BP42 and BP 44 German Armoured Trains
Germany made use of armoured trains from the beginning of the Second World War. Extensive use was made of captured material, and new trains were built for the invasion of Russia in 1941. Military success was followed by lengthening supply lines, and armoured trains were needed to protect the railways from partisan activity.
This had an armoured tender behind, and an identical auxiliary tender ATG-2 in front to increase range. Next came artillery wagons ATG-3, each with some accommodation, for kitchen or medical purposes. The gun, a 7.2cm or 10 cm howitzer, was housed in a ten-sided revolving turret. Outside these came two nearly identical wagons. One was the infantry wagon ATG-5, and the other the command wagon ATG-4, nearly identical but distinguishable by minor differences in the roof plates and by its radio aerials. Outside these came an artillery and flak wagon ATG-6. The flak was the 2 cm Flakvierling, and the turret was identical with that of the artillery wagon. Armour for all units was between 1.5 and 3 cm. This extended down to protect the bogies. Articulating armour plates allowed the crew to move between the wagons under cover. The train's armament was strengthened by the addition of two tanks, to enable it to take the fight to the enemy. These travelled in tank-carrier wagons ATG-7 in a central well between the wheels, to give added protection to the running gear. A ramp at the outer end of the wagon enabled the tank to disembark rapidly. Typically two Czech 38T tanks were carried: not a match for the later enemy tanks, particularly in the East, but reliable, and highly effective against partisans. At either end of the BP42 was a pusher car ATG-8. This was essentially a flat car which was more expendable than the rest of the train and would hit trouble first. Facing the tank-carrier car a special automatic coupling enabled swift detachment so that the tank could be deployed more swiftly. The pusher cars were usually loaded with ballast and track-mending equipment.
The BP44 was the improved version of the BP 42, introduced in 1944. The most visible change was the replacement of the pusher cars with Panzerjäger wagons ATG-9. Essentially these were flat cars with a low superstructure carrying the Panzer IV turret armed with the long 7.5cm KwK L/48 as seen on the Mark J. This gave some measure of protection against tank attack. Strengthening of the armour plate was largely precluded by the resulting weight increase. An order was placed for 46 Panzerjäger wagons, but may not have been fully implemented. Where possible the artillery turrets were to be up-armed with the 10.5cm Field Howitzer, or the 15cm howitzer. BP42 and BP44 trains were also provided with two Panhard Armoured Cars, able to operate normally but also supplied with alternative rail wheels for scouting along the tracks. The wheels not in use were typically carried in the pusher cars.