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Armoured Wagons for Warfare.

4th September 1913
Page 41
Page 43
Page 41, 4th September 1913 — Armoured Wagons for Warfare.
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Their Probable Employment for Coast-defence Work, Reconnoitring and Movable Block-house Duty.

Recent developments in respect of the possibilities of employment of aerial craft for warfare, coupled with the increased practicability of motor haulage for Army service, tend to Make it interesting, now that this year's British Army manceuvres are impending, once again to consider, in the light of these new conditions, the possibility of the ultimate employment of armoured artillery and troop wagons for certain special classes of service.

What has Already Been Done.

Owing to the limited scope of employment for plant of this kind up to the present time, there has been little temptation for even the biggest constructors of automobiles to apply their technical skill towards the perfecting of a practicable armoured-antomobilc fighting unit. Remembering, however, that the great French artillery-manufacturing organization of Schneider and Co., of Havre and Creusot, had carried out considerable experiments in this direction in the past, we recently sought the opinion or Mr. A. P. Charnpin, the English representative of that company, as to the scope which now lies before those who are in a position to construct armoured motor vehicles.

We illustrate on page 43 a typical example of this specialized construction, as delivered to the Spanish Government. This consists of a more or less standard Schneider lorry chassis, with a 10 ft. 9 in. wheelbase, and an overall length of 19 ft. 2 ins. The engine is of the four-cylinder type with a bore of 1.9 ins., and a stroke of 5.5 ins. ; 'develops 40 h.p. at 1000 revs.

The cylinders are thermo-syphon cooled, the radiator being provided with a fan which is belt-driven from the engine. A Hele-Shaw clutch drives to the threespeed-and-reverse gearbox, and thence the power is transmitted by a cardan propeller shaft to the live rear axle. The road wheels, which are rubber shod, are of the wooden artillery pattern, protected by I-in. sheet-metal discs of Masque sfeel.

The Schneider Wagon Described.

The bodywork is of the so-called armoured type, and is roughly divided into three compartments. The front comprises a covered cab for the driver's seat, which latter is located over the engine ; the main portion of the bodywork, which is in effect a small blockhouse for the accommodation of the men in charge pf the quick-firing guns ; and the ammunition storage, which is located at the rear of the chassis. The front portion of the armouring protects the radiator, the engine and the principal mechanical parts. There are two seats, the one on the left being reserved for the driver, whilst that on the right, with a folding back, is intended for the officer in command. There are four movable shutters in front and two at the sides, thus permitting easy inspection of the road. Two doors, one at each side of the vehicle, give access to the seats and the interior of the car. Louvres, placed in front of the radiator, allow access of air to the honeycomb radiator, at the same time protecting it from shots. The roof of the cab is formed of two sliding panels for the purpose of ventilation. The Travelling Block-house.

With regard to the block-house or central portion of this armoured body, the net available space therein

: length, 6 ft. 6 ins. ; height, 6 ft. 4 ins. ; width, 5 ft. 7 ins. This is reserved for riflemen and the men in charge of the quick-firing guns, and two longitudinal seats are provided for this purpose. The seats can be folded up so as not to interfere with the firing, which, in the event of an attack, can take place from both sides of the vehicle through eight louvred shutters, four on each side, and placed at two different heights, in order to permit of firing in a standing or kneeling position. An additional shutter is also fitted at. the back end of the blockhouse for rear action.

Carries Up to Three Tons of Ammunition.

With regard to the ammunition store, the net available space is, approximately, 6 ft. 6 ins, length, ft. 7 ins, height, and 5 ft. 7 ins, width, and it is stated that from to 3 tons of ammunition could, if need arose, be, stored in this compartment. A folding door fitted at the back enables the ammunition to be quickly loaded. In front, the ammunition box is isolated from the blockhouse by a vertical wooden partition with a communication door. The meehanical parts are protected by armour plating consisting of hinged panels, with clearance only for the wheels. The armouring consists of .2 in. plates of :Masque Artillerie Francaise steel, • which is stated to give ample security against Lebel rifles at 1G. yaids.

The Need for Rapid Troop Transport.

Regarded purely from the military pointof view, a recognized authority has placed the following considerations before us. In a country such as that comprising the British Isles, with a big coast line, and only a comparatively-small regular armed force always available, quick transport., both at night-time and during the day, for troops, which may be needed at any attacked point, is rapidly becoming a more vital necessity every day. It must be remembered that infantry marches at a speed not in excess of three miles per hour, with ten-minute rests in halts. By the use of armoired cars, on the good main roads of England, a complete infantry battalion of 980 men could be transported, comparatively immune from attack, Sour times as quickly over four times the distance as would be possible with the same troops marching. 110 Wagons Cover Two Miles of Firing Line.

It is estimated that. 110 ears of the type which we have described above. could transport a complete infantry battalion of 9S0 men 90 miles, under complete protection, in one night. Leaving a space of 20 yards between each car, drawn up in file, the maximum length of such an infantry column would be about 11 miles, Such a column at any part of the coast remote from fortified positions, would be able to oppose a firing line of almost two miles, looking towards the attack, with two quick-firing guns per car, or 220 on the whole line of defence, and four rifles per ear, 440 rifles in the whole line. A space of 20 yards between each car Would be large eriougl to minimize the danger of bursting shells.

Protecting Troops from Air Craft.

It is not at all unlikely that coast-defence. work will necessitate the employment in future of certain units equipped with these movable fortresses, and operating on well-built roads running right round the coast,. Finally, with the development of air craft, and their possibilities of bomb-throwing, the armoured type of military wagon, carrying troops at a speed of, say, 12 miles on hour, should prove a most-effective means of counteracting -the aeroplane's capa-eity for damage, already 'discounted because of its speed.

For Use in India and the Colonies.

Such cars will also have their use, it would appear, in respect of protecting ambulances or supply columns, as these departments in war time are certain, of course, to be more and more motorized as time Foes on. For use in respect of advanced harassing operations by detached units, of the urgent transport of infantry in the Colonies, in mountainous districts, and particularly when passing along narrow valleys presumably dominated by enemies on the hills on either side, such as is frequently the case in India, this class of machine will have to be considered. The subject of our illustration is not a new model, but it is a practical effort in the direction of which we have been writing. As we wrote at the commencement of this article, military considerations of an entirely-new nature have recently arisen which will necessitate consideration of the possibility of the employment of plant of this kind before many years have passed. By no means a negligible illustration of such development has been the employment, by the police, during recent 'strike troubles, of armoured patrol wagons.


People: A. P. Charnpin

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