Home > Site news > History of American tank production. Reinforced “witch” of the US Army (Aces)

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Before the Second World War, the US military budget does not pledge to strengthen the armored forces. But the defeat of France in 1940 proved to be akin to the American generals cold shower. Sparked debate as to whether to spend money on a medium tank, designed to combat enemy armored vehicles, or entrust the task is much cheaper field guns.

История американского танкостроения. Бронированная «ведьма» армии США

proposed the concept of a separate authority, US General Leslie McNair, commander of the US Army. His idea was to create for maneuvering armored fighter designed to attack enemy armored spearheads from the flanks. When the work was completed, the US Army did not even wait for the end of the test and immediately ordered a thousand new PT-ACS.

self-propelled gun was put into service at the beginning of 1944 under the designation M18 (prototype called T70). However, by this machine immediately clung unofficial nickname – Hellcat. In the Russian language is the name of wrongly translated as “hell cat”, although in fact the word means “witch”. It comes from the logo, which the designers of the company “Buick” supplied his creation: for it is a huge panther with burning eyes nibbled tank tracks. The motto on the logo reads: “overtake, hit, destroy”.

Nicknamed “Hellket” comes from the logo, which the designers of the company “Buick” supplied his creation: for it is a huge panther with burning eyes nibbled tank tracks. The motto on the logo reads: “overtake, hit, destroy”

Adventure “witches” in Europe

combat debut “Hellketa” came in the time of Anzio Nettunskoy operations in Italy (first half 1944). A total of five self-propelled guns were transferred to Italy. Machinery parts arrived at the location at the beginning of May and the 23rd, with the beginning of the general offensive of allies, clashed. In the course of combat operations in Italy more self-propelled guns, of course, is not affected, but pleasantly surprised command battalions demonstrated speed. Agility Tank Destroyers ensure that they do not prove an easy target for the enemy. In addition, the military noted: space in the tank is clearly not enough, the crew had every day to work in cramped quarters. The problem was with the location of ammunition.

However fighter like tanks “witch” shown themselves brilliantly. September 18, 1944 in Nancy, Lieutenant Edwin Leyper, platoon commander M18 from 704 Battalion, led the division on the march to Monkuru. Suddenly, he saw clouds of mist German tank. Platoon (most likely three cars) was deployed on the team and opened fire. In fact, to destroy the five German tanks, “witch” took only five minutes. On the American side had lost only one PT-ACS. Later, the commander of another platoon “Hellketov” Sergeant Henry Hartman knocked out six tanks, most of which were “Panther”.

In order to destroy the five German tanks, three “witches” It took only five minutes. On the American side had lost only one PT-ACS

M18 have played an important role during the Ardennes operation, which the Americans call the “Battle of the Bulge.” One of the key moments of the battle was an attempt to capture the Germans near the town of Neuville fuel depots allies, without whom the Wehrmacht’s offensive would inevitably have stalled. On the interception suddenly found a group of German tanks advance on a secondary road, the battalion was sent to “Hellketov.” During the forced march of these self-propelled guns showed almost the speed limit – 89 km / h. Attack M18 near Neuville succeed: they destroyed 24 German tanks, including some “Tigers”. The enemy lost about five hundred soldiers and officers killed and wounded. In fact, it meant that German plans thwarted. Tactics use of self-propelled guns, “hit and run» (shoot and scoot) fully justified itself.

Headache Germans

If we speak objectively, the 76-mm gun, “Witch” was able to punch from long distance enemy armor vehicles to a thickness of only 88 mm. It is enough to destroy tanks PzKpfw IV, but it was not enough to fight the new enemy heavy armored vehicles – “Tiger” and “Panther”. Even at a distance of a little less than a kilometer “Hellkety” could not penetrate the frontal armor of tanks, but an attempt to approach them from the front for the M18 was a real suicide.

On the other hand, an instrument of “The Witch” relatively easily pierced “Panther” in the side or rear. Due to the large lateral projection M18 gunner it was easier to aim. Chance of destruction “Panther” greatly increased due to the fact that this tank combat pack was located along the boards.

fully justified rate for maneuverability, “witch”. The US military has rightly argued that large-caliber enemy guns somehow penetrate the armor of any tank allies. And the M18 could not only fully “repay” their enemy fire, but also surpasses it in mobility. One of the US military spoke of a “witch”, “Our machine is the most effective I’ve seen in the fighting against the Germans.”

During the Second World War, the US supplied M18 Hellcat in China, supporting its fight against Japan. After the war, “Hellketami” arming the Army of Yugoslavia, South Korea, Venezuela. And the armies of the two countries last M18 remained until the late 2000s. According to legend, witches generally live long. Hellcat thanks to its successful design and performance – proof of this.

December 1941 [1,999,003]

История американского танкостроения. Бронированная «ведьма» армии США
decided to develop a new tank destroyer on the suspension Christie and a 37-mm gun M3. [1,999,003]

April 1942 [1,999,003]

История американского танкостроения. Бронированная «ведьма» армии США
37-mm cannon replaced by a more powerful tool M1 caliber 57 mm. In the picture – the base M1 cannon Ordnance QF 6-pounder 7cwt. [1,999,003]

История американского танкостроения. Бронированная «ведьма» армии США
The military command has instructed the company to produce two prototypes GMC ACS T49. This machine – the predecessor of “The Witch”.

October 1942 [1,999,003]

История американского танкостроения. Бронированная «ведьма» армии США
Developers refuse Christie suspension in favor of the torsion and decide to use a 75-mm gun M3. [1,999,003]

April 1943 [1,999,003]

История американского танкостроения. Бронированная «ведьма» армии США
On a machine installed 76-mm gun M1, assembled a prototype and gave him the designation T70 GMC. [1,999,003]

March 1944 [1,999,003]

История американского танкостроения. Бронированная «ведьма» армии США
Prototype SAU finally approved under the designation M18 GMC. Serial production by this time is in full swing.

Text writer – Jury Bahurin

Sources:

Zaloga S.J. M18 Hellcat Tank Destroyer 1943-97. Oxford: Osprey Publishing Ltd., 2004.

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