WW1 Austro-Hungarian Armor


Austro-Hungarian Empire (1915-1921)
Armored Car – 5-7 Built

The Junovicz was the most-widely produced armored car in the Austro-Hungarian Empire during the First World War, although this does not imply much, as just seven (or five) were built. The vehicle was named after its designer, Lieutenant Junovicz, who explored the idea of a universal armored body that had the potential to be fitted to any truck available. Therefore, the vehicles that were built were of an improvised nature, as the chassis remained unchanged and the armored superstructure was of relatively simple construction. Some saw limited use during the war, but in general, details around their deployment are rather obscure.

The Junovicz seen on the right side with two Vickers machine guns, possibly captured from Italy. Note the relatively crude details of the armored plates such as the non-straight lines around the roof and door fitting. Source: Fototeca Azopan


During 1914 and 1915, the Austro-Hungarian Army Command and Ministry of War received various proposals for armored vehicles to be built, all with varying degrees of potential. Eventually, a design proposed by 1st Lieutenant Engineer Rudolf Junovicz (also written as Junovitz, or Wladimir Junovitz) was approved to be built.

Before the war, Lieutenant Junovicz was an officer with the 70th Infantry Regiment, based in Zagreb (present day capital of Croatia). Thanks to his expertise in automotive technology, he was soon appointed Automotive Officer of the 13th Corps. After the outbreak of war in 1914, he was attached to the workshops of the Hungarian State Railway in Resiczabánya [present day Reșița, Romania], also known as Resicai Állami Vas és Gépgyárban [Eng. Reșița State Iron and Machinery Factory], and placed in command of the repair department. They were tasked to repair both damaged and captured vehicles.

Junovicz’s armored car proposal tied in with his work, in the sense that the armored body was to be able to be fitted on any chassis that could be made available through refurbishment. It is actually unclear when the design plans were ready and proposed. However, given that the Junovicz was a state-approved vehicle, the plans must have been accepted only after the Romfell armored car was inspected in August 1915, as before, the Army was firmly against the concept of armored vehicles which were seen as a waste of perfectly capable trucks. The available sources either give 1915 or 1916 as the date of actual construction, but it is known that production was already underway in the summer of 1915.

These pictures appeared in the 19th March 1916 edition of the Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, an Austro-Hungarian car magazine, showing the first finished vehicle. Note that the protective discs on the spoked wheels are only mounted on the external sides. Source: Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung

The Name Junovicz

Apart from Junovicz or Junovitz, the vehicle is often referred to as P.A.1, which is short for Panzerauto 1 in German or Pancél Auto 1 in Hungarian. This assertion is based on a well-known photograph, where P.A.1 is written on the front of a vehicle. However, the number did not refer to the name of the vehicle, but was rather a tactical number, unique to each vehicle. Every new Junovicz would receive a new number, for example P.A.4, and because of this, it would be incorrect to refer to the Junovicz as P.A.1 as it would only refer to one of the vehicles built.

Due to this misconception, the Romfell is sometimes referred to as P.A.2, which is wrong on several levels, as the Romfell actually preceded the Junovicz, and the entire idea of P.A.1 referring to the Junovicz design is fundamentally flawed. Only the P.A. designation would be correct.

The first accepted Junovicz with the designations P.A.1 and BII 889. Source: Magyar Warriors

Design Of The Junovicz On Austro-FIAT Chassis

The design of the Junovicz was of an improvised nature, meaning no changes were made to the chassis, engine, or transmission. The armor itself consisted of simple flat plates. The lower half of the armored body was made out of plates, protecting the chassis and drivetrain. The upper half protected the engine and the crew compartment. The armor, of riveted construction, measured 7 mm thick at the front and 5 mm on the rest of the vehicle, providing enough protection against small-arms fire such as rifles fire from a distance.

The radiator in the front was protected by a single armored plate that could be lifted up by a wire from the inside of the vehicle. When not engaged in combat, this plate would be lifted fully upwards, assuring sufficient engine cooling and thus improve engine performance. A small armored plate below the radiator protected the front axle and the steering mechanism. An engine crank was installed just above this plate to manually start the engine. For operations in bad visibility, the vehicle was outfitted with a single headlight, centrally mounted on the front of the bonnet.

A Junovicz at the Resicai Állami Vas és Gépgyárban [Eng. Reșița State Iron and Machinery Factory] in present-day Romania, where they were constructed. Source:

Crew and Layout

The driver sat to the front right of the vehicle. His only view to the outside was provided through a small hatch in front of him that folded upwards. When closed, he could only see through a small slit. Presumably the commander sat next to him, who either operated a machine gun through the front firing port, or used that port for observation purposes. In total, the vehicle had six of these firing ports, two on each side, and one on the front and rear. These firing ports could be closed from the inside by sliding down a small armored plate. To the driver and commander’s rear, the compartment housed three gunners, ammunition, the crew’s personal belongings, supplies, and two to four machine guns.

Compared to other armored cars of the time, the Junovicz was generously provided with several crew access hatches with one door in the rear, measuring 115 cm by 65 cm, entry hatches on each side, measuring 60 cm by 75 cm, and on top of that, two hatches located in the roof.

Since the chassis were not modified, the flatbeds of the original trucks were retained, functioning as the floor of the new crew compartment. The standing room was limited to roughly 1.6 m to 1.7 m. Since the flatbed was already high above the ground, roughly 0.8 m, the vehicle reached a total height of about 2.5 m to 2.6 m. The armored body on top of the flatbed was trapezoid-shaped and inclined inwards, creating quite a distinctive shape.

This edited contemporary photograph shows the access doors on the side and rear, as well as the hatches on the roof. Note the internal sliding mechanism for the fire port cover that is visible on the open door. Source: Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung

Chassis and Drivetrain

The first three vehicles were based upon the Austro-FIAT 2TV 40 CV, which were produced by ÖAF. These vehicles had a 40 hp engine and delivered power via a differential and chain drive to the rear wheels. These rear wheels, with a diameter of 97.5 cm, were spoked, suspended by a full leaf spring, and protected by an armored plate that could be hinged upwards to provide access for maintenance. The front steering wheels were unprotected, had disc plating to avoid the wheels getting stuck in mud, were suspended by half a leaf spring, and had a diameter of 82.5 cm. All four wheels were shod with solid rubber tires.

The Junovicz P.A.1, somewhere with a unit at the frontline. Note how it is stored on small wooden planks, to prevent it slowly sinking away into the ground. The cable of the front plate lifting mechanism has been disconnected. Source: Stahl und Eisen im Feuer

The Junovicz Type II or B

Because of the differences in design with later models, the Austro-FIAT-based Junovicz have sometimes been referred to as Type I or A, with the other vehicles referred to as Type II or B.

The Type II’s design was very similar, but looked even less refined than the Type I, featuring even more poorly aligned armored plate lining and curved lower armored plates on the sides. The use of a different chassis also had its effect on the general dimensions.

Photographs of the Type II are incredibly rare, with this being the only known photograph of an actively deployed Type II. Note the mounting of Schwarzlose M7/12 8 mm machine guns. Source: Former eBay listing

Production Numbers

According to Dr. Heigl in the ‘Militärwissenschaftliche Mitteilungen’ magazine of 1930, one Junovicz was built in 1915 and completed in July, later followed by another two, totaling three vehicles by 1918.

In Austro-German historiography, mainly led by the late Walter J. Spielberger and the late Peter Jung, a total of five were built. However, Hungarian historiography seems to point to seven vehicles being completed, with another two planned but never finished.

This relatively rare shot shows some details of the roof, including the opened hatches. Source: Haditechnika volume 45

The most reliable report appears to come from the Hungarian author Bíró Ádám. He mentions a list of vehicles that were used for the conversions, from which it appears that all vehicles that were used came from the Italian Front. By 1916, the first three vehicles were built upon Austro-FIAT 40 hp chassis, equipped with 16B-18B 4-cylinder engines. One of those had the registration number BII 889 and P.A.1 written on the front. In 1917, a further two vehicles were converted on a Büssing III.A 36 hp and a Saurer 34 hp chassis. In 1918, another four trucks were delivered for conversion, one Berna-Perl 35 hp and a Rába-V 50 hp, which were completed, and two Laurin-Klement 1914Ms, but the latter ones were not assembled.

It seems like Austrian and German historians were aware that two Junovicz were not completed, but not aware that these concerned vehicles to be built on the Laurin-Klement chassis. Instead, they assumed both uncompleted vehicles were the ones based upon the Berna-Perl and the Rába-V, thus reducing the number of seven completed vehicles to five. Based upon this hypothesis, there were indeed seven Junovicz built with two more planned, but due to lack of conclusive evidence, the option of five vehicles built has to remain in consideration.

Production Overview*
Chassis Amount Year of Production
Austro-FIAT 40 hp 3 [2 quickly scrapped] 1915-1916
Büssing III.A 36 hp 1 1917
Saurer 34 hp 1 1917
Berna-Perl 35 hp 1 1918
Rába-V 50 hp 1 1918
Laurin-Klement 1914M 2 [neither completed] 1918
Total 7 + 2 incomplete

* Primarily according to Bíró Ádám.

The P.A.1 deployed in a city. Source: Haditechnika, Volume 45

Action of P.A.1

After completion in 1915, Junovicz P.A.1 was deployed to Serbia, and later to the Isonzo Front in modern day Italy/Slovenia. At the end of June 1916, it was assigned to the 1st Army and relocated to the northern section of the Eastern Front. Battle reports are scarce, but it was used, as indicated by an October 1916 report that records its use in three patrols, although without encountering any enemy. Overall, the high firepower and provided armored protection were appreciated, but the two-wheel drive and narrow tires made the vehicles unsuitable for soft terrain. It remained on the front until 1st March 1918, when it was transferred to the 6th Army and had to relocate to Udine, in Italy.

The P.A.1 on patrol in Galicia. Due to its poor off-road performance, the Junovicz was confined to roads, but these were often not more than dirt or mud tracks, leading to numerous problems.
Source: Kováts Fényképészet

This relocation came after the Army High Command ordered the creation of a Panzerautozug 1 [English: Armored Car Platoon 1] on the Italian Front in March 1918. On 1st June, it was officially formed and Landsturm-Lieutenant Robert v. Dirr-Valberg was placed in command. On 10th June, the Junovicz was attached to this platoon, which counted five armored cars by August, including the Junovicz, the Romfell, a captured Russian Austin 3rd Series, a Lancia 1ZM 1st Series, and an Isotta-Fraschini captured from Italy.

Sometime in September or early October 1918, the Lancia was sent away to take part in a training course in Vienna, reducing the platoon’s size to just four armored cars. In light of the deteriorating situation of the front, it is believed the platoon saw no operational use. After the truce, the Romfell and Austin went with Austrian troops to Carinthia. The fates of the Isotta-Fraschini and Junovicz are unknown. They may have been captured by the advancing Entente powers, or were taken to other parts of the former empire.

The Junovicz with, what appears to be, a three-tone camouflage scheme applied. It is unclear which Junovicz this is, but it could be a different one than the P.A.1, as it was armed with Vickers machine guns, while this picture shows Schwarzlose M07/12 machine guns mounted. In addition, the headlight seems to have a higher placement. Source: Kraftfahrzeuge und Panzer des österreichischen Heeres

Action of the Others

A report from 10th August 1915, mentions that two additional armored cars were under construction on a FIAT chassis. In 1916, these two and the P.A.1 were reported to be in the possession of the 12 Etappen-Gruppen-Kommando. However, the extent of their use is unknown and they were dismantled already in September 1916.

In a similar fashion, nothing is known about the two vehicles completed in 1918 on the Berna-Perl and Rába-V chassis. They may have been still in Reșița when the war came to an end. In case these were used, the operator must have been the nascent Hungarian Communist Army. After the defeat of the Hungarian Soviet Government in 1919, they were most likely scrapped by Romania.

Source: Haditechnika volume 45
Junovicz seen on two separate occasions, conquering the muddy roads of the early 20th century. Note how Vickers machine guns are installed in the first picture, but with Schwarzlose machine guns in the second. Source: Haditechnika volume 45


A little more is known about the post-war whereabouts of both Junovicz vehicles built in 1917. Around 1919, both were stored at the Kraftfahrzeugdepot Wien Arsenal, where the Lancia 1ZM also was stored. The Lancia was in such poor condition that the armored body was transferred to a Berna-Perl 3t chassis and it had the registration ‘31 851’. The Saurer-based Junovicz had the registration ‘31 850’ and the Büssing-based Junovicz had ‘31 852’.

As stated in the Treaty of Saint-Germain, the Austrian Army was forbidden to develop, build, or use any armored vehicle per 1st October 1920. This was enforced by the Allied Control Commission who ordered at the end of May 1921 that the remaining three armored cars were to be handed over. At the time of this decision, both Junovicz cars were present at the Army Driving School, but were moved back to the depot shortly thereafter.

On 13th June 1921, a French delegation arrived at the depot to confiscate one of the Junovicz. However, they only found the old and dilapidated Berna-Perl Lancia 1ZM and both the Junovicz cars were missing. The French, suspicious about the different location and the lack of a functional armored vehicle, and seemingly unaware of the Lancia’s existence, suspected the Austrians had secretly swapped the functional Junovicz for an old wreck in an attempt to fool them. A technical inspection that followed on 16th June seemed to prove their suspicion as it was determined the Lancia was not a Junovicz.

To mediate between the Austrians and furious French, the British requested the Austrian War Ministry to provide an explanation and a functional vehicle, to which Austria replied on 23rd June that they had already handed over two of their armored cars, while the third had been inspected by the French. Without any more armored vehicles, provision of another functional vehicle would be impossible.

It was eventually revealed that on 4th June, just nine days before the French visited the depot, the depot was already visited by the Italian delegation who had taken both Junovicz cars away, leaving just the Lancia for the French. This settled the French claims, but no Allied delegation was keen to take away the broken Lancia as it would remain in storage until 25th April 1924. After Italy took away both Junovicz in early June, they were most likely disassembled shortly thereafter.

This rather poor quality photo of the Type II shows the overhang of the opened roof hatch. Source: Kraftfahrzeuge und Panzer des österreichischen Heeres


Despite the number of vehicles that were built, the Junovicz saw little reported action with the Austro-Hungarian forces during the First World War. The improvised nature of the design, as well as the bad off-road performance, made the Junovicz a relatively unimportant asset within the army, although the firepower of the vehicle, as well as the provided protection, were appreciated. It appears that all Junovicz were scrapped after the war by Italy and Romania. An unglamorous fate for an unglamorous, but potent vehicle.

Junovicz P. A. Illustrated by Brian Gaydos, based on the work of David Bocquelet.

Specifications (Junovicz Austro-FIAT):

Dimensions (L x W x H) 5.69 x 1.9 x 2.5-2.6 m
Wheelbase 3.9 m
Propulsion FIAT 4-cylinder, petrol, water-cooled, 40 hp
Crew 5 (commander, driver, 3 gunners)
Weight ca. 3 tonnes
Armor 5-7 mm
Armament 2 (up to 3 or 4) machine guns, either Vickers or Schwarzlose M7/12 8 mm
Speed 35 km/h
Range 340 km


100 Jahre Panzerwaffe im österreichischen Heer, Rolf M. Urrisk, Herbert Weishaupt Verlag, 2006, p.27, 30.

Haditechnika, Volume 45, No.4, A Junovitz páncélgépkocsi. Magyar páncélos járművek az osztrák–magyar hadseregben I. rész, Bíró Ádám, 2011, p.73-75.

Haditechnika, Volume 45, No.5, A Junovitz páncélgépkocsi. Magyar páncélos járművek az osztrák–magyar hadseregben II. rész, Bíró Ádám, 2011, p.62-64.

Kraftfahrzeuge und Panzer des österreichischen Heeres 1896 bis heute, Walter J. Spielberger, Motorbuch Verlag, 1976, p.328-341.

Magyar Warriors: The History of the Royal Hungarian Armed Forces 1919-1945, Volume 1, Dénes Bernád and Charles K. Kliment, Helion and Company, 2015, p.298.

Militärwissenschaftliche Mitteilungen, Volume 61, Panzerfahrzeuge 1930, Major a. D. Dr. Heigl, 1930, p.709-712.

Panzerfahrzeuge des Österreichischen Heeres, Franz Felberbauer, Motorbuch Verlag, 2018, p.13.

Samochody pancerne I wojny Światowej, Witold J. Ławrynowicz and Albert Rokosz, Tetragon, 2020, p.244-247.

Stahl und Eisen im Feuer – Panzerzüge und Panzerautos des K.u.K. Heeres 1914-1918, Rudolf Hauptner & Peter Jung, 2003, p.85-93.

The Austro-Hungarian Forces in World War I (part 2) 1916-1918, Men-at-Arms 367, Peter Jung, Osprey Publishing, 2003, p.24, 33.

2 replies on “Junovicz”

Excellent information, far more than I found in the German language books I own. These mention two Junovicz cars and no Isotta Fraschini armored car in the Panzerautozug No1. What is your source for the participation of the Isotta Fraschini? In 2018 I built a big diorama in 1/72 scale of the Panzerautozug No.1, and just now I am going to recondition my diorama and would be keen to mend any errors in it. Thank You!

Thanks for your comment! This information mainly comes from the Polish book Samochody pancerne I wojny Światowej which cites the book Österreich-Ungarns Kraftfahrformationen im Weltkrieg 1914-1918 by Wilfried Schimon (I unfortunately don’t have this book yet).
It details that the Austin III series arrived on May 20, the Romfell on June 6, the Junovicz on June 10, the Isotta Fraschini on June 19, and the Lancia 1ZM in early August.
The Polish book notes that Schimon’s research on the topic is much more in depth compared to that of the late Peter Jung, who mentioned two Junovicz instead of the Isotta Fraschini. Because Jung’s work has been cited so often, many publications have repeated this information, which appears outdated unfortunately.
The Isotta Fraschini was captured by Austria-Hungary in the autumn of 1917. There is this well known picture ->

Good luck with your diorama, it’s a very exciting topic!

Kind regards, Leander

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