Armored cars are classified as special military equipment. Equipped with a machine gun or cannon armament and possessing an armored body. Especially popular in the Soviet Union were the armored cars BA-10 and BA-20, created before the war. However, the BA-10 belonged to the average types of armored cars – weight from 4 to 8 tons, and BA-20 to light types, weighing up to 4 tons.
BA-10, which was in service from 1938 to 1941, was one of the best-armored vehicles of the Red Army during the Great Patriotic War. It was created based on the chassis of a three-axle vehicle GAZ-AAA, but it had a shortened frame.
The Red Army from 1936 to 1941 adopted the armored car BA-20. The basis of this armored car was taken from the GAZ-M1 and 2,114 units were produced.
The cab of BA-10/20 was welded from rolled armored plates, of various thickness, which had rational angles on all sides. The side armor of the body of the BA-10 had a thickness of 8-9 mm, and the BA-20 armor was 4-6 mm thick. This reflected on the overall weight of both machines and, accordingly, on the tasks they performed.
On board the tower of the BA-10 a 45-mm tank gun was installed. Near the gun was a DT machine gun, a second machine gun was located in the front armored sheet of the hull. The crew of the BA-10 consisted of 4 people: the commander, a driver, a gunner and a machine gunner.
The BA-20 armored vehicle was armed with only one machine gun of 7.62-mm caliber. It was installed in the tower. It’s ammunition consisted of 1386 rounds, which were equipped in 22 disks of 63 cartridges. Inside the car, there was a radio station, and the crew consisted of 2-3 people.
The BA-20 was equipped with a 4-cylinder engine with a power of 36.7 kW (50 hp), which allowed the armored vehicle to move along a good road with a maximum speed of 90 km/h. The BA-10 was equipped with a similar engine capacity of 3.3 liters, with power of 36.7 kW (50 hp). However, due to the mass, which exceeded 5 tons, the maximum speed was only 54 km/h.
Both armored cars took part during armed conflicts with Japan on the river (Khalkhin-Gol). In these battles, the weaknesses of the armored vehicle BA-20, whose armor was easily penetrated by armor-piercing bullets of a large-caliber 13.2-mm machine gun, were revealed.
The BA-10 armor was rarely punched with a heavy machine gun and was a reliable defense for the crew on the battlefield. Simultaneously, the BA-10 showed that they were an excellent anti-tank weapon on the ground, with semi-closed positions. However, among the constructive shortcomings of the BA-10, it was found that:
A gas tank containing 108 kg of gasoline was hanging over the head of the commander and driver’s mechanics and when a projectile was to hit this area, everything was ignited.
Later both armored cars took part in the Soviet-Finnish war and the Great Patriotic War. The BA-20 was most often used as part of reconnaissance battalions. The BA-10, in addition to reconnaissance missions, was often used in attacks in conjunction with infantry, which often led to large losses of the vehicles.
Nevertheless, with proper use, both armored vehicles successfully performed the tasks assigned to them.