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Armament of the Polish armoured vehicles 1918-39

Part III: Armoured train artillery


Part I
 
Part II
 
Machine guns Tank cannons
- 7.92mm wz. 08 (Maxim)
- 8mm wz. 14 (Hotchkiss)
- 7.92mm wz. 25 (Hotchkiss)
- 7.92mm wz. 30

- other machine guns
- machine guns' data
- ammunition 7.92x57mm
- 20mm wz. 38 FK-A
- 37mm wz. 18 (SA-18) Puteaux
- 37mm wz. 36, wz. 37 Bofors
- 47mm Vickers QF
- 47mm wz. 25 Pocisk
Armoured train artillery

Armoured train artillery:

Armoured train 'Śmiały' in 1918/19.
Armoured train PP. 2 "Śmiały" in 1918-1919 – an improvised artillery wagon with concrete protection, armed with Austrian casemate gun 8 cm (76.5 mm) Kasemattkanone M.95 in side mounting. [NAC 1-H-366]

Initially, in 1918–1921 years, during wars with Ukraine, Soviet Russia and anti-German uprisings[note 1], Polish armoured trains were armed with a variety of available field, fortress or mountain guns, in head, side or rotating mountings, including most advanced turret mountings. There were mostly used cannons of most typical field gun calibers – 65 mm to 77 mm. First two trains after regaining of independence – PP.1 "Piłsudczyk" and PP.2 "Śmiały" had original Austro-Hungarian artillery wagons, first armed with 7 cm (66 mm) SFK naval guns. The wagons built in Poland used guns left after occupiers, first of all Austrian and less numerous German, then – captured Russian ones. One of most often used were Austrian 8 cm (76.5 mm) M.5/8 field cannons and 8 cm M.94 or M.95 casemate cannons, dismounted from fortifications. Among German guns, most typical were 7.7 cm FK 96n/A field cannons (a photo in "Goplana" armoured train).

Along with Polish advance towards east, apart from great number of Russian guns, there were also captured numerous armoured trains, already armed with such guns, first of all 76.2 mm (3-inch) M.1902 field guns. There were also used among others 76.2 mm M.1914/15 Lender AA guns. As a result, in 1920–1921 years wz. 1902 (M.1902) guns became typical armament of Polish armoured trains as well, and older wagons were gradually rearmed that way. Typical heavier armament became Russian 122 mm wz. 1909 (M.1909) howitzers. As for guns, such state remained until an outbreak of 1920s and 1930s, as for howitzers, until mid-1930s.

Pociąg pancerny 'Śmiały' w 1920.
Wagons of "Danuta" armoured train in late 1920s or early 1930s – outward turrets are armed with 122 mm wz. 1909 howitzers, inward turrets with 75 mm wz. 1902/26 or original 76.2 mm wz. 1902 cannons. PP. 2 "Śmiały" in 1920 – former Austrian artillery wagon, rearmed in Poland with Austrian 8 cm (76.5 mm) M.5/8 Feldkanone L/30 (initially armed with 7 cm (66 mm) SFK naval gun).

75mm wz. 1902/26 gun

More on a page devoted to towed wz.02 and wz.02/26 guns.

The 75 mm wz.02/26 gun in armoured train "Pierwszy Marszałek" in the 1930s.
The gun in German service, as 7.5 cm FK 02/26(p) in armoured train Panzerzug 21. The Germans apparently added protective covers for recuperators.

It was originally famous Russian 76.2 mm (3-inch) M.1902 cannon of Putilov Works, which was the basic Russian field gun of the World War I and of the civil war. Several hundreds of these guns were captured by the Poles during Polish-Soviet war 1919-1921 and used as wz. 1902 guns. Among others, they became standard guns of Polish armoured trains. Between 1926 and 1930, at least 466 wz. 1902 guns were modified in Starachowice Works, after which they received a designation: wz. 1902/26. Their caliber became 75 mm, so they could fire the ammunition of Polish standard French field gun wz. 1897 (Mle 1897). Field guns wz. 02/26 were used until 1939 in mounted artillery battalions of cavalry brigades, and in gun platoons of infantry regiments. In the Polish service this gun was nick-named: "prawosławna" ("the orthodox" gun).

In late 1920s, wz. 02/26 guns were introduced as the standard armament of Polish armoured trains, replacing original guns wz. 1902. There is no closer information when it was completed, but most likely until early 1930s. Both guns were indistinguishable externally. 25 or 26 guns were an armament of all ten Polish armoured trains mobilized in 1939, several further guns were an armament of reserve wagons. The Germans continued to use these guns in captured Polish wagons in armoured trains (Panzerzug): 10, 11, 21, 22, under a designation: 7,5 cm FK 02/26(p)[note 2]. Between 1941 and October 1942 two field guns on adapted gun beds were also used in open emplacements in Panzerzug 7.

In Polish armoured trains, these guns were mounted in artillery turrets, on original shortened gun beds, or central pedestal mountings (Polish manual calls them "naval mountings"). Polish publications mention also Russian M.1914/15 Lender AA gun pedestal mountings in this context, but they were evidently different – they would have to be heavily rebuilt, with new upper rotating gun beds and modified pedestals.

A number of cartridge types were used, among others: (details on wz. 02/26 gun page)

- shrapnel wz.1897 (weight 7.25 kg),
- grenades (HE shells):
steel shell wz. 15 (weight 5.225 kg without fuze, weight of explosive 0.78 kg)
steel shell wz.17 (as above: 5.97 /0.66 kg)
cast steel shell wz.18 (as above: 6.375 /0.435 kg)
- armour-piercing high explosive shells wz.10 (weight 6.4 kg, weight of explosive 90g)

Initial velocity was 529 - 600 m/s. APHE grenade wz.10 pierced at least 60 mm of armour, but their stock was limited and most probably they were not issued to armoured trains.

Basic specifications:
barrel length: 2285 mm (L/30); max. range: 5000-10.700 m (depending on round type and elevation); max. rate of fire: 10 rds/min; crew: 6-7 men (towed version). Elevation in armoured trains according to [1] was up to +11°[note 3]. Screw breech block.

75 mm wz. 02/26 guns on shortened gun beds (upper row) and naval mountings (lower row) in Polish armoured trains (photographs from the manual)

In upper row, on the left probably wagon 699054 from Nr. 13 ("Generał Sosnkowski") train, in the middle wagon 658641 from Nr. 14 ("Paderewski") train.
In lower row Russian Krasnoye Sormovo type turret in Nr. 51 ("Pierwszy Marszałek") or Nr. 54 ("Groźny") train. Note turret 7.92 mm Maxim wz. 08 machine gun. On the right, a view from the front.

↑↑ 75 mm wz.02/26 guns in Polish trains Nr. 13 ("Generał Sosnkowski") and Nr. 15 ("Śmierć") in September 1939. Note distinctive recuperator's front cover of wz.02 guns and their derivatives.
→ Shot sequence from 75 mm wz.02/26 gun in former Nr. 51 train's wagon in German Panzerzug 10b (11) (winter 1942/43).

122 mm wz. 1909 howitzer

Wagon 248193 with 122 mm wz. 09 howitzer in "Piłsudczyk" train in 1920.

It was Russian most numerous WW1 light field howitzer M.1909, designed by Krupp, and manufactured in Russia (about 1800 manufactured by 1918). The caliber was initially designated as "48-line". Captured pieces were adopted by Polish Army, and on 1 September 1920 there were 30, including 3 in armoured trains, 8 in batteries and 19 in reserve (a total number in mid-1920 was probably higher, but some could have been lost during a withdrawal). After Polish-Soviet war they were quickly phased out as field howitzers, but in 1924 they were accepted as typical howitzers in armoured trains – about dozen were used. Due to limited ammunition stock, they were replaced by 100 mm wz.14/19A howitzers in 1930s, which offered greater range and rate of fire, in spite of lighter shells.

Basic specifiations:
maximum range: 7700 m; shell weight: 23.3 kg; barrel length: 1690 mm (1221 mm of rifled part) (L/14); maximum rate of fire: 2 rds/min (a figure for Soviet M.1909/37 howitzer); elevation: -1 +43° (on wheeled gun bed). Horizontal sliding breech block.


100mm wz. 14/19A howitzer (Skoda)

Artillery wagon of Nr. 15 ("Śmierć") armoured train, armed with 100 mm howitzer with atypical angled recuperator cover.

It was Czech design of Škoda works. These guns started life as wz.14 (M.14) howitzers of the Austro-Hungarian army, acquired by Poland. In the 1930s Poland started licensed production of improved Škoda variant wz.14/19P, with longer barrel, and existing wz.14 howitzers were modified in similar way, receiving a designation wz.14/19A. In 1939, the Polish Army had 336 of wz.14/19A and at least 510 of wz.14/19P howitzers[3]. They were basic howitzers of light artillery regiments of infantry divisions, and also standard howitzers of Polish armoured trains from around mid-1930s, replacing Russian 122 mm wz. 09 howitzers.

The manual of armoured trains mentions wz. 14/19P howitzers, but according to A. Konstankiewicz, documents indicate wz. 14/19A howitzers (there were no practical differences). They were mounted on special gun beds. 13 howitzers wz.14/19A were an armament of eight Polish armoured trains in 1939 (nos: 11, 12, 14, 15, 52, 53, 54 and possibly 55). One howitzer remained in a reserve wagon (provided it was not used in the train Nr. 55).

Four howitzers were next used by the Germans in captured Polish wagons in armoured trains (Panzerzug): 10a (initially used by the Soviets in 1939-1941) and 21, under a designation: 10 cm FH 14/19(p). Moreover, due to their advantages, from 1942 captured howitzers were mounted in standard German BP-42 trains (nos. 61 to 72 – two or four per train).

Ammunition was two-piece. Among other there were used:
- shrapnels (weight 11.97-13.5 kg),
- HE shells (weight: 13.9-16 kg), among others:
- shell wz. 15 (average weight 12.8 kg),
- shell wz. 28 (average weight 13.9 kg) i
- shell wz. 31 (average weight 14.4 kg).

Basic specifications:
max range: 9600-9800 m; shell weight: 12–16 kg; barrel length: 2400 mm (1899 mm rifled part) (L/24); max. rate of fire: 8 rds/min; crew: 7 (towed variant); elevation: -7,5 +48°[1]; muzzle velocity - 408 - 415 m/s; horizontal sliding breech block.

100 mm wz. 14/19A howitzers in Polish trains (from the manual)
Left: 100 mm wz.14/19 howitzer in Nr.54 "Groźny" train, with typical oblong armoured recuperator cover.
Right: 100 mm wz.14/19 howitzer in Nr.12 "Poznańczyk" train (destroyed train walkaround gallery).


Notes:

1. For first three years after regaining of independence in November 1918, Poland was involved in following armed conflicts, of different intensity, each including usage of armoured trains (links to Wikipedia): a war with Ukraine (November 1918 – July 1919), anti-German Greater Poland uprising (December 1918 – June 1919), a border conflict with Czechoslovakia (January 1919), full-scale Polish-Soviet war (February 1919 – 18 October 1920), a conflict with Lithuania (August – November 1920), and anti-German third Silesian uprising (May – July 1921).

2. There is no information in publications, if 75 mm wz. 02/26 guns were replaced in German service with captured Soviet 76.2 mm M.1902/30 guns (Soviet modification of basic M.1902 guns) in later course of the war, although it might have been logical movement, since M.1902/30 guns, with a designation: 7,62 cm FK 295/1(r), became a standard in later German armoured trains BP-42 type, and reconstructed earlier trains.

3. Elevation of 75 mm wz. 02/26 gun on original towed gun bed was, according to different sources, up to +11°, +16° or +18°3' (more details on wz.02/26 gun page). Elevation +11° in armoured trains is quoted by J. Magnuski [1], but it is not clear, it it was based upon any primary source.


Sources:
1. Janusz Magnuski: Pociąg pancerny "Śmiały" w trzech wojnach; Pelta; Warsaw 1996
2. Regulamin broni pancernej. Opis i wskazówki obsługi pociągu pancernego. Projekt, Warsaw 1938 (military manual)
3. Andrzej Konstankiewicz: Broń strzelecka i sprzęt artyleryjski formacji polskich i Wojska Polskiego w latach 1914-1939, Lublin, 2003
4. Wolfgang Sawodny: Die Panzerzüge des Deutschen Reiches; EK Verlag, Freiburg, 1996
5. Sergiey Voycehovich: Rossiyskaya polevaya artilleriya. 1382-1917 gody; Voyennaya Letopis, series: Artilleriyskiy Muzey nr 13, Moskwa, 2008


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