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  © Michal Derela, 2002-2020 Updated: 15. 02. 2020

Polish armoured train Nr. 13 ("Generał Sosnkowski") – the gallery


The page contains a walkaround gallery of Polish World War II armoured train Nr. 13 (former "Generał Sosnkowski"), destroyed by German bombers on 10 September 1939 at Łochów (Wikipedia) station. It undoubtedly became a popular "tourist attraction" for German soldiers, including the Führer himself, and Japanese attaché. The war had just started, and such sights have not became familiar yet, especially, that the train was much more powerful, than its German half-improvised counterparts of that time, and derailed heavy wagons surely made an impressive sight. Judging from a number of photos, that keep being revealed, it became one of most often photographed armoured trains ever – arguably even the most photographed one (although Polish armoured train Nr. 12 might be a major competitor). At least until late autumn it remained a major landmark on a line from Warsaw to northern east (towards Białystok). It is worth to mention, that during first fifty years after the war, only a handful of photos were published, and only with the advent of the Internet, a richness of private wartime albums began to emerge, making such galleries possible.

The photos come from different sources, and were mostly taken by anonymous German soldiers. They are published in an educational and research purpose. A quality of many photographs is not good, but they give valuable insight. Most of photos can be enlarged. We are looking for new photos, or better scans of exisitng ones - contributors will be thanked. (N) marks new photos, added during later updates (N4 - February 2020).


Left side general view of the armoured train Nr.13 damaged and abandoned due to bombardment. During march it was preferred to move tender ahead, so that the commander's post was forward, although it obviously depended on a situation. Unfortunately, there are no direct descriptions of the train's destruction, but it seems, that it manoeuvred through the station before an air raid, and was moving towards Małkinia (to the left of the photograph). The most probable scenario is, that close miss of a heavy bomb threw the leading artillery wagon and the locomotive off of the track, leaving a huge crater, and the moving train ran several dozen meters more by inertia. Trees on the left hide one more big crater. The bombs were probably 500 kg. It is not clear, though, if Ju 87 Stuka dive bombers or He 111 horizontal bombers were responsible for the raid (see main article).
 The train's composition was standard for Polish trains - from the left: a flatcar, the first artillery wagon (699054), the armoured locomotive Ti3-3 with a tender, the assault wagon (423502), the second artillery wagon (699053) and the second flatcar (not visible are two additional wagons of auxiliary section, attached to the train to the right). The guns have been already dismounted from the rear wagon on this photograph.

  Below: general view from the other side. Well visible is a configuration of hatches in the artillery wagon. (N)
Armoured train Nr.13 from the right side

Polish armoured trains of the 1st Unit: Nos. 11, 12, 13, 14, 15
Armoured train Nr.13 from the right sidePhotos of right side of the train. Move direction: to the right:


In a foreground, a flatcar protecting the train against mines and used to carrry tools and rails to repair a track. Note camouflage of tree branches.
Armoured train Nr.13 from the right sideA view from a perspective. The train wears standard Polish Army vehicles three-tone camouflage of greyish sand and dark brown upon olive green, used from late 1930s. (N4)
Armoured train Nr.13 from the right sideFrom the left: the second artillery wagon, the assault wagon, the locomotive Ti3-3, the first artillery wagon. An anti-aircraft machine gun turret on the wagon's roof is well visible. There is a freight train on the other track in a background. An outer right track is clearly unused.
Armoured train Nr.13 from the right sideCloser view. On this and following photographs it is evident, that this wagon (no. 699053) had welded turrets (the other one had riveted turrets). Note, that a side track is blocked by the train as well. The wheels on a foreground come from some dismantled light cart (hand draisine?).
Close-up of the second artillery wagon. Note rear entrances to artillery turrets, covering with sliding doors. The entrances were on rear right sides of turrets, and were barely hiden under the edge of the casemate's armour when the turrets were pointing straight. Sure an access from the inside of the casemate was not straighforward, and sometimes was impossible. Two drum HMG mountings are visible on a side, with machine guns dismounted by the Poles. There is also some German graffiti.

(courtesy of Arthur Przeczek)
Armoured train Nr.13 from the right sideSimilar scene, with less trash. Sleepers have been put on the track next to the assault wagon. A sand covering the track is from the bomb's blast on opposite side. A round hole in the turret is apparently for passing ammunition from an armoured casemate – it was in rear turret's side behind the gun, in this wagon only. It is not clear, if the higher turret in this wagon had the same single hole.
Pociąg pancerny nr 13Well visible camouflage layout - in fact it was less contrasting, that on this photo. A two-part hatch above an observation cupola on assault wagon's roof is apparent. (N1)
Armoured train Nr.13 General Sosnkowski The photo is from later date, with a detour track made. For unknown reason, far right track has been apparently out of use, in spite of lack of damage (possibly there was no such need, due to a destruction of a bridge over the Bug in Małkinia, further on the track, on 7 September). A steam seems to come out of the locomotive, which is hard to explain. (N)
It took some time, until the Germans built a detour on a jammed side track, well visible here (not before Hitler's visit on 22 September). It seems, that the station was impassable for several weeks. (N)
Armoured train nr.13 from right side ← Later photograph, with the detour track.


Close-up of the artillery wagon's door. Note a bolt outside the door's edge, corresponding to a round hole →
Armoured train nr.13 from the right side
Armoured train Nr.13 from the right sideUnidentified activities concerning the train. (N3)

Views of the assault wagon and Ti3-3 locomotive.

Close-up of the burnt-out assault wagon. Note 7.92 mm Maxim wz.08 machine gun in a drum mounting. →
View towards the train's end. Move direction: to the right. Note three rows of aerial masts upon the assault wagon, and a commander's turret with an open hatch. Two-part side doors were hinged on the tender and slid upon the driver's booth walls, so that the tender had some freedom of movement. [3]


 Below: the first artillery wagon and the locomotive. Visible are four masts of a short-range radio aerial upon a tender. Note cleaned up debris on most photos. Lower left photo might be with a detour. Noteworthy details are transversal girders in a higher turret's base. There was probably a hatch on the turret's top.

(-/N2
N/N
)
A look upon the tender. The command compartment is well visible. Note a canopy above the driver's cab roof. The Germans had apparently collected Polish State Railways plates with the eagle emblem from the locomotive and the tender, as trophies... (N2)
Who says, that the Germans had no cavalry?... Well visible is the commander's turret and coal compartment. Note shut locomotive's side window, and open upper door part. There are some unidentified pieces of cloth upon the boiler. (N3)

Right side of the train, move direction to the right. On the left there are visible two auxiliary wagons attached to the armoured part (described later). In a foreground there seems to be some rail cart, dismantled on several other photos. (N2)
Leading artillery wagon, with ripped off door. A cannon is Polish 75 mm wz.02/26 (modified Russian 76.2 mm M.02; the same type constituted the train's armament). The gun was probably brought here by the Germans (on a way from battlefields to depots?).
Other view from a distance, showing two 75 mm wz.02/26 cannons with limbers. (N2)
"...I was here..."

(photo courtesy of Grażyna Walter)
The first artillery wagon. The soldiers are holding 75 mm artillery rounds. Apparently some extra ammunition was carried in boxes upon flatcars.

(Photo: Helmut Riemann, from an exhibition "To break bariers, to build bridges", Museum of History of Photography, Kraków 2004.)
An 'artist's signature' is already written...
Note oblong hatch for ammunition loading on this and opposite side of the lower turret (seen on further photos – on the contrary, the rear wagon had only one round central hatch in lower turret). Turret entrance door was probably in right rear turret's wall, hiden under the casemate armour (like in the second wagon). It is apparent, that the side door is lacking. (N)
Leading artillery wagon, view as above. Well visible camouflage of the roof. A sign in German says: "Betreten des Platzes verboten" (Entrance forbidden). One might wonder, if it concerned German soldiers...

(photo courtesy of Arthur Przeczek)
Interesting scene of ammunition disembarking. The train was armed with four guns 75 mm wz.02/26, firing unitary rounds, visible in a center and on the left. Rounds on the left (possibly shrapnells) have fuses screwed in. Cases in a foreground are probably spent. Shells without cases and short cases on the right seem to be 100 mm howitzer ammunition, but this train was not armed with 100 mm howitzers (possibly they were transported on a flatcar for other units?... Or come from different transport?) (N2)

Partly obscured, nevertheless priceless view of the wagon's details. Well visible is AAMG turret, without a machine gun. It is visible, that this wagon (699054) has riveted turrets – the other one had welded ones. (N3)

The lower turret of the first artillery wagon. Inscriptions on flatcar's boxes: "ŁUBKI" and "PODKŁADKI" means 'rail connectors' and 'washers' - they were used in track repairing (left photo courtesy of Arthur Przeczek).
Views of the higher turret of the first artillery wagon, next to the locomotive. This turret had no ammunition hatch on its left side - only on right side, visible on left photograph. Note sleepers of an adjacent track, bent in a movement direction. (N/N)
As above. There is a covering slot visible, which was initially meant for a machine gun, removed in 1920s. Through the slot, the sky is seen, indicating a position of rear entrance. The side door fell off. Noteworthy are ammunition boxes on the flatcar.
← The first artillery wagon, from right side. The detour has been already built.

↓ Interesting view from the train's front. Note warped side track. The artillery wagon was probably thrown by the explosion upon the flatcar's corner, distorting the flatcar and driving it off the track. (N)

 
Polish armoured trains of the 1st Unit in Legionowo: Nos. 11, 12, 12, 14, 15
Photos of the left side of the train, move direction to the left:

Visible are: distorted leading flatcar with rails slipping in movement direction, leading artillery wagon, the locomotive with a tender, the assault wagon and the second artillery wagon. On far right there is one more track.

It is noteworthy, that leading armoured wagon overran and bent the flatcar's end.

Below left: an inscription "ŚRUBY" on a flatcar's box means 'bolts'. The flatcar was used to carry engineer materials and tools for track repair.
(courtesy of Artur Przeczek).

As is apparent from a photo below right, the train remained in its place until late autumn, with snow. The flatcar had been probably already removed.


Derailed leading artillery wagon, showing its chassis of Prussian flatcar. Note a pile of earth and gravel next to the track, under the wagon. Its origin is not sure, though, as the edge of the main crater was 30–40 m to the right. We suspect it might have been shoved by the wagon's truck and the tender. There is also much earth on the track, on which the train rode – possibly shoved by the flatcar's end.

The first artillery wagon, from left side. The tender is visible to the right. Note, that the crater is not of the bomb, that had derailed the train, but another crater, behind all tracks, hardly noticeable on air photos. A perspective is shortened from this point, but there were two tracks between this crater and the train. [3]

The same as above. The earthen pile under the artillery wagon and the tender rather does not come from this crater, because two tracks between the crater and the train are rather clean, without much earth, what is visible on air photos. Apparently the visitors supported the wagon with a beam, not trusting in safety. (N3)
The same as above. An entrance hatch to the higher turret is apparently offset to the right from a central line (the gun is pointed towards left corner). It hid under the casemate's armour, when the turret was straight. There is an oblong ammunition loading hole on left side of the lower turret (pointed straight), and similar covering hole on right side of the higher turret, visible behind the tender. (N4)

View along right side of the train: from the front (←) and from the rear (→). Noteworthy are aerial insulators. The aerial was made of copper pipes. Visible is also the track, on which the train rode.

The first artillery wagon and the armoured locomotive Ti3-3. A small two-leaf door was for a compressor maintenance.
(photo courtesy of Arthur Przeczek)
Similar scenes with some hatches closed. (N)

    Below: views from the left, towards the train's end. The track is distorted. Note also chains to hold the door closed. (N3/ )

A spectacular group photograph to send home. Note the wagon's bogie in the air, and open door of two-layer steel. (N3)
Views of the burnt-out assault wagon. Note damaged turret's base.

← one should remember, that a curiosity killed a cat... (N)

Left side view of the second artillery wagon, towards the train's front (move direction: to the left).
Similar view, as above. The second artillery wagon with its welded turrets is well visible. Note provisional "stairs" to the assault wagon. There is a rail from the torn track hanging above the crater, with one of the flatcar's stanchions.
...One can play in spotting differences.
...as above... (N1)
...it must have been a popular spot. Rear flatcar is a standard one, with full-length stanchions, delivered by Polish State Railways. The round hole is visible in the rear side of the turret. (N4)
View from a longer perspective. Note trees attached to the flatcar, in an elusive camouflage purpose.
...little more towards the assault wagon. (N2)
A group photo above the crater, from a later period. Poland have been just conquered, everything is fine, and probably none of the Kameraden could predict, that the war would last over five years more, and many of them would die, in Africa or Russia... (N2)
← Left side of burned assault wagon from the rear. Note a 7.92 mm Maxim wz.08 machine gun present in its cylindrical mounting. A cannon has been dismounted from the higher turret.

Rear artillery wagon. A turret observation hatch is half-shut. →
The second artillery wagon, with both cannons removed (also on some photos below).
Now somebody should clean the mess made by Luftwaffe Kameraden... Note, that the flatcar had been already removed. (N/N)
The second artillery wagon. Left: note a depth of the crater. On the right photo, the crater has been filled and the track restored, although the train remained on an elevation.
Polish armoured trains of the 1st Unit in Legionowo: Nos. 11, 12, 12, 14, 15

On 22 September 1939 the train had a dubious honour to be admired by Adolf Hitler himself (all photos below are of the train's right side).

source 1← The second artillery wagon. Note the entrance hatch and torn joint of armoured plates on the turret's base. [1]

The locomotive and the first artillery wagon ↓
The second artillery wagon [41 →]
source 1

← The second artillery wagon and the assault wagon.

The first artillery wagon

↑ High altitude aerial photo of Łochów station (unfortunately poor quality). Similar perspective must have had Stuka pilots... The armoured train, visible in lower part, was moving upwards. Note two big craters. (N)

← Well-known photo showing results of SC 500 bomb explosion. Move direction - downwards. Notice spare rails falling out of the forward flatcar.
source 4
↓↑ At a moment of an air raid, the armoured section had two wagons of an auxiliary section attached: a water tanker and guards' wagon, visible on the left. Note, that the wagons are splattered with sand from the explosion. Move direction was to the right. It may be assumed, that the train on the right was present during the air raid, since it could not get there anymore from Warsaw direction (left) afterwards, while the opposite direction was blocked by a destroyed bridge at Małkinia. [4 / 1]
source 1
↓ Interesting, although partially obscured view from the other side (move direction to the left). (N2)
Poor quality, nevertheless interesting shot from the rear, with a crater well visible.
Right side of the train from the rear, with both auxiliary wagons visible, camouflaged with branches.

(courtesy of Grażyna Walter)

An epilogue - both artillery wagons and locomotive of the Nr.13 train recovered by the Germans. Unfortunately, further fate of the train is not known. (N3/ )




We are looking for further or better quality photos, especially of the train put on wheels. Contributors will be thanked.


Back to armoured train nr. 13 ("Generał Sosnkowski") page.


Sources published:
1. Slawomir F. Wucyna: "Fall Weiss - Wrzesień 1939 w niemieckiej fotografii"; CB; Warsaw 1997
3. Paul Malmassari, "Les Trains Blindes 1826 - 1989"; Heimdal Editions 1989
4. Heinrich Hoffmann, "Mit Hitler in Polen"

Updates:

All additional photos (or exisiting ones in better quality) and comments are welcome!

Our thanks to Arthur Przeczek, Jarkko Vihavainen and other friends, who helped


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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 and arrangement copyright to Michal Derela.