We start with a useful overview of the early history of the armoured car in Imperial Russia, largely dominated by overseas designs, some of which were produced in Russia. We then move on to a series of short sub-chapters looking at those armoured cars that were produced in significant numbers, starting with the BA-27 of the late 1920s, and ending with the BA-64 (oddly the dates given in the title are incorrect – several of the first vehicles examined were designed, production completed, entered service and already obsolete by 1936). Finally there is an examination of how these vehicles were used in combat, from the Spanish Civil War to the Second World War.
Nine main types of armoured car (not including variants) are examined, along with a separate section on more specialized vehicles (amphibious vehicles, chemical warfare vehicles, medical evacuation vehicles). Each sub-chapter thus gets about two and a half pages, about equally split between text and pictures. One of the most unusual features of these vehicles are the number that were produced in rail versions, able to run along railway lines. The Eastern Front also saw far more use of armoured trains than any other area, presumably for the same reasons of distance. In the case of the armoured cars their main purpose must have been the security of the railways themselves, as the limited mobility enforced by following railway tracks must have reduced their usefulness as recon vehicles!
The combat section covers the Spanish Civil War, the clashes with Japan, the invasion of Poland, the Winter War against Finland and the Second World War. This section includes an interesting example of how combat experience can be misleading – in Spain, Japan and Poland the Soviet armoured cars often held their own against enemy tanks, mainly because they were facing very light tanks. Early in the Second World War armoured cars were often used in the same way, but this time they suffered disastrous loses at the hands of the German armour.
As always the text is very well illustrated, with a good mix of contemporary photographs, both from Soviet and other sources, and Osprey’s own illustrations.
Stalin and the First Five-Year Plan
Armoured Car Types
Armoured Cars in Action
Epilogue and Post-War
Author: Jamie Prenatt