In October of 1918, near the end of World War 1 (1914-1918), Czechoslovakia declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. With the declaration came many responsibilities pushed upon the new nation and one of these was in self-defense by way of a standing military. The MNO was established as the material commission to stock the new Army with suitable war-making goods and one of these became the Italian FIAT 18BL military truck.
In 1919 a request came down for a new armored vehicle and this charge fell to the Skoda Works. For expediency, engineers selected the 18BL truck as the basic framework of the new vehicle and to this was added an equally-new armored superstructure protecting the internal drive components as well as the occupants. Armament was fitted along the roof line and constituted a pair of swiveling turrets. A prototype was made ready for 1920 and trials of the vehicle were seen as fulfilling the requirement. The vehicle went on to be known as the Skoda-FIAT "Torino" and a dozen examples arrived before the end of the year.
Internally, the vehicle retained its FIAT truck origins with its front-mounted engines and 4x2 wheeled arrangement. The rear axle was double-tired to compensate for the weight of the armored superstructure and the superstructure itself held slab sides and rounded corners. Vision slots were cut into the design for some situational awareness to be had by the crew of five - made up of a driver, co-driver, vehicle commander, and two dedicated machine gunners. Armament became 2 x 7.92mm Maxim MG08 water-cooled machine guns, one fitted to each traversing turret along the roof. The turrets were also offset from one another along the centerline axis of the roof to provide for much improved firing arcs for each emplacement. Armor thickness reached 6mm along critical facings.
Drive power stemmed from a single FIAT 4-cylinder engine of 64 horsepower output. This gave the 6.25-ton vehicle a maximum road speed of up to 10 miles per hour.
The Torino did not prove an outright success and problems arose as soon as it entered practical service with the new Czech Army (they were eventually utilized primarily as trainers before the end). Eight vehicles were out of service by 1925 and the rest would follow before the end of the decade - bringing an end to the Skoda-FIAT armored car project. The line was eventually succeeded by the Skoda PA-I which served as a pair of experimental vehicles of 1922, paving the way for the iconic Skoda PA-2 "Zelva" ("Turtle") design that followed.
Manufacturing Skoda Works - Czechoslovakia / FIAT - Italy
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