First kilometers in the first republic: Škoda cars in the service of the Czechoslovak army

After a series of 35 roadster ŠKODA POPULAR from 1935 followed two years later by 330 four-seater open cars in two- or four-door design. ŠKODA has contributed to the defense of young Czechoslovakia.

Shortly after the establishment of Czechoslovakia in 1918, it was clear how important the role of the army and the security of the young republic would be in the young state. The key army suppliers included the Škoda Plants in Plzeň, whose concern also belonged to the Mladá Boleslav car factory in 1925. Modern military vehicles were created here on the basis of successful ŠKODA POPULAR cars and later also SUPERB.

The Mladá Boleslav automobile company has significantly contributed to the motorization of the first Czechoslovak Republic, including its army. From the development line of utility models, we recall the Laurin & Klement 550 trailer with Martin trailer - a technically mature product in Mladá Boleslav was created according to the license of the American company Martin Rocking Fifth Wheel Company. Several versions were delivered to the army: 7000 kg payload and its modification for artillery, telephone wagon, mobile repair workshop for military aircraft, and gasoline tank.

In the 1930s, attention was focused on medium and heavy ŠKODA trucks with compression-ignition engines of their own design, all domestic competing brands then relying on the purchase of foreign licenses. The parent company, Škoda Plzeň Plzeň, won the tender for the supply of legendary light LT tanks LT vz. 35. Adaptation of passenger cars, from the smallest models to the most luxurious items in the ŠKODA brand, has also proved successful. For example, the six-cylinder L & K - ŠKODA 360 was used as a sanitary or disinfecting car, smaller models 110 and 120 with commercial bodies were also supplied with military driving schools, with double controls.

The excellent throughput of ŠKODA POPULAR civil wagons has demonstrated extreme long-distance driving and the experience of hundreds of satisfied customers. Besides the independent suspension of all wheels, suitable gearing and center of gravity, the absence of a differential was also played initially, making the rear-wheel drive a good traction in mud, sand and snow. As required by the young Czechoslovak army, it was not necessary to modify the standard POPULAR, but the military version apart from the tires of 5.25-16 with a coarse tread pattern differed mainly in open khaki bodywork and specific equipment. The initial series of 35 roadster was delivered by the Czechoslovak military administration from September to December 1935.

Already in March 1936, there were three prototypes of ŠKODA POPULAR, which were even more suited to the needs of the army. Development has accelerated the rapidly deteriorating international political situation threatening the democratic establishment of the first Czechoslovak Republic. After careful testing, series production began in December 1936. Until mid-August 1937, a total of 330 POPULAR cars were "enlisted". The proven chassis and the 995 cc / 22 hp (16 kW) four-cylinder engine remained, of Otrokovice's 16-inch Bata Ballon off-road tires.

The body with the minimum overhangs had an approach angle of 35 degrees at the front, 30 degrees at the rear. The basic price of a military car was not very different from POPULAR civil cars, the original amount of CZK 21,030 increased by CZK 1996 for the specific equipment: under the left front seat the manufacturer built a document box, which could be sealed, a first aid kit or a fire extinguisher. The battery was moved beneath the front bonnet under the rear bench, its space in the engine compartment taking up a 10-liter canister, supplementing a 30-liter fuel tank.

The military service also reported special design based on civilian models of a higher class. The advanced design of the ŠKODA SUPERB passenger car has been significantly modified in off-road vehicles with a drive configuration of 6 × 4 and later 4 × 4. First of all, in April 1936, two copies of the ŠKODA 903 model were based on the SUPERB series. The 6-cylinder SV engine with parameters of 2703 cm3 / 44 kW engineers has adapted the operation in rugged terrain. In order for the oil pump to be free from air, the dry crankcase of the engine with the lubricant supply in a separate tank is applied.

The SUPERB chassis spindle chassis frame was a central tubular beam, front splitting for the flexible mounting of the engine and gearbox. This base was adapted to a six-wheel configuration with a drive configuration of 6 × 4 and a wheelbase of 2470 + 920 mm. A 225 mm clear vehicle, short body overhangs and considerable axle crossing were in the field on special 5,50-18 tires, each of which had a separate reduction and differential lock.

The original single-body prototype 903 with two seats and a loading bed later replaced the Break Option. In addition to the driver, the co-driver took six members of the team, sitting on two longitudinal benches. The lightweight canvas was folded into the space behind the front seats. Type 903 Break from 1938 already powered a stronger six cylinder SV 2914 cm3 / 63 hp (46 kW). The proven technical basis has also been applied to the ŠKODA 903 solitaire with a closed body, which was also shown by the army of Allied Yugoslavia.


Source: tz, edited editorially

[2018-06-01]
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