra weight of the shield. This was in part compensated by the use of double rear wheels. Although it was armed with a machine gun, Modéle Saint-Étienne 1907, the most common weapon was the 37mm gun, now mounted on a barbette mantlet. The replacement began in Vincennes at a rapid pace. They had numerous Peugeot type 146 chassis so that the preparation of the shield and mounting was performed in December 1914, without harming the setting up of the groups equipped with the initial model, whose late unit, the number 12 was completed on December 24. The last three groups organized were the 13éme, 14eme and 15eme Groupes d’Autocanons de 37 mm de la Marine crews completed their vehicles on January 13 1915. But, at that time, with a static front of trenches and fields of barbed wire, the task of `free hunting of German cars’ was finished so a few vehicles were used in patrols near the front, but their actions had little influence on the development of events.

On March 5, 1916 these units stopped relying on the Marina to be assigned to the 81éme Regiment d’Artillerie. Thus, the presence of armored vehicles in the Marine closes and opens another episode, although short and unfortunate, in that Auto canons and Automitailleuses were committed to the Artillery, who poorly used them. Finally, headquarters issued an instruction in which the Auto canons and Automitailleuses were to be assigned to the Cavalry with a new organization. Each group would have a Voiture de Laison blindée from an unspecified model for the group leader, and three sections each with two more Auto canons and an Automitailleuse plus a motorcycle and a car shuttle. Further armament was modified with the old 37mm modele 1885 cannon which was replaced by another of the same caliber, the Puteaux SA Semi-automatic which fired twice as fast. Ninety vehicles were requested on February 3, 1917 although it is possible some were intended for the new Ségur-Lorfeuvre. Sixty of these guns were installed with Auto canons Modele Peugeot 146, but also in some modified Renault ED Automitailleuses. Finally, Saint-Etienne 8mm Modele 1907 machine guns were replaced on vehicles that still kept them for other Hotchkiss Modele 1914 of the same caliber.

At the same time, the number of groups was adjusted due to the reduction of cavalry divisions. There were not more than seven in mid-1917 and six at end the year. In fact, 13 groups were held, two divisions and one reserve.

In 1918, they took part in the combat against the German offenses along the whole front. Afterwards, some of the armored cars from Peugeot and Renault were used in the warfare that followed this stage, although most of the fighting involved the Renault F. 17, which were more effective in difficult terrain than Peugeot with its narrow wheels. At the end of the conflict, at the time that the new White came to the units, the service unit count was 39 Renault and 28 Peugeot.

AUTOMITRAILLEUSE LEGERE D’ INFANTERIE ARCHER

When the implementation of the new Peugeot Modele 146 chassis shields were about to start, an unexpected interruption came about which com- promised the development of the planned program. This interruption was the Automitailleuses Archer, a vehicle designed by a civil mining engineer, mobilized with the rank of Sergeant J. Archer, who was also a businessman who imported American Hupmobile cars, which he considered adequate to resist the incorporation of light armor. Archer obtained from the Ministere de la Guerre, in December 1914, the Constitution of the Groupes d’Autocanons de 37 mm de la Marine with the intended material and his own ideas were submitted for evaluation. When the evaluation was completed on December 19th, a report in which it was emphasized that the Archer was but an invention that was not likely to render any service was issued. However, a second model was presented in February 1915, having very satisfactory shooting results, so four vehicles were commissioned to provide the division of General Albert Gerard Leo d’ Amade, de l’Armée d’Orient, for the Dardanelles expedition. Two other copies requested on May 27, 1915, were assigned to Détachenet d’Armée de Lorraine.

AUTOMITRAILLEUSE WHITE TBC

In November 1914, Sergeant Pierre Gasnier of Aéroanautique Militaire, pro- posed to his superiors the project of an Automitrailleuse. The project was approved on November 26, 1914 and evaluated in February 1915. The vehicle was built on the chassis of a passenger car known as the Gobron 40 HP. It was shielded with steel plates from the factory of Saint-Chamond, 5 to 7 mm thicker. The model was proposed to equip Groupes d’Autocanons 37mm de la Marine, but on June 21 they responded to this proposal that there were already a sufficient number of such vehicles in service and there were no reason for substituting the Renault ED.

But the idea of a complete shield returned on September 10, 1915, the date in which the Brigadier Marc Fabry presented to the Sous-Secretary d `État de l’Artillerie et des Munitions his project: an automobile with an armored observation tower intended to equip a long vehicle with four wheels and two driving positions. The basic objectives proposed by Fabry were to pro- vide infantry officers in the field a large observatory, protected and with a high degree of mobility. Unknowingly, Fabry had invented the artillery observation vehicle. Finally, it was thought that to support infantry in the tower, a 37 or 45mm cannon or a machine gun or even both could be mounted. So, with the approval of Général Joffre, seduced by the capacity of the tower to shoot in every direction, on February 17, 1916, Delaunay- Belleville signed a contract for the mounting of twenty double direction frames and absolute Jeffery adhesion, with steel plates provided by Saint- Chamond and the Fabry tower.

In late September 1916, the prototype was sent to the Centre d’Instruction des Automitauilleuses at Versailles. There it was found that its excessive weight of 6150 kg to the lean frame made it inappropriate for any war service. The constructed units were dedicated exclusively to training.

While the factory of Delaunay-Belleville proceeded to make the prototype, Jeffery-Fabry, one of the giants of the French automotive industry, De Dion- Bouton and Puteaux, on November 15, 1915, announced to the Minister of War their project of a Blockhaus Automobile, designed by Commandant Guye. The vehicle was completed before the end of the year and presented on February 14 1916. This vehicle was armed with a 37mm cannon firing back and a Hotchkiss machine gun firing forward. In August, the cannon was replaced by another 75mm gun. But this vehicle had certain problems, most importantly, it was not equipped with two driving positions, which at the time was considered essential, which combined with their excessive weight, nearly seven tons, disqualified it for production.

Another attempt to achieve a complete armored Automitrailleuse took place with a contract on September 28, 1915 for an Automitrailleuse Segur & Lorfeuvre on a lighter chassis frame of a Panhard K14 truck, which was delivered to the Centre d’Instruction des Automitauilleuses on May 17, 1916.

It could be armed with a machine gun or 37mm gun and could reach 50 km/h with a 16HP engine. In July 1916, an order for 50 copies, later raised to 300 in January 1917 were manufactured, but the priority was for tanks and artillery tractors so the request to Segur & Lorfeuvre was reduced to ten units on February 5, and finally being canceled.

But the urgency to find a replacement among the vehicles in service for the Groupes Automitailleuses Autocanons Cavalry, led Capitaine Castelbajac, director of the Centre d’Instruction des Automitauilleuses, to find a suit- able frame for a new Automitrailleuse and after ruling out many of the existing, he decided to use the light truck, 2 ton White TBC of American origin, of which the Army had a large number. Headquarters made available one of these vehicles to Lorfeuvre at the Centre d’Instruction des Automitauilleuses to conduct preliminary tests. On March 30, 1917 the transformation began. This transformation, along with an armored body, involved a rear driving position with a steering wheel and the installation of a tower, designed by Castelbajac, armed with a Puteaux SA 37mm cannon and an 8mm Hotchkiss machine gun. Despite the advantages of the vehicle, mass production started only in the spring of 1918, to begin manufacturing 130 units, given the impossibility of the Ministere de l’Armement to fix the number of vehicles required on 6 April, the Cavalry required 170 units. On June 29, new requests made a total of 230 required vehicles.

The First White TBC were delivered to 10eme Groupes Automitailleuses Auto canons de Cavalerie, on October 3, 1918. In practice, the vehicle Segur & Lorfeuvre had to wait almost two years to enter service, arriving just in time to participate in the occupation of the Rhineland.

WWI Armoured Cars: 2 of 3 Parts

BRITISH WHEELED ARMORED VEHICLES

The first British armored vehicles were not used by the Army, but rather the Royal Navy. In 1914 the Royal Naval Air Service had already sent a mixed squadron of aircraft and land vehicles to France and Belgium. Once there, some of the naval officers observed the use of the Belgian Minerva armored cars and decided to imitate them.

Within days, some of the passenger cars like the Rolls Royce Silver Ghost used by the RNAS, were armored in Dunkerque with plates on their sides and out-fitted with a machine gun behind the driver. The Admiralty, knowing the success of this conversion, endorsed the development of an armored car based on the Silver Ghost. By the end of 1914 there were already the first examples of armored vehicles in France which were armed with an Admiralty Model 1914 tower and up-armored with added plates with a maximum thickness of 9 mm becoming an improved version of the Silver Ghost. Crossbows were also strengthened so that they could support the extra weight added by the tower and shield. The shield was spread throughout the chassis and the tower which had a Vickers 7.7 mm machine gun. The radiator had a blast door and the roof of the tower could be removed at will.

In March 1915, the first squadrons with armored vehicles, mostly Rolls-Royce’s, had already been organized in France. These vehicles made recon- naissance patrols in the French and Belgian coastal areas until the advance to the sea of the German Army’s arrival at the Channel. Trench warfare was impossible with these vehicles. After the activity in the front was paralyzed, there was little need for the Rolls-Royce, which were used to make anti-invasion patrols in the east coast of Britain.

Shortly after, the RNAS squadrons were disbanded and transferred to the Army, which did not seem interested in them. However, Rolls-Royce armored cars were used on other fronts like the northwest frontier of India in the Gallipoli campaign, in German South West Africa, and in Uganda. However, in the desert of the Arabian Peninsula, the Rolls-Royce performed great deeds. There they proved to be safe, effective, and fast vehicles with a re- markable ability in difficult terrain.

LANCHESTER ARMORED VEHICLES

After Rolls Royce, the Lanchester was the largest of such vehicles in the RNAS squadrons. Three squadrons of twelve units were organized and sent to France. Initially these vehicles were intended for the protection of air bases and the recovery of downed pilots but gradually they began to be used in offensive missions.

In appearance, the Lanchester was very similar to Rolls Royce, especially for carrying a similar tower on its sides. When the RNAS vehicles were assigned to the Army in August 1915, it was found that the variety was too much to maintain certain operational effectiveness and an overall lack of spare parts. Ultimately it was decided to standardize the Rolls-Royce and the Lanchester was dropped. One of these squadrons was delivered to the Belgian Army and the rest returned to Britain.

In October 1915, the first squadron of the Armored Car Division of the Royal Navy was organized with these vehicles and sent to Russia. Once there, it had 22 vehicles in service and they took part in countless battles in Caucasus, Romania and Galitzia all in support of the Russian forces. Some units replaced the 7.7 mm Vickers machine gun for 37 mm Hotchkiss cannon. The Lanchester remained in service with the Russian units up to the ultimate failure of the Brusilov offensive. The Russian Empire was embroiled in civil strife culminating in the triumph of the revolution. The Lanchester no longer had any objectives to fulfill and they were shipped to Britain.

AUSTIN ARMORED CAR MODEL 1918

Since the beginning of the hostilities in 1914, the Russian Army had been using the British armored cars Austin and Austin-Putilov which were built under license.

Some 1918 model Austin armored vehicles were used by the British Tank Corps. Sixteen of them were sent to France by May 1918 and assigned to the 17th (Armoured Car) Battalion of the Tank Corps. They were armed with 8mm Hotchkiss Mle 14 machine guns. Their first introduction into combat was on June 11, 1918 where they were in support of the French troops. One of the most important battles in which they participated was the Battle of Amiens on August 8th. The vehicles were used to tow over the trenches which allowed them to operate behind German lines. They attacked the village of Farmerville which was occupied by the Germans. At least three Austin’s were lost in the campaign. In 1919, the Austin’s were used by the British in the civil war in Ireland up until 1921.

At least twenty others were sent to the Caspian Sea in February 1918, within a British unit known as the Dunsterforce, whose job was to protect Baku oil tanks from the Turks. They were operating there until November 1918 in cooperation with the White Russians. Finally, only eight remained in service while most of them were retired due to mechanical problems.

In 1919, at least 16 other vehicles were sent to India. In 1921, they were drawn into the 8th Armored Car Company of the Tank Corps. They remained there until at least 1923.

Some were used in Iraq and some of them were converted to rail vehicles after changing out their wheels. In this role they often served in pairs joined together in the rear. One of the vehicles was used to guide the entire set in one direction while the other was used to direct the vehicles the other way so as to avoid slow reverse circulation.

WWI Armoured Cars: 1 of 3 Parts

AUMOMITRAGLIATRICE ANSALDO-LANZIA IZ E IZM

The Ministerio della Guerra commissioned an engineer, Guido Corni Ansaldo, to develop an armored vehicle based on the experiences during the first months of combat on the Western Front. Ansaldo presented a project inspired by the brilliant results attained by the Belgian Army Automitrailleuses Minerva in 1914 on the chassis of the Lanzia 1Z light truck from the Italian Army, Model 1912.

The prototype tests were conducted in April 1915, after which, the Capo di Stato Maggiore, proposed the acquisition of twenty units because there were not enough Maxim machine guns to arm more than this amount of vehicles. The petition was confirmed on May 7. The first two units were delivered on June 14th, another on July 8th, and the remainder in August. On January 6, 1916, the Chief of the Supreme Command, Generale Luigi Cardona, decided to split all available armored vehicles into five Squadriglie. The first Squadriglia, with six Aumomitragliatric was assigned to the 5th Armata, the 2nd and 3rd Squadriglia, also with six vehicles, to the 1st Armata. The 4th and 5th Squadriglia, with only four Aumomitragliatrice, were assigned to the 2nd and 4th Armata.

This was an armored vehicle, with nickel steel plates of 6.5 mm equipped with a conventional compartment for the engine and the fighting compartment. The vehicle was equipped with a circular turret provided with a gun carriage for two Maxim-Vickers machine guns. Some vehicles had another small turret with another gun. This arrangement gave it considerable fire- power for the time. It also had two steel rails on the front of the top of the vehicle to cut barbed wire and downed wires.

On March 11, 1917, Ansaldo signed a contract N.ª 979 for another 12 vehicles with two turrets but with the front fenders unshielded and armed with Maxim Mod. 1911 machine guns, and another five vehicles without the top turret but with a reinforced chassis.

With this second delivery, the 4th and 5th Squadriglie now had seven vehicles and the 6th and 7th were endowed with four vehicles, including the Aumomitragliatrice Bianchi Tipo 1914 and Pallanza. Five of the Squadriglie were assigned to the 2nd Divisione di Cavalleria and another to Gruppo Ayroldi of the Corpo d’Armata speciale of General Di Giorgio.

After the unexpected loss suffered by the Squadriglie during the unfortunate 12th Battle of the Isonzo and the subsequent retreat to Piave, only 28 Aumomitragliatrice Lanzia 1Z remained. This forced the Ministerio delle Munizioni to urge Ansaldo to construct another 65 Aumomitragliatrice and later was petitioned to raise the number to 100 copies on January 13, 1918. The construction of these vehicles, which was performed with plates that were 8mm thick, was not without problems, especially the lack of guns, so the 6.5 mm Maxim machine guns had to be replaced by 8mm Saint-Étienne Mod. 1907.

The first 17 units were delivered in April 1918. Ten deliveries continued into July, 18 in August, 10 in September, 10 in October, 10 in November and 16 in December. Bringing the number of vehicles to 101.

In anticipation of these new units, the Squadriglie number was reduced to four, the 1st, 2nd, 5th and 6th. In October 1918, the 1st Reggimento Artiglieria da Fortezza informed the Supreme Command that it had 88 new armored Ansaldo-Lanzia vehicles and that with 77 of them had endowed the Squadriglie numbers three through fifteen. Another ten went to the 1st Reggimento Marcia Mitraglieri de Mira and subsequently Squadriglie number 16, 17 and 18.

The Battle of Vittorio Veneto (October 23 to November 2, 1918) developed in northern Italy near the present border with Austria, led to the final defeat of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In it, the Squadriglie participated in the persecution of the enemy and the occupation of Istria in Dalmatia.

In 1919, twenty-two of these vehicles were part of the troops of Gabriele D’Annunzio when he led Italian nationalists from Fiume, currently known as Rijeka in Croatia, who seized it and forced the withdrawal of American, French, and British troops who occupied it. They intended to annex Fiume to Italy again but the request was denied. After the war, the Lanzia IZ and IZM remained in service until World War II, both in Libya and Albania. One detachment was sent to Spain during the Civil War, forming part of the Corpo Truppe Volontarie.

RUSSIA

We can say that light armored vehicles were built only in small quantities. With many imported parts, ultimately, adaptations of trucks and tractors to meet military needs and were used in a irregular manner for several reasons: lack of employment doctrine, ignorance of their capabilities, the military chiefs did not know of its existence or despised their use and, finally, their capabilities on the road and their shields weren’t actually suitable for military use in a scenario as complex as the East European front.

Construction of such vehicles began near the beginning of the war. The same day, August 17, 1914, General Suchomlinov, Minister of Military Affairs, and Colonel Dobrzanski called and ordered him to train and equip a “battery of guns on armored cars.” This task was carried out in record time and already on October 19, 1914, the First Auto-machine guns Vehicle Company at 2nd Army was sent.

The Russo-Baltique Wagon Automobile Co. was the only factory in Russia with heavy vehicle production capabilities, and it was consistent with the previous requirements for civilian production, and therefore their ability to adapt and new product orders was very slow, so that the number of vehicles produced was very low. The Chiefs decided to send a buying commission to France and England, under the direction of Colonel Siekrietev, Commander of the Motor Company, that would facilitate the purchase of the chassis.

The result was the construction of 48 armored chassis based on the Austin brand, 40 vehicles based on the Renault chassis, and only one Isotta Fraschini chassis. The material began arriving for assembly in December 1914 and soon after was already operating the first Austin auto-firing machine guns, which would be the backbone of the “Pulemetny Avtomobilny Vzvod” or PAW. Its use in operations soon exposed its insufficient 4mm of shielding armor which was replaced at the end of 1915, in Izorski factory, by another 7mm Russian. Also, experience in battle exposed the need for vehicle manufacturers to not only install auto-machine guns, but also auto-cannons.

To meet this need, in early 1915, work began on an American Armored Car called the Garford 4 ton in the Putilov factory. They were armed with 76 mm cannons and three machine guns. According to a new tactic distribution, each platoon of armored vehicles should be equipped with two armored tanks with machine guns and one cannon.

During the spring of 1915, the first transports of disassembled Renault armored vehicles began to arrive. These were equipped with a machine gun but lacked full armor and did not meet the requirements established by the Commission of Armored Vehicles.

Some of them were used in the supply of armored vehicles and the other 11 were taken to the Izorski factory in order to armor them, according to the design of Captain Mgiebrov. Finally, there were 16 armored cars according to Captain Mgiebrov.

Gradually, in the Izorski Factory, in Russo-Baltique Wagon Co. and in A. Bratolyubov workshops in St. Petersburg completed another 11 vehicles with chassis from Pierce-Arrow, Benz, Isotta Fraschini and Russo-Balt “E”. And then another 10 Russo-Balt and one Renault.

When assigned, four of them were considered unfit for service, six were armed with 37mm Hotchkiss cannons and were assigned to an armored rail- road platoon. While in the factory, Obukhowski had three cars that were being shielded under the direction of Captain Bylinski of Staff, two based on a Mercedes chassis (with engines 45 and 50 hp), and one in the Lloyd chassis.

At first they were designed for joint military action with cavalry units. The armored car Lloyd had two turrets with Maxim machine guns, and the Mercedes had one. The last two were also armed with a 37mm cannon in the lower rear of the hull. A unique feature of these vehicles was the use of light armor made  of chrome-nickel-vanadium and the then-new suspension system “Asteering” on the rear pair of wheels. With these vehicles, the 25th Platoon of auto-machine guns was formed.

During the remainder of 1915 and early 1916, 161 vehicles from Allied countries came to Russia. Of these, 60 were based on the chassis of the Second Series of Austin, 10 were Armstrong-Whitworth-Jarrot, 30 vehicles Armstrong-Whitworth-Fiat, 25 vehicles Sheffield-Simplex, and 35 vehicles from British Army factory of Engines and Trucks. However, only the Austin were really usable for military requirements.

BELGIUM

The Belgian Army was the front-runner when it came to the use of armored vehicles in combat. They showed the other fighters how they could be used, anticipating the campaigns movements that would be frequent during World War II.

Although the automobile industry was already flourishing in 1914, the Belgian Army was devoid of vehicles. They were limited to eight courier bikes they acquired between 1910-1911 for the `Battalion des Carabiniers Cyclistes’. Four `Auto-Mixte’ were acquired in 1910 for `Compagnie Spéciale des Telégraphistes’ of the `Regiment du Genie Anvers’, designed to supply electricity to wireless telegraphy stations along with four Bovy trucks, four Pipe Trucks, and some Ambulances and Staff. As soon as the Germans invaded Belgium, the army was provisioned with vehicles requisitioning those of their fellow citizens.

As for the armored vehicles, there was not the slightest trace of them before 1914.

The first were given by Lieutenant Charles Henkart. He gave his unit two vehicles, a Pipe Truck and an Opel shielded by the Minerva factory in Antwerp with 4 mm thick plates from the naval arsenal in Cockerill Hoboken and armed with Lewis recovery guns.

The first two vehicles were followed soon by others with more elaborate armor and dual rear wheels to better support the extra weight imposed by the shield but retained the same general characteristics. In total, there were between 25 and 30 units built. In August 1914. The Minerva vehicles formed a `Groupe d’Auto Mitrailleuses’, which were distributed in Escuadrilles from the Headquarters and `Divisions d’Armée’ and the `Division of Cavalerie’.

But this period of movement did not last long, in October 1914 they began digging trenches in Yser, and at this point the Belgian Army stalled until 1918. The area was too wet and swampy for the armored vehicles to be used effectively. As a result, their activity decreased markedly and now they were merely used for protection of communication lines even though during the few weeks that they had been in action, they demonstrated the effectiveness of these types of vehicles for war movements. The Belgian example was copied directly by the British Royal Naval Air Service and the Germans also imitated them, leading them to their decision to manufacture their own armored cars.

While the Western Front became an impossible terrain for armored wheeled vehicles, the Belgian Army organized an expeditionary unit to operate in Russia against the Germans. This unit was organized in November 1914 at the initiative of Baron Pierre de Caters. The unit was composed of voluntary personnel known as `Corps d’Autos-Canons-Mitrailleuses’ and was equipped and trained in Paris. It was organized by two `Batteries de Blindées’ (1st and 2nd) each provided with two Automitrailleuses on a Mors 20/30 HP chassis, armed with Hotchkiss 8mm machine guns and three Auto-canons as well as a Mors 40 HP chassis, armed with a rapid fire 37mm cannon from the French Marine, along with other cars and trucks. The third Battery of resupply was equipped with 26 trucks and cars. It was composed by a Section of 23 Indian and Harley-Davidson motorcycles, some with sidecars. The 5th Battery (Russian) had four cars and two trucks.

In 1915, it was transferred to Russia under the name of `Corps Expéditionaire Belge des Auto- canons Mitrailleuses’ in Galicie. There, the Belgian vehicles rendered excellent services until the outbreak of the 1917 revolution and they were subsequently shipped back.

Back to the front of the Yser, in early 1915, the Belgian Army received some Lanchester armored vehicles provided by the RNAS, the Minerva’s already in service, and 2 or 3 armored Sheffield-Simplex vehicles acquired in Britain, it was enhanced `Groupe d’Auto Canons – Mitrailleuses’ which was assigned to the `Corps de Cavalerie’ on August 12, 1915.

On December 20, 1916, the `Groupe d’Autos Canons Mitrailleuses’ was dissolved. The Lanchester returned to the British Army and the remaining vehicles were divided between the Armored Divisions and `Divisions d’Armée Cavalerie’. Finally, in September 1917, each of the six `Divisions d’Armée’ of the Quartier Général disposed of two `Escuadrilles d’ Automitrailleuses’, while the Grand Quartier Général had four. Meanwhile, a `Groupe d’autosblindées’ was framed in the 1st `Division of Cavalerie’ with eight Automitrailleuses and three auto-canons. The 2nd `Division of Cavalerie’ only had a Automitrailleuses. The reorganization of the Army on January 24, 1918 abolished the 2nd `Division of Cavalerie’, but the other units actively participated in the Great Offensive of 1918.