Sunday, September 18, 2022

Autotank brigade of the Latvian army


 The autotank brigade was part of the Technical Division of the Latvian Army.

Until March 1, 1940, it was called the Autotank Regiment. The brigade was stationed in Riga, on Pulka Seta (now Pulka Street), where a small monument "Armored Vehicle" is still located.(installed in 1939), and one of them was also located in Daugavpils, not far from the planned line of defense against a possible Soviet invasion.

After 1939, the brigade headquarters moved to Cēsis. The brigade was commanded by General Oto Grosbart, who was also the head of the Motorcycle Service, although in 1929 it was also briefly commanded by Janis Kalkis.

In the spring of 1940, Colonel Janis Kalkis was appointed commander of the brigade headquarters in Cēsis.

 The autotank brigade ceased to exist in July 1940.

As of September 1, 1939, the regiment had 35 officers, 274 instructors, 515 soldiers, and 21 freelancers. The battle consisted of 27 tanks, 6 armored vehicles, 30 transport and 10 cars, 15 motorcycles. They were armed with at least 35 machine guns and 10 cannons.

Badge of the Autotank Brigade

Badge of the Autotank Division. Author Senior Lieutenant M. Palekha. The first armed vehicles of the Latvian troops were in 1919 in the Soviet Latvian army. There was a small section of armored cars under the command of Kaugura. The army armored vehicle unit of the 1st Latvian Soviet Division mentions the armed vehicles "Kommunist", "Lakplesis" and "Imanta". These units played a minor role in the war, armored vehicles were frequently overhauled, and spare parts were in short supply.

When the Soviet Latvian Army left Riga on May 22, 1919, there were several Soviet armored vehicles left that were captured by the Baltic Landeswehr. The Latvian army prevented the use of these vehicles during the German attack on the Estonian and northern Latvian troops in the Cēsis battles. After the defeat of the Germans, the Latvian army took possession of this armored vehicle.

In June 1919, the armored cars Lakplesis and Zemgale supported the Latvian army in the fight against the Bolsheviks in the Krustpils and Lebanese regions. Austin Mk.2 "Zemgalietis" Putilov-Garford "Lāčplēsis"

 On July 14, 1919, the Austin Mk.2 "Zemgale" and the Putilov-Garford "Lachplesis" under the command of Captain Otto Grosbart formed an Armed Division consisting of armored trains, cars and later tanks. On August 14, a Separate Automobile and Motorcycle Company was created.

Armored cars were divided into Division 1 and Division 2. At this time, the Latvian army already had four armored vehicles:

* Sheffield-Simplex Imanta Sheffield-Simplex "Imanta" * Putilov-Garford M1916 Kurzemnieks un Lāčplēsis Putilov-Garford "Kurzemnieks" Putilov-Garford " Kurzemnieks" 20s * Austin Zemgalietis of the second series Armored car of the Latvian army of the 20-30s Austin Mk.2 "Zemgalietis" Armored cars during the Bermondias 

During October 1919 and November, the armored vehicles of Lachplesis, Kurzemnieks and Imant successfully participated in the battles against the Bermont army in the area of ​​Jelgava and the Kalnciems highway, Smarda and Tukums and damaged 3 enemy armored trains.

On October 8, the Lacplesis armored car was hit.

November 21, two German armored vehicles "Max" and "Moritz" were taken as trophies. Daimler-Krupp BAK Kw 14 "Max" Putilovo-Garford "Bear Bear" Armored vehicle of the Latvian army. He was captured as a trophy from the army of Goltz and Bermont-Avalov, killing the commander through the hatch. The rest of the team fled. 

Fights during the liberation of Latgale

in 1920, on February 1, the Latvian army already had 8 armored vehicles. Military vehicles Talivaldis, Staburags, Zemgale and Kurzeme successfully participated in the battles against the army of Soviet Russia. At the end of the war, a tank battalion was also formed, separating 3 British Mark V heavy tanks and 2 British Mark B medium tanks. These were purchased by the Latvian government from the UK and transferred to Latvia from the Northwestern Army of Russian General Nikolai Yudenich. The tank battalion guarded the southeastern borders of Latvia from possible actions by Russia, Poland and Lithuania.


*Armored car company - 3 platoons
* First tank company in Riga - 3 platoons (Mark V, Mark B and Fiat 3000 tanks)
* Second tank company in Daugavpils - 3 platoons (Vickers tanks)
* Third tank company in Riga - 3 platoons (Vickers tanks)
* Motor transport company - 2 platoons
* Company of instructors - 2 platoons

An armored car platoon consisted of two armored vehicles. They were divided by armament: heavily armored and lightly armored. Heavy armored vehicles were armed with cannons, and their number in the Latvian army was small, only two. These were Kurzemnieks and Viesturs.

 The commanding platoon included Staburags and Sargs.

The personnel of the armored car consisted of 6 officers and at least 20 machine gunners - mechanics, 6 armored cars and at least 10 guns, at least 10 heavy and several light machine guns. Izhora Pierce-Arrow "Viesturs".

 The First Tank Company had 2 heavy tanks, 1 medium tank and 6 Fiat light tankettes, as well as 6 light tank drivers. A total of 4 officers, 25 driver-instructors, 2 guns and 13 machine guns.

The second and third companies included 18 Vickers light tanks, 6 with guns and 12 with machine guns, 8 officers and 40 instructors.

In the company of instructors there were 2 platoons (technical and combined arms training), 3 officers and 8 instructors. This unit had at least 1 armored car, 1 heavy or medium tank and several Vickers light tanks, as according to some reports, the Latvian government bought 20 tanks instead of 18.

There were two platoons in the motor transport company - trucks
(12 Albion vehicles) and cars (18 Latvian-made Ford-Vairogs), 3 officers and 35 instructors.

Armored vehicles

* Mark V Composite "Ministru prezidents Ulmanis", "Ģenerālis Burt's" and "Ģenerālis Balodis" - 3 pieces The most distant - Mk V, the first two - Medium Mark B * Medium Mark B "Latgalietis" on maneuvers

Tank of the Autotank Regiment Mark V "Ministru prezidents Ulmanis" during a demonstration. Early 1920s Photo: archive of the Latvian War Museum. 

* Fiat 3000 - 6 pieces.

Latvian army tanks Fiat 3000 shortly after their purchase in the late twenties.

* Vickers Carden-Loyd 4 ton (machine gun) - 12 pcs.

* Vickers Carden-Loyd 4 ton (with 40 mm gun) - 6 pcs.

One of the Vickers light tanks armed with a 40mm cannon.

Tanks Mk V Composite and Medium Mark B were acquired by the Latvian army in 1920 from Great Britain. Already in the early thirties, these tanks could be considered archaic.

Fiat 3000 (Italian version for Renault FT-17) was ordered in 1926 and delivered in 1927.

In 1930, the Aisarg Organization purchased the Carden-Loyd wedges Demonstration wedges. In 1936, the first 12 Vickers tanks were delivered. They were equipped with one machine gun. The remaining six gun tanks were only delivered in 1938. They were equipped with cannons at the special request of the command of the Latvian army, since no cannons were provided for this model. Table of characteristics of Vickers tanks

One of them is still preserved and can be seen in the tank museum in Kubinka. These Vickers Carden-Loyd tanks can be considered the most modern tanks of the time in the Latvian army, since the Fiat 3000, which was actually the end product of the First World War, could be considered obsolete, although the Italians were still using them in 1944. After the conclusion of the so-called 1939 Aid Pact, the military leadership immediately began to purchase military equipment from the USSR, since it was no longer available in other European countries. The Latvian government planned to spend large sums on these purchases, which included both light T-26 tanks and STZ Komsomolets armored tractors and spare parts. Armored vehicles of the Latvian Army, transferred to the Red Army in 1940.

Armored cars of the Latvian army

In 1919, the Latvian army captured eight armored vehicles as trophies: "Lakplesis", "Imanta", "Kurzemnieks", "Zemgale", "Staburags", "Viesturs" (former "Titanic"), "Thunder" (ex . Max) and Talivaldis (former Moritz).  Daimler-Krupp BAK Kw 14 "Max" in the Latvian army.  On September 22, 1926, the Automobile Club of the Republic of Latvia donated to the Automobile Regiment a Sargs armored car on a Fiat truck chassis.

In order to save the resources of the fleet during the training of new personnel in 1930, an armored vehicle was manufactured on the basis of the Ford AA chassis with one rotary combat turret. During operation, armored vehicles were repeatedly repaired and modernized. In the early twenties, the old Kurzeme engine was replaced by the American Wisconsin. In the 1930s, the "Semgale" armor was transferred to the V8 chassis of the Danish company "Fordson", and also partially modified (see photo). In the armory workshops at the Sargs armored car, the old Fiat chassis was replaced with a new Ford V8 chassis.  In 1940 JSC "Vairogs" rearranged "Imanta" on the chassis of a Ford-Vairogs 917-T truck, and also signed a contract for the restoration of the armored car "Staburags".

So, in 1940, before the occupation, the Latvian army had at its disposal 7 armored vehicles:

* Austin-Fordson V8 "Zemgale"
* Sheffield-Simplex "Imanta" (rebuilt on the Ford-Vairogs 917-T chassis in 1940)
* Izor Fiat "Staburags" (to be rebuilt on Ford-Vairogs 91-T chassis)
* Fiat-Beardmore "Guard" (rebuilt on Ford V8 chassis in 1938)
* Ford AA "A-7" (for new training)


* Ford -Shield V8 91 - 35 pcs. Ford-Shield V8 on maneuvers in the 30s  * Ford-Shield V8 91 (with gas equipment) - 2 pcs. Ford-Shield V8 during the maneuvers of the 30s transports tanks * Krupp L2H134 "Boxer" - 32 pcs. Krupp L2H134 "Protze"

 Krupp L2H134 "Boxer" at the military parade of the Latvian army in the thirties. * Henschel-33D1 - 19 pcs. Henschel-33D1 at the military parade of the Latvian army in the thirties.  * Albion - 12 pcs.  Cars * Ford-Vairogs Junior - 18 pcs. Motorcycles  * BMW R 500 (without sidecar) - 3 pcs. * BMW R 600 (with sidecar) 10 pcs. BSA - 4 pieces Uniform The uniform of the Autotank Regiment differed from the uniform of other military branches mainly in color. Like the Aviation Regiment, the uniforms of tankers, military motorists and motorcyclists were black with red  buttonholes . The color of the edges is different - they were blue for the Aviation Regiment and red for the Autotank Regiment.

On shoulder straps was the sign of the regiment of the Autotank Regiment - a tank and equipment. The badge of the Autotank Regiment was worn on the chest. The soldiers of the auto-tank brigade wore black uniforms with red insignia with red stitching. Photo equipment of the Latvian army. Latvian army armored vehicles Putilov-Garford "Bear Bear" Latvian Army Daimler-Marienfelde Marienwagen II in the 1920s. Mark V "General Balodis" and Mark B "Latgalsky" at the parade of the Latvian Army in the Esplanade Photos of the vehicles of the Autotank Brigade of the Latvian Army

Armored car of the Latvian army Putilov-Garford "Lāčplēsis"

Daimler-Marienfelde Marienwagen II in the twenties.

Mark V "Generālis Balodis" and Mark B "Latgalietis" at the military parade of the Latvian Army on the Esplanade in Riga.

Mark V "Generālis Balodis" on maneuvers in the twenties

Medium Mark B "Latgalietis"

Armored car of the Latvian army Ižoras Pierce-Arrow "Viesturs"

Armored cars of the Latvian army Ižoras Pierce-Arrow "Viesturs" and Ižoras FIAT 55 "Staburags" Armored car of the Latvian army Ižoras FIAT 55 "Staburags"

Armored car of the Latvian army Ižoras FIAT "Staburags"

Aizsargs wedge Carden Loyd Mark VI

Mark V "Ģenerālis Balodis"

Krupp L2H134 "Boxer Vickers Carden-Loyd 4 ton

Vickers Carden-Loyd 4 ton

Translated from Latvian.
Author: Latvieši vēstures likteņdzirnās plkst.
Original text and photo

No comments:

Post a Comment


News and the past

News and the past