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Armored Fighting Vehicles - Great Patriotic War

1937T-20semi-armored tractor3.567,780
1941ZiS-42semi-tracked truck5.386,372
1942TD-200towed tracked trailer10.0201
1942BP-60towed sled trailer3.510274
1944B-3armored transporter7.1101

An armored personnel carrier [APC in English, BTR in Russian] is a combat armored wheeled or tracked vehicle of high maneuverability, designed to transport personnel of motorized rifle (mechanized) troops to the battlefield, to fight them out of the car and fire support them during and after dismounting. They are also used for reconnaissance, escort on the march, patrols, communications. Specially equipped APCs are used to deliver weapons, ammunition and other military goods to the battlefield, and to evacuate the wounded. Most of the armored personnel carriers are floating and air transportable, they are adapted for dropping by parachutes, have night vision devices, equipment for detecting radioactive, chemical and biological contamination, fire fighting and other equipment.

Armored personnel carriers are considered by most armies of the world only as a vehicle. Their task is to deliver infantry to the line of dismounting near enemy positions - a battle taxi - and support the attacking infantrymen with onboard weapons, However, many armored personnel carriers have embrasures in the boards, which allow infantrymen to fight from inside the vehicle.

The Great Patriotic War showed that tanks alone are unable to decide the outcome of the war. Steel fists crack defenses, sow panic in the rear, disrupt supply. But until the infantry boot sets foot in enemy territory, it will not be cleared and captured. And to keep pace with the advacning armor, infantry needed transport: preferably passable and protected, in order to move closely behind the advanced assault units. So armored personnel carriers emerged.

Developed in the late 20s, domestic cars in the prewar period looked archaic. Nevertheless, they were suitable for use in harsh conditions, sometimes better than the newest foreign trucks of those years. At the same time, the Karakum motor race, organized in 1933, revealed the complete inadequacy of automobiles produced in the USSR for off-road traffic.

During the periods of spring and autumn thaw, the dirt roads, on which, in usual times, lorries and three-tonnes felt good, became difficult to pass for any kind of motor transport. In addition, snowdrifts often made it completely impossible for ordinary motor vehicles to move. In addition, in wartime conditions, even driving on previously prepared roads is associated with the need to bypass the destroyed sections of roads over rough terrain. Motor transport mechanized connections does not always have the ability to use even dirt roads of satisfactory quality. The military situation often compels the use of motor vehicles for off-road and virgin soil.

As it is known, only vehicles with low ground pressure are suitable for driving on full off-road. Multi-axle wheeled all-terrain vehicles have good maneuverability, but the complexity of the transmission is a big disadvantage of such vehicles. Of all land vehicles, tracked vehicles have the highest passability. Tractors and transport tractors were developed in the 30s by the Federal State Research and Experimental Automobile and Tractor Institute (NATI) based on conventional agricultural tractors.

The special position of the Red Army in the early 1930s, began to occupy the nascent antitank artillery, including the 37-mm cannon, the 1930 sample and 45-mm sample in 1932 year. The Red Army needed high maneuverability (not inferior tanks) when changing positions, often under small-arms fire from the enemy. Here animal traction, with all due respect to time in the Red Army, was not enough. The Army needed a lightweight compact crawler tractor, fully meet the specifics of its application. In addition, the mass production of these machines for fast and complete saturation of the anti-tank battalions and artillery regiments was supposed.

The first such truck, the diminutive "Pioneer", designed in 1935 in the Science of Automobile and Tractor Institute (NATI), led by A.S.Scheglova modeled on the American fleet tractor "Marmon-Herington" with the car engine Ford V-8. The next decade saw over a dozen further designs of tracked and wheeled vehicles to pull artillery and carry the gun crew. While interesting, these vehicles were only distantly related to armored personnnel carriers, as the personnel carried were artillery gunners, not infantry, and they sat in the open, with no armor protection.

The Great War and Civil War showed the high efficiency of such a new type of weapon as armored cars. Moreover, in the 1920s, armored cars formed the basis of the armored forces of the Red Army. However, by the end of the 1920s, it became clear that the BA-27 cannon armored car, which was then in service, was not enough for the needs of the army, especially since this car was rather cumbersome and slow. The D-8 and D-12 armored cars did not meet the requirements for light reconnaissance vehicles due to the inconvenience of using weapons, poor visibility for the driver and overloading the front axle. However, after minor modifications, these armored cars were recommended for mass production - there was simply nothing else, and the army needed a new vehicle. Production of a small batch of 25 cars was organized at the Izhora plant in 1932-1934. Many more of improved designs followed, but these vehicles were scout cars, not personnel carriers, and had only limited off-road capabilities. They had very limited adverse weather mobility, and their armored hulls were not distinguished by high protective properties. On 24 April 1942, the first BA-64 armored vehicles left its base, the last armored car design to enter service during the War.

The Wehrmacht, naturally, became the father of the armored personnel carrier as a type of vehicle. It was the direct response of the German engineers to Hitlers tactic of the blitzkrieg. The pioneers of the new technology were the Germans, who massively used motorized infantry on all fronts. During the War, such vehicles entered the Soviet army in small numbers. The advantages of such a machine are very great, maneuverability is undoubtedly the main one. Floating armored transports became popular during the War, when it became clear that the lack of armor on American amphibians was a serious drawback. Armor made them a little stronger, which made it possible to use armored personnel carriers both on the ground and on the water.

By the beginning of the war, the USSR had no armored personnel carriers, with the exception of prototypes of the unarmed and sedentary, rather the BA-22 sanitary transporter, created in 1937-1939 on a rather weak GAZ-AAA chassis (6x4) with very limited maneuverability. Obviously, the need for armored personnel carriers to transport motorized infantry was fully realized by the leadership of the Red Army before the war, at least after the successful military operations of the Wehrmacht in 1940, but for their production there were no tested prototypes or free capacities of the plants - all that The period was given to a priority tank design. As a result, the use of a landing force planted on tank armor was widely practiced.

Starting in 1942, American armored personnel carriers, as well as light British tracked vehicles "Bren" began to arrive in leasable quantities under Lend-Lease in the USSR, where they were appreciated as a new, much-needed class of combat vehicles that we had no analogues. True, for their intended purpose, they were rarely used, mainly due to the insufficient number and application of them in the course of conducting an offensive battle, which was not provided for in the combat regulations. On the other hand, in combat protection, protection of staffs, including against air attack, escorting convoys, and escorting large military commanders, American armored personnel carriers were used quite widely and successfully. They showed themselves well in street battles as part of assault groups, being armed with heavy machine guns, especially quadruple anti-aircraft guns.

This new type of equipment appeared very late in the USSR. Before the war, there were only a few normal armored cars, and most of those that were available were destroyed in conflict with the Finns. But increasing the mobility of infantry in combat operations could reduce the mortality of soldiers. Nevertheless, the work of Soviet designers on the creation of armored personnel carriers took almost the entire duration of the Great Patriotic War. Other countries already such vehicles in service in the early years of hostilities, because their strategists understood how the nature of the battles had changed. It took a sufficiently protected vehicle that could quickly bring the soldiers to the battlefield, if necessary, carrying out their fire cover. By the beginning of the war, the USSR had practically no vehicles of this class, except for the BA-22 ambulance car, which did not have any armor and did not have good maneuverability.

The creation of domestic samples of armored personnel carriers at the height of the war was very problematic. There was still no adequate chassis and free capacity for their mass production. Nevertheless, at the end of 1942, Moscows Stalin Automotive Plant (VMS) undertook the design of a large armored personnel carrier. As a basis, it was decided to use the newly developed semi-tracked ZIS-42 chassis, which in itself did not leave any hope for success.

Unfortunately, the myth of the B-3 heavy semi-tracked BTR allegedly built in 1939 is not true. First tested in 1944, the B-3 was very troublesome to use, did not enter production, and was replaced with the BTR 152 after the War. In 1943 GAZ tried to quickly make an armored personnel carrier from a tiny BA-64. Then the project came to a standstill: in the narrow body of the light armored car, even six paratroopers huddled in a terriblly cramped space.

Heavy armored personnel carriers showed their qualities, but all this disappeared immediately after the relatively cheap anti-tank grenade launchers appeared. After that, the armored transports began to be called the mass graves of infantry. Therefore, there is a need for more powerful and more reliable machines, which were created by design engineers.

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Page last modified: 09-06-2019 18:59:54 ZULU