The Bohemian Tank

by Daniel Russ on August 20, 2010

Jan Ziska, Created the Wagenburg In The 13th Century

Chinese generals built armored cars and used them to good effect against Tartar cavalry charges. The use of this early armored vehicle stopped the Tartar advance and helped to establish a border that lasted centuries.

Not much else is discussed about this tank and I have not been able to find pictures.

But there was a good record of an innovative armored formation early on.

Then we go to the 13th century when the Catholic Church launched crusades against Bohemia ( modern day Czech Republic ). A peasant rebellion broke out, led by Jan Ziska who then fought against the Imperial German Army. He innovated and created what some may consider the first tank force. At least it was mobile armor, that interlocked into defensive positions and then disengaged or mobility as needed. They were called the Wagenburg.

From Wikipedia

Farm wagons were used in an ingenious tactic called the Wagenburg. The wagons were parked wheel-to-wheel forming a circle, much like the Pioneers of the Old West formed with their Conestoga Wagons. The horses and soldiers were kept safely inside the enclosure. The outlying side of the wagon and the undercarriage were armored with thick wooden planks, with holes through which soldiers could shoot pistols and crossbows. Gaps between wagons were covered by pavises or housed small cannons, which marked the first ever use of artillery in field operations. At a signal, wagons could be pulled apart and the Hussite cavalry could ride out to fight the enemy in a surprise flanking attack. Žižka trained his troops to perform these manoeuvers and set up a system of flags to signal directions to others in the field.

Sounds  bit like the Laager used by British and Boer alike during the Zulu Wars. But armored wagon, perhaps like our own Conestoga Wagons sounds like an idea out of Wild Wild West.

The Wagenburg


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