Military Parade of Emperor Paul in front of Mikhailovsky Castle painting by Alexandre Benois
Paul made several idiosyncratic and deeply unpopular
attempts to reform the army. Under Catherine’s reign, Grigori Potemkin
introduced new uniforms that were cheap, comfortable, and practical, and
designed in a distinctly Russian style. Paul decided to fulfil his predecessor
Peter III’s intention of introducing Prussian uniforms. Impractical for active
duty, these were deeply unpopular with the men, as was the effort required to
maintain them. His love of parades and ceremony was not well-liked either. He
ordered that Wachtparad (“Watch parades”) take place early every
morning in the parade ground of the palace, regardless of the weather
conditions. He would personally sentence soldiers to be flogged if they made a
mistake, and on one occasion ordered a Guards regiment to march literally to
Siberia after they became disordered during maneuvers, although he changed his
mind after they had walked about 10 miles (16 km). He attempted to reform the
organization of the army in 1796 by introducing The Infantry Codes, a series of
guidelines for the army based largely upon show and glamour. But his greatest
commander, Suvorov, completely ignored them, believing them to be worthless.
Paul strove to reshape the Russian army in the Prussian
fashion, introducing strict discipline and ridiculous wigs for soldiers. These
reforms fed discontent among officers and ordinary soldiers alike.
Among his first steps was the summoning of all guardsmen to
their regiments, which brought several surprising details to light. Most
officers had actually been in their country estates or villages deserting their
regiments, where they had also enlisted their children, whose ages were often
given as 18 when they were in fact not even 10. The widespread practise of
enrolling the nobles’ infants into the army to provide them with a ‘deserved’
officer rank by the age of 16 – 17 was forbidden.
Paul also forbade army officers from coming to military
exercises in their six or four horse driven carriages and wear fur coats or
muffs, as this was not part of their uniform. To avoid freezing in cold weather
(the average temperature in St. Petersburg in February 1799 was minus 37C)
officers had to wear woolen sweaters beneath their jackets or line them with
Russian soldiers were notorious for their fighting capacity
and staying power: prior to the campaign of 1812 Napoleon’s worst experience on
the battlefield had come at the hands of General Bennigsen at the battle of
Eylau, whilst in the Seven Years’ War Frederick the Great had repeatedly been
very roughly handled by the green-coated soldiers of the Empress Elizabeth,
gaining an extremely pyrrhic victory over them at Zorndorf in 1758 and going
down to ignominious defeat at Kunersdorf in 1759. Other Russian victories from
the same war numbered Gross-Jägersdorf and Kay, whilst in 1799 General
Suvorov’s invasion of Switzerland had seen Russian troops gain a series of
dramatic successes: on 1 October, for example, 5000 troops under General
Rosenberg had utterly defeated a column of more than twice as many Frenchmen
under no less a figure than André Masséna, a general who is always rated as one
of Napoleon’s greatest commanders. In all this the self-same factors generally
identified as the mainspring of Russian patriotism in 1812 had made an
appearance. Thus, throughout the eighteenth-century commanders such as
Rumiantsev and Suvorov had made every effort to play on the devotion of the
soldiery to the Orthodox faith and to instill love of the tsar. In this respect
it is the opinion of some historians that they appear to have had at least some
Three months after the first battle of Zurich, a reinforced
Marshal Massena’s found himself in another unenviable position of having to
fend off vastly greater numbers of Russians under the legendary Field Marshal
Suvarov. The French commander, however, acted with a Bonapartish style and,
after sending a small force to slow Suvarov’s progress through the passes,
rounded on the other Russian army under General Alexander Korsakov. He smashed
into the Russians and scattered them, causing 8000 casualties and capturing
supplies, baggage and cannons. Then, Massena turned on Suvarov and in a
brilliant offensive operation drove him away – killing, wounding and capturing
almost 14,000 Russians.
The Second Battle of Zürich (25-26 September 1799) was a
French victory over an Austrian and Russian force near Zürich. It broke the
stalemate that had resulted from the First Battle of Zürich three months
earlier and led to the withdrawal of Russia from the Second Coalition.
“A Long Road Home”: Russian Prisoners in France,
Eman M. Vovsi
There were several reasons – economic, practical and
personal – why Russia participated in the Second Coalition. First, Bonaparte’s
Egyptian expedition 1798-1801 threatened Russia’s exports at the Mediterranean
to market in Europe and elsewhere. Second, Russia had been excluded from the
Second Congress of Rastatt, opening in December 1797 (where Russia, since 1779,
traditionally should have had a seat), which followed in the wake of the Treaty
of Campo-Formio, 17 October 1797, regulating some territorial questions between
France and Austria (as part of the Holy Roman Empire). Finally, the seizure of
Malta by the French at the end of June 1798 – where Tsar Paul I had been the
Protector of the Order of the Knights of the St. John since 1797 – was seen as
an additional expansion of the French hegemony in the Mediterranean. Thus,
Russian armies were sent to Europe – mainly to collaborate in the restoration
of the old pre-Revolutionary order.
According to the treaty with Austria – a major initiator of
the Second Coalition against France’s encroachment in Italy – Russia sent her
forces under overall command of Field Marshal Alexander V. Suvorov to support
the Habsburgs. However, these troops did not come to Italy all at once. The
corps under General of Infantry Diedrich Arend von Rosenberg (originally
21,976) arrived in mid-April 1799, while Lt.-General Maxim Woldemar von
Rehbinder’s corps (10,489) – only in June. Additionally, a corps under
Lt.-General Ivan Hermann von Fersen (17,736) was sent to assist the British in
their invasion of Holland, where the French had established a satellite
Batavian Republic. Finally, Lt.-General Alexander M. Rimsky-Korsakov’s corps
(32,399) was sent to join the Austrian troops under Archduke Karl against the
French army commanded by General André Masséna operating in Switzerland.
While the victories of Field Marshal Suvorov’s in North
Italy over the French Republican armies of Generals Jacques Macdonald and Jean
Victor Moreau are well known, the fate of the Russian soldiers who fell into
captivity during the unsuccessful operations in Switzerland and Holland,
remains little known and therefore merits an in-depth look. The following
article will try to consider the following three basic questions: how many
Russian prisoners were there? what was their experience of captivity, and did
this captivity correspond with the existing norms of international law?
finally, what was the fate of these prisoners in the wake of France’s First
Consul Napoleon Bonaparte’s sudden rapprochement with the Russian Emperor, Paul
I, who agreed to reestablish Franco-Russian diplomatic relations?
Unfortunately, there is a dearth of documents and studies on
this topic. French archival documents dealing specifically with the Russian
prisoners are yet to be discovered. By far the most comprehensive source on the
subject is Istoria voiny Rossii s Franciei v tzarstvovanie Imperatora Pavla I v
1799 [History of Russia’s War against France during the Reign of Emperor Paul I
in 1799], a vast multi-volume study undertaken by the Russian general officer
and historian, Dmitry Milyutin, in 1852-53 and 1857. Utilizing Russia and some
French archival documents, this work offers detailed analysis of military
operations but has only a brief discussion of the fate of the Russian prisoners
taken in Switzerland and Holland. By contrast, General Frédéric Koch’s Mémoires
de Masséna (1849) provides only general observations and imprecise numbers on
operations of General André Masséna in Switzerland in 1799. Equally
disappointing are British sources assembled by Edward Walsh in his The
Expedition to Holland in the Autumn of the Year 1799 (1800), which concentrates
primarily on military operations, the aftermath and following
Anglo-French-Dutch (Batavian) peace negotiations.
However, with the help of an integral approach and
‘microhistory,’ we may glean sufficient information from existing primary and
secondary sources to allow for a reconstruction of the experiences of the
Russian POWs and the subsequent work of the Russian and French governments
towards their release.
In September 1799, according to the new war plan, Field
Marshal Suvorov – fresh from his great victory over the French at Novi in North
Italy (15 August) – advanced through the St. Gothard Pass with some 28,000 men
into Southern Switzerland to relieve the army of Archduke Karl which was
supported by the Russian troops under Lt.-General Rimsky-Korsakov (about 27,000
men). Suvorov ordered Rismky-Korsakov to block French troops under General
Masséna (over 35,000 in close proximity) by attacking them frontally between
Zurich and Glarus – until the main Russian army could properly deploy and take
the French in rear. However, Massena anticipated this maneuver and, on 25
September, he attacked Rimsky-Korsakov in strength and routed his force.
The two-day battle had cost the Russian army nearly 3,000
killed and wounded; 26 guns, 51 artillery wagons and 9 colors were also lost.
Many Russian wounded found a shelter at a nearby monastery
and the farm houses of Einsiedeln (north of modern Schwyz), where monks and
local farmers, hostile to the French soldiers, attended to their needs until
victorious French entered the city and declared all wounded as prisoners of
Meanwhile, some eight hundred kilometers northwest of
Zurich, the Russian corps under Lt.-General Hermann von Fersen supported the
British expeditionary force commanded by the Prince Frederick, Duke of York and
Albany, in a joint invasion of North Holland. After two indecisive battles at
Bergen (19 and 21 September 1799), the Allies went on the offensive, on 6
October 1799, against the Franco-Batavian army, commanded by General Guillaume
Brune, at Castricum. After several unsuccessful assaults, the Allies were
forced to retreat losing over 3,400 men. Disheartened by this setback, the Duke
of York informed General Brune of his readiness to negotiate an armistice. By
the convention signed on 18 October at Alkmaar, the Allied forces returned the
French and Dutch prisoners and evacuated Holland, the Russian contingent being
taken aboard the British vessels to the islands of Jersey and Guernsey.
As of April 1800, there were 11,238 Russian soldiers and
officers on those British islands, all that remained of the 17,736 soldiers and
officers who had originally set off on this Dutch misadventure.
The defeat in Holland, which had a profound effect on
Emperor Paul I, was blamed on the British failure to cooperate, just as the
Russian setbacks in Switzerland was explained by the “treacherous” behavior of
Austria. Field Marshal Suvorov personally wrote to the Austrian Emperor Francis
II requesting the proper exchange of prisoners, including the Russians taken by
the French in Italy and Switzerland. Yet, responding on behalf of his master,
the Austrian Director of Foreign Affairs, Baron Johann Amadeus Franz de Paula
von Thugut, had refused to take part in it. He wrote that the Russian troops in
Switzerland were acting while placed under British financial subsidies and that
therefore Britain should shoulder responsibility for these prisoners. Further
discussions between Russian and Austrian officials proved to be in vain.
On 22 October 1799, Emperor Paul I, incensed by the Austrian
behavior, announced his decision to withdraw from the coalition and ordered his
armies to return to Russia.
But for Russian soldiers and officers who had been captured
in Switzerland and Holland, the road home soon took an unusual turn.
The precise number of the Russian prisoners of war remains
debated. Field Marshal Suvorov’s report stated that “no more than 300 men were
taken prisoners in Italy and about 1,000 in Switzerland” but this document is
most definitely incomplete.
Dictating his reminiscences during his exile on St.-Helena,
Napoleon claimed that there were between 8,000 and 10,000 Russian military
personnel of various ranks taken prisoner during the Italian, Switzerland and
Holland campaigns in summer-autumn 1799.
More reliable are Russian archival documents that list
Russian prisoners being held in France (along with wounded and those who died
in captivity), as of January 1801:
Gottlieb von der Osten-Sacken; five Major-Generals: Markov, Likoshin, Nechaev,
Garin and Kharlamov (died in prison);
16 staff officers
(4 of which died in prison) and 150 company grade officers (14 died in prison);
6,628 NCOs and
rank-and-file, including 2,459 wounded
Thus, the total number was 6,800 general officers, officers,
NCOs and soldiers.
To this should be added Lt.-General Hermann von Fersen, who
was taken prisoner along with his staff, and some 1,500-2,000 Russian POWs
taken after the two battles of Bergen in September 1799 (total losses killed,
wounded and missing in action estimated at over 4,000). Furthermore, an unknown
number of Russian soldiers and officers were also taken prisoner after the
final Anglo-Russian defeat at the Battle of Castricum, 6 October 1799. At a
local town –now Egmond aan Zee – the Russians left 216 of their wounded who,
most likely, were also declared prisoners by victorious Franco-Batavian
The majority of them was imprisoned on the territory of the
Batavian republic. Therefore, the total number of the Russian prisoners
including wounded could be estimated well over 8,000 men of all ranks.
How did the French treat their prisoners of wars during the
numerous campaigns against the forces of European monarchies? If toward the
last decades of the Old Regime the treatment of prisoners among the major
European countries was more or less civilized – albeit captured officers were
often treated more “nobly” than the rank-and-file – that the outbreak of the
war in April 1792 changed the French attitude towards the first prisoners, such
as Austrians, Prussians, Croatians, etc. Attempting to apply ideals of the
Enlightenment to the harsh reality of war, the French government called for
humane treatment of prisoners. One of the first regulations, issued in early
May 1792, called for gathering prisoners in specially organized localities some
thirty miles from the frontier under “the safeguard of the nation against
violence and rigorous treatment.”
Furthermore, the law of 25 May 1793 established modes of the
prisoner exchanges, excluding from it all émigrés and deserters. Another
document, issued a year later, organized the first special depots, which were
to receive, organize and manage prisoners. Finally, on 3 May 1799, the
Directory issued a decree regarding treatment of enemy prisoners detained in
France: each soldier and NCO was to receive a food ration and a monetary
stipend according to his rank as if he was on the active duty; officers were to
receive payments in the amount equivalent to an inactive French officer’s
payment of corresponding rank. Additionally, this decision called for
establishment of a commission on exchanging prisoners, though it was limited to
the Austrian prisoners only.
Where were the Russian POWs detained? By 1800, all French
field forces – and all French field forces – and their prisoners, taken in
numerous campaigns – were dispersed amongst twenty-six divisions militaires
(military districts) that stretched from Brussels to the Eastern Pyrenees, and
from Paris to Marseilles – and soon, beyond. Since March 1790, the entire
French territory was divided, administratively, into départements (102 by
1800/1801) presided over by civil officials; the military districts, which
usually covered from two to five départements, were commanded by experienced
general officers and members of military administration appointed directly by
the Consular government. They were to act as liaisons between the civil and
military authorities, a task that included observation of territorial
administration and postal services, supervision of conscription and military
command in towns and fortresses, controlling units either stationed in or
marching through the territory; they were also responsible for prisoners
detained in their respective districts in special depots (soldiers) or under
house arrest (officers).
Commanders of military districts corresponded directly with
the Bureau of Prisoners and Foreign Deserters at the War Ministry in Paris,
which oversaw the situation by furnishing necessary funds, selecting depots and
residences, organizing exchanges of POWs or administering the parolees.
Regarding the Russian prisoners detained in France, the
Fourth Military District, led by sixty-six year old General of Division Joseph
Gilot, bore the brunt of responsibility.
With its headquarters in Nancy, his district included
north-eastern départements of Meurthe and Vosges where most of the POWs were
gathered as a result of military campaigns in Italy and Switzerland.
Additionally, Lt.-General Hermann and some of his officers were imprisoned at
the Lille fortress (modern département Nord). Being desperate, he requested
from General Brune’s permission to leave on parole; the French commander, in
turn, forwarded Hermann’s request to First Consul Bonaparte. In response,
Bonaparte’s Minister of War, General Alexander Berthier demanded the release of
general officers Emmanuel de Grouchy, Catherine Dominique Pérignon, Louis de
Colli-Ricci and others, all taken prisoner during Suvorov’s Italian campaign in
The formal exchange of prisoners began in summer 1800 when
First Consul Bonaparte firmly secured his position after victory at Marengo, 14
June; the French General of Brigade Joseph Julhien, in the service of the
Cisalpine Republic (Milan), was put in charge of this mission, but his
authority was limited to Franco-Austrian exchanges. After the armistice,
Austria was neutralized and the First Consul, feeling the change of political
climate and, no doubt, planning to enforce the Franco-Russian rapprochement –
one of the foundations of his early foreign policy – took this issue further.
Thus, in a letter to the commander of the Fourth Military District, General
Gilot, dated 24 June 1800, the new French War Minister Lazar Carnot, writing on
behalf of the First Consul, outlined the following instructions regarding the
Russian officers in captivity:
of the First Consul is that all Russians, who felt victims by the destiny of
our arms, shall be looked after for their unfortunate fate and courage. You
shall personally seek to uphold the French conduct in this regard. The officers
of this nation now are coming under special consideration of the First Consul.
Their bravery, loyalty and delicate situation, which they undertook while in
detention, shall be held in high esteem.
He does not
make distinction [between the French and Russian officers – E.V.] by allowing
them to settle in Paris and hoping that they would find it pleasant; he also
would like to grant an audience to those of them who wish to request so.
deliver contents of this letter to the Russian officers who are detained within
the borders of your military district and order the issuance of traveling
documents to those who would request it.”
Soon, as an ice-breaker, Lt.-General Osten-Sacken received a
personal letter form the War Minister Carnot on a free lodging in Paris while
on parole, which confirmed First Consul’s good will and a hope that “the French
people would express their trust and good intentions toward the Russian
More overtures followed. Since Russian foreign ministers
were forbidden from directly engaging with Republican France’s representatives,
French Foreign Minister Charles Maurice Talleyrand used his alternative
diplomatic channels in Hamburg to deliver, on 18 July 1800, an official letter
to Russian Vice-Chancellor Nikita Panin. This letter, besides placing blame on
both Britain and Austria for the previous conflicts, served as a chivalrous
gesture. First Consul Bonaparte offered, without any compensation, to return
all Russian prisoners held in France. At the same time, the Russian mission in
Berlin received a proposal from the Batavian Republic in which its government
expressed willingness to release Russian prisoners captured during the Holland
This offer of prisoner exchanges marked not only a formal
end of the War of the Second Coalition but, as far as Russia was concerned, it
led to a veritable diplomatic revolution. Tsar Paul I, who felt embittered
towards his erstwhile allies, was won over by this sudden show of empathy from
his former enemy. Starting in August 1800, Berlin was chosen as a place for
negotiations between French and Russian representatives whereas the Prussian
Foreign Minister Christian August Heinrich Curt von Haugwitz acted as a general
mediator. During its sessions, the French minister plenipotentiary in Berlin,
General of Division Pierre Riel Beurnonville confirmed that since both Austria
and Britan refused to exchange the Russian POWs, First Consul Bonaparte was
willing “while paying respect to the brave Russian troops,” to release them
without any conditions or obligations from the Russian Tsar.
At first, Bonaparte’s original offer to release the Russian
POWs was met with a rather cool response from the Russian tsar who replied that
he could only accept it on the understanding that these troops would swear not
to fight against France. He wanted to avoid any imputation of an unconditional
However, this response marked a good start for the
negotiations; the Tsar soon communicated, through his minister in Berlin, Baron
Burghard-Alexis Krüdner, that he was grateful for the French offer and that he
would send Göran Magnus Sprengtporten, a Russian general of mixed
Finnish-Swedish origins who was well known for his pro-French sympathies.
Sprengtporten’s mission to Paris was not limited to just negotiating the return
of the Russian prisoners; Sprengtporten was, in fact, instructed to try to
improve Franco-Russian relations, as well. The Russian Tsar’s state of mind is
well illustrated in the instructions which were given to Sprengtporten:
[Russian] Emperor participated in the coalition with the aim of giving
tranquility to the whole of Europe. He withdrew when he saw the powers were
aiming at aggrandizements which his loyalty and disinterestedness could not
allow, and as the two states of France and of Russia are not in position, owing
to the distance [separating them], to do each other any harm, they could by
uniting and maintaining harmonious relations between themselves, hinder the
other powers from adversely affecting their interests through their envy or
desire to aggrandize and dominate.”
Besides technicalities regarding the Russian POWs, General
Sprengtporten was also told to to form two infantry regiments out of the
prisoners of war; it was generally understood that in the event that Malta fell
to the English, the island would be occupied by Russian, English and Neapolitan
troops. But when British Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson took Malta on 4 September
1800, he announced that he intended to hold the island until a peace conference
could determine its future. A senior Russian officer was dispatched to take
over the newly formed regiments who, freshly armed and accounted, were to be
used to garrison Malta once the island had been recovered from the British.
This, however, did not happen, and Malta remained the apple
of discord which eventually led to the rupture of the Peace of Amiens and the
formation of the Third Coalition.
Meanwhile, Tsar Paul issued new instructions to General
Sprengtporten, who was told to lead former Russian POWs back to Russia; all
generals, staff and company-grade officers were to be reassigned to their
respective units while preserving their previous ranks and seniority. While in
exile on St. Helena, Napoleon reminisced that all Russian officers received
their swords back; Russian prisoners were reunited at Aix-la-Chapelle/Aachen
where they supposedly received new uniforms, equipment and armament made at
However, until today, no precise information has been
retrieved from the French archives that such new uniforms (subject to Tsar Paul
I regulation issued in mid-December 1796) along with new elements of equipment
and flags had been, in fact, made. Furthermore, there is no information
regarding the exact departure of the Russian POWs from France. General
Sprengtporten’s diary, which he submitted to the Topographical Department of
the War Ministry, stops after the 6 March 1801 entry when the column was
probably already on the march to Russia. Some of these soldiers and officers
would eventually return to France – either as new prisoners of the 1805-07
campaigns or as victors, such as general officers Osten-Sacken and Markov, in
1814. They certainly remembered the humane treatment by the French inhabitants
and officials during their days of misfortune and tried to pass these good
memories on to their soldiers.
Engineer-General Karl Andreevich Schilder is credited with
having constructed the first submarine in Russia with an iron hull. Built at
the Alexandrovsky Works plant in St. Petersburg and completed in May 1834. The
boat had an egg-shaped form, two towers with access hatches and was equipped
with an optical viewing tube, one of the first periscope devices for
submersibles. An armament of mines and two triple-tube mountings for launching
rocket projectiles was to be provided. To defeat an enemy vessel by using the
mine it was necessary to stick a core of the mine in a hull, to move away to a
safe distance and to blow up the mine by electric fuse.
Trails took place in September 1834 on the Neva River and
the nearby island of Kronshtadt in the Gulf of Finland. The craft demonstrated
an ability to submerge and was judged quite successful. An improvement version,
equipped with diving plane to help control the craft underwater, was
constructed in 1835, and with this second boat Schilder successfully destroyed
a target ship with a mine in July 1838.
Trails with this boat were regularly conducted near
Kronshtadt through 1841, but after some unexplained failure during trails in
the fall of that year, Schilder was ordered to halt further experiments-as the
boat was recognized unable for combat purposes. Lieutenants Zhmelev and
Adamopulo were the first submarine commanders in Russia.
Specifications Schilder’s design (1834):
Displacement (srf/sub tons): un known
Dimensions (L*B*D feet): 19’8*4’11*6’6
Propulsion: man-powered “vanes”, akin to fish fins
Speed (srf/sub knots): un known /1.5
Range (srf/sub n/miles@knots): un known
Diving depth (feet): 40
Complement: 1 crew member
triple-tube mountings for launching rocket projectiles
Karl Andreevich Schilder
Born Dec. 27, 1785 (Jan. 7, 1786), in the village of
Simanovo, in what is now Nevel’ Raion, Pskov Oblast; died June 11 (23), 1854,
in Călărasi, Rumania. Russian military engineer. General of the engineers
(1852); adjutant general.
Shilder graduated from a school for column leaders in 1806
and served in the engineer troops as commander of a sapper company and a
battalion and as chief of engineers of a corps and of an army. He fought in the
battle of Austerlitz (1805), the defense of Bobruisk (1812), the Russo-Turkish
War of 1828–29, and the Crimean War of 1853–56. He distinguished himself in
action during the siege of Varna in 1828, the sieges of Silistra and Sumla in
1829, and the forcing of the Danube in 1854. Shilder died of wounds received at
Silistra during the Crimean War of 1853–56.
Shilder developed a new and more effective system of
countermining, using horizontal and inclined passages rather than vertical
shafts. He also devised antipersonnel mines, stone fougas-ses, and canister
mines. He produced an original design for a suspended rope bridge in 1828 and a
“wineskin bridge” of quickly assembled, portable pontoons made of rubberized
canvas in 1836. Between 1832 and 1836, Shilder and P. L. Shilling developed a
method of setting off powder charges electrically. Between 1838 and 1848, Shilder
and B. S. Iakobi built electrochemical and electrochemical-contact naval mines.
Shilder provided the designs for the world’s first all-metal submarine, built
in 1834, and the Otvazhnost’, built in 1846; the world’s first steamship armed
with artillery and rockets, the Otvazhnost’ was a prototype of the destroyer.
Among Shilder’s students were the talented engineers E. I. Totleben and M. M.
Maziukevich, M. N. Zhizn’ i sluzhba general-ad”iutanta K. A.
Shildera. St. Petersburg, 1876.
Iakovlev, V. V. Kratkii ocherk istoriipodzemnoi minnoi
voiny. Moscow, 1938.
Mordovia and Yevgeniy Kocheshkov landing in
The Russian Navy will get an additional 16 warships,
according to the country’s United Shipbuilding Corporation that has been
contracted by the defence department to deliver the vessels – although they
will not all be new.
Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said that the Navy was to get
seven new combat ships, including four submarines and seven repaired ones.
Among the repair projects, at the Yantar Shipyard on the Baltic coast, the
world’s largest air-cushion amphibious assault ship Mordovia. The Project 12322
`Zubr’ air-cushion small amphibious assault ship Mordovia entered service with
the Baltic Fleet in October 1991. The ship’s role is to provide heavy sealift
support to amphibious operations.
The warship can also transport and deploy sea mines. The
air-cushion design allows the ship to move over the ground. The warship can
transport three tanks or ten armoured personnel carriers or eight infantry fighting
vehicles. But the huge radar signature
of the Zubr makes them unsuitable for covert operations and they require significant
logistical support in fuel and maintenance.
The Zubr class (Project 1232.2, NATO reporting name
“Pomornik”) is a class of air-cushioned landing craft (LCAC). This class of
military hovercraft is, as of 2012, the world’s largest, with a standard full
load displacement of 555 tons. The hovercraft is designed to sealift amphibious
assault units (such as marines and tanks) from equipped/non-equipped vessels to
non-equipped shores, as well as transport and plant naval mines.
There are ten Zubr-class hovercraft in service. There are
two vessels in the Russian Navy and four with the Hellenic Navy. In 2009, China
placed an order for four vessels from Ukraine [order transferred to Russia now]
as part of a deal worth 315 million USD. Two updated versions of the vessels
were built by Crimea’s Feodosia Shipbuilding Company, followed by two advanced
models of the surface warship.
The purchase of HS Cephalonia (L 180) for the Hellenic Navy
marked the first time a Soviet-designed naval craft had been built for a NATO
In June 2017, Russia announced it was restarting production
of the Zubr-class craft. Representatives from the Russian shipbuilding industry
soon after responded by stating production could not possibly resume in 2018
and would only be possible by 2019–2021, refuting the government position.
Representatives cited the lack of availability of and inability to mass-produce
components, notably gas turbine engines and reduction gears as the main
NPO Saturn (ODK GT) and Turboros developed marine gas
turbine M70FRU (D090), FR RU, M70FRU2 (DP/DM71) along M90FR, M75RU, E70RD8 and
Elektrosila, AO Zvezda, Metallist, Samara and others developed reductors and
gears. Fan and Turboprop provided by NK Kuznetsov, Aerosila, among others
(perhaps some like Aviadvigatel, Salut, AMNTK, UMPO, KMPO, having high and long
experience and production).
The Zubr-class landing craft has a cargo area of 400 square
metres (4,300 sq ft) and a fuel capacity of 56 tons. It can carry three main
battle tanks (up to 150 tonnes), or ten armoured vehicles with 140 troops (up
to 131 tonnes), or 8 armoured personnel carriers of total mass up to 115
tonnes, or 8 amphibious tanks or up to 500 troops (with 360 troops in the cargo
At full displacement the ship is capable of negotiating up
to 5-degree gradients on non-equipped shores and 1.6 m (5 ft 3 in)-high
vertical walls. The Zubr class remains seaworthy in conditions up to Sea State
4. The vessel has a cruising speed of 30–40 knots (56–74 km/h; 35–46 mph).
The Object 19 is a Russian prototype wheel-cum-track IFV. The Object 19, Object 764, Object 911, Object 914, and Object 1200, were all tested for the position for BMP-1. Object 19 did not surpass the competition, whereas the Object 764 was selected and improved upon, to become the Object 765 – the BMP-1.
Russian APC/IFV Design Overview
Armored Personnel Carriers became common during World War
II, originally introduced by the German army to rapidly transport troops along
the battlefield front. Capable of transport under conditions that regular
trucks could not traverse, this provided tactical mobility to support the
Blitzkrieg (lighting war) form of war. The Infantry Fighting Vehicle,
essentially an APC styled vehicle with enhanced armor and armaments, was
introduced during the 1960s by the Soviet Union. Its role was to provide fire
support to dismounts and to engage lighted armored vehicles.
A weakness of APCs and IFVs is that they could not be
armored sufficiently to protect against RPGs and ATGMs. Therefore modern
warfare techniques rely heavily upon mobility, with tanks, IFVs and APCs advancing
quickly upon enemy units. Supported by artillery and infantry to suppress the
deployment of shaped-charged warhead equipped weapons, the armored vehicle are
expected to overwhelm the enemy before they can effectively deploy their RPGs
and ATGMs. This method of rapid mobile combat, known as maneuver warfare, was
designed to engage in a successful full-scale conventional confrontation, as
combat in Europe might unfold.
Modern warfare however has tended toward descending into
asymmetric warfare and urban combat, with Armored Fighting Vehicles (AFVs)
often operating from isolated or stationary positions. This once again left
them vulnerable to attack by infantry armed with RPGs and man-portable ATGMs.
As Russians incurred heavy losses in the insurgent warfare experienced in their
Afghanistan War and in Grozny during the 1st and 2nd Chechen Wars, they
painfully came to recognize these vulnerabilities. Many Russian IFVs and APCs
were destroyed by poorly trained but well-motivated infantry armed with relatively
simple and inexpensive RPGs, ironically typically of Russian origin.
Multiple approaches were devised to overcome these
vulnerabilities. These included having infantry outside the vehicle as it moved
through cities to provide it protection, positioning troops at the vehicle
front to operate defensive weapons, increasing the firepower available to the
vehicle crew to destroy hostile enemy before they could deploy their weapons,
installing lighter versions of ERA on these vehicles (the heavy tank versions
of ERA damage the thin skinned IFVs and APCs) and to develop softkill and
hardkill APS systems. The other approach is simply to provide APCs and IFVs
with the same level of protection provided to MBTs (i.e., use tank chassis as
APC/IFV chassis). Though the light-weight aspect of these vehicles is
sacrificed by this approach, their survivability in insurgent and urban warfare
is significantly improved. This has resulted for example in the development of
the T-15 from the T-14. The Israelis are also taking this approach, developing
the heavily armored Namer from the Merkava (discussed in detail later).
Soviet and Russian IFVs and APCs share regularities in their
design approach, reflective of their military encounters, with designs evolving
to meet the challenges presented by emerging technologies and tactics. Much
like their Western counterparts, the Soviets field both wheeled and tracked
APCs and IFVs that can be produced as a ‘Family of Vehicles’. Similar to the
West, Soviet/Russian IFVs tend to be more heavily armored than their APCs. The
IFVs ALSO tend to be tracked, permitting them the ability to maintain pace with
MBTs, which their principal role is to support. For APCs however the Russians
has long shown a preference for wheeled vehicles, with the West only absorbing
the long established Russian approach in the 1990s. The Russians also have a
strong preference for building APCs and IFVs that can ‘swim’, able to traverse
rivers they encounter during an advance. While Western vehicles tend to stress
higher armor levels, and therefore greater weight, the Russians keep their
vehicle light enough to permit swim capabilities.
Until recently the Soviets in general have shown less
interest in protecting their crews and providing for their comfort than their
Western counterparts, focusing more on keeping their vehicles small, mobile and
fast. Where Western vehicles tend to be taller and larger, providing more space
for the occupants, Russian APCs and IFVs tend to be very low and flat by
comparison, minimizing both the silhouette and vehicle weight. They also tend
to be wider, and have wider tracks or wheels. Combining these features provides
for optimized vehicle mobility, making them fast, able to traverse steep banks
(low Center of Gravity) and able to navigate mud and snow.
The disadvantage of this approach is that the vehicle crew
and dismounts (transported troops) have to operate is very cramped conditions.
Therefore crews become exhausted more quickly, have more difficulty operating
equipment and suffer higher casualties when the vehicle armor is breached due
to slow and difficult vehicle egress. To counter these restrictions the Soviets
have actually devised some rather novel innovations to improve the conditions
for the crew and dismounts, and to improve overall vehicle performance.
Where older models of Russian APCs and IFVs have the
transported troops enter and exit the vehicle from highly constrictive side
doors, newer designs provide troops access through large doors and folding
roofs at the vehicle rear. And where the loading rate of the main weapon was
often only a quarter of that achievable on the more open spaced Western
vehicles, integrated autoloaders has provided Soviets vehicles reload rates
equal to or better than those achieved by their Western counterparts.
Another novel feature devised by the Soviets was to place
the engine of their IFVs in the rear of the vehicle, providing it greater
protection, similar to MBTs (IFVs and APCs more often place the engine at the
vehicle front, to the right of the driver). By placing the engine low in the
vehicle, troops are able to enter the vehicle over the rear mounted engine.
This also permits the driver to be positioned in the center of the front of the
vehicle, also similar to typical MBT design. The Soviets then place a soldier
on either side of the driver, each operating as a machine gunner or grenade
launcher operator. Similar to some WWII tanks, in which a weapons operator sat
alongside the vehicle driver, this approach provides substantially greater
firepower that can be directed at infantry to protect the vehicle from attack
by RPGs and ATGMs.
Much like Western vehicles the Soviets fabricate their
vehicle hulls from welded ballistic aluminum and/or ballistic steel, providing
all around 360 degree protection to lower calibre threats. The vehicles possess
highly sloped frontal glacis plates as well as sloped sidewalls, the oblique
surfaces more effectively deflecting incoming rounds. While this reduces space
availability for crew and troops, it does enhance vehicle overall
survivability. With their low vehicle profile, Soviet APCs and IFVs are also
more challenging to hit than their higher standing Western counterparts.
The Soviet approach to increasing the protection on their
vehicles beyond the inherent capabilities of the hull have historically been
more progressive than Western thinking. In many ways the Soviets have led the
way in innovative armor developments, with the West later duplicating their
advancements. Having led the way in developing ATGMs, the Soviets foresaw a
need to counter such weapons, and so were first to develop ceramic armor
solutions. As well the Soviets led the way in the development of ERA,
electronic countermeasures (soft kill dazzlers and jammers) and hardkill Active
Protection Systems. They also remain the only military to have integrated ERA
directly into hull designs, and have APS as a standard system on their AFVs.
The Soviets also tend to more heavily arm their IFVs than
equivalent Western vehicles. This includes deployment of multiple guns
installed on a single turret, such as the dual 100 mm gun / 30 mm autocannon on
the BMP-3 and BMD-4. Their main weapons also tend to be more multi-functional
in terms of ammunition that can be fired than Western vehicles, often able to
fire ATGMs as well as the standard KE and/or HE-I rounds. This provides them
greater firepower and an extended maximum effective combat range. Additionally
most modern Russian IFVs can be armed with various turret mounted ATGM systems.
Vehicle protection is enhanced by offering firing ports to troops and
positioning soldiers at the front of the vehicle to operate machine guns and
grenade launchers. This set-up is particularly effective in suppressing
infantry units trying to engage the vehicle.
Perhaps the most defining aspect of Soviet/Russian APC and
IFV design, similar to their MBTs, is low cost and simple design. Soviet
experiences in World War II convinced them that to defend their nation and to
overwhelm and invader, they must be able to produce huge numbers of armored
vehicles. This necessitates that the vehicles be inexpensive and fast to build.
Where Western vehicles are built to a high quality standard and utilizes
expensive components and advanced technologies, Soviet experience recognizes that
armed forces are expended rapidly once conflicts erupt and must be able to be
rapidly replaced. Therefore the fabrication quality of Soviet armored vehicles
tends to be poor compared to Western vehicles and the use of sophisticated
technologies is generally restricted.
A negative result of this approach has been that the Soviets
fell behind significantly in the advancement of integrated computerised systems
and sensor technologies. While this lack of sophistication was not
disadvantageous is the early cold-war period, computerised capabilities and
advanced sensors have become critical in modern AFVs, as they are essential for
operating the Fire Control Systems that permit cannon to accurate fire on the
move, for providing night fighting capabilities through use of thermal imaging,
and for the guidance of advanced munitions.
Recognizing that in a modern ultra high-tech environment
that an overly simplified AFV will not survive for long, and that replacing
lost vehicle with more low quality units won’t suffice to win a battle anymore,
the most recent generation of Russian designed vehicles, the T-14 and T-15, are
making a clean break with traditional Soviet design. A new emphasis is being
placed on crew and troop survivability, and inclusion of high tech equipment
and capabilities. However, due to the relative distance that the Soviets have
fallen behind in these aspects, they are actually reliant on Chinese and French
computers and sensors to equip their latest generation of vehicles until they
are able to catch up and develop these components within Russia.
The BTR-80 is a Russian 8×8 wheeled armored personnel
carrier (APC) that is a continued development of the BTR legacy vehicles, the
BTR-60 and the BTR-70. Introduced into Soviet inventories in 1986 and with over
5000 built the vehicle has become the backbone of Soviet rapid tactical
mobility efforts and has been involved in extensive combat situations, with the
Soviet war in Afghanistan being its initial baptism by fire. The vehicle is
used by almost 40 countries including Afghanistan, Colombia, Hungary, India,
Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, North Korea, Pakistan, Romania, Turkey and
The BTR-80 is a 30,000 pound (13.6 tonne) 8×8 wheeled APC
which is approximately 25 feet (7.7 meters) long, 9.5 feet (2.9 meters) wide
and 8 feet (2.4 meters) high. Operated by a crew of three with a driver,
commander and gunner the vehicle also transport 7 infantry troops. The driver
and commander are situated to the forward of the vehicle while the gunner is
positioned in a roof mounted seat beneath the main weapon. Two of the troops
are located forward of the driver and commander, while the other five sit on
bench style seats in the back of the vehicle. The troops are provided with
firing ports. The rear positioned troops enter and exit the vehicle through
side doors that are split. The upper door swings to the side and the lower half
descends downward, thereby acting as a stepping surface. This approach is
supposed to let troops exit the vehicle while it is in motion, with the side of
the vehicle having the doorway oriented away from enemy fire.
The BTR-80 is powered by a 260 hp V-8 turbocharged diesel
engine which provides a power-to-weight ratio of 17 hp/ton. This is a
significant improvement over the dual gasoline engines that powered the earlier
BTR-60 and BTR-70. Able to attain road speeds of up to 55 mph (90 km/hr) and
having an operational range of 370 miles (600 kms) with on-board fuel the
vehicle is also fully amphibious with a water speed of 6.2 mph (10 km/hr). The
vehicle is powered through the water through hydrojets. The vehicle is able to
navigate a gradient of 60% and climb a vertical step of 1.6 feet (0.5 meters).
A large number of variants of the BTR-80 have been produced
to meet various operational needs and customer requirements. The more common of
these are noted below:
• BTR-80 – standard Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) produced
• BTR-80M – enhanced version available in 1993 with improved
engine and tires.
• BTR-82 – further enhanced version available in 2009 with
increased armor, addition of spall liner, improved night vision equipment and a
300 hp engine.
• 2S23 – a fire support version of the vehicle, mounting a
120 mm mortar rifled gun.
• BTR-80A – An Infantry Fighting Vehicle version introduced
in 1994 and equipped with the remotely operated 2A72 30 mm auto-cannon in the
turret and provided with 300 rounds of ammunition.
• BTR-82AM – A Naval Infantry (Marines) version of the
• BTR-82A – Further enhanced IFV introduced in 2009 that has
been well received by Russian troops battling in Ukraine. Weapon system has a
FCS and improved night vision optics. Includes increased armor, addition of
spall liner to the vehicle interior, GLONASS navigation system and a 300 hp
engine. The vehicle is also able to accommodate 8 dismounts.
The basic APC version of the BTR-80 is fitted with a turret
that accommodates a 14.5 mm KPVT heavy machine gun and a 7.62 mm PKT co-axial
machine gun. It is also equipped with a number of firing ports located along
the front and sides of the vehicle that permit the dismounts to fire their
personal weapons from inside the vehicle. The BTR-80 main weapon system is of a
relatively simple design, in many ways antiquated for a current front-line
vehicles. The main weapon is not stabilized and therefore can only be fired
accurately while the vehicle is stationary. And the mechanism for rotating the
turret is manually operated. The gunner sits under the turret in a roof mounted
chair that provides reasonable space claim, which is not typical for Russian
vehicles. The gunner is provided a daytime optical sight and an infrared night
sight. The weapon can be elevated up to 60 degrees, providing the ability to
engage low flying aircraft and targets situated on top of hills or located in
high buildings (i.e., urban warfare).
The BTR-80 is of a welded ballistic steel construction which
provides 14.5 mm ballistic protection along the front arc and small arms fire
along the vehicle sides, rear and roofline. The dismounts sit in simple bench
style seats which do not provide any Energy Attenuation in the event of a mine
blast. The vehicle is equipped with six 81 mm smoke grenade launchers.
The BTR-80 has seen extensive combat in a number of theatres
of war. These include the Soviet War in Afghanistan, the Nagorno-Karabakh War,
the Georgian Civil War, the Turkish-Kurdish conflict, the Transnistria War, the
Tajikistan Civil War, the First and Second Chechen Wars, the War of Dagestan,
the 2008 South Ossetian War, the Iraqi insurgency and the War in Donbass.
During these conflicts the BTR-80 performed reasonably well
considering its relatively light protection levels and lack of armor specific
to protecting the vehicle from IEDs, RPGs, EFPs, heavy calibre ammunition, and
underbelly blast events.
The BTR-90 is a Russian 8×8 wheeled armored personnel
carrier (APC). Based on its predecessor, the BTR-80, the vehicle dimensions
were enlarged, it was fitted with the turret from the BMP-2 to increase
firepower and the vehicle was in general equipped with upgraded equipment as
compared to the BTR-80. Likes it predecessor the BTR-90 is fully amphibious.
The vehicle was unveiled in 1994 and saw limited production between 2004 and
The BTR-90 is an 8×8 wheeled APC that weighs 46,000 pounds
(21 tonnes), is approximately 25 feet (7.6 meters) long, 10.5 feet (3.2 meters)
wide and 10 feet (3 meters) in height. The vehicle is operated by a crew of 3
and can transport up to 7 troops. The crew consists of a driver who is located
at the front of the vehicle and a gunner and commander who are located in the
turret. The crew ingress and egress the vehicle through a side mounted door,
typical of the Russian BTR series of APCs. The vehicle is powered by a
turbocharged 510 hp diesel engine which is located at the rear of the vehicle.
This provides a power to weight ratio of 22 hp per tonne. The 8×8 wheeled
vehicle can attain 60 mph (100 km/h) on roads and has an operational range of
500 miles (800 kms) with internal fuel. The BTR-90 is also fully amphibious.
Powered by water jets the vehicle can attain speeds up to 5 miles (9 km/hr) in
water. The vehicle is able to cross 7.5 feet (2 meter) wide trenches, climb 3
foot (0.8 meter) high vertical steps and traverse 60% gradients and 30% side
While designed as a chassis that could be configured to
fulfill a wide range of roles within the Russian Army and Russian Navy
(Marines) by offering the superior tactical mobility implicit to wheeled
vehicles, the BTR-90 has only seen low volume production runs, with Russian
Ministry of Defense only incorporating limited numbers of the vehicles into its
forces. This decision is in-line with current Russian procurement philosophy,
which is to not incorporate any further vehicles into the Russian military forces
which are based on older Soviet designs. New procurements are being based
solely upon platforms based on new Russian vehicles designs such as the T-14
This procurement strategy has halted development and
procurement of the BTR-90 as well as other Russian vehicle programs including
the 2S25 Self-propelled Amphibious Tank Destroyer, the BMD-4 and the BMPT
“Terminator”. The 2S25 and BMD-4 are reviewed in this volume as a number of
these vehicle are in service with the Russian military, while the BMPT is not.
Based on the T-72 platform and tailored specifically for asymmetric urban
combat to meet needs identified during the Soviet/Russian experiences from the
Soviet War in Afghanistan and the First Chechen War, the Terminator was never
manufactured beyond the proto-type stage.
The BTR-90 is equipped with the BMP-2 turret which fits the
30 mm Shipunov 2A42 autocannon. 500 rounds of ammunition are carried on-board
for the weapon. Secondary armaments consist of a 7.62 mm coaxial PKT machine
gun with 2000 rounds of ammo and a 30 mm grenade launcher with 400 rounds of
ammo. Firing ports are also provided for the crew. The vehicle can also be
configured with an AT-5 Spandrel (Konkurs) ATGM launching system. The missiles
appear to be able to be attached to the vehicle singularly, in dual pairs, or
as a set of four. Supposedly the missiles can also be detached from the vehicle
and launched by dismounts.
The turret comes equipped standard with a gunner’s day/night
sight and a commander’s optical sight. A thermal imaging sight can also be
installed as an option. A Fire Control System (FCS) is used to aim the main
weapon and the ATGM unit when installed. The 30 mm autocannon is able to be
elevated to 75 degrees, permitting it to be used against low flying aircraft.
The autocannon can engage targets to a range of 2500 meters, while the ATGM can
engage targets out to 4000 meters.
The BTR-90 is fabricated from welded ballistic plate. The
baseline armor offers frontal arc protection against 14.5 mm rounds and
all-around protection against small arms fire. The baseline vehicle armor can
be upgraded with add-on armored plating and/or ERA, though this would adversely
affect the swim capability of the vehicle. The vehicle has an automated fire
suppression system (AFSS) and a smoke grenade system. The vehicle can be fit
with a Nuclear-Biological-Chemical (NBC) detection and filter system.
BTR Wheeled Armoured Personnel Carriers
The BTR-152 6×6 was developed after the Second World War as
the Soviet Union’s very first purpose-built APC. It was manufactured in large
numbers from 1950 and saw service with African and Asian armies. The all-welded
steel hull showed close similarities with American and German wartime designs.
Notably, significant numbers of the M3A1 4×4 scout car and M2 and M5 series of
American half-tracks were supplied to the Red Army under Lend-Lease
arrangements. Likewise the Soviets captured large numbers of the Hanomag-built
range of German half-tracks.
As with these earlier vehicles, the BTR had a front-mounted
engine and an open top crew compartment for the driver and troop compartment
for up to seventeen soldiers. The driver and commander had separate glass
windscreens that could be protected by steel hatches with vision blocks. The
infantry entered and exited the vehicle either via the open roof or through a
single door in the rear plate of the hull. For defensive purposes the vehicle
had six firing ports, three either side and two in the rear plate either side
of the door.
Initially the ZIS-1512½-ton 6×6 chassis was used as the
basis for the BTR-152, though later models utilised the ZIS-157. The
six-cylinder, inline model ZIS-123 was a water-cooled petrol engine generating
110hp at 2,900rpm. The BTR-152’s transmission layout was that of a conventional
6×6 commercial truck with the drive shafts leading to differentials on ‘solid’
axles. The gearbox had five forward speeds and there was a two-speed transfer
box. The tyres had a pressure system regulated by the driver to suit the ground
conditions. Some BTR-152s also featured a front-mounted winch.
Some versions were fully enclosed, such as the BTR-152U
command variant, which has much higher sides to allow staff officers to stand
up inside. The normal armament comprised the standard 7.62mm machine gun or the
heavier 12.7mm or 14.5mm mounted on the hull top. The BTR-152A-ZPU was an
anti-aircraft variant armed with twin 14.5mm KPV machine guns in a rotating
turret. Against aerial targets, these were only effective to 1,400m. They also
carried AP rounds for use against light armoured vehicles, which could penetrate
32mm of armour at 500m, though the guns had a range of 2,000m against ground
targets. Other anti-aircraft variants included the BTR-152D and the BTR-152E.
Some of those supplied to the Egyptian Army were armed with
the Czech quad 12.7mm M53 anti-aircraft system. This comprised four Soviet
12.7mm DShKM machine guns on a Czech-designed two-wheel mount. A number of
these ended up in service with the Afghan Army. Likewise, in 1982 the Israeli
Army encountered BTR-152s being operated by the Syrian-backed Palestinian
Liberation Army that were fitted with a twin 23mm automatic anti-aircraft gun
in the rear of the troop compartment.
The BTR-152’s smaller cousin was the BTR-40, introduced in
1951. This was essentially a redesigned version of the American-supplied M3A
scout car. It was based on the GAZ-63 truck chassis, but with a shorter
wheelbase and was a conventional four-wheel drive armoured truck with a frontal
engine layout. In the event of chemical warfare one variant of this vehicle was
designed for a chemical decontamination role, which included placing flag
markers to warn of contaminated areas. A more conventional version was the
BTR-40A/ZPU; this had an anti-aircraft role mounting twin 14.5mm KPV heavy
machine guns. These were mounted in a manually-operated open turret with a
360-degree traverse and an effective rate of fire of 150 rounds per minute.
The requirement to replace the non-amphibious BTR-152 was
issued in the late 1950s, and the heavy eight-wheeled amphibious BTR-60P entered
service with the Soviet Army in 1961. Since then it has been supplied to armies
throughout the world and was built in Romania as the TAB-72. The BTR-60P was
powered by two GAZ-49B six-cylinder, water-cooled, in-line petrol engines,
developing a total of 180hp. These were mounted in the rear of the welded steel
hull and drove all eight wheels, the front four of which were steerable. The
BTR-60 series was fully amphibious, propelled through the water by a hydrojet
system with a single controllable outlet at the rear. This gave a calm-water
speed of 10km/h compared to 80km/h on land. During deployment in water a bilge
pump was available, together with a trim vane that was normally carried flat on
the nose plate.
The troop compartment (initially for fourteen men but
reduced in later models) occupied the centre of the vehicle with the driver on
the left and the commander on the right at the front. The troop compartment had
no overhead protection but this was remedied with the BTR-60PA or BTR-60PK,
which was fully-enclosed with roof hatches, installed to supplement access
through two small hatches on each side.
The final model, the BTR-60PB, was fitted with a small
turret on the hull roof near the front, mounting a 14.5mm machine gun and a
7.62mm machine gun. It is identical to that fitted to the Soviet BRDM-2
reconnaissance vehicle and the Czech OT-64 APC. While the BTR-60PB was built
under licence in Romania as the TAB-71, the lack of easy access resulted in the
Czech and Polish governments developing the SKOT (OT-64) series for their
armies. Production of the BTR-60 series ended in 1976, resulting in around
The follow-on BTR-70 first appeared during the November 1980
military parade in Moscow. The hull was of all-welded steel armour with
improved protection over its front arc compared to the BTR-60. In addition the
nose was wider and the front gave added protection to the front wheels. While
the BTR-70 was fitted with the same turret as its predecessor, some were fitted
with the BTR-80 turret. Initial models of the BTR-70 were fitted with the same
wheels and tyres as the BTR-60.
The two GAZ-49B engines were replaced by two ZMZ-4905 petrol
engines, which developed 120hp each compared to just 90hp each in the BTR-60.
Both engines had their own transmission with the right engine supplying power
to the first and third axles, while the left powered the second and fourth
axles. This meant if one engine was out of action the vehicle could still move,
albeit at a slower speed. The exhausts were less boxy than on the BTR-60.
Whereas the BTR-60 could carry up to sixteen men, the BTR-70’s capacity was two
crew and nine passengers. Again Romania produced its own version, dubbed the
Although the BTR-70 was an improvement over the earlier
BTR-60, it still had its problems, not least the inadequate means of entry and
exit for the troops and the two petrol engines which were inefficient and could
catch fire. The Soviet Army first took delivery of the improved BTR-80 in 1984.
A SHIP OF 64 GUNS BUILT AT THE PORT OF ARCHANGEL BY
KUROTCHKIN, THE DRAUGHT PREPARED IN 1806 UNDER THE IMMEDIATE INSPECTION OF THE
CHIEF BUILDER BRUN FOR ADMIRAL MACOEUSCA. KEEL LAID 28 AUGUST 1807, (NO 88) AND
LAUNCHED 1809 ATTESTED BY THE ADMIRALTY COLLEGE 21 SEPTR NAMED POBEDONOSSETS
AND SENT TO THE PORT OF CRONSTADT 10 AUGUST 1812.
The provenance of this draught is conundrum: on the one hand
it is decidedly English in style, calligraphy and even ink colours, but on the
other, it is annotated with information that could only have come from Russian
sources – the launching draughts of water are quoted in Russian units and a
note describes the lower green line as ‘Light Draught of water with 2000 poods
of Ballast (a pood is 36 lbs English)’. The ship was in British waters with
Admiral Crown’s squadron in 1812–1814 and may have had the lines taken off
then, or this may have been copied from a Russian original and annotated in
English. A noteworthy feature of the structure is the system of substantial
diagonal braces in the hull; this is not the full trussed frame as developed by
Seppings, but a less effective fore-runner, and when considered alongside the
numerous top-riders may suggest the ship was lightly framed. This reinforcing
may have been required by the ship’s heavy armament of twenty-six short 36pdrs,
twenty-eight short 24pdrs and fourteen guns on the upperworks (a mix of long
8pdrs and 24pdr carronades). The ‘lightweight’ guns were supposedly inspired by
Swedish models, but there were many other experiments around this time with
weapons mid-way between carronades and traditional long guns, like the
proposals of Sadler, Gover and Congreve in Britain.
[SKETCH OF THE FRIGATE VENERA, 48 GUNS]
This is actually a Russian draught whose provenance is
unknown, although it may be associated with Samuel Bentham, who was
well-connected in Russia, having served there before the war – indeed, Bentham
was in Russia from 1805 to 1807 trying to arrange for the construction of
British ships on the White Sea. Built at St Petersburg and launched in 1808,
Venera was a big ship, measuring 162ft 6in between perpendiculars, with a 42ft
beam, and a calculation on the draught puts her displacement at 1693 tons
(although the conventional figure for burthen would be less). The absence of
barricading on the forecastle looks backwards, but the hull form, with its
rising floors and wall sides, is more reminiscent of the 1820s and ’30s than
the first decade of the century. The armament was originally thirty 24pdrs and
eighteen 6pdrs, but in 1810 she was converted to a flush two-decker and two
24pdrs and all the 6pdrs were replaced by twenty-eight 24pdr carronades, giving
the ship a one-calibre weapons-fit and anticipating the ‘double-banked frigate’
of the post-war decades.
The ‘edinorog’ was a uniquely Russian artillery piece,
designed to fire either solid shot or an explosive round. This is a 1780 Model
gun of ‘1/2-pood’ calibre – roughly equivalent to a British 24pdr when firing
round shot (the explosive shell weighed less at about 20 pounds). On line of
battle ships, it was usual to mount one per deck on each broadside, alongside
the solid-shot guns of the nearest calibre. This very limited employment
suggest that their advantages were more theoretical than real – they are known
to have suffered from massive recoil, and the dangers of handling explosives
aboard wooden ships deterred other navies from pursuing similar experiments, so
their use in the Russian service may well have been limited.
The Russian navy was no better understood in the West during
the eighteenth century than its Soviet successor was in the twentieth.
Distance, the Cyrillic alphabet, and a Tsarist penchant for secrecy conspired
to keep information to a minimum, yet the Russian navy in 1790 was a major
force: at about 142,000 tons the Baltic fleet alone was larger than all Dutch
naval forces combined, while a further 40,000 tons in the Black Sea was
approximately the same size as the Swedish navy. Depending on the precise date
chosen, together they constituted the world’s third or fourth largest navy. In
1798 the Baltic fleet’s official establishment comprised nine 100-gun ships,
twenty-seven 74s, nine 66s, nine 44s, one 40 and nine 32s; for the Black Sea in
1797 it was three 100s, nine 74s, three 66s, six 50s and four 3 6s. These
figures, however, were aspirations – the first 100-guns ships for Black Sea
were not launched until 1801–2 – but they do indicate the magnitude of the
It was also a successful force, having won significant
victories over Sweden in 1788–90 and the Ottoman Empire in 1787–92. Although
Peter the Great is regarded as the father of Russian seapower, it was Catherine
II (1762–96) who was responsible for the development of a European-standard battlefleet
that was employed with so much strategic impact. This period also saw much
technical improvement, with considerable effort expended keeping up with
British, and to a lesser extent French, naval technology. A decline in numbers
set in during the reign of Alexander I after 1801 and thereafter the navy did
not recover its relative position until the mid-1820s.
For much of the struggle with Revolutionary and Napoleonic
France, Russia was Britain’s ally. Elements of the Baltic fleet co-operated
with Duncan in the blockade of Dutch ports, and made a major contribution of
fifteen sail of the line to the Helder expedition in 1799. Catherine had
experienced some success in attracting British officers into the Russian fleet,
but its general state of efficiency did not impress the Royal Navy nor the
officials of the Dockyards who had to refit and maintain the Russian ships.
They were regarded as poorly built of inferior timber, and a list of the Baltic
Fleet in 1805 gives an average age of ten years for thirty-two ships of the
In 1798 the Russians deployed some of the Black Sea fleet to
the Mediterranean, where a squadron under Vice-Admiral Ushakov occupied the
Ionian Islands and after a long siege captured Corfu. The force was withdrawn
in 1800, but a more significant development was the formation of a
Mediterranean fleet by the dispatch of a squadron from Cronstadt, a long voyage
by Russian standards, to join elements from the Black Sea at Corfu. Commanded
by Vice-Admiral Seniavin, who had served six years in the Royal Navy, this
fleet of ten sail of the line was active against both the French in the
Adriatic and later the Turks, where it successfully blockaded the Dardanelles
and won a crushing victory over the Ottoman fleet at Lemnos on 19 June 1807.
The events leading up to the Tilsit agreement between
Napoleon and the Tsar rapidly turned the Russian fleet from ally via neutral to
enemy in a matter of weeks. Having given up Corfu to the French, the Russians
were forced to leave the Mediterranean, but in the face of a hostile British
fleet took shelter in the Tagus, where they were promptly blockaded. Eventually,
in September 1808 Seniavin agreed to the internment of his fleet in Britain and
the repatriation of its crews. Eventually, eight two-deckers and two frigates
were turned over. While laid up they gradually deteriorated and only two ships
returned to Russia in 1813.
In the 1790s the Baltic fleet could boast eight 100-gun
three-deckers of the Chesma class (supposedly inspired by, or even copied from,
Slade’s Victory), but they were poorly constructed and by 1801 none was fit for
active service. A huge 130-gun ship, the Blagodat, was launched in 1800, again
modelled on a famous western prototype, in this case the Spanish Santisíma
Trinidad. Armament was usually 3 6pdrs on the lower deck with 18s and 8s
respectively on the higher gundecks, and 6pdrs on the upperworks. Contrasting
with this investment in concentrated firepower, the majority of the Russian
battlefleet was made up of small two-deckers in the 66-gun class, which were
built in large numbers down to 1797. Even with 24pdr main batteries, they
proved perfectly adequate against their usual opponent, the Swedes (which was
equally true for the Black Sea fleet and the Turks). The 74-gun ship came late
to the Russian navy, the first pair being launched in 1772, and although they
carried 30pdrs on the lower deck they were still relatively small ships,
comparing in size with the British ‘Common Class’. By 1800 the Baltic fleet’s
two-deckers comprised twenty 74s and twenty-four 66s.
A unique feature of Russian naval weaponry was the edinorog,
a large calibre lighweight gun capable of firing a wide range of ammunition
including explosive shells. Generally known by the French term licorne
(‘unicorn’), they usually filled a pair of ports on the two lower gun-decks of
battleships (and two pairs on 100-gun ships), but they were regarded as a
dangerous and doubtful asset by other navies. Eventually the Russian navy came
to agree and the gun establishment of 1805 abolished them. It also introduced a
homogeneous armament for all two-deckers of new lightweight-pattern 36pdrs and
24s, and added the first carronades (24pdrs) to the upperworks.
The Black Sea fleet was a recent venture, established in
1770, but growing from seven ships of the line in 1790 to thirteen in 1800.
Although an equivalent of a First Rate was not laid down until 1799, the
average size of its ships tended to be greater than those of the Baltic fleet,
where navigational conditions and the restricted dimensions of the opposing
Swedish warships constrained growth. The Black Sea squadron, in fact,
introduced both the two-decker 80 and the 24pdr-armed big frigate to Russian
service – in the latter case, what were termed ‘battle frigates’ stood in the
battle line when required. The first was launched in 1785 and thus pre-dated
the better-known 24pdr frigates of either the French or US navies. However,
even this was later than the Swedish Bellona class designed by af Chapman,
although these usually cruised with 18pdrs and were designed to ship light
24pdrs only when war threatened so that they could reinforce the outnumbered
Swedish battlefleet. As counters to these vessels, Russia’s Baltic fleet built
five 24pdr frigates in the 1790s, and more after 1801, thus becoming one of the
first major sponsors of the type – and as potential oceanic commerce-raiders,
as much a concern to the Royal Navy after 1815 as US big frigates. This was in
marked contrast to Russia’s earlier conservatism in cruiser design, being slow
to adopt the frigate-form (in either 12pdr or 18pdr calibres), and persevering
with small two-deckers until the late 1780s. Not having the same requirement as
the Atlantic navies for long-distance, all-weather cruisers, the advantages of
a high battery freeboard combined with a low topside height were less
compelling. Nevertheless, the Baltic fleet built nine 18pdr frigates before
1800, when they were eclipsed in construction programmes by the 24pdr type.
Although the Russian navy list included sloops, brigs and
many of the small craft familiar from other navies, these did not exist in very
large numbers. Russia had little ocean-going commerce to protect, and fleet
scouting and support duties usually fell to small frigate-like vessels.
However, in both the Baltic and the Black Sea it invested heavily in specialist
types for inshore warfare, usually craft that could be rowed – including
traditional ‘Mediterranean’ galleys – and amphibious warfare vessels. These
were not as ingenious as the special types devised by AF Chapman for the
Swedish archipelago fleet, but were equally effective in their chosen
environment. A significant contributor to this requirement was a force of large
sea-going bomb vessels, making both Russian main fleets the only force outside
the Royal Navy to employ such vessels on a regular basis. Four survived in the
Baltic into the 1790s and two more were built in 1808; in the Black Sea fleet
two were in service up to 1795, and another was built in 1806.
Cornelius Cruys (14 June 1655 – 14 June 1727) was a
Norwegian–Dutch admiral of the Imperial Russian Navy, and the first commander
of the Russian Baltic Fleet.
When in the Netherlands, Peter the Great dined often with
Giles Schey the leading Dutch admiral of the day, a pupil of de Ruyter’s, and
tried to persuade the Admiral to come to Russia to supervise construction of
the Russian fleet and to take command when it put to sea. He offered Schey all
the titles he might want, a pension of 24,000 florins, more for his wife and
children in case they preferred to remain behind in Holland, and promised to
make the arrangements himself with William. Schey declined, which did not in
any way diminish Peter’s respect for him, and proposed another admiral to Peter
as a man capable of supervising and commanding a navy. This was Cornelius
Cruys, born in Norway of Dutch parents. With the rank of rear admiral, he was
Chief Inspector of Naval Stores and Equipment of the Dutch Admiralty at
Amsterdam, and in this capacity had already been advising the Russians in their
purchases of naval equipment. He was exactly the kind of man Peter wanted, but,
like Schey, Cruys showed little enthusiasm for Peter’s offer. Only the united
efforts of Schey, Witsen and other prominent persons who understood that Cruys
in Russia would have a powerful influence on Russian trade persuaded the
reluctant Admiral to accept.
More important, the Russian Great Embassy had recruited 640
Dutchmen, among them Rear Admiral Cruys and other naval officers (eventually,
Cruys persuaded 200 Dutch naval officers to come to Russia), seamen, engineers,
technicians, shipwrights, physicians and other specialists. To carry them and
the equipment purchased back to Russia, ten ships had been chartered.
In 1698 at Voronezh, in the shipyards sprawling along the
banks of the broad and shallow river, Peter found the carpenters sawing and
hammering, and he found many problems. There were shortages and great wastage
of both men and materials. In haste to comply with the Tsar’s commands, the
shipwrights were using unseasoned timber, which would rot quickly in the water.
On arriving from Holland, Vice Admiral Cruys inspected the vessels and ordered
many hauled out to be rebuilt and strengthened. The foreign shipwrights, each
following his own designs without guidance or control from above, quarreled
frequently. The Dutch shipwrights, commanded by Peter’s orders from London to
work only under the supervision of others, were sullen and sluggish. The
Russian artisans were in no better mood. Summoned by decree to Voronezh to
learn shipbuilding, they understood that if they showed aptitude, they would be
sent to the West to perfect their skills. Accordingly, many preferred to do
just enough work to get by, hoping somehow to be allowed to return home.
By spring, the fleet was ready. Eighty-six ships of all
sizes, including eighteen sea-going men-of-war carrying from thirty-six to
forty-six guns were in the water, in addition, 500 barges had been built for
carrying men, provisions, ammunition and powder. On May 7, 1699, this fleet
left Voronezh and the villagers along the Don saw a remarkable sight: a fleet
of full-rigged ships sailing past them down the river. Admiral Golovin was in
nominal command, with Vice Admiral Cruys in actual command of the fleet. Peter
took the role of captain of the forty-four-gun frigate Apostle Peter.
In 1706, Peter himself, sailing far out in the gulf, sighted
a Swedish squadron headed in his direction and returned immediately to report
the news by agreed-on cannon signals to Vice Admiral Cruys, the Dutch officer
in command of the Russian fleet. Cruys, however, refused to believe the Tsar’s report
and was convinced only when he saw the Swedish ships with his own eyes. Some
time after that, Peter touched on the episode with ironic humor. Cruys,
reporting on naval matters, complained to Peter of the general ignorance and
insubordination of his fleet officers, saying “His Majesty, with his
skill, knows the importance of perfect ‘subordination.'” Peter responded
warmly, “The Vice Admiral [Cruys] is himself to blame for the want of
skill of the naval officers as he himself engaged nearly all of them. … As
concerns my skill, this compliment is not on a very firm footing. Not long ago,
when I went to sea and saw the enemy’s ships from my yacht and signaled
according to custom the number of ships, it was thought only to be amusement or
the salute for a toast, and even when I myself came on board to the Vice
Admiral, he was unwilling to believe until his sailors had seen them from the
masthead. I must therefore beg him either to omit my name from the list of those
whom he judges skillful, or in future cease from such raillery.”
In the spring of 1710, Peter plucked the military fruits of
Poltava. Russian armies, unopposed by any Swedish army in the field, swept
irresistibly through Sweden’s Baltic Provinces. While Sheremetev with 30,000
men beseiged Riga to the south, Peter sent General-Admiral Fedor Apraxin, newly
made a Count and a Privy Councilor, with 18,000 men to besiege Vyborg in the
north. This town at the head of the Karelian Isthmus, seventy-five miles northwest
of St. Petersburg, was an important fortress and an assembly point for Swedish
offensive threats against St. Petersburg. A Russian attempt on Vyborg from the
land side in 1706 had failed, but now there was something new in Peter’s favor.
His growing Baltic fleet, consisting of frigates and numerous galleys, the
latter craft propelled by a combination of sails and oars and ideally suited
for maneuvering in the rocky waters of the Finnish coast, was available both to
transport men and supplies and to keep Swedish naval squadrons at bay. As soon
as the Neva was clear of ice, in April, Russian ships sailed from Kronstadt
with Vice Admiral Cruys in command and Peter, in his new rank as rear admiral,
as Cruys’ deputy. The ships made their way through the ice floes in the Gulf of
Finland and arrived off Vyborg to find Apraxin’s besieging army cold and
hungry. The fleet brought provisions and reinforcements, raising Apraxin’s
strength to 23,000. Peter, after studying the siege plans and instructing
Apraxin to take the town no matter what the cost, returned to St. Petersburg in
a small vessel, narrowly escaping capture by a Swedish warship.
Cruys performed well in Russia and came be regarded as the
architect of the Russian Navy. After his return to Russia the Tsar put his Azov
Flotilla under the command of Admiral Fyodor Alexeyevich Golovin, a Russian
nobleman who was the successor of the Swiss Franz Lefort. Golovin was assisted
by Vice-Admiral Cruys and Rear-Admiral Jan van Rees. Cruys became the first
“Russian” mayor of Taganrog from 1698 to 1702.
In 1711, he made the first maps of Azov Sea and Don River.
He was commander of the Russian Baltic Fleet from 1705, and masterminded the
construction of Kronstadt fortress, which was essential in the Great Northern
War against Sweden and many years later against the German Kriegsmarine during
World War II. Cruys worked for the tsar for more than 25 years and reached the
highest Russian naval rank of admiral in 1721. He died at Saint Petersburg in