Part 1: Tas 44M Part 2: Introduction and Straussler tanks Part 3: Toldi Last time we left the Toldi tank when first 80 pieces of Toldi I were manufactured. Toldi I was basically the original Toldi design, based on the Landsverk light tank, armed with a modified 20mm AT rifle. These 80 Toldi vehicles had serial numbers H301 to H380. After that, the type was redesigned to Toldi II. Toldi II tanks were practically identical to the late Toldi I series. The main difference however was the fact that unlike Toldi I, Toldi II tanks were built from parts, manufactured exclusively in Hungary. That finally solved the issues with German supply chain to Hungarian army’s satisfaction. Another change was the upgrade of the radio from type R-5 to R-5a. These vehicles were manufactured partially in parallel to the older Toldi I model (using German parts) roughly from March 1941 to the end of 1941. 110 Toldi II tanks were manufactured, 68 of which were made by Ganz (H423-H490) and 42 by MÁVAG (H381-H422). By the end of 1941, the Hungarian army owned 190 Toldi I and Toldi II tanks in total – because of the continuous upgrades with locally-built parts, later on these tanks were practically identical (the only way how to distinguish them was the old frame antenna of the Toldi I tank and the new straight antenna of Toldi II, but both models were soon upgraded to the R-5a standard and this feature disappeared). Here, a Toldi II (possibly in Russia): Technically, the first combat use of Toldi tanks happened when Hungary invaded the Romanian territory of Northern Transylvania. On 5.9.1940, Hungarian units crossed the border and advanced into the heart of the former Romanian territory, transferred to Hungary in the Second Vienna Award. While no real combat happened (Romania was basically strongarmed by Italy and Germany to back off), for Toldi tanks it was a disaster. The region was important politically, but its infrastructure was (literally) medieval. The tanks had huge issues traversing the broken and unkept roads and trails: the German engines proved to be completely unreliable and were breaking down all the time, the torsion bars were breaking down and the fact the Hungarian tank drivers were green did not help either. Losses mounted and the Hungarian army command was silently *facepalming*, when reading the reports. Some of the tank breakdowns were also quite pointless, caused by the fact that in the confusion, the maintenance crews filled the tanks with winter oil instead of the summer one, causing them to overheat and in some cases seize altogether. As a result of this failure, the army units were reorganized in October 1940. Each motorized division was now to have a tank batallion, but the upgrade plans (everything was to be read in May 1941) proved to be not realistic and arrangements had to be made (such as reducing the number of Toldi tanks in cavalry divisions etc.). In April 1941, 54 Toldi I tanks were used in aggression against Yugoslavia. They faced little resistance (as Yugoslavia had very few real anti-tank weapons) and there were no losses amongst the Toldis or crews (the only armored losses were a couple of Csaba armored cars, shot up by Yugoslavian 37mm AT guns), but the operation showed two things: - the issue with the supply chain chaos did not disappear, although it was reduced somewhat. There still were issues with German parts breaking down, this was only fixed by the end of 1941 when they were replaced for Hungarian ones - the armor of the tanks was proved to be too thin and could be damaged even by machinegun gun fire. The fact that no Toldi tank was lost was a mixed blessing. On one hand, all the crewmen survived. On the other hand, the voices pointing out the insufficient armor were dismissed – and those, who realized the future of armored combat watched in fear as the two most powerful armies in the world clashed in a titanic struggle, that would reshape the face of the world forever. Hungarian forces were committed to Operation Barbarossa on 28.6.1941. Some time before however, an army unit called “Carpathian group” was formed in Hungary under the command of Lt.Gen. Ferenc Szombathelyi, consisting of two Corps-level units (VIII.Corps and “Mobile Corps”). The Mobile Corps, commanded by Maj.Gen. Béla Miklós had 81 Toldi tanks, 84 Csaba armored cars and 60 CV-35 tankettes. As soon as the Hungarian forces crossed the borders, the supply chain and breakdown issues appeared yet again and a portion of Toldi tanks was not available yet again. From 9.7.1941, the Mobile Corps was officially a part of the German Gruppe Süd. The advance was not easy and the Hungarian soldiers were harassed by Soviet ambushes all the time and losses mounted. The terrain was also harsh, forcing the command to supply some of the units via air, because the trucks couldn’t get thru. Even the Toldi tanks finally met their match. On 13.7.1941, the 3rd Company of 9th Tank Batallion (1st Motorized Infantry Brigade) got into a nasty fight with the Red Army near Antonovka. Unit commander Tibor Karpathy’s Toldi was hit by an AT gun, killing the driver and forcing other tanks to come out and attempt to rescue it. In the ensuing melee, six Toldi tanks were hit and eight of their crewmen were killed, an ominous sign of things to come. By mid July, 7 tanks were too heavily damaged for field repairs. The Italian CV-35 tankettes proved to be terribly obsolete. On 24.7.1941, the Hungarian army was assaulting Tulcsin. Its right flank was covered by Romanian troops, but a Soviet counterattack routed them, forcing the command to deploy two tankette companies to close the breach in lines. It was a disaster: the tankettes got stuck in the mud and their engines stalled, forcing the crews to dismount and handcrank them. In the end, only one platoon managed to retreat, other 18 crewmen were killed, their tankettes destroyed. The biggest enemy the Toldi tanks faced in late 1941 were however not the Soviets, but their own repair possibilities. Only a month after the start of the operation, the repair units had to be significantly reinforced by sending skilled civillian workers from the factories to the front. The engines, unreliable even in best conditions, turned out to be a catastrophy on the front lines: within days, 41 Toldi tanks were listed as non-operational and only 10 of them were damaged by enemy fire, the rest was caused by engine breakdowns. The losses mounted despite the best efforts of the workers to keep the Toldi tanks running: on 5.8.1941, Continue reading →

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