Categories
WW2 German Armored Cars

Sd.Kfz.263 6-rad

ww2 german armoured cars Nazi Germany (1935-37) Heavy armored car – 12 – 28 Built

One of the essential elements of the German military doctrine of the Second World War (widely popularized as the ‘Blitzkrieg’) was the excellent and continuous communication between military units. To meet this requirement, the German army built a variety of specialized vehicles intended for maintaining communications, such as the Sd.Kfz.251/6 half-track, Pz.Bef.Wg. III command tank, or Kfz.67a, later known as Sd.Kfz.232 (6-rad). This armored car was the command version of the Sd.Kfz.231 6-rad (earlier known as Kfz.67) and was produced mainly in C.D. Magirus’ workshop.
In the second half of the 1930s (the exact year is unknown), Magirus converted some of its command vehicles into even more specialized cars, improving their communication abilities, at the expense of their fighting abilities. The new vehicle was called Kfz.67b. The number of cars built was very small – some sources (for example, the military historian David Doyle) claims 28 vehicles, while others (for example, www.kfzderwrmacht.de), have a lower claim with only about 12. The production of this 6-wheeled car was stopped in favor of 8-wheeled cars that got the same numbers in Sd.Kfz. classification (231, 232, 263). In 1937, when the new Sd.Kfz.263 (8-rad) was introduced, the Kfz.67b name was changed to Sd.Kfz.263 (6-rad). It was named according to its role: Panzerfunkwagen (eng. armored radio car) or Funkspähwagen (radio observation car).

Sd.Kfz.263 (6-rad) with its crew. The vertical umbrella-looking rod is actually the folded straight antenna, covered by a hood. Photo: World War Photos

Design, In Comparison to the 232

The Sd.Kfz.263 6-rad (not to be confused with the later Sd.Kfz.263 8-rad) was required mainly for the sustaining of communication, not for actual fighting. As such, Magirus removed its weapon – a 20mm KwK30/38 gun – to make more space for radios and their operator in the turret. The only weapon of the modified car was a 7.92 mm MG 13 machine gun which replaced the 20 mm gun in the turret. On the left side of turret (that was previously the place for the machine gun), a small observation hatch was placed. Also, the whole turret was welded to the car’s hull, and the turret rotation system was removed. As the turret was set fixed, the cantilevers of the huge frame antenna (known as “mattress”, ger. “matratze”) were simplified from a tripod to two legs. Also, the shape of the antenna was slightly changed.
Thanks to these modifications, space for a radio and its operator was made. The new radio was a 100-watt FuG 11 SE 100 (or Fug.Spr.Ger.a, that was also used in the Kfz.67a – probably both types were used in Kfz.67b, depending on which specimen). It had a 50 km range for transmitting in Morse code, and 10km range for phone connection. To improve its abilities, the Kfz.67b had an additional straight antenna in the turret – this antenna could have been pulled in and out if necessary. However, it was usually covered under the hood.

Sd.Kfz.263 (6-rad) with an erected straight antenna. The white cross on the armor identifies this photo at the time of the invasion of Poland in September 1939. Photo: panzernet.net
All vehicles were built on the Magirus chassis (all producers of 6-wheeled armored cars had their own suspension versions which differed in details) called M 206p. Characteristics of this suspension were: a frontal axis which receded a little, small casters before the second axis (which helped to pass obstacles), and side skirts between the frontal wheels and the engine’s part of the hull. Also, the back tow-hooks were placed slightly lower, and fenders had longer front parts than in other versions of the chassis. All these details were characteristics of Sd.Kfz.263 (6-rad).
The vehicle had a six-cylinder S 88 engine (70hp) with five gears: four forward and one reverse. As the war unfolded, these vehicles were updated, but exactly when these modifications took place is unspecified. Modifications included: the MG 13 machine-gun was replaced with the MG 34, frontal tow-hook added, and Notek headlight added. The only external characteristics that showed, telling the difference between 6-wheeled Sd.Kfz.263 and 232, are the single machine gun, a straight and short antenna on the turret, and the two-leg mounting of the frame antenna with ‘8’ shaped central part.

Operational History

From 1935 to 1940, the six-wheeled armored cars were used by reconnaissance units in motorized, light, and armored divisions of the Wehrmacht. Three armored divisions were planned to use 22 6-rad armored cars, including 12 in a reconnaissance battalion. It is known that one battalion used two Sd.Kfz. 263s.
All armored car platoons used eight Sd.Kfz.263s (six for six units of radio company + two for two phone companies):

  • 3 Armored Divisions – 22 armored cars including:
    • One reconnaissance battalion – 12 cars,
      • Including 2 Sd.Kfz.263s
    • Armored car platoons – 8 Sd.Kfz.263s
      • Six units of radio company – 6 cars
      • Two units of phone company – 2 cars

This setup for reconnaissance battalions was approved 1st September 1938 (and was still in operation during the invasions of Poland and France) for 1-5th and 10th armored divisions in addition to the 1st and 3rd light divisions.
Also, the 2nd light division had 4 companies of armored cars.
The 4th light division had 3 companies:

  • 2nd light division – 4 companies of armored cars
  • 4th light division – 3 companies of armored cars
  • One company:
    • Three Sd.Kfz.231s
    • Three Sd.Kfz.232s
    • One Sd.Kfz.263

However, six-wheeled cars could have been supplemented in all setups by eight-wheeled armored cars that had the same classification numbers. So the number of 6-wheeled cars in use was smaller than it may seem.


Illustration of the Sd.Kfz.263 6-rad ‘Peterle’ produced by Jarosław ‘Jarja’ Janas, funded by our Patreon campaign.
Another photo of Sd.Kfz.263 (6-rad) in Poland. The white cross is painted only in outline for camouflage reasons – this was a common practice. Photo: World War PhotosSd.Kfz.263s were used – as were other 6-wheeled armored cars – during the annexations of Austria and Czechoslovakia. As these vehicles were fast and impressive-looking, they were one of the first armored vehicles that entered occupied countries. They were also often used in propaganda and parades.
However, during the Polish September Campaign (1939), 6-rad cars suffered mechanical failures, as they had problems off-road and on Polish roads, which were often of very poor quality. To make matters worse for the invaders, armored vehicles were easy prey for anti-tank rifles and cannons. As such, 6-rad Sd.Kfz.231s and 232s were withdrawn from frontline duties to policing or training units after the invasion of France (June 1940). However, Sd.Kfz.263s (6-rad) were still in use (as its limitations were forgivable for vehicles destined mainly for communication, not fighting). These armored cars were still in use in 1941 during the Balkan Campaign and in Operation Barbarossa. However, after the invasion of the USSR started, Sd.Kfz.263s (6-rad) were no longer used.

Specifications

Dimensions 5.57 x 1.82 x 2.87m (18.3 x 5.1 x 9.5 ft)
Total weight, battle ready 5.7 tonnes
Crew 4 (commander, gunner, driver, co-driver)
Propulsion Magirus 206p (65-70 HP)
Speed (on/off road) 65-70 km/h (40-43 mph)
Armament 7.92mm MG 13 or MG 34 machine-gun, 1500 rounds
Operational maximum range 250-300 km (155-286 miles)
Total production 12 – 28

Sources

Standard Catalogue of German Military Vehicles, by David Doyle, copyright for the Polish edition, 2012, Vesper, Poznań
Kolekcja Wozów Bojowych magazine, nr. 23: Sd.Kfz. 231 (6-rad), Oxford Educational sp.z o.o.
www.kfzderwehrmacht.de
www.1939.pl
www.panzernet.net

Categories
Polish fake AFVs

CP Armoured Tractor

Poland (1939)
Artillery Tractor – Fake tank

The CP armored tractor is a plastic model kit produced by the Polish RPM company. According to the story mentioned in the model instruction:
“When reinforcing the armored units with heavy weapons, the Polish army planned to design cannon-armed vehicles able to provide direct support during an attack. The result was the TKD. It was based on the TK chassis, armed with a 47mm “Pocisk” cannon mounted in a half-armored emplacement. After performing trials of the prototype, a small series was produced. As the “Pocisk” cannon was not used by the Polish army, in order to standardize the armament, the guns were dismounted and, according to unconfirmed information, sold to China. The vehicles were converted to tractors for the wz.1897 field cannons with a modified chassis (rubber wheels).”
During the Second World War, a number of tanks and other armored vehicles were disarmed and used as carriers. The best examples are the Allied ‘Kangaroo’ vehicles used as tracked APCs or German ammo carriers (like the Munitionsträger Hummel) which were just disarmed self-propelled guns. The CP armored tractor is such a converted tractor, but fictional. It is based on the real TKD self-propelled gun but without armament. The disarmed TKDs are claimed to have been slightly modified and assigned to tow the 75mm wz.1897 cannons (the version with rubber wheels).

The box art of the RPM model kit of the CP armored Tractor.
The wz.1897 was actually a French mle. 1897 gun that was used by the Polish army – it was one of the most popular cannons in the army of Second Polish Republic. Some of these guns were improved with tyred wheels, however, most of them had wooden spoked wheels. These guns were towed by horses or by C4P half-tracks. The wz.1897s were used in the September Campaign during all significant battles, frequently in an anti-tank role.
There is no reliable source that confirms the existence of a vehicle called “CP”. Also, no such conversions of TKDs are mentioned in literature. However, TKD self-propelled guns were used in 1938 (during the annexation of Zaolzie) and later probably in the September Campaign (in defense of Warsaw). Moreover, a photo from September 1939 show an abandoned TKD without its cannon – so it is possible that some TKDs were really disarmed and used as tractors or carriers. However, they also might have just been disarmed to prevent the invading Germans from using them. Also, the kit shows a plate being bolted or riveted over the gun aperture, which is also missing from the vehicle in the picture. This plate would have been hard to remove (and for little gain) or to have been blown out if the vehicle was destroyed.

A TKD self-propelled gun abandoned on the side of a road with its gun missing, probably in September 1939. However, it doesn’t look like the fake CP armored tractor – Source: odkrywca.pl.
Thus, a second life of the TKDs as disarmed carriers is possible. Nevertheless, the existence of the claimed “CP” type vehicles can be declared as fiction, as nothing confirms the other changes shown in the model kit, apart from the cannon disarmament.

Modifications

The main difference from the TKD is, of course, the lack of a gun. Its place in the frontal armor is covered with a riveted armor panel. The vehicle has two headlights, one on each side, not only on the left (like on the TKD). Moreover, the CP has a hook at the back of hull, used to tow the cannon. However, this hook looks a little too fragile for something destined for towing a cannon weighing about 1.5 tonnes.
The only armament of the CP is a machine-gun placed on the left side of the hull for self-defense, on the standard stand, known from regular Polish tankettes (TK-3 and TKS). It is a 7.92mm wz.25 machine gun, however, the kit also includes a 7.92 wz.30 machine-gun. Both of these were used in Polish vehicles against aircraft or infantry attacks.

In Retrospect

The CP is certainly a fictional vehicle, however, its design could have been pretty successful. The similarity to the British Universal Carrier or French Renault UE tankette is clearly visible. These vehicles were very useful support vehicles, being used until late in the war. The CP, as the Polish counterpart of Universal Carrier, could have been a good multi-role support vehicle, as the TK3 on which it was based was a decent vehicle. The German army kept using captured TK vehicles even in 1944 – and mainly as tractors and carriers.
It is uncertain if the CP could have been a suitable tractor for the wz.1897 cannon. Unlike the real C4P, the fictional CP had no space for the wz.1897 cannon’s crew nor for its ammo. Also, it was certainly underpowered if it was meant to tow a 1.5 tonne gun. The specialized C2P tractor was able to tow wz.1897, but it was a purpose-built tractor – the CP is portrayed as an improvised vehicle. The C2P had a strengthened chassis and a solid towing hook.

A built model of the CP armored tractor – Source: karopka.ru


Illustration of the fake CP tractor by Tank Encyclopedia’s own Bernard “Escodrion” Baker

Sidenote: Tractors in the TK family

The Polish specialized tankette-based tractor was the C2P. Designed in 1932 and based on the TKS tankette, it had an improved chassis with new side clutches and bigger wheels at the back. Initially, the Polish army rejected this machine (in favor of a horse rig). However, it was later used especially for the 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft gun. Unfortunately, the low budget of the Polish army hindered modernization effort and precluded the C2P from being used with other types of cannons. The production that started in 1937 was stopped by the war. The German army gladly used captured C2Ps. These tractors were used on all fronts to the end of the war.

C2P tracked tractor – Source: Public domain, taken from Wikipedia
During 1930s, Polish engineers designed special trailers to be towed by tankettes. One type of trailers – with tracks – was designed for spare parts. The second type – wheeled – was designed for barrels of fuel and oil. Another trailer was designed for the RKD long-range radio and a crew of 4 men. The actual use in service of these trailers is barely known.

TK3 tankette with a tracked trailer – Source: Derela Republika
The German army used captured TK tankettes for reconnaissance, against guerillas and sometimes just as support vehicles. These vehicles were used on all fronts until the end of the war. Sometimes, they were further modified by Germans. Some photos show a TKS with a simplified gun mount or a TK-3 reworked into a tractor very similar to the C2P.

A very interesting vehicle, this is not a C2P armored tractor. It is a TK3 tankette that has had its armor cut out and a windshield installed by the Germans – Source: Derela Republika

Specifications

Dimensions L-W-H 3 x 1.7 x n/a m
Crew 2
Propulsion Polski FIAT 122AC 6 cyl, 42 hp
Speed 40 km/h
Armament Wz.25 or wz.30 (both 7,92mm) machine gun

Links, Resources & Further Reading

www.super-hobby.com
derela.republika.pl (1)
derela.republika.pl (2)
Wrzesień 1939 magazine, nr. 3, FIRST TO FIGHT Sp.z o.o., Warsaw
Wrzesień 1939 magazine, nr. 33, FIRST TO FIGHT Sp.z o.o., Warsaw

Fake CP Armored TractorFake CP Armored Tractor prints

By Bernard “Escodrion” Baker

Prints of the Fake Polish CP Armored Tractor

Buy this print on RedBubble!

Categories
WW2 Polish Prototypes

wz.31

Poland (1931)
Armored car – None Built

By the early 1930s, the Polish army still didn’t have any type of reconnaissance vehicle that was truly successful. The main armored car (actually a half-track vehicle) was the wz.28, which had a lot of imperfections, like weak armor and armament. The new wz.29 ‘Ursus’ (as these vehicles were produced at the “Ursus” Mechanical Works in Warsaw) was also far from satisfying. Although the wz.29 was well armed and armored, its maximum speed was too low and it had problems off-road. Moreover, the wz.29 was only produced in small numbers.
A new project was started, with the aim of creating a successful armored car for the needs of the Polish Army. In 1930, the Polish PZInż (Państwowe Zakłady Inżynieryjne – the National Institution of Engineering) company (also responsible for later projects like PZInż 220 – the prototype of the famous 7TP) reached an agreement with the Swiss Adolphe Saurer S.A. company for the production and selling of Swiss cars and trucks under licence. The 6×4 chassis of one of the Swiss trucks was a good basis for the new armored car. The project was developed by the designers at BK Br.Panc.WIBI. (pol. Biuro Badań Technicznych Broni Pancernej Wojskowego Instytutu Badań Inżynierii; Armoured Weapons Construction Bureau of the Army Engineer Research Institute). As the final design was ready in 1931, the new project received the designation ‘wz.31’ – ‘wzór 1931’, ‘the specimen 1931’. This name is also shared with a type of helmet, so it can be easily be mistaken on a list of items for example.

Illustration of wz.31 by Janusz Magnuski – it’s currently the only one picture of this armored car. However, it’s imperfect, as this wz.31 has not 37 mm cannon in the turret and front machine gun in the hull. Photo: dobroni.pl

Design and Armament

Unfortunately, today the design of the wz.31 is mostly forgotten, as this project was quickly abandoned during the invasion and all of the wz.31 blueprints were destroyed during World War II. The only existing image of the project is the one created by Polish historian Janusz Magnuski. In his picture, the wz.31 does not have the front machine gun and the turret has no cannon. In Magnuski’s drawing, the wz.31 is looking similar to the German 6-wheeled Sd.Kfz.231 (6-rad) or the Soviet BA-10. However, a number of sources have survived.
The general design was based on the previous wz.29, as it was well armored and armed for its time. The chassis of the wz.31 was derived from a truck created by the Swiss Adolphe Saurer S.A. company. Unfortunately, the exact type of truck is unknown. The vehicle had 6 wheels and the rear two axles were powered by the engine. The car probably had 4 forward gears and one reverse. The engineers designed two types of the engines: a four-stroke, 6-cylinder straight engine providing 100 horsepower and a four-stroke, 6-cylinder diesel engine with 84 hp. Both of the engine types were equipped with a liquid cooling system. They were produced by Saurer. The wz.31 had two driving positions: one in the front and one in the back of the vehicle. Internal communication was provided by an interphone.
The main armament was placed in the turret, which was the same as on the wz.29. The turret had 2 machine guns. One of them was fired through the roof of the turret, providing anti-aircraft fire, while another one was placed facing the rear-left of the turret. The previous wz.29 ‘Ursus’ was also armed with one 37 mm cannon. The weapons were placed asymmetrically, at an angle of 120 degrees in order to provide more space. Moreover, the wz.31 could have had one machine gun in the back of the hull (like the wz.29) and one in the front (with space for a machine gun operator alongside the driver). The machine guns were wz.25s (Polish version of the French Mle 1914 Hotchkiss) and the cannon was also French, the SA-18 Puteaux 37mm.

Wz31 artist impression by David Bocquelet
wz.31 artist impression by David Bocquelet

The rejection

The project of the new heavy armored car was rejected quickly, despite all the mentioned advantages. The army didn’t even bother to build a prototype and so the wz.31 remained only as a paper project. The main reason for the wz.31’s rejection was simple – the cost of building it was too high. One wz.31 cost 160,000 Polish złotys, with 99,000 for armament and zł61,000 for chassis and hull. For comparison, the construction of one TKS tankette cost just zł47,800. Moreover, the quite expensive, but rather weak anti-tank armament of the wz.31 was evaluated as ineffectual. The modern armored car needed a more powerful anti-tank gun, not numerous anti-infantry weapons. The new vehicle was also deemed to be too big and heavy.
There can also be another reason for the wz.31’s failure. In 1930, the heavy armored car was displaced from its role as a scout vehicle by tankettes. The production of the TK-3 tankette started in 1931.
Unfortunately, in 1939, the Army of the Second Polish Republic was still lacking a satisfying armored car, as the wz.34 produced in 1934 still had a lot of imperfections.

wz.31 specifications

Dimensions 7 x 2.08 x 2.6 m (23 x 6.8 x 8.5 ft)
Total weight 7.8 tons
Crew 5
Propulsion Straight (100hp) or diesel (84hp) engine, 6-cyl, Saurer
Maximum speed 55-60 km/h (30 – 37mph)
Armament 37mm Puteaux SA-18 + 4 x 7,92mm wz.25
Armor 5 – 12 mm (0.1 – -0.4 in)

Links, Resources & Further Reading

www.weu1918-1939.pl
“Samochody pancerne Wojska Polskiego 1918-1939”, Janusz Magnuski; WiS; Warszawa 1993
dobroni.pl
‘Pojazdy w Wojsku Polskim – Polish Army Vehicles – 1918-1939’, Jan Tarczyński, K. Barbarski, A. Jońca; Ajaks; Pruszków 1995.
‘Wrzesień 1939 – Pojazdy Wojska Polskiego – Barwa i broń’; A. Jońca, R. Szubański, J. Tarczyński; WKŁ; Warszawa 1990
‘’Broń strzelecka i sprzęt artyleryjski formacji polskich i WP w latach 1914-1939’ A.Kontankiewicz; Wyd. Uniwersytetu M. Curie-Skłodowskiej; Lublin 2003
derela.republika.pl

Categories
WW2 German Half Tracks

Sd.Kfz.253

ww2 German Tanks Nazi Germany (1939)
Observation vehicle – 285 built

The Sd.Kfz.253 was designed along with the Sd.Kfz.250 light infantry transporter and the Sd.Kfz.252 ammo transporter. However, opposed to the multifunctional Sd.Kfz.250 (and the bigger Sd.Kfz.251), the 253 as well as the 252 were specialized vehicles. Whilst the Sd.Kfz.252 was supplying ammunition to tanks and artillery guns, the 253 was developed mainly for observing and directing friendly cannon fire against enemy targets. The Sd.Kfz.253 fitted very well into the German combined arms tactics and was used for cooperation with assault self-propelled guns like the Sturmgeschütz III.

Sd.Kfz.253 on the Eastern Front, October 1941. Photo: SOURCE

Development

From 1937, when the new ‘Sturmgeschütz’ vehicles and their associated tactics were being designed, the army ordered new vehicles to support the assault guns. The new support vehicles needed good protection and the capability to operate in areas with poor or no roads, so they had to be armored and tracked. Initially, the German designers planned to build this type of vehicle using the Panzer I as a base.
The new Sd.Kfz.253 observation vehicle was similar to the Sd.Kfz.250. It was designed as an armored half-track and received the designation number 253 in the army vehicle nomenclature. Later, the vehicle was just referred to as the “Beobachtungswagen” meaning “Observation Vehicle”, or, later, “leichter Gepanzerte Beobachtungswagen” meaning “Lighter Armored Observation Vehicle”.
The prototype was ready in the autumn of 1937. The start of production was planned for 1939, with the first 20 half-tracks built by the end of the year and another eight in January 1940. However, the army was pleased with the new Sd.Kfz.251 half-track and the production of the Sd.Kfz.253 was postponed with just the first 25 units produced in March 1940. After the confirmation that these new half-tracks were successful, the production started in earnest. The last half-tracks of this type were produced in June 1941 with 285 built in total.
The chassis were manufactured by the Demag company of Berlin and Oberschoneweide, with the rest of the vehicle being done by the Wegmann company. After September 1940, the whole production was moved to the Austrian company Gebr. Bohler & Co AG of Kapfenberg. These vehicles were later replaced by special versions of the Sd.Kfz.250 and 251, as the sub-versions met all requirements and were cheaper and easier to manufacture.

Design: In comparison to Sd.Kfz.250

Sd.Kfz.253 was very similar to Sd.Kfz.250 and only the top part of their construction differed. The Sd.Kfz.253 had an enclosed crew compartment. The roof had two hatches; the main hatch was prominent, circular and was placed behind the driver’s station. The hatch could be rotated and it opened in two parts. This hatch also had two small openings which could be used for a periscope and were covered by two flaps when not in use. The second hatch (rectangular) was placed behind the main one and was much simpler. At the rear of the vehicle, on the right side was a simple aerial. A cover ran lengthwise across the right-side of the vehicle roof, which protected the aerial when the vehicle was on the move.

Models of Sd.Kfz.250/1 and Sd.Kfz.253 – this picture allows to compare the designs of this two half-tracks. The differences are clearly visible, with most of them on the roof. Photo: SOURCE
Two radios were available inside the Sd.Kfz.253, an Fu 6 and an Fu 2. A retractable periscope and signal flags were also carried inside. This vehicle had no weapon ports or mounts, but a single machine gun (MG 34 or MG 42) was carried inside for self-defense. The crew was also armed with their own weapons, like grenades or handguns. The armor of the Sd.Kfz.253 ranged between 5.5 and 14.5 mm. However, reports from tests on captured vehicles claim the maximum value was 18 mm.
At least one Sd.Kfz.253 in the North African theater was fitted with a large frame antenna over the roof. There is also a photo of a vehicle mounting a Panzer I turret on top. However, the angle of the photo makes it impossible to tell if it was a Sd.Kfz.250 or a 253.

A Sd.Kfz.250 or 253 mounting a Panzer I turret. Photo: SOURCE


Sdkfz 253 in regular dunkelgrau livery

Sdkfz 253 “Klärchen” in winter livery. Both illustrations are made by Tank Encyclopedia’s own David Bocquelet

Service

According to video sources, the first wartime use of this half-track in the war was in September 1939 – a vehicle, possibly a prototype, was recorded together with tractors and cannons during the crossing of the Bzura river, in the Sochaczew city. During wartime, it was typical for the Wehrmacht to test prototypes on the frontlines (like the Dicker Max self-propelled gun), so the first Sd.Kfz.253 was probably also tested in action. The Sd.Kfz.253 were used in Battle of France, however, their contribution was very small.

Another photo of Sd.Kfz.253 in the eastern front (1/StuG.Abt. 197, Crimea, 1942). The spectacular stripe camouflage is the temporary winter painting, with washable white paint. Photo: SOURCE
The Sd.Kfz.253 was used together with StuG units. In France, these vehicles were only tested, and their career started seriously along with the StuG III. They were in use during the invasion of Yugoslavia and Greece (May 1941) and later in Croatia. During the Balkan Campaign, assault guns (and their support vehicles) proved their effectiveness. Later, these support vehicles were used during Operation Barbarossa (the invasion of the Soviet Union) and in North Africa.
The Sd.Kfz.253 (just like the 252) was used on the frontlines until summer 1943, when the sub-versions of Sd.Kfz.250 and 251 replaced them. Their final great engagement was during the battle of Kursk. However, individual Sd.Kfz.253s still saw sporadic action after this point. It is interesting to note that, on the Eastern Front, these vehicles were sometimes used as ambulances.

The instruction photo of the Sd.Kfz.250/5 interior – the interior of Sd.Kfz.253 was very similar. Photo: SOURCE)

Successors

The Sd.Kfz.250 was initially used to supplement the Sd.Kfz.253, that was in short supply, and a special sub-version Sd.Kfz.250/5 was created for this purpose. It actually had the same interior as the Sd.Kfz.253 with different radios and no armored roof. This sub-version was designed in June 1941. However, the army recognised that their effectiveness was similar to that of the Sd.Kfz.253, but they were cheaper and easier to produce, so this variant began replacing the 253. The total production of Sd.Kfz.250/5 is unknown, however, this vehicle was probably produced to the end of the war (in both versions: Alte and Neu). This sub-version design was divided into two variants, depending on the radios and destinations:
Sd.Kfz.250/5.I: Fu 6 + Fu 2, later Fu 8, Fu 4 and Fu.Spr.Ger.f – destined for artillery units
Sd.Kfz.250/5.II: Fu 12, later Fu 12 + Fu.Spr.Ger.f – destined for reconnaissance units.
Another vehicle meant to replace the Sd.Kfz.253 as an observation vehicle was the Sd.Kfz.251/18, or “mittlerer Beobachtungspanzerwagen”, (“medium Observation Armored Vehicle”) developed in July 1944. This version was equipped with new radios and also observation equipment. Sometimes, this vehicle had an armored writing-desk over the driver’s position. As these vehicles were created at the end of the war, the records about them are quite confusing and the number of built half-tracks is unknown. The Sd.Kfz.251/18 sub-version is divided into four versions (depending on the radio equipment):
Sd.Kfz.251/18.I: Fu 4, Fu 8 and Fu.Spr.Ger.f
Sd.Kfz.251/18.Ia: Fu 4 and Fu 8
Sd.Kfz.251/18.II: Fu 5 and Fu 8
Sd.Kfz.251/18.IIa: Fu 4, Fu 5 and Fu.Spr.Ger.f)

Sd.Kfz.253 Specifications

Dimensions L W H 4.7 x 1.95 x 1.80 m ( ft.in)
Total weight, battle ready 5.7 tons
Crew 4 (Commander, driver, observer and radio-operator)
Propulsion Maybach 6-cyl. water-cooled HL42 TRKM petrol, 99 hp (74 kW)
Top speed 65 km/h (40.4 mph)
Maximum range (on/off road) 320 km (198 miles)
Armament 1 or 2 x 7.92 mm (0.31 in) MG 34 with 1500 rounds
Armor 5.5 to 14 mm (0.22 – 0.57 in)
Production 285

Links, Resources & Further Reading

Standard Catalogue of German Military Vehicles, by David Doyle, copyright for the Polish edition, 2012, Vesper, Poznań
Kolekcja Wozów Bojowych magazine, nr. 62: Sd.Kfz. 252 Leichte Gepanzerte Munitionskraftwagen, Oxford Educational sp.z o.o.
Sd.Kfz.253 on Achtung Panzer

Categories
WW2 Polish Tankettes

TKF

Poland (1933)
Tankette – 18-22 built

Improving the TK-3

From 1931 to 1934, the TK-3 tankette was the main tankette in Polish service. This small vehicle evolved from the TK-2 prototype, which in turn was derived from the British Carden-Loyd Mark VI tankette. Tankettes were a fad of the interwar period, small, fast vehicles, limited by thin armor and weak armament.
The original TK-3 tankette.
The original TK-3 tankette. Notice the mounting for the rear idler, the teething on the drive wheel and also the front mounting of the external suspension bar.
Polish designers, seeking to improve the TK-3, built several prototypes trying to improve various aspects of the tankette concept. These prototype vehicles were the TKW (turreted), TKD (47 mm/1.85 in gun), TKS (different construction) and TKF.
The TKF had the most modest upgrades to the TK-3 and consequently, the TKF is often mistaken for the TK-3. The TKF was essentially a standard TK-3 (production number 1221) with a FIAT 122 AC engine.
The American Ford A engine used on the TK-3 was replaced by a more reliable and easier to import engine. The designers chose the Italian FIAT 122 AC engine, as it was already being produced in Poland with a license. The first prototype of the new tankette, designated the TKF (abbreviation of “TK-with-Fiat”), was ready in 1931 (other sources state 1932).
In 1933, more TK-3 tankettes were converted. The final number of TKFs built is reported to be somewhere between 18 and 22 tankettes. This number is often mistakenly included in the total number of TK-3 tankettes.
The success of the FIAT engine in the TKF resulted in its usage in another tankette, the TKS. In 1935, when the TKS tankette was already in production, the designers upgraded the existing TKF tankettes with the suspension and tracks of the TKS. The trial was successful, and plans were made to convert all Polish TK-3 tankettes into TKFs. However, similar to later prototypes, like the TKS-B, upgrading the tankettes was rejected as too expensive (then tankettes were mainly used for reconnaissance).
The improved TKS tankette. The different hull shape and MG mount are immediately noticeable.
The improved TKS tankette. The different hull shape and MG mount are immediately noticeable. The suspension changes are more subtle. The drive wheel is different, as is the mounting for the idler and the front mounting for the external suspension bar.

Improvements

The initial and most important upgrade of the TKF was the new engine. The FIAT 122 AC produced 42 hp, in comparison to 40 hp of the Ford A. It allowed the TKF to achieve a slightly better maximum speed of 46 km/h (29 mph). Moreover, the new engine was smaller than the Ford A.
In 1935, the TKF tankettes got their only visually-distinctive modifications, when their suspension was modified with elements from the TKS. The idler wheel (on the rear) received a new, stronger mounting (and more circular in shape). The front drive wheel implemented improved teething and other features of the suspension were strengthened. The upgraded TKFs also had broader tracks for improved traction. The designers modified other parts as well, including the gearbox, brakes, steering wheel, gas levers, clutch, radiator, fan, manual starter and electric installation (from 6 to 12 V).
The only surviving TKF in the Belgard Military Museum.
The only surviving TKF in the Belgard Military Museum. While the plaque says it is a TK-3 and it clearly has the TK-3 hull, the suspension details clearly show it is actually a TKF – Source: Wikimedia


TK-3 in Green livery for comparison (twice the normal scale)

TKF (twice the normal scale)

TKF in action

The only Polish unit confirmed to have used TKFs was the 10th Motorized Cavalry Brigade (created in 1921). However, according to some sources, not all the TKF tankettes were part of this unit and some served in other units.
In September 1939, the 10th Motorized Cavalry (using their tankettes) engaged the German army near Jordanów, during their march to Lwów (Lviv). When the Soviets also invaded Poland on September 17, creating a new eastern front, the 10th Motorized Cavalry Brigade was ordered to move southwest and cross the Hungarian border. On the 22nd of September, the 10th Motorized Cavalry Brigade arrived in Hungary and surrendered their equipment to the Hungarian army, including 9 surviving TK-3s and TKFs (exact number of TKFs is unknown, as they are commonly mistaken for TK-3s). Some TKFs may have been captured and used by German and Soviet armies, but this has not been confirmed.
The same TKF in the Belgrade Military Museum
The same TKF in the Belgrade Military Museum. The suspension details are different from those on the TK-3 tankette and identical to a TKS –
Source: Wikimedia

The Hungarian Army used the Polish tankettes and later supplied them to the Croatian Army. Afterward, the Croats used the tankettes against communist Yugoslav guerrillas. In March of 1944, one TKF was captured by Yugoslav soldiers and later placed in the Military Museum in Belgrade. This is the only known TKF that survived the war.

Links

On Derela Republika
The TKF on Wikipedia (Polish)

TKF specifications

Dimensions 2.58 x 1.78 x 1.32 m (8.46×5.84×4.33 ft)
Total weight, battle ready 2.4 tons
Crew 2 (commander/MG-gunner, driver)
Propulsion Polish FIAT 122AC/B 6 cyl, 42/46 hp
Speed 46 km/h (29 mph)
Range (road/off road)/consumption 200-100 km (124-62 mi) -60 l/100 km
Armament Hotchkiss wz. 25 7.92 mm (0.3 in) machine-gun
Armor From 3 to 8 mm (0.12-0.31 in)
Ammunition 1800 rounds
Total production 18-22
For information about abbreviations check the Lexical Index
Categories
WW2 Polish Prototypes

14TP

Poland (1939)
Medium/Cruiser Tank – 1 incomplete prototype

Sources and lack thereof

The 14TP (14-Tonne-Polish) is an obscure and scarcely documented Polish prototype tank designed in the late 1930s, but likely destroyed before it was completed during the German invasion.
Most of the information regarding the 14TP comes from Janusz Magnuski, a Polish historian. The earliest mention of the 14TP in his work (to our knowledge) is in his 1964 book, Wozy Bojowe 1914-1964 (Combat Vehicles 1914-1964). Most of the information in this article either comes directly from Magnuski’s work or from articles based on his work. Almost all available articles on the 14TP typically do not reference primary documents. Original sources from the Polish Central Military Archive are mentioned in the “Czolg Poscigowy 10TP” (10TP Cruiser Tank) article by Tomasz Koch from the 1997/1 edition of the Militaria Polish magazine, but they are not publicly accessible and cannot be verified.
The sources mentioned in the “Czolg Poscigowy 10TP” (10TP Cruiser Tank) article by Tomasz Koch in Militaria 1997/1
The sources mentioned in the “Czolg Poscigowy 10TP” (10TP Cruiser Tank) article by Tomasz Koch in Militaria 1997/1
This lack of available primary sources demands caution and scrutiny when discussing the 14TP project (especially given the growing trend of fake design and dubious information regarding Polish tanks with connection to online tank games).
However, there are certain indications that the 14TP prototype did in fact exist. The project, as described in most sources, is plausible and in-line with the general Polish armor design tendencies. In contrast, some of the modern fake designs that are circulating around the Internet appear to have been created with the express intent of featuring in online tank games, with all the associated exaggerations and disregard for historical design trends.
Furthermore, Janusz Magnuski is a reputed and respected historian, and there is little reason to suspect him of having fabricated the 14TP.
These being said, it is the author’s opinion that the 14TP was a real project, however some of the information should be taken with reservations until primary sources emerge from the Polish archives.
The only publicly available, possibly original source relating to the 14TP appeared in 2009 on the odkrywca.pl forum. It is a photo of a document bearing the stamp of the Polish Central Military Archive (CAW) and features the Czołg Lekki Polski (Light Polish Tank). The vehicle strongly resembles the 10TP, and the specifications presented match the claimed ones for the 14TP, including the Maybach 300 hp engine, the 14 tonne weight, 50 km/h speed, 30 mm maximum armor and armament. However, the values for the weight and the speed of the vehicle indicate possible tampering, either on the document itself or afterwards. It is possible this is a contemporary change too but only examination of the actual document would clear this up.
The document showing the Czołg Lekki Polski. The values for the weight and the speed show signs of possible tampering.
The document showing the Czołg Lekki Polski. The values for the weight and the speed show signs of possible tampering.

Origins

According to Magnuski, the 14TP was designed simultaneously with the 10TP “convertible” tank. However, in contrast to its lighter ‘brother’, the heavier 14TP was designed from scratch as a tracked-only tank, without the ability to run directly on its wheels.
A traditional tracked chassis allowed the designers to give up the complicated systems made necessary by the convertible drive. As the changed chassis was stronger, the 14TP tank could be made heavier. A 14-ton weight was recommended for the tank, with a maximum of 35 mm of armor and a maximal speed of approximately 50 km/h. Later, the maximum armor value increased to 50 mm. For comparison, the lighter tank 10TP had 20 mm maximal armor.
Two line drawings supposed to be the 14TP - Source: Poligon magazine, 2010/1
Two line drawings supposed to be the 14TP – Source: Poligon magazine, 2010/1
The 14TP project was carried out by designers from the Biuro Badań Technicznych Broni Pancernych (BBTBrPanc, Armored Weapons Technical Research Bureau) and Państwowe Zakłady Inżynierii (PZInż, National Institution of Engineering).

Engine

In order to propel the 14-ton tank to a top speed of 50 km/h, the 14TP needed a powerful engine in the 300-400 horsepower range. The American LaFrance petrol engine, used in the 10TP, could not reach these requirements. The Polish PZInż R.W.A. was a candidate but was still in testing at that time, so its operability was under question.
The designers instead decided to buy a suitable engine from Nazi Germany. The purchase of the Maybach HL108 engine, as used by the Sd.Kfz.9, was discussed between Polish and German representatives, but the negotiations were supposedly hindered by Germany. By September 1939, this matter was still not resolved and the 14TP apparently never received an engine at all.
The Maybach HL 108 engine
The Maybach HL 108 engine


Illustration of the 14TP by Jarosław Janas

Armament

The main armament specified for the 14TP was the 37mm wz.36 cannon which was the primary Polish anti-tank weapon of that time. The wz.36 gun was based on a gun produced by the Bofors Swedish company and, in 1936, Poland purchased a large number of the guns and a license to produce them locally.
The wz.36 cannon in its towed version. The wz.36 cannon in its towed version.
The wz.36 cannon in its towed version.
The wz.36 cannon in its towed version.
The 37mm wz.36 cannon was the main armament of 7TP light tank, as well as for the 10TP and a few other vehicles. During the 1939 September campaign, it was still a very effective weapon, and able to effectively combat any of the German tanks of the time.
However, Polish designers, according to Magnuski, also planned an alternative armament, the 47mm wz.39 gun. The wz.39 was a new weapon with its only prototype built in April 1939, but the plans to equip the 14TP tank with it remained at the blueprint stage.

The two versions of the 47 mm wz.39 gun – Source: Wielki Leksykon Uzbrojenia T.108: Prototypy Sprzetu Artyleryjskiego cz.1
The anti-infantry armament of 14TP originally consisted of two 7.92 mm wz.30 machine guns. This was an unlicensed copy of the American Browning machine gun and also used on the 7TP, 10TP, TKS and TKW prototype tankettes.
The Polish wz.30 machine-gun
The Polish wz.30 machine-gun
This light armament was later planned to be replaced with two 7.92 Typ C machine guns, but never implemented.
A line drawing of the Typ-C 7.92 mm machine-gun prototypeA photo of the Typ C machine-gun
The 7.92 mm Typ C machine-gun prototype

Fate

The 14TP prototype was allegedly approximately 60% finished when the Second World War began. When the invasion started, the prototype was located in the Experimental Workshop of BBTBrPanc and PZInż in Chechowice, near Warsaw. All plans and the uncompleted prototype of the 14TP were likely destroyed, probably by its designers, who wanted to save it from capture by the German invaders. As a result, both the design and precise specifications of 14TP are lost.
‘What-if’ reconstruction of the 14TP tank by WoT forum user Raznarok.
A very liberal ‘what-if’ reconstruction of the 14TP tank by WoT forum user Raznarok. The vehicle sports the 37 mm wz.36 gun, the Typ C 7.92 mm machine-guns and a turret with a widened rear section. This drawing is an artistic interpretation of the 14TP based on what little information exists.

The Polnischer Panzerkampfwagen T-39

Any discussion of the 14TP is usually accompanied by a drawing of the ‘Polnischer Panzerkampfwagen T-39.’ It allegedly comes from a German Abwehr (Military Intelligence Service) report regarding developments of the Polish tank industry. Thus, it has been claimed to be the 14TP and is the most widely used when discussing the 14TP.
However, the Polnischer Panzerkampfwagen T-39 bears no resemblance to the 10TP, on which the 14TP was most likely based. Also, a document has appeared, claiming to be the original Abwehr source. This document is certainly fabricated. The T-39 and its drawing are also almost assuredly fakes.
The Polnischer Panzerkampfwagen T-39 drawing that is often cited as the 14TP. It is almost certainly a fake.
The Polnischer Panzerkampfwagen T-39 drawing that is often cited as the 14TP. It is almost certainly a fake.

Sources

“Czołgi Wojska Polskiego 1919-1939” by Janusz Ledwoch (Wydawnictwo Militaria, Warsaw, 2015)
“Czolg Poscigowy 10TP i Czolg Szturmowy 14TP”, Poligon magazine, 2010/1
Modelstory Polish website about the 14TP
Odkrywca.pl Polish forum thread discussing various designs, including the 14TP
14TP on Wikipedia

14TP specifications

Dimensions (assumed) 5.4 x2.5 x2.2 m (17.1 x8.2 x7.2 ft)
Total weight, battle ready 15 tons (33,000 lbs)
Crew 4 (driver, co-driver, commander, gunner)
Propulsion 10 l V12 Mayback HL 108, 300 hp
Suspension Christie suspensions (coil springs, bars)
Speed (road) 50 km/h (30 mph)
Armament 37 mm Bofors wz.36 or 47 mm wz.39 gun
2x 7.62mm wz.30 or 2x 7.92 mm Typ C MGs
Armor Up to 50 mm (1.97 in)
For information about abbreviations check the Lexical Index
Categories
Failed Tanks WW2 Polish Prototypes

WB-10

Poland (1927)
Medium tank – 2 prototypes

The WB-10 (sometimes written W.B.10) was the first tank designed and built in Poland. It was also one of the only Polish interwar armored vehicles that was completely original. Without drawing inspiration from foreign vehicles, as was the case with the TK tankettes or 7TP. The WB-10 was planned as a successor to the French-bought Renaults FT. Unfortunately, the WB-10 was a complete failure and the whole project landed in the dustbin of history.
Very little information has remained to this day. Three photos exist which are speculated to be of the WB-10 prototypes, somewhere near Warsaw in 1939.
A supposed drawing of the vehicle is also widely circulated on the internet, but it is not compatible with the vehicles seen in the two pictures. It has become clear that the vehicle in the drawing is actually the Landsverk BT.150 II, a successor of the Swedish Landsverk L-5, in no way connected to the Polish WB-10.
It is highly important to stress that most of the information with regards to this vehicle should be treated with a healthy dose of skepticism until primary sources can be discovered and shed more light on the curious WB-10.
A Polish Renault FT. This was the only tank in Polish service when the WB-10 was designed - Source: Derela Republika
A Polish Renault FT. This was the only tank in Polish service when the WB-10 was designed – Source: Derela Republika

A new Polish tank

In 1925, the only tanks available to the Polish army were the Renault FTs received in 1919. They were still usable but needed modernizations. The WWI era FT had a lousy maximal speed, a weak armament and had problems with terrain obstacles.
The Polish Army started negotiations with Great Britain over the purchase of British Medium Mark D tanks, but this endeavor failed. Finally, the Army decided that the Polish arms industry should become independent and build its own tanks. So, in 1926, the Polish press announced a contest for a project of a new tank.
The requirements for the new 12-ton design were quite strict
• All-around armor strong enough to resist the 13 mm bullets from 50 meters
• Front and sides strong enough to resist 47 mm shells from 500 meters
• One 47 mm (or higher caliber) cannon
• One 13 mm anti-aircraft machine gun
• One 7.92 mm machine gun for anti-infantry use
• Periscopes giving 360° of vision around the tank
• Engine with a warming and cooling system
• Smoke screen device
• Radio with 10 km range
• Maximal speed ≥ 25 km/h
• Operational range ≥ 200-250 km
• Possibility to ride on 35°- 40° slopes
• Possibility to cross 2.2 meters ditches, 0.8 meters walls and to ford 1 meter of water
• Average ground pressure ≤ 0,50 kg/cm2
The contest entries were underwhelming. As the tank concept was still a novelty, tracked vehicle designers and engineers were rare in Poland. Only three projects were reported – and only one project, the WB-10, designed in cooperation by two companies: S.A.B.E.M.S. and WSABP “Parowóz” (“Steam Locomotive”) received the green light.
Moreover, the two companies designed two alternative versions of the vehicle and built two models powered by small electric engines. They were designed by professor Ludwik Tadeusz Eberman of the Lviv Polytechnic, who was working for WSABP.
Until this contest, the “Parowóz” company built steam locomotives and S.A.B.E.M.S. was building engines.
Unfortunately, little to no information about the two other competitor projects are available. They were supposedly armored cars or wheel tanks, not true tanks. One of them supposedly had four axles and the second one just two.

Rise and disappointment

The new project was rather modern and complicated for the time. It was a wheel-cum-track tank, so it had the possibility to change its way of running depending on the terrain, with the wheels being preferred on roads and the tracks on rougher terrain.
Some sources claim that the WB-10 was also amphibious and could lower or raise its hull. The latter claim probably refers to how the wheel-cum-track system worked, and not that the vehicle had a sort of hydropneumatic suspension. Moreover, the chassis could be used as basis for a special tractor.
The army ordered a prototype of the new tank. The construction took a significant amount of time, but two tanks were eventually ready for testing. Regrettably, the WB-10 came to be a giant disappointment. The vehicle suffered a lot of breakdowns due to its complicated design and mistakes in the project. These caused problems with driving the vehicle and according to other versions the WB-10 was not even able to start the trials. These failures brought about the quick cancellation of the WB-10 project. The new Polish tank was rejected.
After this failure, the negotiations with Great Britain were restarted, resulting in the acquisition of the Vickers 6-ton and the eventual creation of the 7TP.
The Vickers Mark E that became the next Polish tank - Source: Derela Republika
The Vickers Mark E that became the next Polish tank – Source: Derela Republika

Fate

The fate of the WB-10 prototypes is unknown. They were probably just scrapped after the trials or sent to some army station as technical oddities. However, it is almost guaranteed that they were finally destroyed.
As the WB-10 was a total failure, it faded from memory quite rapidly. After the destruction brought about by World War II, a lot of the information about the vehicle was lost.

The design

The WB-10 was a wheel-cum-track tank. It had four wheels which could be lowered, raising the tracks of the ground. If the tank was to go cross country, the wheels would be raised and the vehicle would use its tracks.
Nothing is known about the engine. However, the designer Prof. Eberman also worked on diesel-type engines, so it is possible the vehicle had such an engine. The WB-10 was probably a massive and slow tank, typical of the period. If it indeed had any amphibious qualities, it is unknown if it had any propellers or if it used its tracks to paddle the water.
The contest requirements suggest that it was able to fit a 47 mm or higher caliber cannon. However, nothing else is known of it.
The 13 mm machine gun is also unknown. The French 13.2 mm Hotchkiss M1929 machine gun was designed years after the WB-10. The 13 mm caliber was most probably just an approximation for 12.7 mm, the typical caliber for anti-aircraft machine guns. The 7.9 mm machine gun was probably the 7.92 mm Hotchkiss wz.25. This was a widespread Polish machine gun that was an improved version of the French Mle 1914 machine gun.
The prototypes could have been painted in khaki camouflage – this color was typical for Polish prototypes (like the Renault TSF or 4TP).
The two supposed WB-10 tanks, next to a number of FIAT trucks. The soldiers unfortunately obscure a lot of details on the vehicle - Source: Odkrywca forum
The two supposed WB-10 tanks, next to a number of FIAT trucks. The soldiers, unfortunately, obscure a lot of details on the vehicle – Source: Odkrywca forum

A reconstruction of the tank claimed to be the WB-10, based on the available photographs - Illustrator: Jarosław Janas.
A reconstruction of the tank claimed to be the WB-10, based on the available photographs. Unfortunately, the illustration is no longer believed to be accurate – Illustrator: Jarosław Janas.

Another reconstruction of what the WB-10 might have looked like. Source: WoT Forums, user Tanohikari

Photos and pictures

Two photos of two unknown vehicles have appeared on the Odkrywca.pl Polish website. It is claimed they were taken near Warsaw in 1939. The photos apparently come from the Patton Museum collection.
They present two groups of soldiers next to some FIAT 621 trucks and two big, mysterious tanks. These vehicles do not resemble any known tank in Polish service or anywhere else in the world. Their old-style design suggests that they may be the WB-10 prototypes, left in some army station.
The vehicle in the foreground is visible in both pictures and, although the soldiers obscure it to some degree, its design can be observed. The background tank is barely visible in one of the pictures. It seems as though it differs from the first tank.
The first tank is lacking its wheels, which were most likely removed or reused on some other vehicle. However, in one of the photos, a large bar is seen protruding from the side of the vehicle. This was most probably one of the attachment bars for the wheels. Both the vehicles are large and tall and almost certainly too heavy to be amphibious. The first vehicle has a large decagonal turret, with no hatches or other elements visible.
The other photo of the same vehicle, claimed to be the WB-10 - Source: Odkrywca forum
The other photo of the same vehicle, claimed to be the WB-10 – Source: Odkrywca forum
A third photo has emerged on the Odkrywca.pl forum. It seems to show one of the same tanks, but at a later date. The general shape and details indicate that this is indeed one of the unknown tanks supposed to be the WB-10. The vehicle appears to have been partially dismantled, missing its turret and quite a few of its armor plates. However, the two supposed wheel supports are clear in this shot. Also, this is the only photograph of the front of this vehicle.
The third photo of the supposed WB-10 tank.
The third photo of the supposed WB-10 tank.
The Czech HPM magazine, in its nr 9/2001 edition, published some schematics of a tank claimed to be the WB-10. However, the drawings in the magazine are of the Landsverk BT.150 II, a successor of the Landsverk L-5, a Swedish wheel-cum-track prototype. The schematics don’t resemble in any way the two tanks in the photos.
The supposed WB-10 design, as presented in the Czech HPM magazine. It bears no relationship to the tanks in the photos and no sources are indicated
The supposed WB-10 design, as presented in the Czech HPM magazine. It bears no relationship to the tanks in the photos. It is actually a Swedish Landsverk BT.150 II – Source: SP15
Landsverk, the vehicle actually in the Czech magazine drawings The Swedish Landsverk BT.150 II, the vehicle actually in the Czech magazine drawings – Source: SP15

One of the other designs?

The Polish writer Janusz Magnuski mentions in his book “Wozy bojowe” (Wydawnictwo Ministerstwa Obrony Narodowej, Warsaw, 1964) that there was also third tank prototype built for the contest. It is possible it was one of the other two wheel tanks that competed against the WB-10. This third tank was designed by professor Czerwiński (no other information known about this person) and failed just like the WB-10.
Some Czech sources claim that only one WB-10 tank was built and the second prototype was another vehicle, called the WB-3. The WB-3 was apparently tested in 1927 and the WB-10 prototype was built as an alternative. According to this theory, the WB-10 tank was never completed. Also, only the WB-3 was a wheel-cum-track vehicle, while the WB-10 only had tracks. However, no Polish source mentions the WB-3 tank.

Links

“Wozy bojowe” by Janusz Magnuski (Wydawnictwo Ministerstwa Obrony Narodowej, Warsaw, 1964)
“Czołgi Wojska Polskiego 1919-1939” by Janusz Ledwoch (Wydawnictwo Militaria, Warsaw, 2015)
On the Odkrywca forum

Categories
Polish fake AFVs

PZInz 126 (Fake Tanks)

Poland (1940)
Command tank – Fake tank

Model kit

The PZInż 126 (PZInż – Państwowe Zakłady Inżynieryjne – National Institution of Engineering) is a fictitious tank invented by the model-kit firm RPM. It was a part of a series of model kits of vehicles based on the British Vickers Mark E light tank (7TP, T-26, etc.)
The cover art for the PZInz 126 model kit from RPM.
The cover art for the PZInz 126 model kit from RPM.
The description of the vehicle from the model kit instructions reads: “The plans of modernizing the armored branch did not encompass only the production or purchase of a new tank, but also trials to upgrade the vehicles already in service. According to the Polish leadership, the Vickers E tank was too weakly armoured, and its armament was downright symbolic. Arming the TKS tankette with a 20 mm FK wz.28 cannon markedly increased the battle value of these obsolete vehicles, and made them able to fight with a potential enemy (their capability was proven during the invasion in September 1939). The small dimensions of these tanks did not allow the installation of a high power radio required to create command vehicles for the armored formations. This is where the retired Vickers E entered the fray. It was planned to remove the original turrets and replace them with the turret of the PZInż 130 tank with a 20 mm gun. In place of the second turret, a radio station with essential accessory was to be installed. This potent command vehicle was created on the chassis of the old vehicle. However, the September invasion ruined these plans.”
The PZInz 126 is pictured as a “what if” plan, a tank designed by the Polish engineers and meant to be built in 1940 – if the war had not happened. However, the model kit description doesn’t mention the fact that no plans of the PZInż 126 were ever created. The number “126” is not included in the list of PZInż projects/products. This project is not recorded in any historical documents. This tank is a fictitious invention.
Unfortunately, the RPM firm has disappeared, and it was impossible to contact them for comments.

Supposed design

The following section talks about the design of a fictitious vehicle. The information presented is inferred from the model kit description and analyzing the kit itself, along with some historical context.
The PZInż 126 would have been a scout and command vehicle for the Polish armored formations. The crew would have probably consisted of three people, situated in the middle placed crew compartment. These were the driver on the right side of tank, the radio station operator on the left side, in place of the original left turret and the gunner on the right, in the turret. The crew is not specifically mentioned in the description, but is easy to infer from the vehicle layout. The gunner or the radio operator should have also acted as the commander.
This vehicle is meant to represent a conversion of the British Vickers Mk. E Type A light tank. In 1931, Poland bought this design and started to improve its construction, leading to the 7TP. However, the Polish-built tanks had considerable improvements in construction, that do not appear in the design of the PZInż 126.
The original British vehicle was powered by an Armstrong-Siddeley “Puma” engine. This engine had a capacity of 6.67 liters and a power of 91 horsepower. The Vickers tank did not have large enough air intakes, which led to problems with cooling the engine.
In effect, this vehicle would have looked very similar to another tank based on the 6-ton Vickers: the Soviet HT-26 flamethrower tank. On both vehicles, the right-hand turret was changed with a new one, and the left-hand one was removed.
A view of the left side of a PZInz 126 model - Source: cmorrismodels
A view of the left side of a PZInz 126 model – Source: cmorrismodels
The turret would have been derived from that of the experimental TKW tankette. That turret was also used on another prototype tank, the PZInż 130. It had a top hatch and two rear doors. The turret would have contained the only weapon of this vehicle, a 20 mm gun. In the model kit description it is identified as the NKM wz.38 FK-A light cannon, but the model and the illustrations seem to represent the Solothurn S18-100. This gun had a shorter barrel and was placed lower in the turret than the NKM wz.38.
The wz.38 gun was never mounted in this turret, although it was planned for the PZInz 130. Another model kit shows this gun mounted on the TKW, but this is also a fake.
The place of left turret was taken by a hatch, periscope, antenna and the radio stations. The radio type is not mentioned.

Retrospect

The idea of a vehicle that is meant to house a unit commander and provide him with mobility and protection while also allowing him to control his troops is a tested and verified one – German command vehicles, like the Sd.Kfz.265 or Pz.Bef.Wg.35(t), were very useful for the Panzer Divisions.
However, in order to make use of a vehicle analogous to the German Panzerbefehlswagens, the Polish army needed a change in structure. Such vehicles were highly useful inside the German Panzer Divisions, which were dedicated tank units. The Polish army, on the other hand, perceived tanks as infantry support weapons, split into small units and working in close cooperation with the foot soldiers. The infantry command structures also had control over the Polish tanks. Thus, tanks meant as a liaison between other tanks (like the PZInż 126) were redundant. The Polish engineers did start a project to design a tank with a powerful radio, but this concept was not perceived as essential.

Wireless sets in Polish tanks

The main Polish vehicles used for mobile long-range communications were trucks, but the idea of wireless equipped command tanks was not totally foreign. However, there was a problem. The wireless sets that could have been used in these command tanks were rather weak and did not have a long range.
The first Polish tank equipped with a radio was the French Renault TSF – a converted Renault FT with a radio set inside a large box-structure on top of the hull instead of the turret. In 1926, the Polish engineers swapped the French radio sets with Polish ones with a range of 20 km. In August 1931, all the TSFs were reworked to normal FTs. Before 1936, a single Renault FT was equipped with a radio set as an experiment but unfortunately, there is no further information available about this particular conversion.
After 1936, the Polish Army equipped a few TK3 and TKS tankettes with short-range RKBc radio sets. These would have been operated by the vehicle commander. Nevertheless, these vehicles were not meant to command other tankettes, but to keep in contact with the local headquarters and possibly relay scouting information. In September 1939, Poland had around 50 TKS tankettes. The number of tankettes with the RKBc radio set is unknown, but it was at least 5. Converted tankettes are easy to identify; they had two boxes with accessories on the back (left and right sides) of the hull and a long antenna.
A TK3 with the RKB-C radio. Notice the two large boxes at the rear and the large antenna - Source: derela.republika.pl
A TK3 with the RKB-C radio. Notice the two large boxes at the rear and the large antenna – Source: derela.republika.pl
In 1936, one Vickers E (twin turret; number 1359) was converted to carry a large radio set as an experiment. However, when the new single turret 7TP version, which had a radio set, appeared, the radio-equipped Vickers Mark E project was rejected. The intended prototype was never equipped with a radio set.
In 1938-1939, four Vickers E Mark A tanks were converted into radio vehicles (probably with the type N2/C radio set). These vehicles had a big antenna with two brackets on the hull. The specifications of this type of vehicle are unknown. However, the Vickers Mark B (single turret), which were issued to commanders, had low-power Marconi SB4a radio sets.
A row of Polish Vickers Mark E tanks. The last vehicle seems to have an antenna and might be one of the radio equipped vehicles - Source: derela.republika.pl
A row of Polish Vickers Mark E tanks. The last vehicle seems to have an antenna and might be one of the radio equipped vehicles – Source: derela.republika.pl


Illustrations of the PzInz 126 Polish Fake tank.

The first page of the PZInz 126 instruction sheet.
A twin turreted Vickers Mark E, for comparison

When the single turret version of the 7TP was made, the engineers decided to mount a Type N2/C radio set (type N2/C) in the tank from the get-go. The back of the prototype’s turret was enlarged in order to accommodate the radio set. This arrangement became a standard on the single-turret 7TP. There were 7TPs that lacked the radio set, and used this extra space for ammunition stowage. The range of the radio set could be improved by means of a 6 metre long antenna – Source: derela.republika.pl

A Polish 7TP with the antenna visible on the roof. It is the thin white line going from the turret roof to the upper edge of the photo – Source: derela.republika.pl
The first page of the PZInz 126 instruction sheet.
The first page of the PZInz 126 instruction sheet.

Rear right side view of a PZInz 126 model – Source: mojehobby.pl
A twin-turreted Polish Vickers Mark E. This was the supposed base vehicle for the PZInz 126 - Source: Derela.Republika.pl
A twin-turreted Polish Vickers Mark E. This was the supposed base vehicle for the PZInz 126 – Source: Derela.Republika.pl
The PZInz 130 amphibious tank. This vehicle had the same turret as the one shown on the fictional PZInz 126.
The PZInz 130 amphibious tank. This vehicle had the same turret as the one shown on the fictional PZInz 126. The prototype remained unarmed, but it was envisioned to mount a 20 mm wz.38 FK-A cannon at some point – Source: Derela.Republika.pl

The later version of the TKW tankette prototype. This is the same turret as the one used on the PZInz 130 and the fictional PZInz 126. It was only armed with a machine-gun – Source: Derela.Republika.pl

Links

The TKW tankette on Derela Republika
The PZInz 126 kit on Super Hobby

PZInz 126 specifications

Dimensions 4.88 x 2.41 x 2.00 m
16.37×7.9×6.74 ft
Crew 3 (driver, gunner, radio operator )
Propulsion Armstrong Siddeley Puma, 80-92 hp
Suspension Leaf sprung bogies
Speed 35 km/h (21 mph)
Range road/off-road 160/90 km (100/55 mi)
Armament 20 mm NKM wz.38 FK-A light cannon
Armor Front hull – 13 mm
Side hull – 13 mm
Back hull – 8 mm
Top hull – 5 mm
Bottom hull – 5 mm
Turret (all sides) – 8 mm

 

Categories
WW2 Polish Prototypes

TKS-B

Poland (1936)
Tankette – 1 prototype

Origins

While working on the C2P light unarmored carrier, Polish technicians from BBT Br. Panc. (pol. Biuro Badań Technicznych Broni Pancernej ; the Armored Weapons Technical Research Bureau ) started a project to build a TKS tankette with the undercarriage of this unarmored vehicle.

The C2P artillery tractor. This vehicle is now at the Polish Military Hardware Museum in Warsaw – Photo: WormWoodTheStar.devianart.com
The new undercarriage was very similar to that of the classic TKS, but it had new side clutches and bigger wheels at back. BBT Br. Panc. converted one TKS (number 1510) to the new chassis, as a prototype It was named TKS-B (“TK ze Sprzęgłami Bocznymi” – “TK with Side Clutches”) (sometimes written TK-SB or TK-S-B). These were the only differences between the original TKS and the TKS-B. The whole construction was still derivative from the Carden Loyd tankette of the 1920s.
From the specifications point of view, the TKS-B was very similar to the TKS.
TKS-B was armed with the wz.25 Hotchkiss (Mark 1925; modification of French Mle 1914 Hotchkiss) machine gun – it was the normal weapon for all Polish tankettes in this time. However, as the photos show, no machine gun was mounted on the prototype.
TKS number 1510 was one of the first produced vehicles this type, so the prototype had the same armor arrangement as the first series (thinner than later series). However, the armor was made of regular iron, and not armor-grade materials.
Additionally, the prototype had no the periscope, typical for the regular tankettes.

Trials

The TKS-B was tested in the summer of 1936 and the trials were successful. In comparison with the regular TKS, the new machine had a higher maximal speed (from 45 to 50 km/h), was easier to maneuver and had overall better ride properties. Moreover, it was easier to drive and had better fuel consumption. The manufacturing company planned to convert all existing TKS tankettes to the TKS-B standard by exchanging of the undercarriage with the new one.
By 1936, production of tankettes in Poland had stopped, so conversions were the only way to realize the TKS-B project. The Senior Officers in the Polish Army rejected this idea. The cost of all these modifications was too big. One conversion cost about 10.000 zł, while one standard TKS tankette cost 47.800 zł. Furthermore, tankettes had been considered as only temporary vehicles, without future.

Fate

The TKS-B concept was rejected as unprofitable in favor of light tanks. At the same time, there were also some plans to realize the two light tanks projects: 4TP (PzInż. 140) and swimming tank PzInż. 130. These machines could have been the successors of the TK-3 and TKS tankettes.
However, the TKS-B vehicle was not scrapped. The single TKS-B prototype was used for other conversions; ultimately, in April 1937, it was reworked into one of the two TKS-D tank destroyer prototypes.

Myths

Plastic model company Mirage Hobby created two myths about the TKS-B: that it was armed with a 20mm FK-A rifle and that the TKS-B was used against the German invaders in September 1939. Neither of these is true. The prototype of this machine had already been converted into the TKS-D when the FK-A rifle was introduced and War World II had started. The TKS-B in its sandy-green-brown camouflage and with a 20mm gun is only a “what-if” concept.

Links

On the Derela Republika website

TKS-B specifications

Dimensions 2.64 x 1.78 x 1.32 m (8’8”×5’8”×4’4”)
Total weight 2.63 tons
Crew 2
Propulsion Polski FIAT 122AC/B 6 cyl, 42/46 hp
Speed 45-50 km/h (31 mph)
Range – Consumption 110-180 km (70-110 mi) – 70 l/100 km
Armament Hotchkiss wz. 30 7.92 mm (0.3 in) machine-gun, 2400 rounds
Armor Front: 6 – 10 mm
Sides: 5 – 8 mm
Back: 5 – 8 mm
Top: 3 – 6 mm
Bottom: 4 mm
Total production 1 prototype

The TKS-B prototype with it's 3-tone livery - Illustration by Jaroslaw Janas.
The TKS-B prototype with its 3-tone livery – Illustration by Jaroslaw Janas.

The only surviving photo of the TKS-B tankette.
The only surviving photo of the TKS-B tankette. The lower side of the vehicle is larger, with a different drive sprocket, extended mudguards and a far bigger idler. It is difficult to the untrained eye to distinguish it from a regular TKS. Photo: derela.republika.pl

The TKS-B was converted into one of the two TKS-D tank destroyer prototypes.
The TKS-B was converted into one of the two TKS-D tank destroyer prototypes. Here it is paraded in front of the President of Poland, Ignacy Moscicki, the King of Romania Carol II and Prince Michael of Romania. Photo – derela.republika.pl

The artwork of the Mirage Hobby model kit of the TKS-B. It is incorrect. The TKS-B never mounted a 20 mm cannon. By the time that particular gun was developed, the TKS-B had been converted into the TKS-D.