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  © Michal Derela, 2000-2011 Updated: 12. 1. 2011

Armoured cars Peugeot in the Polish service

Peugeot platoon on manoeuvres in 1932
Peugeot platoon on manoeuvres in Biedrusk, 1932. The vehicle on the foreground, nr. 1116, named 'Jadwiga', is armed with a 37mm gun. The second (probably 'Wanda') also has a gun. [2]

History - Usage - Armament and armour - Construction - Camouflage - Specifications - Models

Eighteen French Peugeot armoured cars of World War I vintage, bought in 1920, were the main Polish armoured car type through the 1920s. Later they were used by the Police, and some even saw combat against the Germans in 1939.

Note: (W) means external links to relevant Wikipedia articles. Some photos may be enlarged.


History:

The first few armoured cars on Peugeot chassis were built in France in August 1914. There was no standard model at first, so the first cars differed in chassises, armour and armament. Most were armed with 8mm machine gun, so they were designated as: AM (Automitrailleuse) in French ("Auto-machine gun"). In late 1914, French Army decided to work out a standard armoured car type.
Polish Peugeot armoured car
Polish MG-armed Peugeot nr. 1120, in the 1920s.
Two similar vehicles were designed: AM Renault 20CV mod. E1 (MG-armed), and AC Peugeot 18CV. Peugeot was armed with 37mm gun, so it was designated as Autocannon (AC) in French. It was built upon the chassis of Peugeot 146 or 148 cars[1] (according to other sources, Peugeot 153[2]). Some 120 of AM Renault, and some 150 of AC Peugeot were ordered. Their armoured hulls were designed by Cpt. Reynaud. Because the hulls of both armoured car types were very similar, and the armament was interchangeable, soon their armament got mixed in service and Peugeots became Automitrailleuse as well. The first Peugeot gun cars were sent to the front in January 1915 (to the 6th and the 7th Armoured Car Groups, assigned to the 7th Cavalry Division, and the 1st Cavalry Corps). After the war, the French Army had 28 Peugeot cars left[1]. A couple of cars were given to Denikin's White Russian units[1]. Then few French cars were used in fighting in Morocco in 1920. In 1923, one car was rebuilt experimentally with Kegresse half-tracked chassis.

At that time, Poland was at war with the Soviet Russia (W). The situation was difficult, especially in summer 1920, when the Soviet offensive seriously threatened Warsaw. From 1919, the Polish government attempted to buy some armoured cars in France, but only in August 1920 the French agreed to sell 18 Peugeot cars and spare parts. The cars were sent by sea (on a ship "Dorrit") and arrived in Poland in September-October. Only three cars had cannons initially, but subsequently three more were rearmed this way. Finally, Poland had 12 Peugeot armoured cars armed with machine guns, and 6 armed with cannons. The official reports count 18 cars: 16 built on the 146 KC chassis, and the remaining two on the 148 KC chassis. However, there are 19 registration numbers known (810, 812, 815-824, 1114-1116 and 1118-1121)[1]. It is possible, that one vehicle was completed from spare parts. In some publications the vehicle is called Peugeot model 1918[2,3], but it doesn't seem justified, regarding their wartime vintage. According to source [3], the vehicles were post-war improved model. However, it seems, that they must have been original wartime vehicles, because one of them had French Croix de Guerre decoration painted.


Usage:


When the cars arrived in Poland in autumn 1920, they were sent to the Armoured Car Base in Poznań. Contrary to some publications, they did not see combat use in the Polish-Soviet war, which was coming to an end by that time. Soon they formed the 1st (8 cars) and the 2nd (10 cars) Armoured Car Units. During next years, Polish armoured units were reorganized several times, and Peugeot cars were divided among several units, mostly used for training.

Polish Peugeot armoured car, 1926 May Coup
Polish MG-armed Peugeot nr. 829, during the 1926 May Coup in Warsaw, on Plac Trzech Krzyży (Three Crosses Square).
Peugeot with a 37mm gun in early 1930s.
Peugeot with a 37mm gun in early 1930s, during obstacle removing trials. Note a canvas rolled on a roof, and a lack of an anti-ricochet strip. On the left, a wz.28 armoured car is visible.

One Peugeot of the 2nd Squadron, with the second armoured car (probably Peerless), were assigned to the Officer School in Warsaw, at the time of Marshall Józef Piłsudski's coup d'etat in May 1926 (W) (the fights lasted three days, costed up to 400 killed, and ended with Piłsudski's victory and establishment of an authoritary system in Poland named: "the sanation").
  The two armoured cars were used by the government forces, against Piłsudski. The commander of Peugeot, Lt. A. Szymański was killed, unfortunately throwing a hand-grenade, that bounced and fell inside the car... Despite his sacrifice, Pilsudski won.

In the 1920s, Peugeot was the main Polish armoured car type (apart from Fords, of limited combat value, all the rest were less numerous captured vehicles). Soon it appeared, that in spite of a thin armour, the chassis was overloaded, so the main gear had to be strengthened in the CWS workshops. Another drawback was an open crew compartment. In 1930 there appeared an idea of covering the car with an armoured roof, but it was dropped, because it would cause much overload to the chassis. The cars were considered obsolete by then, and in 1928 their replacement with wz.28 halftrack cars started. One Peugeot, no. 1120, got burned and was scrapped. Starting from 1930, the cars were at times lended to the Police, for training and order keeping duties. In 1935, twelve cars were sent to the armoured car company in Bydgoszcz, only as training vehicles. One vehicle (nr. 810) was intended for the Polish Army Museum, but, during renovation it appeared, that it wore French Croix de Guerre (W) decoration painted on a side. The car was to be sent to France as a gift (according to [2] it is possible, that it wasn't sent, because in 1938 it was still in the 5th Armoured Battalion in Cracov). The Polish Museum got another vehicle instead (unfortunately, none of museal cars survived the war). In the end of 1935 all the cars were retired from the Army. In 1937, three cars were to be sold to Portugal Police, but it isn't known, if the transaction succeeded[1].

In late thirties some of the cars were given (or sold?) to the Polish Police, and located in Upper Silesia (Polish industrial province with Katowice city, inhabited by a strong German minority before the war). These cars were used on the first day of World War II. While the German Army crossed Polish borders at dawn of the 1st September 1939, and fought border battles with Polish main forces, the German Freikorps - a well-equipped "5th column", consisting of local German Nazis and saboteurs trained in Germany, attempted at capturing some targets behind the front line. One of them was a power plant in Chorzów town, defended by a poorly equipped Obrona Narodowa (National Defence (W)) company. Police Peugeots supported the defenders in the morning, and managed to repell the agressors. Later that day, one of the Police cars tried to get into "Michał" ("Maxgrube") coal mine in Michałkowice (W) near Chorzow, to support Polish Police and infantry against a strong sabotage group of Sonderformation Ebbinghaus. It was burned with hand grenades, while trying to break a closed gate (the crew, with the commander Cpt. Walenty Fojkis, bailed out, but were injured; the coal mine itself later temporarilly returned to the Polish hands, and the German commander SS-Obersturmbannführer Wilhelm Pisarski was killed).

No cars survived World War II. Recently, a replica of Peugeot armoured car is being built in Poland.


The column of Polish armoured cars.
A platoon of wz.28 armoured cars, followed by a Peugeot platoon of the 1st Armoured Car Unit in Brzesc, 1930 or 1932. The first Peugeot (nr. 1116 'Jadwiga') has 37mm gun, the second - MG. The last ('Wanda') also has a gun. A lead car is a staff Citroën-Kegresse B2 10CV. [2]


Description:

Armament

Three MG-armed Peugeots.
Three MG-armed and one gun-armed Peugeot in a Cavalry School in Grudziadz. In a background, four cars wz.28.
Two Polish Peugeots.
Two cars of the 3rd Squadron in Brzesc, named 'Witold' (1121) and 'Wanda' (1118).

Six Polish Peugeot armoured cars were armed with 37mm wz.18 (SA-18) Puteaux L/21 low velocity gun with 40 rounds (in France there were up to 300 rounds in car)[1]. The rest were armed with one 8mm Hotchkiss wz.14 (Mle.14) MG, with 2500 rounds (in France: up to 6000 rounds). Machine guns were changed to the standard 7.92mm Hotchkiss wz.25 in 1930s[3].
  Both weapons had 360° horizontal angle of fire. The weapons were protected with armoured shields. The shield for a MG was taller (two types), the shield for a gun was lower and deeper. Both weapons (with their shields) could be mounted on either vehicle. One reserve MG (or LMG?) was carried in a vehicle[1] (it is not clear, if it was kept in the Polish service).

Armour

The armour was riveted of rolled steel plates 5.5mm thick. A top of the crew compartment was open. There is no information, if a bottom was armoured.

Construction

Body: the armoured body had a rearwards-opening door on the left side (the opposite side had no door). A driver had a wide window, protected with an armoured hatch. A front plate before the driver was well sloped, which seems to be the reason for a vertical armour strip before it (probably its role was to catch ricochets before hitting the driver's open window). This strip was also a base to mount rear mirrors (also the vehicle's name was often painted on it in the Polish service). A radiator was before an engine, protected with an armoured grill (a visible difference in Renault armoured cars was a radiator after en engine). An open top of the vehicle, with the weapon shield, could be covered with a canvas top - usually it was rolled and fastened above the driver.

Chassis: the body was seated upon a frame, the suspension was on semi-elliptic leaf springs. The car had steel spoked wheels. The tyres were 880x120 (mm?), and there were double wheels at the rear.

Engine: Peugeot 146 (18CV) - 40-45 HP (according to the French data, only 24 HP)[1], 2800 ccm, 4-stroke, 4-cylinder, inline, water-cooled, petrol.
Gearbox: 4 forward gears and 1 reverse gear. Rear axle driven only. Fuel tank - about 45 litres.

Equipment: vehicles had two big headlights before grill, and two smaller ones on hood sides (probably gas lamps; they are seen on rare photos). At least one car (nr. 1114) had also a big searchlight on the right side, before the machine gun. The car wasn't equipped with a radio.

Crew: 4[1] (or 5 - other sources), but the car could take 2-5 soldiers more[1].



Polish camouflaged Peugeot armoured car
Polish camouflaged MG-armed Peugeot nr. 823 during May coup in 1926.

Camouflage

It is difficult to say for sure about a camouflage of Polish Peugeot cars. For most of the time, they were probably just dark green. Looking at most photos, the cars were in uniform colour and have no camouflage pattern visible. There exists a photo of a vehicle camouflaged in a two-colour pattern in mid-1920s. In late 1930s the remaining vehicles could have been repainted in the new standard Army scheme, described in articles on other Polish vehicles.

A nationality sign in mid- and late 1920s was the white and red shield, with slant division line; painted on the side. In the 1930s, the vehicles carried no nationality sign.

Some of the vehicles had their own names, painted on the anti-ricochet strip. This was evident especially in the 3rd Armoured Squadron in Brzesc on the Bug (W) in late twenties. The MG-cars had the names of Polish and Lithuanian kings and princes (1121 "Witold" (W), "Kiejstut"), while gun-cars had female names of queens etc. (1116 "Jadwiga", 1118 "Wanda").


Drawings by Adam Jońca [3]


Specifications:

The data are aproximate in most cases.


Crew 4 (or 5?)
Weight 3,600 - 4,000 kg (other source up to 5,000kg - combat?)
Length about 4.8 m (189 in)
Width 1.8 m (70.8 in)
Height / hull height 2.8 / 1.85 m (110 / 72.8 in)
Hull width about 1.5 m (93.3 in )
Wheelbase 3.5 m (137.8 in)
Ground clearance 250 mm (9.8 in)
Max. road speed about 40-45 km/h (24.8- mph) (reverse - 6 km/h)
Road range 140 km (87 mls)
Fuel consumption up to 30 litres /100 km


Models

Models of Peugeot armoured car:

1/72:

Sources:
1. Janusz Magnuski, "Samochody pancerne Wojska Polskiego 1918-1939", WiS; Warsaw 1993
2. Jan Tarczyński, K. Barbarski, A. Jońca, "Pojazdy w Wojsku Polskim - Polish Army Vehicles - 1918-1939"; Ajaks; Pruszków 1995.
3. A. Jońca, R. Szubański, J. Tarczyński, "Wrzesień 1939 - Pojazdy Wojska Polskiego - Barwa i broń"; WKŁ; Warsaw 1990.

Related links:
-
Peugeot photos at Chars et blindes FRANÇAIS

Updated:


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All the photos and pictures remain the property of their owners. They are published in non-commercial educational and research purpose (the photos are presumably public domain due to their age).
Text copyright to Michal Derela.