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Armoured Trains


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#51 Ron Clifton

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Posted 28 October 2011 - 10:06 AM

Hello all

are talking about two slightly different creatures here. The first, the armoured train proper, was equipped with guns of 6-inch calibre or less, and usually also with machine guns. It was used to protect rail communications from raids, and occasionally to provide a mobile response to attack, especially along coastlines or borders. The British used small numbers of these trains in France and Belgium, Egypt and Palestine, and Mesopotamia. They were also used in the South African War and in India.

The second type is rail-mounted heavy artillery, of calibre 9 inches and more. The history of these weapons is covered in Rail Gun by Ian Hogg and John Batchelor. It provides a number of interesting photos and scale drawings, and also covers such points as the use of curved gun spurs (plus a limited degree of traverse on the mount itself) and the various methods of absorbing recoil (using outriggers to anchor the gun, often including jacking up the wagon to lift the wheels from the track). It covers the period from the American Civil War to the Second World War, and includes American, British, French and German examples.

The authours assure us that the use of the recoil to send the loco back along the track, to return carrying tea and rations, is apocryphal!

Ron

#52 michaeldr

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Posted 28 October 2011 - 10:29 AM

As I understand it from the title of this thread we are on the subject of Armoured Trains (and not howitrzers mounted on rails)

Regarding transport on the Gallipoli peninsula, LvS has this to say; "...there was hardly a through road on the peninsula. There were only foot paths and pack trails for the movement of pack animals in single file."
The British OH remarks on Turkish lines of communications, thus: "The paucity of railway communications in the Turkish Empire, and the shortage of locomotives, rolling stock, and fuel, were a severe military handicap, and rendered the transfer of troops from one theatre to another a matter of great difficulty. In peace time the main line of communication between Constantinople and the Asia Minor coast, and the coasts of Syria and Armenia, was by sea. This line was now closed, and no through railway communication was in existence. The main line of communication with the Gallipoli peninsula was also by sea, the only alternative being by rail to Uzun Keupri on the Adrianople line, and thence by road via Keshan and the isthmus of Bulair. The distance from Uzun Keupri to the Narrows by road was 100 miles."

#53 centurion

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Posted 28 October 2011 - 10:42 AM

Hello all

are talking about two slightly different creatures here. The first, the armoured train proper, was equipped with guns of 6-inch calibre or less, and usually also with machine guns. It was used to protect rail communications from raids, and occasionally to provide a mobile response to attack, especially along coastlines or borders. The British used small numbers of these trains in France and Belgium, Egypt and Palestine, and Mesopotamia. They were also used in the South African War and in India.

The second type is rail-mounted heavy artillery, of calibre 9 inches and more. The history of these weapons is covered in Rail Gun by Ian Hogg and John Batchelor. It provides a number of interesting photos and scale drawings, and also covers such points as the use of curved gun spurs (plus a limited degree of traverse on the mount itself) and the various methods of absorbing recoil (using outriggers to anchor the gun, often including jacking up the wagon to lift the wheels from the track). It covers the period from the American Civil War to the Second World War, and includes American, British, French and German examples.

The authours assure us that the use of the recoil to send the loco back along the track, to return carrying tea and rations, is apocryphal!

Ron

No Ron you are confusing rail guns with railway batteries. Railway batteries were artillery usually of about field gun to medium size mounted on railway trucks often armoured, and used to cover a section of the front or coast. The French were great users of these and I've posted a photos earlier in the thread. There were usually two or three guns per battery. As I've also said earlier in the thread soldiers often conflated rail batteries and armoured trains. The big rail guns were as you say usually over 9 inch and quite a different matter. Again as you seem to have missed I also covered some of the recoil issues earlier in the thread. Only the the French allowed them to recoil back along the track (as I said about 2 metres). German and French railguns had a proper recoil mechanism and many German rail guns were mounted on a turntable fixed in the ground and the railway trucks completely removed for firing. The Turkish mobile batteries were railway batteries, NOT rail guns, running on sections of track probably just long enough to cover the area they were protecting. They appear to have been under the control of the Fortress commanders. Interestingly some Turkish fortesses had Gruson mobile turrets (Fahrpanzers) which ran on 60cm track and I wondered if some of these were linked together to run on the narrow guage track that is photo'd near the major Fortress of Kilid Bahr. With a QF 6 pounder these would have been ideal for engaging the mine sweeping trawlers.

#54 centurion

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Posted 28 October 2011 - 11:30 AM

French railway battery (the Turkish ones would have been smaller and simpler). The French also had smaller ones as well.
Attached File  frb3.jpg   77.11KB   2 downloads

French railway gun
Attached File  bigcannon.jpeg   81.81KB   2 downloads

#55 centurion

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Posted 28 October 2011 - 11:32 AM

Armoured train
Attached File  p3orlik-filtered.jpg   45.09KB   5 downloads

#56 centurion

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Posted 28 October 2011 - 12:59 PM

French railway battery firing
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#57 bob lembke

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Posted 28 October 2011 - 02:49 PM

My computer (more correctly my Internet connectivity) has been down, and I have been traveling a bit. Great continuing discussion, and Centurion has been posting great pictures. I have lots of comments, which I will burden you with in a few hours. One general observation, which applies broadly to the study of this campaign, and other Turkish-related matters, is a seeming lack of appreciation of the utter paupacy of Turkish industry, resources, ability to manufacture usable munitions, lack of rail resources, etc., etc. The artillery ammunition that the Turks were able to manufacture, with considerable German assistance (about 1500 German technichians, managed by a very interesting German naval captain, who had been sentenced to military prison for losing his ship, but instead ended up in Turkey as a naval artillery expert). Of course this was compounded by an almost complete lack of physical connection with Germany and Austria. When my father traveled to Turkey, each man in his small detachment of replacements was given 25 Marks and told to go out and buy a simple set of civulian clothes, etc., and they were supplied with false papers, identifying them as bank clerks for a German bank branch in Constanople, or as a male, nurse, etc.

Getting any arms or munitions thru was almost impossible. Supposedly some shells were submerged in barrels of German beer for export, probably designated for Germans resident in Turkey. Also, supposedly some machine guns were cast into blocks of concrete labeled: "for the Berlin-Baghdad Railroad". (All of this was to get men or material thru neutral but hostile Romania. Fortunately, corruption famously reached Olympian hights in Romania, but the Germans complained that, due to hostility, Romanian officials had to be provided with many times as much baksheesh to achieve the same level of blindness as a British of French briber wouls have to pay.) With German assistance, Turkish industry managed to manufacture shells that would fire, but seemingly they would rarely explode. (Liman von Sanders estimated a 95% dud rate.) Although the Gemans/Turks had only about 4-6 aircraft (perhaps in the Gallipoli theatre), thought was given to fly German fuzes over hostile territory to Turkey, although the planes of the day could carry very little weight. Thought was also applied to fly a Zeppelin with shells (dropped as one could only carry about 120 shells), and (later) Admiral Horthy commanded a very fast Austrian light cruiser; thought was given to having him attempt to run the gaunlet of the RN and the French Navy and bring shells to Gallipoli. Additionally, the Turks could not roll steel shell bodies, but had to cast shells, so when they did explode (questionable), instead of razor-sharp steel splinters, the shell emmited a cloud of sand-like fragments of cast iron, frankly, not very dangerous except at very close range. The campaign started to change dramatically when, in November, not only two batteries of fairly heavy Austrian artillery appeared, but also effective German shells. Although the thru train service would only be restored in early 1916, due to effective Serbian destruction of the rail system, some materiel could be barged down the Danube, and transfered to rail in Bulgaria, first managed in November.

Turkey had one or two rail projects that were vital to the very survival of the Empire. They were not at Gallipoli. I do not know if Turkey could roll rail; possibly not, if they could not roll shell casings. I will return to this later.

Bob

#58 centurion

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Posted 28 October 2011 - 04:16 PM

I would have thought that defending the Narrows was very vital to the very survival of the Empire. Turkey certainly was able to lay some track at this time including various spurs etc on the Hejaz railway. As the quote I provided describes the introduction of mobile howitzer batteries just before the declaration of war - on short lengths of track one must assume that Turkey could either roll rails, had some in stock or could import them at this time. We are not talking about a whole railway line but just the odd section or so unconnected to the network. Turkey could certainly construct artillery wagons which were used elsewhere. There are various accounts of being shelled by them. A colleague of mine in Saudi the 1980s who was able to get a couple of 4x4s out into the desert and view the wreckage of a Turkish armoured train reported simple open topped steel boxes with a gun port and some rifle slits - not unlike those used by Britain in the Western Desert

#59 centurion

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Posted 29 October 2011 - 12:58 PM

HM Armoured Train Simba used on the Uganda Railway in WW1
http://www.hellfire-....uk/pict429.jpg

#60 centurion

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Posted 29 October 2011 - 01:01 PM

The South African government deployed armoured trains against the Boer Rebellion of 1914. Equipped with substantial artillery.

http://i1.squidoocdn...ed_Train_2s.jpg

#61 munster

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Posted 29 October 2011 - 01:20 PM

picture in post 60 shows very well how stabilizers could take pressure off bad track when firing.Enjoying this thread.john

#62 bob lembke

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Posted 30 October 2011 - 08:49 PM

Still a sceptic here. As per the Jugoslav armored train, hard to see something like that firing cannon able to be a threat to the RN. And such a train on that narrow gauge rail running only feet from the shoreline would have nowhere to hide from a fleet, a sitting duck.

I just bought Vol. 1 of the Brit OH two volume set on the Dardanelles (I was yesterday in Baltimore for a day's seminar at the meeting of the East Coast Chapter of the Great War Association; surprised to be approached by several participants who follow my posts on this Forum; the volume was for sale there.)

This morning I read thru the OH narrative of the main RN attempt to force the Narrows, and a lot of pages surrounding that narrative, including all of the prior naval attacks, and there was no mention of a Turkish armored train, or of the Queen Elisabeth destroying one. (Wouldn't the OH mention it?) As I have said, I have been reading everything I can find from the Central Powers side about Gallipoli, any languge except Turkish (except three pages in three days, a nightmare), and have also (partially) read the recent Turkish General Staff's abbreviated English language history of Gallipoli (three vols boiled down to one, translation horrible), and have never seen a mention of this armored train. Is there any other Allisd mention of this armored train, besides the Aussie newspaper article?

Bob

#63 MTorrent

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 01:55 AM

Some wagon(s) of the one armoured train of the KuK still exist in Sarajevo, in sad condition.

http://www.andrewgra...in-in-sarajevo/

#64 bob lembke

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 11:24 AM

Let me type in some material from page 142 of Volume 1 of the Brit Official History on Gallipoli, Brigadier-General C. F. Aspinall-Oglander (IWM reprint), the book I bought two days ago.
"The Dardanelles garrison was known to be dependent on the capital for its ammunition and stores, for most of its supplies, and for all its reenforcements. There sould be sent either by sea or land, but it was believed that the Turks were relying chiefly on the sea route, and this in fact was true. By sea the peninsula was less than 150 miles from the Golden Horn, and disembarkation in any of the quiet bays of the land-locked Darnanelles was a simple operation. The land route on the other hand was open to many objections. The journey by train to the nearest railhead, Uzun Keupri, was 150 mioles from Constantinople, and hence by road to the Narrows was another 100 miles, or about seven days' march. The road was in a fair state of repair, but the Turks had no motor transport, and all stores and ammunition sent by this route had to be carried in bullock or buffalo carts with a maximum speed of about 2 1/2 miles an hour. The capacity of the road was therefore very limited, and it was plain to the Turks that without the free use of the Mamara route (note: by sea along the Sea of Mamara) it would be difficult to maintain a large force on the peninsula and almost impossible to ensure an adequate supply of artillery ammunition."
Perhaps just piling on, but this discussion made no mention of rail of course, and questions how an armored train, or its components, would have gotten there. In the weeks leading up to the naval assault the Turks were madly digging trenches and putting up barbed wire, as described in this OH, not fabricating an armored train.
I think it was mentioned that the account may have meant batteries on short sections of rail that could be pulled into action and pulled back. Ambassador Morgenthau visited Gallipoli in this period and described the system of mobile batteries pulled between multiple prepared firing positions by oxen teams, while related decoy "batteries" fired black-powder charges from tubes to simulate batteries. This system was much more mobile and flexible than fixing batteries on short stretches of rail, where they would be very vunerable to air observation and counter-battery fire. This is the sort of resource-heavy scheme that the Turks and Germans had no time or reason (or materiel) to engage in.

Bob

PS: The Sarajevo train is interesting, I have only been back to Sarajevo once recently, briefly, and had no knowledge of the collection. Had been there several times about the 1970's, a favorite city in "ex-Jugoslavija".