Tachanka

From Academic Kids

The tachanka (тачанка) was a horse-driven fighting vehicle, usually a cart or an open wagon with a stationary heavy machine gun, often called Maxim, installed in the back. It had a crew of 2 or 3 (one driver and a gun crew).

A regular civilian horse cart could be easily converted to military use and back. This made the tachanka very popular during the Russian Civil War (19171920s), particularly in the peasant regions of Southern Russia and Ukraine. An improved version had struts and shock absorbers, which increased the maximum speed of the vehicle and allowed the crew to better aim shots while moving. The tactics of tachanka are similar to that of the technical. It could approach the target pretending to be a civilian vehicle and then open up with well-aimed fire. Or else it could spray a target area while moving at high speed. Both methods are well suited for use in guerilla warfare. In addition, because the fire power was concentrated in the rear hemisphere, a tachanka was well defended when leaving after a raid. Tachankas also provided cavalry with an instant machine gun support.

Nestor Makhno pioneered the use of the tachanka in a mass charge. A large number of the vehicles would assault the enemy position as if they were cavalry, then wheel in a coordinated maneuver so that all at once suddenly had their muzzles to the enemy, and fire a point-blank burst of machine gun fire, all of it going into the same point of the enemy line. This maneuver required very precise coordination between the crews, but Makhno was good enough to make it work, using it to win a battle with Denikin's forces in 1919.

The name of tachanka appears to be a Ukrainian version of an endearing form of the word tachka "a cart". Tachankas were also used by the Polish cavalry in the 1939 Polish September Campaign - the Polish word is taczanka.

Later on, a series of popular propaganda songs glorifying the Red Army was cultivated among the people by the Party, and one of these songs specifically eulogized the tachanka. The concluding lyrics, roughly translated, run:

And to this day, the foe has nightmares
Of the thick rain of lead,
The battle-chariot
And the young machine gunner.

Ironically, this implied that the "thick rain of lead" was not very effective at actually killing the foe.

Tachankas can be seen in the classic Soviet films Chapaev and The Burning Miles.

See also: chariot, technical, Humvee. pl:taczanka

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