Awesome Armoured Trains and Rail Cruisers

Link - article by Simon Rose and Avi Abrams

Armoured train as a symbol of military power, as well as "a symbol of stable stagnation"

Armoured trains usually had a number of railroad cars, equipped with machine guns and heavy artillery, and were heavily protected with armour. The armies of several countries used these military trains during the late 19th and early 20th century and in World War II. Armoured trains were protected by a variety of thick metal plates, but concrete and even sandbags were sometimes used to create makeshift armoured trains in some conflicts.

(Czech troops on an armored train in Irkutsk, Siberia - photo taken in 1918, via)

Once trucks, tanks, armoured personnel carriers and other military vehicles became more effective and possessed sufficient firepower, the days of the armoured train were numbered. The trains and the tracks they operated on were very vulnerable to attack from the air, despite their protection, and the tracks could also easily be sabotaged with explosives.

(images via)

Armoured trains were used in the American Civil War (1861-65), the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71) and in the Boer War in South Africa at the end of the nineteenth century. The Russian Empire, which was to see extensive use of armoured trains in the first half of the twentieth century, used them during the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05). Armoured trains also saw action in the years of the Mexican Revolution (1910-20 and in World War I (1914-18).

This "railroad battery" from 1861 (see below) was used to protect workers during the American Civil War:

(illustration from Frank Leslie Illustrated Newspaper, 1861 , via)

This train (shown below) is seen transporting British soldiers in Egypt in 1882. It isn’t as well protected as later armoured trains, but is equipped with a Nordenfeldt Gun, an early machine gun that was eventually superseded by the Maxim gun in the 1880s:

(the armored train in Egypt, via)

In World War I, among others, one of the armoured trains used by the Russian Army were the Zaamurets. These were self-propelled rail cars equipped 57 mm cannons and machine guns. It could move independently or be used to pull other armoured wagon trains. Armoured trains also played a large role during the Russian Civil War. The Zaamurets shown below traveled halfway across the world on the Trans-Siberian Railway, passing from the Bolsheviks, to the Chinese Nationalists, and then to the Japanese:

(image via)

Here are a couple of armoured trains used in Russia by the opposing sides in the years of bloody conflict that followed the 1917 revolution:

When World War II began, the Soviet Union had a lot of armoured trains, but many of these were destroyed or damaged when the Germans invaded in 1941. The trains used later in the war had turrets usually fitted onto tanks and some were even armed with huge naval guns transferred from ships:

(image credit: Alexey Grachev)

Some specialized Soviet armoured trains were equipped for anti-aircraft duties. This MBV -2 armoured train from World War II (above) can be viewed at a tank museum near Moscow.

The MBV-2 (seen below) was deployed on the Leningrad Front in 1942, while the bottom image is from the 14th Separate Armored Train Battalion in early 1944:

(images via 1, 2)

The Soviet military greatly valued the MBV-2 and the trains were frequently fitted with different types of guns. German armoured trains of World War II were often used almost as mobile forts on the Eastern Front. The Soviet trains (below) acted in more of a supporting role for army units, able to perform reconnaissance in an area and also attack any German infantry or tanks that they encountered:

(images via)

This book in Polish (left, below) covers Soviet armoured trains used in the 1930s and in the early years of World War II. Trains deployed from 1941 to 1945 are the topic of the book in the middle. Both books have a summary and photo captions in English, for those who are interested in delving deeper into the subject:

(right image: "Armored Train in Action", 1915 painting by Gino Severini, Museum of Modern Art, New York, via)

The left picture shows armoured train number 695 of BP-35 type, supported by armoured railcars. On the right is the armoured locomotive BR-35 in 1942:

Humongous Railway Gun (used during the siege of Leningrad)

This railway gun of the TM-3-12 model (below) can be seen at the St. Petersburg Outdoor Train Museum. This was not part of an armoured train, but was actually built with others in the late 1930s using guns taken from a battleship and placed on a rail chassis. It was used in World War II, but captured by the Finns and used during the siege of Leningrad. When Finland ended their war with the USSR in 1944, the gun was handed over as part of the peace agreement:

(image credit: Tekhnika Molodezhi magazine, 1975)

(image credit: Andrei Korchagin)

(image via)

The train on the left has its guns pointing skyward, as they might once have done to target the Luftwaffe on the Eastern Front:

(images credit: Rob Dickinson; bottom image Nataliya)

Here's the impressive armoured train "Zheleznyakov", used to defend Sevastopol in World War Two. The lettering reads "Death to the Fascism!"

(image credit: Sevastopol Photo)

At the beginning of World War II in September 1939, Poland used armoured trains after the German invasion. The trains were used to move troops around, but the trains and tracks were heavily bombed by the Luftwaffe:

(images via)

Some armoured trains were escorted by a draisine, which was kind of like a tank that ran on rail tracks. These were mostly used for advance scouting, patrols along the track and similar tasks. Sometimes, armoured cars were converted into vehicles that could run on tracks, but most draisines were built specifically for this purpose. This armoured draisine (left) was built in Czechoslovakia for Polish armed forces in 1920s and 1930s. On the right is a Polish draisine captured by the German forces during the campaign in Poland in September 1939:

(images via 1, 2)

This armoured train from World War II (below left) is on display in Poland. The one on the right can be seen in the Warsaw Railway Museum, but is a Panzertriebwagen, a German heavy armored train built in 1942. It was used on the Eastern Front and was captured at the end of the war. Polish forces then used the train for a couple of years, before it was retired and placed in the museum:

(images via)

Germany didn’t use armoured trains as much as their Soviet counterparts did, but had trains that were very well equipped. The Germans had heavily armoured locomotives that were used to pull the trains and some railcars were fitted with anti-aircraft gun turrets. Some cars were also designed with ramps to be able to carry and deploy tanks. The BP 42 train on the right was apparently used in some movies after the war:

(images via 1, 2)

This is the command wagon of the BP 42 train (left). On the right are a few examples of German rail cruisers from World War II:

(images credit: Thomas T., 2)

The Slovak resistance used three armoured trains during the Slovak National Uprising in the fall of 1944. A replica of the Hurban train is on display near the castle in Zvolen, Slovakia, and two original cars are preserved in the local rail repair shops:

(images via 1, Greg)

After 1945, some countries still used armoured trains in the Cold War, including French forces during the war in Indochina. Most recently, armoured trains were employed in the conflict following the collapse of Yugoslavia in the 1990s and the Russian military also used modified armoured trains (left) during the fighting in the Caucasus. On the right, Russian troops are shown manning a gun on a train during the war in Chechnya:

(images via)

Imaginary Armored Trains

What about this fearsome looking armoured train, from the post-apocalyptic video game Transarctica? This is actually the famous Rodney Matthews painting "Heavy Metal Hero", see it here:

(right image credit: Rodney Matthews)

This train is also from video game, the World War II themed Rush for Berlin, but gives a reasonably accurate depiction of the German armoured trains of the era:

(image via)

Here's another imaginary armoured train, a Polish model made for Flames of War, featuring an unusually-shaped battlefront assault car:

(images via 1, 2)

Here's a neat sci-fi concept for an armoured train, designed by Martin Kornelius Dahl:

(image credit: )

Gothic Armor on Rails

And finally, this is a hand-built model of the armoured train from the War Hammer 40K universe, made by the guys from the Games Workshop studio team:

(image via)

Article by Simon Rose and Avi Abrams, Dark Roasted Blend.




Visual Caffeine #8
Visual Caffeine, Issue 8

A thrilling blend of art, myths and technology

Visual Caffeine #7
Visual Caffeine, Issue 7

A thrilling blend of art, myths and technology

Art Deco
Imperial Dreams: Art Deco Update

Wings, Gears, & Glamorous Ladies

1970s SciFi
DRB Pics-of-the-Day

Grand Space Adventure 1970s Art

"Dark Roasted Blend" - All Kinds of Weird and Wonderful Things, Discovered Daily!"

DRB is a top-ranked and respected source for the best in art, travel and fascinating technology, with a highly eclectic presentation. Our in-depth articles in many categories make DRB a valued online magazine, bringing you quality info and entertainment every time you visit the site - About DRB

Connect with us and become part of DRB on Facebook and Twitter.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "polish draisine captured by the German forces [...] in 1939" looks a lot like a Renault FT 17 tank loaded for transport by railroad. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renault_FT

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The image http://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-lPzFape4klE/UYHUreNNjmI/AAAAAAACFtk/fFBHUDHBt2s/s0/ar1-.jpg is described as
"In World War I, among others, one of the armoured trains used by the Russian Army were the Zaamurets. These were self-propelled rail cars equipped 57 mm cannons and machine guns. It could move independently or be used to pull other armoured wagon trains. Armoured trains also played a large role during the Russian Civil War. The Zaamurets shown below traveled halfway across the world on the Trans-Siberian Railway, passing from the Bolsheviks, to the Chinese Nationalists, and then to the Japanese:"

but the text on the picture in the green field is in Czech language, "Orlik, vuz cis. I." and it means "Little eagle, car no. 1." Little eagle is used as a name here I guess.

Blogger Klimax said...

I found an excerpt mentioning that particular train:

It was used by czech legion. (as they were battling their way out of Russia. More: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Czech_Legion#Transit_through_Siberia)

Blogger Unknown said...

I don't know if it's worth mentioning or not, but nearly every vertical scrolling shoot-em-up video game in which you fly a plane has some kind of "armored train" level. One that comes to mind is the 2nd level of Raiden Fighters 2 in which you're chasing after an armored train the entire level. Great article!!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to add that during WW2, the 15-inch gauge Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway in Kent (UK) had one.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny you mention the Soviet Finnish stolen gun and “death to fascism” and you didn’t even bring up the Schwerer Gustav cannon, one of the most impressive wonder weapons of the Second World War. Sounds like communist propaganda but ok.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Don't miss: The Ultimate Guide to NEW SF&F Writers!
Fiction Reviews: Classic Cyberpunk: Extreme Fiction
Short Fiction Reviews: Lovecraft's "At the Mountains of Madness" (with pics)
New Fiction Reviews: The Surreal Office


Abandoned, Dieselpunk
DRB Pic-of-the-Day

Abandoned: Streamlined Three-wheeler

Visual Caffeine #6
Visual Caffeine, Issue 6

A thrilling blend of art, myths and technology

Visual Caffeine #5
Visual Caffeine, Issue 5

A thrilling blend of art, myths and technology

Hellish Weather on Other Planets

Wild, Untamed, and Uncut

Medieval Suits of Armor

Metal Body Suits vs. Weapons of Medieval Destruction

World's Strangest Theme Parks

Amusement to the (twisted) extremes!

Enchanting Victorian Fairy Tale Art

"Then world behind and home ahead..."

Adorable Pedal Cars

Collectable Pedal Vehicles Showcase

Japanese Arcades: Gundam Pods & Other Guilty Pleasures

These machines have gone up to the next level

Modernist Tallinn Architecture

Delicious blend of old and new!

Early Supercomputers: A Visual Overview

"Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons"

Futuristic Concept Cars of the 1970-80s

French, Italian & Japanese rare beauties

Epic 1970s French Space Comic Art

DRB Time-Slice: Valérian and Laureline

The Trees Are Escaping! The Abandoned Prison in French Guiana

"Great Escape" from the Devil's Island

(with previews, fast loading):


Link Lattes

Feel-Good & Biscotti Issues

Feel-Good! | airplanes | animals | architecture | art | auto | boats | books | cool ads | famous | futurism | food
gadgets | health | japan | internet | link latte | military | music | nature | photo | russia | steampunk
sci-fi & fantasy | signs | space | technology | trains | travel | vintage | weird | abandoned