Sunday, 17 January 2016

Flames of War: Polish Tatra T-18 Draisines.

So... its been a while since my last blog post (that seems to be a continuing theme with my blog these days... I seem to spend a lot more time painting than actually photographing what Im doing or working on...) and I thought its about time I do a big photo session and share with you all the assets that I have finally finished for my Polish Piechoty army.

I have now painted just about every asset that any Polish Flames of War Piechoty player would need with the exception of mountain troops (which are some of the next on the hit list but probably only for when I get into my 10th BK)

So, without wasting any more time I thought I would share some of what Ive been working on.

We will begin with the Czech built Tatra T-18 Draisines sculpted by the inestimable Dave Schmid of Armaments in Miniature!

So, what, I hear you ask, is a Draisine? A draisine is a light auxiliary rail vehicle that is crewed by service personnel and equipped to maintain railways. In the interwar years the European central powers realised that being able to scout along rail routes was far more beneficial than allowing serious armoured assets (such as the armoured trains) to ride rough shod (so to speak) over any given stretch of railway lines that had been mined.

Why would I need one for my Flames of War army? Well because they are just cool! They bring a whole new level of pointless to an army that struggled to put anything competitive on the field of battle and I was just begging for something to support my Armoured Train!

Poland opted to purchase the T-18 Draisine from the Ringhoffer-Tatra works in 1925 because of an initiative of the Polish armys Tatra Division. 6 models of the T-18 were purchased in September '25 straight from the drawing board and were delivered in November of the same year.

They were sent to the armoured trains training battalion in Joblonna near Warsaw where it was found that the engines were too weak, they had a low mobility evaluation and very slow acceleration. Still, that didn't stop the Poles ordering another 9!

There were plans to strengthen the profiles of the Tatra's (as they were coined) by providing them with the same turrets that the wz29 Ursus armoured cars had (as well as three of the Armoured Train tenders including PP51 Pierwszy Marszalek, PP52 Pilsudski and PP53 Smialy), however this was not completed before the war broke out as they were already considered obsolete and by which time their replacement by R and TK draisines was already underway

These draisines were used by both Polish Armoured Train divisions in the 1930's and variously carried numbers and/ or names at different times. These were removed however and in 1936 were repainted in the standard Polish 3 colour camouflage patterns with irregular big patches of grey sand and dark brown on an olive green base. In 1939 these draisines carried no markings apart from Polish State Railways (PKP) eagle on each side door.

In 1939 they were only used with armoured train PP15 (Smierc) and PP13 (General Sosnkowski) each of which had a platoon of two Tatras (although PP13 also had a couple of R draisines as well)

One of PP15's draisines was destroyed by anti tank guns near Nasielsk on 5th September, The rest were apparently abandoned, possibly in a damaged condition.

It is possible that the two remaining draisines were included in the training trains assets of 1st Armoured Train Unit which was bombed and abandoned in a big rail jam near Siedlce on 10th September 1939!

Oh yeah.... and the Polish Tatra T-18 draisines were armed with a single Hotchkiss wz.25 machine gun and not the two vickers machine guns I have managed to equip mine with! FAIL!

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