Part 1: Tas 44M Part 2: Introduction and Straussler tanks Part 3: Toldi Part 4: Toldi II, Toldi IIA, Toldi III Hello everyone, today, we are going to have a look at one of the best known Hungarian tanks, the Turán. The year 1940 was critical for the Hungarian forces, because they were caught somewhat by surprise by the stunning success of German attack on Poland. The Hungarians were well aware of how effective the armored fist of the Blitzkrieg could be, but even they (or the Germans for that matter) could imagine the extent of the success. Whetever we might think of the Polish army, it was a force to be reckoned with and for a major regional power to fall so quickly was unheard of. The Hungarian conclusion from that war was that the future of the war lies in independent mixed units, with armor being essential to success. However, the Hungarians noted that especially tankettes and light tanks in general took heavy losses during the campaign and as such, they are not capable of being the hammer, that would smash enemy defenses. Something heavier would be needed to do that. A medium tank. As we learned in the earlier parts, Hungarians in the end decided to reform the armored units into German-style divisions. And for that, they needed tanks. A lot of them. As we already know, the Manfréd Weiss-produced Straussler tank was not found viable. Hungary contacted Swedish Landsverk and the result of the cooperation was the Toldi tank I described in previous parts, but still something heavier was needed. Next people to turn to were the Italians. Hungary had some Italian CV tankettes, that got used (with disastrous results) later in the East – but otherwise, neither Italians nor Swedes were able to offer a decent medium tank. Italian Ansaldo offered the M13/40 tank to Hungary, but it was found to be too light and its 37mm armament was found insufficient. Landsverk also had a project of a 20-ton medium tank, armed with a 47mm gun, but by early 1940 there wasn’t even a prototype available yet. The Hungarians tried to secure some Panzer III and IV vehicles from Germany, but were quickly rebutted: Germany was preparing for an all-out war with its greatest rival and didn’t have enough to spare. And so, as it was usual for the allies of Germany, it was the Czechoslovaks who had to save the day. Czechoslovak vehicles had also one more advantage: they were not as difficult to produce as the German ones. For example, it was practically impossible even for late-war Hungarian industry to produce the Panther, they had to go with something a bit more low-tech. Czechoslovakia’s weapons production was well-known to the Hungarian army staff. After all, the Czechoslovak artillery (some pieces left over from WW1) was still used in Hungary. The Hungarians were watching the Czechoslovak light/medium tank development with interest and by late 1939, they decided to ask Czechoslovakia for help. At that time, former Czechoslovakia (now occupied by Germany) had two notable medium tank projects. The V-8-H by Praga (ČKD, now called BMM) and the T-21 (formerly Š-IIc by Škoda). Both options were considered, but in the end, the Škoda project won. Now would be a good time to have a quick look at both competitors. The V-8-H can be checked out here in detail, it is a tier 4 tank of the proposed Czechoslovak medium branch. The T-21 by Škoda also underwent some development, I wrote an earlier post about it. It is worth noting that both Czechoslovakia and Hungary developed the T-21 in parallel – Hungarian evolution was T-21 to Turán, Turán II and Turán III, while Czechoslovak development was T-21 to T-22 and T-23M. However, from Turán I on, both development lines are very loosely connected and are by no means equal – T-22/23M and Turán II are quite different tanks. Back to Hungary. The negotiations with Škoda started with an offer by Škoda from 12.10.1939, proposing the sale of T-11 and T-21 tanks to Hungary. In case you are wondering what a T-11 is, it is an improved version of LT-35. I wrote about it in the Bulgarian armor post. At the same time, the Hungarians – who captured two LT-35 tanks during the Slovak border skirmishes with Czechoslovakia in March 1939 – wanted these captured tanks refitted and pressed in service. As a sort of offtopic, both of these tanks were indeed refitted by Škoda, returned to Hungary on 5.3.1941 and served as training vehicles until 1943. By the end of October 1939, Škoda offered the list of vehicles approved by Germany for export. As for the medium tanks, the T-21 was there. Basically, there were two options: directly importing the vehicles, or local licensed production with Weiss Manfréd as the chief producer and organizer of such an effort (since it was probably the biggest and most capable Hungarian company at that point). In May 1940, a Hungarian delegation (led by Weiss Manfréd general director János Korbuly) came to Škoda, witnessed the T-21 prototype in action and recieved the blueprints for consideration. Manfréd Weiss in turn asked its subcontractors about their opinions and most were positive, although some of the subcontractor companies still preferred the Swedish tank project until like August 1940. By the end of May 1940 however, the issue was pretty much decided: German Heereswaffenamt issued a permit to allow the licensed production of T-21 in Hungary and that act convinced the Hungarians the T-21 would be the way. In June 1940 the T-21 prototype was transferred by train (along with Czechoslovak driver and engineers) to Hajmáskér proving grounds in Hungary in order to be officially trialled before the Hungarians (including deputy commander of Hungarian Technical Institute, col. János Vértessy). The trial was successful, the first 400 kilometers were absolved without problems. At that point, on 20.6.1940, the prototype was moved to Budapest to undergo its first modification. The HTI workers removed the frontal turret plate and the gun here and replaced it with a locally made armor plate and the 40mm 37M locally-produced gun (originally intended for Straussler V-4). The gun was essentially a license-produced 40mm Bofors. As you might remember from the previous article, it was a 40mm L/45 with muzzle velocity of 800 m/s and the rate of fire 16 rounds per minute. The shell (originally meant for the Bofors AA guns) could penetrate 64mm of armor (30 deg slope) at 100 meters (in WoT terms it’s 74mm PEN) and 30mm of armor (same slope) at 1000m. T-21 during trials in Hungary: Another thing that got removed were the ZB-37 machineguns, they were Continue reading →

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