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  © Text: Waldemar Mroczek, Michał Derela, 2004-24 Updated: 23. 1. 2024

Polish armoured train "Generał Dowbor"

and Russian armoured trains of Hunhuz type

Armoured train 'Generał Dowbor'
"Generał Dowbor" in 1919.

Among numerous armoured trains used by the Polish Army there were two examples representing the only typical designs of armoured trains from the period of World War I. Apart from a well-known Austro-Hungarian armoured train, whose wagons served in Polish trains: "Piłsudczyk", "Śmiały" and "Śmierć", the Poles used also one of four* Russian standard armoured trains of Hunhuz type. In addition, the "General Dowbor" was probably an incarnation of the original "Hunhuz", being arguably the most famous Russian armoured train of World War I. It remained in Polish service for only a year, from its capture on 24 May 1919 until its loss on 6 June 1920. Thanks to its unique composition, this train is relatively well-known among Polish armoured trains of Polish-Bolshevik war, impossible to be mistaken with other units.

* or three – see in the text.

Note: links without an underline lead to Wikipedia articles.


Armoured train Hunhuz of the 1st Zaamurski btatalion
Russian armoured train "Hunhuz" – the first of this type, during a commissioning ceremony on 1 September 1915. Probably at least one of its wagons was found in "Generał Dowbor" train.
Destroyed armoured train Hunhuz
The "Hunhuz" following its destruction on 24 September 1915 ↑↓
Destroyed armoured train Hunhuz
The destroyed train in summer 1916, without its rear artillery wagon ↑↓
Destroyed armoured train Hunhuz

The first armoured train in Russia during World War I was built as soon as in August 1914. Soon it was followed by several more, but all were half-improvised units, based upon box freight wagons, differing from each other (an example was an armoured train of the 4th railway battalion). However, first armoured trains achieved some success in the Southwestern Front at the beginning of the war, and this prompted the Russian command to increase a number of these means of combat, and start their construction on a larger scale. By the Bolshevik revolution in 1917, ten armoured trains were formed in European part of Russia – of which four belonged to the standard type described on this page – and four more were built in the Caucasus[4]. Bigger degree of a standardization was achieved in the field of armoured locomotives, since two other trains received locomotives with the typical armour of this design as well. Russian armoured trains had no uniform numbers assigned at first, but were distinguished by numbers of railway battalions operating them (zheleznodorozhnyi batalion or zhelbat in short). Only from 20 May 1916 they got numbers assigned, but they were a subject to change when trains were moved between fronts.

In Russian service – Hunhuz type history

Dates in this chapter according to the Old Style

The standard broad gage armoured train was designed in late June 1915 in the 2nd Zaamurskaya (Trans-Amur) Railway Brigade, commanded by General-major Mikhail Kolobov. Its construction was carried out by the 4th Company of the brigade's 2nd Battalion, in main workshops of Southern-Western Railways in Kiev, under a supervision of the 4th Company commander Captain Vladimir Daniel. It consisted of an armoured locomotive O class and two identical armoured wagons, armed with one 3-inch mountain gun in an extreme turret, and 12 machine guns. Wagons were fitted with completely new bodies of an elaborate low-profile shape, made of thick boiler plates. Their unique feature was an armoured box protruding down through a modified chassis to make more internal space. The train had also at least one flatcar, to protect it against a derailment and to carry spare rails and tools for track repair. The crew was 94 men, including four officers.

The first train was completed by 1 September 1915. It bore a name: Хунхузъ painted on a locomotive cab ("Hunhuz" or "Khunkhuz", modern Russian spelling: Хунхуз), meaning a fierce Chinese bandit (Honghuzi). The name was possibly unofficial, apparently given by the 2nd Brigade in connection with its service in a protection of Chinese Eastern Railway. According to newer works by M. Kolomiets, this name can not be found in any documents; it has been however popularized in a modern literature as a designation of the type of trains of the 2nd Trans-Amur Railway Brigade, which were the only typical trains of Imperial Russia[4].

On 2 September 1915 the train was assigned to the 1st Zaamurskiy (Trans-Amur) Railway Battalion, and on 9 September sent to the front, on SarnyKovel line (see a map below), under command of Lt. Georgiy Krapivnikov. During its first action it supported an assault of the 408th regiment of the 102nd Infantry Division against Austro-Hungarian positions, on 24 September 1915, after 4 AM, near Rudochka station (now Tsuman) on Rivne – Kovel line. The train initially enjoyed some success, forcing the enemy to abandon two lines of trenches. The leading flatcar torn barbed wire obstacles, but then derailed on the second trench line. The crew managed to disconnect it, and the train started to back up. However, Austrian heavy artillery managed to destroy the track behind the train, and the withdrawing train got derailed. The immobilized train was shelled by artillery and as a result, abandoned by the crew. A team of the front gun, who shoot 73 rounds in action, were killed (shtabs-captain Lazarev and four gunners). Also 58,500 machine gun rounds were fired during the action, which lasted some 40 minutes. The train stood on a no-man's land, 300 footsteps from Austrian positions, for several months. Only on 12 January 1916 at 9 pm, after several nights of work under fire, its rear artillery wagon was hauled towards Russian positions through a repaired track. The wagon was described as fully functional. The rest of the train was recovered after a Russian offensive in summer of 1916, but according to all Russian publications, it was scrapped because it could not be repaired. However, there is also a hypothesis, that the second wagon was repaired as well in fact (the damage, although extensive, seems repairable, and there was no internal explosion).

Hunhuz [drawing V. But]
Russian armoured train "Hunhuz” [drawing V. But]
Rosyjski pociąg typu Chunchuz nr 3
Russian armoured train Nr. 3 of an improved type – corner machine gun slots replaced loop holes in transversal wall (summer 1916).

According to Russian authors, by October 1915 another three trains of this type were built in Kiev – of which the last two had improved course machine gun mountings with a greater field of fire. Reportedly a construction of one train took on average 16 days. They were assigned to all three battalions of the 2nd Trans-Amur Railway Brigade, in ranks of the Southwestern Front, including the 1st battalion again.

Initially, newly built armored trains did not take part in fighting. Two of them were moved to the Western Front for use in the offensive at Lake Naroch in March 1916, but they were not used there due to a destroyed railway network in front vicinity. On 25 April 1916, the train of the 1st battalion was handed over to His Majesty's Own Railway Regiment, which was supposed to move to the front. Next month it was modernized in Minsk, receiving an additional dual purpose 76 mm cannon of the same model in a turret placed above a tender (this train returned to the 1st Trans-Amur Battalion in spring of 1917, after the February Revolution). Only in June 1916, two trains of this type took part along with other trains in Brusilov offensive of the Southwestern Front. The armoured train No. 5 of the 3rd battalion distinguished itself there, supporting the 11th Pskov Infantry Regiment at night of 14/15 July 1916. After that, there was a break from intense combat operations. In May 1917, the train of the 2nd Trans-Amur battalion carried number 2, the train of the 1st Trans-Amur battalion – number 3, and the train of the 3rd Trans-Amur battalion – number 5. During a decomposition of Russian Army after 1917 February Revolution, the crews of trains Nos. 3 and 5 declared themselves as so-called "death units", characterized by the maintenance of discipline, and a resolution to fight Germans to the death. The October Revolution of 1917 found the armoured train No. 5 under repair in Odessa, and the train No. 3 under repair in Kiev. The train no. 2, according to older publications, was also under repair in Odessa[2], however according to newer ones, it was in Shepetivka at the end of November[4].

Czechoslovak armoured train Orlik at Siberia
Czechoslovak armoured train "Orlík" at Siberia, January 1919, with two rebuilt wagons of improved standard type, from a former Nr. 3 train. Behind, there is a former Russian armoured motor wagon "Zaamurets"

The history of Russian armoured trains in 1917-20 years still remains poorly researched, which is hampered by severe shortages of documents (and reported lack of freedom to conduct historical research in Russia in late Putin autocracy times). According to older Russian publications, the stock of the armoured train No. 5 was included in the Ukrainian armoured train "Sichevik" in 1918 and then Polish "General Dowbor"[2], which is apparently wrong (this version was also present on our page until 2021). In the latest publication however, Kolomiets states that the train No. 5 was taken over in Odessa by the Ukrainian Central Council, and already in January 1918 by the Bolsheviks. Finally, with rebuilt wagons with extended open field gun positions, it became the Soviet train No. 27 "2-i Sibirskiy" ("The 2nd Siberian"), then captured by the Whites and included into the train "Oficer"[4]. The last train No. 3 became quite famous, passing through Ukrainian ("Vilna Ukraina", the first of this name), Bolshevik (No. 4 "Polupanovtsy"), Czechoslovak ("Orlík") and finally... Chinese hands. Its original artillery turrets were replaced by new taller turrets.

There is no firm information known about the service of the train No. 2 until early 1919. Probably its rolling stock constituted the Bolshevik train "Tovarishch Voroshilov" (Comrade Voroshilov), captured on 21 April 1919 by Ukrainian forces and renamed "Sichovyi Strilets". According to Kolomiets, its origin from the train of the 2nd Trans-Amur battalion is indicated by early artillery wagons with forward-shooting loop-holes for machine guns – although this author provides for a possibility that one of them may have been the wagon of the original "Hunhuz" repaired in Kiev[4]. However, Polish researcher K. Margasiński put an unpublished hypothesis, that only three Hunhuz type trains might have been built, and "Tovarishch Voroshilov" had in fact both wagons of the original "Hunhuz"[note 1]. The signs of heavy repairs and patching of wagons' armour and a removal of cannon armament may support this version (although the rear wagon of the original "Hunhuz" was rather intact). On the other hand, we don't know what damage was inflicted upon these wagons in 1918.

In Ukrainian service – "Sichovyi Strilets"

The documented history of the train being the main hero of our article begins on 21 April 1919, when Ukrainian (Petlurian) Sich Riflemen captured the Bolshevik train "Tovarishch Voroshilov" (Comrade Voroshilov) between Dertka and Myropil villages[5]. Also according to the Polish account by Lt. Podhorski, the name "Tovarishch Voroshilov" could still be seen on poorly repainted carriages after its subsequent capture by the Polish. However, there is no information on the formation and service of the Soviet train named after Kliment Voroshilov. The captured train was incorporated into the army of the Ukrainian People's Republic under the name "Sichovyi Strilets" (Sich Rifleman). The crew, together with the commander ensign O. Vudkievich, came from the first train of that name, lost earlier that month (the former Russian train No. 4 of engineer Ball's design)[5]. Also the locomotive of the train, with a similar type of armour as the original one, came from the first "Sichovyi Strilets" (train No. 4). The commander was soon replaced on 31 May by ensign Ivan Mashura. During its short career, the second "Sichovyi Strilets" took part in skirmishes with the Bolsheviks, and then with Polish forces, during the Polish-Ukrainian war. At the time of its capture by the Poles, it had two original armoured wagons, but without cannons (described as machine gun wagons in reports), two flatcars, and perhaps an improvised armoured wagon with a field cannon, and an improvised wagon for ammunition and staff[note 2]. In Polish sources, there is an abbreviated form of the name used: "Siczowyj" ("Sichovyi"), and in Russian literature, incorrect one: "Sichevik".

The train shortly after capuring by Polish uhlans (pictured), with a temporary name: "Krechowiak". An unknown covered freight wagon (possibly armed) is visible at the end.

In the second half of May 1919, "Sichovyi Strilets" operated on Brody – Dubno – Zdolbuniv line. At that time, Polish 1st Krechowce Uhlan Regiment (1 Pułk Ułanów Krechowieckich) was tasked with capturing railway junctions: Brody and Radyvyliv (Radziwiłłów). The regiment was ahead of its own forces for three days of March and on 22 May 1919 it captured both Brody and Radyvyliv. At that time, the Bolsheviks approached Zdolbuniv. The surrounded Ukrainian forces withdrew southwards towards Galicia, while the train, cut-off between Zdolbuniv and Radyvyliv, attempted to break through towards Zlochiv through Radyvyliv and Krasne. On 24 May it passed through Radyvyliv, firing at the station, then it moved to Brody, also shelling the city. The first squadron of the 1st Uhlan Regiment destroyed a track between Radyvyliv and Zdolbuniv. The "Sichovyi Strilets" moved back to Radyvyliv, where it was surrounded and captured on 24 May 1919 by the dismounted 2nd squadron of the 1st Krechowce Uhlan Regiment. According to Polish information, the crew surrendered, however, according to Ukrainian publications, avoided captivity (165 men). The machine guns of the captured train were out of order (possibly damaged by the crew) and were next replaced with new ones, found in Radyvyliv depots. It should be noted that Russian and Ukrainian publications wrongly indicate that the train was captured 70 km further east at Ozierany station between Dubno and Zdolbuniv[4,5], which contradicts detailed Polish reports. The leading armoured wagon of the train showed signs of repairing a serious damage – an inaccurately fitted part of the roof and a makeshift cover of one loop-hole on the right side; it also had simpler non-opening wheel covers. In turn, the rear wagon apparently had a rotating turret dismantled and replaced by a fixed cover of the same conical shape with embrasures for machine guns (probably also a damage repair effect).

A map of "Hunhuz" and "Generał Dowbor" operation area with current Ukrainian names
[W. Mroczek/M. Derela]

In Polish service – "Generał Dowbor"

Armoured train 'Generał Dowbor'
"Generał Dowbor" – visible is a dent between plates of a repaired roof, one loop-hole plated over, and simpler unoriginal wheel covers of a leading wagon. Note a pile of wood on a tender.
Rear artillery wagon, 27 June 1919. A commemorative lance with 1st Uhlan Regiment pennant was stuck on the tender. Apparently the turret is not revolving in this wagon, and has a rectangular loop-hole on a side.
The locomotive and leading wagon of "General Dowbor".

Right after being captured by the Poles, the train was first named "Krechowiak", in a favour of its seizers (Krechowiak – a member of the Krechowce uhlan regiment, named after a charge on Krechowce). However, on 25 May the train was moved to Brody, where it was officially renamed as "Generał Dowbor" (after General Józef Dowbor-Muśnicki). There also exists in documents a full version: "Generał Dowbor-Muśnicki", or a common incorrect spelling: "Generał Dowbór". It was manned by a temporary cavalry crew then. An acting commander became cadet Wacław Komorowski of the 1st Uhlan Regiment; machine gunners were also uhlans from this regiment, supplemented by artillery gunners of the 2nd mounted artillery battalion. At that time at the latest, the train received an improvised wagon with a field cannon[note 2]. In early June, after first fighting, uhlans returned to their regiment, and the train was taken over by a professional crew, commanded by Cpt. Michal Golikow. The train was next enlisted as Polish regular armoured train number 20 (Pociąg Pancerny nr 20PP 20).

"General Dowbor" took part in combat from 28 May 1919, in a defense of Radyviliv. Then the train fought in the Polish-Soviet war. It is peculiar, that starting from the original "Hunhuz" in 1915, the train spent most of its combat service in similar area, in western Ukraine. According to K. Margasiński, at the beginning of June "General Dowbor" fought the Bolsheviks, who were attacking from Dubno, and as a result of this Soviet offensive, was forced to withdraw as far as Krasne station. Taking part in the Polish counteroffensive at the turn of July and August 1919, "General Dowbor" set off again towards Brody and further, fighting the Bolsheviks and repairing previously blown up tracks and bridges. Four soldiers from the train crew were seriously injured near Dubno station, while repairing the damaged bridge. As a result of this operation, "General Dowbor" reached Dubno on August 11, and Zdolbuniv on August 13. At that time, the commander was changed to lieutenant Izydor Kowalewski (however, according to K. Margasiński, he took command only from 30 January 1920). In Zdolbuniv, an improvised four-axle artillery wagon with two 76 mm field cannons was also attached to the train.

At the end of August 1919, "Generał Dowbor" reached Slavuta railway station, and in September it moved to the Shepetivka, where it stayed for two months. At that time, it was patrolling the railway in the directions to Zviahel and Myropil. The train was in contact with the forces of the Ukrainian People's Republic of Petliura (which was already neutral at that time, soon allied), and the White army of General Denikin. After leaving Shepetivka, Myropil station became a permanent base for the train since December. "General Dowbor" was patrolling and had skirmishes with the Bolsheviks on a line towards Chudniv (in the vicinity of the villages of Pechenovka, Vroblovka and Romanovka). During a raid with the battalion of the 13th Infantry Division on 28 February 1920, it was threatened with being cut off by the Bolsheviks, who blew up the bridge at the rear, but thanks to the presence of infantry, it was possible to repel the enemy and repair the bridge. On 2 March, PP 20 left to rest in Rivne, from where it returned on 25 March 1920. At that time, its duties were taken over by PP 21 "Generał Listowski". Then, together with the 57th Infantry Regiment, the train resumed patroling the railway towards Pechenovka, rebuilding damaged railway bridges, damaged tracks and fighting with the Bolsheviks. On March 30, there was a skirmish between patrols in the village of Romanovka, which was shelled by the artillery of the train, and the Bolshevik cavalry near the village of Vroblovka tried to destroy the track to cut off the train, but was repulsed.

On 25 April 1920 there started Polish and Ukrainian offensive towards Kiev, against the Soviets. On 28 April the train set off towards Kiev (due to the destruction of the bridge near Chudniv, by a roundabout road, through Shepetivka, Zviahel, Zhitomir and Berdychiv), reaching Fastiv on 31 April. At that time, it was assigned to the 15th Infantry Division. The train was in Fastiv between May 1 and 4, patrolling the line to Bila Tserkva. On 5 May it set off towards Kiev, where it arrived on the same day as the first Polish armoured train. It stationed in liberated Kiev until 24 May, when it set off to Darnytsia railway station, located on the other side of the Dneper. It operated east of Kiev on Darnica – Brovary railway line, fighting frequent skirmishes with Bolshevik troops, being one of Polish trains that reached farthest towards east (the "Groźny" train operated on the parallel line to Boryspil). On 2 June "General Dowbor", on its line, together with the 41st Infantry Regiment, took part in a raid into the village of Trebukhiv, which was a diversion for a main partly successful raid into Boryspil. Shortly after that, the train was withdrawn from Darnytsia to Fastiv, from where it was conducting patrols.

"Generał Dowbor". The revolving turret in the rear wagon was replaced with a conical cover with machine gun loop holes.

On 6 June 1920, the 2nd Brigade of the 14th Cavalry Division of Budyonny's 1st Cavalry Army, after breaking through the front the previous day, broke into the Popielnia station, as a part of the Soviet counteroffensive. The "General Dowbór", present there, managed to flee south towards Kozyatin, shooting back. The train rode full steam at the Brovki station, already occupied by the 14th Cavalry Division. Taking advantage of a surprise effect, the train inflicted losses on the enemy and drove the red cavalry from the station. "General Dowbor" next drove away, attaching a freight train standing on the station (30 wagons with flour, sugar and ammunition). However, several kilometers south, on the same day, the train encountered Budyonny's 4th Cavalry Division, which dismantled the track near the village of Vcheraishe. According to Budyonny's diary, after a short battle, the train crew of 4 officers and 100 soldiers surrendered, and the train itself was captured by the Bolsheviks. According to Polish accounts, over a dozen prisoners, mostly officers, were murdered afterwards; some of crewmen escaped.

Often encountered – and also present on our website until 2021 – is the erroneous date of the train's destruction: June 23, resulting from an account of a crew member written in 1922. According to this version, "General Dowbor" drove from Darnytsia to Kiev and Fastiv on June 10, and on June 23 entered the line to Bila Tserkva, however the Bolsheviks blew up a railway bridge before this station, right after the train had passed over it. The train could not go back to Fastiv and was forced to go towards Berdychiv. On Berdychiv line, the Bolsheviks sent a speeding locomotive against the armoured train, crashing and derailing it. Some of the crew died or were seriously injured, and when the ammunition ran out, others surrendered. While disarming, a dozen or so were murdered, the rest were taken prisoner. According to this version, the auxiliary section of the armoured train, which avoided destruction, left for Kiev on June 24, and then for Dubno. The author of this unsigned account was however clearly in the auxiliary section, hence he did not witness the destruction of the armoured train, and gave obviously wrong dates and errors in geography (by June 23 Kiev was long lost and the front was several hundred kilometers west, besides there was no line from Bila Tserkva to Berdychiv getting round Fastiv).

Rebuilt armoured wagon in Soviet BP Nr. 112.

The fact, that the locomotive was sent against the armoured train is difficult to verify, lacking confirmation in Russian accounts, but it was possible, and was reported as a rumour also by the commander of the Krechowce uhlan regiment, Col. Podhorski. It is also confirmed in other accounts, that over a dozen prisoners, mostly officers, were murdered (17 according to one account).

The surviving part of the crew, being in an auxiliary train at that time, was assigned to trains nr. 21 "General Listowski" and nr. 14 "Zagończyk".

The train was overhauled by the Soviets, and at least one armoured wagon was assigned to the Soviet BP Nr. 112 armoured train. It was fitted with a high "dustbin" machine gun turret on a roof and two standard side machine gun mountings of Briansk works type, allowing for a greater angle of fire, than loop-holes. Probably original armoured locomotive of Russian armoured train Nr. 2, not included into "General Dowbor", was used in oher Soviet trains, among ohers BP Nr. 66 "Uglekop".

Train composition

At the time of entering the Russian service and being captured by the Poles, the armoured train "General Dowbor" (former Russian train nr. 2 and Ukrainian "Sichovyi Strilets"), consisted of an armoured locomotive and two armoured wagons of the Hunhuz type (for artillery and machine guns). In Polish service it was strengthened with further two improvised artillery wagons. Because of lack of photographs, a sketch of the wagon below is only approximate.

Drawing: W. Mroczek
Drawing: Waldemar Mroczek
improvised artillery wagonarmoured wagonarmoured locomotivearmoured wagon

The armoured train, as a military unit, consisted of an armoured section (the armoured train in a strict meaning), and an unarmoured auxiliary section. The auxiliary section, consisting of dozen or so wagons, was supporting the operation of the combat section in respect of logistics and accommodation, and did not take part in combat.


Armoured locomotive Ov series of the "Generał Dowbor", with armour partially dismounted.

The "Generał Dowbor" had an armoured steam locomotive of the standard Russian OV class, with D (0-4-0) axle arrangement, with a tender. However, in spite of a similar armour, it was not the original locomotive of Hunhuz type trains, but a locomotive made in the same railway workshops in Kiev, according to an improved design, for the train No. 4 of the 4th Siberian Railway Battalion, completed in November 1915 (constructed by Eng. Ball). This train then served in the army of the Ukrainian People's Republic as "Sichovyi Strilets" (the first with this name). The armouring of the locomotive generally corresponded to the standard Hunhuz type trains, but it differed mainly in the tender, which received an opening gable roof and different construction of the passage between the tender and the booth (with a small counter booth on the tender). The visual difference was also the cylindrical housing of the sandbox between the chimney and the steam collector, which was absent in standard locomotives.

The locomotive was all covered with armour of boiler steel 16 mm thick, or 12 mm in less exposed areas. On the locomotive there was a command post, with electric signalling (colour lights and bells in wagons) and voice pipes.

Armoured wagons (Hunhuz type)

Inside view of Russian late version Hunhuz armoured wagon, towards the turret (there are machine guns in corner slits instead of earlier loopholes at the end). Visible are standard Russian 7.62 mm Maxim machine guns, and the central cooling system.

The core of the "General Dowbor" train, just like Russian Hunhuz type armoured trains, consisted of two two-axle armoured wagons built on the basis of flatcars. The wagons were covered with armour from 12 to 16 mm thick, however, made of ordinary steel (boiler steel of an increased strength), not armour steel. The internal space of the wagon was divided into two parts: the machine gun compartment and the cannon turret. In each side wall there were five round loopholes for heavy machine guns – two of them were located higher above the axis and three lower in the middle part. In the center of the wagon, the floor was lowered in a form of a box below the frame. The wagons apparently had a door in the rear wall, and they had emergency hatches in the bottom.

Each wagon was originally armed with a Russian 76.2 mm mountain gun (3 in) model 1904 in a conical turret at the end of the wagon. Its barrel length was L/13 and it could fire up to 4267 m. Horizontal angle of fire was about 220°. Ammunition carried was 105 rounds per a cannon (originally 80 shrapnells and 25 grenades). There were no cannons in wagons incorporated into the "General Dowbor" – they had been dismantled earlier, perhaps as inoperative, because there is no mention of them, and the carriages were described as machine gun cars (model 1904 cannon itself was manufactured in limited quantity in Russia). The photographs show that in one wagon the turret was replaced by a fixed cover of similar shape with ambrazures for additional machine guns.

In the main compartment of the wagon there were 12 heavy machine guns shooting through simple loopholes, five firing at each side, and two in the end wall next to the artillery turret, firing straight along the track. A firing angle of the machine guns in simple loopholes must have been small. The wagons of two later-built trains had, instead of loopholes in the front wall, horizontal slits in raised corners of the superstructure, providing a greater angle of fire. Originally, Austrian 8 mm Schwarzlose heavy machine guns were used, later replaced with standard Russian 7.62 mm Maxim. To cool the barrels during shooting, there was a special system of pipes supplying a water from the tender to the radiator of each machine gun. Standard ammunition stock was 1,500 rounds per a barrel.

Wagons had heaters made of 1-inch diameter pipes, mounted on the floor along walls, supplied with a hot water from a locomotive boiler. Their walls were covered with an insulation of 20 mm cork layer and 6 mm plywood layer. The chassis had hinged covers protecting axle bearings, and distinctive cow catchers.

Other artillery wagons

Apart from original Hunhuz-type rolling stock, "General Dowbor" also had other improvised armoured wagons. First was an artillery wagon, armed with the Russian 76.2 mm field gun (almost certainly model 1902; according to reports it was "8 cm Russian gun"). Unfortunately, there are no photogrpahs known. According to a report, it was a closed freight wagon, provisionally armoured with Russian machine gun shields (they might be trench shields in fact rather than irregular shields of Sokolov Maxim machine gun mounts). The cannon was probably fixed in a front wall of the wagon, with a limited angle of fire, because it was a typical way of mounting cannons in such improvised wagons. According to one account, this wagon was built just in several days after capturing the train[note 2].

In June – July 1919, a four-axle flatcar was provisionally armoured in Zdolbuniv workshops and assigned to "General Dowbor". Reportedly it was armed with two cannons: the Russian 76.2 mm field gun (again almost certainly model 1902, according to reports it was "8 cm Russian gun"), and the Austrian field gun, apparently of 76.5 mm caliber. One of these guns might have been mounted on a revolving platform.

Apart from these artillery wagons, the train was also equipped with a provisionally protected box wagon for ammunition and staff.

Auxiliary section

Each armoured train, considered as a military unit, also included an unarmoured auxiliary section. The auxiliary section accompanied the combat section in operational movements and provided it with an accomodation and logistics support. It usually consisted of coaches for officers, box wagons for soldiers, supply wagons, an ambulance coach, a kitchen coach, workshop wagons, coal wagons, water tankers and others, hauled by an ordinary locomotive. There is no exact information about "General Dowbor" auxiliary train.



- GPM nr 485 - Kartonowe ABC nr 26/2016 - "Pociąg pancerny PP20 Generał Dowbór" - Polish paper-card model

Our thanks for Krzysztof Margasiński

All corrections, comments, additional information or pictures are welcome – especially from Russian researchers of armoured trains.


1. All Russian authors generally repeat, that there were three additional trains built in September – October 1915, and that the rest of the "Hunhuz" was scrapped – not giving much details, especially no dates of their assignment to peculiar battalions, nor scrapping place nor date. Only in rather old article M. Kolomiets wrote, that the trains (implicitly two) were completed on 28 September, and the last one on 15 October 1915[3] – but he have not repeated this information in later works. Therefore it is not clear, if these authors are basing upon documents, or made assumptions basing on later presence of three trains, and possibly a report from January 1916, in which the rest of the train (still on no-man's land!) was described as useless. Other old works by Kolomiets and Drogovoz also claimed erroneously, that the last train was given to the 2nd Siberian battalion (which had other ex-Austrian armoured train). It may be assumed, that only three trains were to be built originally, for three battalions of the 2nd Trans-Amur Railway Brigade. Theoretically, after a loss of the first train, an additional train might have been built by 15 October – provided, that necessary decisions were quickly taken, and all material was gathered (what was problematic). On the other hand, there is no explicit information on three trains acting together in 1916. In July, actions of the train of the 3rd battalion are confirmed, while the other one could have been the Tsar's own regiment's train (later: the 1st battalion's). So, hypothetically the 2nd battalion could have received the repaired "Hunhuz" at an outbreak of 1916/17 – what coincides with early type wagons of "General Dowbor". It is also noteworthy, that there are known fates and photographs of two late trains and only one early train from 1919-1920 period.

Anyway, even if four trains were actually built, this does not exclude a possibility of a repair of both "Hunhuz" wagons. One wagon of the "Hunhuz" was rather intact, so it should have been utilized in some train. As for the other wagon, photographs suggest, that there was no internal explosion, only punctured armour and torn plates, so it should have been reperable. On the other hand, the leading wagon of "General Dowbor" shows signs of heavy (and rather provisional) repairs, while the rear wagon had a fixed inoperational turret. Since only one wagon of "Hunhuz" was heavily damaged, especially in the turret, it might have been the rear wagon of "General Dowbor", while the leading wagon might have had signs of hasty repairs of unknown combat damage in 1918.

2. It is not clear whether the improvised wagon with the Russian 76.2 mm field gun, built on a basis of a covered freight wagon, had been already in the composition of the "Sichovyi Strilets", or was only added in the Polish service. Account of Lt. Col. Podhorski from the Krechowce Uhlan Regiment does not answer this question clearly, but only implies that the captured train already had a wagon with a cannon, along with a second improvised wagon for ammunition and staff, and that the crew for the gun was immediately completed from ranks of the mounted artillery. He also wrote, that the Ukrainian train "bombed" Radyviliv and Brody, although it is not a definite argument. In turn, an account from 1922 by an unknown author states, that after the capture, the crew of the train along with railway workers armoured the covered wagon within two days and placed a cannon in it. The author however probably joined the crew later and was not a witness. The earliest photograph of the train with the name "Krechowiak" shows a covered wagon attached to its front, which might confirm, that it was a cannon wagon and that the train was captured with it (according to Podhorski, the name was changed on the next day after its capture, when the train was towed to Brody).

1. "Pociagi pancerne 1918-1943", Bialystok 1999
2. Maksym Kolomiets: «Hunhuz» - pervyi bronepoyezd, "Modelist-Konstruktor" nr. 8/1994
3. Maksym Kolomiets: Pociągi Pancerne Armii Rosyjskiej 1914 - 1917, "Militaria" Vol.1 Nr 4, 1993
4. Maksym Kolomiets: Russkiye bronepoyezda Piervoi Mirovoi. "Stalnye kreposti" v boyu; Moscow, 2013
5. Yaroslav Tinchenko: Pancyrni potiahy, pancyrnyky ta zaliznychny viyska u vyzvolniy viyny 1917-1920 rr.; Kiev, 2012
6. Adam Jońca: Polskie Pociągi Pancerne 1921-1939, Warsaw: Vesper, 2020
7. Vladimir But: Za Vyeru, Cara i Otchestvo! "Hunhuz" i drugiye bronepoyezda carskoi Rossii, "Nauka i tehnika", 2018

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