Military Review

Steam tractors in the Russian-Turkish war 1877 - 1878

Once, a VO reader asked me to talk about the use of Russian steam tractors in a war. The article was found: "G. Kaninsky and S. Kirilets "Tractors in the Russian Imperial Army" ("Technique and armament" 05-2010). But there was not covered a very interesting example of the use of steam tractors in the Russian army in the years of the Russian-Turkish war 1877 - 1878! In general, he who seeks finds sooner or later. And that's what was found on this topic ...

Steam tractors in the Russian-Turkish war 1877 - 1878

In 1873, two English self-propelled “Fowler” locomobiles with fireboxes on straw were tested in Samara. (

The wars of the first quarter of the 20th century clearly showed that, in a number of cases, the railway is not able to meet the growing needs of the army in various means of transport. During the war years, 1914 - 1918. the limited scope of railway transport activities and, at the same time, the richest possibilities of the recently appeared car, were particularly evident. It is well known that the low level of the German automobile industry before the war and the underestimation of the motor transport by the German military command during the war itself led to a number of serious defeats for the German army, which largely caused its defeat. It would be appropriate here to recall Curzon's apt words about "the victory of the Allied engines over the German railways."

The classical railway, without losing its value as a powerful means of transport during the war, was forced to make room and give room to the car, this new means of transport, often more satisfying the specific requirements of modern armies.

As is known, the beginning stories the car is associated with the name of the French engineer Kunye, who was still in 1769 - 1770. to build a steam vehicle for transportation of artillery cargo. The experience, however, ended in failure.

Cuño Steam Wagon.

Well, the first case of the practical use of mechanical road transport for military purposes took place almost 85 years after the modest experiments of Künye. In 1854, during the Crimean War, the British used the so-called “road locomotive” (steam haul) of the Boydel system to transport cargo in the Balaklava area. In 1870 –1871, that is, during the Franco-Prussian war, the Germans, borrowing experience from the British, also tried to use tractor traction to transport military goods. To this end, two steam tractors purchased from the British firm Fowler were delivered to the front.

Steam tractor at work.

The inept use of these machines and the skepticism of the German command towards them have made these tractors idle for most of the time. During the entire war, they were in operation for no more than three weeks, and the trips were made over very short distances (10 - 15 km). In total, about 120 tons of ammunition were transported using trailers and, moreover, several flights were made to transport food, fuel, etc. Given the large cargo transfers that occurred then in the German army, it must be said that the tractors are then brought no benefit. Despite the unsuccessful experience of the Germans, steam tractors began to gradually penetrate into the armies of other countries, such as Russia and Italy. Although the tractors of that time were still far from perfect. They were a heavy (from 4 to 10 tons) machine with a horizontal steam-type boiler. For every horsepower accounted for 1 ton of tractor dead weight. The fuel used was mainly coke or anthracite. The speed was not higher than 5 - 6 km per hour. After each hour I had to renew the supply of water. With the help of trailers, a tractor could pull a load of 2 – 2,5 times its own weight.

In Russia, the first locomobiles (steam tractors) appeared in 1857, when the firm of Butenop brothers for the first time delivered two locomobiles to Russia: English in 10 hp and German in 8 hp The Ministry of Finance reacted to their work with sympathy and issued a loan in 70 000 rubles for 25 years, and without interest! This helped the brothers to expand their production and establish mass production of various fire-fighting equipment, as well as ... tower clocks. Locomobiles began to be used, but for peaceful purposes.

And then the Russian-Turkish war of 1877 –1878 began, and steam tractors were used as an army vehicle in the Russian army!

Steam tractor Fowler B5 "Lion".

So, Russia was among those countries that were the first to start supplying the army with steam tractors. Moreover, the earliest evidence of the appearance of tractors in the Russian army took place as early as the beginning of the 70s. XIX c. So they began serious tests in 1876, and then, after successful experiments, 8 tractors were bought in England (Porter, Fowler and Clayton firms), and two tractors were built at the Maltsev plant in Bryansk.

This is how the Fowler B5 tractor looked in 1899 after the British in Africa covered it with armor. Paper model.

By the beginning of the war, the Russian army had 12 steam tractors served by a specially trained team at 54. and marching repair shop. In April 1877, shortly after the start of the war, all tractors were sent to the front. About two weeks later, they arrived at the Bender station by rail. Here they began immediately to transport artillery cargo. During 19 days (from 7 to 25 in May), tractors, working on routes with a range from 2 to 13 km, transported tons of cargo to 358. Then the 9 machines were sent to Slatin, and the rest to the Banyasi station. In Slatina they were engaged in transporting siege weapons and other artillery cargo from the city to the position. From 25 May to 2 June, these tractors transported about 165 tons of cargo. After that, the 4 tractors were self-propelled to the city of Thurn-Magureli, where they arrived on June 13, successfully making their way to 121 km. Here the cars were sent directly to the position - to carry heavy guns. A repair shop with one tractor was used to repair tools and install an electric searchlight.

After the crossing of the Russian troops across the Danube, 19 June, tractors from Thurn-Magureli were self-propelled to Zimnitsa (for 48 km). At the same time, they delivered a steam locomobile with electric lighting equipment. Due to insufficient loading in Zimnitsa tractors by self-propelled went to vil. Parapan (32 km), where for a month (from 15 August to 15 September) they were engaged in transporting artillery shells from Parapan to Petrosani (13 km). In all, 433 tons of shells were transported here.

Steam tractor Honsbi. Tests in England, February-March 1910 of the year.

By September 18 tractors were assembled at the Fratesti station. Their further work was complicated by the onset of autumn, which ruined the roads. At that time, only one tractor systematically operated as a locomobile on a pumping station, besides a steamboat and 20 tons of coal were transported from the town of Zhurzhev to the village of Petrosany. The servants who serviced the tractors were mainly engaged in repairing the machines.

Native Tanganyiki women carry water for a military English steam tractor. Niva No. 34-1916.

In the spring, in the second half of March, 1878, in accordance with the improvement of roads, the tractors started up again. They worked in the area of ​​Banyasi station, the cities of Zhurzhev and Slobodzei on routes from 4 to 24 km one way. In the quality of cargo carried tools, shells and provisions. From 23 March to 27 June 1878, 4 300 tons of cargo was transported.

The tractor Fowler 1887 g. For the sake of improving the terrain it was put on 12-foot wheels.

Then the tractors were ferried across the Danube to the town of Ruschuk. Here from 2 July to 11 in October 1878 they transported 4 006 tons of various military goods. On 10, November 1878, the work of the tractors was completed. According to official data for the entire time at the front, 9 300 tons of cargo were transported by tractors.

Model tractor F.A. Blinov 1888 g. I had a drive from a steam engine with a power of 12 HP. Speed ​​3 versts per hour (3,2 km / h).

All this speaks of the very successful work of tractors used in the Russian army. The volume of transport work done by them is immeasurably higher than what was done by tractors in the German army in 1870 – 1871. But if the experience of the Germans in the then military literature was notorious, then the work of tractors in the Russian army was reported as a significant achievement of military technology, which has a great future. Efficient and widespread, at that time, the use of steam tractors in the Russian army in 1877 - 1878. represents the beginning and the end of the first stage in the history of the mechanization of military road transport.

The next stage in the development of this type of transport is associated with the appearance of a car with a gasoline engine and already refers to the period of the “Great War” 1914 - 1918.
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  1. ovod84
    ovod84 20 January 2016 07: 06
    Thanks for the article. Dammit, when you read such articles, you think how little I know about this world.
    1. Scraptor
      Scraptor 20 January 2016 09: 47
      the tractors were Russian, the caterpillar track was also invented and first used in Russia
      1. kalibr
        20 January 2016 13: 51
        You are not entirely correct. The first caterpillar track was invented by D'Herman in France in 1713, then Dubochet, then Gitkot in England. And the first car was also not built here. But we are great too!
        1. Scraptor
          Scraptor 20 January 2016 15: 53
          and we are great - just like with the Dzhevetsky’s boat, the time is good ... and did DaVinci build the first self-running wheelchair?
          and Watt, by the way, saw the first steam engine in the Urals factories (which are still pre-trophic).
          1. kalibr
            20 January 2016 18: 05
            And here Watt, especially since pre-Petrine times (?), When the first steam engine was made by Newcomen. Polzunov came up with the idea of ​​making two cylinders, which worked in turn, than took a step forward. Watt came up with one cylinder, but with alternating steam supply.
            1. Scraptor
              Scraptor 20 January 2016 20: 43
              Watt, as it were, came up with a regulator and that’s it. The steam engine is a Russian invention.
              1. kalibr
                20 January 2016 21: 17
                You do not know how to read? I wrote to you what Polzunov and Newcomen did.
                Newcomen made it in 1712, and Polzunov in 1763! And even earlier there were Papen and Severi. But it was Ncomen who built the "steam engine". Polzunov Your beloved is also worthy of respect: he came up with a two-cylinder car with alternating piston movement. AND EVERYTHING! So to write that the steam engine is a Russian invention is ignorance! Of course, it would be nice if it were so, but, alas, it is not so! In my opinion, they even pass it at school, by the way ...
                1. Scraptor
                  Scraptor 20 January 2016 22: 28
                  You yourself do not know how to read. Newcomer is not Russian like Dzhevetsky is not French.
                  With a steam engine, also study the question properly. Does school teach a lot of good things?
                  1. Scraptor
                    Scraptor 21 January 2016 13: 35
                    Start your analysis right here.
                    where they lie from the first words about a useless toy, and find discrepancies in the picture with common sense and physics with cooling the cylinder by injecting water there and the hydrostatic pressure of the pumped column laughing
                    Who discovered Newton’s laws? They even steal from each other ...
    2. RUSS
      RUSS 20 January 2016 21: 17
      Quote: ovod84
      Thanks for the article. Dammit, when you read such articles, you think how little I know about this world.

      In the film "Turkish Gambit", the hero of which is played by Marat Basharov, by the way, drives a steam tractor, you can see in the photo (background) earlier I thought it was an invention of filmmakers, but it turns out not!
      PS The film "Turkish Gambit" takes place during the Russian-Turkish War of 1877 - 1878
      1. Moore
        Moore 21 January 2016 09: 46
        Quote: RUSS

        In the film; Turkish Gambit "whose hero is played by Marat Basharov, by the way, he drives a steam tractor, ...

        That's just the cave-like Russophobia of the scriptwriter and author of "B. Akunin" - Chkhartishvili, for obvious reasons, could not show anything except the aimless skating of the "monsters" around the camp and its constant breakdowns. Well, it's not the transportation of guns and the 120-kilometer march to our white-tape "genius" to show ...
      2. The comment was deleted.
  2. miv110
    miv110 20 January 2016 07: 23
    The topic is poorly covered, therefore it is interesting. She first appeared in the film "Turkish Gambit", where M. Basharov played an officer-mechanic of a steam tractor, which was perceived even as a kind of fantasy of the authors, it turns out that in fact there were whole subdivisions of tractors in the Russian army of that period that were quite successfully used. More good and interesting articles! Thanks to the author for the "educational program"!
  3. Volga Cossack
    Volga Cossack 20 January 2016 07: 27
    the topic is untouched, and therefore - thank you very interesting to the very author! I read it with pleasure!
  4. parusnik
    parusnik 20 January 2016 07: 56
    Indeed, it is very rare to find a mention in the literature about the use of tractors ... during the Russian-Turkish war of 1877-78, and if it occurs ... then ... in the size of one line, in passing ..
    Thanks, interesting ..
  5. semirek
    semirek 20 January 2016 08: 03
    I read the article with great pleasure. I was always interested in antiquity. Plus to the author.
  6. Aleksander
    Aleksander 20 January 2016 08: 53
    Especially liked pictures of wonder machines, thanks to the author for the selection.
    1. Raven1972
      Raven1972 20 January 2016 18: 10
      Quote: Aleksander
      I especially liked the photos of miracle machines, thanks to the author for the selection.

      The photos are great, but this is how it looks live:
  7. Mountain shooter
    Mountain shooter 20 January 2016 08: 59
    Thanks to the author. Indeed, he considered the steam tractor in "Turkish Gambit" for the author's imagination, but it looks like it. Such a technique, and how much I managed to do. This means that it did not break down every minute.
  8. Nikolay71
    Nikolay71 20 January 2016 09: 01
    Article plus! Truly he who seeks will always find.
  9. The comment was deleted.
  10. Bredovich705
    Bredovich705 20 January 2016 10: 20
    Very interesting and low-lighted topic! Thank you for the article!
  11. brn521
    brn521 20 January 2016 11: 58
    1t dead weight per 1hp Yes, it’s a very strange unit, since the horse, and even more so the mule, has clearly better characteristics :). But for some reason, all the same, such tractors were produced.
    1. miv110
      miv110 20 January 2016 13: 06
      If only because it was a fairly versatile unit that could perform several functions: draft power, source of electricity, thresher, pump, sawmill, etc.
      1. semirek
        semirek 20 January 2016 18: 04
        Quote: miv110
        If only because it was a fairly versatile unit that could perform several functions: draft power, source of electricity, thresher, pump, sawmill, etc.

        The so-called locomobiles.
  12. cobalt
    cobalt 20 January 2016 12: 37
    In general, the Russian-Turkish war of 1877-1879 was a war with a steam engine. Both us and the Turks actively used steam vessels and boats, steam locomotives, and now the tractor. Thanks to the author, because if you can find decent reviews about the use of steam in the fleet in this war, I heard about tractors for the first time.
  13. Amurets
    Amurets 20 January 2016 14: 34
    I was stunned! Many thanks to the author! I thought that the first tractor in Russia was built by Blinov. It was remembered in childhood, when Mostovenko's book "TANKS" fell into the hands.
  14. Robert Nevsky
    Robert Nevsky 20 January 2016 19: 26
    Cool article - Thanks to the author! soldier
  15. semirek
    semirek 20 January 2016 20: 42
    In the 50s in the USSR, in US, a steam truck was developed that worked on wood, a prototype was tested on logging, the parameters were very good --- it could compete with its diesel brother.
  16. Grishka cat
    Grishka cat 20 January 2016 21: 26
    The truck is most likely not a steam truck, but a gas-generating one. In our city, according to old-timers, a gas-generating vehicle was also used in the 50s. The firewood was in bulk, but it was a little tight with gasoline.
    What the hell is the flag again!
    1. semirek
      semirek 20 January 2016 22: 00
      No, this is clean, steam, with the original loading of firewood into a no less original boiler --- an article about this steam engine can be found on the Internet if you wish. Gas-generating cars were popular in the world in 2MB, we had a Gas-42,36 liter. with.
  17. Termit1309
    Termit1309 21 January 2016 14: 08
    Very interesting article. Pleased with the photo from the Neva. I didn’t have this - thanks hi
  18. 31rus
    31rus 23 January 2016 10: 56
    I read an article that the author points out, did not like it, written in the style of a slog across Europe, the magazine is still intact, and thanks to the author, the level of safety of the equipment in the photo is amazing