With the expansion of the railroad network throughout Europe during the mid-to-latter part of the 1800s, city-to-city travel time was cut down considerably. In American, during the bloody Civil War (1861-1865), the train saw viable use as a military component. These vehicles, though limited in their reach by where track had been laid, nevertheless provided unparalleled access to the battlefield in the way of transporting troops, supplies and weaponry at speed over great distances in what would have taken weeks to accomplish on roads. In some instances, trains were armored and armed and this opened up a whole new realm of combat.
At the turn of the century, Europe saw tensions spill over to become World War 1 (1914-1918) and the train encountered renewed interest as a battlefield component. Beyond their obvious transportation value, armored types and railway guns were devised by the Empires. The nation of Poland followed the lead and, in 1918, introduced their first armored train - PP Nr.1 "Pilsudczyk" - named after Polish Army Commander-in-Chief Josef Pilsudski.
Pilsudczyk was made possible by the Polish capture of an Austro-Hungarian armored train (Pz.Zug V) during World War 1. After the war, the collapse of several key European empires (namely Germany, Ottoman, Russia and Austria-Hungary) meant power vacuums and instability all across the region. Russia, for its part, fell into civil war and there ultimately was seen a war between Poland and the newly-christened Soviet Union. This conflict spanned from February of 1919 until March of 1921 and ended as a Polish victory.
The Polish tactic in regards to Pilsudczyk was to feature the main "combat train" section supported by various supply sections (a pair of artillery wagons, a pair of infantry carriers, and a assault wagon was the original standard arrangement). Over 100 troops were involved in its operation and dozens more were carried to directly assault enemy positions on foot (assault squads). Flat railcars allowed light tanks to also be hauled along the railway line with the train and these vehicles could engage with their guns and, in some instances, disembark to fight alongside the train and its accompanying infantry squads.
Primary armament for Pilsudczyk was 2 x 76mm Model 1902 Divisional Guns of Russian origin and these were supported by 2 x 100mm Haubica wz. 1914/1919 howitzers taken from the Austro-Hungarians. As many as nineteen machine guns were arranged about the train to provide maximum defense from enemy infantry and aircraft.
The armored train continued to play a role in the war between Poland and the Soviet Union. Pilsudczyk served in the Battle of Lwow where Polish forces were victorious over the Ukrainians and it was at this point that the original train was divided in two - as "Pilsudczyk" and the second train "Smialy". The original vehicle saw more action along the Ukrainian Front from 1919 to 1920 where it sparred with Bolshevik elements and exchanged fire directly with armored trains of the enemy - at least four enemy trains were captured by Pilsudczyk. Following the war, Pilsudczyk was stationed near the German border and participated in the Silesian Uprisings - the Polish resistance to German rule.
From there, Pilsudczyk was held in reserve as Europe continued to rebuild after World War 1. It was repaired and served as a training platform "between the wars" while retaining its combat capabilities should it be needed. It was not until 1939 that the system was brought online during the joint German-Soviet invasion of Poland and, by this time, the vehicle had received several modernized components including an armored locomotive and radio communications.
In the war, the train fought valiantly in the defense of the Polish homeland but was ultimately outnumbered and outdone by German air and ground support - which removed much of the usefulness of the Polish railway network. Pilsudczyk was destroyed by its own crew on September 20th, 1939.