PIBWL Polish Armour page Main page » Polish armour » armoured cars » Jeffery-Poplavko   – Polish artillerySteel Pantherswhat's new Samochód pancerny Jeffery-Popławko (po polsku)
  © Michal Derela, 2004 Updated: 26. 02. 2024  

Russian armoured car Jeffery-Poplavko

History & development
Combat use
Russian armoured car Jeffery-Poplavko Russian
June 1917.

One of the most interesting armoured vehicles of the First World War was Russian armoured car Jeffery, also known as Jeffery-Poplavko or just Poplavko for its designer. Basing upon US Jeffery truck chassis, it was one of the first all-terrain armoured cars. It was designed in a similar purpose, as tanks of the western allies, which Imperial Russia did not develop.

Note: links marked this way lead to Wikipedia articles.

History and development

Jeffery Quad all-terrain truck

Two Jeffery-Poplavko and one Austin armoured cars captured in Tarnopol
A peculiar photograph showing two Jeffery-Poplavko (a front view and a back view) and the original Jeffery Quad truck, captured by the Germans, gathered in Zolochiv. An Austin 2nd series armoured car is one a foreground. The place has been also mistakenly described as Ternopil.
Armoured Car No.1 JefferyJeffery-Russell
American armoured cars: Armored Car No.1 and Jeffery-Russell.

One of the most successful trucks of World War I period, and arguably the most interesting of them, was Jeffery Quad model 4017, produced from 1913 by Thomas Jeffery Co, Kenosha, Wisconsin (not to misspell "Jeffrey"). The Jeffery Quad was one of the first all-terrain vehicles with a four-wheel drive. Apart from the four-wheel drive, which was present also in other designs, like FWD trucks, its all wheels were steered and fitted with brakes. With big longitudinal clearance, the car had excellent off-road capabilities. These trucks were bought by the US Army and other armies, among others: British, French, Canadian, Russian, Argentinian and Spanish. A basic variant was a 2-ton all-terrain truck, but there were also special variants, like a mobile workshop, an ambulance and an ammunition carrier. Thanks to good and modern design, they were still produced after the War until 1928 (from 1917 as Nash Quad, after the company had been bought by Nash Motors in July 1916). By end of 1918, there were 11,490 built (or 21,490 according to other publications). The whole production reached above 41,000.

In the USA there were also designed armoured cars upon Jeffery Quad chassis. The single experimental Armored Car No.1, built in 1915 at Rock Island Arsenal, was the first armoured car built for the US Army. It had two MG turrets: on top and at the rear, armour up to 5 mm, and was considered as clumsy and top-heavy. It was used by the expedition sent to Texas against Pancho Villa in 1916, although did not take part in actual fighting. A series of around 50 similar single-turret cars were built at the same time for Canada; part of them (or all) were made in Canada and known as Russell or Jeffery-Russell armoured cars. They were later used by the British from 1917 in North-West India frontier against Mohmand tribe (40 cars), and in 1919 in Ireland, for internal security.

At least a dozen or so Jeffery trucks were used from 1919 by Polish Army, mainly in a workshop variant. In 1936 there were still at least 9 workshop Jeffery Quads in motor units. Possibly some survived until World War II in 1939.

Armoured car Jeffery-Poplavko

Notice: Russian dates are given according to old style calendar.

Russian armoured car Jeffery
Armoured cars Jeffery during trials in October 1916, equippped with wider rims and a frame to break entaglements. Cpt. Poplavko is entering the vehicle (note small door size – in spite of a big height, the combat compartment must have been cramped, and machine guns made additional obstacles).
Russian armoured car Jeffery during trials
...Sometimes even a Jeffery got stuck.

In initial period of World War I, the Russian Army also bought a number of Jeffery Quad trucks. One of these cars was assigned to the 26th armoured car platoon (avtopulyemyetnyj vzvod) equipped with two armoured cars Austin and one Garford, commanded by Shtabs-captain Victor Poplavko (Ukrainian), which departed to the front on 9 November 1915. This car was next rebuilt according to Poplavko's idea to a semi-armoured maintenance vehicle. Its purpose was to provide platoon's armoured cars with fuel and ammunition and to recover damaged cars. It was fitted with partial armour of an engine and driver's cab from the front and sides. The car was named "Charodyey" (Wizard - the platoon's armoured cars also had names beginning with: "Ch" (Ч): "Chyort", "Chyornomor" and Garford-Putilov "Chudovishche"). Soon it showed, that off-road capabilities of the Wizard are much better, than of platoon's armoured cars, which had rear axle driven only. Seeing this, Poplavko decided to test the Wizard's usefulness as a clearing engineering vehicle. The car was equipped with a winch, two ropes with anchors and a light folding assault bridge. During tests in January 1916, the "Charodyey", using a winch, negotiated four rows of entanglements made of wood and barbed wire, breaking or pulling out wooden poles. Unfortunately, there are no photos known of this machine.

Further tests were so promising, that Poplavko proposed the Army HQ to rebuild Jeffery trucks to armoured cars with increased capability of negotiating heavy terrain. They would break across the front, crossing trenches and barbed wire. According to Poplavko's original idea, they were meant to be the first armoured personnel carriers, giving shelter to 10-men assault squads, armed with: "kinzhals, Mauser pistols and hand grenades", that would clear trenches and put assault bridges so that armoured cars could move farther. Poplavko called his idea the "Hannibal's elephant".

After Army trials of the "Charodyey" in Petersburg, on 8 August 1916 the Committee for armoured cars ordered 30 armoured cars on Jeffery chassis in Izhorskiye Works. They differed from original Poplavko idea, as they were not fitted for carrying soldiers (if necessary, several soldiers could have been carried in a low rear cargo compartment). A profile of their underside made easier overcoming terrain obstacles and breaking wire entanglements and poles. All 30 cars were completed by end of September 1916. They apparently had no official designation and are usually known as Jeffery-Poplavko or Poplavko-Jeffery, but also just as Jeffery or Poplavko armoured cars.

In January 1917, Russian staff decided to order further 90 Jeffery armoured cars in workshops of Officer Rifle School, with improved armour provided by Izhorskiye Works. However, due to revolutionary events, only one car of this batch was completed, sent on 16 June 1917 to the Reserve Armoured Battalion. There are no details on its design given in publications, but there exists one fragmentary photograph of a vehicle similar to Jeffery-Poplavko with a machine gun turret (probably taken from one of unaccepted Sheffield-Simplex armoured cars), a rounded rear wall of a combat compartment, and a lower profile of a rear part, with a low gable roof. It might have been an overhauled vehicle, but modifications to a rear part suggest otherwise.

Combat use of Jeffery-Poplavko:

In Russia:

Jeffery armoured cars gathered in Zolochiv
Two Jeffery armoured cars captured by the Germans, gathered in Zolochiv, with Lanchester armoured car.
Jeffery armoured cars gathered in Zolochiv
Exceptional quality photograph from the other side, with Austin (2nd series) visible
Jeffery armoured cars captured near Tarnopol
The same cars as above gathered in other location.
Armoured car Jeffery in German service
Jeffery-Poplavko in German service (note a headlight).
Czechoslovak Legion armoured car Jeffery-Poplavko 'Janosik'
Czechoslovak Legion Jeffery "Janošík", June 1919.
Polish Jeffery-Poplavko armoured car 'Wnuk'
Polish Jeffery-Poplavko, possibly right after its capture.

When Jeffery armoured cars entered service, they formed the Special Purpose Armoured Car Unit (Bronyevoi avtomobilnyi divizyon Osobogo naznachenya). The unit counted all 30 Jeffery armoured cars, 4 trucks, 4 passenger cars, 4 tankers, 1 workshop car and 9 motorcycles. It consisted of three companies (otdyelenye) with 10 armoured cars each; the company consisted of 3 troops of 3 cars. The unit's commander became Poplavko, promoted to full Captain.

The unit was sent to the 11th Army of the Southwestern Front on 16 October 1916. It was meant to break through German positions during a prepared Russian offensive, so new cars were kept in secret until spring of 1917. In December 1916 the armoured cars were tested against old trenches entangled with barbed wire, and the test came out well. However, when Brusilov offensive started at last on 16 June 1917, Jeffery cars were not used in accordance with their purpose. They did a good service as ordinary armoured cars, though.

The special unit distinguished itself, covering a retreat of the 17th Army Corps during German breakthrough towards Tarnopol (now Ternopil, Ukraine). On 7 and 8 July, the cars were active in retreat combat, delaying an advance of German infantry. They were also used to evacuate injuries and haul out abandoned military equipment. Two cars were destroyed by the artillery, further three were broken down and then reportedly blown up by their crews[1]. All were later captured by the Germans. It should be noted, that there exist many photographs of the same two captured Jefferies, gathered in Zolochiv, one of which has a big hole in a rear plate, probably from an artillery shell. On 18 July, the 1st company's cars supported units of the 122nd Infantry Division, capturing Grzymalow (Hrymailiv) town.

The combat service confirmed excellent off-road capabilities of Jeffery cars. It was especially evident on 7 and 8 July, when dirt roads became difficult for ordinary cars to pass due to rains. It might be noted, that the cars were in a way an equivalent of tanks of the western allies (in fact, a layout of the crew compartment and weapons was somehow similar to British Whippet medium tank, but reversed). There however appeared car's faults as well, first of all, a placement of armament. There were only two machine guns, with a horizontal angle of fire limited to 15° towards each side, so the whole car had to turn to increase and angle of fire, and machine guns sometimes had to switch embrasures. The crew compartment was criticized as cramped, and apparently a single small door was not too convenient. The engine was not separated from a crew compartment, what made its maintenance easier, but also caused overheating of the crew compartment. The engine itself was criticized as too weak, and a maximum speed on roads was rather low. The car's maintenance and repairs were also more complicated, then of other cars.

On 2 October 1917 it was decided to formally change a purpose of Jefferies, from special vehicles to ordinary armoured cars, acting at least in pairs for mutual support. After the bolshevik October Revolution, equipment of the Special Purpose Armoured Car Unit found itself in newly established Ukrainian People's Republic. The unit itself might have been disbanded, because it was not included into Ukrainian forces[7]. Some cars probably fell into Bolshevik hands. In Hetmanate period from April 1918, there were only two Jeffery cars in the 2nd Armoured Unit in Vinnytsia, but only one had been repaired by October 1918. At least six were stored under German control in Kiev[7]. After German withdrawal and reestablishment of Ukrainian People's Republic, part of its units were taken over by different forces taking part in Russian civil war. Jeffery cars got scattered among different forces and fronts as well. Among others, four vehicles were the 1st Lutsk Armoured Unit of Ukrainian People's Republic[6]. At least one, nicknamed "Slavnyi", was used by Gen. Denikin's "white" Volunteer Army (captured by the Red Army in March 1920); there exist also color profiles of the other vehicle named "Zabiyaka".

The majority of Jeffery armoured cars were eventually taken by the Soviets, along with some recaptured vehicles. Single cars fought in different units during the civil war, but were criticized as little combatworthy. From 1920 most were replaced with newer and more universal armoured cars Fiat-Izhorski and Austin, though. Judging from an existing photo, at least one vehicle was given to Mongolian Revolutionary Army in 1921, along with other armoured cars. In 1922, there still existed 10 Jeffery armoured cars in the Soviet Army, of which only one operational, and the rest scheduled for a withdrawal.

It could be noted, that Victor Poplavko himself was appointed a member of the Central Council of Ukraine in 1917-1918. After the war he worked in the USRR, but during Stalinist repressions he was accused of a counterrevolution, judged and shot on 20 January 1938.

In Germany:

Russian sources claim, that five armoured cars Jeffery were captured by the Germans in summer of 1917 in Tarnopol area, apparently in damaged condition[1]. They were probably not introduced to German service in frontline units, but sent to the rear instead. Two of them were next used in street fighting in Berlin in 1919, by Freikorps units, suppressing a communist revolution. One vehicle captured near Tarnopol was taken over by Austro-Hungarian Army and sent to a reserve store in Wien, where it was in 1918.

In Czechoslovak forces

One Jeffery-Poplavko was used by the Czechoslovak Legion during the civil war in Russia, named "Janošík" (after Slovak legendary highwayman Janosik). Among others, it supported operations of the 3rd Division against communist partisans in Siberia at the Mana river, south east of Krasnoyarsk in May-June 1919. Reportedly it was later recaptured by the Red Army.

In Poland:

The Polish Army used at least two Jeffery-Poplavko armoured cars, captured from the Soviets. The first was captured in Kremenets on 8 August 1919, being partly disassembled. There is no firm information about the second one. After repair in Warsaw, one of these cars was directed to the Polish-Soviet front in late 1919 or early 1920 and included into Armoured Platoon "Dziadek" (Grandfather, which was a nickname of Marshall Józef Piłsudski). Its core consisted of Garford heavy armoured car named "Dziadek". The Jeffery was given a name "Wnuk" (Grandson), and took part in the platoon's combat in 1920. Among others, the "Dziadek" platoon took part in a motorized raid to capture Zhytomyr on 25-26 April 1920.

After the Polish-Soviet war, in March 1921, the Jeffery was still in "Dziadek" platoon, stationing in Cracov then, but there is no information about its further fate. It was surely withdrawn in early 1920s. There is no information about other Polish Jeffery armoured cars.

Polish armoured cars Jeffery "Wnuk" and Garford "Dziadek", from the "Dziadek" platoon. Note a big size of Jeffery. It may be assumed, that the name "Wnuk" is painted on the front plate (photo quality does not allow to say for sure if there were names on sides as well).

Unfortunately, there are not known better copies of these photographs, apparently coming from newspapers of that period.
Polish armoured cars Jeffery and Garford


Jeffery-Poplavko armoured car
Jeffery-Poplavko from the front

Jeffery-Poplavko armoured car was armed with two infantry 7.62 mm Maxim machine guns, water-cooled, presumably model 1910 (m.10). These two guns could be mounted in four embrasures in walls of the combat compartment, on underslung Sokolov mounts, using ordinary open sights. A horizontal angle of fire for each MG was only about 15°. They had quite big vertical angle of fire though, so side MGs could fire downwards at trenches.

The car was entirely armoured with 7 mm CrNi armoured plates, protecting against small arms (maybe except a machine gun fire from a close distance) and splinters.

A book by Heigl from an interwar period informed about 16 mm armour, but this is unlikely. Some Russian publications claim, that the car had also armoured wooden wheel discs[8] – but it is an error, since wheel discs look exactly the same, as in the basic truck, and they were just made of steel.

Technical description:

Modified Jeffery-Poplavko
A modified Jeffery-Poplavko with a turret – probably of the improved second series

Chassis – a rectangular frame; a suspension on semi-elliptic springs, with rigid axles. All wheels could be steered (in later production trucks this feature was removed). Wheels had steel disc rims with full rubber tires with no tread design, probably 36x6"[3]. Wheels could be fitted with widening rims to move in soft terrain, although photos suggest they were not used apart from trials. A peculiar feature of an original truck was a vertical steering wheel column.

Engine – Buda: petrol, 32 HP (24 kW), 4723 ccm (288 cid); side valve, 4-cylinder inline, 4 stroke, water cooled. Early truck models had 3785 ccm (231 cid) engine however.

A gearbox, placed centrally along with a transfer case, had four gears forward and one reverse. Both axles were driven through shafts. Differentials wee mounted high, driving into pinion and ring gears to provide good ground clearance below the I-beam axles. Drum brakes were on all wheels.

Body – made of armour plates, screwed to the body frame. In front there was a short engine compartment, not separated from the combat compartment. A radiator before the engine was protected with a hatch. There was only a single small door on the right side of the combat compartment. The compartment had four embrasures for machine guns, one in each wall, protected with side screens. The driver sat on the left and had a window in a slanted front wall, protected with a hatch, and a covered vision slot in left wall. There were no other windows. At the rear, there was a low covered transport compartment, with a single small rectangular hatch, opening to the left. It could have been used to carry spare parts, fuel, ammunition, or according to Russian publication, several men in emergency[1,4]. There was a towing hook at the rear. The car was initially equipped with an iron frame, fixed to the front and used for breaking wire entanglements, which was apparently removed before combat debut. There was a single searchlight on the roof.

Crew consisted of 4–5 men according to publications[2]. However, one Soviet report from 1920 complained, that there was little place for a crew of six, so the car was cramped.

Jeffery-Poplavko. Drawing: Janusz Magnuski

Drawing: Janusz Magnuski (source: [2], with doors erased, which were on right side only)


Russian armoured cars were usually painted in a single colour. There were used different shades of green (dark olive, dark green). Later, at the time of the revolution and civil war, they were sometimes painted grey. There is no specific information on colours of Jeffery armoured cars; colour profiles are usually painted green.

In Tsarist service Jeffery cars are not known to carry individual names (on contrary to ordinary armoured cars), but in later service new owners often painted names, and sometimes recognition signs.


Russian Jeffery-Poplavko
Russian Jeffery-Poplavko in unidentified circumstances.
Damaged Russian Jeffery-Poplavko armoured car in Tarnopol area
Damaged Jeffery-Poplavko in Tarnopol area, 1917.
Damaged Jeffery-Poplavko armoured car transported by rail by the Germans Jeffery-Poplavko armoured in German service in Berlin, January 1919
The same vehicle as above transported by rail by the Germans. Jeffery-Poplavko in German service, used in street fighting in Berlin in January 1919.


Jeffery Quad truckJeffery-Poplavko armoured car
Crew 14–6
Weight, kg 3,555 kg[3] about 8,000 kg
Length about 5 mapprox. 5.1 – 5.2 m*
Width about 1.85mabout 2 m
Height ?about 2.14 m (to the roof)
Wheelbase 3.1 m3.15 m
Max. speed about 35 km/h about 35 km/h
Range ??

* – available publications don't give accurate dimensions nor weight of Jeffery-Poplavko – the figures are given after Magnuski[2], apart from a length, which was evidently too small ("about 452 cm"). Calculating from various side profiles, length would be around 5.1–5.2 m, without a towing hook.


Models of Jeffery-Poplavko. Links lead to Scalemates service. There are also several paper models available, not counted here.


- Den Bels Models (DBLS9) - "Poplavko-Jeffrey armoured car" (misspelled name)
- simple nice-looking resin model from 2013 (external link). Note, that MG loop-holes are placed too high.
- Choroszy Modelbud (V7204) - "Russian Armoured Car Jeffery (Jeffery-Poplavko)"
- simple high quality Polish resin model from early 2000s (external review). Note, that it has too many MGs (four), and only two should be fitted.
(as a sidenote, it is nice, that its instruction text is clearly an extract from our page; pity, that without any credit...)


- Major Models (N.04) - "Poplavko-Jeffrey" (misspelled name)
- simple resin and white metal model from early 2000s.
- Lukgraph (35-03) - "Armored Car Jeffery-Poplavko"
- highly detailed excellent resin kit from 2018 (out of production as of 2024). Side and rear MG loop-holes appear placed a bit too high, though.


1. Mikhail Bariatinski, Maksim Kolomiec: Bronyeavtomobili Russkoi Armii 1906-1917; Moscow, 2000
2. Janusz Magnuski: Samochody pancerne Wojska Polskiego 1918-1939; Warsaw 1993
3. Jan Tarczyński, Krzysztof Barbarski, Adam Jońca: Pojazdy w Wojsku Polskim - Polish Army vehicles 1918-1939, Pruszków: Ajax, 1995
4. Maksim Kolomiec: Bronya Russkoy Armii - bronyeavtomobili i bronyepoyezda w pyervoy mirovoy voynye; Moscow, 2008,
5. A. Solyankin, M. Pavlov, I. Pavlov, I. Zheltov: Otechestvennye bronyeavtomobili 1905-1941; Moscow, 2007
6. Krzysztof Margasiński: Samochody pancerne odrodzonej Polski 1918-1920; series: Wielki Leksykon Uzbrojenia - wydanie specjalne - tom 2, Warsaw 2014
7. Andrij Charuk: Pancerz hetmana. Samochody pancerne w armii Państwa Ukraińskiego, "Militaria" Nr. 3(84)/2018

Our thanks to Krzysztof Margasiński for help.


Interesting links

Main pagePolish armourPolish artillerySteel PanthersContact

All photos and pictures remain the property of their owners, unless they are public domain due to age. They are published in non-commercial educational and research purpose.
Text copyright: Michal Derela © 2004-2024