For the Record: My 5 cents regarding The_Chieftain's LT-35 article
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 isMilovice. 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.