World War II saw the last hurrah for a number of weapon systems first devised in the nineteenth century. One such was the big-gun battleship and another was the armoured train.
The first employment of armoured trains seems to have been as an anti-guerrilla vehicle by the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1848. The first major use of these vehicles was in the American Civil War, again often for security work. They patrolled the rail lines, which were so important for supply.
Heavy armoured gun wagons for use in battle seem to have been first built by General Lee for the Confederate Army. They were copied by the Union Army and various European powers. Gun-wagons took part in the siege of Paris during the FrancoPrussian War. The Royal Navy and Royal Engineers spearheaded further development of this weapon. British armoured trains fought in the Sudan and South Africa. Winston Churchill was famously captured in a Boer commando ambush of a British armoured train.
In World War I conditions on the Western Front were unsuitable for battle-trains, but the same was not true of the large sparsely populated regions of the East. Imperial Russia placed great emphasis on armoured vehicles and had great success with their armoured trains, causing Austro-Hungary and Germany to build their own. The high noon of the armoured train was the Russian Civil War. Russia had few roads in the early twentieth century, as the Panzerwaffe was to discover in 1941, so railways assumed a vital importance. Most civil war battles occurred within a few kilometres of a major railway line.
Many vehicles could be mounted on flatbeds with added armour, to be used as gun platforms from the (Normally Stationary) train.
In the Blitzkrieg era, Germany and Poland still had armoured trains in service. Germany tried to use two armoured trains to capture key railway bridges on the first day of World War II, with more German armoured train operations taking place in the invasion of the Netherlands. Poland had ten armoured trains in service on the outbreak of war. All had been modernised in the 1930s.
There was a second class of combat rail vehicle: the armoured and armed rail-wagon. These were single, selfpropelled armoured vehicles usually armed with machine guns, used to patrol railway lines. There was a wide variety of types, but they can be divided into three: armoured motorised railway wagons, armoured cars whose road wheels were replaced with railway-compatible wheels, and tracked vehicles modified to drive a rail flat-car.
Full rules for Armoured trains can be found in the Bolt Action supplement Germany Strikes pages 99-102.
Contents: (StuGIII not included)
- 1 x Armoured Locomotive & Tender
- 1 x Armoured infantry Carriage
- 2 x Armoured Artillery Carriage
- 1 x Straight Track Pack
- 2 x Blitzkrieg German Infantry Plastic frames
- 1 x Heer 20mm Flakvierling 38 AA (1943-45)
- 1 x Panzer 38(t)
Models supplied unassembled and unpainted