Military Review

Russian armored cars (Part 3) Organization and formation of automotive armor

Having received a telegram from the General Sekretis about purchasing Austin armored vehicles in 48 in England (in the documents they were called machines of the 1 blank or 1 series), the automobile department of the Main Military Technical Directorate of the Main Directorate of the General Staff (GUGSh) together with representatives of the Military Driving School and The officer rifle school began to develop the state for the formation of armored units. In early December, 1914 was the highest authorized staff of the 19 automotive machine-gun platoon, which included three Austin armored cars, four cars, one 3-ton truck, an auto repair shop, a tanker truck, and four motorcycles, one of them with a sidecar. In this case, each armored car was attached to one passenger car and a motorcycle without a wheelchair for maintenance. The personnel of the platoon included four officers (according to the staff, the commander - staff captain, and three junior officers - lieutenants) and 46 noncommissioned officers and privates.

A feature of the armored units of the Russian Army was that from the very beginning of their creation they had a large percentage of volunteers, not only officers, but also non-commissioned officers. Among the latter, there was a high percentage of over-duty and volunteer workers from highly skilled mechanics and mechanics. In general, the overwhelming majority of those who served in the armor were literate people who quickly mastered the new military equipment, the use of which required technical training and initiative. When assigned to an auto-piston platoon, the most trained gunners, machine gunners and chauffeurs were selected. Among the officers of the armor were a large percentage of people from artillery and guards units, as well as wartime ensigns who had a higher technical education or worked as engineers before the war. All this led to the fact that already in the middle of 1915, the armored units became a kind of army elite. This was facilitated by the active use of armored cars in battle, and a high percentage of those awarded among personnel. Therefore, armored units for the most part remained loyal to the oath and did not succumb to campaigning in various batches in the 1917 year.

The officers and soldiers of the 15 11th automatic-piston platoon before being sent to the front. Officer Rifle School, March 1915 of the Year (VIMAIVVS)

For the armored units, a leather uniforms kit (leather pants and jacket) and a rather original kepi with a visor were introduced - for the first time the soldiers of the 1-y auto-pistol company were equipped. Moreover, the latter used two emblems for enciphering on epaulets - automobile and machine-gun, and in 1915 by order of the Military Department No. 328 a special emblem of auto-gun parts was introduced. It was a combined symbolism of automobile and machine-gun parts. The emblem was worn on epaulets and made of white or yellow metal, and also found painted through a stencil.

The formation of the first auto-bullet platoons began immediately after the arrival of armored and auxiliary vehicles from abroad. By December 20 1914, eight platoons were ready (from No. 5 to 12), which the next day went to the front. The cars in these units were of various brands (Benz, Pierce Arrow, Lokomobile, Packard, Ford and others), Humbert and Enfield motorcycles, White trucks, workshops "Nepir" tank "Austin". All the equipment that came to staffing platoons was new, purchased by the commission of Colonel Sekretev. The exception was the cars coming from the Reserve car company. The formation of the first auto-bullet platoons was carried out by the Officer Infantry School in Oranienbaum and the Military Driving School in Petrograd.

The fighting of the 1-y auto-pistol company and the first auto-piston platoons showed the need for a cannon armored car to support machine-guns. Therefore, in March 1915 of the year, staff number 20 was approved, according to which the number of machine-gun armored cars in the platoons was reduced to two, and instead of the third, the cannon compartment was included, consisting of the Garford armored car built by the Puti-Lavsky plant, and to improve supply fighting vehicles added three more trucks - two 76-1,5 tons and one 2-ton. Thus, in the new state, the auto-pistol platoon included three armored cars (two machine guns and a gun), four cars, two 3-tonnes and two 3-1,5 ton trucks, an auto repair shop, a tanker truck, and four motorcycles, one of them with a sidecar.

Armored truck "Berlie", made workshops of the Military driving school for educational purposes. For a while this machine was used to train the crews of armored vehicles, Petrograd, 1915 year (TsGAKFD SPB)

Auto repair shop on the chassis of the Pier-Arrow truck in the stowed position. 1916 year (ASKM)

Workshop "Pierce-Arrow" in the working position. Snapshot 1919 of the year (ASKM)

State No. 20 formed 35 platoons (No. 13-47), while 25 and 29 had non-standard combat materiel (this will be discussed in separate chapters) and, starting with 37-platoon instead of "garford", the gun department Armored Lanchester with a 37-mm gun were delivered. The first platoons with "ostinami" (№5-12) also received armored "Garford" and additional trucks, while the third machine-gun machine from their composition was not withdrawn.

For the formation of auto-bullet platoons and the supply of their property at the beginning of March 1915, the Reserve automobile armored company was formed in Petrograd, the commander of which appointed captain Vyacheslav Alexandrovich Khaletsky, and to address the development of new types of armored vehicles in the Military Automotive School an armor department was created. The management of the Reserve Armored Company is located at No. 100 on Nevsky Prospekt, the garage is located at Engineering Street at 11 (Mikhailovsky Manege, now the Winter Stadium), and the workshops are located at Malaya Dvoryanskaya Street, 19 (the last in the documents were called car armored workshops). Up until its disbandment at the end of 1917, this part played the most significant role in shaping the armor units of the Russian Army and maintaining them in a combat-ready state. When the company was established Armor School for the preparation of drivers and officers, as well as a warehouse of technical armor property. The workshops of the company carried on repairs coming from the front of damaged or out-of-service combat and transport vehicles of automatic-pistol platoons. In addition, for this, rear auto repair shops were involved: Vilenskaya, Brest, Berdichevskaya, Polotskaya and Kievskaya, as well as workshops of the fronts.

The training of personnel for the armored units was carried out as follows. Artillery, machine-gun and rifle training officers, non-commissioned officers and privates took a special course at the Officer Rifle School, the automotive part was trained at the Military Driving School, after which the personnel went to the Armored School Spare Armored Company. Here training was carried out directly on the armored case and the formation of parts, which was accompanied by a number of demonstrative maneuvers and firing at the range.

It should be said that both the Military Automobile and the Officers' Infantry Schools were engaged in bronchial resuscitation rather actively. Moreover, the head of the latter, Major General Filatov, turned out to be a big fan of the new type of military equipment. At the same time, he not only provided training for officers for armor, but also designed several types of armored vehicles, the production of which was launched in domestic factories.

The tank truck on the chassis of the 1,5-ton White truck was the most common vehicle of this type in the Russian Army. 1916 year. In the background is a Renault truck (ASKM).

It should be noted that since the summer of 1915, all armored cars (with the exception of “Garford”) have received tire tires filled with so-called auto-mass. This compound, created by the German chemist Huss and modified by the specialists of the Military Driving School, was pumped into the car tire instead of air. A special feature of the automass was that it froze in the air and, therefore, was not afraid of punctures. In the event of a tire hole, this compound flowed out and, hardening, eliminated the hole.

The first prototypes of tires with a car made in April 1915, but production was able to establish only in July - August. For the release of bullet-proof tires at a military driving school created a special tire factory. By the summer of 1917, the mileage of tires with a car on armored cars was at least 6500 versts!

The 1-series, which came from England “osten”, had two sets of wheels - regular pneumatics and combat, with so-called buffer tapes. The latter were a cloth-reinforced rubber tire with “pimples” worn over rather massive wooden wheels. The disadvantage of this design was the speed limit of the armored car on the highway - no more than 30 km / h (for tires with a car, there were no such restrictions). However, in England they ordered a certain number of wheels with buffer tape along with armored cars. To compare this tape with the Russian bulletproof tires, in the beginning of January 1917 of the year was conducted by the Petrograd-Moscow-Petrograd motor rally. It was attended by several cars equipped with tires with car and buffer tape, supplied from England. In the conclusion of the race said:

“Tires with a car produced favorable results, and although there were damage to the outer tires to the canvas, the inner chambers with the car had remained in good condition and the car did not go outside.

The tires with buffer tapes began to collapse with a three hundred miles, and by the 1000 version a mile the protrusions had collapsed, and even a white piece of tape fell out. ”

After reviewing the results, the GVTU Commission 18 of January 1917 of the year recognized that the buffer tapes were not very suitable for use, and “should not be ordered anymore”.

It should be noted that at that time there were no tires in any army in the world — the Russian automass was not afraid of bullets and fragments: the tires remained elastic and workable even with five or more holes.

The building of the officer rifle school in Oranienbaum. Photo taken on 1 June 1914 of the year (ASKM)

In the spring of 1915, when the formation of auto-bullet platoons from the “Austin” 1-series (from 5-th to 23-th) ended, the question arose of ordering an additional number of armored vehicles to provide new armor units. And since booking cars at Russian enterprises required quite a long time and, mainly, the delivery of the necessary chassis from abroad, GVTU decided to place orders abroad. In early March 1915, the Anglo-Russian Government Committee in London was assigned to sign contracts for the manufacture of armored vehicles for Russian projects. The number and terms of delivery of orders can be seen in the table below.

In August, the Anglo-Russian Supply Commission, a special organization to place Russian military orders through the British government, was established in London in August. At the beginning of 1914, the commission was renamed the Anglo-Russian Government Committee.

It should be said that when signing contracts, all firms were given the task of manufacturing armored vehicles according to Russian requirements: fully armored and with two machine-gun turrets. The general scheme of booking was developed in the Reserve armor company and the armored department of the Military Driving School under the supervision of an officer of the school staff captain Mironov and transferred to all firms upon signing of contracts.

As you can see, 236 armored cars were supposed to arrive from abroad until December 1 of 1915 from abroad. However, all 161 actually arrived - the North American company Morton, which undertook to manufacture 75 armored vehicles with a typical scale for this country, didn’t submit a single sample to August 1915, so the contract with it had to be broken.

The rest of the campaigns also didn’t rush to fulfill orders: despite the deadlines, the first armored cars arrived in Russia only in July-August 1915 of the year, and the majority of vehicles in October-December.

Table. Information about the orders by the Russian government of armored cars abroad.

The company

Date of issue

Number of cars

Delivery time to Russia

Austin Motor Co. Ltd

April 22 1915 years


1 - to 6 May 1915; 20-to 14 May 1915; 29 - to 14 June 1915 of the year

Sheffield Simplex

7 May 1915 years


By 15 June 1915 of the year

"Jarrot" on the "Jarrot" chassis (Charls Jarrot and Letts)

9 June 1915 year


By 15 August 1915 of the year

Austin Motor Co Ltd

July 1915 years


5 - to 5 October 1915; 5 - to October 15 1915 of the year

Sheffield Simplex

July 1915 years


No later than November 15 1915

Jarrot on Fiat chassis (Charls Jarrot and Letts)

August 1915 years


Weekly on 4 pieces lo 1 xenum 191 5 goal

Army-Motor-Lories "

(Army Motors Lorries of Wagons)

11 August 1915 year


Weekly 3 — 4 Pieces until November 15 1915

Morton Co Ltd

April 1915 years


By 25 June 1915 of the year



At the end of 1914, the GVTU technical committees gathered to review the projects of armored vehicles offered by both domestic designers and various foreign firms, to which representatives of the Military Driving School, the Reserve Armor Company, the Officer Rifle School, the Main Artillery Directorate and the armor units were invited. The chairman of this committee was Major General Svidzinsky.

Considering the large volume of various armored cars delivered from abroad, as well as their manufacture at Russian factories, on November 22, by order of the Minister of War, a special commission is set up to receive armored cars. At first, its official name was: “Commission formed by order of the Minister of War to examine the arrivals and arrivals of armored cars”, and at the beginning of 1915, it was renamed the “Commission on armored cars” (the documents of that time also contain the name “Armored Commission” ). She reported directly to the head of the Main Military Technical Directorate. Major-General Svidzinsky was appointed chairman of the commission (at the beginning of 1916, he was replaced in that post by Major-General Filatov), ​​and the commander of the Reserve Armored Company Captain Halepky, the head of the Armored Department of the Military Driving School, Captain Bazhanov, as well as officers of the GAU, GVTU, GUGSH, Spare armor of the autocrat, Officer rifle school and Military driving school - Colonel Ternavsky, staff captains Makarevsky, Mironov, Neelov, Ivanov, ensigns Kirillov, Karpov and others.

The task of the Commission was to assess the quality of armored vehicles purchased abroad and built in Russia, as well as the refinement of their structures for action on the Russian front. In addition, she has done a great deal of work on the design of new types of armored vehicles for manufacturing at domestic enterprises, as well as on improving the organization of armor. Thanks to close contact with other military departments and organizations - the Main Artillery Directorate, the Military Driving School, the Reserve Armored Autorotte and the Officer Rifle School - and, in many respects, that educated and technically competent people, great patriots of their work worked in the commission 1917, the Russian Army in terms of the number of armored vehicles, their quality, tactics of combat use and organization exceeded their opponents - Germany,

Austria-Hungary and Turkey. Only by the number of combat vehicles Russia was inferior to Great Britain and France. Thus, the Commission on armored vehicles was a prototype of the Main Automobile and Armored Directorate of our army.

At the front, armored vehicle-gun platoons were subordinate to quarter-generals of the army or corps, and in military terms were attached to divisions or regiments. As a result, such a small platoon organization and a not entirely successful system of subordination in the Army in Target negatively affected the actions of the armor. Already by the autumn of 1915, it became clear that it was necessary to move to larger organizational forms, and there was already a similar experience in the Russian Army - the 1-I auto-bullet company. Incidentally, its commander, Colonel Dobzhansky, actively advocated the unification of armored cars into larger units in the experience of his unit, which he repeatedly wrote to the Headquarters of the Commander-in-Chief, to the General Headquarters, and to the Main Military Technical Directorate.

Apparently the use of armored cars during the so-called Lutsk breakthrough - the offensive of the South-Western Front in the summer of 1916 - served as the last push for the organization of the armor. Despite the fact that armored cars operated during this operation very effectively, providing substantial support to their units, it turned out that the platoon organization does not allow the use of combat vehicles massively.

"Winter Stadium" in St. Petersburg - the former Mikhailovsky Manege. In the 1915-1917 years, there was a garage for the Reserve Armored Company (Division). Photo taken in 1999 year (ASKM)

By order of the Chief of Staff of the Supreme Commander from 7 June 1916, it was planned to form 12 armor divisions (by the number of armies). At the same time, the auto-bullet platoons were renamed into branches with the same numbering preserved and included in the divisions. It was assumed that in each division, which were subordinated directly to the army headquarters, would be from 4 to 6 offices, "by the number of corps in the army."

According to the state and report card announced in this order, the armored car division's management included 2 cars, one 3-ton and one 1,5-2-ton trucks, an auto repair shop, a tanker, a 4 motorcycle and a 2 bicycle. The personnel of the department consisted of four officers (commander, supply manager, senior officer and adjutant), one or two military officials (clerks) and 56 soldiers and noncommissioned officers. Sometimes there was another officer or engineer in the department who served as a division mechanic.

When renaming auto-platoon platoons into units, their combat composition (three armored vehicles) remained the same, the changes concerned only auxiliary equipment. Thus, in order to improve the supply of armored cars, the number of trucks in them increased from two to four, one for each armored car plus one for each section. In addition, the department received two bicycles to save gasoline reserves and motorcycle life - to communicate and transfer orders. Separate auto-bullet compartments were left only where, due to geographical conditions, it did not make sense to reduce them to divisions - in the Caucasus. A total of 12 divisions were created - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and the Special Army (in addition, there was a Special Purpose Division, which had its own organization, which will be told about, which will be told about what will be told.

Armored officers of the Russian Army during training at the officer school of rifles. 1916 year. In the foreground are visible machine guns Colt (ASKM)

The formation of divisional directorates was carried out in Petrograd. A reserve armored company from July 2 to early August 1916, after which the controls were sent to the front. Such a long period of formation was explained both by the selection of personnel for the posts of commanders and officers of divisions, and by the lack of automobile assets, especially tank trucks and car repair shops.

October 10 1916 of the year by order of the Chief of Staff of the Supreme Commander. The reserve armor company was reorganized into the Reserve armor division while retaining the previous functions. According to the new report card No. 2, it consisted of eight training armored vehicles - three each in cannon and machine gun compartments, and 2 in an armored school, renamed the school of drivers of armored vehicles. The battalion commander remained captain V. Khaletsky.

November 15 The 1916 of the year in the state of the machine gun department made another change. For more efficient use of combat vehicles in battle, one more machine-gun armored car was added to its composition. It was assumed that this machine will become a spare in case of repair of one of the armored vehicles. However, it was not possible to transfer all offices to a new state - there were not enough armored vehicles for this. However, at the beginning of 1917, some of the armor of the Western and South-Western Front (18, 23, 46 and a number of other departments) received a fourth armored vehicle.

After the February revolution of 1917, the streamlined supply system and the formation of armor parts of the Russian army rapidly began to collapse. A wave of rallies and demonstrations swept the country and the army, everywhere began to create various councils, which began to actively intervene in various military issues and the supply system of the armed forces. For example, 25 March 1917, the chairman of the Commission for armored vehicles sent the following letter to GVTU:

"According to the available information, it became clear that armored cars suitable for the front, located in Petrograd, namely: 6" Austin "just arrived from England and 20" Armstrong-Whitworth-Fiat "cannot be expelled now from Petrograd due to the lack of agreement on it Council of Workers' Deputies, who consider it necessary to keep these machines in Petrograd against the counter-revolution. However, at the same time in Petrograd is 35 unsuitable for the front machines "Sheffield-Simplex" and "Army-Motor-Lories", which, it would seem, could successfully serve the above purpose. In communicating the foregoing, I ask for appropriate, hasty decisions. ”

Soldiers and officers of the 19 11th automatic-pistol platoon in the Pylky armored car. South-Western Front, Tarnopol, July 1915 of the year. The armor protection of the barrels of the machine guns of the original form is established in Russia (RGAKFD)

The problem was solved, however, with great difficulty, and in the spring they began to send armored vehicles to the troops.

20-22 On June 1917, the All-Russian armored automobile congress of representatives of armored units of the front and the Reserve armored division was held in Petrograd. It was decided to disband the Commission on armored vehicles (stopped working on June 22), and also chose a temporary armored management body - the All-Russian Armored Executive Committee (Vsebroniskom), chaired by Lieutenant Ganzhumov. At the same time, the congress decided to develop a project for the formation of an independent Armored Department as part of the Higher Technical School (prior to the creation of a department, it was performed by Vsebronisk).

The armor department of the Main Military Engineering Directorate was organized on September 30 1917, and there was not a single friend in the staff of the Commission on the Armored Vehicles of the family name. The work of the squad continued until its abolition of 20 December 1917 of the year, but nothing fundamental was done in the development of armor units.

As for the armor divisions on the front, they existed until the beginning of 1918, when in February-March a specially created liquidation commission of the Council on the management of armored forces of the RSFSR carried out their demobilization. According to the final document, the fate of the armored car divisions of the Russian Army was as follows:

“1, 2, 3 and 4 are almost intact to the Germans; 5-th was completely demobilized, 6-th, too; 7 and 8 divisions were not demobilized, as their vehicles were taken in Kiev by the Ukrainians; 9 th demobilized only management; 10 was captured by Polish legionnaires, the 30 branch from its composition was disarmed in Kazan, where it opposed Soviet power in the days of October, and its pitiful part fled to Kaledin on the Don; The 11 division from its composition demobilized only 43 and part of the 47 division, some of the rest — 34, 6 and 41 — were captured at Dubno, in Kremenets and Volochisk and Ukrainized; The 12 was completely demobilized, and as for the Special Purpose Divisions and the Special Army, they were completely Ukrainianized. ”

Armored cars that are called “went from hand to hand” and were actively used in the battles of the Civil War that was raging on the territory of the former Russian Empire, but this is already another история.

“Austins” of the 1-series of the 18-second auto-pistol platoon: “Ratny” and “Rare”. South-Western Front, Tarnopol, May 1915 of the year. On the “Ratnom” there are tires with a car, on the “Rare” English cargo tapes (RGAKFD)
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
Dear reader, to leave comments on the publication, you must sign in.
  1. igordok
    igordok 3 March 2014 12: 45
    Thank you.
    and a rather original cap with a visor - for the first time the fighters of the 1 th machine gun company were equipped like this.

    Regarding the cap, I thought it was some kind of gag. These caps are well shown in the first and last photographs.
  2. parusnik
    parusnik 3 March 2014 16: 18
    The result is still sad, there was no production .. The all-terrain vehicle Porokhovshchikova, still washed up .. And the machine was promising ..
  3. mirag2
    mirag2 3 March 2014 19: 39
    Thank you for the article. hi
  4. Russ69
    Russ69 3 March 2014 19: 45
    The article is good, but now all the attention to Ukraine ...
  5. Moore
    Moore 4 March 2014 13: 14
    The article is excellent.
    The rhetorical question: why did each platoon need cars in terms of the number of broniks themselves with motorcycles for reconnaissance and communications, as well as trucks for all types of support? Wouldn't one be enough?
    Rhetorical answer: gentlemen officers on the principle of "own hand - the lord" provided themselves with personal transport. Gee.