MANUFACTURER(S): Skoda Works - Czechoslovakia
OPERATORS: Czechoslovakia (testing only)
LENGTH: 17.72 feet (5.4 meters)
WIDTH: 6.56 feet (2 meters)
HEIGHT: 8.53 feet (2.6 meters)
WEIGHT: 6 Tons (5,400 kilograms; 11,905 pounds)
ENGINE: 1 x Skoda 4-cylinder engine developing 70 horsepower.
SPEED: 22 miles-per-hour (35 kilometers-per-hour)
RANGE: 140 miles (225 kilometers)
Detailing the development and operational history of the Skoda PA-I Armored Car Prototype.
Entry last updated on 5/26/2016.
Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
The Skoda-FIAT "Torino" Armored Car of the post-World War 1 period was not a success for the newly-founded Czech Army. Introduced in 1920, it saw just a dozen vehicles completed and all were out of service by the end of the decade. This provided the impetus as early as 1923 for an even newer armored car design - the Skoda "PA-I".
The PA-I rewrote the Czech approach to armored cars by providing a purpose built system of strong performance and more modern qualities. It utilized a symmetrical "double drive" configuration in which the car could be driven at the same speed in reverse without the car having to be turned completely around to escape danger - the first such military vehicle in the world to feature the special ability. This meant that there were two driver positions, one forward and one at the rear. Externally, the vehicle appeared as though it lacked a truck "front" save for the direction that the roof mounted turret was pointing in. Armament constituted 2 x 7.92mm Maxim MG08 water-cooled machine guns, the turret providing the needed traversal and elevation functions with excellent firing arcs over the superstructure.
Armor protection reached 5.5mm at the critical facings and the crew numbered five. Four rubber-tired roadwheels were used with these units spaced well apart when viewing the vehicle in the side profile. Doors at the sides of the hull superstructure provided the needed access to the fighting cabin within and vision slots gave at least a small level of situational awareness for the crew.
The PA-I served solely as an experimental platform and only two examples were completed in 1923 for use in testing. Nevertheless they laid the groundwork for a more advanced version still to come - the Skoda PA-2 "Zelva" - or "Turtle" due to its unique rounded armor shaping. A dozen of this form followed in production and the series, as a whole, became iconic for their unique appearance concerning the Inter-war period.