|Manufacturer||Izhoresk Motor Factory|
|Primary Role||Armored Car|
Contributor: Alan Chanter
Throughout the 1930s the Soviet Union developed a family of armoured cars, or broneavtomobil in Russian, of which the best were a series of six-wheelers that began with the Broneavtomobil-1 or BA-1 design in 1932. In 1938 the Broneavtomobil-10 or BA-10 design entered into mass-production and rapidly became the standard armoured car in the Soviet Union's reconnaissance and independent armoured units. It was not a particularly modern vehicle for its day, though very typical of its era (armoured cars of similar type were built in Britain, Germany and the United States), for it was a bulky, functional piece of equipment whose World War I ancestry was evident from its outmoded appearance.
The BA-10 armoured car was built on a military version the of the GAZ-AAA six-wheeled commercial truck chassis (the GAZ truck being a Russian copy of a Ford design) that had been suitably modified and reinforced to cope with the extra weight dictated by the armoured car layout. The use of a front-engined chassis of this kind placed the driver behind the engine, with a co-driver's machine-gun position beside him. Power was provided by an 85 bhp GAZ-M1 4-cylinder water-cooled petrol engine that gave a maximum speed of 57 km/h and a range of 320 km. This proved well-suited to the terrain and distances of the USSR.
The turret, located over the rear wheels, was similar to that of many contemporary tanks of the day, mounted a 37 mm (or 45 mm gun in the later BA-32 version). A 7.62 mm machine gun in the hull (and in some vehicles co-axially in the turret) provided a secondary defensive armament. The slab-sided armoured hull was of riveted construction in early vehicles, although welded construction would come increasingly into use later and, in the final version, the hulls sides were more sloping, and with the roof at the rear lowered together with the turret, so that the 45 mm gun only just cleared the part of the hull above the driver's head.
BA-10 armoured cars first saw combat against Japanese forces during the short-lived border conflict in northeastern China.
Despite its weight the BA-10 armoured car was a robust and reliable vehicle and, despite the limitations of its 6x4 drive, served the Red Army well until the German invasion of 1941. Indeed its main armament was as good as that fitted in many contemporary tanks. After 1941 few Soviet armoured cars had survived the early battles with the German Wehrmacht, and such was the immediate requirement for tanks that no effort was made, for a considerable time, to build more armoured cars. The Germans captured large numbers of these vehicles and used them for anti-partisan duties both in the USSR and in the Balkans, a role in which the type excelled. Finnish forces also captured a small number of examples during the war, similarly pressing them into service in rear areas. Those that remained in Soviet hands were withdrawn from front line service after 1942, although many would be stripped down, to be used as armoured personnel carriers.
Several variants existed including one pre-war version which was built in quite substantial numbers for use on railways; running on the rail tracks with flanged wheels. Another version, the BA-32, was developed as a half-track, with the rear wheels fitted with tracks, specifically to improve performance over snow or soft ground.
Ian V. Hogg and John Weeks, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Military Vehicles (Hamlyn Publishing, 1980)
Philip Trewhitt, Armoured Fighting Vehicles (Dempsey Parr, 1999)
B. T. White, Tanks and other AFVs of the Blitzkrieg Era 1939-41 (Blandford Press, 1972)
|Machinery||One GAZ-MM 4-cyl engine rated at 50hp at 2,800rpm|
|Armament||1x37mm gun or 1x45mm 20-K gun (49 rounds), 1x7.62mm coxial DT machine gun, 1x7.62mm hull DT machine gun|
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Winston Churchill, 1935