Austin Armoured Car
Austin Armoured Car was a British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 armoured car produced during the First World War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. The vehicle is best known for its employment by the Russian Army
Imperial Russian Army
The Imperial Russian Army was the land armed force of the Russian Empire, active from around 1721 to the Russian Revolution of 1917. In the early 1850s, the Russian army consisted of around 938,731 regular soldiers and 245,850 irregulars . Until the time of military reform of Dmitry Milyutin in...

 in the First World War and by different forces in the Russian Civil War
Russian Civil War
The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war that occurred within the former Russian Empire after the Russian provisional government collapsed to the Soviets, under the domination of the Bolshevik party. Soviet forces first assumed power in Petrograd The Russian Civil War (1917–1923) was a...


In addition to the British-built Austins, a few dozens of vehicles were manufactured in Russia in 1918-20. These are usually referred to as Austin-Putilov or - if fitted with a Kégresse halftrack chassis - Austin-Kégresse.

British Austins

In August 1914, just after the beginning of the First World War, the army of the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 started to form armoured car units. Due to limited production capabilities of the country's automotive industry it was decided to order a number of vehicles abroad. A committee was sent to the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, but didn't find an armoured car which met their requirements for overhead protection and two machine gun
Machine gun
A machine gun is a fully automatic mounted or portable firearm, usually designed to fire rounds in quick succession from an ammunition belt or large-capacity magazine, typically at a rate of several hundred rounds per minute....

Gun turret
A gun turret is a weapon mount that protects the crew or mechanism of a projectile-firing weapon and at the same time lets the weapon be aimed and fired in many directions.The turret is also a rotating weapon platform...


To meet these requirements, the Austin Motor Company
Austin Motor Company
The Austin Motor Company was a British manufacturer of automobiles. The company was founded in 1905 and merged in 1952 into the British Motor Corporation Ltd. The marque Austin was used until 1987...

 designed a new armoured car. The vehicle, known as Austin 1st series, was based on a passenger car chassis with rear axle drive. Wheels were wooden, spoked, with pneumatic tyres and an additional set of wheels with full rubber tyres for use in combat was carried. Two Maxim machine guns were mounted in separate turrets placed on both sides of the hull behind the driver's cab. The vehicle was protected by armour plates 3.5–4 mm thick screwed to a body frame. The crew of four - commander, driver and two gunners - could enter or leave the vehicle via a door on the left side of the cab or via big two-leaf rear door. On 29 September 1914, 48 armoured cars were ordered. One car cost 1,150 pound
Pound sterling
The pound sterling , commonly called the pound, is the official currency of the United Kingdom, its Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, British Antarctic Territory and Tristan da Cunha. It is subdivided into 100 pence...

s. After arrival in Russia the front and turret armour was replaced with 7 mm plates. First combat experience, however, revealed that the protection was still too weak and the vehicles were fully rearmoured at Izhorski Works, Izhorsk. The improved armour made the Austins much heavier, resulting in limited mobility and occasionally in chassis damage. However, the car was still considered more successful than alternative designs by, among others, Armstrong Whitworth
Armstrong Whitworth
Sir W G Armstrong Whitworth & Co Ltd was a major British manufacturing company of the early years of the 20th century. Headquartered in Elswick, Newcastle upon Tyne, Armstrong Whitworth engaged in the construction of armaments, ships, locomotives, automobiles, and aircraft.-History:In 1847,...

, Renault
Renault S.A. is a French automaker producing cars, vans, and in the past, autorail vehicles, trucks, tractors, vans and also buses/coaches. Its alliance with Nissan makes it the world's third largest automaker...

 and Sheffield-Simplex
Sheffield-Simplex was a British car and motor cycle manufacturer operating from 1907 to 1920 based in Sheffield, Yorkshire, and Kingston upon Thames, Surrey.The company received financial backing from the coal magnate Earl Fitzwilliam...


On 6 March 1915 the Russians ordered 60 vehicles of an improved design, known as Austin 2nd series. This time the chassis of a 1.5 ton truck with a more powerful engine was used. The hull was shorter, with thicker armour, the driver's cab roof was modified to improve machine guns' angle of fire. Less welcome was a removal of rear access door. The army also decided it wanted a rear driving post, so after arrival to Russia all vehicles were fitted with a redesigned rear hull section, which housed a second driving post and additional hatch. Another upgrade was the addition of side shields to the machine guns.

Sixty units of Austin 3rd series were ordered on 25 August 1916. The vehicles were similar in characteristics to the 2nd series, but had modified rear hull with driving post, MG shields, bulletproof glass in the front vision slots and lacked big side windows.

Yet another version, with strengthened chassis and double rear wheels, sometimes referred to as Austin model 1918, was ordered in 1917 but due to events in Russia none were delivered.

Russian Austins

In 1916 a decision was made to produce a Russian armoured car on the well known Austin chassis. 60 chassis units - identical to those used in 3rd series - were ordered from Austin. The mission of building armoured hulls was entrusted to Putilovski Works
Kirov Plant
The Kirov Plant Kirov Factory or Leningrad Kirov Plant is a major Russian machine-building plant in St. Petersburg, Russia....

, Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

. It was planned to build the cars by July 1917, but work was virtually brought to halt by the February Revolution
February Revolution
The February Revolution of 1917 was the first of two revolutions in Russia in 1917. Centered around the then capital Petrograd in March . Its immediate result was the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II, the end of the Romanov dynasty, and the end of the Russian Empire...

 and the subsequent chaos. Not until March 1918 were the first cars produced. Later the production was transferred to Izhorski Works. A total of 33 vehicles were produced in 1918-1920. In contemporary Russian documents the model was referred to as Russian Austin (Russian: Русский Остин - Russkij Ostin), but eventually became better known as Austin-Putilov (Russian: Остин-Путиловец - Ostin-Putilovets).

Twelve hulls identical to those of Austin-Putilov were mounted on a Kégresse halftrack chassis, resulting in vehicles known as Austin-Kégresse. Production continued from July 1919 until March 1920 when it was stopped by shortage of materials and parts.

Russian Austins' most obvious features were diagonally placed MG turrets (in order to reduce width) and additional right side door. They also had MG mounts with better elevation and other minor improvements.


Arrival of the 1st series Austins allowed to start forming automobile machine gun platoon
A platoon is a military unit typically composed of two to four sections or squads and containing 16 to 50 soldiers. Platoons are organized into a company, which typically consists of three, four or five platoons. A platoon is typically the smallest military unit led by a commissioned officer—the...

(Russian: пулемётный автомобильный взвод - pulemyotniy avtomobilniy vzvod or автопулемётный взвод - avtopulemyotniy vzvod). First platoons (5-12), formed according to the organization no. 19, had each three Austins, four staff car
Staff car
A staff car is a vehicle used by a senior military officer, and is part of their country's white fleet. The term is most often used in relation to the United Kingdom where they were first used in quantity during World War I, examples being the Vauxhall D-type and Crossley 20/25.Staff cars are...

s, a truck
A truck or lorry is a motor vehicle designed to transport cargo. Trucks vary greatly in size, power, and configuration, with the smallest being mechanically similar to an automobile...

, a workshop
A workshop is a room or building which provides both the area and tools that may be required for the manufacture or repair of manufactured goods...

 truck, a tanker truck and four motorcycle
A motorcycle is a single-track, two-wheeled motor vehicle. Motorcycles vary considerably depending on the task for which they are designed, such as long distance travel, navigating congested urban traffic, cruising, sport and racing, or off-road conditions.Motorcycles are one of the most...

s, with personnel of four officer
Officer (armed forces)
An officer is a member of an armed force or uniformed service who holds a position of authority. Commissioned officers derive authority directly from a sovereign power and, as such, hold a commission charging them with the duties and responsibilities of a specific office or position...

s and 45-46 soldier
A soldier is a member of the land component of national armed forces; whereas a soldier hired for service in a foreign army would be termed a mercenary...

s. Further platoons (13-24, 26-28, 30-36), formed according to the organization no. 20, received only two Austins but had a gun section consisting from a gun-armed Garford-Putilov armoured car
Garford-Putilov Armoured Car
Garford-Putilov armoured cars were a type of armored fighting vehicle produced in Russia during the First World War era. They were built on the frames of Garford Motor Truck Co. lorries imported from the United States....

, a staff car, a truck and a motorcycle. Platoons 5 to 12 received an additional Garford. Crews of those auto-MG platoons were entirely drawn from volunteers. Most of platoons were used in the Western and South-Western Fronts, some platoons in the Northern Front and Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

. In combat they were attached to divisions or regiments.

By mid-1916 it was evident that larger units should be formed to make armoured cars more effective. In August, platoons were arranged into twelve "armoured automobile battalion
A battalion is a military unit of around 300–1,200 soldiers usually consisting of between two and seven companies and typically commanded by either a Lieutenant Colonel or a Colonel...

s" (Russian: броневой автомобильный дивизион - bronyevoy avtomobilniy divizion or автобронедивизион - avtobronedivizion), each attached to a specific army. Each battalion was formed from two to five former platoons, which were renamed to section
Section (military unit)
A section is a small military unit in some armies. In many armies, it is a squad of seven to twelve soldiers. However in France and armies based on the French model, it is the sub-division of a company .-Australian Army:...

s while retaining old number. In some cases, for example in the Caucasus theatre, the platoon organization was retained.

In the Russian Civil War
Russian Civil War
The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war that occurred within the former Russian Empire after the Russian provisional government collapsed to the Soviets, under the domination of the Bolshevik party. Soviet forces first assumed power in Petrograd The Russian Civil War (1917–1923) was a...

 Austins were used by many participants, including both Red
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

 and White
White movement
The White movement and its military arm the White Army - known as the White Guard or the Whites - was a loose confederation of Anti-Communist forces.The movement comprised one of the politico-military Russian forces who fought...

 armies, Ukrainians
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 etc.. The Red Army had the largest number of vehicles, including all the Austin-Putilov and Austin-Kergesse vehicles and most of the 3rd series. In Soviet service the cars were organized into "armoured automobile units" (Russian: броневой автомоильный отряд - bronevoy avtomobilniy otryad or автоброневой отряд - avtobronevoy otryad), similar in strength to a World War I-era platoon: three machine gun-armed cars and one either gun-armed or machine gun-armed, four staff cars, five trucks, a tanker truck, a workshop truck and four motorcycles. The RKKA Austins also saw combat in the Polish-Soviet War
Polish-Soviet War
The Polish–Soviet War was an armed conflict between Soviet Russia and Soviet Ukraine and the Second Polish Republic and the Ukrainian People's Republic—four states in post–World War I Europe...

. By 1921 the RKKA possessed about 16 Austins of the 1st series, 15 2nd series, 78 3rd series and Putilovs. British-built Austins were removed from service by 1931, and by 1933, the Russian-built ones were also retired.

The Austin-Putilov armoured car named Vrag Kapitala (Enemy of the Capital), on display at the Artillery Museum
Military Historical Museum of Artillery, Engineers and Signal Corps
The Military Historical Museum of Artillery, Engineers and Signal Corps , also known simply as the Artillery Museum, is a state-owned military museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia...

, St. Petersburg, is often referred to as the vehicle which Lenin
Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and communist politician who led the October Revolution of 1917. As leader of the Bolsheviks, he headed the Soviet state during its initial years , as it fought to establish control of Russia in the Russian Civil War and worked to create a...

 stood on to address the crowd in April 1917. However, it cannot be true as this armoured car was only manufactured in 1919.

Other users

  • Some of the completed model 1918 Austins were fitted with Hotchkiss M1914 machine gun
    Hotchkiss M1914 machine gun
    The Mle 1914 Hotchkiss machine gun became the standard machine gun of the French Army during World War I. It was manufactured by the French arms company Hotchkiss et Cie, which had been established in the 1860s by American industrialist Benjamin B. Hotchkiss...

    s and given to the British Army
    British Army
    The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

    . Sixteen of those vehicles saw action in France
    The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

     from June 1918. Some cars were sent to the Caspian Sea
    Caspian Sea
    The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. The sea has a surface area of and a volume of...

     region. Austins were also used by the British in the Anglo-Irish War
    Irish War of Independence
    The Irish War of Independence , Anglo-Irish War, Black and Tan War, or Tan War was a guerrilla war mounted by the Irish Republican Army against the British government and its forces in Ireland. It began in January 1919, following the Irish Republic's declaration of independence. Both sides agreed...

  • A few Austins model 1918 ended up with the Japanese Army
    Imperial Japanese Army
    -Foundation:During the Meiji Restoration, the military forces loyal to the Emperor were samurai drawn primarily from the loyalist feudal domains of Satsuma and Chōshū...

    , where they remained in service until early 1930s.
  • Polish Armed Forces
    Polish Armed Forces
    Siły Zbrojne Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej are the national defense forces of Poland...

     captured up to 20 Austins in the Civil War and Polish-Soviet War. Some were subsequently employed by the Polish. Five remained in service after the war, some until the 1930s.
  • Two Austins 3rd series, initially sent by the Soviets in 1918 to help the Red Guards
    Red Guards (Finland)
    The Red Guards formed the army of Red Finland during the Finnish Civil War in 1918. The combined strength of the Red Guard was about 30,000 at the beginning of the Civil War, and peaked at 90,000-120,000 during the course of the conflict....

     in the Finnish Civil War
    Finnish Civil War
    The Finnish Civil War was a part of the national, political and social turmoil caused by World War I in Europe. The Civil War concerned control and leadership of The Grand Duchy of Finland as it achieved independence from Russia after the October Revolution in Petrograd...

    , were taken over by the Finnish Army
    Finnish Army
    The Finnish Army is the land forces branch of the Finnish Defence Forces.Today's Army is divided into six branches: the infantry , field artillery, anti-aircraft artillery, engineers, signals, and materiel troops.-History of the Finnish Army:Between 1809 and 1917 Finland was an autonomous part of...

    , which used them until the mid-1920s.
  • Estonia
    Estonia , officially the Republic of Estonia , is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia , and to the east by Lake Peipsi and the Russian Federation . Across the Baltic Sea lies...

     used two captured Austin-Putilovs, named Tasuja and Suur Tõll.
  • Latvian Army
    Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

     used one Austin 2nd series, named Zemgaleetis.
  • One 3rd series Austin was used by the Romanian Army.
  • 2-3 cars were given by the Soviets to the Mongolian People's Army
    Mongolian People's Army
    The Mongolian People's Army or Mongolian People's Revolutionary Army was established on 18 March 1921 as a secondary army under Soviet Red Army command during the 1920s and during World War II.-Creation of the army:One of the first actions of the new Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party...

     in the early 1920s.
  • In 1919 four vehicles, two 2nd series and two 3rd series, were used by the German
    The Reichswehr formed the military organisation of Germany from 1919 until 1935, when it was renamed the Wehrmacht ....

     Kokampf armoured unit.
  • The last active Austin was probably the vehicle employed by the Austrian Army
    Military of Austria
    The Österreichisches Bundesheer , is the name for the military of the Republic of Austria....

     until 1935.
  • At least one car (see photo) was captured at the Dobruja
    Dobruja is a historical region shared by Bulgaria and Romania, located between the lower Danube river and the Black Sea, including the Danube Delta, Romanian coast and the northernmost part of the Bulgarian coast...

     Front at 17 November 1916 by the Bulgaria
    Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

    n Army.


  • Austin 1st series (or model 1914) - based on a passenger car chassis with 30 hp engine and rear axle drive. Wheels wooden, spoked. 3.5–4 mm armour, eventually replaced with 7 mm plates. Weight with original armour 2.66 ton. Road speed 50–60 km/h. Road range 250 km. Crew of 4 (commander, driver and two gunners). 48 units built.
  • Austin 2nd series (or model 1915) - based on 1.5 ton truck chassis with 50 hp engine, shortened hull, thicker armour, redesigned driver's cab roof, no rear door. After arrival to Russia were fitted with a redesigned rear hull section (with second driving post and rear hatch) and MG side shields. Weight 5.3 ton. Road speed about 60 km/h. Road range 200 km. Crew of 4-5. 60 units built.
  • Austin 3rd series - Modified rear section and in the driver's cab, rear driver post, MG side shields, bulletproof glass in front vision slots, no big side windows, no rear hatch. Weight 5.3 ton. Road speed about 60 km/h. Road range 200 km. Crew of 4-5. 60 units built.
  • Austin model 1918 - Strengthened chassis, double rear wheels. 70 vehicles were ordered, but were not delivered due to events in Russia in 1917.
  • Austin-Putilov - Had locally produced hull designed by the Putilovski Works, with diagonally placed MG turrets, right side door and thicker armour. Chassis, the same as in the 3rd series, were still ordered from Austin. Armour 4 to 7.5 mm thick. Weight 5.2 tons. Road speed about 55 km/h. Road range 200 km. Crew of 5. 33 built.
  • Austin-Kegresse (or Austin-Putilov-Kegresse) - Austin-Putilov hull mounted on a half-track chassis. Weight 5.8-5.9 tons. Road speed about 25 km/h. Road range 100 km. 12 built.
  • Armoured hulls of damaged Austins were sometimes (mostly during the Russian Civil War) mounted on other chassis, usually White
    White Motor Company
    White Motor Company was an American automobile and truck manufacturer from 1900 until 1980. The company also produced bicycles, roller skates, automatic lathes, and sewing machines. Before World War II, the company was based in Cleveland, Ohio.-History:...

    , Fiat
    FIAT, an acronym for Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino , is an Italian automobile manufacturer, engine manufacturer, financial, and industrial group based in Turin in the Italian region of Piedmont. Fiat was founded in 1899 by a group of investors including Giovanni Agnelli...

     or Packard
    Packard was an American luxury-type automobile marque built by the Packard Motor Car Company of Detroit, Michigan, and later by the Studebaker-Packard Corporation of South Bend, Indiana...

    . The combination of White chassis and Austin hull is sometimes referred to as White-Austin.

External links

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