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Military History Monthly

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Military History Monthly
Editor Neil Faulkner
Categories Military history
Frequency Monthly
Publisher Current Publishing
First issue October 2010
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Military History Monthly is a monthly military history magazine, published by Current Publishing.

The magazine was established in October 2010 as Military Times and obtained its current title in November 2011.[1]

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • Armoured Trains of World War 1 I THE GREAT WAR Special feat. Military History Visualized
  • The Cold War: Crash Course US History #37
  • Revolution and Civil War: The Contested Origins of the British Army, 1645-1704


They were a development of the 19th century, but they certainly played a part in the First World War and beyond in the 20th, especially in the wide-open spaces of Russia and the Eastern Front where roads didn’t go. I’m talking about armored trains. I’m Indy Neidell; welcome to a Great War Special Episode about Armored Trains. Before I start, I want to point out that these are trains that had armored protection for their crews AND weapons, not like “armed trains” which were more for transportation only. And not like the mighty railway guns, which developed in parallel to armored trains and deserve their own special. Anyhow, the expansion of railway networks during the industrial revolution saw trains becoming vital military resources. Mostly for transport, but even in combat as early as the Austrian revolutionary days of 1848. Armored trains were used in the American Civil War in the 1860s; the first one patrolling north of Baltimore and being used against the Confederacy - this hinted at their later use in anti-partisan warfare. For the remainder of the century, the British army led their development, using them in colonial warfare. A big development during this time was placing an expendable railway car at the front of the train to protect the locomotive. The first major deployment of armored trains was in the Boer Wars, and the British had 13 trains in use - they could travel quickly through dangerous territory and soldiers could fight from within. “The best known action took place on November 15th, 1899... General Louis Botha ordered a Boer military force to block the train near Frere, while his troops launched an ambush from behind... When the train attempted to withdraw, it ran into a large boulder placed on the tracks... and one of the armored infantry wagons was derailed. The armored train was then blasted by the Boers, who were armed with two field guns... The armored train’s own 7 pounder gun was knocked out of action, but the armored locomotive was eventually able to push past the obstruction, leaving behind the derailed truck. Botha’s task force captured over 50 British troops as well as a young journalist... the young Winston Churchill.” This showed that the trains couldn’t really operate independently, so the British gave them seven main missions: infantry support, intercepting enemy troops, flanking protection, reinforcing railway stations and camps, patrolling, reconnaissance, and railway protection. They did not further develop the trains, though, as they saw them as only useful in colonial warfare, not European, but the Russians had been taking notes and began building armored trains around the turn of the century. So, when the Great War broke out neither the British or French had armored trains deployed. The Germans converted 9 civilian trains with armour plates and these were used behind the lines against Belgian and French saboteurs. The Belgians actually had two armoured trains of their own. The British Navy helped out at Antwerp by putting some naval guns on flatcars, and the Germans also used some during the beginnings of the Battle of Verdun, but armored trains weren’t very useful in the stalemate of the Western Front. It was a different story in the east. The war there was often highly mobile and covered huge expanses of land that were inaccessible by roads. Now, the Russian armored trains were based around an armored locomotive that pulled two armored cars that had machine guns and cannons. It also pushed two flatcars in front for security. These were used in the Battle of Galicia and in East Prussia in 1914 and had notable successes around Lemberg and then Brest-Litovsk in 1915. Austria-Hungary was so impressed - or concerned - by their performance that Hungarian Railways began building them in the winter of 1914-15. By 1916, they had improved the design and had deployed ten of them in Russia, Italy, and Romania. Again, the Germans put some together that were improvised designs, but they weren’t nearly as good/sophisticated as the Austrian or Russian models. MHV: Actually, Indy the Germans had a pretty good plan on how to use their armoured trains. Indy: Oh, I would recognise that German accent anywhere, you are the guy from Military History Visualised! MHV: Genau! And as I was saying the Germans had already developed a plan on using armoured trains for transport and patrol purposes, 4 years before the war they had regulations that even detailed how to mobilize their trains. Although, later on they improved less than the Russians and Austro-Hungarians. Yet, one interesting concept was the “Panzerhaus” or “armored house”, it was a rail car with traversable armored box or house on it. This allowed them to put various various field guns into them and since those also had frontal shields anyway, they had basically a poor man’s turret. Indy: This certainly sounds like the kind of ingenious design the Germans would come up with during the war. MHV: Exactly! If you want to know more about the German and Austro-Hungarian Armoured trains, you should come over to my channel and check out my new video about it. Indy: Oh, that sounds awesome, we will certainly do that. And I am sure everybody out there will also do that. Thanks for stopping by! Anyway, the Russian army. They really used armoured trains for surprise attacks and carrying troops into “hot zones”. They had 15 armored trains in use from Finland down to the Caucasus. Early in the war they were really just rolling fortresses with firing slits in armored cars, but by 1915 they were more like warships, with turreted guns and multiple machine guns. The Khunkhuz class for example had a 76.2mm gun at the front with a wide angle of fire and with a bunch of Maxim guns to protect it. Development then proceeded to armored railcruisers. These were self-propelled, needing no locomotive, and both the Russians and Austrians used these smaller machines with a fair degree of success. The most intense use of armored trains, though, came during the Russian Civil War. You could sort of guess that since much of the war was fought along railway connections between the larger cities, and that war also saw many smaller factions fighting irregular warfare. Different local militias took over the trains left from WW1, but the Red Army began producing its own. There was a wide variety of models, but the most common was still with two armored cars, a locomotive in the middle, and flatcars up front, maybe with a couple of field guns and 12 machine guns or so. Even so, these made up only around a quarter of the roughly 300 armored trains used in the Civil War. They were very effective; a Polish soldier recounted from the Polish-Soviet War, “In the recent battles, armored trains were the most serious and terrible adversaries. They are well-designed, act shockingly, desperately, and decisively, have large amounts of firepower and are the most serious means of our enemy’s tactics. Our infantry is powerless against enemy armored trains.” They eventually became the shock force of the Red Army, transporting raiding teams made up of 165 infantry, 47 cavalry, and a machine gun detachment. These units functioned as the train’s protection, but also as an extension of its operative range. That war even saw train on train combat, as the White Army had more than 80 armored trains of its own. One famous armored railcruiser was Zaamurets. Built in Odessa in 1916 and powered by two Fiat automobile engines, it saw fighting in 1916 and 1917, then when the Bolsheviks came to power it changed hands several times, fighting with Ukrainian militias, Bolshevik revolutionaries, and the German army of occupation. Eventually, it had an armored train attached and was taken by the Czech Legion, who were trying to leave Russia but had to go by the Pacific since the Germans were still fighting the war to the west. It was renamed Orlik and served with the Legion until they reached Vladivostok in 1920. The White Army then used it to fight the Bolsheviks until 1922 when they took it to Manchuria where it fought with the Fengtian Army in the Zhili-Fengtian War. It was captured by the Japanese and that’s the last I know of it. If you know more, tell us in the comments. Post WW1, armored trains were used by emerging nations from the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, they were used in the Chinese Civil War, and both the Nazis and the Soviets used them in World War Two, but their “glory days” were over; the days as a technical marvel and a weapon to be feared on the Eastern Front and indeed throughout Russia. One of the main sources for this video was “Armoured Trains” by Steven J Zaloga, a great overview on the topic with some really detailed illustrations. You can of course get the book and support our show if you get it through our amazon store by following the link in the description. If you want to learn more about the German and Austro-Hungarian armoured train doctrines, check out the new video by Military History visualised right here. Don’t forget to subscribe, and see you next time.


The first issue of Military History Monthly was published in October 2010 to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.[2] The magazine is edited by Neil Faulkner. It covers all aspects of military history, from battles of the ancient world, up to more recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In celebration of its 50th issue in November 2014, and to commemorate the centenary of World War I, Military History Monthly and the Royal United Services Institute brought together four military history experts for "The Great War Debate". The speakers included politician and author Patrick Mercer.[3]


  1. ^ "About us". Military History Monthly. Retrieved 31 May 2012. 
  2. ^ "News: Military Times - launch". InPublishing. 12 August 2010. Retrieved 31 May 2012. 
  3. ^ "The Great War Debate - Was Britain Right to Fight in 1914?". RUSI. 27 October 2014. Retrieved 4 March 2016. 

External links

This page was last edited on 21 November 2017, at 04:28.
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