Spanish Civil War Improvised Armour – Tiznaos

Tiznaos (note that a tiznao is also a sort of fish stew) are the various armoured lorries of the Spanish Civil War.  Contemporary photographs illustrate a range of models with designs ranging from from entirely haphazard to streamlined planning.  The slogans illustrate that the vast majority belong to the Republic.  The majority of builds are unique and relying on the number of different models shown in photographs there must have been several dozen tiznao in use during the Spanish Civil War.  They have more of a role in the initial stages of the conflict with columns attempting to establish areas of control or in pacification actions behind the lines.  Their limited armour and mobility probably made them a liability to aircraft attack as the war intensified.  There is a scene in the Nationalist colour film Defenders of the Faith (about 48 minutes in) that shows a knocked out and burnt AAC-37 (with T26 turret, best guess based on lack of additional road wheels) or Ba6.  Nevertheless Bilbao armoured cars were still in service in Spain after the war.  The tiznao concept could be seen as the origins of the UNL35 and AAC-37 armoured cars; a mix of commercial chassis and Soviet armoured car design.  A column of UNL35s was amongst the Republican force that sought refuge in France as the war drew to a close.  These vehicles saw service in the French and later the German armies.

The film ‘Libertarias‘ illustrates a plausible use of a tiznao in street fighting; with mixed end results.  It does show the problem of getting a tiznao into combat.  On flat good roads it might make good going but with a road blocked, trenches and bridges blown moving the tiznao past an existing front line to exploit a breakthrough is not an easy task.

Vehiculos blindados de la guerra civil is a good starting point for details on tiznaos including a page hosting videos where some vehicles are shown in motion.  While the clips are original not reconstructions many are sourced from recent documentaries so the context of the use of the vehicles cannot be completely trusted.  Even contemporary newsreels would use stock footage if they could get away with it.  The key aspect is what can be deduced from the scene in which vehicles appear not any shots from immediately prior or afterwards?  Complete contemporary films are available on YouTube.  A good start is to search for ‘AGUILUCHOS DE LA FAI POR TIERRAS DE ARAGÓN’ one of a series of films by SUEP (Sindicato Único de Espectáculos Públicos).  In part 1 we see the Durruti column with a varied selection of transport including 2 civilian tractors (with the pair hitched up to pull a corporation bus off-road) and a tiznao.  The tiznao moves off-road under its own power and is parked perpendicular to the carriageway to protect the road.

For those with a modelling bent there are some card Tiznao plans that could be adapted or used ‘as is’.  This project attempted to re-size the card model around a Lledo truck.

It proved easier to start from scratch but salvage some of the cardboard outlines such as the doors.

Empress have a number of models in 28mm but tacking some card (or better still modelling clay painted as mattresses) to the sides and front of a Ledo truck would be a workable solution.

Wargaming3D is working up to be a ‘go to’ source for 3D printing images for gaming.  The difficulty is that these are images only and need access to a printer.  The images are not for commercial use so the people who deal in printed 3D models won’t print them up for you.  Your author had a spot of luck and convinced a fellow at a local club to run some off.

The Constructora field car is the recommended choice for first to print.  It is a beast of a model, bigger than most tanks.  The streamlined body shell is easy to clean up with the 3D ridges from printing scrubbing down to a gradual curve.  Gentle sanding with the dremel at low speed and a thin smoothing of liquid green stuff doing the job.  There were several real-world variants of this model.  Not all boast the gun turret but with the model being hollow this would not be easy to remove from the finished item.  Someone with knowledge of the printing files could probably remove it from the original.

Their tiznao is harder work to build up.  There is a chassis, platform and armoured load as 3 separate pieces as well as wheels and gun.  The platform needs shaving to get the load seated level and some decisions need to be made about what detail to shave off in an area of the model that will hardly be seen when it is assembled.

The Bilbao armoured car is not strictly a tiznao, having been commercially produced before the war.  The front of this model needs a fair bit of work to clear the area behind the front wheels.  The riveted construction is perfectly accurate but hinders shaving down the model to minimise 3D print ridges along the vehicle sides.  The front radiator grill might also be better ‘dug out’ but at a risk of damaging the grill itself.

Reiver are now part of Northumbrian Painting Service.  Their VBCW range has some vehicles that might do as tiznaos.  The ‘Tyneside armoured car’  is a big block of resin but easy to put together.  Stick the wheels on, add the gun and you are done.  The VBCW infantry are nice but notably smaller that Empress or Warlord.  They do, however, have some very nice carts and a limber at a very fair price.

There is no one Bolt Action interpretation for tiznaos.  In the Spanish language Bolt Action lists a Tiznao is treated like a FT17 with the option of 1 or more machine guns and the possibility of acting as a transport.  This interpretation is more than generous.  Wargaming 3D have point-outs for their models.  As a fall back treating the models as transport lorries with machine guns would work, ignoring their added armour.  Chain of Command has a reference for a range of tiznaos in the Espana book.  This is best used as a guide and the actual load out being based on each model.  In all cases the troop carrying capacity, even if overloaded in Chain of Command terms,  is much lower than could be carried in these vehicles.   An additional opportunity is to use the tiznao as a jump off point in Chain of Command or simply as a piece of terrain.  A poorly armoured box with limited exterior vision is probably not the best place to be when the going hots up.

2 thoughts on “Spanish Civil War Improvised Armour – Tiznaos

  1. Hi,
    I am glad you enjoy those files (I am Deweycat, creator of those SCW AFV files and contributor to I just thought I should note that, on the Bilbao Armoured car, that is support material under the open vision hatch on the front drivers plate. That recess is for the optional flamethrower that was sometimes added to the Bilbao. that support material should snap off with a thing wedge or needle nosed pliers. It’s tough to know what is support material and what is the model itself if you are not able to open the parts up in CAD program. Your finished work is outstanding, by the way! I am a real student of the SCW so hence my creation of some of the unique AFVs that necessity spawned during that time. I also have a Trubia Naval tank at Wargaming 3d; another unique SCW fighting vehicle.
    Thanks for an excellent article!
    Marc / Deweycat


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