Stalingrad is different from all cities of Russia - a narrow ribbon of residential buildings stretched down the Volga for 60 kilometers. The river has always occupied a special place in the life of the city - the central waterway of Russia, a major transport route with access to the Caspian, White, Azov and Baltic Seas, a source of hydropower and a favorite resting place of Volgograd.
... if on a warm spring evening you go down a steep slope to the Volga, then on one of the marinas in the central part of the city you can find a curious monument - a flat-bottomed boat standing on a pedestal with hanging "mustache" anchors. On the deck of a strange ship there is a semblance of a deckhouse, and on the bow - oh, a miracle! - installed tower from tank T-34.
In fact, the place is quite famous - this is the BK-13 armored boat, and the monument itself, bearing the name "Heroes of the Volga Military flotilla"- an integral part of the museum-panorama" Battle of Stalingrad. " It offers a beautiful view of the bend of a giant river. Modern “pioneers” come here to “swing at anchor”. Here, on Navy Day, the Volgograd seaman gather.
There is no doubt that the armored boat is a mute witness to that Great Battle: this is clearly indicated by the bronze sign on the wheelhouse with a concise inscription:
The BK-13 armored troop as part of the WWF participated in the heroic defense of Stalingrad from July 24 to December 17 1942
It is much less known that the BC-13 participated in the battles on the Dnieper, Pripyat and Western Bug. And then, the “river tank”, deftly creeping through shoals and obstacles, penetrated through the systems of European rivers and canals to Berlin itself. A flat-bottomed "tin", which even a ship can hardly be called (what kind of ship is without a compass, in whose interior can you not get up to its full height?) Has a heroic historywhich any modern cruiser will envy.
Marshal Vasily Chuikov, the man who directly led the defense of Stalingrad, spoke unequivocally about the significance of the armored cars in the Battle of Stalingrad:
I will briefly say about the role of the sailors of the flotilla, about their exploits: if they didn’t exist, the 62 army would have died without ammunition and food.
The combat history of the Volga military flotilla began in the summer of 1942.
By the middle of July, bombers with black crosses on the wings appeared in the skies of the Southern Volga region — the armored boats immediately began to escort Baku oil carriers and tankers ascending the Volga. Over the following month, they conducted 128 caravans, repelling the Luftwaffe 190 air attacks.
And then the real hell began.
30 August sailors went to explore the northern outskirts of Stalingrad - there, behind the tractor factory, the German units broke through to the water. Three armored boats moved silently in the night mist, engine exhausts at low speed were pulled out below the waterline.
They secretly stepped out to the appointed place and were about to leave when the sailors saw the screaming Fritz screaming with joy, who were drawing water from the Russian river in helmets. Enveloped in righteous anger, the crews of armored boats opened heavy fire from all their trunks. The night concert passed with a full house, but suddenly an unaccounted factor entered into force - tanks standing on the shore. A duel began, in which the boats had few chances: German armored vehicles were hard to detect against the dark coast, while Soviet boats were clearly visible. Finally, the "armored" board, which was only 8 mm thick, protected ships from bullets and small fragments, but was powerless against the might of even the smallest artillery ammunition.
The fatal shot hit the side - an armor-piercing shell pierced the boat through, disabling the engine. Fixed "tin" was pressed over the current to the enemy shore. When the enemy was only a few dozen meters away, the crews of the remaining boats managed to get under tough fire from the shore to take the damaged boat in tow and take him to a safe place.
15 September 1942 of the year the Germans broke into Mamayev Kurgan - the height of 102.0, which offers a great overview of the entire central part of the city (Mamayev Kurgan was captured and again repulsed 8 times - a little less than the Railway Station - he passed from the hands of Russians into Germans 13 times , as a result, there is no stone left on it). From this moment on, the boats of the Volga military flotilla became one of the most important connecting threads of the 62 army with its rear.
Even native Volgograd residents do not know about this rare place. The pole stands on the station square right in front of the traveling crowd - but rarely does anyone pay attention to the ugly scars on its surface. The upper part of the pillar is literally turned inside out - the fragmentation ammunition exploded inside. I counted two dozen marks from bullets, fragments, and several large holes from shells — all this on a pole with a diameter of centimeters of 30. The density of the fire near the station was just terrifying.
In daylight, armored boats were hiding in the numerous backwaters and tributaries of the Volga, hiding from enemy raids aviation and deadly artillery fire (during the day, German batteries from the mound shot through the entire water area, leaving the sailors no chance to stick to the right bank). At night, work began - under cover of darkness, boats delivered reinforcements to the besieged city, while simultaneously performing daring reconnaissance raids along the German coastal areas, provided fire support to Soviet troops, landed troops in the rear of the enemy and fired on German positions.
Fantastic figures are known about the combat service of these small, but very nimble and useful ships: during their work at the Stalingrad ferries, six armored units of the 2 Division were transferred to the right bank (to the besieged Stalingrad) 53 thousands of soldiers and commanders of the Red Army, 2000 tons of equipment and supplies. During the same period, 23 727 wounded soldiers and 917 civilians were evacuated on the decks of armored boats from Stalingrad.
But even the most moonless night did not guarantee protection - dozens of German searchlights and lighting rockets continuously snatched out of the darkness areas of black icy water with "river tanks" rushing along it. Each flight ended with a dozen combat damage — nevertheless, overnight, the armored boats made 8-12 flights to the right bank. All the next day, the sailors pumped out the water that had entered the compartments, sealed the holes, repaired the damaged mechanisms, so that they could take another dangerous flight the next night. The workers of the Stalingrad Shipyard and Krasnoarmeiskaya Shipyard helped the armored boat to repair.
And again the mean chronicle:
10 October 1942 of the year. The armored car БКА №53 transported 210 fighters and 2 tons of food to the right bank, took 50 wounded, got holes in the port side and stern. The BCA No. 63 transported 200 fighters, 1 tons of food and 2 tons of mines, brought 32 wounded fighters ...
Winter 1942-43 it was unprecedentedly early - already in early November on the Volga, the autumn drift began - the ice floes complicated the already difficult situation at the ferries. The fragile wooden hull barracks were broken, ordinary ships did not have enough engine power to withstand the pressure of the ice - soon the armored boats were the only means to deliver people and cargo to the right bank of the river.
By the middle of November, the freeze-up was finally formed - the mobilized ships of the Stalingrad river fleet and ships of the Volga military flotilla were frozen into ice or were diverted to the south, to the lower reaches of the Volga. From this point on, the supply of the 62 Army in Stalingrad was carried out only by ice crossings or by air.
During the active phase of the combat operations of the guns of the “river tanks” of the Volga Military Flotilla, 20 units of German armored vehicles were destroyed, more than a hundred dugouts and bunkers were destroyed, and 26 artillery batteries were put down. From fire from the water, the enemy lost up to three regiments of the personnel killed and wounded.
And, of course, 150 thousands of soldiers and commanders of the Red Army, the wounded, civilians and 13 000 tons of cargo sent from one to the other side of the Great Russian River.
The loss of the Volga military flotilla amounted to 18 steamers, 3 armored boats and about two dozen minesweepers and mobilized passenger boats. The intensity of the fighting in the lower reaches of the Volga was comparable to naval battles in the open ocean.
The Volga military flotilla was disbanded only in June 1944 of the year - when the work on demining the river area was completed (irritated by the actions of river ships and ships, the Germans abundantly “planted” the Volga with sea mines).
Soviet boats on the Danube
Armored in the capital of Austria. Photos from the collection of V. V. Burachka
But the armored boats left the Volga region already in the summer of 1943 of the year - having loaded their “river tanks” onto the railway platforms, the sailors went to the West, following the fleeing enemy. Fighting on the Dnieper, the Danube and Tisza, the river tanks made their way through the territory of Eastern Europe through the narrow channels of King Peter I and Alexander I, landed landings on the Vistula and the Oder ... Ukraine, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia swept over the side of the armored cars. Poland and Austria - up to the very lair of the fascist beast.
... The armored car BC-13 was in European waters until 1960, serving as part of the Danube military flotilla, after which he returned to the banks of the Volga and was transferred as an exhibit to the Volgograd State Museum of Defense. Alas, for some unknown reason, the museum staff limited themselves to the removal of several mechanisms, after which the boat disappeared without a trace. In 1981, it was found among scrap metal at one of the enterprises of the city, after which, on the initiative of veterans, BK-13 was restored and placed as a monument on the territory of the Volgograd shipbuilding and ship repair plant. In the 1995 year, on the 50 anniversary of Victory, the grand opening of the monument “To the Heroes of the Volga Military Flotilla” on the Volga Embankment took place, and the armored car on the pedestal took its rightful place. Since then, the "river tank" BK-13 looks at the endlessly flowing water, recalling the great feat of those who under deadly fire brought up reinforcements to besieged Stalingrad.
From the history of river tanks
Despite its curious appearance (the hull, like that of a flat-bottomed barge, a tank tower), the BK-13 armored car was by no means a home-made impromptu, but a well-thought decision made long before the start of World War II — the conflict on the CER happened in 1929 year. Work on the creation of the Soviet "river tanks" began in November 1931, the boats were intended, first of all, for the Amur military flotilla - the protection of the eastern borders was becoming an increasingly urgent problem of the Soviet state.
BK-13 (sometimes found in the literature BKA-13) - one of the 154 built small river armored boats of the project 1125. * "River Tanks" were intended to combat enemy boats, combat support of ground forces, fire support, reconnaissance and combat operations in water areas rivers, lakes and coastal maritime zone.
* Also, there was a project of larger twin-towed boats of the 1124 project (the so-called Amur series, several dozen units were built)
The main feature of the 1125 project was a flat bottom with a propeller tunnel, low draft and modest weight and size characteristics that provide armored carriers with mobility and the possibility of emergency transfer by rail. During the war years, “river tanks” were actively used on the Volga, on the Ladoga and Onega lakes, on the Black Sea coast, in Europe and in the Far East.
Time has fully confirmed the correctness of the decision: a certain need for such a technique persists even in the 21st century. Despite the rocket weapon and high technology, a highly protected heavy armament boat can be useful when conducting anti-guerrilla raids and in low-intensity local conflicts.
Brief characteristics of the 1125 armored launch vehicle:
Total displacement within 30 tons
Length 23 m
Precipitation 0,6 m
Crew 10 people
Full speed 18 nodes (33 km / h - quite a lot for the river area)
Engine - GAM-34-BC (based on the AM-34 aircraft engine) hp 800 *
* Some armored cars were equipped with Packard and Hall-Scott engines of 900 hp with foreign engines.
Fuel supply on board - 2,2 tons
The boat is designed for actions at 3-point waves (in the years of the Second World War there were cases of long sea crossings of boats at the 6-point storm)
Bulletproof booking: mm 7 board; deck 4 mm; cabin 8 mm, roof cabin 4 mm. Board booking was done from 16 to 45 frame. The lower edge of the armored belt fell down to the 150 mm below the waterline.
There were a lot of improvisations and an extraordinary variety of designs: tank turrets similar to T-28 and T-34-76, Lender anti-aircraft guns in open turrets, large-caliber DShK and rifle-caliber machine guns (3-4 pcs.). On part of the "river tanks" installed multiple launch rocket systems caliber 82 mm and even 132 mm. During the modernization, rails and butts appeared to fix four sea mines.
Another rarity. The fireboat "Silencer" (1903) - in addition to its intended purpose, was used at the Stalingrad ferries as a means of transport. In October, the 1942 of the year sank from the damage received. When the boat was lifted, 3,5 found thousands of holes from splinters and bullets in its hull.
Armored boats in Moscow, 1946 year
Crossing crossing, rough snow, ice edge ...
Facts and details on the use of armored boats are taken from the article “River tanks go into battle” by I.M. Plekhov, S.P. Khvatov (BOATS and YACHTS No.4 (98) for 1982 year)