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The Austin Armoured Car was a British armoured car produced during the First World War. The vehicle is best known for its employment by the Imperial Russian Army in the First World War and by different forces in the Russian Civil War.

In addition to the British-built Austins, a few dozens of vehicles were manufactured in Russia in 1918–20. These are usually referred to as Austin-Putilov or – if fitted with a Kégresse halftrack chassis – Austin-Kégresse.

British Austins

In August 1914, just after the beginning of the First World War, the army of the Russian Empire started to form armoured car units. Due to limited production capabilities of the country’s automotive industry it was decided to order a number of vehicles abroad. A committee was sent to the United Kingdom, but failed to find an armoured car that met their requirements for overhead protection and two machine gun turrets.

To meet these requirements, the Austin Motor Company designed a new armoured car. The vehicle, known as Austin 1st series, was based on a passenger car chassis with rear-axle drive. Wheels were wooden, spoked, and an additional set of wheels with full rubber tyres for use in combat was carried. Two Maxim machine guns were mounted in separate turrets placed on both sides of the hull behind the driver’s cab.

One car cost 1,150 pounds. After arrival in Russia the front and turret armour was replaced with 7 mm plates. First combat experience, however, revealed that the protection was still too weak and the vehicles were fully rearmoured at Izhorski Works. The improved armour made the Austins much heavier, resulting in limited mobility and occasionally in chassis damage.

The Austin-Putilov armoured car named Vrag Kapitala (“Enemy of the Capital”), on display at the Artillery Museum, Saint Petersburg, is often referred to as the vehicle which Lenin stood on to address the crowd in April 1917. However, it cannot be true as this armoured car was not manufactured until 1919.

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