Armored car Woźniak-Walerus / Powstaniec (Poland)
The first Polish armored car, designed to support Polish troops, was a car called the Korfanty. It was built in just a few days, and no later than 8-10 in May this sample went to war. Soon, several other handicraft armored cars came from various workshops. Together, this technique was able to have a certain impact on the course of subsequent battles. In the conflict, the main participants of which were poorly armed infantry detachments, any armored vehicle with a machine gun could be a decisive factor.
According to reports, the initiator of the new project was an engineer named Wozniak. He spent part of the design work. Soon, Karol Valerus joined the creation of the armored car. Subsequently, the project was named Woźniak-Walerus by their last names. At the same time during the design, construction and operation of the armored car wore a different name - Powstaniec ("Rebel"). That was the name written on board the car, while the names of the designers on the case were absent. It should be noted that in the same period the Poles had an armored car called Zabrski Powstaniec. Despite certain similarities, they were different machines and should not be confused.
Without having the desired production capacity and resources, Wozniak and Valearus were forced to use only the available materials and components. Thus, the basis for the armored car was to be one of the existing trucks, and the protected hull should have been made independently, as they say, from improvised materials. This approach has already been used in the construction of the Korfanty armored car, but in its case it has led to specific results.
Ready-made armored car "Rebel" had a characteristic appearance and to some extent resembled a German tank A7V from the First World War. Apparently, the similarity was exclusively external and had no technical or technological background. However, this did not prevent the appearance of a curious version. In the mid-twenties, a book by Fritz Heigl Taschenbuch der Tanks was published in Germany, stating that the Powstaniec armored car was built using an unfinished armored corps tank A7V. Obviously, such information could hardly correspond to reality, but the version about the use of tank armor was widespread and is still mentioned in various sources.
What kind of chassis was used in the project Powstaniec - is unknown. There is information about the use of the chassis of a two-axle commercial truck of an unnamed brand. The characteristics of this machine is also not specified. At the same time, it is clear that the chassis had a frame structure that was traditional for that time and was built according to the bonnet layout with the front arrangement of the gasoline engine. The parameters of the power plant can be estimated by taking into account the features of automotive vehicles of this period. Probably, the engine had a power of no more than 35-40 hp and with the help of a mechanical transmission transmitted torque to the rear driving axle. As part of the chassis should have been used leaf springs.
The authors of an improvised armored car developed the original design of an armored corps. Individual armor parts of minor thickness were to be fixed on a metal or wooden frame with rivets or bolts. A characteristic feature of the Rebel Corps was a specific form that really resembled German World War I tanks. As can be judged, the smaller front part of the hull served as the hood, while all other volumes were intended for the crew and weapons.
Wozniak and Valerus offered a rather complicated case design. The engine was covered with a vertical front sheet, in the upper part of which there was a window with louvers for air supply to the radiator. The sides of the hood consisted of three triangular parts that formed a curving unit. From above the engine was closed with a horizontal cover. The lower part of the frontal sheet was joined by rectangular sheets placed at an angle to the longitudinal axis. They formed the front part of the "armor belt" that covered the chassis.
The central part of the corps, which housed the workplaces of several crew members, had a relatively simple form, but was supplemented with a set of additional units. The sides were tilted inwards, connected by a horizontal roof from above. At the same time, large cylindrical sponsons were located on the sides of the front and aft part. A pair of sponsons joined together by a common roof. The roof of the front sponsons was tilted forward, stern - back. The frontal parts of the front sponsons were also connected to a low vertical front sheet. The gap between the aft cylindrical surfaces connected to a vertical sheet.
Provided for the installation of protection around the perimeter of the chassis. Under the sides of the hood and the main part of the body were rectangular flaps of the same height. They completely covered the car, protecting the frame and elements of the chassis. Without protection there was only a small part of the wheels, which turned out to be below the slice of a similar “armor belt”.
The most important feature of the Wozniak-Valerus project was the presence of a full swing tower. In the center of the roof of the case was placed a tower of conical shape with a horizontal roof. The frontal section of the armor cone had an embrasure for mounting a machine gun. Whether the tower was equipped with a roof hatch is unknown.
The armored car was equipped at once with five MG 08 machine guns, which were given to Polish formations from the Germans. The original project, which envisaged the use of the tower, made it possible to fire targets at any direction. At the same time, there was the possibility of quickly transferring the fire of all machine guns to fairly large angles.
In the four side sponsors provided for large horizontal openings, through which the armored valves with embrasures for mounting machine guns. This hull design provided shooting in a wide sector: the shooter could attack a target in front of the machine and then transfer the fire to the object from the side-rear. Two front machine guns fired at targets in the front and side hemispheres, and a pair of stern allowed control of the side and stern sectors. Freely rotating tower allows you to shoot in any direction. If necessary, the MG 08 turret could complement any machine gun of the hull and strengthen the fire in a given sector.
The crew of the armored car had to consist of at least six or seven people. The Powstaniec machine needed a driver and five shooters. In addition, the participation of one or two machine-gun assistants who could take over operations with cartridge belts, etc. was required.
The crew had to conduct surveillance using a set of hatches and slots in different parts of the hull. So, in the frontal part of the habitable compartment, between the front sponsons, there was a low wide gap designed to monitor the road. A pair of inspection hatches, which could also be used as additional embrasures, were located in the sides of the hull. Machine gunners were asked to look at targets through the openings of their armory installations. Access to the armored car was provided by side hatches.
Considering the type of chassis used and the appearance of the proposed armored hull, it can be assumed that the total length of the Rebel was 6,5-7 m. The width of the vehicle was at least 2 m and the height was more than 2,5 m. It is worth noting that the version on the use of armor taken from a German tank implies a higher mass of the structure. But with such a weight, the armored car simply could not move from the existing chassis.
There is reason to believe that the Woźniak-Walerus armored car was not distinguished by high mobility characteristics. On the highway, it could accelerate to 35-40 km / h. On rough terrain, the maximum speed should have been sharply reduced. Traction and overall aspects of terrain left much to be desired.
According to some reports, the Powstaniec armored car went to war at the very beginning of May. Already on May 3, a combat vehicle under the command of K. Valerus took part in the battles for the city of Chorzów. A few days later, the car arrived in the area of Kedzedzhin, which the Polish troops were going to storm. In the ensuing operation, “Rebel” worked together with the Korfanty combat vehicle. Armored cars provided fire support to the advancing infantry and showed good results. In that conflict, any protected machine with a machine gun could radically change the course of the battle. The Poles used such opportunities throughout the conflict.
22 May crew of the Powstanius armored car suffered the first loss. During the fighting in the area of the village of Zebowice, German bullets pierced the body of the car and inflicted fatal wounds to one of the crew members. However, such a "victory" cost the enemy dear. The death of one of the Polish fighters almost did not affect the combat capability of the armored vehicle, and she continued to carry out the combat mission with clear consequences for the enemy units.
During his service, Wozniak-Valerus’s armored car repeatedly changed its identity. In just a few weeks he managed to serve in a number of units and ensure the combat work of various infantry formations. The last battles in the area of Zebovitsa, in which the “Rebel” participated, were held in early June. Not later than June 7-8 several armored cars were withdrawn to another sector of the front.
June 14 command of the Polish armed forces issued an order to demobilize existing armored vehicles. Several artisanal combat vehicles were sent to the rear. Then some of them were withdrawn from the territory of Upper Silesia to Poland. The unit to which “Rebel” was assigned at the time was disbanded at the end of June.
The further fate of the Powstaniec armored vehicle, as well as several other Silesian improvised armored cars, is unknown. Apparently, this armored car for some time could remain in service or in storage, after which it was decommissioned and disassembled. In the early twenties, Poland built its own armored troops of an acceptable size, and therefore no longer needed a technique of handicraft origin.
It should be noted that some sources mention a different fate of the armored vehicle. According to these data, "Rebel" was transferred to the category of educational equipment and used to train crews of modern armored vehicles. As such, the car continued service until the very end of the twenties. During this time, she developed all the available resources, and only after that was written off. No longer needed sample was removed from service and dismantled.
Being in difficult conditions, the Polish armed forces tried to gain an advantage over the enemy in the face of several German structures and formations. A good solution to this problem were improvised armored cars with machine-gun armament. The Powstaniec or Woźniak-Walerus machine justified the hopes placed on it and helped to carry out several successful operations. However, outside the original conflict, she had no real prospects.
On the materials of the sites:
- Ryabov Kirill
- Aviarmor.net, Bronpancernafb.wordpress.com
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