Military Review

Russian armored cars (Part of 1) First Steps

It is traditionally considered that the first armored car for the Russian Army was designed by the accessory of the 7 Siberian Cossack regiment, Prince Mikhail Alexandrovich Nakashidze during the Russian-Japanese war. Supposedly, a car made in France was intended for operations in the conditions of the Far East, but because of the backwardness of Russia and the inactivity of the tsarist officials, the armored car was hacked to pieces. Let's try to figure out how it all the same was the case.

Prince M. Nakashidze was really a big fan and popularizer of automotive technology. In 1902, he published in Petersburg a book called “Automobile, its economic and strategic importance for Russia”, which was the first book in the country on military motorism.

Serving in Warsaw, M. Nakashidze, together with Count Potocki and Colonel Golovin, founded a motor transport enterprise called “The Large International Car Garage”, which opened in July 1903 of the year. In addition to selling cars of the French company "Panhard-Levassor" here were made several cars of their own design, called the "International."

Apparently at this time Nakashidze begins to cooperate with the French company "Sharron, Girardot, Vouille" (Chraron, Giarardot, Voigt "), founded in 1901 year. So far, it has not been possible to establish how the relations between the Russian prince and the French were built, but according to some information, Nakashidze was one of the co-owners of this enterprise. In any case, at the beginning of 1904, he sold the “Big International Car Garage”, and in correspondence with representatives of the General Staff of the Russian Army he presented himself as director of the Sharron armored car department.

In 1902, “Sharron, Girardot, Vois” presented a car with a Hotchx XM machine gun and a partial reservation on it at the Paris exhibition. The following year, this machine was tested during the maneuvers of the French cavalry in the Chalon military camp, but did not receive further development.

In 1905, a retired French artillery colonel, Güyé, who worked for Sharron, designed a fully armored vehicle with a machine gun turret, and he received a patent number 13 for turning the turret mechanism of the original 1906 design in February 363712. At the beginning of the same year, the company "Sharron" manufactured two such armored vehicles.

With the beginning of the Russian-Japanese war, M. Nakashidze led a reconnaissance team formed by him from volunteers, with which he was sent to the front at the disposal of the 7 of the Siberian Cossack Regiment. In early July, 1905, he sent the commander-in-chief of the Russian forces in the Far East, Adjutant General Lenevich, a proposal to order one armored vehicle in France armed with a machine gun to test it in front-line conditions. Most likely, Nakashidze already knew about the project of the armored car of Colonel Guyet and hoped that the Russian government would be interested in the novelty. He took on the role of an intermediary in processing the transaction, as well as financing the delivery of an armored car to Russia.

Adjutant General N.P. Lenevich agreed with the proposal of Nakashidze. In addition, the latter received permission from the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Empire for the duty-free importation of an armored car to Russia: it was assumed that the state would pay taxes in the event of purchasing a car. If the transaction did not take place, the armored car was supposed to be sent to France in the 3 month.

Apparently, Nakashidze, who enlisted the support “above,” as they say, “got into the taste,” as the head of the military communications department of the General Staff reported to the quarter-general of the General Staff of the Russian Army:

“Prince Nakashidze podlesaul memorandum from December 3 with. I asked for five more of the same armored vehicles to pass through customs without delay, but this request was denied 8 December, since it was proposed to purchase only one engine for testing by its military department. ”

The armored car arrived in St. Petersburg on March 8, 1906. The car was sent to the St. Petersburg artillery warehouse, which was located in the crown of the Peter and Paul Fortress (now there is the Militaryhistorical Museum of artillery, engineering troops and communications troops. - Note author).

Armored car "Sharron" on the road. Russia, 1906 year (RGVIA)

Tests of new items were commissioned by the General Artillery Directorate chaired by this commission chaired by Lieutenant General Takhta-Rev. During the period from March 22 to March 29, the 1906 armored car made several runs in the vicinity of St. Petersburg. Shooting tests and armor shooting were also carried out at the Gunnery range of the Officers' Rifle School.

30 June 1906 was compiled by the GAU Commission Journal for testing an armored vehicle equipped with a machine gun, in which all materials on testing cars were summarized:

“The car, according to Nakashidze, has a capacity of 30 HP, gasoline reserves per 500 km, gas consumption is 1,25 pounds per hour, i.e. 37,5 pounds per hour, the weight of the entire car 180 pounds (2400 kg), the number of people 4 (the officer, the driver driving the car and the 2 machine gunner).

It is covered with armor in 4,5 mm on all sides, hinged on the front armor and can, if desired, be raised or lowered, 4 windows (2 on each side) cut through with 4,5 mm steel sheets are cut from the side. Thus, in combat, the car is almost completely covered with armor, leaving only small holes for the eyes.

Uncovered wheels remain with their inflated tires that are not protected by armor. For lighting inside there are small incandescent bulbs. Seats for the officer and the driver are located in front, around which all the mechanisms and control levers are concentrated, while the rear part is designed for a machine gun, fortified in a rotating turret, lying above the roof of the car.

This tower can move around a special vertical axis, to which the machine gun is attached with two curved levers ...

In the room for the machine gun is the seat for the machine gunners, which is removed during the shooting. In addition, there are also two vertical tanks - one for transporting 140 liters of gasoline, the other 20 liters of oil. The rest of the gasoline is transported in the tank under the front seats. The rearmost part of the car is designed to carry 2400 cartridges packed in 10 metal boxes of 10 packs of 24 cartridges in each. There is no special room for the rest of the cartridges, but some more can be transported directly on the floor of the car near the machine-gun stand.

From the outside, the front of the car is equipped with an acetylene lamp; on the outside, two portable bridges are attached to it to cross the moats, and the back of the spare wheel and the spare machine gun.

The car is armed with a Hotchkiss machine gun shooting French ammunition. ”

Not too impressive were the results of tests of armor by firing Mosin 7,62-mm rifles, which showed that “the armor put on the car, in its qualities with respect to impenetrability, is significantly inferior to our steel, and its fragility is confirmed by the fact that when penetrating it with bullets small pieces of armor were chipped off. ”

In their conclusions on the testing of the Sharron armored vehicle, the commission of the main artillery command noted the following:

“1. The car gave quite good results:

a) on a very good road the car was moving at a speed of 60 versts per hour;

b) rises to 18-20 hail, the car took well;

c) on the sandy compacted shallow ground and on dry arable land, the car moved smoothly.

2. Having a sufficient supply of water and gasoline, the car moves for a long time without replenishing them.

3. Driving a car is convenient because all the levers and mechanisms are concentrated near the driver.

4. It should be noted and appropriate device cooler machine.


5. A car cannot move at all on a sodden damp, unwholesome road (with ordinary soil around St. Petersburg), covered with shallow, friable snow, and without roads, along dry, soft pounds along which the usual light 8 passenger car can pass. When driving on such grounds, the car is almost tied up to the axles.

6. Slowness of the car is negligible. To rotate, you need a circle in 17,5 arshin dia diameters and 9,5 arshin to rotate with a successive movement back and forth.

7. There is no complete independence of moves.

8. Some parts of the car, such as the exhaust pipe, are very low, which means that if the wheels are tied, they can break down.

9. The center of gravity of the car is raised very high due to the rather significant weight of the armor tower and the machine gun located on top of the roof of the car, which adversely affects its stability. "

Not everything was smooth and when testing the machine by shooting. If during firing from a place the results were quite satisfactory, then it turned out that in the movement “the accuracy decreases significantly, and the decrease increases with increasing speed”.

In addition, it was noted that the fighting compartment is not enough to accommodate a machine gun and two machine gunners, rotation of the turret and aiming it at the target is quite difficult, and “shooting requires special dexterity and skill due to crowded premises”. Also, members of the commission spoke against using a Hotchkiss machine gun on an armored car: "It shoots French cartridges, therefore it is not suitable for our army."

Type of armored car "Sharron" with the tower turned back. Russia, 1906 year (RGVIA)

In the final conclusions, the commission recorded:

"The delivered car does not satisfy certain conditions of delivery, and therefore cannot be admitted to receive."

Prince Nakashidze, who was present at the tests, apparently realizing that the armored car he represented did not meet the requirements of the military, 18 of June 1906 sent the report to the Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant-General F. Palitsin, by the way (by the way, in this document Nakashidze was called “the director of armor cars company "Sharron, Girardot, Wua"):

“The car I built was adapted to the conditions of the war in the Far East. The current political situation on this outskirts does not give any grounds to assume that we are not on the eve of new grounds with our enemy. The Japanese military ministry has already twice applied to our factory with a request to supply it with 50 vehicles, and a commission of Chinese officers who came to inspect the vehicle made us an order for 150 vehicles for the Chinese government.

Being bound to my contract, the plant was forced to temporarily abandon these orders, but if before September 1 s. I will not submit to the factory from the Russian Government an order for a known number of cars, at least 50, then the plant will be entitled to supply armored cars to anyone ...

From all of the above, it follows how important it would be for the purposes of State defense and to give our military forces greater power if the Russian Army was equipped at the same time with a sufficient number of armored vehicles, which, being concentrated in the parks, would have made it possible in advance to prepare a contingent of mechanics and study combat tactics of this new kind weapons.

In conclusion, I consider it a duty to add that, going towards the Government in view of its difficult financial situation, we would be ready to open a large automobile plant in St. Petersburg. ”

Most likely, information about the alleged purchases of armored vehicles by various countries Nakashidze tried to pressure the Russian military ministry and force him to buy a batch of armored vehicles from him. Moreover, the enterprising prince had already tried to influence in this way earlier. For example, introducing an armored car arrived in March 1906 to representatives of the military communications department, Nakashidze said that according to his “secret data, the German Ministry of War entered into a condition with one of the large German companies to deliver on demand 80 cars in two months and similar The contact was made by the French Minister of War with a French company for the supply of 100 vehicles of approximately the same type as those manufactured by the Sharron factory for three months.

Armored car "Sharron" stuck on sandy soil. Russia, 1906 year (RGVIA)

By order of the Chief of the General Staff from 21 in July 1906, the armored vehicle was “ordered to be transferred to the headquarters of the Krasnoselsky military camp camp for the period from July 24. g. " To conduct tests by order of the troops commander of the Guards and the St. Petersburg Military District, a special commission was established under the chairmanship of Major General Rosenschild von Pauli. It is unlikely that Nakashidze’s dubious information about orders for armored cars from other countries served as a pretext for testing. Most likely, the command of the Russian Army wanted to get complete information about the armored new product, since the order of the commission indicated that "the tests should be carried out exclusively for tactical purposes." In its conclusion, the Commission of Major-General Rosenschild von Pauli noted the following:

“... When tested from July 25 to August 5, p. In practice, it turned out that the car is very suitable for the following tasks:

a) for broad reconnaissance in the rear and on the flanks of the enemy;

b) for a breakthrough for reconnaissance purposes through the enemy's chain;

c) for communication service in the sphere of enemy fire, especially with a significant development of the network of ways;

g) for the disorder of cavalry units going to the attack ...

e) as a convenient tower for making observations on flat terrain, especially if there are bushes behind which a car can be hidden.

In addition to the above appointments, the car can be considered to be beneficial in the following cases:

a) to quickly move to the front of the enemy or to its rear with the aim of destroying any important structures, especially crossings, with the help of a transported stock of explosives;

b) for various auxiliary purposes during partisan actions;

c) for quick delivery of ammunition and shells to the battle lines, as well as the replenishment of officers' loss;

d) in the pursuit of the enemy constant anxiety from all sides by machine-gun fire.

Although the commission was tasked to comment on the tactical meaning of the armored car, nevertheless, it is impossible to pass over silence and some technical aspects that significantly affect the tactical use of the car. In this sense, it should be noted:

1) Nakashidze’s armored car due to its bulkiness (180 pounds) will be widely used only in the dense network of highways.

2) The car is too heavy, why it easily gets stuck in the dirt.

3) It is slow on the roads, so it takes a lot of time for turns, which can be disastrous under enemy fire.

4) The chuck sits too low above the ground, as a result of which there are delays from hitting stones, etc.

5) In terms of its exterior shape, the car represents too much resistance for air and few surfaces that bullets would slide over.

6) Wheel tires should be covered with armor whenever possible.

7) For viewing along the sides, instead of the large openings, make narrow slits.

8) All fixtures for the machine gun should be lightened and the gun should be made removable, and the method of its attachment should be more convenient for the shooter.

9) To quickly jump into the car, it should be equipped with a large number of doors.

10) If possible, reduce the noise from the movement, to give an opportunity to approach the enemy more inconspicuously. ”

Thus, the general conclusions of the two commissions that conducted the tests of the machine in March-May and July-August generally coincided. Their assessment of the armored car was generally reduced to one - in this form it is not suitable for use and use in the Russian Army.

However, such a turn of events did not suit Nakashidze, who was directly financially interested in Russia acquiring a batch of Sharron armored cars. Apparently, being impressed by the battles of the 1905-1906 revolution, he suggests using the machine “to maintain internal order”. Signing up for an appointment with the then Minister of the Interior P. Stolypin, Nakashidze arrived at his dacha on August 12 of the year 1906. It was on this day that the minister was assassinated, and his dacha flew into the air. Stolypin himself was not injured - he was absent during the explosion. However, as follows from a note by a friend of the Interior Minister,
"12 August 1906 of the year was killed, among others, coming to the Minister with a proposal for police and security purposes of the type of car invented by him, headquarters captain Prince Mikhail Alexandrovich Nakashidze, and with him all the drawings, plans, agreements with the French car company and other documents relating to his invention. "

But despite such a tragic fate of Nakashidze himself, the armored car offered by him continued his “odyssey” in Russia. The car was supervised by a comrade of the deceased prince, a retired colonel of the guards A. Ofro-Sims, who was also a representative of the Sharron company.

22 September 1906, the following letter was sent to the Military Council:

"According to the General Directorate General Directorate, an armored car of Prince Nakashidze, although it turned out to be unsatisfactory to some of the conditions imposed on it, nevertheless, according to the results of tests on the Krasnoselsky maneuvers, it could be suitable for performing well-known combat missions Office for the development of further tests with him and with the aim of improving its technical data. "

Apparently, on the basis of this document 9 January 1907, the armored car was purchased by the Russian military department, paying the French firm 30000 rubles.

By the way, one of the conditions for the purchase of an armored vehicle, the General Headquarters, has set the delivery of the car “in a completely serviceable form” with the replacement of the armored corps and the turret. We must pay tribute to the speed of the retired colonel Ofrosimov - February 19 1907, he concluded an agreement with the Putilov plant in St. Petersburg for the repair of an armored car. The following works were carried out:

“1. Installing a new reservation, delivered from France;

2. Correction wheel shields;

3. Make all the fixtures of the machine gun removable;

4. For observation on the sides in the existing window shutters to make loopholes in the form of elongated slits;

5. Make a loophole in the back wall;

6. Renewal of external painting.

28 March 1907, a commission of representatives of the military communications department, the main artillery directorate and the representative of the Sharron firm Ofrosimova received an armored car repaired by the Putilov factory. After a small test run, the car was sent for storage at the Kronverk Peter and Paul Fortress.

In early August, 1907, the armored car was again sent to Oranienbaum, for testing at the rifle range of the Officer Rifle School. The head of the testing site was Colonel N. Filatov, head of the test site, while Pavel Vasilyev, a soldier of the 1 Caucasian Railway Battalion, was the driver of the vehicle.

Tests with breaks lasted until mid-October, and checked both the speed and maneuverability of the machine, and the ability to install on it and firing from Hotchkiss, Maxim and Madsen machine guns. While on the test site, the armored car passed more than 600 versts, showing high speeds on good roads and the complete absence of cross-country ability on muddy roads or country roads. In addition, a large number of breakdowns were noted, for which repairs had to be purchased parts at the Lessner plant. In general, the conclusions on the maneuverability and terrain of the car fully coincided with the conclusions of the commissions that conducted the tests in the 1906 year.

Armored car "Sharron" during the test run on the way to Oranienbaum. Russia, 1906 year (RGVIA)

In July 1908, the armored car entered the disposal of the troops of the Guard and the St. Petersburg Military District and was sent to Red Village "for testing rides on maneuvers." However, the results were disappointing: "The armored car in its present form, due to excessive severity, cannot serve for the above purposes." At the same time, the headquarters of the Petersburg Military District offered to remake the car “into a lighter type” (ie, unlock it), taking all expenses at its own expense.

17 September 1908, the armored car was transferred to the "full property" of the St. Petersburg district, and by October 16 the armor was removed from the car, and the car itself was altered into a passenger one.

Thus, despite the more than two years of testing the Sharron armored car in Russia, this car did not receive recognition from our military, and this is not surprising. The fact is that before this, nothing in the armament of any country of the world had anything, and, of course, no one had any experience in using a new type of military equipment. In addition, we should not forget that the technical level of armored cars of the time was directly related to the development of the automotive industry. And in the first years of the 20th century, cars were still very imperfect structures, which had low reliability of the units and low throughput, as well as being very complex and capricious in operation.

In addition to an armored car for Russia, the Sharron company manufactured several similar machines per Russian order. According to French sources, six built armored cars were sent to Russia at the end of 1906 or the beginning of 1907, but they were not allowed across the border. A little later, two cars were bought by the Germans, and with a substantial discount (according to some sources up to 40%). After testing in 1909, the vehicles took part in the exercises of the 5 Guards Brigade, and then they were sent to one of the fortresses in East Prussia. According to some reports, both armored cars were used by the Germans in battles in East Prussia in August 1914.

One armored car was purchased from the Sharron company by the French military, and in 1914, it was used in battles as part of General Sarde’s cavalry corps.

In addition to the armored car of Prince Nakashidze, before the First World War in Russia there was another armored car, about which in our country almost nothing is known. True, they ordered the car is not the military, and civilian authorities.

11 November 1911, the management of the construction of the eastern part of the Amur railway, signed with the German company Benz and K ° an armored car that would meet the following requirements:

“The total weight of the vehicle is about 120 pounds, the weight of armor with 4,5 mm thickness from Krupp steel should not exceed 30 pounds.

The lifting force is 60 pounds of load or 6 man and 20 pounds.

Chassis cargo type. The motor must be 4-cylinder, in 35 / 40 hp, with twin-cast cylinders ...

Maximum speed at full load 20 versts per hour.

6. The car must be equipped with a combat rotating turret, impermeability of armor is guaranteed against rifle shots. ”

Apparently, before issuing the order, the Benz company presented to the management of the construction of the eastern part of the Amur railway a draft design of the machine, which, with minor changes, was approved.

Armored car "Benz" of the Amur Railway in Omsk. May 1918 of the year (museum of modern history of Russia)

4 August 1912, an armored car was delivered to Petersburg, to the Russian branch of the Benz and K ° trading house, after which the car was sent to Khabarovsk. Judging by the documents, the appearance and characteristics of the car corresponded to the task, but the German company did not fully comply with the set conditions. Thus, the armored car did not have a “combat revolving turret”, and the cargo trucks were of smaller diameter, for which the executive retained 1203 rubles (the total cost of the vehicle was 11500 rubles).

Interest in the armored vehicle by the construction of the eastern part of the Amur railway is not accidental. The fact is that in the course of the Russian-Japanese war it became clear that the Chinese-Eastern Railway, built on the territory of Manchuria, does not fully ensure the interests of Russia. Therefore, already in 1906, the design of the Amur railway from Sretensk to Khabarovsk began with a total length of 2041 versts with branches to Nerchinsk, Reyno-vu and Blagoveshchensk. Construction began two years later, and was conducted in sparsely populated areas near the Chinese border. Therefore, there were frequent incidents of attacks on the workers' parties of the Chinese gangsters, the hunghuz. For the safe travel of engineers, as well as the transportation of valuable cargo, at the suggestion of the chief of work on the construction of the eastern part of the Amur railway, engineer A.V. Liverovsky, the Benz armored car was ordered.

Arriving in Khabarovsk on September 15, the armored car at the beginning of the next year was altered to move along the railway track, as there were very few highways and good dirt roads in this area, and in winter it was almost impossible to move on them.

After the outbreak of the First World War, the Benz armored car was admitted “to the Military Department for Military Automobile Service” under the act No. 16495 of October 5 from 1914 of the year. As followed from the accompanying documents, by this time the car “had made only 25 versts for the months of service on the building during the 2425 months.” By the way, in the same documents this car was called the “armored bus” - apparently due to its large overall dimensions.

In mid-October, the 1914 of the "armored bus" from Khabarovsk was sent to Petrograd, at the disposal of the Military Automotive School, but the car was lost in the vast Russian expanses, and did not reach the capital.

In the spring of 1918, the car “pops up” in Omsk. Here, the armored car was nicknamed “Lobkov’s coffin” (3. I. Lobkov — one of the organizers of the Red Guard detachments in Omsk, chairman of the city committee of the RSDLP (b)) for the characteristic body shape.

Thus, by the beginning of the First World War, there were no armored cars in service with the Russian Army. However, in other countries that had a more developed (in comparison with Russia) automobile industry - Austria-Hungary, Germany, England, America and France - the situation was exactly the same. The various models of armored vehicles built by these countries in 1906 — 1913 did not go further than prototypes and none of them interested the military.
Articles from this series:
Russian armored cars (Part of 1) First Steps
Russian armored cars (Part 2) "Russian child"
Russian armored cars (Part 3) Organization and formation of automotive armor
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  1. washi
    washi 12 February 2014 13: 06
    All this is wonderful, but most importantly - the engine was foreign, i.e. there were restrictions on the application. There were artificial restrictions on the production of domestic products.
    In the production, which belonged mainly to foreigners, foreign developments were introduced.
    At the same time, the engine of the Russian Trinkler G.V. exceeded the engine of a foreigner Diesel.
    I advise all venturers who claim about the great industrial growth of RI to see who owned the enterprises and what they produced, where the profit went.
  2. Trapperxnumx
    Trapperxnumx 13 February 2014 10: 46
    5) In terms of its exterior shape, the car represents too much resistance for air and few surfaces that bullets would slide over.

    It is gratifying that even then our military and engineers understood the value of sloped armor, which many more "enlightened" countries thought of much later.
  3. mirag2
    mirag2 13 February 2014 14: 31
    A good article about armored cars.
    We look forward to continuing.
    I wonder what trends, and how over time have turned into what is now.
  4. Alex
    Alex 3 July 2014 17: 29
    However, the prince's enterprise is striking, very persistently lobbying for his development.