Operations, Northwest and West Fronts

Five armored ear detachments, the 1st, 2nd, 23rd, 26th and 28th, participated in the counter-attack against Yudenich in May and June 1919, While helping halt the White offensive, two detachments, the 2nd and 23rd, were effectively put out of action.

The 1st, 6th, 7th, 18th, 23rd, 26th, 28th, 37th and 50th Armored Car Detachments defended against Yudenich's second bid for Petrograd in September-November 1919. Several newly produced Russian Austins featured in tiiese actions, two being captured by the Estonians. The 1st had at least two Russian Austins (and a Garford gun car), the 7th possessed three, and the 6th sported three of the new Austin-Kegresse half-tracks. These half-tracks, two of which were knocked out by White artillery, were erroneously referred to in Red reports as "tanks." By the end of the campaign, the Whites and Estonians had rendered several of these detachments, including the 6th, 7th, 23rd, 26th and 50th, combat ineffective.

The Reds deployed at least 26 armored car detachments on the Western Front during the Russo-Polish War of 1920. Polish tanks are credited with dueling and killing two Red armored cats in one action. In March, the 6th Armored Car Detachment, commanded by I. Andreev, (four Austin-Kegresse), attacked Polish forces in the Zhitomir region. The names of three of these vehicles are known: IJkraiwts, Pitcrefs arid Putilovets. The Poles struck two of the vehicles with their own Garford gun car and captured the Ukrainets, subsequently taking the Putilovelson 26 April. Then, on 28 May, the 1st Armored Car Detachment lost the Stenka Ruzin in die Bobruisk region after it became stuck in a shell crater. Unsupported by friendly infantry, the crew had to abandon the Russian Austin.

These actions, however, are only picturesque vignettes. Overall, the Poles captured 31 vehicles and counting battle damage and mechanical breakdowns, the Reds may well have lost 50% or more of their armored car force.

Red Guards seized the Peerless armored truck Grokhom (Din or Noisy} in EkaterinosJav in December 1917. The Peerless had been configured originally with a 40mm Vickers anti-aircraft gun and machine guns. The veteran sketching this vehicle has drawn the gun inaccurately and has depicted four rifle ports to a side (a modification). (Bullock)

Estonian Armoured Train

Operations, Southern Front

Voroshilov, who organized the Lugansk Red Guard early in 1918, had at least two armored cars during his epic 1000-km retreat from the Ukraine to Tsaritsyn from April to June. The cars debouched from one of Commander Alyabaiev's accompanying armored trains, to alternately light rearguard actions against the Germans and fend off flanking attacks from the Don Cossacks.

Red armored cars usually did not fare well against the trained and enthusiastic armored crews of the elite Volunteer Army in 1918. Two vehicles wrere lost at Belaia Glina in June during — the Second Kuban Campaign. One, apparently an Austin 2nd series, fell to an artillery shell. The naval personnel of the second car, a modified Peerless, abandoned their vehicle after receiving fire from die White car Vemi. The Red car hore the name Cherni Ybrun (Carrion-Cmm) in red letters on the front plate and seemingly on both sides under a reel star.

Six detachments, the 8th, 16th, 19th, 20th Orel, 22nd and 30th, supported the southern front in autumn 1918. Two more, the 13th and 28th, were stationed further south in the northern Caucasus region. One of these latter detachments, with four armored cars, Lenin, Pobeda (Victory), Vpered (Forward), and Communist, fought alongside a company of attached infantry near Vladikavkaz. These vehicles were captured during the destruction of 11th and 12th Armies.

That winter, the first armored car detachments began operating with cavalry. The 9th, 21st and 32nd detachments worked in collusion with the 4th Cavalry Division near Tsaritsyn to help frustrate the Cossacks' final offensive against the city.

Throughout 1919, the Reds were sorely pressed on the Southern front to keep sufficient battle-ready detachments in the line. From January to July, total detachment strength fell from 50 to 41, the majority of these falling to Denikin's Whites. By October, the Reds had rebuilt the number to 50, largely by transferring units from other fronts, hurrying production and pulling detachments out of reserve.

Having reconstituted their broken front by late autumn, the Reds prepared a countcrstroke from west of Orel to Voronezh that would send the overextended AFSR reeling back to the Kuban. Two special forces were created as pincers to break die White salient at Orel. A "Shock Group" with the 8th and 21st Armored Car detachments struck northwest of Orel while Budenny's Konnrmha with die 9th and 32nd hit Southeast of Orel anil northwest ofVoronezh at the critical rail junction of Kastomaia. Ten other detach me i its were distributed among the seven Soviet armies positioned along the length of the Southern Front:


(see additional shock group strengths above)

South Front

Armored Car Detachment

12th Army


14th Army

5th, 22nd

13th Army


8th Army

54th, 55th

Southeast Front

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