ARMOURED CARS PART 3

 

 

Finnish Light Armoured Cars in World War 2

 

 

 

BAB A (FAI)

(Fiat-A Izhorskiy)

PICTURE: FAI armoured car R-2 of 5th Separate Armoured Car Platoon. Soldiers standing on foot boards of the armoured car are either crew, mechanics or personel of another armoured car since they are wearing overalls. The vehicle is just passing machinegun crews, which are carrying water-cooled Maxim machineguns, their tripods and belt cans. Photo taken in Louhivaara in July of 1941. (SA-kuva photo archive, photo number 26693). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (162 KB).

Weight:

 

1.99 tons

Length:

 

3.75 meters

Width:

 

1.68 meters

Height:

 

2.24 meters

Max. Speed:

 

80 km/h (on road) / 30 km/h (on terrain)

 

 

? km/h on reverse

Engine:

 

42 hp GAZ-A (Ford-A) 4-cylinder gasoline engine

Armour:

 

3 - 6 mm

- Hull front and sides

 

6 mm

- Hull rear

 

4 mm

- Hull roof

 

5 mm

- Hull floor

 

3 mm

- Turret front and sides

 

6 mm

Ground Clearance:

 

22 cm

Ground Pressure:

 

2.3 kg/square cm

Gradient:

 

15 degrees

Trench:

 

0.3 m

Fording:

 

0.5 m

Range:

 

200 km (on road) / 170 km (on terrain)

Weapons:

 

1 x 7.62-mm DT machinegun (1,323 rounds)

Crew:

 

2 men

Country of Origin:

 

Soviet Union

Production:

 

1932 1936

Finnish use: Likely three FAI armoured car used by Finnish Army in Continuation War (1941 - 1944). They apparently didn't see much combat use and were used mainly as messenger and command vehicles.

FAI (Fiat-A Izhorskiy) armoured car designed by FAI OKB (design bureau of Izhorskiy plant) was introduced to use of Soviet Red Army in year 1932. For all practical purposes was quite similar to earlier D-8 armoured car, but unlike D-8 it had a rotating turret, which offered 360 degree field of fire of its machinegun. Like earlier D-8 and D-12 it had been designed as a reconnaissance vehicle. The cylindrical turret was manually rotated and contained the vehicles only weaponry - 7.62-mm DT-machinegun, which had field of fire of about 20 degrees without rotating the turret. The vehicle had only two-man crew of driver and commander/gunner. Unlike Dyrenkov (developer of D-8) had dreaded, adding the turret didn't really increase weight of the vehicle and only made it somewhat higher. FAI was quite fast on road, but had rather poor operational range and since both GAZ-A (Ford-A) chassis and tires used in were not really designed for cross-country use also very poor all-terrain mobility. In addition it had just enough armour to provide its crew safety against small arms fire - and only as far as normal ammunition was used. Protection it provided even against rifle-calibre armour-piercing ammo was marginal and thin armour was useless against just about anything above rifle calibre. As was common with early Soviet armoured vehicles FAI didn't have a radio, which obviously reduced its usefulness in its role as a reconnaissance vehicle.

FAI was manufactured by Izhorskiy plant in 1932 - 1936, during which time their total production was 676 vehicles. Large number was delivered to Spanish Republican government and was used by both sides of Spanish Civil War. After that they took part in Soviet military conflicts with most of them lost in few months after German attack in year 1941. The last FAI armoured cars remained in Soviet use until year 1943. Since the Germans don't seem to have been overly impressed by FAI, they saw very limited German use.

Finnish Army knew FAI armoured car as BAB A armoured car. As far as known Finnish Army took only three captured these vehicles to its own use. Like other light armoured cars they seem have served mainly as liaison and dispatch and vehicles. Inventory lists made in year 1944 indicate that three existed in use of Finnish Army at that time. Year 1950 only two of these remained and they were removed from use in year 1951 and scrapped. The armour registry numbers used with these vehicles started with Ps.5.

 

 

BAB B (FAI-M)

Weight:

 

2.30 tons

Length:

 

4.31 meters

Width:

 

1.75 meters

Height:

 

2.24 meters

Max. Speed:

 

90 km/h (on road)

 

 

? km/h on reverse

Engine:

 

50 hp GAZ-M1 4-cylinder gasoline engine

Armour:

 

3 - 6 mm

- Hull front and sides

 

6 mm

- Hull rear

 

4 mm

- Hull roof

 

5 mm

- Hull floor

 

3 mm

- Turret front and sides

 

6 mm

Ground Clearance:

 

24 cm

Ground Pressure:

 

2.5 kg/square cm

Gradient:

 

15 - 16 degrees

Trench:

 

0.4 m

Fording:

 

0.5 m

Range:

 

350 km (on road) / 270 km (on terrain)

Weapons:

 

1 x 7.62-mm DT machinegun (1,323 rounds)

Crew:

 

2 men

Country of Origin:

 

Soviet Union

Production:

 

1938?

Finnish use: Finnish Army used these captured vehicles in Continuation War (1941 - 1944). Unfortunately their number in Finnish use is unknown.

Year 1936 BA-20 armoured car manufactured by Vyksinskiy plant replaced FAI armoured manufactured by Izhorskiy plant in orders of light armoured cars made by Soviet Red Army. After this Izhorskiy plant started concentrating in manufacturing of heavy armoured cars, while Vyksinskiy plant continued making light armoured cars. However when production of FAI light armoured car ended in Izhorskiy apparently a large number of unused FAI hulls still remained. Since FAI chassis wasn't manufactured anymore a decision was made to mount these on GAZ-M1 chassis already used in BA-20 armoured cars. Hence the resulting FAI-M armoured car was basically FAI armoured hull mounted on GAZ M-1 chassis and engine. While the hull was obviously short for the chassis and because of this the resulting vehicle looked somewhat awkward, this new armoured car named as FAI-M proved superior to the original FAI armoured car. The number of FAI-M manufactured varies considerably from one source to another (76 or 300), at least part of these were assembled in year 1938. Hull of FAI-M was as thinly armoured, but it was faster than FAI was on road and thanks to more suitable chassis and more powerful engine had also better all-terrain mobility. Due to larger gas tank (60 litres vs. 40 litres used in FAI) it also had much better operational range. In addition new sponge rubber tires (which could not be punctured by bullets or shrapnel) with disk wheels replaced old tires equipped with spokes. As with FAI also FAI-M had crew of only two men - driver and commander/gunner. Also like with earlier Soviet armoured cars also FAI-M lacked radio, which during the war reduced its usefulness considerably. As with other armoured cars of the period, the Soviets lost most of these during the few months of battles in year 1941. Only some seem to have remained in Soviet use until 1943. At least some captured vehicles seem to have also been in German use during World War 2. As far as known only FAI-M armoured car, that has survived to this day, is in Russia.

Finnish Army knew FAI, BA-20 and BA-20M armoured cars all simply as BAB B armoured car. At least 18 of these armoured cars were taken to Finnish use and used by Finnish Army in Continuation War. They seem to have seen use mainly as liaison/dispatch and command vehicles As indicated on this list three out of those 18 vehicles were lost in summer of 1944, still leaving 15 in Finnish use until end of the war. As mentioned after the war they were issued to Finnish police, which returned them in May of 1946. They remained warehoused until all but one were declared obsolete in 1950. The last remaining BAB B armoured car was declared obsolete in year 1951. Armoured registry numbers used for identifying individual vehicles (in very same manner as license plates) of these armoured cars started all with Ps.6.

 

BAB B (BA-20)

Weight:

2.34 tons

Length:

4.10 meters

Width:

1.80 meters

Height:

2.30 meters

Max. Speed:

90 km/h (on road)

? km/h on reverse

Engine:

50 hp GAZ-M1 4-cylinder gasoline engine

Armour:

4 - 6 mm

- Hull front and sides

6 mm

- Hull rear

4 mm

- Turret front

6 mm

Ground Clearance:

24 cm

Ground Pressure:

2.7 kg/square cm

Gradient:

15 degrees

Trench:

0.4 m

Fording:

0.5 m

Range:

350 km (on road) / 270 km (on terrain)

Weapons:

1 x 7.62 DT machinegun (1,323 rounds)

Crew:

2 or 3 men

Country of Origin:

Soviet Union

Production:

1936 - 1938

Finnish use: Finnish Army used these captured vehicles in Continuation War (1941 - 1944). Unfortunately their number in Finnish use is unknown.

The Soviets experimented with more heavily armoured versions of D-8, D-12 and FAI armoured cars in 1930's, but as the tests revealed modified GAZ-A (Ford-A) chassis could not take much more additional weight. Solution of this problem appeared when GAZ-M1 4x2 light car designed by A.A. Lipgart and A.M. Kriger entered to mass-production around 1934 - 1935. Both Vyksinskiy plant and GAZ factory had been preparing already beforehand for this new chassis to be used also in light armoured car and had started development of armoured hull in year 1934. The new resulting armoured car named as BA-20 and accepted to use of Soviet Red Army in year 1935. Mass production of the GAZ-M1 hull and chassis for BA-20 started in GAZ factory in the following year. Armoured hulls were manufactured by Vyksinskiy and Izhorskiy plants, which also took care assembling of these armoured vehicles. BA-20 proved highly successful. Additional space and less strict weight limitations allowed adding 71-TK-1 radio and a third crew member (radio operator) to the crew in some BA-20 in addition of the usual driver and vehicle commander/gunner. Also (for the first time in Soviet light armoured cars) escape hatch had been built on floor of the vehicle and like FAI-M this vehicle was equipped with sponge rubber tires.

Finnish Army knew this vehicle as BAB B armoured car and used it in similar manner as other captured light Soviet armoured cars as liaison/dispatch, command and radio vehicles. To be exact Finnish Army called FAI-M, BA-20 and BA-20M all BAB B.

 

BAB B (BA-20M)

PICTURE: BAB B (BA-20M) armoured car. Notice both original frame antenna and base for Finnish whip antenna on hood of the car. Photo taken in Panssarimuseo (The Armour Museum, Parola). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (90 KB).

Weight:

 

2.52 tons

Length:

 

4.31 meters

Width:

 

1.75 meters

Height:

 

2.85 meters

Max. Speed:

 

60 - 70 km/h (on road)

 

 

? km/h on reverse

Engine:

 

50 hp GAZ-M1 4-cylinder gasoline engine

Armour:

 

3 - 6 mm

- Hull front and sides

 

6 mm

- Hull rear

 

4 mm

- Hull roof

 

3 mm

- Hull floor

 

3 mm

- Turret front and sides

 

6 mm

Ground Clearance:

 

24 cm

Ground Pressure:

 

2.9 kg/square cm

Gradient:

 

15 degrees

Trench:

 

0.4 m

Fording:

 

0.5 m

Range:

 

450 km (on road) / 335 km (on terrain)

Weapons:

 

1 x 7.62-mm DT machinegun (1,323 rounds)

Crew:

 

3 men

Country of Origin:

 

Soviet Union

Production:

 

1938 1942

Finnish use: Finnish Army used these captured vehicles in Continuation War (1941 - 1944). Unfortunately their number in Finnish use is unknown.

While BA-20 proved to be a good light armoured car the Soviets still found room for improvement, which lead into introduction of modernised model, BA-20M in year 1938. This model designed by Vyksinskiy plant design team (Vyksinskiy OKB) had new larger conical turret and new 71-TK-3 radio as part of its standard equipment. With the radio also third crew member (radio operator) was added among crewmembers (driver + vehicle commander/gunner) to all BA-20M. In addition to these BA-20M was equipped with massive 90-litre gas tank, which allowed it exceptionally long operational range. While BA-20U (BA-20 command version, the version with radio) and early BA-20M had been equipped with frame antenna mounted on turret, late production BA-20M had more modern whip antenna. Due to much increased weight BA-20M had notably smaller maximum speed on road, but otherwise it was superior to all previous Soviet light armoured cars in every area. Manufacturing of BA-20M armoured cars continued until early 1942 and by the time it ended 2,013 had been made. The armoured car to replace BA-20M in production in year 1942 was BA-64. While BA-20 and BA-20M look very similar, they have different turret shapes, which allow identifying them - BA-20 turret is cylindrical and BA-20M turret conical.

Finnish Army knew this vehicle as BAB B armoured car and used it in similar manner as other captured light Soviet armoured cars - as liaison/dispatch, command and radio vehicles. To be exact Finnish Army caled FAI-M, BA-20 and BA-20M all BAB B.

PICTURE: Another photo of only existing BAB B (BA-20M) armoured car used by Finnish Army. Photo taken in Panssarimuseo (The Armour Museum, Parola). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (102 KB).

 

OTHER LIGHT ARMOURED CARS USED BY FINNISH ARMY:

PICTURE: D-8 car R-6 and BA-10 or BA-10M behind it. R-6 was the only D-8 armoured car taken to Finnish use and it did not see any combat use. Photo taken in Varkaus in June of 1942. (SA-kuva photo archive, photo number 102302). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (162 KB).

D-8 (Dyrenkov-8): The Soviets started development of new armoured cars based to GAZ-A (Ford-A) 4 x 2 chassis almost immediately after the contract with Ford had been signed. The first fruits of this development work were two light armoured cars - D-8 and D-12, which were both approved to use of Red Army in year 1931. Izhorskiy plant manufactured small number (likely just 25 vehicles) this armoured car 1931 1932. Unlike their predecessors they had been designed rather as reconnaissance vehicles, than combat vehicles, since Red Army had now plenty of tanks for combat use - hence the light weaponry. D-8 armoured car was designed by team lead by D.I. Dyrenkov and was in fact named after him (as Dyrenkov-8). While D-8 wasn't necessarily a poor armoured car it was handicapped by the way its weaponry was located. The machineguns were unable to provide 360-degree firing sector leaving the vehicle somewhat vulnerable. Ultimately year 1932 some of these vehicles were equipped with small turrets and 7.62-mm DT-machinegun was moved in those turrets - basically these modified D-8 were the first prototypes of FAI armoured cars. The Soviets supplied D-8 armoured cars to Spanish Republican Army for Spanish Army and used them when they invaded Poland in year 1939 and in Finnish-Soviet Winter War in 1939 - 1940. But Red Army seems to have ended using them soon after this, since none seem to have been anymore in Soviet use in summer of 1941. Finnish Army captured one D-8 armoured car during Winter War. It was used only for driver training and other non-combat use until it was declared obsolete in June of 1943 and removed from inventory of Finnish Armed Forces. The Finnish captured D-8 was unmodified version without turret of any type. Unfortunately this rare vehicle was scrapped after the war.

PICTURE: Look-a-like of Sisu armoured car of Finnish Police. As mentioned armoured hull and turret are original, but rest of this vehicle is not original parts. According period photos originally this vehicle had double rear wheels. Photo taken in Panssarimuseo (The Armour Museum, Parola). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (167 KB).

Sisu armoured car of Finnish Police: This armoured car was ordered in year 1936 and manufactured in year 1937 by Finnish company Oy Suomen Autoteollisuus Ab. Better known with its truck trade mark Sisu the company exists even today with name Oy Sisu Auto Ab. Since this armoured car was build for Finnish Police, in a way it might not strictly belong into this webpage. But since it makes interesting comparison to Landsverk 182 and Soviet armoured cars from the same era, I included it anyway. Compared to its competitors this armoured car was well-armoured (8 mm - 11 mm of British-delivered high quality armour steel) and had surprisingly modern engine - American 79 horsepower Hercules diesel. Finnish company Crichton-Vulcan Oy shipyard manufactured the armoured hull, which was a riveted structure. The vehicle also had similar armament as Landsverk 182 - 13.2-mm L-35/36 machinegun and two 7.62-mm L-33/36 machineguns. In fact two set of machineguns had originally been manufactured for Finnish Landsverk 182 and the second (spare) set was used to equip this armoured car. The armament seems quite heavy for police use and buying of foreign Landsverk 182 without contacting possible domestic manufacturers had been criticised. So, one could well speculate if this armoured car at least on some level may have also been intended as a domestic competitor for Landsverk 182. Sisu armoured weight about 3 tons and had a crew of three men. While this vehicle was otherwise quite capable, it had solid rubber tires - bullet proof, but far from ideal for good road speed. Year 1951 Finnish Police gave this armoured car to Finnish military, which removed the armoured hull and modified the vehicle as a crane truck in year 1954. The crane truck broke down in year 1961 and the vehicle was decided to be scrapped. The crane was transferred to chassis of BA-10 armoured car with chassis originating from Sisu armored car getting scrapped - the resulting new crane vehicle being known as BA-10N. After the armoured hull had been removed from the hull, the hull had basically been discarded salvaged from military training area around year 1993. The salvaged hull was installing on a truck chassis of suitable type in year 1997 to create a look-a-like of Sisu armoured car. The tires for this look-a-like were loaned from captured Soviet 152-mm howitzer. The resulting vehicle is now in Armour Museum in Parola.

 

Sources used for making this page are listed in Armoured Cars part 4.


Last updated 14th of July 2013
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