It can be assumed that Heinrich and Gustav Ehrhardt, who ran their own automaker Heinrich Ehrhardt Automobilwerke AG, quickly learned about foreign developments in the field of protected vehicles, and decided to get involved in work on advanced military equipment. Using the available serial units, borrowed from the machines of their own design, they created the original design of an armored car. It is curious that the perspective combat vehicle should have some specific features. So, the authors of the project planned to use it to fight the nascent air forces of other countries.
Modern reconstruction of the appearance of the Ehrhardt Panzerkampfwagen M1906 armored car. Photo by Pro-tank.ru
The new armored vehicle project was completed in 1906 year. The car was designated as Ehrhardt Panzerkampfwagen M1906 - “Ehrhardt armored combat vehicle, model 1906 of the year”. Also in some sources, this armored car is referred to as Ehrhardt BAK (Ballonabwehrkanone - "The tool to fight the balloon"). The alternative designation Ehrhardt 7.7 cm BAK L / 30 is known, however, for obvious reasons, it cannot be used with respect to the Ehrhardt armored vehicle, because it indicates the wrong caliber weapons - 77 mm instead of real 50 mm.
The serial chassis of one of the Ehrhardt trucks was used as the basis for a promising armored car. It was built on the basis of a rectangular frame of metal profiles, equipped with an engine, transmission, undercarriage elements, etc. The base truck was built on the hood scheme and was distinguished by sufficient simplicity of design. For use in the construction of an armored car, the chassis was deprived of a standard cabin and a cargo platform, instead of which a new protected hull should have been installed.
In front of the frame was a four-cylinder gasoline engine of the company "Ehrhardt" power 50 hp The engine is connected to a manual transmission. The torque was delivered to the rear driving wheels by means of a longitudinal shaft and a chain transmission placed on the frame side. The chassis used, by the standards of its time, was distinguished by fairly high performance.
The base truck had two axles with axle suspension. Both axles were attached to the frame on elliptical leaf springs. When creating the Ehrhardt Panzerkampfwagen M1906 armored car, the wheels underwent certain modifications. Now, instead of the spokes used large metal discs. Wheels with pneumatic chambers remained. The front axle was equipped with controls, but had no connection with the engine.
The armored car was proposed to be equipped with a protected body of a relatively simple form. Armor sheets no thicker than 5 mm (according to other sources, only 3 mm) should be fixed with a bolt and rivet to a frame made of metal profiles. Then the entire assembly could fit on the base chassis. The large building was divided into two main compartments: the front small motor and the inhabited rear, which was distinguished by its large size. The habitable volume was not divided into separate compartments, at the same time performing the functions of a department of control and a fighting compartment.
The armored hood of the car Ehrhardt BAK differed very simple form. He had a vertical front sheet with blinds to protect the engine radiator. The sides and cover were formed by a curved steel sheet, which had large, flat sections and rounded edges. In the upper surface of the hood and in the sides there were hatches for servicing the engine.
The only built prototype. Photo Aviarmor.net
Directly behind the engine compartment was the front leaf of the habitable volume. Its frontal unit consisted of two parts. The vertical bottom was characterized by a complex shape, which provided for a smaller width of the bottom. The upper front leaf, in turn, was rectangular and was located with a slope back. The sides of the hull differed specific shape. The lower part of the cross-section of the body had a smaller width, slightly exceeding the dimensions of the frame. Then the body gradually expanded, getting the maximum diameter. The upper part of the body was actually a wide body.
Inhabited compartment had a two-tier roof. Its front part differed in smaller height and had a shoulder strap for mounting the tower. The hull feed, in turn, had a great height. In its sides there were openings with louvers for ventilation of the habitable compartment and removal of powder gases during firing. The hull feed was made of a large armor plate fixed vertically. In its lower part a small bend was envisaged.
At the front of the "lower" part of the roof was placed the turntable with the installation for the gun. The tower had a frontal sheet curved at the top with an embrasure for the gun barrel and a slot for the sight. The stern of the turret was made as part of a cylinder that was included in the corresponding opening of the roof of the hull. The design of the tower provided a horizontal guidance in the sector width 60 °. The elevation angle of the trunk could vary from -5 ° to + 70 °.
The main and only weapon of the Ehrhardt Panzerkampfwagen M1906 armored vehicle was the 50 “anti-aerostatic” gun 5 cm Ballonabwehrkanone L / 30, developed by Rheinmetall. This gun was equipped with a rifled barrel length 30 calibers and was intended to destroy ground or air targets. The gun could use ammunition of different types, manually placed in the chamber. Ammunition armored car consisted of 100 shells. Unitary shots were placed in several boxes of the fighting compartment.
As conceived by the creators, a promising armored car was, first of all, a means of dealing with enemy aircraft. It was proposed to hit aerostats and airships with the aid of aimed firing with fragmentation shells. Due to the relatively long barrel and powerful propellant charge, the projectile could be sent to a height of up to 7800 m - much higher than balloons or airplanes of that time could fly.
If necessary, the existing weapons could be used to attack ground targets located in a certain sector of the forward hemisphere. The armored car did not have additional weapons, and its design excluded the use of personal weapons of the crew without going beyond the protected volumes.
The car at the site. Photo Aviarmor.net
The crew of the Ehrhardt BAK car consisted of five people. The driver and his assistant were in front of the habitable compartment, which served as the control compartment. At their workplaces were all the necessary controls. It was suggested to observe the road with a pair of rectangular inspection hatches in the front hull plate. According to some information, the entire rectangular top front sheet was mounted on hinges, thanks to which it could climb up - this greatly improved the view on the march. Three gunners who were responsible for the operation of the gun, were in the rear of the hull, directly behind the driver and his assistant. They could observe the situation only with the help of the standard viewing instruments of the tower. Any hatches or cracks in the sheets of the case were missing.
Access to the car was provided by a pair of side doors at the level of the driver and assistant jobs. Also, according to some sources, there was a third door, located in the opening of the feeding sheet. The armored case was distinguished by a relatively high height, which made it necessary to place wooden steps under the side doors.
Ehrhardt Panzerkampfwagen M1906 / Ehrhardt BAK anti-aircraft armored car turned out to be quite compact and light, which was contributed to a considerable extent by a relatively thin armor with an appropriate level of protection. The length of the vehicle was 4,2 m with a maximum width of 2,1 m and a height of 2,7 m. The combat weight did not exceed 3,2 t.
The power density of the armored car was at the level of the 14,3 HP per ton, which made it possible to get good mobility characteristics for its time. On a good road, the car could reach speeds of up to 45 km / h. Power reserve was 160 km. However, the existing chassis could not show good maneuverability on rough terrain. Wheels without any difficulty stuck on soft soils, and the weak engine and the specific design of the chassis did not allow to overcome major obstacles.
The anti-aircraft armored vehicle project was developed in 1906 year, and soon Ehrhardt built the first copy of such a machine. This sample, first of all, was intended for passing tests. In addition, he was to become a living advertisement for the original ideas proposed by the creators of the project. With the help of prototype demonstrations, Heinrich and Gustav Ehrhardt intended to interest potential buyers and then receive orders for the mass production of new technology.
The first attempt to bring the armored car to the market of weapons and military equipment was made in the same 1906 year. Heinrich Ehrhardt Automobilwerke AG took part in the 7 of the Berlin Motor Show and presented its first armored car armed with an anti-aircraft gun. It was expected that the military of Kaiser Germany would get acquainted with the model shown, show interest, and then sign a contract for the supply of a certain number of serial machines. However, the expectations and hopes of the designers were not justified - the prospective customer rejected the proposal.
As Heinrich Ehrhardt later wrote in his memoirs, the protected car with a cannon for the fight against aerostats did not interest the German military. Moreover, they called this development an unnecessary game. As a result, the project at one moment lost all its prospects. Having criticized the armored car at the exhibition, warlords would hardly have agreed to take part in his demonstration tests, and therefore would not change their mind. The project in its current form had no future.
According to some reports, the development company attempted to introduce its Ehrhardt BAK armored car to the command of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. However, this time a curious machine with a great future did not interest the possible customer. It should be recalled that a year earlier, Emperor Franz Joseph I sharply criticized an armored car from the Austro-Daimler company, which effectively put an end to all new projects of military equipment for the Austro-Hungarian army. The German armored car could not change the views of the country's leaders, and therefore also did not get into the troops.
After one or two failures, Ehrhardt executives were forced to abandon a project that once seemed promising and promising. No longer needed armored car with anti-aircraft gun dismantled. Perhaps the existing chassis, which did not manage to develop its own resource, has found application in one or another role.
Heinrich and Gustav Ehrhardt still wanted to receive the order of the military department, and therefore did not begin to stop work in the field of military equipment. Nevertheless, new projects of this kind were based on different ideas, and therefore the finished samples had little in common with the Ehrhardt Panzerkampfwagen M1906 armored car. In particular, based on the results of consultations with representatives of a potential customer, it was decided not to book. The result of this was the emergence of self-propelled self-propelled guns, which were a series of trucks with various guns on the modified cargo platforms. There was no protection for this technique. The concept of an armored car was postponed due to the lack of customer interest.
Ehrhardt’s original project was remembered a few years later, but now nobody was going to order new armored vehicles. This case is of particular interest. In 1912, the Y.F. Schreiber from Esslingen has released a cardboard model of an anti-aircraft armored car. Anyone who wanted to have the opportunity to cut out the blanks and assemble from them their own miniature armored car, as well as get acquainted with history project. Subsequently, these scans were repeatedly republished, which had a positive effect on the fame of the armored car and helped him not to get lost in history.
The Ehrhardt Panzerkampfwagen M1906 project was one of the first German attempts to create its own armored car, suitable for solving specific combat missions and fighting various enemy targets. At that time, the German command did not fully understand the goals and objectives of such equipment, and also could not evaluate all of its prospects. As a result, the original and important project was abandoned. However, after a few years, the military had to catch up and order the development of a new technology, resembling the rejected creation of Henry and Gustav Erhardt.
Oswald V. Complete catalog of military vehicles and tanks Germany 1900-1982 M .: AST, Astrel. 2003.