Crew: Eight (commander, driver, six gunners)

Combat weight: 29 tons

Power-to-weight ratio: 5.2 horsepower per ton

Length: 26ft 5in.

Height: 8ft 8in.

Width: 12ft 9in.

Width for conveyance by rail: approximately 8ft 9in. Engine: Ricardo. six-cylinder inline. 150hp at 1,200rpm

Transmission: four forward gears, one reverse

Petrol capacity: 93 Imperial gallons

Petrol consumption: 2 Imperial gallons per mile

Maximum speed: 4.6 miles per hour

Maximum range: 45 miles

Gun: 6-pdr.. 23-cal. Q.F. (quick firing) Hotchkiss gun

(183-shell and 24-case shot in storage) Gun traverse: 100 degrees Gun depression/elevation: -15 to +25 degrees Machine guns: Five 8mm Hotchkiss machine guns (in boxes of 250-300 rounds for approximately 6,000-6.750 total rounds. According to Major J.N.L. Bryan, commander of the North Russian Tank Detachment, all his tanks had "new" .303-cal. rounds in August 1919. Armor: 14mm front, 12 to 8mm on superstructure (cabs), 8mm engines and gear. 12mm sponsons, 10mm hull sides. 8mm hull roof and rear, 6mm hull

Train Roof RepairsVolentair ArmyMoscow Train Officer

F1: Volunteer Army, armored train Forward for Fatherland, summer 1918


F2: Volunteer Army, armored train Officer, February 1919

G1: Volunteer Army, armored train To Moscow,

Kolchak Retreat

G1: Volunteer Army, armored train To Moscow,

British officer inspecting American train repair shop in North Russia, 1918-19. (Imperial War Museum)

Russian Imperial Train

British officer inspecting American train repair shop in North Russia, 1918-19. (Imperial War Museum)

The 12-pdrs and the 6-in. then split into separate echelons and created such havoc in December that the local Reds were given orders to "cut the throats" of any British crew captured. In 1919 crew from I IMS Kent relieved the original crew, carrying with them a 6-in. gun as a replacement for the worn-out earlier piece. From early May to the end of June the guns served aboard the White Navy's Kama Flotilla on the Kama River before being married up again as an armored train echelon during the White retreat from Perm. The crew volunteered to form a Special British Naval Armoured Train while in Omsk, but after the plan's rejection by British authorities, continued their withdrawal to Vladivostok, which they reached in August.

The real masters of the rails in Siberia were the Czechs with their 50,000 legionnaires and 32 armored trains. The Czech Legion coordinated operations with the Allied Military Mission in Siberia until its evacuation in 1920. The Legion took an active role in capturing or defending the Volga cities of Samara, Simbirsk and Kazan and the industrial cities of the Urals including Ekaterinburg and Chelyabinsk.

Moving east, their units cleared the Trans-Siberian Railway of Reds from Omsk to Vladivostok. Alter heav\ lighting on the I'rals front in the fall of 1918, the Legion progressively became a defensive force guarding the railway upon which it depended to return home. Each regiment defended a sector of the rail line, including a 10-mile (10km) corridor on either side, each regiment possessing between one and four armored trains. Most of these were lightiv armored, with one or more wagons reinforced with sandbags or a few metal plates to provide posts for machine guns, or one or two field guns on concrete mountings.

The 4th Regiment's Grozny had a Gar ford armored car mounted on a flat wagon and 10 machine guns. This regiment also possessed the Legion's most celebrated armored train, the Orlik. The Legion kept a reserve group of six trains as a striking force between the Western Front and the Einesei River: Ordernik, Iks in, Mariinsk, lajset, SpasitH and the 2nd Light Batten.

Armored trains in North Russia

Only two railways existed on the Northern Front: Murmansk to Petrograd and Archangel to Vologda. Offensive operations south from Archangel necessarily involved rail movement because ol the dense forest and marsh in the region. The 425-mile (680km) rail section to Vologda passed over 262 wooden bridges, severely impeding am advance. The Reds could merely blow one bridge, retreat out of range, and repeat the process.

The British had two armored trains at Archangel by September 1918 and the French at least one. The future Lord Kennett commanded the Mi Irs during the attack on Ghiama Bridge on 31 August. This train had two 12-pounders, a howitzer at the fore (probably a British 4.5-in.) and several machine guns (probablv Vickers and Lewis).

Syren Force
French light unarmored train with camouflaged 75mm field gun in North Russia, 1918-19. The flag belongs to one of the small French contingents at Archangel. The artillery wagon has only the most rudimentary defense of split logs and sandbags. (Imperial War Museum)

1'he Whites had two armored trains at Archangel in May 1919, the Admiral Kolchak and the Admiral i\r/>c)iin, both with naval guns and crews. Two more were under construction by August, the (General Denikin and I.if). Red (>th Army intelligence noted two trains at Oberskoi in spring 1919, the first armed with two 6-in. guns and the second with four 3-in. anti-aircraft guns.

liritish-led Syren Force, operating south from Murmansk had at least two armored trains by May 1919, one White, one American. American railway engineers constructed a light train with steel plates and sandbags and fitted Lewis guns and at least one field piece. The White train came with British ordnance: two 4.5-in. howitzers and an 18-pdr.

The Allies had evacuated north Russia by the fall of 1919, leaving the Whites to light alone. All trains in the north fell to the advancing Reds by February 1920. The crews of the Admiral Kolchak and Admiral Nepenin were executed.

Armored trains in the Northwest

The Northwest Front had a good system of rails, especially considering the short distance from the Estonian border to Petrograd: main trunk routes connected Reval, Narva, Pskov and Petrograd. The Northwestern Artnv had four armored trains for the offensive on Petrograd in 1919: the Admiral Essen, Admiral Kolrhak, Pskovitf and Talabchanin, the first two with predominately naval crews.

♦ Veteran A.C. Gershelman described the Admiral Essen, which had been painted black. From front to rear, the echelon consisted of a front platform with engineering materials, a gun wagon with a 3-in. gun mounted on a wooden semicircle. a wagon with one or two small naval pieces, a machine-gun wagon, locomotive, another machine-gun wagon, and finally a platform wagon. Among its many encounters, the Admiral Essen engaged the Red armored train Volodarsky in July 1919 and both received battle damage before retiring.

Artillery wagon Wambola of an unknown Estonian armored train, 1919. Many wagons of Estonian armored trains carried individual names, the train itself having a further name. The Estonians have cut away half of a standard boxcar and riveted sheets of steel along the sides. Note entry steps to the right and closable steel window in the center. A tarpaulin above and canvas barrel-cover protect the howitzer. (Deryabin)

Armored Trains Red ArmyEstonian Scout Front 1919
Estonian artillery wagon with naval gun, name unknown, still with Tsarist emblem on the side, probably winter, 1918-19. The side of the wagon lowers to allow for traverse. Chains connect the wagon with the rails underneath for stability during firing. (Deryabin)

Veteran Nicholas Wreden served six months of 1919 aboard the Admiral Kolchak as an artillery observer before transferring to tanks. When not in the observer's turret directing fire, Wreden and a small party would establish an observation post connected to the train by telephone wire. The crew of 300 also included a naval landing company which could secure bridges or track. On one occasion, the company even captured a battery of three 6-inch guns. Before going into battle, the crew usually received a briefing from headquarters. Action tended to be continuous in 1919, crew members seldom getting more than a day's rest between missions. By campaign's end. the Admiral Kolcliak had worked with even division in the Northwestern Army, advancing with the infantry wherever possible and providing covering fire during retreats. The train returned to base every week to replenish munitions.

The Admiral Kolchak had two field guns and 20 machine guns. Armor consisted of scrap iron around the engine and observation turret. Bags of cement and sand protected the roofed regulation freight wagons which housed the numerous crew. The artillery wagons had large sections of the roofs and walls removed in order to traverse the guns and this inevitably exposed the gunners to hostile lire.

Despite sterling service, the armored trains and their supporting arms failed to cut the rails south of Petrograd in October, a mistake that allowed Red reinforcements to enter the city. All White armored trains managed to fall back on Estonia in November except the I'skovite.

Armored trains of Denikin's Volunteer Army

The Volunteer Army captured several armored trains, including three at Tikhoretskaia during (he second Kuban campaign in (he summer of 1918. Six were in the White inventory by September:

1st Reserve Train (from November liglu armored train General Alexietr, one gun wagon, one machine-gun wagon)

2nd Reserve Train (from November light armored train General Korniloir, one 3-in. gun, one 47mm Hotchkiss gun. one machine-gun wagon)

3rd Reserve Train (from November light armored train Forward [or Futlierlaiid\ one 75mm gun wagon, one 3-in. gun wagon, one machine-gun wagon)

4th Reserve Train (from November light armored train Officer, one gun, seven machine guns)

5th Reset"«' Train (from November Battery of Distant Battle and later the heavy armored train United Russia\ two 105mm guns, two 120mm Canet gun, two 47mm Hotchkiss gun, three machine guns)

Additional: Naval Battery of Distant Battle No. 2 (later light armored train Dmitry Don; four 75mm naval guns, one 47mm Hotchkiss gun, five machine guns)

These trains fought continuously in the Kuban thai fall and at Stavropol, Armavir, and along the Black Sea Coast. By January 1919 the Whites had captured eight more armored trains in the North Caucasus and seven more were under construction, including ihe Knight (two guns, five machine guns).

The Armed Forces of South Russia formed that January under General Denikin, the original Volunteers being joined by the Don and Kuban Cossacks and the Crimean-Azov Army. The year 1919 on the Southern Front would witness the largest concentrations of armored trains in the historv of the Russian Civil War.

Don Cossack armored trains

Ataman Krasnov ordered the establishment of the Don Armored Railway Batten, consisting of three trains, under engineer Lieutenant Colonel N.l. Kondyrin in August 1918. Over the next weeks, this formation expanded into the Don Railway Brigade. One White armored train comprised a "battery," while two or more batteries equaled a "divizion." 1st Divizion

Ataman Kaledin, Gundorovets (each with two guns). Prince Suvorov (four guns) 2nd Divizion

Razdoiets, Mityakinets (each with two guns), llya Mouromets (four guns) 3rd Divizion

¡'artisan Colonel C.hernctsov. Kazak /j'mlyanukhin, Ceneral Baklanov

Czech armored train in Siberia. The locomotive and tender are armored with large plates of steel. (Imperial War Museum)

Czech armored train in Siberia. The locomotive and tender are armored with large plates of steel. (Imperial War Museum)

Armoured LocomotiveArmoured Train Orlik

The Czech armored train Orlik or "Young Eagle" on the Trans-Siberian Railway. At the rear is the motor wagon Zaamurec (see plate E1). At the front is one of the two identical artillery wagons (see plate E2), and in the center, the locomotive with name in white letters. (Imperial War Museum)

The Czech armored train Orlik or "Young Eagle" on the Trans-Siberian Railway. At the rear is the motor wagon Zaamurec (see plate E1). At the front is one of the two identical artillery wagons (see plate E2), and in the center, the locomotive with name in white letters. (Imperial War Museum)

4th Divizion

Don Bayan, Ermak, ¡van Krug Detached

Ataman Orlov, Ataman Nazarov Northern Front

Three trains, including Buzuluk and Khoper

These trains normally consisted of two armored llat cars with two 3-in. guns and 14 machine guns. Crews theoretically approximated nine officers and 100 enlisted men, half of whom were to be ethnic Don Cossack. Officers were seconded from the Don artillery.

I'he geography of the Don region had few natural defenses and the Cossacks had to be mobile in order to defend or advance their fluid borders. In addition to actions at Leski, Kupiansk and Zverevo-Shterovka, Krasnov attacked Tsaritsyn three times in the fall and winter of 1918. Don trains engaged their more numerous Red counterparts several times but the Cossacks ended the year unable to take the Red Verdun. 1st Regiment

Ermak, Ataman Orlov, Razdarets, Ivan Krug (renamed Don Ataman Bogaevsky in October), Cundorovets, Azovets (renamed General Guselshchikov in September), Mityakinets, Ataman Platov 2nd Regiment

Ilya Mouromets, Colonel Chernelsov, General Baklanov, Kazak /emlyanulthin. Ataman Kaledin, Ataman Samsonov, Atamanets, General Mamontov Detached or in brigade

1st and 2nd Naval Heavy Batteries with Canet guns.

The Don Cossacks also possessed a considerable number of heavy guns that were'formed into the lst-9th Batteries of Naval Heavy Artillery earh in 1919. Each battery of two guns could be mounted on platform wagons and used as heavy armored trains, or placed on barges as floating batteries as part of the River Forces of South Russia. For example, 4th, 6th and 8th Batteries operated on the Volga while the 5th and 7th were based at Ekaterinoslav in the Dnieper River. All batteries had 152mm Canet naval guns except the 7th (8-inch naval guns) and the 8th (British guns mounted on tractors). Most of the heavy batteries were assigned to the artillery of the AFSR in November and within two months had been transferred to service with the heavy armored trains along the front and renamed.

Armoured Train Orel

The Zaamurec motor wagon of the Czech armored train Orlik, Trans-Siberian Railway. Note the twin revolving turrets and the observer posts on top. (National Army Museum)

Armored trains of the AFSR in 1919-20

The number of armored trains in the AFSR expanded rapidly from the early weeks of 1919. Throughout that spring, General Mai-Maevsky conducted the most brilliant railway campaign in history against enemy forces numbering five times his own. Using the intricate railway system in the Don Basin, the elite Volunteers shuttled from sector to sector in troop trains supported by the armored trains, ultimately shattering the 8th and 13th Red Armies.

The Volunteer Army then moved north, seizing Kharkov in June and Kursk in September, while simultaneously moving west into the Ukraine and taking Ekaterinoslav in June, Poltava in July and Kiev in September. Red resistance in the Crimea ceased by the end of Mav. Meanwhile, Wrangel had broken the Reds on the Manych line in May and pursued them to Tsaritsyn, capturing the city at the end ofJune.

Armored trains moved with the main columns along each axis of advance. Infantry in carts traveled the country roads that often followed the rails while the cavalry provided reconnaissance on each side. Echelons carrying troops, armored cars, tanks and command cars followed. When available, White aircraft circled overhead.

Bv ()ctober the AFSR possessed the largest number of armored trains of any White force in the Civil War. The following order of battle (18 October 1919) has been compiled from several sources, including official documents and memoirs:

The Zaamurec motor wagon of the Czech armored train Orlik, Trans-Siberian Railway. Note the twin revolving turrets and the observer posts on top. (National Army Museum)

Volunteer Army 1st Corps

2nd Armored Train Divi/ion: General Kornilcw, Officer, Ivan Kalita 4th Armored Train Divi/ion: Orel, Glory to the Officer. Grozny (ith Armored Train Divi/ion: General Dmzdovsky

9th Armored Train Divi/ion: Victorious Thunder, Drozdovlsi, Soldier, Valor oj the Knight Kiev Forces

3rd Armored Train Divi/ion: A'night, Dmitry Don, Prince Pozharsky and Bayan (detached) Novorossisk Forces

5th Armored Train Divi/ion: General Markov, Scout, Invincible Don Army

Listed above, including several naval batteries distributed between the Don and Caucasian Armies and the 9th at Taganrog Caucasian Army

I si Armored Train Battery: Forward for Fatherland, United Russia, General Alexink Steppe

Attached: Three Don trains Northern Caucasus Forces

Kavkazets, Saint George Bringer of Victory, 'lerels Trans-Caspian Forces

General Kornilov, Scout, Thunderstorm, Partisan, 'Three Musketeers

Vickers Inch Naval Gun
White armored train in Vladivostok, eastern Siberia. Naval guns have canvas muzzle covers for transportation. This is a mixed army-navy crew. Note plated demi-roof and hinged platforms in wagon sides. (National Archives)

Several trains were being equipped from September 1919 to early 1920 and these saw action only at the end of the campaign, mostly near Novorossisk as a mobile reserve: To Moscow, For Holy Russia, Mighty, General C.hemyaev, Apsheronets, White Seaman, Hurricane.

White commanders created or captured additional armored trains which did not appear in the order of battle: for example, General Shkuro used his namesake train as his mobile headquarters.

Other trains and/or where they are known to have fought include:

General dayman (previously the Volunteer), Blacl< Kile and Wolf in the central Ukraine Plastun, Bayan, General Dukhonin near Kiev Glory of Kuban near Voronezh Kazak and light armored train Moscow near Kursk Mstisluv the liohl at Kharkov Cavalryman at Poltava

Colonel /.apolsky against Makhno in the Ukraine Novomssiya near Odessa

Kavkazets, Dagestanets and Shirvanets ill the north Caucasus

Zhelbat I (later Student), /.lie/bat 2, Falcon, and the heavy armored train

Moscow in the Crimea

Additional: General Schifnet-Markeoich, Hero, General Slwbelev, and Kuban ¡'artisan

In October Officer and Ivan Kalita supported the Kornilov Division's battles for Orel, the high water mark of the AFSR in the bid for Moscow. In one action, the two White trains engaged four Red counterparts and put the International out of action. Heavily outnumbered, the elite units were pushed out of Orel and an ensuing counter-attack at the end of the month failed to win back the city. After lindenny's Konarmiya defeated the Cossacks at Voronezh and Kastornaia, the armored trains fell back in the general retirement of the AFSR.

During the orderly retreat to Kursk and then Kharkov, the White trains fought to keep from being cut off by the regiments of harrying Red cavalry. Winter and typhus set in. Congestion on the railways became a virtual bottleneck north of Rostov, through which most ol the White formations and a terrified civilian population attempted to retreat. The withdrawal had begun to assume the dimensions of a rout.

In the Ukraine, Red divisions outflanked the threadbare White units north of Kiev in November and both enemies moved south, the Whiles trying to avoid being cut off from either Odessa or the ('.rimea. The Reds destroyed four armored trains and captured 15 near Odessa in Kebruarv 1920.

White armored trains that survived the disastrous retreat through Rostov participated in battles along the southern Don and in the northern Kuban in January and February. As the AFSR fell back on Novorossisk, the trains fought rear-guard actions against both the Reds and Green partisans before being captured or sabotaged by their White crews. Cut-off from retreat, White trains in the Trans-Caspian and Northern Caucasian regions met similar ends.

Armored trains in Wrangel's Russian Army

General Slaschev directed several trains and tanks that had fallen back successfully to the Crimea to help secure the two entrances to the peninsula at Perekop and Taganach-Chongar in the early weeks of 1920. Under this defensive cover, the Whites were able to construct several new trains, using weapons that had been evacuated along with resources available in the Crimea. Naval guns were mounted on the United Russia, Moscow and Ivan Kalita to create heavy armored trains. Most of the new trains adopted the names of counterparts that had been lost in action. Veteran crews entered the new formations by 29 April: 1st Divizion: General Alekseev, Sevastopol, United Russia 2nd Divizion: Glory of Kuban Officer, St. George Bringer o\ Victory, Grozny 3rd Divizion: Dmitry Don, Wolf, Ivan Kalita 4th Divizion: Soldier, Moscow, Drozdovtsi

Don 3rd Corps trains (14 May): Ataman Kaledin, Ataman Nazarov Armored trains participated with the tanks and armored cars as part of tlte combined-arms breakout in June. Wrangel's trains worked with the elite units to break Zhloba's Red cavalry in the Tauride that summer and advanced on the right llank with the Don Cossacks along the Sea of Azov. The armored trains covered the retreat during the Red offensive in October; Soldier, Sevastopol, Genera! Alekseev and Drozdovtsi were captured or destroyed in actions from Alcxandrovsk to Melitopol.

The remaining trains defended the entrances to the Crimea in the final days. Due to a freak change in the weather, the Reds were able to cross the Sivash shallows and outflank the White positions near Taganach while delivering a massed and costly frontal assault on the defenses at Perekop. Armored trains and cavalry covered the orderly withdrawal. Train crews fought their last actions as the White Army and civilian populace evacuated the Crimea by sea and at the last moment, sabotaged their trains. On 14 November United Russia and St. George Bringer of Victory were set on a direct collision course near Sevastopol.

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