PIBWL presents:

Polish Armoured Trains Nr. 11 "Danuta" and Nr. 12 "Poznańczyk"

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  © Michal Derela, 1999 Updated: 05. 04. 2002 (major update is scheduled for 2019)

History - Combat use in 1939 - Trains' composition
Armoured train 'Danuta' in the early 30's (unmodified locomotive)


During the Soviet counter offensive in the summer of 1920, which was a part of the 1919-21 Polish-Soviet war, the Polish Army lost at least 8 armoured trains. To replenish the losses it was decided to build 15 new armoured trains at the Cegielski Works in Poznań, which were not engaged in military production by that time. The Armoured Trains Construction Management (KBPP) was created, for the purpose of designing armoured trains, in Poznan, headed by Cpt. Stanislaw Czerepiński (the similar KBPP were already active in some other towns). The first and only newly-built complete train was "Generał Sosnkowski", of 'type I'. It was modelled after the artillery wagons of Soviet trains, which were the most modern constructed at the time (the significant features were four-axle bogie construction, twin artillery turrets and good armour). However, when the Polish Army won the great Warsaw Battle in August 1920 and repelled the Soviets, the construction of new trains was not considered necessary anymore. It was decided to build only a few armoured wagons in order to modernize some of the existing trains.

The 'type I' artillery wagons were not built in any great numbers, because there was a better, originally Polish design developed at Cegielski's. This was the 'type II' wagon, introducing several innovations. The artillery turrets could now rotate 360 degrees, and the armour had a significant rounded shape in order to help deflect shots (- this is the armoured wagon design I like best). Cegielski Works built five such wagons in early 1921. Four of them were used at once for the modernisation of the existing armoured trains "Danuta" and "Poznańczyk". Since then, "Danuta" and "Poznańczyk" became "twins", differing in their assault wagons only, and hence they are described here together. The fifth wagon, according to one source [3], was built as a reserve vehicle. The last Polish-built wagons were of improved 'type III' for the "Smialy" and "Pilsudczyk" trains.

The armoured train "Poznańczyk" was built in December 1918 in Warsaw as train nr. 11 (P.P. 11). It consisted mainly of improvised partially armoured freight wagons, protected with sandbags and concrete (armour plates were initially rare). After being completed, the train, with the name "Poznańczyk", was moved to help Polish insurgents of the Wielkopolskie Uprising. The uprising, lasting from December 1918 untill a truce in February 1919, aimed to regain the Polish Province of Wielkopolska (with the biggest city of Poznań) from German occupation. It was successful and eventually the Province was given back to Poland in the Versailles Treaty. In the first days of January 1919, "Poznanczyk" helped to capture the towns of Krotoszyn and Ostrów Wielkopolski.

The early artillery wagon of 'Poznanczyk'
The artillery wagon of "Poznanczyk", used probably in 1920. The wagon is armoured with armour plates and concrete, and has a rotating turret.

During 1919-20, the train composition was variable, but generally the train was strengthened and upgraded. Since December 1919, it was used in the Polish-Soviet war, on the Lithuanian-Belarussian front. The artillery wagon in the photograph was probably taken during this period. In May 1920, the train was temporarily converted to wide gauge (the Russian track gauge of 1524 mm / 5ft., instead of standard gauge 1435 mm used in the rest of Europe) in the Lviv workshops and received a new armoured locomotive series "O" from former "Smialy-szeroki" train in order to operate on Soviet railways. In August 1920, "Poznanczyk" fought in the Warsaw Battle, supporting the 1st Legion Infantry Division (the 3rd Army). During further combat, among others, the train fought for a dozen or so hours alone at Kuznica area (near Bialystok), because of a destroyed bridge. During the Niemen Battle in September it fought in the 2nd Army.

'Danuta' in 1919
"Danuta" in 1919. The train has a fully covered armoured locomotive series 229. The first wagon is probably of German origin.

Unfortunately, the details of the background and combat record of the armoured train "Danuta" are unclear. It was formed in Poznań on 29 May 1919. According to one source [5], it utilized some rolling stock from the German train Panzerzug 22, captured by the insurgents on 17 February 1919, and the rest of PZ 22 rolling stock was used in the train "Goplana" (according to W. Sawodny, the captured train was PZ 23). According to other sources, "Goplana", created in April 1919, was the former PZ 22, whilst "Danuta" and "Rzepicha" were Polish-built. These three trains initially formed the 2nd Wielkopolski Armoured Train Unit. Like "Poznanczyk", the composition of "Danuta" contained improvised partially armoured freight wagons. The composition of "Danuta" was variable in that period. The armament of "Danuta" in August 1920 consisted of a 75mm gun, 37mm gun and 10 MG's (source [8]), or of two "heavy" guns (most likely 75mm), two 37mm guns and 15 MG's (source [5]). In both cases, 37mm guns might be revolver guns. At that time its number was P.P. 9. During the Warsaw Battle in August 1920, "Danuta" fought within Polish 1st Army's armoured train unit. It supported the 15th Division. On 17 August 1920 it took part in a successful combined raid on Minsk Mazowiecki town, along with armoured trains "Msciciel" and "Paderewski". After that, "Danuta" was assigned to the 5th army (to Maj. Nowicki group) and was fighting in the Mlawa area.
According to the source: [5], "Danuta" was demobilized in September 1920, but this information is unclear. If so, it must have been brought back into service in 1921.

After the Polish-Soviet war in early 1921, the old rolling stock of both trains was replaced with modern artillery wagons 'type II', as mentioned earlier. The trains also received new assault wagons and newer locomotives in that period. Both trains were assigned for further service, among the 12 most modern trains, and they were given new numbers: P.P. 5 - "Danuta" and P.P. 9 - "Poznańczyk".

"Danuta" in the late twenties. The locomotive Ti3 has the initial, low form of a roof above a command compartment. Note a huge observation turret on the new assault wagon. The artillery wagons have no AAMG's yet.

In the winter of 1923/24, most Polish armoured trains were demobilised and stored, among them was "Poznanczyk".
 At the same time, "Danuta" was assigned to the Armoured Train Training Unit in Jablonna (along with "Gen. Sosnkowski"). It seems, that before 1929 "Gen. Sosnkowski" also used the 'type II' artillery wagons of "Danuta", as well as his own artillery wagons - possibly there was not a rigid composition for both training trains. The final composition of Polish trains was established in 1929.
The organisation of Polish armoured trains was changed a few times, and finally, in October 1927, the Training Unit was reformed as the 1st Armoured Train Dywizjon (Battalion, Unit) in Legionowo, near Warsaw. "Danuta" and "Poznanczyk" were assigned to this new unit. "Danuta" was still used for training, while "Poznanczyk" remained in so-called "mob" reserve, until the mobilization in the summer of 1939.

 In the early thirties, the trains underwent some modernization. The locomotive of "Poznańczyk" was changed to the standard type Ti3, the locomotive Ti3 of "Danuta" was improved. The trains received radio and signal equipment, a standard armament (75mm guns and 100mm howitzers) and AA machine guns. An interesting detail is, that the lower armour strips in the wagons were partially cut away in the late thirties.

During the mobilization in 1939, the 1st Unit created five trains, nos.11-15. Among them were: armoured train nr. 11 (Pociąg pancerny nr 11) (former "Danuta") and armoured train nr. 12 (former "Poznanczyk" - the names were not used anymore officially).

"Danuta" is a female name; pronounced in English like: [ Dah-NOO-tah ].
"Poznańczyk" - the Poznanian, someone connected with Poznań city; pronounced like [ PoseNINEchick ].
(The pronunciation of other words: Poznań (city) [ POSE-nine ]; Wielkopolska (province) [ Vyel-CO-polska ])

Combat use in 1939:

Both trains were assigned to the "Poznań" Army (- see a map - or a full map).

The armoured train nr. 11 (former "Danuta") was commanded by Cpt. Bolesław Korobowicz.

The train was initially assigned to co-operate with the 26th Infantry Division.
During the first days of the war, since the early morning of 1 September 1939, it was used mainly on patrol duties, covering the division units in the area of Kcynia town and the Noteć River. On 4 September, enemy planes bombed the train at Szubin town, causing only slight damage. Later that day the train, assigned to the 15th Infantry Div. of the "Pomorze" Army, was bombarding enemy units near Bydgoszcz, at Bydgoski Channel. During 6-7 September, train nr. 11, assigned temporarily to the newly created operational group of Gen. J. Drapella, covered the withdrawal from Inowrocław town. On 9 September it reached Kutno railway junction, but as a result of air raids during the journey, the armoured train lost contact with its auxiliary section. In Kutno it met the armoured train nr. 14.

The first - and last - major battle in which it took part was the battle of the Bzura river - a Polish attempt at a counter-offensive. To make it possible to get to Łowicz, the train's crew spent two days repairing the heavily bombed track, and even partially building a new track with embankment! The train came into action on 14 September, near Łowicz. Its tankettes, acting in reconnaissance, were shot at. One of them was damaged, but the crew was able to repair it and withdraw. On the next day, the train's crew found four 75mm field guns in an abandoned evacuation train - they were manned by the crew and, along with the train's artillery, utilised to repel the attacks of the German 24th Inf. Div. Later that day the train was supporting the Polish 16th Inf. Division.

On 16 September, "Danuta" was still fighting against the German 31st Inf. Rgt (from the 24th Division). The train's artillery, corrected by a forward observer, halted a German attack in open terrain for several hours, while the manoeuvring train was not an easy target. Despite a few hits, the train's crew carried on fighting. Finally, the Germans managed to draw up some AT-guns and hit the locomotive, killing its crew. They also hit one artillery turret. Since the train's ammunition supplies were coming to an end as well, Cpt. Korobowicz ordered the train to be blown up and left. The Germans did not move further that day. Most of the train's crew was taken prisoner on the next day along with the Polish 4th Inf. Division. Only few managed to escape to Warsaw, where they were incorporated into an improvised armoured train.
The train itself was not repaired by the Germans. Only the assault wagon of "Danuta" was used in the German train Panzerzug 21.


This photo most likely shows armoured train nr. 11 ("Danuta") after its final combat. According to the combat reports, the train was blown up, injuring several enemy soldiers. However, the photo does not show that much damage. On the other hand, the photos of a blown-up train below, depict train nr. 12 "Poznanczyk". This issue remains unclear (maybe this description is partially confused with "Poznanczyk"?...)

The armoured train nr. 12 (former "Poznańczyk") was commanded by Cpt. K. Majewski (- a map ).

On 31 August 1939, train nr. 12 was assigned to the 56th Inf. Rgt. of the 25th Inf. Div., guarding the approaches to the small town of Krotoszyn. Since the early morning of 1 September 1939, the train supported Polish units defending Krotoszyn, among others bombarding German infantry at Cieszków (Freyhan). Since 2 September, it was ordered to co-operate with Wielkopolska BK (Cavalry Brigade), and was used mainly on patrol duties.
On 5 September, the train was ordered to Warsaw. It was difficult, however, to drive the train through damaged lines. On 7 September, it became stuck near Sochaczew as a result of lines blocked by evacuation trains, reaching from Sochaczew to Blonie. On 9 September, still in that area, it fought against a German 'task force' of the 24th Inf.Div. trying to capture a ford across the Bzura River in Sochaczew. In the first few minutes, the train destroyed 7 enemy vehicles. When the Germans gathered their artillery, they managed to set one wagon on fire, and the train was forced to retreat to Blonie. Later that day, when the attempted breakthrough to Warsaw failed, because the line was captured by the reconnaissance unit of the 4th Pz.Div., Cpt. Majewski ordered to leave the train and destroy it. Most of the crew broke through to Warsaw. As is evident from the photos, the train was blown up and too heavily damaged to be repaired by the Germans.

...another picture of 'Poznanczyk' wreck... These photos were previously recognized in some sources as "Danuta" wreck - in fact they depict armoured train nr.12 ("Poznanczyk").

See more photos in separate gallery (added in 2019).
The wreck of Nr.12 Armoured Train in the battlefield...

Train composition in 1939:

The armoured trains nr.11 and nr.12 consisted of:

(This drawing has been corrected and improved in Sept. 2001.)
'Danuta' armoured train. The corrected drawing.
(front) flatcar artillery wagon assault wagon armoured locomotive artillery wagon (2)flatcar (2)
The armoured train, as a military unit, consisted of: an armoured section, a platoon of armoured draisines and an unarmoured auxiliary section. The armoured section and armoured draisines were the combat section of the armoured train, while the auxiliary section was supporting the operation of the combat section from a logistical point of view and did not take part in combat duties directly. Sometimes, writing about "armoured train" I mean the armoured section (the strict meaning of "armoured train") or combat section only.


The standard locomotive for Polish armoured trains since 1927 was the armoured steam locomotive series Ti3 (former Prussian series G53, built in 1903-06). The locomotive of "Danuta" was most probably Ti3-12, former G53-4021 Munster, armoured just in 1920 and modified after 1926.

Artillery wagons:

Artillery wagon of nr.11 and nr.12 armoured trains (the picture has gun turret corrected)

Artillery wagon of 'Danuta' train - 100mm howitzer turret Both trains had artillery wagons of the same 'type II' designed by the KBPP in Poznan. They were built in Cegielski Works in Poznan in the early 1921, using long four-axle bogie type wagons of German origin (possibly SS type flatcars or mail wagons).
(Some information, marked as 'probable', is taken from the later 'type III' wagons).
Each wagon was armed (in 1939) with one 100mm wz. 14/19P howitzer in the lower turret (a Czech Skoda gun, also built in Poland) and one 75mm wz. 02/26 field gun in the upper turret (modified in Poland Russian 76.2mm 3in Putilov guns, called "the orthodox" gun in mounted artillery). Their field of fire was 360°. The turrets were essentially the same as in the next 'type III' wagons, but without observation cupolas. The amount of artillery ammunition carried in one wagon was probably 240 rounds.

The 100mm wz. 14/19P howitzer details were: maximum range - 9,800 m; shell weight - 12-16 kg; barrel length - L/24; maximum rate of fire - 8 rds/min; crew - 7; maximum elevation - 48°.
  The 75mm wz. 02/26 gun details were: maximum range - 10,700 m; shell weight - 5.3-8 kg; barrel length - L/30; maximum rate of fire - 10 rds/min; crew - 6 or 7; maximum elevation - 11°.

 In the twenties, the artillery armament probably consisted of a Russian 122mm ("48-line 4.5in") howitzer and a 76.2mm wz.02 (M.1902 "3in") gun.

Artillery wagon of 'Danuta' - 75mm gun turret

Other armament consisted of 8 x 7.92mm wz. 08 (Maxim) machine guns in wagon's sides and ends. In the early thirties, one 7.92mm wz. 08 anti-aircraft machine gun was added with a small turret on the roof (its maximum elevation was 90°). The ammunition was 3,750 rounds per MG (in 250-round belts).

The armour was made of double layered armour plates. The thickness varied from 12mm to 25mm (the floor was 5 - 8mm). The inside walls of the wagons were probably covered with oak planks. The wagon had one entrance with a two-leaf door on each side. It also had two hatches in both ends, which enabled the crew to pass from one wagon to another (in practice only between one artillery wagon and the assault wagon) - the open doors provided protection from enemy fire.
The wagon's length was 17.20 m (677 in), height - about 4.1 m (161 in). The bogie wheelbase was about 2 m (79 in) and the distance between the inner axles was about 8 m (314 in). The total weight was about 50 t, and the crew - about 35.

Artillery wagon of 'Danuta' - a photo.

Assault wagon:

Assault wagon of 'Danuta'

An assault wagon (Polish nomenclature) was intended for the transportation of an assault platoon. Both trains had different assault wagons.

The assault wagon of "Danuta" was rectangular in shape (with a rounded upper edge). Its origin is unknown, but it was probably built in Poland. This wagon was later used in the German train Panzerzug 21. According to the source: [1], its length was 10.6 m (427.5 in), and the wheelbase was 5.5 m (216.5 in). The other source gives 10.45 m and 5.5 m respectively. However, the wagon in the title photo apparently looks shorter - about 10 m (393 in), with a wheelbase of about 4.5 m (177 in) [- recent correction].

The assault wagon of "Poznanczyk" was half-rounded in cross-section, and built of rounded armour strips. It was the same as assault wagons in the armoured trains "Smialy" (nr.53) and "Bartosz Glowacki" (nr.55), Polish-built in Warsaw using ex-Soviet flatcars. The dimensions were: length 11.6 m (456.7 in), width 3.15 m (124 in), height without aerial 4.7 m (185 in), wheelbase 6.1 m (240 in).

Both assault wagons had two-axles, and were armed with 4 x 7.92mm wz. 08 (Maxim) machine guns in the sides. The ammunition was 3,750 rounds per MG (in 250-round belts). The armour was similar to artillery cars, or somewhat thinner (made probably of single layer of armour plates). The assault platoon consisted of 32 men (1 officer, 7 NCO's, 24 soldiers, with 2 LMG's). The total wagon's crew was about 40 (with signalmen and stretcher-bearers).

Since the early thirties, the assault wagons were equipped with long-range radio RKD/P (range - up to 100km), placed in a separate radio cab in the middle of the wagon. The wagon was also fitted with a power generator, batteries and a large clothes line aerial on the roof. By then, the wagons had big observation turrets on the roof. Both wagons had a door in each side, and doors in both ends (it is not sure, however, if "Danuta"'s wagon had doors in the ends). They also had hatches in the bottom.

The crew of the armoured section was about 120-130 men - the whole armoured train's crew (with an auxiliary train and draisines) was about 190. The length of the armoured section of the train was about 89.6 m, and the weight about 260 t.


On both ends of the armoured section of the train, there were two flatcars. Their primary function was to protect the armoured train against mines or a derailment. They were also adapted to carry engineering materials (tools, rails and sleepers, logs, explosives etc.) and also bicycles and motorcycles (part of it was carried on the auxiliary train's flatcars).
The standard flatcar series Pdkz (type VIIIC or, less likely, VIIC) was two-axle. Weight - about 10 t, load capacity - 17.5 t, length - 13 m (511 in), wheelbase - 8 m (315 in).

Armoured draisines platoon:

Each armoured train, mobilized in 1939, had a platoon of armoured draisines (scout rail vehicles). The trains nr.11 and nr.12 had standard platoons, consisting of:
- two "R" type armoured draisine (FT-17 tanks on rail chassis')
- four "TK" type armoured draisines (tankettes on rail chassis')
Draisines usually acted in two units TK-R-TK, consisting of: one "R" and two "TK" draisines. All the tanks could be easily detached from their rail chassis' and then used for ground reconnaissance tasks. The fifth TK tankette was in reserve. See the details on armoured draisines page.

Auxiliary train:

Each armoured train, as a military unit, also included an unarmoured auxiliary section (Polish name: "skład gospodarczy" is difficult to translate exactly - maybe a "quartermaster section" would have similar meaning). The auxiliary section accompanied the armoured section in operational movements of the train and provided it with an accommodation and logistics support. It was manned by a platoon consisting of 1 officer, 21 NCO's and 26 soldiers. The length of the auxiliary section of the train was about 250 m (820 ft).
It consisted of: a locomotive, coaches for officers (2), NCO's (2) and soldiers (8), supply wagons, an ambulance coach, a kitchen coach, a workshop wagon, a coal wagon, a water tanker and flatcars (5) - up to 30 carriages.
  It should also have two
wz.34 half-tracked trucks, one light truck (Polski FIAT 618?) and four motorcycles with sidecars CWS M-111 - on three flatcars. Wz.34 half-tracks were from the repair patrol, and they could be equipped with a rail-riding device.

Nice picture by J. Magnuski

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All corrections and additional informations are welcome!

Our Thanks to Jarkko Vihavainen and Artur Przeczek!.

1. Janusz Magnuski, "Pociag pancerny 'Danuta'", Typy Broni i Uzbrojenia (TBiU) No.18; Warsaw 1972
2. Rajmund Szubański, "Polska broń pancerna 1939"; Warsaw 1989
3. Janusz Magnuski, "Pociag pancerny 'Smialy' w trzech wojnach"; Pelta; Warsaw 1996
4. Tadeusz Krawczak, Janusz Odziemkowski, "Polskie pociągi pancerne w wojnie 1939r."; Warsaw 1987
5. Paul Malmassari, "Les Trains Blindes 1826 - 1989"; Heimdal Editions, 1989
6. W. Sawodny, "Die Panzerzüge des Deutschen Reiches"; EK Verlag
"Mundur i Broń" nr 8
8. "Pociagi pancerne 1918-1943", Białystok 1999

Our thanks to Chris Amundson for a language assistance!

Update history:
29.01.2002 - major update
03.10.2001 - improved History, page revised and improved.
23.05.2000 - added three pictures; improved wagon sideview; new assault wagons info and History info.
17.02.2000 - added the picture of 1919; added 1918-19 History part.

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