PIBWL presents:

Locomotives of the Polish armoured trains 1918-1930

Part I - Part II - Locomotive Ti3

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  © Michal Derela, 2000 Major update: 7. 11. 2009 (ammended 12. 2. 2010)

The 377.402 locomotive from armoured train 'Piłsudczyk'. [J. Magnuski]
The locomotive 377.402 of the train "Piłsudczyk" [1]     [J. Magnuski]


In a period 1918-1921, the Polish Army operated more armoured trains, than any other country in the world, except the Soviet Union. There were at least 80 armoured trains constructed in Poland and about 30 captured ones, though not all of them were operational at the same time[2]. They operated during the Polish-Ukranian war W, Polish-Soviet war W and anti-German uprisings in Wielkopolska W and Silesia. All these trains used a variety of armoured or partially armoured locomotives. We are trying to present the most common types here.

It should be noted, that there has not been published any source dealing with the Polish early armoured trains from technical point of view so far. When this page started in 2000, it was a pioneer attempt of compilation of fragmentary information found in scarce publications. Some conclusions and results of photograph analyses were presented here for the first time to public. By now the situation improved a bit and more archival research and photographs were revealed, confirming or supplementing our efforts, although the picture is still far from complete.
  Note: some pictures may be enlarged. W means external links to relevant Wikipedia articles.

The locomotives of the Polish armoured trains had different origin. Only a small group were "original" armoured locomotives, completed with armour in Austro-Hungary or Russia, and captured by the Polish, like MAV series 377, or several variants of series O. These locomotives however were not uniform group as for combat qualities. Some of the Soviet locomotives were well armoured with full armour, but others had only partial armour. The Austro-Hungarian locomotives had full armour, but of lower quality, and they were generally weaker.

The majority were different civilian locomotives armoured by the Polish - there were at least 60 of them[2], not counting the Silesian Uprising ones. At that time, all the Polish locomotives were of Prussian, Austrian, or least common, Russian origin. Newly armoured locomotives differed as for armour quality and size, from partially protected locomotives, through locomotives protected with ordinary steel, to fully armoured ones. First Polish armoured trains were created in November 1918, in difficult conditions, in a hurry due to a military situation.
Locomotive series 229 being armoured in Cracov
A locomotive series 229 being armoured at the Zieleniewski's Factory in Cracov (probably 229.46) [collection Witold Rawski]
At first, genuine armour plates were scarce and in many cases unobtainable at all, so some trains were built with only partially protected locomotives, and especially wagons. Such improvised armoured locomotives (called "semi-armoured") were often protected with ordinary steel plates instead of armour plates. They usually used thick boiler steel sheets, while the wagons of such trains were protected with steel, concrete or oak wood. These partially armoured locomotives also differed in protected area size and protection quality. Some of them had merely a driver's cab protected with steel sheets, leaving all vitals, like engines, dome and boiler vulnerable. Some of the locomotives, fully covered with boiler steel, were quite well protected against rifle balls, although the steel plates could not match with armour plates. Naturally, the partially armoured locomotives were usually replaced with better ones, when available. Sometimes the partially armoured locomotives were given to armoured trains as auxiliary locomotives (for example, for reconnaissance tasks). Some of weaker trains were considered "patrol" ones. The last partially armoured locomotives were built in May 1921, in the Polish area of Śląsk (Silesia) province, for improvised armoured trains of the Third Silesian Uprising W (the insurgents' aim was to join the Polish majority-inhabited part of Upper Silesia province to Poland, what partly succeeded). During the Uprising, at least 15 partially armoured locomotives were build, and further 9 were "smuggled" from Poland (the Polish government could not support the uprising officially, but some of less conspicuous partially armoured rolling stock was moved to the uprising area by volunteer crews, anyway).

The most significant group of the armoured locomotives were the ones fitted with full or almost full armour plating in Polish workshops or factories. The first such locomotives were completed as early, as in the end of 1918. Subsequently, they were replacing partially armoured locomotives and weaker armoured locomotives (like series 377). Several typical designs were worked out by local Armoured Trains' Construction Managements (KBPP - Kierownictwa Budowy Pociągów Pancernych), and built in greater numbers. In 1920 some degree of standardization was reached, and most trains were equipped with armoured locomotives series 73, 178, 229 (Austro-Hungarian) and G5 (Prussian), not counting numerous captured Soviet O series locomotives.

In 1921, when the Polish-Soviet war was over, the Polish Army introduced a peacetime organization. It was decided to keep 12 most modern armoured trains only, and all improvised and partially armoured wagons and locomotives were withdrawn, disarmoured and returned to civilian railways. Only the best armoured and most powerful locomotives remained in service for the next few years. Eventually, in 1926 the locomotive series Ti3 (ex-Prussian G53), with the Polish pattern of armour, was chosen as the standard type. In following years, all the locomotives in 12 remaining armoured trains were replaced with locomotives Ti3.

The locomotives used in the Polish armoured trains in 1918-30:
The list is not complete. In brackets are Polish State Railways PKP series designations, introduced since November 1923.

Part I: - ex-Austro-Hungarian series:

MAV: 377 (TKh103),
kkStB: 73 (Tp15), 178 (TKp11), 229 (OKl12), 180.5 (Tw11), 97 (TKh12);
Part II: - ex-Prussian series:

KPEV: G3 (Th1), G5 (Ti1 - Ti4), G7, G8 (Tp1 - Tp4), T9 (TKi1), T11 (OKi1), T13 (TKp1), T16 (TKw1), T37 (narrow gauge);
separate article - G53 (Ti3)
- captured Soviet: series O

Note on the Austro-Hungarian locomotives: a great number of the Austro-Hungarian kkStB railways locomotives found themselves on the Polish (former Austro-Hungarian) territory after ending of World War I, and they were subsequently impressed into service by the Polish railways PKP and for military purposes. Poland claimed them and further locomotives as a part of reparation after over hundred-year occupation of the Polish territory. They initially carried original numbers, for their ownership has not been settled until 1924, when the international Distribution Commission finnished its work, sharing former Austro-Hungarian stock. In November 1922, a new uniform and logical system of numbering the PKP stock was introduced, and Austrian locomotive classes were assigned common letters indicating their purpose and wheel arrangement, and class numbers from 11 to 20 (Hungarian and Russian classes - above 100, German classes - from 1 to 10). Hovewer, due to ownership doubts, a renumbering of individual locomotives started only from 1925 (read more on Lokstatistik site).

Thumbnail drawings are in a similar scale.

Armoured locomotive series 377 - Click to enlarge. [source 2]

Series 377

Austro-Hungarian armoured locomotive 337 series
Series 377 armoured locomotive in original shape, in the Austro-Hungarian train. | Upper drawing - [2]
Polish locomotive 377.402.
The locomotive 377.402 with the Polish modifications in the train "Odsiecz" [1]

Armoured locomotives series MAV 377 were the standard locomotives of the Austro-Hungarian World War I armoured trains. The whole armoured train with two such locomotives was captured by the Polish Military Organization W on 1 November 1918 on Cracov-Prokocim station. The train was a mix of K.u.K PZ.III and PZ.VIII armoured trains (late composition, with one infantry wagon from the PZ.I and another from the PZ.IV). The captured train was next split into two trains: P.P.1 "Piłsudczyk" (=Piłsudski's W man) and P.P.2 "Śmiały" (the Daring; P.P. stands for ''pociąg pancerny'' - armoured train).

The "Piłsudczyk" received a locomotive no. 377.402 (from former PZ.III), while "Śmiały" received 377.117 (from former PZ.VIII). Soon it showed, that a single locomotive series 377 is too weak for an armoured train (in the Austro-Hungarian service the trains had 2-3 wagons, and some of them had two such locomotives, while early Polish trains had often 5-6 wagons, not counting flatcars). Therefore, since January 1919, the locomotive 377.402 was used as a support locomotive only. The photo on the right suggests, that it was also used in the armoured train "Odsiecz" (the Relief, there existed two trains with this name, but details are scarce). In February 1920 both locomotives series 377 were disarmoured and given to a civilian service in the PKP national railways, where they were designated as series TKh103 (after 1923).

It is worth mentioning, that three armoured locomotives series 377 were used by the Czechoslovak Army in the interwar period. They were next captured and used by the Germans during early period of World War II in 1940 in Panzerzug 23 and 24 armoured trains. Also three Hungarian armoured locomotives series 377 were used by their owners during WWII (in the trains Nos: 101-103).

Construction and specifications:

A small freight and shunter tank locomotive series MAV 377 was a Hungarian design - 534 were built in four Hungarian and Austrian factories in 1885-1927. The locomotive 377.117 was built in StEG works in Vien in 1891.

Polish locomotive 377.117 in 'Smialy' train.
The locomotive 377.117 of "Śmiały" during fighting with Ukrainians near Lwów (Lviv). [1].

Both locomotives were armoured in MAV workshops and MAVAG works in Budapest, probably in 1915. According to [1], they had no armour plating in fact, but were protected with 12 mm regular steel plates. Since the Austro-Hungarian Army found them vulnerable to machine gun bullets,
Polish locomotive 377.117 in 'Smialy' train
Grenade launcher maintenance - visible locomotive 377.117 of "Śmiały". [5].
the protection was strengthened from the inside with 40 mm oak wood layer and a second layer of 9 mm sheet iron, which appeared quite enough against machine guns and splinters (note, that despite bullet-riddled pipe on a chimney on a photo on the right, there is no visible damage to the armour surface, even to its external layer).

The locomotives were equipped with a special pipe, mounted on the chimney, which, when assembled, was intended to put a smoke near the ground in order to hide the train's presence (it was also a Polish modification).

Armoured locomotive series 73 - Click to enlarge. [source 2]

Series 73

Polish armoured locomotive 73.291 Nowy Sącz IV.
Locomotive 73.291 Nowy Sącz IV, with a typical armour [1] | Upper drawing - [2]
Polish armoured locomotive series 73
Locomotive series 73 with a full armour in the train "Groźny"

Several freight locomotives of a popular Austrian kkStB series 73 were armoured in Poland. Most of them were fitted with almost full armour of 10-15 mm armour plates, like the 73.291 Nowy Sącz IV on the photo on the right. It was the 4th locomotive armoured in Repair Works in Nowy Sącz (Neu Sandec) in 1919, hence the name. Details of its service are not known. Armoured locomotives series 73 differed in details, but the pattern and shape of armour was identical in most of them. Apparently armour covered all the locomotive except wheels, drive mechanism, smokebox doors, sandbox and chimney. Armouring of a tender is not clear. Ten locomotives were armoured by workshops in Lwów (4 in 1918 and 6 from August 1920).

From August 1920 until 1921, the armoured train "Piłsudczyk" had a locomotive 73.348, armoured in Lwów (Lviv). In some period it was camouflaged (the number 73.243 quoted in source [3] is misread). Another train, the "Huragan" (Hurricane) had a fully armoured locomotive 73.419 in 1920. Such locomotives were also used among others in trains: "Stefan Czarniecki" (in 1920), "Smok" (the Dragon), "Generał Iwaszkiewicz", "Ochotnik" (the Volunteer, 73.235, armoured in Lwów).

A locomotive of this type, but with a different pattern of full armour, covering wheels, and fitted with a big Soviet-style command turret, was used in the armoured train "Groźny" from September 1920.

Initially, also partially armoured locomotives series 73 were used. Usually they had only driver's cab protected with steel plates. Such "semi-armoured" locomotive 73.124, completed in Railway Works in Lwów (Lviv), was given to the armoured train "Śmiały" in December 1918 as an auxiliary locomotive, and used there for a short time. It served later in the armoured train PP.3 "Lis-Kula". Another partially armoured locomotive 73.367 was used in the "Piłsudczyk" as a primary locomotive from January till March 1919. Such locomotive was also used in the train "Odsiecz".

All armoured locomotives series 73 were withdrawn from the Army in the early twenties and returned to the Polish Railways PKP. Poland had 232 locomotives series 73 in total, of which 219 received new PKP series designation Tp15 in 1925-26 (the rest were lost or scrapped by that time).

Construction and specifications:

The locomotive 73.419 of 'Huragan' train.
Typical armoured locomotive 73.419 of the train "Huragan" [3]

Freight locomotives series (kkStB) 73 were built in several Austrian factories in 1885-1909 in a total number of 453 (it is noteworthy, that about half ended up in Poland). It was a sturdy and reliable design, constructed for hilly terrain service. Its distinguishing feature as a chimney with Rihosek's spark extinguisher, followed closely by a tall dome and a saddle sandbox.

Known armoured locomotives - manufacturer, factory number / year, later PKP designation (not all are listed):

73.124- Wiener Lokomotivfabrik Floridsdorf (WLF), 755/1890Tp15-65
73.235- Wiener Neustädter Lokomotivfabrik (WrN), 3942/1896Tp15-113
73.291- Wiener Neustädter Lokomotivfabrik (WrN), 4243/1899Tp15-137
73.348- Wiener Lokomotivfabrik Floridsdorf (WLF), 1522/1903Tp15-166
73.367- StEG, 3281/1906no new number
73.419- Bömisch-Mährische Maschinenfabrik (BMMF), 312/1909Tp15-196

Armoured locomotive series 178

Series 178

Armoured locomotive 178.95 of 'Paderewski'
Locomotive 178.95 of the "Paderewski" [2] | Upper drawing - [2]
Armoured locomotive of the train 'Paderewski'
Locomotive series 178 of the "Paderewski" (178.111?). Note different lettering [3]

Tank locomotive series (kkStB) 178 was another fine and successful Austrian design. In 1918-19, the Polish workshops in Lwów (Lviv) armoured six such locomotives with 10-15mm armour plates, according to the KBPP bureau design. Armour covered all the locomotive including wheels, except two sandboxes, chimney and possibly smokebox doors. It is not clear, if top of a boiler was armoured. The first was partailly armoured 178.92, made in 1918 for the PP.3 "Lis-Kula" train, in 1919 disarmoured and replaced with better 178.71. Rest were armoured in 1919. They were used in armoured trains: "Paderewski" (178.95 and 178.111), "Piłsudczyk" (178.93, since March 1919 until August 1920), "Pionier" (178.66) and temporarily "Poznańczyk" (178.95 and 178.111). The second locomotive for the PP.3 "Lis-Kula" had a modified high armoured roof above a bolier.

In the early 1920s the locomotives were returned to civilian authorities, and were designated TKp11 after 1925. Poland had 27 locomotives of this series, 26 of them received new TKp11 numbers.

Construction and specifications:

Tank locomotives series (kkStB) 178 were built in Austrian factories since 1900 in a total number of 230. They were intended for a local freight and passenger transport on hilly areas, where they run well.

Armoured locomotive of the train Pionier Armoured locomotive 178.93 of 'Piłsudczyk' Armoured locomotive series 178 of train PP3 Lis-Kula
Locomotive series 178 in the "Pionier" Locomotive 178.93 of the "Piłsudczyk" Locomotive series 178 of the "Lis-Kula" with a modified armour shape (178.71?)

Armoured locomotives - manufacturer, factory number / year, later PKP designation:

178.66- Floridsdorf, 1809/1908TKp11-6
178.71- StEG, 3535/1908 no new number
178.92- Krauss Linz, 6244/1910TKp11-15
178.93- Krauss Linz, 6245/1910TKp11-16
178.95- Krauss Linz, 6247/1910TKp11-17
178.111- Krauss Linz, 6353/1910TKp11-19

Polish-armoured locomotive series 229. [source 1]

Series 229

Polish locomotive 229.140 in armoured train 'Smialy'
Armoured locomotive 229.140 Kraków VIII in the armoured train "Śmiały" (locomotive 229.49 Kraków IV had a chimney without Rihosek's sparks' extinguisher). [1] | Upper drawing [1]
Polish armoured locomotive series 229
An armoured locomotive series 229 in the "Hallerczyk" [AJ]
Polish armoured train Danuta in 1919
Fully armoured locomotive 229.46 in the "Danuta" in 1919 [AJ]

One of most numerous Polish armoured locomotives was kkStB series 229. At least 11 of them were armoured in 1918-20 in Poland by Zieleniewski's Factory in Cracow and Railway Repair Works in Nowy Sącz.

Among them was the locomotive 229.49 Kraków IV, armoured in February 1919 (the name meant the fourth locomotive series 229 armoured in Cracov). It was used in the armoured train "Smok" (The Dragon). After "Smok" had been decomposed in November 1919, the locomotive went to "Śmiały". It was damaged in July 1920 during heavy fighting, and in August "Śmiały" received a new locomotive 229.140 Kraków VIII. It was used there until 1922.
Locomotives of this series were also used, among others, in trains: "Paderewski" (in August 1920), "Gromobój" (229.29), "Hallerczyk" (=Haller's W man) and "Rozwadowczyk" (=Rozwadowski's W man, later renamed: "Wilk" - Wolf - 229.230 Nowy Sącz IX). All these locomotives had similar pattern of almost full armour, 10-15 mm thick, differing in details. Wheels were mostly covered, as was a drive mechanism. A boiler top was apparently covered with rounded plates - in some locomotives at least (like "Rozwadowczyk's" 229.230). A smokebox door was probably not protected, as less likely to be hit.

The first armoured locomotive series 229 was fitted with partially different pattern of full armour, covering all boiler top - the 229.46 Kraków I, armoured in Zieleniewski's Factory in December 1918 - January 1920. It was used in armoured train "Wawel", renamed later to "Danuta" (a photo, source 4).

All armoured locomotives series 229 were used no longer, than until the mid-1920s. None was lost during the war. After World War I, the Polish Railways PKP had 22 locomotives series 229 - after 1925 they were designated as OKl12 (numbers from 1 to 22).

Construction and specifications:

Passenger tank locomotives series 229 were built in several Austrian factories - 239 were completed in 1904-1917. It was a construction of Karl Gölsdorf. Read more at Wikipedia.

Known armoured locomotives - manufacturer, factory number/year, later designation:

229.29- StEG 3228/1905OKl12-4
229.46- Wiener Lokomotivfabrik Floridsdorf 1682/1907OKl12-8
229.49- Wiener Lokomotivfabrik Floridsdorf 1685/1907OKl12-10
229.140- StEG 3952/1914OKl12-19
229.230- Krauss Linz 7131/1917OKl12-21

Armoured locomotive series 229 Armoured locomotive series 229
An armoured locomotive 229.230 Nowy Sącz IX of the train "Rozwadowczyk" (later renamed: "Wilk"). [4] An armoured locomotive series 229 of the train "Gromobój" (click to see full scene). [3]

Polish-armoured locomotive series 180.5

Series 180.5

Polish armoured locomotive series 180.5.
The armoured locomotive 180.533 Nowy Sącz X - [AJ]↑↓.
| Upper drawing - A. Przeczek
Polish armoured locomotive series 180.5.

One of the least common locomotives armoured by the Polish was the Austro-Hungarian series 180.5, possibly made in one unit only. Such fully armoured locomotive 180.533 Nowy Sącz X is seen on a right photo. A camouflaged locomotive of this type (possibly the same) was used in 1920 in the armoured train PP.3 "Lis-Kula".

The Polish civilian locomotives of this series, along with a basic series kkStB 180, were designated Tw11 after 1925 (there were 11 locomotives series 180, including 6 series 180.5 in Poland). The 180.533 was built by Wiener Neustädter Lokomotivfabrik (WrN 4929/1909), later Tw11-8.

Construction and specifications:

The freight locomotive series kkStB 180.5 was a sub-type of the earlier series 180, which was the world's first E-type (0-10-0) locomotive, designed by famous Karl Gölsdorf. From 1901, 181 of them were built for the Austrian railways kkStB. Its development was the series 180.5 - fitted with Clench steam dryer. The first one was built in 1906 and 58 were made. The locomotives of these series were built by Floridsdorf, Wiener Neustadt, StEG, and Bömisch-Mährische Maschinenfabrik.

Polish-armoured locomotive series 97

Series 97

Polish armoured locomotive series 97
The armoured locomotive series 97 of the "Saper" [AJ]
Drawing above: Arthur Przeczek
Polish armoured locomotive series 97
The "Saper's" locomotive after a collision.

The obscure ones of the Polish armoured locomotives were the locomotives of kkStB series 97. The locomotive, seen on photos (according to some information, 97.245), was used in 1919 in the light patrol armoured train P.P.17 "Saper". It was fitted with a full armour and an unusual pipe for putting a smoke down in late 1918 in Zieleniewski's Factory in Cracov. It was damaged in a crash with an auxiliary (not armoured) locomotive 170.268 of the train "Pionier" on 12 April 1919.

The other locomotive 97.254 Nowy Sącz VI received a different armour style in Nowy Sącz and was used in trains "Smok" and, for a short time, "Śmiały".

The Polish civilian locomotives of this series were designated Tkh12 after 1926 - the Polish railways had 14 such locomotives, 13 of which received TKh12 numbers. The former 97.254 (disarmoured) is currently preserved in Tarnowskie Góry heritage park - photos.

Construction and specifications:

A small freight and shunter tank locomotive series (kkStB) 97 was built since 1878 by all Austrian locomotive manufacturers. A total of 227 was built.

The locomotive was equipped with a special pipe on a chimney, intended to put a smoke forward near the ground in order to hide the train's presence, although it does not seem to be much efficient in this shape.

Part II: Locomotives of the Prussian and Soviet origin

Armoured locomotive Ti3

All corrections and additional informations or pictures are welcome!

1. Janusz Magnuski, "Pociag pancerny 'Śmiały' w trzech wojnach"; Pelta; Warsaw 1996
2. Janusz Magnuski & Steven Zaloga, "Polish armoured vehicles of WW2"; Military Modelling 9/1983
3. Jerzy Garbaczewski, "Pociągi pancerne w Wojsku Polskim 1918-1939 cz.I";
Mundur i Broń nr 8
4. Paul Malmassari, "Les Trains Blindes 1826 - 1989"; Heimdal Editions
5. Tomasz Basarabowicz, "Polskie pociągi pancerne w pierwszych latach Niepodległości na przykładzie PP Nr 2 "Śmiały" na fotografiach z epoki"; Militaria i Fakty nr 5/2002
AJ - photos from collection of Adam Jońca

Our Thanks for help to Jarkko Vihavainen, Dariusz Przezdziecki, Johann Blieberger, GPM, Arthur Przeczek, Adam Jońca.

Manufacturer details of particular locomotives and information on PKP numbers are mostly taken from Josef Pospichal: Lokstatistik.

You can see the Glossary of Steam Locomotive Terminology at Railway Technical Web Pages.

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All photos and pictures remain the property of their owners. They are published in non-commercial educational and research purpose.
Text copyright to Michal Derela.