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Mar 18, 2013

My 2 cents regarding The_Chieftain's LT-35 article

Hello everyone,

recently, The_Chieftain wrote an article about the LT-35 light tank (which he prefers to call 35(t), using the German nomenclature). I feel I have to add some info to this. I'll take it by sentences.

"...his caused a little bit of consternation over on the Czech sub-forum over on the EU server, they didn’t seem so keen on that statement."

Well, that would be me protesting that back then, I even argued with Tuccy a bit.


"Skoda hadn’t started building armoured full-tracked vehicles by then, it wasn’t until the early 1930s that the MU and MUV (Malay Utocny Vuz: Small Attack Vehicle) series started appearing. ..... By 1934, though the Czechs had decided to stop mucking around in the kiddie pool and build themselves a proper battle tank. The result of Skoda’s efforts was the SU."

Well... no. First and foremost, there was no MUV, all the Czech sources refer to the vehicles as "MÚ" (malý útočný, not malay). Alternative designation was Š-I or Š-1 (the historical sources are notoriously messy in this as various sources use various ways how the write the vehicle). A few words on nomenclature: roman I means tankette category, II means light tank class and III means a heavy breakthrough tank (yes, we had those projects too, they were really bad though).

Second, the wording "Czechs decide to stop mucking around..." implies there has been no Czech development-building of "proper" armored vehicles before 1934. That's not true. The demands for medium tanks were originally set in 1926 (they included for example a 75mm gun). The early tank development of heavier vehicles (not tankettes) started in early 1920's with the Kolohousenka projects - yes, it does look funny, but it actually worked - and with the Praga MT (malý tank) and Praga YNH projects from 1927 and 1930. MT weighted 4 tons, YNH 7 tons. Then there was the whole Praga series (including the infamous Tančík vzor 1933 tankette). The "heavy" breakthrough Škoda tank (Š-III) was also developed ever since the army laid down the demands for it in 1929 (the first stage of the project was ready in 1933) - yes, it was a terrible vehicle, but it existed. It's "sister" project from Tatra (T-III) was started by that time also. The development history of late 20's and early 30's in Czechoslovakia is very rich.

Now, though the Czech Ministry of Defense had put a 15 ton cap on the weight limit of their battle tanks

There was no "battle tank" concept in Czechoslovakia, the parameters mentioned were for vehicles called "útočná vozba", which means "assault vehicles" in english. Also, the original parameters were laid down by the order of Gen.Syrový from 22.6.1926 and mentioned (amongst others) the demand of 10 tons, not 15 (and recommended the weight between 6-8 tons) - that's why the vehicle was first developed so light.

If you wanted to make a 7.5 ton designed tank with a central turret, it is probably going to look a bit like the British 6-ton design (which usually weighed in at about 7-8 tons) simply by its nature.

Not sure how much truth is in that (after all, I am not a tank designer), but Škoda SÚ was a direct reaction to the Praga P-II vehicle (later designated as LT-34), another 7,5 ton tank from 1931-1932 (more about it here at tier 2). P-II itself doesn't have much to do with Vickers - a Vickers gun was considered and rejected in favour of a local gun, there was the Praga Wilson part. There was a relationship here with Vickers, but not a direct one (Czech sources, namely I.Pejčoch suggest that the suspension was NOT a Vickers copy, but indigenously developed). SÚ was then "inspired" by P-II and Š-IIa in turn was the development of SÚ. Thus, the relationship with Vickers is only very, very thin and indirect (it most likely started in the early 20's, when Vickers guns were first considered for licensed FT-17 tanks, improved FT-17 proposed by Škoda and the Kolohousenka vehicles).

As for the rest:

The reliability was a problem in general, but P-IIa (the competing design) was simplier to maintain (had other faults but in general wasn't much worse). LT-35 was selected based on unknown circumstances (most likely corruption).

Two ended up in Hungarian possession somehow, and some 50-70 were to the Slovak Free State

One was captured by the Hungarians from the Czechoslovak army on 15.3.1939 during a counterattack at the village of Fenčíkovo (Subcarpathian Russia region) after it was knocked out by AT fire (a shell hit the engine) and one of its crewmembers was killed. The vehicle burned out. Second LT-35 was left damaged on 24.3.1939 on Slovak-Hungarian border after a skirmish between Slovak and Hungarian army and captured.
After pre-war Czechoslovakia broke up, Slovakia had 52 LT-35 in its possession.

so the Germans gave ‘em a bit of a try at the Milowitz training base

Milowitz is a nazi-forced German name. Proper Czech (and - according to wiki also English) name is Milovice. During the tests in March 1939, the Germans actually judged them to be really good, the only problematic part was deemed to be the riveted armor. Especially the steering mechanism was liked. A lot of vehicles got worn out during the testing however.

As a result, they threw a loader in there anyway (no seat, of course)

The turret actually recieved an extra seat for the loader (rarely used, though). That's nitpicking however.

The combat history section is fine IMHO. I'd just add that some Panzer 35t's also went to Waffen SS (where they generally didn't do very well, but then again, neither did the Waffen SS themselves). Some survived till 1942 as training vehicles in Bad Tölz (to train anti-tank combat) and one went to Munich for the new mechanics to train on.

The 35's also fought in Slovak service against Russians (until late 1941 presumably, they had heavy losses). However, the last combat hurrah happened in 1944 during the Slovak National Uprising, where 8 tanks from Slovak storages were repaired and used by the rebels. 4 were shortly after devastated in close combat with German Panzer IVs. Several more were repaired after or used as fixed positions. On 22.9.1944, 3 LT-35s were operational in the hands of the rebels. Several fierce battles followed (including a German ambush that decimated the rebel LT-38s) and the last LT-35 was lost on 27.10.1944. Romanians used theirs until 1943 or so.

23 comments:

  1. I found an article on Aberdeen Proving Ground's 35t when I was looking into the Chieftan's article. Sure wish I could translate it all. What I did find interesting is APG chose to paint it in the Czech colors, and apparently contacted historical resources there to get the right scheme.

    http://www.diecast.cz/military/328-Prvni-LT-35-v-barvach-nasi-armady-od-doby-okupace-Ceskoslovenska/

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    1. Ah yes, this one. The problem is, the colors are wrong. They are too bright - the realistic ones look like this: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d8/Lt-38_lesany.jpg

      (this was confirmed by Tuccy, CZ section - EU forum, he knows about Czech tanks much more than me in general)

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    2. I helped on the research on the Czech 35 at -APG the colors used were based upon the base paint used on the vehicle. The former APG tank was never used in combat. The colors came as a surprise to the research staff.

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  2. Is 5 cents some Czech version of the English 2 cents idiom?

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    1. It's 2.5 times more important.....

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  3. Have you considered writing a book? Or has it all been said before?

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  4. Are you going to post a thread on the NA forum calling for a full and stand-alone Czech tree?
    Seems like you have enough.

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  5. And that's why i read this blog, not because of some leaks of things that can change from one day to another.

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  6. Have you considered contacting Chieftain Directly about his "mistakes"?

    He would be more than agreeable to change any discrepancies in his article, presuming you have the correct sources.

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  7. Ehm...I cannot speak for all of the czech cities that also have german names, but most of them existed far before the 1930/40s...

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    1. Well, most had Czech names historically, that were at some point forcibly germanized (during Austrian Empire era, 3rd Reich too). Milovice is a distinctively slavic word/name.

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    2. That is not what I meant...of course they had czech names, but these german names are usually older than these times...
      maybe in the 1930s the german names were forced to use, but this doesn´t mean, they existed before....
      many cites in the world have different names in different languages...best example here is Prague, Praha...oder Prag, home of the first "german university"...

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    3. Lol :) Try telling that in a Prague bar... make sure you have a good health insurance too :)

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    4. Oh, I did that, after enjoying a cold dark Gambrinus...nobody can argue about this, I think...

      Honestly, what do you mean is wrong with what I wrote?

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    5. It was a joke :) Either way, the Charles university is considered to be Czech of course, just as Charles IV. is (arguably, he said he "feels to be a Czech", that's why he's so celebrated here). Some names have German origin, but most have Czech ones (Praha - Prag), Milovice is a slavic word, it would be odd if the German word Milowitz was there first.

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    6. Oh, then it was a misunderstanding...I never meant the german names to be the original ones...just, that these existed far before 20th century..

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  8. http://world-of-tanks.eu/aktualnosci/-1009--amr-p103-francuski-premium-lt/ check this out bro, just translate it :). I didn't found it here so i thought i should share ;)

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    1. It's a very old screenshot (2011 or so), I wrote an article on the tank ages ago on the official forums. Thank you nonetheless.

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