Armoured trains of the Soviet Union #Armouredtrains

nicholas robinson


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For some unknown reason, the general public knows almost nothing about the armored trains of the Great Patriotic War. Perhaps this was due to the fact that the main types of technology, "pulled on itself" throughout the war, were tanks and aircraft. Or maybe the specific use of armored trains did not allow them to gain the same fame as during the Civil War. But regardless of the reasons for insufficient fame, armored trains were more or less actively used throughout the war.

Armored train  Little-known veterans of the Great Patriotic

Matter issue

On June 22, 1941, there were over fifty armored trains in the Red Army, and in the NKVD troops there were two dozen. Their qualitative composition was far from uniform. In the army there was even a certain number of armored trains, which had a chance to fight even in the Civil. Naturally, since then the material part of these "old men" has been solidly updated. This fact was one of the reasons that a considerable number of armored trains of the Great Patriotic War included O series locomotives, whose history began in the late XIX century. The modern for the beginning of the war, the composition of the armored train was already formed by the beginning of the 30s: it consisted of one or two locomotives, several armored platforms, platforms with weapons for air defense and control platforms. Reservations for different armored trains differed, but most of the sheets of metal had a thickness of from 10 to 20 millimeters. Tried to install and more solid armor. However, an increase in the mass of the armored platform directly affected the ride quality of the entire train, and sometimes even required its change: either add another armored locomotive or remove the “extra” platform.

Consider more material armored trains. The basis of them - broneparovoz. In fact, this is the most common serial locomotive on which armor was installed in factory or even artisanal conditions. The locomotive of any modification could be used as an armored steam locomotive, but more often in the USSR steam locomotives of later modifications of the O. series were adapted for these needs. The reason is simple: at that time it was the most popular type of such equipment. Reservation of locomotives, as already mentioned, had a thickness of up to 20 millimeters. In the period between world wars, it was considered sufficient to protect the crew and train units only from small arms bullets.and small-caliber guns. An armored locomotive was usually located in the middle of the train or close to it. Due to this, the armored train had less chance of losing the engine because of the explosives laid on the tracks. Sometimes weapons were installed on armored vehicles. Almost always it was Maxim machine guns.

Artillery armor sites were specially modified two- or four-axle railway platforms. An armored "box" was mounted on a reinforced platform on which gun turrets were mounted. Most often on one armored platform there were two towers. According to the composition of the armor platform weapons were divided into two main groups: heavy and light. For heavy mounted guns in caliber up to 107 mm, as well as from five Maxim machine guns. The thickness of the walls of the armored hull of such sites often exceeded the “standard” 20 millimeters. However, despite solid protection and powerful weapons, heavy armor platforms by the end of the 30s were already outdated. At that time, the new light platform PL-37 was offered as the main platform with weapons for an armored train. With armor two centimeters thick, it had two towers, armed with 76mm guns of the 1902/30 type. In the embrasures of the case there were six Maxim machine guns. The total ammunition of weapons was 560 shells for cannons and nearly thirty thousand cartridges for machine guns. The armored hull was assembled from 20 mm steel plates. Platform PL-37 had an intercom system, steam heating and rather large boxes for various property, located under the floor of the crew compartment.

By their design, anti-aircraft armor platforms resembled to some extent artillery pieces, with the difference that they had weapons for attacking aerial targets. The armament was the most diverse: on four types of anti-aircraft platforms, quad Maxim machine guns, large-caliber DShK machine guns and 37-mm automatic guns were installed. By 1942, 76-mm guns were also installed on anti-aircraft platforms.

At the beginning and at the end of the composition were established so-called. control platforms. These were the most common railway platforms loaded with ballast. Sandbags or even spare rails with sleepers were used as the latter. Due to the presence of control platforms, the push-action mines laid under the tracks did not harm the armored train’s warhead. Mina damaged only the platform with ballast. The roads broken by a mine could be repaired by the crew of an armored train. Finally, armored trains had a so-called. the base. It consisted of a half or two dozen goods and passenger cars. The base included a staff car, a kitchen car, a workshop car, a car with ammunition, etc. In the “traveling position” of an armored train, the base was transported as a whole, and when the train went into battle, the base was left in a safe place, for example, at its railway station in the rear.

Soviet BEPO No. 695 of type BP-35 (PR-35 + 2 x PL-37) along with BA-20zh and BA-10zh

At the beginning of the Great Patriotic War the most massive domestic armored train was the BP-35. It consisted of two artillery platforms PL-37 (shortly before that, they replaced the outdated PL-35) and one anti-aircraft SPU-BP with four Maxims. In general, it was a good armored train. However, the experience of a real war soon showed all its advantages and disadvantages. Guns and machine guns were quite good strike force, but the air defense and booking were insufficient. Only in the second half of 1941, four (!) New types of armored trains, artillery and anti-aircraft were created at once. All of them were produced in various quantities, and the “record holder” in this regard was an anti-aircraft armored train of the 41st sample - more than a hundred of them were made.

However, the real crown of the domestic construction of armored trains went to the troops only in 1943, when the capabilities of the industry allowed it to focus on more advanced equipment, such as tanks. The BP-43 armored train became to some extent a “hybrid” of the classic armored train and tank. The fact is that the artillery platforms of the PL-43 were installed towers from T-34 tanks, armed with 76-mm cannon f-34 and twin machine gun DT. In addition to the tank turret on the PL-43, there were two DT machine guns in the embrasures. Ammunition of one armored platform was 168 rounds and 4500 rounds of ammunition. Thanks to the installation on the armored platform of the tank tower, the combat potential of the train increased. This happened because of more effective guns, new sighting devices and the ability to fire in all directions. As a result, BP-43 armored train could successfully fight with the majority of German tanks of that time. The two anti-aircraft defense anti-aircraft defense platforms-4 were armed with two 61K automatic caliber 37-mm cannons or two DShK large-caliber machine guns. When creating armored grounds for the BP-43, several interesting know-how were applied. So, PL-43 and PVO-4 were made on the basis of two-axle platforms, due to which they managed to place one tank tower on the platform. Among other things, this increased the survival rate of the gun crews - with the defeat of one tower, the neighboring platform did not suffer much. In the case of the installation of two guns on the same armored platform, almost always one hit of a projectile of sufficient caliber failed both calculations. Also, instead of the usual booking in the form of a "box" the size of a standard car on new sites, only the necessary volume was protected, which allowed lossless protection to reduce the mass. Moreover, as a result, the protection did not deteriorate a bit - the new design made it possible to install thicker sheets of armor (in some places up to 40 mm).

Armored train "Salavat Yulaev" type BP-43

In battle, the

main, and sometimes the only, task of armored trains throughout the war was to support units operating near the railway tracks. Also sometimes armored trains helped to take the station or even to fight the counter-battery struggle. Sometimes armored trains also became a means of transporting troops, but such tasks were not set very often. Nevertheless, even such a "banal" work, as fire support units, clearly demonstrated the effectiveness of armored trains. In October of the 41st, the USSR Commissariat of Defense ordered the creation of 32 divisions of two armored trains in each by the end of next year. Workers in the rear did not disappoint - in the allotted time, not 64, but 85 trains were built!

Crews of armored trains were also role models. During the war years, all armored trains in total destroyed nearly four hundred enemy tanks, about 350 guns, 840 machine guns, over seven hundred cars, 160 motorcycles, 115 aircraft and two enemy armored trains. And this is taking into account the fact that an armored train can operate only where there is a suitable railway track. However, the losses were also considerable. For the 41st year, the enemy managed to destroy 21 of our armored trains. The following year, twice as many armored trains died - 42. At the same time, in 1943, the Germans were able to get rid of only two armored trains, and since then, this domestic technique of fatal damage has not been received. During the years 1944-45, we did not lose a single armored train.

The main reasons for the great losses at the beginning of the war are the features of the battles of the time. Frequently, the railway men remained to cover the withdrawal of the Red Army men and in fact were suicide bombers. In addition, the German tanks and aircraft in the first two years of the war were too great a force for the pre-war armored trains to fight on an equal footing. Accordingly, when it became possible to build a sufficient number of tanks and strengthen the armament of armored trains, the losses of the latter were significantly reduced. And even the attachment of trains to the railway by this time ceased to carry an indirect threat to the rolling stock and crew.

Victories and defeats

Throughout the Great Patriotic War, armored trains actively participated in battles and performed feats. Unfortunately, to list all of them you need to write a rather voluminous book, so we confine ourselves to only a few heroic episodes.

Ukraine, Zhulyany, August 1941. The Germans seized the station, which was located several cars with ammunition and equipment for aviation. Fearing a possible counterattack and the loss of a valuable trophy, the Germans dismantled the way and blew up a small bridge leading to the station. At this time, not far from Zhulyan there was an armored train "Litera A" (commander A. Tikhohod), who was entrusted with repulsing valuable cargo from the enemy. Under cover of night, a detachment of Red Army soldiers restored the ways and the bridge blown up by the Germans. At four o'clock in the morning, an armored train burst into the station on the newly laid rails and began to fire at all targets that only came into view. The invaders suffered heavy losses, but there was no opportunity to finally repel the station. Therefore, wagons loaded with aviation were hooked up to an armored train and taken with them.

On November 4, the 41st, the Zheleznyakov armored train, or more officially, BP No. 5 Coast Defense of the Main Base of the Black Sea Fleet left the gates of the Sevastopol Marine Plant. Later, the Germans will come up with the nickname "Green Ghost", and not casual. "Zheleznyakov" was to some extent an improvised armored train. But this did not diminish his fighting qualities, because armored train No. 5 had five 100-mm guns, eight mortars and a half dozen machine guns. In addition, in addition to the main armored steam train as part of Zheleznyakova, there was an additional locomotive that significantly improved the driving characteristics. Already on the Day of the October Revolution, Zheleznyakov made his first “gift” to the Germans: he fired at the infantry's location near the village of Duvanka and destroyed an artillery battery on the slope of the Belbek valley. By the end of the 41st, the final appearance of the Zheleznyakov armored train was formed. One of the 100-millimeter cannons was replaced with two automatic anti-aircraft guns, and half of the 82-mm mortar was removed to make way for three 120-millimeter. Finally, the train received three more machine guns. In addition to weapons, BP number 5 received a new appearance - the crew applied camouflage paint on all surfaces of the train. According to eyewitnesses, the armored train merged with the terrain even at a relatively short distance. This is probably why until the middle of forty-second the Germans did not manage to find the Zheleznyakov. Rather, they attempted to fire the alleged position of the Soviet armored train and raised aircraft. But only all the attempts were in vain - the commanders of Zheleznyakov, Lieutenant Tchaikovsky, and then the engineer-captain M. Kharchenko skillfully thought through their attacks, and the train managed to shoot back and go to the shelter much earlier than the first German shells fell on the already former position of the train. For almost one and a half hundred trips, the Green Ghost, as the Germans called it for elusiveness, destroyed about five to seven enemy tanks and armored cars, two and a half dozen machine gun nests and pillboxes, half a dozen blinds, three aircraft, one heavy artillery battery and up to one and a half thousand soldiers and officers of the enemy. In June, the 42nd Zheleznyakov even fought with a column of German tanks and emerged victorious from it, destroying three armored vehicles. two and a half dozen machine-gun nests and pillboxes, half a dozen dugouts, three aircraft, one heavy artillery battery and up to fifteen thousand soldiers and officers of the enemy. In June, the 42nd Zheleznyakov even fought with a column of German tanks and emerged victorious from it, destroying three armored vehicles. two and a half dozen machine-gun nests and pillboxes, half a dozen dugouts, three aircraft, one heavy artillery battery and up to fifteen thousand soldiers and officers of the enemy. In June, the 42nd Zheleznyakov even fought with a column of German tanks and emerged victorious from it, destroying three armored vehicles.

The end of the famous armored train began June 26, 1942. "Zheleznyakov" stood in the Trinity tunnel and was preparing for the next exit to the position. The German command from somewhere found out about its location and sent more than fifty bombers there. The raid was partly successful: one entrance to the tunnel was littered, and the collapsed structures inside it buried under one of the armored platforms of the train. However, the second site was removed from the remaining exit of the tunnel and began shelling enemy aircraft. The possibilities of damaged steam locomotives were only enough to pull the site back into the tunnel. The fighters did not wait for help. The second raid the next day led to the collapse of the second entrance. In August of the same year, the Germans set about clearing the tunnel through which their trains had to pass. Zheleznyakova armor sites were restored; The new armored train received the name "Eugen." The German "version" of the Soviet armored train could not be compared with the "Zheleznyakov" in performance, and in May of the 44th the Eugen was destroyed by the retreating Germans.

At the beginning of the 42nd year, the Murom and Gorky railwaymen, on their own initiative, assembled and transferred to the Red Army the same type armored trains Ilya Muromets and Kozma Minin, respectively. Both trains entered the 31st separate special Gorky Division. These trains can rightfully be called the direct ancestors of the BP-43 trains, since tank towers were installed for the first time on “Muromts” and “Minin”. It should be noted, in contrast to the BP-43, on the Murom and Gorky trains the armored grounds were equipped with two towers and had four axes. Also, the armored train of the 31st battalion had a very large thickness of armor for the beginning of the 42nd, in some places it reached 45 millimeters. Shortly after the start of operation, "Ilya Muromets" and "Kuzma Minin" became the first armored trains in the world that received rocket artillery in the form of launchers for M-13 rounds.

Armored train "Ilya Muromets"

The 31st separate special division successfully acted throughout the war, therefore there were a great many remarkable battle episodes during this time. Perhaps the most interesting of them occurred in May-June of the 44th year. There were difficult fights for the Ukrainian city of Kovel, and the 31st division was sent to help the advancing Red Army. In the last days of May, the Soviet positions were subjected to a three-minute artillery bombardment. Intelligence roughly calculated the location of the enemy's battery, after which a plane was sent to the area in order to clarify the location of the enemy's guns. The flight did not give any result - there was nothing in the specified area. The next day, at the same time, the shelling was repeated. A few days at the same time, the Germans shot at our positions. An analysis of the terrain maps showed that the guns can be located only near the railway or even on it. The next day after this withdrawal, the scouts advanced in the area in the morning. It was a few minutes to nine on the clock when in the distance there were clouds of smoke. So it is, our positions were bombarded by an armored train. In a short time, the headquarters of the 31st division developed a plan for the upcoming duel. A place was found from where a Soviet armored train could successfully hit the German. On June 4, at eight o'clock in the morning, “Ilya Muromets” was already at this position and prepared to open fire. The Germans gave punctuality a second time: they shot from the same place every day at the same time. As a result, immediately after the first shot from the German armored train, Ilya Muromets also began to shoot. It should be noted, that the artillery duel of armored trains in closed positions is an interesting matter, but rather difficult. The first volley to destroy the German train failed. The Germans managed to deploy the towers and tried to answer "Ilya Murometsu." But they did not know exactly where the Soviet railway workers were. After 15-20 minutes after the start of the duel, "Murom" hit the missiles. It was all over. Not a single shell hit the Soviet armored train, but the German was completely defeated. According to the evil (for the Germans) irony of fate, the lost train was called “Adolf Hitler”. Here is a historical fact with small notes of epic. After 15-20 minutes after the start of the duel, "Murom" hit the missiles. It was all over. Not a single shell hit the Soviet armored train, but the German was completely defeated. According to the evil (for the Germans) irony of fate, the lost train was called “Adolf Hitler”. Here is a historical fact with small notes of epic. After 15-20 minutes after the start of the duel, "Murom" hit the missiles. It was all over. Not a single shell hit the Soviet armored train, but the German was completely defeated. According to the evil (for the Germans) irony of fate, the lost train was called “Adolf Hitler”. Here is a historical fact with small notes of epic.

The 31st separate special division of the Gorky reached Frankfurt an der Oder. Probably, “Ilya Muromets” and “Kuzma Minin” could have reached Berlin, only the ruined bridge across the Oder prevented them. The locomotives of both armored trains after the war were put on eternal parking. They became monuments to themselves and less fortunate brethren. 

According to the results of military operations during the Great Patriotic War, two armored trains of the Red Army and three armored trains of the NKVD troops were awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Battle. Ten divisions received honorary titles for their services.

The Zheleznyakov armored train is the armored train No. 5 of the Coast Defense of the main base of the Black Sea Fleet Zheleznyakov, nicknamed the Green Ghost by the Germans.

The end of the era of armored trains

Already by the end of the Great Patriotic War, it became clear that artillery had reached a level of development where even seriously protected armored trains could be equated to lightly armored vehicles. In addition, the train is tightly tied to the railways, which significantly reduces mobility. Aviation was not standing still, for whose means of destruction an armored train ceased to be a difficult goal. At the same time, the anti-aircraft armament of trains could no longer provide reliable protection against air attacks. It became clear that the time of armored trains passed. The development of new systems and the upgrading of existing armored trains continued, at the very least, until the mid-1950s, and in 1958 all similar equipment was removed from service because of hopeless obsolescence. But the experience of placing weapons on trains is not lost. At the end of the 80s, they were put on combat duty. n combat railway missile systems (BZHRK). In appearance, they are almost indistinguishable from civilians. At the same time, they transported strategic missiles and were able to launch them on any part of the route. But this is a new technique and a completely different story.
Victory weapons . Armored train


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