Already at the beginning of August 1914, in the workshops of the city of Tarnopol, the 9th railway battalion, operating on the South-Western Front, built the first Russian armored train. Initially, it consisted of an Austro-Hungarian steam locomotive and three carriages - two machine-gun and one cannon. Its armament consisted of an 80-mm Austrian field cannon and 10 8-mm Austrian machine guns "Schwarzlose". To monitor the battlefield, there was a special tower mounted on the roof of one of the machine-gun carriages. As armor, ordinary steel was used (boiler iron in the terminology of that time), as well as layers of boards with sand filling between them.
Second lieutenant Belov was appointed commander of the train. As part of the troops of the 8th Army, the armored train operated in the Lvov direction. On August 22, 1914, during the assault on Stanislav, an armored train with a surprise attack captured the bridge, which ensured the rapid capture of the city.
Despite the primitiveness of its design, the armored train of the 9th railway battalion was successfully used during the battle in Galicia.
Armored train of the 5th Siberian railway battalion in Ust-Dvinsk. 1916 year. An armored locomotive and a rear armored 2-axle gondola car with loopholes (TsVMM) are visible.
Subsequently, the composition was modernized: they added another gun carriage with an 80-mm Austrian cannon, and also strengthened the protection of the gun and machine-gun crews. At the beginning of 1916, the train received a new armored rovoz - instead of the Austrian one, the Russian one was now used, of the Ov series. His armor was carried out by the 4th company of the 1st Zaamur battalion under the command of Captain Krzhi-Voblotsky, who worked in the Odessa workshops of the South-Western Railways. By the design of the armored hull, he repeated the locomotive of the 8th railway battalion, which was very advanced at that time.
The composition was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Lvov and Staff Captain Kondyrin, the latter from the summer of 1915 until August 1917. Despite the stabilization of the front, the armored train of the 9th battalion provided substantial support to its troops. Here are some examples.
On June 29, 1916, near the village of Khodachkovo, secretly building a new branch line beyond the line of our first trenches, the crew of the armored train with a surprise attack ensured the capture of the Austrian positions to the White Sea Infantry Regiment.
With their fire and bold attacks on September 3, 17-20 and 22, 1916, the composition ensured the capture of the heavily fortified hill 348 and the Lysonsky forest by the Russian infantry during the attack on Brzezany.
In the summer of 1917, the command of the armored train decided to include the train in the "death" part. On June 23, 1917, an armored train assigned to the 12th corps, at 13.00 went to the Bystzhitsky bridge and opened gunfire at the enemy positions. Within 45 minutes, the train fired 114 shells without receiving any damage, "despite the fact that the enemy opened a strong artillery fire on the train."
In the battles at the Gusyatin-Russkiy station in 1719 July 1917, the armored train of the 9th Zhelbat, practically without the support of the infantry, did not allow the Germans to develop an offensive on the left bank of the Sbruch River. The report on the battle on July 18, 1917 said:
“The canvas destroyed by the enemy in several places was repaired on the night of 18 [July], despite a great technical difficulty.
In the evening [July 18], an armored train stealthily approached the line of our forward trenches. According to the order of the Chief Divisional Officer, the train quickly moved ahead of the trenches behind the semaphore of the Gusyatin station, opened intense artillery and machine-gun fire on the village of Ol-
An armored 2-axle gondola car with loopholes from the armored train of the 5th Siberian Railway Battalion. 1916 year. The embrasure for firing a machine gun and loopholes for rifles (ASKM) are clearly visible.
khovchik on the opposite bank of the Zbruch and the direction of Gusyatin. The enemy was noticeably very confused, he began to fire green and red missiles in the direction of the train, and opened with heavy artillery and armor-piercing machine-gun fire, the armor was damaged in several places.
After staying in the line of fire for 25 minutes, the train, fearing damage to the track from behind, departed. After 4 hours, the train, on the orders of the Chief Divisional Officer, warning the units ready for the attack, whose task was to push the enemy back beyond the Zbruch, again advancing in front of the chains, ready to attack, opened fire on the targets and takeoff points of the enemy's missiles. For 20 minutes, the train was in front of the attackers at the entrance arrow of the station. Gusyatin. Further the path was destroyed.
The success of the train raids can be attributed to the fact that the enemy was so confident in the destruction of the canvas by the previous shelling of heavy artillery that he did not watch him at all. The train's performances were of great charitable moral significance for our units and panic for the enemy. At the moment, the performance of the train on this section is no longer possible, today the enemy in many places destroyed the canvas with heavy artillery, correcting the firing with two tethered balloons, and mined a section of the path from which shelling is possible."
Armored train of the 5th Siberian railway battalion with a team. Photo from the magazine "Niva" for 1916. In the foreground is a machine-gun armored car, in the center is a 2-axle artillery car, on which there are arrows (ASKM).
After the battles at Gusin, the armored train of the 9th trench was sent to Kiev to repair damaged armor. But already in August he was at the front.
By this time, the state of the composition required significant repairs, and the battalion command asked the front headquarters about the possibility of repairing it. Permission was obtained, but the location of the renovation was not determined. On November 20, 1917, the commander of the 9th railway battalion reported to the front headquarters:
“In view of the urgent repair of the entire armored train, we left for Larga. We are awaiting further instructions."
2-axle machine-gun armored car of the armored train of the 5th Siberian railway battalion. Ust-Dvinsk, 1916 (photo from the magazine of 1916 edition).
Semi-armored steam locomotive Ov from the armored train of the 5th Siberian Railway Battalion. Ust-Dvinsk, 1916. It is clearly seen that the boiler of the steam locomotive is protected only from the sides and partially from the front (photo from a magazine published in 1916).
The last document for 1917, concerning the armored train of the 9th railway battalion, is dated December 7th. A telegram sent to the battalion commander said:
“It is not possible to send your armored train to Kiev or Odessa for repairs due to the lack of space in the Main Workshops of these points.
Therefore, without wasting time, I ask you to send the armored train to the Mogilev-Podolsky station and leave it there, putting out the bro-non-locomotive."
The author did not manage to find documents on this armored train for the first half of 1918, as well as on many other armored trains of the Russian army for the same period. But most likely, the team of this composition went over to the side of the Soviet regime, and acted against the Germans and the troops of the Central Rada in Ukraine. In the documents, he was referred to as "armored train number 9 former Zhelbat".
Order No. 19 of October 21, 1918 was announced for the command of the armored train of the 9th railway battalion, which was registered with the Tsentrobroni. Among the 80 people, there were also those who began serving during the First World War, for example, Vladimir Tadulevich (entered the armored train on March 10, 1915) and the platoon commander Stepan Harmanenko, who served on this armored train from November 15, 1914.
Subsequently, having received new armored platforms from the Bryansk plant, but with an old non-steam locomotive, this composition, as armored train No. 9 (or No. 9 of Zhelbat), fought on the Southern Front, where it was lost in September 1919.
An armored train of the 5th Siberian Railway Battalion, captured by the Germans near Riga. August 1917. The photo clearly shows two 2-axle armored cars - an artillery car on the right, with a 76, 2-mm anti-assault cannon of the 1914 model, on the left a machine-gun one, with loopholes for rifle firing (YM).