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Military History - Russian

Title:  Armored Trains

Series:  Russian Arms of the 20th Century

Author: Eugene Rost, Sr.

Author's Page:  Other Titles

Publisher:  Lots Cave, Polska

Language: English

Length:  40,532 Words

ISBN:  EM00300976

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3D Ebook Cover - Armored Trains - Russian Arms of the Twentieth Century - by Eugene Rost, Sr.

Armored Trains



This comprehensive history of Russian armored trains traces their development, examining the tactical and strategic advantages of Russian military railroads. It dwells on armored locomotives, Zaamurets, motorized armored carriages, railguns and railway artillery, and military rolling stock. WWI and WWII fans will want this book in their collection; railroad historians will enjoy its coverage of the Russian Revolutions of 1917-23, the Polish Soviet War, and the Slovak National Uprising.

eBook TAGS    Armored Trains, Russian Armour, Twentieth Century, Military Railroads, Railguns, Railway Artillery & Cannon, WWI, WWII, World War One, Two, Military Rolling Stock & Wagons, Russian Armored Locomotives, Zaamurets, Motorized Armored Carriage, Russian Civil War, Bolshevik Red Army, White Army, Polish–Soviet War, Revolutions of 1917–23, Slovak National Uprising


A clear difference can be observed between an armed train and an armored train. In practice, the consist of an armed train includes any combination of rail-mounted artillery gun carriages and troop cars with troops firing machine guns from behind protective barriers.

The consist of an armored train typically contains a locomotive protected by steel plating, armored cars with steel plates and any possible configuration of heavy and light weapons; guns, howitzers, mortars, and rifles, machine or chain guns. While an armored train is always armed, an armed train is not necessarily an armored train.

Sometimes the overlap between an armed train and an armored train can be difficult to tell apart because of improvisation in the field or because of privately owned railway trains. During the Russian Civil War, the Czechoslovak legionnaire’s Corps were tireless and inventive builders of improvised armored trains Almost every regiment had one, or sometimes several, ‘homemade’ armored trains. The American metal gondola coal wagon used by both sides in the American Civil War suddenly grew quite popular in the Russian Civil War as massive and spontaneous construction of improvised armored trains developed.

The reliability of these cars, large load capacity, features of their design and the protective steel from which they were made, allowed them to be quickly and cost-effectively adapted for combat as assault troop transports or in combat as machine gun cars or artillery wagons.

Sometimes the armor was enhanced with inert protective material such as sand bags, and other times the gondola sides used the more costly enhancement of filling an inter-lining with sand, gravel, or even concrete. Sometimes gondola cars were set on such partial or solid-reels overlap of logs, railroad ties or sheet metal. The American metal-car gondolas (coal wagons) could easily be improvised into a multitude of different military uses. The artillery wagon gondola type below is the same American gondola type as the machine gun gondola car and the armored troop transport gondola shown above.

Contributing to the ‘Armored Train’ confusion are various designations of armored cars. An ‘Armored Car’ may be a steel plated protected platform of any type that is pulled by a locomotive, as shown above where each car in the armored train is an armored car. Or, an ‘Armored Car’ on other occasions can refer to an independent steel-plated self-propelled railway vehicle used for checking the tracks or scouting enemy positions. The Strella is an example of such an armored car.

It gets worse. While most small independent steel plated self-propelled railway vehicles used for checking the tracks or scouting enemy positions are not considered ‘Armored Trains’, the Russians introduced a new form of armored train which consists of a single self-propelled steel plated vehicle used for scouting, which would sometimes run independent of a multi-car train, and other times attached to a full armored train. The Zaamurets is an example of an armored train that is actually a ‘rail cruiser’ self-propelled rail car which sported a pair of 57mm cannon.

Add to this confusion, MBV-2 armored carriages and other armed and armored vehicles such as winkles, motor-lorries, wagons, and scouts, then consider the improvised and convoluted hybrid armored cars composed from simple unprotected wagons.

All armored trains were outfitted with large caliber artillery gun carriages. Some heavy guns were mounted on fixed carriages while others rotated 360 degrees on a platform. Rotating platforms where usually of navy origin and already partially shielded. This offered at least some armored protection for gunners against small arms fire and grenade shrapnel, while still vulnerable to destruction from enemy artillery or airplane strafing.

Some armored trains where equipped with long distance firing cannon, mortars, and howitzers. Most often these were classified as ‘Armed Trains’ rather than ‘Armored Trains’. Heavy armor was not required as their distance to the battle front made them immune to enemy counter-fire, with the exception of air vulnerability, of course.

Most Russian armored trains, outfitted with smaller caliber artillery, were designed to fight directly in the midst of battlefront action. These armored trains were equipped with heavily armored locomotives and armored wagons; rolling stock that variously consisted of command cars, radio cars, heavy artillery wagons, light artillery wagons, troop cars, mine detection cars, or troop transports. Sometimes they utilized makeshift armor improvised at the battlefront. In other cases standard railroad locomotives or rolling stock was re-outfitted by factories who mass produced armored trains.

In essence, the armored train is an assault weapon involved actively and visibly in the battle, while an armed train can only intervene under certain conditions where the artillery gun carriage can fire on a distant enemy. Ultimately, the real difference between means of war in military train design is the same differences which today separate the utilization of modern tanks, armored cars and self-propelled guns for particular battlefield scenarios.

Due to the similarities and overlap in train names, definitions, and usages, this book on Russian armored trains will not restrict itself to one small faction, and instead will cover all types.

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