Aircraft / Aviation Vehicles & Artillery Small Arms Warships & Submarines Military Ranks Military Pay Chart (2024) Special Forces
Land Systems / Battlefield

Skoda PA-II Zelva (Turtle)

Four-Wheeled Armored Car [ 1925 ]

The unique-looking Czech Skoda PA-II Turtle Armored Car was rejected by the Czech Army and saw service with Austrian and Czech police forces before being taken over by the Germans in 1939.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 07/13/2018 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

The newly-founded Czech Army - born by way of independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire just before the end of World War 1 (1914-1918) - moved quickly to establish its inventory and this allowed local industry to thrive during the Inter-war period. In 1920, initiative for a new armored car produced the largely-forgettable Skoda-FIAT "Torino" based on an Italian truck chassis (detailed elsewhere on this site). This led engineers to develop a purpose-built system which became a pair of prototypes under the "PA-I" designation (notable in featuring a symmetrical "double-drive" system allowing the vehicle to retain its maximum speed and handling even when traveling in reverse). The PA-I served as the foundation for a more refined form that followed, the PA-II "Zelva" ("Turtle"). This iconic car design featured a rounded armor superstructure which accounted for its unofficial name. Officially the vehicle was designated "Obrneny Automobil Model 1923" and shortened to "OA vz.23".

Army authorities approved of the new vehicle plans and ordered the type into production through a twelve-strong commitment and these arrived in late-1924 / early-1925. The PA-II followed the same internal arrangement as the PA-I before it, retaining the key double-drive quality but its most unique feature was its rounded armor scheme. Instead of the sharp lines apparent in the earlier design, Skoda engineers elected for a smoother approach to their second attempt. The entire armored superstructure was shaped by hammer as opposed to being casted and armor protection reached 5.5mm. The shell components were riveted to the framework during final assembly to help create a strong overall bond - serviceable as protection against small arms fire and artillery spray. Vision slits were cut into the superstructure for situational awareness and cooling slots were present at the engine installation. Entry-exit by the crew was by way of hull-mounted hinged side doors.

As in previous iterations of Czech armored cars, armament was solely machine-gun-oriented. However, the PA-II was allowed internal space for 4 x 7.92mm Schwarzlose MG08 ball-mounted water-cooled machine guns and over 6,000 rounds of ammunition were carried for them. These were positioned at the four corners of the hull to provide for maximum flexibility concerning engagement angles. The crew numbered five, same as in the PA-I prototype, and this forced the dedicated gunners (of which there were two) to move from gun-to-gun as needed. There were also two drivers (for front and rear direction driving) and a vehicle commander. Power was served from an in-house Skoda 4-cylinder unit outputting 70 horsepower. Coupled with the armored superstructure, on-road speeds could reach just under 30 miles per hour but the vehicle suffered mightily in off-road performance due to a weak suspension system despite a 4x4 drive quality being built-in.

The series was evaluated by the Czech Army service in 1925 but failed its review - detrimental features included cramped fighting conditions, a low ground clearance, and heavy weight brought on by the armor scheme which led to what was essentially a low-profile cumbersome fighting machine - worthy of the "turtle" name. The design was ultimately rejected by the Army which instead moved on the Skoda PA-III and this vehicle promoted a much more modern appearance with better performance.

Skoda managed to sell its Turtle to Austria for use by capital police (three examples were delivered) and, in the 1930s, Czech police eventually procured the nine unclaimed Army examples. Twelve were manufactured in all - though only ten of the lot were actually armored, the remaining two were stripped for driver training.

Those examples that were still in service by the time of the German annexation of Czechoslovakia in 1939 came under Germany Army ownership and ended their days as such. Their primary role for the duration of the war was as a mobile communications relay platform where they carried German radio kits. By and large, the series was wholly obsolete by the time of the war but found this role nonetheless.

A 1927 offshoot of the Turtle was born as the Skoda PA-II "Delovy" and this design introduced a revised armored superstructure mounting a powerful 75mm Skoda L/28 gun. The gun was fitted offset to portside to account for the driver being seated along starboard in the hull. A commander's cupola was also added to the superstructure roof and a pair of machine guns were installed through ball mountings for local defense. The vehicle was intended as an artillery support platform but appears to have had only a single prototype constructed.©MilitaryFactory.com
Note: The above text is EXCLUSIVE to the site www.MilitaryFactory.com. It is the product of many hours of research and work made possible with the help of contributors, veterans, insiders, and topic specialists. If you happen upon this text anywhere else on the internet or in print, please let us know at MilitaryFactory AT gmail DOT com so that we may take appropriate action against the offender / offending site and continue to protect this original work.


Skoda Works - Czechoslovakia
Austria (police); Czechoslovakia (police)
Operators National flag of Austria National flag of Czechia
Service Year
National Origin

Design, of typically lightweight nature, providing onroad/offroad capabilities for the scouting or general security roles.
Can conduct reconnaissance / scout missions to assess threat levels, enemy strength, et al - typically through lightweight design.

19.7 ft
(6 meters)
7.1 ft
(2.16 meters)
8.0 ft
(2.44 meters)
16,226 lb
(7,360 kg)
8.1 tons

1 x Skoda 4-cylinder gasoline-fueled engine developing 70 horsepower.
Drive System
43 mph
(70 kph)
Road Speed
155 miles
(250 km)
Road Range

4 x Schwarzlose MG08 machine guns in bakll mountings at hull superstructure.
6,250 x 7.92mm ammunition

P-II "Zelva" - Armored Car form; twelve examples completed, ten being armored and two reserved for driver training.
P-II "Delovy" - Artillery Support Vehicle prototype; fitting 75mm armament in revised armored superstructure.

Military lapel ribbon for the American Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of the Bulge
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Kursk
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Ukranian-Russian War
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental military vehicles


1 / 1
Image of the Skoda PA-II Zelva (Turtle)
Image from the Public Domain.

Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Cookies

2024 Military Pay Chart Military Ranks DoD Dictionary Conversion Calculators Military Alphabet Code Military Map Symbols

The "Military Factory" name and MilitaryFactory.com logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT gmail.com. No A.I. was used in the generation of this content; site is 100% curated by humans.

Part of a network of sites that includes GlobalFirepower, a data-driven property used in ranking the top military powers of the world, WDMMA.org (World Directory of Modern Military Aircraft), WDMMW.org (World Directory of Modern Military Warships), SR71blackbird.org, detailing the history of the world's most iconic spyplane, and MilitaryRibbons.info, cataloguing military medals and ribbons. Special Interest: RailRoad Junction, the locomotive encyclopedia.

©2023 www.MilitaryFactory.com • All Rights Reserved • Content ©2003-2023 (20yrs)