For several years, Vienna made various attempts to increase the combat capability of its army in ways not contradicting the existing treaty. The restrictions imposed did not prohibit Austria from having police and training equipment, which it took advantage of. Thanks to this loophole in the late twenties began a new round stories Austrian armored vehicles.
Heigl Panzerauto M.25
In the mid-twenties, Lieutenant Fritz Heigl made a proposal to create a "training armored car" (Schule Panzerauto), which could have a significant impact on the combat capability of an army of limited size. Previous armed conflicts have clearly shown how useful such a technique can be. At the same time, the “training armored cars” were the only armored vehicles that Austria could afford, both for economic and political reasons.
Heigl was able to interest the Austrian command and in 1925, work began on a new project. It was assumed that the new armored vehicle called Heigl Panzerauto M.25 will be made on the basis of the existing car chassis and equipped with armor and weapons. At the same time, no high demands were made on the car, since the Austrian industry had not previously had much success in designing armored cars.
The basis of the new armored vehicle M.25 was the chassis of a commercial vehicle. According to various sources, it was a five-ton machine from Daimler or Büssing-Fross. Both trucks had acceptable performance and were well mastered in operation. The chassis of the armored car had a wheel formula 4x2 with rear drive wheels and steerable front wheels. The exact model of the engine and its power is unknown. Wheels with tubeless tires were mounted on a suspension with leaf springs. The structure of the chassis of the Heigl Panzerauto M.25 armored car differed little from its foreign counterparts.
With a difference of several months, several versions of the M.25 project were developed, differing from each other in various design features. The first option received the symbol Hans. The side armor plates of the hull of this machine were arranged vertically, and the aft hull part consisted of several parts. The upper forage leaf was set at a large angle to the vertical. The exact thickness of the armored hull sheets is unknown, but the available information suggests that it did not exceed 5-7 millimeters.
The layout of the internal volumes of the armored case was no different from the standard one. Under the armored hood was the engine and part of the transmission units, and in the fighting compartment were jobs of six crew members. The seats of the driver and commander were installed in front of the habitable volume. To observe the situation in the front hull sheet and the doors there were small windows with shields. Two more windows, embrasures were in the middle of the hull sides.
The armament of the Heigl Panzerauto M.25 armored car consisted of four Schwarzlose machine guns of 7,92 mm caliber, each of which operated its own shooter. Two of them were installed in the side embrasures of the hull. Two more machine guns were placed in two towers mounted in the middle of the roof of the case. The location of the towers did not allow for circular guidance of weapons for each of them. However, together the towers could control all the surrounding space. The machine guns mounted in the towers and in the hull could fire in any direction, and several sectors in front, behind and on the sides of the armored car were simultaneously controlled by two machine guns.
A little later an armored car appeared with the designation Fritz. From the "Hans" he was distinguished by some minor modifications of the hull, as well as new towers. For the convenience of the shooters, an updated armored car received larger diameter towers. Because of this, they had to change their location. If on the first version of the M.25 machine the towers were next to each other, then the Fritz version of the project implied the installation of the left tower with a backward shift. This allowed to fit larger towers into the dimensions of the old roof. The size and location of the overlapping sectors of fire has changed, but still allowed to fire in any direction.
The third version of the armored car Heigl Panzerauto M.25 did not carry an additional designation, although it had a lot of differences from the previous ones. Significant processing undergone armored hull. The high-sloping forage sheet was considered a wrong decision and radically reworked the entire stern of the armored car. Machine-gun turrets received oblique frontal sheet with embrasure. Left tower moved to the front of the roof, right - in the stern. In the central part of the roof was placed the command post with slots for observation. By changing the shape of the hull, it was possible to add one additional hatch in its sides.
In 1925-26, one of the three versions of the M.25 was built for each of the three versions. According to some sources, according to the third version of the project, two armored cars were built. The operation of armored cars, developed under the direction of F. Hagel, made it possible to train dozens of driver mechanics, shooters and commanders. Three or four M.25 armored vehicles remained in service for several years and were used for crew training. According to some information, they were written off in the early thirties, after the appearance of new equipment of this class. Despite the extremely small number of assembled vehicles, the armored car Heigl Panzerauto M.25 was an important milestone in the history of the Austrian armored forces.
Heigl Panzerauto M.26
Taking into account the experience gained during the creation of the M.25 project, F. Heigl and his colleagues in 1926 began the development of the next armored car. The Heigl Panzerauto M.26 machine should have kept its construction simplicity, but at the same time have higher characteristics. To this end, several new technical solutions for the Austrian defense industry were applied in the project.
According to some reports, the basis for the armored car M. 26 was the same truck as in the case of the previous combat vehicle. However, with its refinement, the rear wheels became dual. Engine, transmission and wheel formula remained the same. To facilitate the design and provide a sufficient level of protection, the armored body was made of sheets located at different angles to the vertical. Considering the hull lines, it is easy to notice that in its construction there are no vertical sheets, and the only horizontal one is the roof.
The desire to reduce the combat weight of the machine affected its armament and crew. The latter was reduced to four people: a driver, a commander and two gunners. Two Schwarzlose machine guns, as on the previous armored car, were installed in the hull and had to fire through the hatches in the sides. Two more machine guns installed in a large tower with a characteristic inclined frontal sheet. In terms of its firepower, the M.26 armored car was equal to the previous vehicle, although the use of one turret had a corresponding effect on combat capabilities. Nevertheless, the reduction in the number of towers was considered an acceptable step for training armored vehicles.
In 1926, the first and last copies of the Heigl Panzerauto M.26 armored car were built. In a number of sources, he carries the alternative designation PAI (Panzerauto I). The Austrian army used this armored vehicle to train personnel. In addition, he had the opportunity to participate in maneuvers. Active operation of the new armored vehicle continued until the 1927 year. After the delivery of the Austrian army of Skoda PA-II armored cars of Czechoslovak production, the use of its own production equipment continued with less intensity. The only armored vehicle M.26 was in operation about the same as the M.25 - until the early thirties.
In 1931, Austro-Daimler joined the development of armored vehicles. Having some information about modern foreign developments, she intended to create a promising armored car with a high level of protection, powerful weapons and good running characteristics. To fulfill all the requirements, several technical solutions had to be applied, the complexity and novelty of which affected the timing of the project. Construction of experienced armored vehicles of the new model began only in the middle of the decade.
The previous Austrian armored cars were designed on the basis of commercial trucks, because of which they received "inherited" several characteristic problems. To avoid this, a new armored vehicle called the ADGZ received a specially designed chassis for it. The basis of the chassis was the original polygonal frame. The complex shape of this unit was due to several reasons, from the particular installation of various equipment to the need to use front and rear steering wheels.
The armored hull was proposed to be welded from sheets of different thickness. Front and side hull sheets, as well as the tower had a thickness of 11 mm, the roof and the bottom - 6 mm. The internal volumes of the armored corps were arranged taking into account the developments that existed at that time, however, a number of interesting ideas were applied. So, under the front sheet of the case placed the engine cooling radiator. In the stowed position, he was blown by the air coming in through the blinds in the front sheet. Before the battle, the driver had to close the radiator shutters and open the air intake located on the bottom.
Behind the radiator was located one of the drivers. In the interwar period, there was an opinion according to which an armored car for greater maneuverability in battle should be equipped with two control posts. The Austrian armored car ADGZ was designed with these views in mind. The second driver was in the aft of the habitable volume. In addition to the two drivers, the crew included a commander, loader, a gunner and two gunners. For landing and disembarking in the sides there were four hatches, another one - in the roof of the tower.
At the rear of the hull was an Austro-Daimler M 612 carburetor engine with 150 horsepower, coupled with a hydraulic gearbox. The latter was applied to the same driving characteristics when moving forward and backward. The engine torque was transmitted through the cardan shafts to all four axes of the car. Wheels equipped with tubeless tires. The front and rear axle wheels were steerable. On the two middle axles mounted gable wheels. Such a chassis, as expected, should have provided high performance both on the highway and on rough terrain.
In a rotating double tower on the roof of the building housed the main armament. Depending on the circumstances, the crew could attack the enemy with a 20 mm Solothurn gun or a 7,92 mm Schwarzlose machine gun. Two more machine guns were installed in the front and rear sheets of the fighting compartment. In the laying of an armored car, 250 shells for guns and a total of 5000 rounds for machine guns were placed. In the mid-thirties, three machine guns and a 20 mm caliber gun were serious weapons not only for armored cars, but also for tanks.
The use of original ideas led to an increase in the size and weight of the combat vehicle. Combat weight ADGZ reached 12 tons, which is why the car was classified as a heavy armored car. The total length exceeded 6,2 meters, width - 2,1 m, height - 2,5 m. Despite this, during the tests the armored car on the highway accelerated to 70 km / h. Power reserve - 450 kilometers. Two steering axles, all-wheel drive suspension and a relatively powerful engine ensured good maneuverability and high maneuverability.
In 1937, the Austrian army and police signed contracts for the supply of new armored vehicles. Under these contracts, Austro-Daimler was to produce 12 military vehicles for the military and 15 for law enforcement. During the operation, the army and the police revealed some shortcomings, although in general the new armored cars were considered good and convenient to use.
In the spring of 1938, Austria became part of Germany. Anschluss had many consequences of a different nature. The transformations carried out by the new authorities also touched the ADGZ armored cars. The Austrian military and police 27 armored vehicles of this model were transferred to German troops, where they received a new designation: М35 mittlerer Panzerwagen. The Wehrmacht had its own weapons and military equipment and did not need such trophies. It was originally proposed to sell the Austrian armored cars of Bulgaria or Romania, but such plans were quickly abandoned. Due to the limited capabilities, the Austrian industry did not have time to equip all built ADGZ armored vehicles with various equipment, including radio stations. The sale of equipment in this form was considered meaningless.
Former Austrian armored cars remained with the German army. In 1938-39, they underwent minor repairs and upgrades. The main objective of this work was to change the weapons in accordance with German standards. Machine guns "Schwarzlose" were replaced by MG34. In addition, armored cars received radio equipment. Modified armored cars ADGZ were transferred to several parts of the SS. The combat use of Austrian-made ADGZ armored vehicles began in September 1939, during the German attack on Poland. In the future, these machines were used in the following military operations, as well as in police purposes.
In 1941, the largest contract for the supply of ADGZ armored cars was signed. Steyr, which by that time included Austro-Daimler, received an order for the supply of 25 armored cars. There are two versions explaining the appearance of this contract. According to the first, in 1941, SS units suffered heavy losses in manpower and equipment, which had to be urgently replenished, including with the help of Austrian armored vehicles. The second version speaks of the desires of the SS leadership to have their own equipment, different from the weapons of the Wehrmacht. Both versions have the right to life, because in favor of the first one they say there are large German losses, and the second is confirmed by the fact that the ADGZ cars in 1941 had no advantages over the existing armored cars developed in Germany.
At the beginning of 1942, Steyr completed the order and handed over the SS to armored fighting vehicles. 25 armored vehicles received radio equipment, as well as new weapons. Like the converted trophy cars, the new ADGZ carried MG34 machine guns. Instead of 20-mm Solothurn guns, they installed KwK 35 L / 45 guns of the same caliber. According to some sources, after the German attack on the Soviet Union, several ADGZ armored vehicles received new gun turrets, shot from captured T-26 tanks.
All available ADGZ armored vehicles were used by the SS troops to protect the rear units and fight partisans. Until the end of the war, a number of these machines were damaged, and several were destroyed. In addition, at the beginning of the 1943 of the year, during the battles in the Voronezh region, an Austrian-made armored car went to the Red Army as a trophy. After the war, all available ADGZ armored cars were disposed of.
Heavy armored car ADGZ was one of the most successful developments of the Austrian defense industry. The car developed from scratch had high running characteristics and fire power. In addition, 52 built such armored vehicles in total, which can also be considered evidence of its success. No other Austrian armored car of the interwar period was built in such a large series.
Having completed the main design work on the ADGZ project, in which original technical solutions were widely used, Austro-Daimler began developing a new armored car. This time it was supposed to create a three-axle combat vehicle with a wide use of developments on the existing technology, including civilian trucks. Available information about the project, called ADGK, allows the Austrian designers to be suspected of "peering" at foreign colleagues. With its appearance, the Austrian armored car 1934, much resembles the American car M1 Armored Car, which appeared several years earlier. The similarity can be explained both by the similar objectives of the project, and by borrowing some ideas.
The ADGK armored car had to have a three-axle chassis with the 6 x4 wheel formula. It was proposed to make the front single-wheel wheels manageable, and the two rear axles with dual wheels would be leading. Wheels with bullet-resistant tires could be mounted on the suspension with leaf springs. To increase the patency of the new armored car was supposed to get a pair of small drums, mounted under the bottom. When hitting an obstacle, they had to work like wheels and not let the car catch the bottom. In addition, on the sides, rear and above the front wheels should be spare, able to rotate freely.
The armored body of the ADGK machine was proposed to be welded from metal sheets. Frontal, side and stern sheets located at an angle to the vertical. Information about the proposed booking thickness is not available. Internal hull volumes were divided into engine and combat compartments. Motor located in front of the case and was separated from the battle partition. The crew compartment was supposed to be a crew of four.
On the roof of the fighting compartment it was supposed to install a tower of a characteristic shape: on its cylindrical sides there was a round "dome". The main weapon of the armored car — the 20-mm automatic cannon — was supposed to be in the turret. It was the commander who had to direct and fire her. In front of the fighting compartment, it was planned to install jobs for the driver and the gunner, armed with an 7,92-mm machine gun in the front sheet embrasure. The fourth crew member was also supposed to be armed with a machine gun. He was supposed to be in the stern of the machine.
With a length of over 4,3 meters and a height of about 2,1 m, the calculated combat weight of the ADGK armored car reached 7 tons. The estimated maximum speed on the highway exceeded 50 km / h.
The exact weight and running characteristics of the armored car of the new model have not been clarified. The fact is that the development of the ADGK project ceased several months after the start. According to various sources, this was due to the insufficient design characteristics of the promising machine or because of the higher priority of the ADGZ project. Armored car ADGK remained on paper. Construction of the prototype did not begin.
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