There’s an interesting if disjointed (and sometime wrongly-captioned) photo essay on armored cars at this link:

[W]e take a look at the many different types of armoured cars that have appeared over the last one hundred years.

via Dark Roasted Blend: Impressive Vintage Armoured Cars.

The armored wheeled vehicles range from the First World War’s Bristols and Rolls-Royces, up through the Russian Civil War’s Austin-Putilov…

…and many peculiar armored reconnaissance and scout vehicles of the interwar years, World War II, and the Cold War. Heavy on Russian stuff. There’s even a shot of Stalin’s own ZIS armored limousine, which looks like a Packard for the simple reason that the financially strapped Packard firm sold the USSR a lot of the tooling.

The wartime German types, which survived at very low rates, are underrepresented, but a lot of the interwar and Spanish Civil War Soviet types are depicted, as is the wartime the BA-64, which always makes us think (1) for an armored car, that’s cute as kittens, and (2) what a horrible place to die! It had angled armor, like the contemporary German designs.

Most of these things had 12-15 mm of armor (half to three-quarters of an inch) and were barely proof against small arms and artillery wide misses. (Even against those minor battlefield threats, the pneumatic tires were vulnerable to an easy mobility kill).

An example of the kinds of subtle errors in the photo essay is its description of this early postwar Czech armored car, the Škoda PA-II “Želva”:

The post says this of it:

We’ll start with perhaps the most interesting – a streamlined armored car: “Built by Skoda in 1923 and armed with 4 Maxim MGs, this Zelva served with the Czechoslovak police, and weighed more than 7 tons”:

Actually they missed its most interesting feature, one which fascinated the Germans: it had two driver’s stations and was equally at home going either way. They also called the MGs wrong, in our humble opinion. The image on the left seems to show the characteristic long flash hider and short water jacket of the Austrian-designed Schwarzlose, a mechanically unique gun that was used by the Czechoslovak Republic for some years after independence (they even developed improvments over the wartime gun). And indeed, a better reference on the Želva online spills important details: only 12 were made, the armor peaked at under a quarter-inch, and the Czechoslovak Army rejected them… and, oh yeah, the armament was 4 each, 7.92 mm Schwarzlose vz. 07/24 machine guns. The Germans took them over and used them as radio vehicles during the war. None are believed to survive.

This entry was posted in Crew-Served, Support Weapons, The Past is Another Country on by Hognose.

About Hognose

Former Special Forces 11B2S, later 18B, weapons man. (Also served in intelligence and operations jobs in SF).

6 thoughts on “Vintage Armored Cars (1912-80 or so)


A subject near to my heart.

The WWI Admiralty-pattern Rolls Royce is the gem of the whole thing. Lawrence of Arabia wrote that “A Rolls in the desert was above rubies.”

The WWI Austins also had duplicate steering wheels and controls at the back of the vehicle, but this worked a lot better in theory than in practice. The Russian ones usually had staggered turrets, interesting that the ones shown on the website don’t.

There are some great stories of the adventures of soldiers (mostly Brits) with these early armored cars in WWI, in theaters all over the globe:

The Czar’s British Squadron, Perrett and Lord

Steel Chariots in the Desert, Rolls

Armoured Cars in Eden, Roosevelt (the Kermit Roosevelt of later fame)

War Cars, Fletcher

And the creation of the Royal Navy’s armored car squadrons in 1914, with Churchill having a hand, is a story in itself.

British armored cars went on to fight in a score of campaigns and small wars from 1919 – 1939. Some of those 1914 Rolls armored hulls, on newer Fordson chassis, were still used during the rout of the Italians in the opening stages of the Desert War in 1940.


The later Panhard 178s had the same back seat driver switch off system.


Okay, nerd confessions time again here. If you like these armored cars and or Ian’s forgotten weapons site then check out the game Battlefield 1 on the Xbox one gaming system. That’s right, ask your grandkids to show it to you if necessary but I’m here to tell you: it’s pretty cool.


On Russian armored cars, no pneumatic tires already in the First World War. The tires were filled with the elastic compound of the engineer Guss (mainly glycerin and gelatin)

Quote from the report of 1916:

“Rifle and machine-gun fire no harm to gusmatics. Hits 37mm shell not disable the gusmatics, but makes a neat hole and the machine continues to work …”

W. Fleetwood

Actually, my first thought upon seeing the BA 64 above was; Well dang, the Rhodesians must have got ahold of a VW Bug!

Wafa Wafa, Wasara Wasara.


Twin driving positions (front and rear) was a kind of recurring theme amongst armoured car designs. The French, well Panhard, were really into it with it being a feature on the 178 and EBR.