Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Ford FT-B

German Modification with dual rear wheels.

The Ford FT B (also known as Ford Tf-c and model 1920) was the first armoured car designed and built in Poland. Built on the chassis of the famous Ford T and armoured with re-used armoured plates, the car was a successful design as for its times. The main designer was the engineer Tadeusz Tański. The armoured vehicle originated on account of the high demand during the Polish-Soviet war in 1920.

After the outbreak of the Polish-Soviet War in 1919, the Polish Army was severely under-equipped. Except for a number of FT-17 tanks arrived with the Blue Army, the Polish forces lacked any armoured reconnaissance vehicles. During the Soviet offensive leading to the battle of Warsaw the situation became even more tragic as many Austin-Putilov cars captured from the Red Army were retaken by the Bolsheviks. It was then that engineer Tadeusz Tański, a renowned inventor and a worker of the Ministry of Military Affairs, designed his armoured car. The project originated within only 2 weeks out from Tanski’s initiative. The prototype was prepared in less than two weeks in the Gerlach i Pulsing works in Warsaw. After a series of tests the serial production started, and each of the battle-ready cars was immediately dispatched to the front-line and attached to various units. Altogether a series of 16 or 17 cars were made.

The project was based on the successful Ford T, one of the most popular cars of the epoch. The chassis and the levers were significantly reinforced and the fuel tank was moved. In addition, the crank was extended to allow for starting the engine from the inside and the dashboard had been modified. The armoured plating was hand-made out of the scrapped German armoured trench shields attached to the chassis by bolts.

The FT-B cars took part in the later stage of the Polish-Soviet war and fought in the battles along the Wkra river and in the battle of Warsaw, as well as the battle of Kowel and in numerous other battles.

The high speed, agility and the uncomplicated servicing and repair because of the chassis of commercial Ford T also belonged to the advantages of the armoured vehicle. The armoured vehicles managed in spite of raised mass in well heavy terrain and were able to cross also weak bridges on account of their low mass in comparison to other armoured vehicle. The Ford Tf C was really small in comparison to other armored vehicles of the past, as for example to the 2 times bigger Austin-Putilov, and offered an only surface, which was hardly to hit. Nevertheless, the consequence was that Ford Tf C were very narrow inside, and the driver had to steer strongly squatted. Another lack were also overheating engines happened rather often during longer cross-country races or with letdown cooler armour plating. Also the springs were overloaded in spite of strengthening, but the vehicle was urgently required and the advantages offset the defects. In 1921 Tanski offered to build another series of 30 vehicles, however, this was rejected, because the war was over and no other armoured vehicles were required. 12 Fords Tf C armored vehicles outlasted the war and were in use until 1931. Some had painted proper names like "Osa" (wasp), "Mucha" (fly), "Komar" (mosquito) on their armor.

    Janusz Magnuski, "Samochody pancerne Wojska Polskiego 1918-1939", WiS; Warszawa 1993
    Jan Tarczyński, K. Barbarski, A. Jońca, "Pojazdy w Wojsku Polskim - Polish Army Vehicles - 1918-1939"; Ajaks; Pruszków 1995
    Piotr Zarzycki, "Improwizowany samochód pancerny FT-B Model 1920"; Młody Technik 11/1988
    Janusz Magnuski, "Samochód pancerny Ford"; MMG, Warszawa 1990

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