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The Burstyn-Motorgeschütz was a proposed armoured fighting vehicle, what would become known as a “tank” designed by Austro-Hungarian engineer Gunther Burstyn in 1911.

The vehicle was a pioneering design in the development of the tank and had it been built, would have been the first tank to carry a revolving turret. The proposed vehicle had a length of 3.5 meters, a diameter of 1.9 meters and a height of 1.9 meters. The vehicle was powered by a 60 horsepower engine, giving at a cross-country speed of 8 kilometres per hour, but a road speed of a 28 k/h, faster than any WWI tank. In order to further aid in crossing trenches, the tank carried a pair of a retractable arms with a length of about 1.5 meters on both the front and rear of the tank, with wheels mounted on the end. These would be lowered across a trench to aid in crossing.

The Burstyn carried a 47mm Skoda light cannon as a primary armament mounted in a turret that could revolve about 250 degrees from the front position. The turret rotation was obstructed by the rear machine gun turret. The vehicle also carried two 8mm machine guns, one co-axial to the main gun, and one in the rear turret.

Battle vs. Garford-Putilov (by SPARTAN 119)[]


An alternate August, 1914, Galicia, Austro-Hungarian Empire (present-day Poland)

Two years previously, Gunther Burstyn had convinced first the Austro-Hungarian, and then the German armies to purchase his new invention, the Motorgeschutz, an tracked, armored vehicle equipped with machine guns and a 47mm cannon, with Krupp and Skoda producing the vehicles for the Germans and Austro-Hungarians respectively.

In August, 1914, the Russian Army invaded East Prussia and Galicia with hundreds of infantry battalions and cavalry squadrons. On the fields of Eastern Europe, old military order faced off against the mechanized war machines of the new era. Supported by Motorgeschutze, Austro-Hungarian and German infantry and cavalry drove back the Russian advance. Rifle and machine gun fire simply bounced off Motorgeschutze, and infantry and cavalry alike were blown apart by their 47mm cannon or riddled with bullets by their two machine guns. Only artillery stood any chance of halting the Motorgeschutze, but in the end, the more mobile Austrians and Germans, spearheaded by the Motorgeschutz outmaneuvered their Russian foes, punching through weak points in the line and hitting their rear areas, before the rest of the army mopped up any survivors. By early September, 1914, the Russians had been pushed out of Austro-Hungarian and German territory.

If anything, things were going even worse on the Western Front. Within a month, the German Motorgeschutze had pushed through Belgium and into France. On September 10th, the Germans broke through the French and British defenses along the River Marne, and on September 12th, Paris fell, knocking the French out of the war. The Schlieffen Plan had succeeded, in large part thanks to the new Motorgeschutze. With the French defeat, the British made peace with Germany, allowing the Germans to divert hundreds of thousands of men to the Eastern front. By the end of September, millions of men and hundreds of Motorgeschutze were storming into Russian territory, with the Austrians advancing towards Kiev while the Germans marched on Vilnius, Minsk, and Riga.

By November, however, the German and Austro-Hungarian war machines had been brought to a halt, at least temporarily, by the rasputitsa, the "mud season" of Eastern Europe that occurred in the fall. This, however, was only a temporary halt- the German and Austro-Hungarian advance would be slowed by the mud season, as well as the winter and a second muddy period in spring, but sooner or later, the ground would become solid again, and the Motorgeschutze would again be able to roll across the plains of Eastern Europe.

With this in mind, the Russians began preparing their armored vehicle, the Putilov Garford, an armored cab armed with a 76mm artillery piece mounted on the back of an American-made Garford truck. Hopefully, these mobile artillery platforms would be able to be quickly moved to counter the advance of the Motorgeschutze.

In late spring, 1915, the two armored vehicles would clash for the first time...


Burstyn Motorgeschutz: 5

Putilov-Garford: 5

East of Minsk, Russian Empire (present-day Belarus)

Late Spring, 1915, an alternate timeline

The mud season had finally lifted, allowing the Austro-Hungarian forces to continue advancing towards their next targets, the cities of Minsk and Vilnius. A platoon of Motorgeschutze, joined by a platoon of infantry armed with both the standard rifle and a new portable machine gun firing pistol rounds known as as the "Hellriegel"- what would later become known as a submachine gun, were to take a farmhouse on a small rise.

The Russians, however, had seen the Austrian attack coming and had stationed five Putilov Garford armored trucks by the farmhouse, their 76mm guns pointing towards the Austro-Hungarian attack. The armored vehicles were supported by a platoon of infantry.

The Austrians attacked in the morning, the Motorgeschutze rolling through the fields towards their targets, accompanied by infantry. A Putilov fired first, its 76mm gun striking the lead Motorgeschutz and sending it up in ball of flames. Unfortunately for the Putilov, the muzzle flash from its gun betrayed its location to the Austrians. The vehicle was struck by a 47mm high explosive shell in the turret, detonating the ammunition and blowing the turret clean off the vehicle. (Burstyn: 4, Putilov: 4)

At the same time, the rifles and machine guns of the infantry on both sides opened up. A Russian machine gun opened up in the loft of the barn, temporarily pinning down the Austrians behind their Motorgeschutze, until one of the Austrian tanks opened fire, blowing away part of the barn roof and killing the machine gunner. At the same time, another Motorgeschutz fired at a second Putilov-Garford, destroying the vehicle.

Another Putilov Garford backed up onto the ridgeline, into direct line of fire of the Austro-Hungarians, firing its main gun and hitting a second Motorgeschutz and send it up in flames, only to be avenged by its fellow, which scored a hit with its 47mm main gun and hit the Putilov before it could retreat back over the ridgeline and reload. (Burstyn: 3, Putilov: 3)

Seconds later, another Garford backed on to the ridgeline, only to find itself in the firing line a Motorgeschutz, which knocked it out before it could fire. At this point, the Austro-Hungarians had made it to ridgeline itself. While they had lost two tanks and numerous infantry, the cannon and machine guns of the Motorgeschutze, as well as the new Hellriegels carried by the infantry had pushed the Russians back from the line of trenches, into the ruins of the barn and farmhouse.

Suddenly, a fourth Garford smashed through the barn door, turret first, and fired on a Motorgeschutz as it tried to cross the trenches. The vehicle went up in a explosion that also killed a number of Austro-Hungarian infantry alongside it, before pouring machine gun fire onto the Austro-Hungarian infantry. Unfortunately for the the Garford, seconds later, it met its demise not from a Motorgeschutz, but a brave Austro-Hungarian soldier, who managed to climb on top of the armored truck and toss a hand grenade into the turret. The soldier that threw the grenade jump off the vehicle and rolled into the trench, getting to cover exactly as the Russian vehicle exploded.

With most of their armor lost, the Russians retreated from their position, realizing it was lost. The last surviving Putilov fired its rear machine gun at the Austrians, trying to slow them down and distract them as the infantry made a run for the woods. As the Putilov retreated, it fired a parting shot from its 76mm gun, hitting one of the last two surviving Motorgeschutze. Unfortunately for the Putilov, however, the last surviving Motorgeschutz retaliated, scoring a hit to the turret and destroying the Russian vehicle. (Burstyn: 1, Putilov: 0)

As the Putilov-Garford burned behind them, the surviving Russian infantry, about a dozen in number, fled into the woods about 100 meters away. The Austrians did not pursue- they had taken the position, but a the cost of four Motorgeschutze and dozens of men. They would have to hold the position and call for reinforcements.

WINNER: Burstyn Motorgeschutz

Expert's Opinion[]

The Motorgeschutz won this battle because of its more conventional layout, allowing it to fire while advancing, as well as its greater mobility and off-road performance. As both vehicles had guns that could pierce the other's armor, as well as armor insufficient to stop more than machine gun fire, the battle came down to mobility, which the Burstyn took easily.

To see the original battle, weapons, and votes, click here.