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© Michal Derela, 2002 Updated: 28. 1. 2011 - improved & supplemented

Polish amphibious tank prototype PZIn.130

PZIn.130 tank after delivery,  15 August 1937
History - Armament and armour - Construction - Specifications - Model kits
Above: PZIn.130 prototype after delivery to the Army, 15 August 1937.

One of the most interesting armoured vehicles designed in Poland was a light amphibious reconnaissance tank PZIn.130. It belonged to a family of modern tracked vehicles, developed by Edward Habich in the late 1930s, which also included a light reconnaissance tank PZIn.140 (4TP), an artillery tractor PZIn.152 and a tank destroyer PZIn.160, all using unified chassis.

Note: Photos may be enlarged. Links marked with (W) are external, directing to Wikipedia articles. You can find places on maps, clicking coordinates on Wikipedia pages.


History

Background

British Vickers Carden-Loyd Amphibian Tank
British Vickers Carden-Loyd Amphibian Tank.

A background of the amphibious tank PZIn.130 lays in designs of well-known British designers, John Carden(W) and Vivian Loyd. Working for Vickers-Armstrongs, they designed numerous successful light tanks, which were exported to many countries and influenced many other designs in the world. From 1928 they had been developing a line of the Light Tanks for the British Army, and similar light tanks for export (Vickers Carden-Loyd 4 ton - more on 4TP page). In 1929 they designed Vickers Carden-Loyd Amphibian Tank. It retained features of 4-ton light tanks, like a paired bogey-type suspension with two wheels per bogey, sprung on leaf springs, an engine placed in the right part of the hull, two men crew and a rotating MG-armed turret. The new design introduced a watertight hull of a pontoon shape, and mudguards serving as floats. In water it was driven by a propeller and steered with a ring rudder. It was the first successful amphibious tank design in the world, and the first one produced in series. The British Army did not order this tank eventually, in spite of testing two prototypes A4E11 and A4E12, but small series were built for China (29), the Soviet Union (8), Siam (2), the Netherlands (2 for the Dutch East Indies) and Japan. Its influence on other designs was yet bigger. Basing roughly upon its licence, the Soviet Union developed its own line of amphibious tanks: T-33, T-41, T-37 and T-38 - the later two were mass produced.

PZIn.130 Polish tank prototype
PZIn.130 before a presentation in Beniaminowo, October 1937.
PZIn.130 Polish tank prototype
PZIn.130 during a presentation in Beniaminowo, driving out of water.
PZIn.130 Polish tank prototype
PZIn.130 swimming in Liubiaz' lake, November 1937

In September 1932, Vickers Carden-Loyd Amphibian Tank was demonstrated in Poland, along with the Carden-Loyd 4-ton light tank and an artillery tractor. On 8 October the amphibious tank demonstrated swimming on the Vistula in Modlin. As a result, in May 1933 the Chief of the Engineers' Supply Department Col. Tadeusz Kossakowski, proposed to buy one Carden-Loyd Amphibian Tank, along with five 4-ton light tanks, in an evaluation and research purpose, but it was not proceeded because of lack of funds (a total price was 16,775 pounds). Instead, it was decided to develop similar tanks in Poland, basing on a specification given by the BBT BP (Technical Testing Bureau of the Armoured Weapons). A task of designing an amphibious tank and a 4-ton reconnaissance tank, sharing the same components, was assigned to the PZIn. (State Engineering Works) in 1935. The Armoured Weapons HQ expected main use of amphibious tanks on the eastern territories of pre-war Poland, especially in Polesie (W) (now in Belarus), which was a wide land full of swamps, rivers and lakes, and lacking roads, where usage of ordinary tanks was almost impossible.

Development

The main designer of both tanks was the chief of the PZIn. Studies Section, engineer Edward Habich. The design and the documentation of the amphibious tank was ready in autumn 1936. Apart from a general inspiration by the Carden-Loyd's layout and features, the new design was entirely Polish. It utilised some of the world's newest ideas, like a modern suspension on torsion bars and pipes, and also Polish inventions, like a reversible periscope (W), that enabled all around observation (invented by Rudolf Gundlach (W)). The engine was Polish-constructed as well. The amphibious tank had the same layout, as the 4TP (PZIn.140) tank, with many shared components, like engine, transmission and suspension. The roadwheels and tracks were lighter in order to improve floating. A watertight hull had a shape fit for floating; the mudguards were floats filled with cork for a better stability on water. Under a rear hull section, there was a propeller in a ring cover. The ring cover fulfilled a rudder role, like in the British tank. In an initial design the engine was placed transversally in the rear, but eventually it was placed on the right.

The amphibious tank prototype, receiving a factory designation PZIn.130, was completed in summer of 1937. After short factory trials, on 15 August 1937 it was given to the Army for evaluation, along with the light tank PZIn. 140 (4TP) prototype. During a demonstration in Beniaminowo, on 2 October, the tank showed ability of swimming in the lake, driven by the designer. From 5 November it took part in a trial called "Autumn 1937", on a route of 1861 km, on the Polish south-eastern territories, in difficult terrain (from Warsaw through Brest (W), Volkovysk (W), Pinsk (W), Lutsk (W), Lww (Lviv), Buchach (W), Stryi (W), urawica (W), Lublin to Warsaw). Also other prototypes were proved in this trial, among others the light tank 4TP and the tractor PZIn.152. The swimming tests were carried out in Liubiaz' lake and in the Pina river near Pinsk. The general evaluation of the tank was high. The tank had good power-to-weight ratio, it was fast and it rode very well off-road and on swampy terrain. It proved big reliability, and its maintenance was easy. After the trial it was sent back to the PZIn. workshops to apply some repairs and improvements. The trials revealed only few faults of a gearbox and water pumps, and bad quality of return rollers and tracks. Too soft suspension caused rocking, and made impossible a relatively efficient fire on the move. All these faults, however, were insignificant and easy to be eliminated. After improvements, the tank took part in another trial in May 1938 in Vilnius (W) - Biaa Podlaska (W) area, filled with forests (800 km), and in manoeuvres in August near Tarnopol (W) (722 km), without serious breakdowns.

PZIn.130 captured by the Germans, in winter of 1939/40.

The last trials of the prototype were carried out in May 1939. During all tests, it rode over 3500 km without major breakdowns (other source: 4200 km[2]). In a meantime, however, Polish Main Staff gave up the idea of an amphibious tank, thus cancelling the PZIn.130 programme (the same fate was of the 4TP light tank design). Despite it appeared a successful design of a modern light amphibious tank, it was a right decision, that such a special tank was not necessary for the Polish forces, always lacking of funds. Its thin armour would be vulnerable to most anti-tank means, without possibility of much improvement in this field due to weight limits. On the other hand, its swimming capabilities would be rarely useful, especially, that the main aggressor appeared to be Nazi Germany. All in all, the PZIn.130 remained one of the most interesting - and undoubtedly, attractively-looking, Polish armoured vehicles.

The prototype was sent to the Experimental Workshop in Ursus. It could not be used in combat in 1939, for it was not armed, and possibly not properly armoured. A newly revealed (2010) photo confirmed, that it was captured by the Germans in Ursus (there were earlier doubts as for its fate). Its final disposition however is not known.





PZIn.130 Polish tank prototype
PZIn.130 Polish tank prototype

Armament and armour

Armament:

The only prototype of the amphibious tank PZIn.130 was not armed. The turret was probably adapted from the second variant of an unsuccessful light tank TKW (basing upon the tankette TK). The PZIn.130 was to be armed with one 7.92 mm machine gun, probably a standard air-cooled wz.25 Hotchkiss machine gun, or a water-cooled wz.30 machine gun, in an universal ball mounting. However, it was planned to modify the turret and arm it with one 20 mm automatic gun wz.38 FK-A. The ammunition stock was to be 200 gun rounds or 2500 MG rounds.

Armour:

The armour of riveted rolled plates:
- hull: front and sides - 8 mm, back - 6-8 mm, top and bottom - 4 mm;
- turret: 8 mm.

It is not clear, if the prototype was made of armour or, more likely, regular steel.



Description

Polish PZIn.130 tank
Sketch of PZIn.130 (drawing Janusz Magnuski [1])

Hull: riveted of armour plates. The crew compartment was on a left side, the engine compartment on a right side of the hull. The crew was two: driver and commander-gunner. The driver's seat was in front of the crew compartment, to his right there was a transmission. Before the driver there was an one-part hatch (smaller, than in 4TP, since an upper front armour plate was closer to horizontal). The hatch could be lowered onto the upper front armour plate. The hatch had a small openable vision port, with a vision slot and probably a periscope in it. The driver also had a modern reversible periscope above his head. Above the crew compartment there was an one-man turret, offset to the left, with the commander's seat. The turret had a two-leaf door in the rear wall and a hatch on the roof, covering also ventilation slots. A turret traverse was manual. Probably the tank was not to be fitted with a radio.

Engine - PZIn.425: petrol, 4-stroke, V8, power output: 95 HP at 3600 rpm, displacement: 3880 cm³, water-cooled, bore diameter 82mm, stroke 92mm (in sources [1] and [3] the engine is incorrectly described as inline 6-cylinder).
Fuel tank - at the rear, capacity about 210 l (160 l - source [2]).

Transmission - dry multi-disc main clutch, mechanical gearbox, 4 forward gears, 1 reverse gear, side clutches with band brakes, side drives. A 3-blade propeller was driven independently of the tracks. The tracks could run as well along with a propeller, what made easier riding into and out of the water, and moving in a shallow water. The steering in water was maintained by a movable ring propeller cover.

Suspension: drive sprocket in the front, idler at the rear. Paired bogey-type suspension. On each side four single roadwheels, rubber-rimmed, blocked in bogeys by two. The roadwheels were suspended on individual suspension arms, sprung by torsion bars or torsion pipes. Each pair of wheels in a bogey had one horizontal hydraulic shock absorber. There were two return rollers on each side.
  Single-pin, twin spur metal tracks, each made of 76 links. Link width 260 mm, pitch about 100 mm, length of track on the ground 2.1 m, track 1.8 m. The track links had holes for the lightening of the weight.


Camouflage

The prototype was probably painted all in brown-green. Serial tanks would be painted in a standard camouflage scheme of three colours: greyish sand and dark brown (sepia) over brown-green (base color). The patches were airbrushed, with soft transitions, the shapes were horizontal mainly. The interior was painted in sand (read more on camouflage on the tankettes page).


PZIn.130 Polish tank prototype
PZIn.130 with 20 mm cannon - courtesy of © Thierry Vallet - Kameleon Profils

Specifications:

Crew 2
Combat weight 3920 kg
Length 422 cm
Width 208 cm
Height 188 cm
Ground clearance 32 cm
Maximum speed on road / on water 60 / 7-8 km/h (61 / 10 - [2])
Road / off-road range 360 / 242 km
Max. steepness 38°
Crossing ditches 180 cm
Power /weight ratio 24.2 KM/t
Ground pressure 0.35 kg/cm² (0,034 MPa)
Fuel consumption (on road) about 58-66 l/100 km
Fuel consumption (1 hour swimming) 9 l (source?)


Models

Scale model kits of the amphibious tank PZIn.130:

1/35:
1/25 (paper):


Sources:
1. Janusz Magnuski: "Czogi rozpoznawcze PZIn.-130 i PZIn.-140"; Nowa Technika Wojskowa nr. 11/1993 (main source).
2. Piotr Zarzycki: "Czog pywajcy PZIn. 130"; Mody Technik nr. 8/1986.
3. Janusz Magnuski: "Czog pywajcy PZIn. 130"; Nowa Technika Wojskowa nr. 3/2005.


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Text copyright © Michal Derela, 2002-2010.