The Russians had been interested in armored vehicles with tracks capable of conquering difficult terrain since 1916. Officials worked to establish a tank force of 390 machines for 1918. The Bolshevik Revolution in early November 1917 ended these plans.
The first tanks in Russia were Renault FT-17s that arrived with French interventionist forces at Odessa in November 1918 (see New Vanguard 83 for technical details). The Reds took their first prize in February 1919 near Odessa and dispatched this tank to Moscow in April as a present for Lenin. Reputedly experimentation with this tank resulted in the Soviet KS (light) model produced in the 1920s.
On 21 March, the Grigoriev Brigade and an armored train captured five more Renaults at Stanitsa Berezovka. Four of these were sent to Kharkov where thev became part of the Annored Divizion of Special Purpose attached to the Soviet Ukraine People's Commissars under the command of A. Selyavkin. The Renaults comprised one detachment with two armored car detachments completing the division, In mid-April, Lenin ordered a fifth rank northward to participate in the ill'st of the May Day parades in Moscow.
Ironically, the Armored Divizion of Special Purpose soon fought against the Grigoriev Brigade itself, which had rebelled against Soviet power in May. .After suppressing this uprising, the divizion participated in actions against Makhno's Black Flag anarchists along the railway from Melitopol to Alexandrovsk (today Zaporozhye).
On 26 June, the divizion, attached to Red 14th Army, clashed with Denikin's Volunteer Army at Novomoskovsk. According to one Russian source, the Whites pushed back supporting Red troops, leaving die divizion to attack without cover, then counterattacked and liquidated the entire formation. Three of these tanks were captured. This Unit disappeared from subsequent Soriet history.
The tank sent to Moscow for parade had joined armored car detachment Sverdlov on the Southern Front by June. Attached to 8th Army, die detachment also included two Austin armored cars, one Fiat 1.5 ton truck, one Fiat medical mick, a Pierce-Arrow repair truck, a Packard mobile kitchen, one White fuel tanker, two Klino motorcycles (each with a machine gun), and two Harley-Davidson motorcycles. The 52 crewmen were communists hand-picked for 1 ova it}'. Denikin's Whites overran this detachment in autumn 1919.
Petrograd after the Kronstadt mutiny, circa March 1921, (Front): Russian Austin with mudguards and double tires, (rear) Austin 2nd series with white "Death's Head." (Cornish)
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