Categories
WW2 Czechoslovak Tankettes WW2 Yugoslav Armor

Škoda Š-I-d (T-32)

Czechoslovakia/Kingdom of Yugoslavia (1936)
Tankette – 8 Purchased

In an effort to equip its cavalry divisions with armored vehicles, the Yugoslav Royal Army began a series of negotiations with several European nations. While for a variety of reasons almost all would end up unrealized, one would, to some extent, be successful. After a number of examinations and testing of various armored vehicles, finally, in 1936, a deal was made with the Czechoslovakian weapon manufacturer Škoda for the acquisition of 8 Š-I-d tankettes. These were delivered in August 1937 and remained in service up to 1941.

A column of Š-I-d tankettes in Yugoslav service. Source: Wiki

Need for Modernization

During the 1930s, armies in Europe, such as France, for example, were slowly modernizing their cavalry units by attaching various mechanized elements to increase their speed and combat effectiveness. Horses were being replaced with trucks that could transport soldiers, weapons, and supplies. To increase the offensive capabilities of these new mechanized units, armored vehicles, such as tanks and armored cars, were being attached to them.

The Kingdom of Yugoslavia’s neighbors also initiated such reorganizations of their cavalry units to some extent. Not wanting to be left behind in this arms race, the Yugoslav Royal Army decided to implement a similar reorganization of its own cavalry divisions. The Kingdom of Yugoslavia originally had only two cavalry divisions, one formed after the First World War, and the second in 1921. These would be supplemented by the cavalry brigade which was attached to the Royal King’s Guard unit. In 1930, a bicycle battalion was also attached to each cavalry division. More serious steps in the motorization of these two divisions were initiated by General Milan Nedić in 1934. It was planned to attach a motorized regiment to each division. However, it was necessary to obtain some light tanks or tankettes for these cavalry units.

The Yugoslav Royal Army had fewer than 60 Renault FTs and its modified M-28 counterpart available in its inventory. Given the obsolescence and poor speed of available FT tanks, another vehicle was necessary to fulfill this role. This was not as easy a task as it seems at first glance. Europe at that time was getting deeper into a political fracture between the Western Allies and Germany. Countries that had a good relationship with Yugoslavia, such as France, wanted to dispose of their older surplus models first, keeping the new models for themselves in case of war with Germany. These older designs were not appealing to the Yugoslav Royal Army officials, so they turned to other potential candidates. These included Poland, Czechoslovakia, and even the Soviet Union.

The Renault-Kégresse M-28 in Yugoslav service. Source: www.srpskioklop.paluba.info

Search For A Proper Solution

The Kingdom of Yugoslavia and Poland had relatively good military cooperation, with the acquisition of different military equipment and weapons. In 1932, Poland and the Yugoslav Royal Army signed an agreement for the purchase of some 14 Polish Renault FT tanks. A year later, one TK-3 tankette was tested to see if it satisfied the Royal Yugoslav Army’s requirements. While not much is known about these trials, it appears it was not successful, as no contract was ever signed.

Similarly, Czechoslovakia also had good cooperation with the Yugoslav Royal Army. Both countries were members of the so-called ‘Little Entente’, the alliance formed in 1920-21 between Yugoslavia, Romania, and Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovakia possessed two well known military weapon manufacturers, Škoda (Pilsen) and Českomoravská Kolben-Daněk, ČKD (Prague). Škoda officials presented their new OA vz.27 armored car to the Yugoslav delegation during 1930. While the Yugoslav delegation was interested in this vehicle, due to its high price, nothing came from this. In 1933, both companies presented their new tankette designs to Royal Yugoslav Army officials. Škoda was the first to deliver its vehicle, which arrived in Yugoslavia in July 1933. A month later, the ČKD vz.33 tankette also arrived. After a series of tests and evaluations, both tankettes performed poorly. While the MU-4 had constant engine problems, the Yugoslav Royal Army showed interest in it, and asked Škoda officials to, if possible, improve its overall performance for new testing. The ČKD vz.33 tankette, on the other hand, was immediately rejected.

While the Yugoslav Royal Army showed interest in the MU-4, due to its engine problems, no orders were issued. Source: Wiki

The Škoda engineers implemented some improvements on the MU-4, mostly regarding its weak engine, which was replaced with a stronger one. Once this and other minor modifications were done, it was once again tested by the Royal Yugoslav Army in late October 1934. While performing much better, and despite the initial negotiation for 40 such vehicles, nothing came from this.

Much later, in May of 1940, a Yugoslav Trade Delegation negotiated with the Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vyacheslav Molotov, for the acquisition of military equipment. A total of 300 tanks were requested. While the Soviets initially agreed to this, not a single tank was ever given to Yugoslavia. The Soviets simply did not trust the Yugoslav authorities and constantly postponed the delivery of the promised vehicles.

The Š-I-d Prototype 

The early Škoda armored designs were mostly armed with machine guns. In 1935, its design teams began working on a new design. This time, however, the new vehicle was to be armed with one machine gun and a 37 mm gun. The prototype of this new tankette, which was designated Š-I-d, was completed by mid-1935.

The Š-I-d suspension consisted of two pairs of road wheels suspended using leaf springs. Three return rollers, a front-drive sprocket, and a rear positioned idler completed the running gear. The crews and the armament were placed in a box-shaped superstructure that had a command cupola on it. The armament consisted of a centrally mounted 37 mm A-3 gun, provided with 25 rounds of ammunition. On the front side of the front superstructure, a single 7.9 mm ZB. vz. 26 machine gun was placed with 2,600 rounds of ammunition. The frontal armored plates, which were fixed using bolts, were 20 mm thick. The sides were 10 mm, the rear 8 mm, and the bottom only 5 mm thick. This vehicle was powered by a 60 hp @ 2500 rpm Škoda engine. With this engine and a weight of 4.5 tonnes, the maximum speed was 41 km/h.

The Š-I-d Prototype source: aviarmor.net

A Deal is Made

The same year as this vehicle was completed, 1935, it was presented Yugoslav Royal Army. The Š-I-d was a great improvement over the previous Škoda works, and the Yugoslav Royal Army showed great interest in it. After evaluation and testing, some changes were requested before an agreement was to be signed. These mainly included increasing the frontal armor protection from 20 to 30 mm. Strangely enough, the later delivered vehicles had a frontal armor that was slightly increased to 22 mm. Why this was not implemented or why the Yugoslav Royal Army accepted this is not clear. Regardless, the Ministry of the Army and Navy of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and Škoda finally signed a contract on 30th June 1936. According to this contract, 8 such improved tankettes were bought at a total price of nearly 6 million Czechoslovak Crowns. These were to be completed and transported to Yugoslavia within the next 11 months. Due to delays in production, these were finally delivered in two batches, with the first one arriving on 14th August and the second on 25th August 1937.

Four newly produced Š-I-d at Škoda. Source: srpskioklop.paluba.info

While the 8 improved Š-I-d were delivered to Yugoslavia, the prototype remained at Škoda. It would remain there until April 1940, when a German SS delegation bought it. It was delivered to Germany in July 1940, and from that point on, its ultimate fate is unknown, but it was likely scrapped.

Name

The Š-I-d designation is actually an abbreviation. “Š” stands for the first letter of the manufacturer, Škoda. “I”, the Roman numeral for ‘1’, represents the vehicle category, in this case, a tankette (category II was for light tanks and category III was for medium tanks). The “d” stands for “dělový”, which was a gun-armed version designation. The improved Š-I-d was accepted into service under the designation “Брза борна кола T-32” (Eng. Fast fighting vehicle). What precisely the letter ‘T’ or the number 32 meant is not mentioned in the sources. The Royal Yugoslav Army at that time did not use the term tank. Among the soldiers that were operating these vehicles, these were known as Škoda Šid, likely imitating the name of a Serbian town named Šid.

There are some disagreements between different authors about the correct designation for this vehicle. For example, D. Babac (Elitni Vidovi Jugoslovenske Vojske u Aprilskom Ratu) mentions this vehicle’s designation as S id. B. D. Dimitrijević (Borna Kola Jugoslovenske Vojske 1918-1941) describes the prototype being named as Š-1-d, while the production vehicles were named Š1D. To further complicate the matter, H. L. Doyle and C. K. Kliment (Czechoslovak armored fighting vehicles 1918-1945) mention this vehicle as T-3D. To avoid any further confusion, this article from this point on will refer to the vehicle as the T-32.

Design

Hull

The hull of this vehicle was divided into three sections, the front part, where the transmission was positioned, the center crew compartment, and the rear positioned engine compartment. The hull was slightly shorter in contrast to the prototype, having a length of 3.58 m compared to 3.7 m. The width was almost the same, being 1.95 m, while the prototype was 2 m wide.

Suspension

In comparison to the prototype, the T-32 had a slightly modified suspension. It consisted, per side, of two pairs of road wheels, suspended by leaf-spring units, and one additional road wheel suspended on a vertical spring. There was one large front drive sprocket, rear positioned idler, and four small return rollers.

The T-32 suspension is evident here. Source: srpskioklop.paluba.info

Engine

The T-32 was powered by a (sources do not give us a precise type or name) Škoda 60 hp (44.2 kW) @2,500 rpm petrol engine. With a weight of 4.8 tonnes, or 5.8 tonnes, depending on the source, the maximum speed was 41 km/h. The T-32 had a fuel load of 115 liters, which provided it with an operational range of 260 km.

The engine compartment was completely covered and protected with armored plates. On the sides of the engine compartment were two exhaust pipes. On top of the engine compartment, a large box with an unknown purpose was positioned.

While the rear engine compartment was fully enclosed, on top of it was a large box with an unknown purpose. Source: srpskioklop.paluba.info

Superstructure

The superstructure consisted of a simple rectangular armored shape. It was not completely flat, as its sides were slightly angled, though the precise angle is not mentioned in the sources. The front plate had an opening in the center, where the main gun was placed. Left of it was a small observation port. To the right was the much larger driver visor port. If these were additionally protected with armored glass is not mentioned in the sources. There was an additional visor port placed to the right of the driver. The rear plate was used to store two spare road wheels. Additional working tools could be attached to the superstructure sides.

On the front plate, two observation ports were located. The larger one was provided for the driver. Source: srpskioklop.paluba.info
A smaller visor port was placed on the right side of the superstructure. Source: srpskioklop.paluba.info

The superstructure top plate was mostly flat, with a small portion of it being slightly curved toward the front of the vehicle. On the left, a large round-shaped command cupola was positioned, with a much simpler hatch for the driver next to it. The commander’s cupola was provided with four large observation ports, each placed to cover one side of the vehicle.  On top of the cupola, a cylinder-shaped object probably served as a flag port that was used by the commander to communicate with other vehicles.

A good view of the T-32 top, note the right open hatch was for the driver. The commander would enter and exit the vehicle through his command cupola. Source: srpskioklop.paluba.info
Close-up view of the command cupola. Quite interestingly, and somewhat unusually, a mount for an additional machine gun is seen, which was not present on other vehicles. This was probably used during an exercise. Source: srpskioklop.paluba.info

Armor

The T-32’s armor consisted of armored plates that were held in place using bolts. The front armor was 22 mm thick. The side armor was 12 mm and the rear was 8 mm thick. The vehicle’s bottom was only 5 mm thick. This vehicle was very lightly protected. Its best protection was its small overall size. These armor values are taken from N. Đokić and B. Nadoveza (Nabavka Naoružanja Iz Inostranstva Za Potrebe Vojske I Mornarice Kraljevine SHS-Jugoslavije). On the other hand, D. Denda mentions that the maximum armor thickness was 30 mm.

Armament

For its small size, the T-32 was remarkably well-armed. Its main armament consists of a Škoda 37 mm ÚVJ gun (sometimes called Škoda 37 mm A3). Part of the gun and its upper recoil cylinder were protected with a steel jacket. The elevation of this gun was -10° to +25°, while the traverse was 15° in both directions. It was a modern gun at that time and could penetrate some 30 mm of armor at 500 meters. The composition of the ammunition load varies between the sources, with authors disagreeing between 25 to 42 rounds.

Secondary armament included a ZB vz.30 J machine gun. It was positioned in a small ball mount on the right side of the vehicle’s superstructure. The elevation for the  ZB vz.30 J machine gun was -10° to +20°, while the traverse was 15° in both directions. The ammunition load consisted of 1,000 rounds.

 

For a tankette, the T-32 was quite formidably armed, with a 37 mm gun and a machine gun. Source: srpskioklop.paluba.info

Crew

The T-32 had a crew of two, including the commander and the driver. The commander was positioned on the left side of the vehicle. Besides commanding, the commander was also responsible for operating the main gun, including finding targets, loading the gun, and firing it. The driver, who was positioned on the right side, operated the machine gun. Due to the small size of the vehicle, no more crew members could be placed inside it. This arrangement greatly diminished the effectiveness of the crew, as they were simply overburdened with the different tasks that they had to perform.

Service Before the War

Once in Yugoslavia, these 8 vehicles were used to form the Eskadron brzih bornih kola (Eng. fast combat vehicle squadron). This was divided into two platoons, each with four vehicles, supplemented by two armored cars, and two improvised armored trucks. The squadron was stationed at the Cavalry School in Zemun, near Belgrade.

While more modern than other armored vehicles that were in Yugoslav Royal Army service, the T-32’s performance was somewhat disappointing. While it possessed good firepower, its weakest part was the poor suspension design, which made it prone to frequent breakdowns. This, in turn, meant that only a few vehicles were operational at any given time, while the remaining ones had to be sent to an army workshop for repair. In the Yugoslav Royal service, the T-32s were painted in a three-tone camouflage of brown, green, and ochre.

The T-32 used the standard Czechoslovak three-tone camouflage, which was unchanged in Yugoslav service. Source: srpskioklop.paluba.info
A colored picture of the T-32 Source: https://www.armedconflicts.com/CZK-Skoda-S-I-D-t71735

In the lead-up to the war with the Axis powers that began in April 1941, the T-32s were extensively used in various military exercises and occasionally on parades. The T-32s were involved in military exercises at Ada Ciganlija, near Belgrade, in 1940. These exercises were actually the first-ever recorded color documentary videos made in Yugoslavia.

A T-32 during a river crossing exercise near Belgrade during late September 1940. Source: srpskioklop.paluba.info

In March 1941, the government of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was negotiating with the Germans to join the Axis powers. A group of pro-Western Yugoslav Air Force officers, under the leadership of General Dušan Simović, staged a coup on 27th March 1941 in order to prevent this from happening. They were supported by the R35 tanks, which were deployed at key locations in the capital Belgrade. The T-32s were not initially involved but would participate in the parade in honor of the success of the coup later that day.

While not directly involved in the coup, the T-32s were paraded through the capital after. Source: srpskioklop.paluba.info

Tactics of Employment  

Despite the appearance of an anti-tank or an assault vehicle, like, for example, the German StuG III series, according to the Royal Yugoslav Army, the T-32 was meant to fulfill the role of a support weapon. It was intended to perform a few different tasks. Reconnaissance of enemy flank positions and attacks on enemy flanks and vital points, but only in cooperation with other units. Frontal direct attacks were to be avoided as much as possible. These were only permitted when the enemy was caught off guard and if sufficient artillery support was available.

While, at first glance, the design of T-32 appears similar to an anti-tank vehicle, it was not designed for this role. Source: srpskioklop.paluba.info

The T-32 could act as a vanguard, when a platoon would be divided into two groups of two vehicles. The first group would advance, while the second would remain in reserve. In rearguard operations, the T-32 was to attack enemy flanks and thus slow down their movements.

Thus, the T-32 was not intended as a vehicle that would lead an attack, but instead as a support element for other units. To maximize its effectiveness, the crew were to use its low silhouette, good speed, and firepower, and if possible, with a factor of a surprise to their advantage.

Some sources, such as L. Ness (World War II Tanks And Fighting Vehicles) wrongly identify it as an anti-tank vehicle. Despite having a gun with good anti-tank performance against lighter armored targets, the Yugoslav Royal Army never intended it to solely fulfill this role.

The Improved Š-I-J

After initial experiences with the T-32, the Yugoslav military leadership asked Škoda to develop better armored and armed vehicles with a more reliable suspension. In 1939, Škoda presented an improved tankette designated Š-I-J (‘J’ for Jugoslavsky/Yugoslavia) to the Royal Yugoslav Army. While visually quite similar to the T-32, it incorporated a number of improvements, mainly regarding armament and suspension. The Yugoslav Royal Army was pleased with this new model and was interested in purchasing 108 such vehicles, however, nothing came of this in the end.

The improved Š-I-J is armed with a 47 mm gun and a new suspension. While a production order for 108 vehicles was initially placed, nothing would come from this. Source:  forum.warthunder.com

In Combat

Just prior to the Axis attack on Yugoslavia on 6th April 1941, the squadron of fast combat vehicles, with all 8 T-32s, was based in Zemun. This unit was also supplemented with an old First World War-era armored car and two indigenously armored trucks. The primary mission of this unit was to protect the capital Belgrade from any possible enemy attack from the north or an airborne assault. The commander of the unit at that time was Cavalry Major Dušan G. Radović.

While the Axis attack was anticipated, the Yugoslav military planners failed to estimate its sheer size and speed of advance. Almost from the start, the Yugoslav Royal Army was in complete disarray and chaos, with the majority of units failing to fully mobilize their manpower. The squadron of fast combat vehicles did not participate in the war up to 10th April. Given the Axis attack from Bulgaria in the east, this unit received an order to move and protect the Belgrade-Niš area. As it moved toward the city of Niš, it was meant to establish a new base of operations there and go under the control of the command of that area. Due to the general chaos, as the unit was leaving Belgrade, it was ordered by the Commander of the Srem Division to proceed toward the Mladenovac-Aranđelovac area and finally to the city of Topola. At least one T-32 had to be abandoned in Belgrade due to a mechanical breakdown. This particular vehicle was captured by the advancing Germans. Interestingly enough, the T-32s were, due to an unknown reason, not supplied with anti-tank rounds at this point, only with high-explosive rounds.

One T-32 was left abandoned in Belgrade and later captured by the advancing Germans. Source: srpskioklop.paluba.info

The unit arrived at Topola during the night of 10th April. There, it was placed under the command of the VI Army. On the following day, the unit set up defensive positions around the road that led from Mladenovac to Topola. The same day, at around 10 PM, two T-32s were ordered to carry out a reconnaissance mission toward the city of Kragujevac. The communication lines with this city were lost and the current position of the enemy advance was not clear. Unfortunately for them, the Germans were already in Kragujevac and dispatched a small group of several tanks toward Topola. While on the way to their objective, one T-32 had a mechanical breakdown and had to be abandoned. The second vehicle, commanded by Lieutenant  Ljubomir Mihajlović, continued on its own. It unexpectedly got in the path of the advancing German tanks. Both sides were probably surprised for a few minutes before the German tanks opened fire. Lacking anti-tank rounds, Lieut. Ljubomir Mihajlović could do little to oppose the enemy tanks and ordered the driver to pull back to safety. On the way back, this vehicle too had to be abandoned to a mechanical breakdown.

At 1 PM, the Germans attacked the Yugoslav Topola defense positions. By this point, at least 5 T-32s were still operational. In a counter-attack attempt, the T-32s managed to temporarily stop the German advance. The unit commander’s vehicle alone managed to destroy three German tanks, including a command vehicle. Unfortunately, he was killed while trying to escape his burning vehicle, which was hit by return enemy fire. After three and a half hours of fighting, the Yugoslav positions were finally overrun. The fate of the defending T-32s is not clear. Some may have escaped the destruction of the Yugoslav forces in Topola and moved to  Mladenovac, where they were finally lost.

A number of T-32s had to be abandoned due to frequent breakdowns. This particular vehicle showed the major problem that these vehicles had, namely the weak and poorly designed suspension. The rear idler is completely dislocated from its original position. Source: srpskioklop.paluba.info

In German Hands

The Germans managed to capture at least some of these vehicles in various conditions. In their service, the T-32 was renamed to Pz. Kpfw. 732 (j). The precise fate of these after this point is not known. What is sure is that not all available vehicles were used by the Germans during the occupation of Yugoslavia. It is very likely that all the captured tankettes were eventually sent for scrap metal at some point during the Second World War. None of the T-32s survived the war and their final fate remains unknown to this day.

German captured T-32s. Their final fate and use after the April War is not known. Source: beutepanzer.ru

Conclusion

Compared with the tankettes from other states, on paper, the T-32 was a major step forward. This tankette had a low silhouette, was fast, well-armed, and armored. However, the T-32 suffered from problems with its suspension, which was structurally very weak and prone to failures. As a result, most of the T-32 vehicles spent months in the Army’s repair workshops. The two-man crew was simply overburdened with the tasks that they had to perform. Lastly, and probably their most major issue, was their small production run of only 8 vehicles. This greatly diminished their combat use and made the acquisition of spare parts difficult given the fact that by 1938, Škoda was in German hands. Nevertheless, the T-32 provided the Yugoslav Royal Army with a more modern vehicle than its armored pool of existing vehicles, albeit in limited numbers only.

Škoda Š-I-d (T-32)

Škoda Š-I-D (T-32) specifications

Dimensions (L-W-H) 3.58 x 1.95 x 1.76 m (11.7 x 6.3 x 5.7 ft)
Total weight, battle ready  4.8 or 5.8  tonnes
Crew 2 (commander, driver)
Propulsion Škoda  60hp (44,2 kW) @2,500 rpm petrol engine.
Speed 41 km/h (25.4 mph)
Range  260 km (161 miles)
Primary Armament Škoda 37 mm ÚVJ
Secondary Armament 7.9 mm ZB vz.30 J
Armor 5 – 22 mm (0.1 – 0.8 in)

 

Sources

 

Categories
WW2 Czechoslovak Tankettes

Škoda MU-2

 Czechoslovakia (1930-1931)
Tankette – 1 Prototype Built

During the late 1920s, the tankette, technically a small armored and tracked machine gun carrier, grabbed the interest of Czechoslovak military officials. At the time, it was mostly a British development, with the commercial market dominated by the tankettes produced by Carden-Loyd. From there, the concept spread internationally and similar vehicles were produced by many tank-building nations, although often not as tankettes, but as regular light tanks. Czechoslovakia was not afraid to embrace the somewhat commercial term when it took an improved model of the Mk.VI tankette into service as the Tančík vz.33 [Eng: Tankette Model 1933]. This improved vehicle was developed by the Czechoslovak company ČKD. These developments were followed with interest by the main competitor of ČKD, Škoda, which decided to enter the lucrative market of tank design early in the process.

The MU-2 during trials near the factory. Note the opened top hatches of the driver, which also partially obstructs his front view. The small size of the vehicle can be appreciated with the two men standing next to it. Source: Francev and Kliment, colorization by Smargd123

The Development

Škoda was the largest armament manufacturer in Czechoslovakia and, after the country’s independence, in 1918, was the first to produce armored cars for the Czechoslovak Army, based on the Fiat-Torino chassis. In 1922, Škoda even proposed to build an unlicensed copy of the Renault FT tank. This proposal was denied by the Ministry of Defense [Ministerstvo národní obrany, abbr. MNO], as they did not desire any potential diplomatic problems with France. After that, Škoda proceeded to design and build several armored cars, most notably the PA series, but there were no further initiatives to start the production of tracked armored vehicles.

When the company saw how the Army and competitor ČKD were negotiating the possible license production of Carden-Loyd tankettes, potentially around 200 pieces, interest in tank building increased significantly. It was realized how lucrative such a tank-building business would be. The business plan was simple: create an armored tracked vehicle, similar to the Carden-Loyd, but better. The actual development proved to be more difficult. In April 1930, shortly after the first three Carden-Loyds were shipped to Czechoslovakia in March, Škoda notified the Ministry of Defense that they were also designing an armored vehicle. The letter read: “We [Škoda] would like to politely remind you that we have designed a tank with similar characteristics to the Carden-Loyd, against which our design has certain advantages…” Škoda emphasized that the tank was of domestic construction and would be able to overcome domestic terrain features. The tank in question was the MU-2, with MU being short for “malý útočný vůz” [Eng: Small Assault Vehicle].

The vehicle that started it all, the Carden-Loyd Mk.VI. This is one of the copies produced under license by ČKD as the CL-P. Source: Rotanazdar
The successor of the CL-P, the P-I, better known as the Tančík vz.33. Source: druhasvetova.com

In spite of Škoda’s offer, the Ministry granted ČKD the order to build four copies of the Carden-Loyd Mk.VI, known as the CL-P, in May 1930. This was probably a good call by the Ministry, as Škoda’s design was still underdeveloped at the time. Initially, Škoda had great difficulty in getting started on the design, as they had to start from scratch. The military experts they consulted could not assist, nor could Škoda base their work on a foreign sample as they did not have one, nor any drawings. Any theoretical experience was nearly non-existent, as Škoda’s assistance in the Kolohousenka project was limited to the delivery of some parts, while the 1929 order by the Ministry to build a new wheel-cum-track tank, the SKU project [also known as the KÚV, or in a later design stage, as Š-III], had barely advanced.

The Tank Department and Truck Department of Škoda were tasked to design the new vehicle. Among the various engineers was Oldřich Meduna, who was responsible for the design of the tracks, wheels, and engine. To save time, the engine and drive axle from a car that was in production at the time were chosen for the tank. He later noted in his memoirs that it was quite difficult to get all the wheels right, as the road wheels, return rollers, sprocket, and idler all had a different shape.

Detailed side view of the MU-2, clearly showing the similarity of the suspension to the design by Carden-Loyd, although the layout of the hull is quite different. Source: Francev and Kliment

The Suspension

The track consisted of 147 links, wrapped around a sprocket at the front, two pairs of two road wheels, a tension idler, and four return rollers. There is no denying that the design of this suspension was highly inspired by the Carden-Loyd suspension, if not shamelessly copied without a license, although it featured some differences. The tracklinks were near-copies, with squared-off guiding teeth on each side, as was the simple disc-shaped sprocket, with 28 teeth. The four rubber-tired bogie wheels were placed in pairs of two, with the pair being suspended with pivoted flat leaf springs on each side. They were mounted to the suspension beam, which itself was attached to the lower hull with three brackets. The idler, with its tensioning system, was also attached to the suspension beam. Unlike the regular Mk.VI, which mostly featured a return skid, or sometimes regular road wheels as return rollers, the MU-2 had four steel return rollers guiding the tracks back to the sprocket.

Propulsion

The commercial car engine chosen to save development time was a four-cylinder gasoline water-cooled engine with an output of 33 hp (24.4 kW). Although not specified, this could be the Škoda SV engine, with a cubic capacity of 1,661 cm³. The engine was cooled by a horizontal fan placed above the engine, which sucked the air out of the crew compartment, ensuring a good climate for the crew, while sufficiently cooling the engine at the same time. The exhaust was placed on top of the flat engine deck, directly behind the turret.

The gearbox was designed by engineer Stehlíček, head of Škoda’s Tank Department.

The MU-2 during field testing near the factory. Despite the power to weight ratio of 16.5 hp per tonne, the vehicle performed badly in the field. Source: Francev and Kliment

Hull

Unlike the suspension, which resembled the Carden-Loyd’s very much, the layout of the hull was quite different. The welded hull consisted of plates not thicker than 4 to 5.5 mm, which proved totally inadequate to stop any serious enemy fire, apart from very light weapons, such as low caliber pistols. The frontal upper plate was angled at 30°, with the final drive being protected by a curved lower plate. A towing hook was installed on the front center, where the lower plate met the upper plate. The two headlights were installed in armored boxes, which were basically extensions of the armored hull. The front of these boxes could be opened when required, but in combat situations, where the light had to be kept a minimum, these could be kept closed with minimum light coming through a small round hole in the front.

Frontal view of the MU-2. Note the boxes for the headlights, which are closed. Source: Yuri Pasholok

The height of the hull was very low, at 96.2 cm. The driver sat on the right side. Due to the low height of the hull, the driver’s cupola was relatively large. This cupola was very basic in design, in some ways resembling a cardboard box. Two large vision slits provided a view to the front and right side of the vehicle, and at least the right slit could be closed from the inside. The top consisted of a large double-hatch, which formed the entry point for the driver. When opened, the front hatch opened so far that it settled down, partially obstructing the front view of the driver.

To the left of the driver sat the gunner, in a turret that could rotate 290°, as the rotation was partially blocked by the driver’s cupola. A water-cooled 7.92 mm Schwarzlose vz.7/24 heavy machine gun was mounted in the turret. This machine gun was a modified version of the earlier vz.7/12 and vz.16A and adapted to fire 8 mm Mannlicher bullets in a Mauser 7.92 mm cartridge. The gunner could enter his position through a double-hatch on top of the turret. His only vision was provided through an aiming sight above the gun. Due to the small size of the vehicle, both the driver and gunner experienced problems caused by the cramped interior.

A shot from the side, providing a detailed view of the turret and suspension. Source: Yuri Pasholok

Flawed or Groundbreaking?

The MU-2 was far from perfect. The interior was cramped, vision was limited, as was firepower, with just one machine gun, the armor was too thin to be of use, and the driving experience was rather poor. Yet, despite these fundamental flaws, the vehicle had good characteristics as well. The vehicle was easy to conceal thanks to its small size, the placement of the cooling fan ensured a good temperature inside, the use of welding had advantages over bolts and rivets as it prevented spalling, and the machine gun had a good firing arc, as it was mounted in a turret. Even though it was not fully rotatable, it was still much more versatile and thus effective than a hull-mounted weapon.

Most importantly though, it provided Škoda with a firm basis to continue the development of tracked armored vehicles, culminating in various successful projects, such as the LT vz.35. More directly, the design of the MU-2 led to the MU-4, a vehicle more similar to ČKD’s Tančík vz.33, as well as the MU-6, a light tank armed with a 47 mm gun in a turret.

After the MU-2 failed its tests performed by the Army, it was not accepted. Škoda kept the vehicle to perform some experiments, but it was scrapped shortly thereafter.

The MU-4, the immediate successor of the MU-2. Although this was technically a much more sound vehicle, it did not attract any buyers and was also disadvantaged by not having a turret. Source: Wikimedia

Conclusion

Although the MU-2 featured some improvements over the Carden-Loyd Mk.VI design, it still had some serious and fundamental defects. Still, it was quite remarkable that the engineers of Škoda managed to build this vehicle in the first place, as they had no experience, nor any guidance in the development and production process. Since the problems in the design were fundamental, the vehicle was abandoned and a new project was already underway by November 1931, namely the MU-4. Although the MU-2’s performance can be considered a failure, it gave the engineers of Škoda a firm basis, from which they could compete with the other Czechoslovak tank-building firm of ČKD. The MU-2, however, was scrapped.

The MU-2 in factory green. Illustration by Leander Jobse, funded through our Patreon campaign.

Specifications

Dimensions (L-W-H) 3.2 x 1.7 x 1.44 m
Total weight 2 tonnes
Crew 2 (commander/gunner, driver)
Propulsion water-cooled 4-cylinder 33 hp (24.4 kW)
Speed (road) N/A
Range N/A
Armament heavy machine gun Schwarzlose vz.24, 7.92 mm
Ammunition 3,400 rounds
Armor 4-5.5 mm
Obstacle 50 cm
Ditch 100 cm
Fording depth 50 cm
Total production 1

Sources

Czechoslovak armored vehicles 1918-48, V. Francev, C.K. Kliment, Praha, 2004.
Czechoslovak Fighting Vehicles 1918-1945, H.C. Doyle, C.K. Kliment.
Malý útočný vůz Š-I [Small assault vehicle Š-I], Jaroslav Špitálský and Ivan Fuksa, Rota Nazdar.
Zavedení Tančíků do výzbroje [Introduction of tankettes to the Army Equipment], Jaroslav Špitálský, Rota Nazdar.
Škoda MU-2, utocnavozba.wz.cz.
Бронетаракан от Škoda, Yuri Pasholok, Yandex.

Categories
Has Own Video WW2 Czechoslovak Tankettes

Carden-Loyd Mk.VI and CL-P in Czechoslovak Service

 Czechoslovakia (1930)
Tankette – 3 Purchased, 4 Built

The Carden-Loyd Mk.VI tankette, built by the British Vickers company starting from 1928, has been one of the most influential designs from the interwar period. Advertised as a cheap alternative for the tank, it was widely exported to many countries, including Czechoslovakia. It was meant to be produced under license by the Czechoslovak firm of ČKD, so only three examples were ordered from Vickers. Unfortunately for the Czechoslovaks, the vehicle performed poorly, but an improved version was eventually accepted into service as the Tančík vz.33.

A nearly finished CL-P at the ČKD factory
A nearly finished CL-P at the ČKD factory. Although a close copy of the original, there are minor differences, like a different designed sprocket wheel and fewer rivets on the headcovers. Source: Vladimír Francev

Background

Czechoslovakia was one of the states that emerged from the break-up of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918, after the First World War. In 1921, the newly established army ordered its first tank, a French gun-armed Renault FT. Two years later, two machine-gun and two gun-armed FTs were bought, followed in 1924 by the final acquisition of one command and one radio vehicle, totaling seven tanks. However, the Czechoslovak army did not want to be dependent on foreign war industry. As such, the desire was expressed to be able to produce tanks in Czechoslovakia itself, providing effective maintenance and supply of spare parts due to the much better logistical conditions.

In 1922, Škoda proposed to build Renault FT tanks but without a license. This proposal was denied by the Ministry of Defence [Ministerstvo národní obrany, shortened to MNO] as they did not desire any potential diplomatic problems with France. In 1923, the Czechoslovak Ministry bought Hanomag WD Z 25 and WD Z 50 tractors and their production licenses from Germany, as well as a design by German Joseph Vollmer for a wheel-cum-track system based on the WD Z 50. Based on this wheel-cum-track tractor, a tank was later developed, known as the Kolohousenka project. The first prototype of the tractor, built by Breitfeld-Daněk in 1924, failed to live up to expectations and was not accepted, nor was the tank design. Attempts to improve it failed as well. Another development was made by the Praga company which built a tracked tractor in 1925, the MT, with the track system resembling the design of the Renault FT. Based on this tractor, a tank design was proposed in 1927, also known as the Praga MT, but not accepted. Neither was a more advanced design from 1929, the YNH.

One CL-P, with registration NIX 22
One CL-P, with registration NIX 221, as seen from the front. Note the large ammunition box for the machine gun. Source Rotanazdar

A look abroad

With the domestic market not being able to provide any tanks conform to the standards demanded by the army, eyes were laid on tank development abroad. In October 1929, a Czech delegation, led by Lieutenant-Colonel Bedrich Albrecht, visited the Vickers-Armstrong Ltd. plant in Britain. Albrecht was head of the III. Department of the Military Technical Institute [Vojenského technického ústavu, shortened to VTÚ]. This department was responsible for evaluating military innovations and advised the army whether or not to follow up on these innovations. One of these new innovations was the Carden-Loyd Mk.VI tankette, which was described as a cheap and effective lightly armored vehicle to support infantry divisions. The Czechoslovak delegation was welcomed by Colonel Bridge, the former British military ataché in Prague and now Deputy Director of Vickers ground systems, who showed them the vehicle in question. Although the vehicle apparently failed an armor test, Albrecht reacted quite enthusiastically and was convinced of its tactical military value. After his visit, he wrote a report to the Ministry of Defence in which he strongly recommended to put this kind of vehicle into service.

Guided by the positive report, the Ministry expressed their interest in these vehicles but was not sure whether to order them at Vickers or have them built domestically in Czechoslovakia. The firm ČKD [Českomoravská Kolben-Daněk] came to mind, as it was already supplying trucks and artillery tractors to the Czech Army and, not least, was involved with the first tank development program in Czechoslovakia, namely the Kolohousenka tractor/tank project. As such, ČKD was approached by the Ministry with the question if they were interested in building these vehicles under license. With the future vision of equipping each infantry regiment with four to six tankettes, a total of at least 200 vehicles was necessary. The director of ČKD, Mr. Frankenberger, was willing to take the financial risk of investing private company money into this venture with the hope that arms production would become a healthy and lasting branch of manufacturing.

On 14th October 1929, the company offered General Jan Netík, head of the Arms Department of the Ministry, to demonstrate the vehicles to the army and to build them under license. In return, the army would have to pay the license and sign a binding contract for the purchase of 300 tankettes. This offer was turned down by the Ministry and considered unacceptable. However, under pressure by Lt.Col. Albrecht, who was backed by the Minister of Defence, Karel Viškovský, negotiations continued. Finally, it was arranged that ČKD would buy three Mk.VI tankettes for 450,006 CZK, one ammunition carrier for 21,525 CZK, and one transportation trailer for 17,220 CZK from Vickers-Armstrong (10,000 CZK was worth roughly 3,750 USD in 2015 value).

Whilst these vehicles were still in the UK and prepared to be shipped, on 21st February 1930, the Ministry agreed to buy the three tankettes and two trailers from ČKD. Furthermore, the Ministry would pay the shipments costs of 488,745 CZK and one-third of the license fee of 10,000 pounds sterling. In all, the Ministry paid 1,150,000 CZK (430,400 USD in 2015 value). The price was thought to be too expensive though and, by 13th February, the decision was made to develop a new extensive testing program that aimed to test several weapon arrangements and various tactical deployments on the future battlefield. It was decided to test the vehicles as cavalry reconnaissance vehicles, light infantry tanks, fast vehicles against enemy armor, infantry weapons carriers, or as ammunition transporters on the battlefield. Furthermore, the British training manual was translated and interpreted.

A view of the CL-Ps rear
A view of the CL-Ps rear. The doors protecting the radiator are open. With the improved P-I design, these doors were replaced by adjustable blinds. Source: Rotanazdar

The license agreement

In the meantime, ČKD and Vickers had worked out their final license agreement, which was signed on 25th February, 1930. It gave ČKD the rights for ten years to build the Mk.VI under license for the Czech Army. A first license payment was made on March 4, of 3,000 pounds. After this, twice a year, 500 pounds had to be paid to Vickers, with the last payment to occur on 21st June 1938. Due to the German occupation of Bohemia and Moravia, the last payments could not be concluded. Only after the war, in February 1947, a final sum of 880 pounds including interest was paid by ČKD. Besides these regular payments, a fee had to be paid for each vehicle built: in the case of under 100 tanks, 75 pounds, between 101-200 tanks, 60 pounds, between 201-300 tanks, 45 pounds, and for 301 tanks and above, 30 pounds. Following this agreement, negotiations continued, this time for ČKD becoming the sole representative of Vickers in Czechoslovakia. An agreement was signed on 4th December 1930, for one year. It is likely more agreements followed over the next few years but this is not known.

Design of the Carden-Loyd Mk.VI

The Mark VI tankette, only weighing 1,800 kg (3,970 lbs), was powered by a Ford model T engine, located in the middle of the vehicle, and produced 40 bhp, which resulted in a maximum speed of 40 km/h (25 mph) on the road. The driver was seated on the left and the gunner on the right, their heads were protected by two hexagonal armored extensions. The sole 7.92 mm vz.24 heavy machine gun was demountable. Ammunition was stored in the compartments on either side of the vehicle.

A top view of the CL-P with the roof armor removed
A top view of the CL-P with the roof armor removed, showing how uncomfortably close the crew was seated next to the engine. Source: Vladimír Francev

Going to Czechoslovakia

In early March 1930, the vehicles were finally shipped aboard the Lindisfarne from the UK to Hamburg, Germany, from where they were transported to Prague, shipping being arranged by the firm of Blothner & Grafe. On 14th May, the three new war machines were presented on open terrain in Hloubětín, a city district of Prague. This presentation was supervised by Colonel Albrecht. During the afternoon, a meeting was held between representatives of both ČKD and the ministry, which concluded that the procedure of both testing and licensed production should be refined. On the same day, ČKD was ordered to build four new vehicles. These new vehicles were referred to as CL-P (Carden Loyd-Praga) or just P. Production would commence the same month and the tanks were to be ready by August to participate in the Army’s autumn exercises, but due to problems, they were only ready in late September. As such, only the regular CLs could participate in these exercises. When the CL-P’s were ready, three were transferred to the army while the fourth was kept in the company’s inventory. Each vehicle was priced at 221,325 CZK (approximately US$86,000 in 2015 value) which more than doubled the initial price that was considered by the army.

A CL-P just outside the factory of ČKD
A CL-P just outside the factory of ČKD. Source: Rotanazdar

Field trials with the Carden Loyd Mk.VI

During the 1930 autumn field exercises of the army, the C-Ls participated as a platoon and their performance, both on a tactical and technical level, was reported in detail. On a technical level, the vehicles performed very poorly. Their low ground clearance caused the ride to be very rough and it proved very difficult to ride on roads with deep ruts. In the countryside, roads were often nothing more than cart tracks. In most cases, the tankettes were too wide to drive on these tracks and had to go off-road, where large rocks easily caused damage to the low engine housing. Furthermore, driving along slopes was almost impossible, as the tracks were very easily thrown off. This also often happened when the tankettes tried to overcome obstacles. For instance, during one maneuver, when a vehicle tried to drive from the road onto the terrain, a track was thrown off by a bump on the side, which meant twenty minutes had to be spent to get the vehicle back on track. Another vehicle got stuck when the bottom of the vehicle slid on the middle part of the road while the tracks lost traction in deep ruts.

This bad performance caused both mental and physical suffering to the crew, who were gusted inside the vehicle during movement and the technical problems caused the crews to distrust their vehicles which lowered their morale. During movement, there was so much noise inside the vehicle, caused by the suspension and engine, that communication was practically impossible. Another problem was that the crew could not see each other. The large vision openings in the front, although providing a reasonable amount of vision, also reduced the safety of the crew. A rather bizarre anecdote claims that, while several officers, including Lt.Col. Albrecht, were examining the vehicle at the courtyard of the VTÚ, an officer noted that enemy bullets would easily go through the large vision openings, hitting the crewmember in the head, to which Albrecht seems to have replied: ‘you are right, but that man would have been miserable anyway, it is better if he was taken by God’.

Another problem with the vehicle was the machine gun. Its placement only provided a very low firing arc which reduced its effectiveness significantly. Furthermore, whenever the gunner had to reload the machine gun, he became partially exposed because the ammunition was stored in the storage compartments on the outside of the vehicle, greatly reducing his personal safety. It was reported that the best solution to this problem was to place the gun in a small turret which would also increase the gunner’s protection.

On a tactical level, it was concluded that the vehicles could be successfully used in conjunction with infantry or cavalry to attack unorganized enemy positions and were able to target positions over a greater range, but it was revealed that the vehicles did not meet the requirements for a reconnaissance vehicle, let alone it being used in the role of a conventional tank or deployment against enemy armored vehicles, which were fully out of the question. Comparative trials with wheeled armored vehicles, namely the OA vz.30 built by Tatra that was in development around the same time, concluded that the armored cars performed better in almost every case.

Two CL-Ps during maneuvers in the field
Two CL-Ps during maneuvers in the field. Although able to drive off-road, the low ground clearance often caused trouble while doing so. Source: Vladimír Francev

What now?

Due to these big problems, the army rejected the Carden-Loyd tankette in its original state. ČKD realized that they would never be able to sell the licensed produced version, the CL-P, and quickly promised to design an improved version and rebuild one of the prototypes. This proposal was approved and work was done on the vehicle over the course of 1931. Known as the P-I, the vehicle was trialed again and after several improvements were asked for, seventy of these vehicles were ordered and taken into service as the Tančík vz.33 (Tankette 1933 pattern).

As for the original Carden-Loyd tankettes, they disappeared from the records after they had been extensively tested. Furthermore, no pictures of the original tankettes seem to have survived in publications, all known pictures are of the license-produced copies.

The first P-I prototype
The first P-I prototype, which saw many improvements over the original design, including a larger crew compartment, a better placement of the gun, and an improved suspension. After minimal changes, this vehicle was taken into production as the Tančík vz.33. Source Rotanazdar

The Carden-Loyd and Škoda

While ČKD was busy solving problems in regard to the design, its main commercial competitor, Škoda, followed with interest. Although initially not interested in supplying the army with tanks, the tide turned when it was realized how lucrative the business would be. Using the Carden-Loyd suspension design as a starting point, they developed the MU-2 in 1931 and, although featuring a quite different design of the superstructure that included a turret, the Carden-Loyd influence is still visible in the suspension design.

The Škoda MU-2 in 1931. Retaining the small size of the Carden-Loyd, its design has been changed considerably with a 290 degrees rotatable turret, large engine compartment in the back, and an improved suspension. Source: Excalibur.cz

Conclusion

The acquisition of the Carden-Loyd turned out to be the turning point in Czechoslovak tank development. While several attempts to build tanks were undertaken at the end of the 1920s, they failed. With the Carden-Loyd, both ČKD and Škoda had found their base from which they were able to build more successful tanks. As a design, the Carden-Loyd was far less successful and it never saw service with the Czechoslovak Army.

The Carden Loyd Mk.VI as it would have appeared in Czechoslovak service. Illustration by Yuvnashva Sharman, funded by our Patreon campaign.

Specifications

Dimensions (L-W-H) 2.46 x 1.75 x 1.22 m
(8.07 x 5.74 x 4 ft)
Total weight 1.800 kg (3,968 lbs)
Crew 2 (commander/gunner, driver)
Propulsion Ford T 4-cylinder petrol, 40 bhp
Speed (road) 40 km/h (25 mph)
Range 144 km (89 miles)
Armament vz.24 7.92 mm heavy machine gun
Armor 6 – 9 mm
Total purchased 3
Total production 4

Sources

Zavedení Tančíků do výzbroje [Introduction of tankettes to the Army Equipment], Jaroslav Špitálský, Rota Nazdar
Československá těžká vojenská technika: Vývoj, výroba, nasazení a export československých tanků, obrněných automobilů a pásových dělostřeleckých tahačů 1918-1956 [Czechoslovak heavy armored vehicles: Development, production, operational use and export of the Czechoslovak tanks, armored cars and tracked artillery tractors 1918-1956], PhDr. Ivo Pejčoch, Charles University Prague, 2009, p.47-53.
Československá obrněná vozidla 1918-48 [Czechoslovak armored vehicles], V. Francev, C.K. Kliment, Praha, 2004.
Czechoslovak Fighting Vehicles 1918-1945, H.C. Doyle, C.K. Kliment.

Categories
WW2 Czechoslovak Tankettes

Tančík vz.33 (P-I)

Czechoslovakia (1933-1945)
Tankette – 74 Built

The Tančík vzor 33 (Tankette pattern 1933), also known as the P-I, was a Czechoslovak tankette that started life as a license-produced copy of the Carden-Loyd Mk.VI. Due to the British vehicle’s bad performance, the Tančík vz.33 ended up as an improved version. Despite this, it was still not up to the standards the Czechoslovak Army wanted it to be, but political pressure caused an order to be placed at the manufacturer. Including four prototypes, a total of 74 Tančíks were built at the factory of Českomoravská Kolben-Daněk (ČKD) where the vehicle was also known as AH. Although designed as a light reconnaissance and combat vehicle, it failed to live up to the standards required for these tasks. Serving in the Czechoslovak Army from the beginning of 1934 onwards, forty vehicles fell in German hands in 1939 after the occupation of Czechoslovakia. The other thirty remained with the Slovak Army throughout the Second World War.

Two Tančík vz.33 tankettes with registration numbers 13.420 and 13.421. Due to the opened gunner’s hatch, his periscope is visible as well. Source: Daniel P. Minar

Origins: the British Carden-Loyd Mk.VI

In October 1929, a Czech delegation, led by Lieutenant Colonel Bedrich Albrecht, visited the Vickers-Armstrong Ltd. plant in Britain. Albrecht was head of the III. Department of the Military Technical Institute (Vojenského technického ústavu, shortened to VTÚ). This department was responsible for evaluating military innovations and advised the army whether or not to follow up on these innovations. One of these new innovations was the Carden-Loyd Mk.VI tankette, which was described as a cheap and effective lightly armored vehicle to support infantry divisions. Albrecht, impressed by the small and cheap vehicle, strongly recommended the Ministry of Defence (Ministerstvo národní obrany, shortened to MNO) to put this kind of vehicle into service.

After consideration, the Ministry agreed to let the domestic firm of ČKD obtain the license and buy three vehicles from Vickers. After these vehicles had arrived in Czechoslovakia during the spring of 1930, ČKD was ordered on May 14 to build four copies, designated CL-P (Carden-Loyd-Praga). Production commenced immediately and, while all four were ready by the end of September, they came too late to participate in the autumn field trials. Despite this setback, the three Carden-Loyds bought from Vickers were tested extensively.

The CL-P which was a direct copy of the Carden-Loyd Mk.VI. The four CL-Ps were short-lived as they were soon rebuilt into the P-I. Source: Rotanazdar

Field Trials with the Carden Loyd Mk.VI

During the 1930 autumn field exercises of the army, the CLs participated as a platoon and their performance, both on a tactical and technical level, was reported in detail. On a technical level, the vehicles performed very poorly. Their low ground clearance caused the ride to be very rough and it proved very difficult to ride on roads with deep ruts. In the countryside, roads were often nothing more than cart tracks. In most cases, the tankettes were too wide to drive on these tracks and had to go off-road, where large rocks easily caused damage to the low engine housing. Furthermore, driving along slopes was almost impossible, as the tracks were very easily thrown off. This also often happened when the tankettes tried to overcome obstacles. For instance, during one maneuver, when a vehicle tried to drive from the road onto the terrain, a track was thrown off by a bump on the side, which meant twenty minutes had to be spent to get the vehicle back on track. Another vehicle got stuck when the bottom of the vehicle slid on the middle part of the road while the tracks lost traction in deep ruts.

This bad performance caused both mental and physical suffering to the crew, who were gusted inside the vehicle during movement and the technical problems caused the crews to distrust their vehicles which lowered their morale. During movement, there was so much noise inside the vehicle, caused by the suspension and engine, that communication was practically impossible. Another problem was that the crew could not see each other. The large vision openings in the front, although providing a reasonable amount of vision, also reduced the safety of the crew. A rather bizarre anecdote claims that, while several officers, including Lt.Col. Albrecht, were examining the vehicle at the courtyard of the VTÚ, an officer noted that enemy bullets would easily go through the large vision openings, hitting the crewmember in the head, to which Albrecht seems to have replied: ‘you are right, but that man would have been miserable anyway, it is better if he was taken by God’.

Another problem with the vehicle was the machine gun. Its placement only provided a very narrow firing arc which reduced its effectiveness significantly. Furthermore, whenever the gunner had to reload the machine gun, he became partially exposed because the ammunition was stored in the storage compartments on the outside of the vehicle, greatly reducing his personal safety. It was reported that the best solution to this problem was to place the gun in a small turret which would also increase the gunner’s protection.

On a tactical level, it was concluded that the vehicles could be successfully used in conjunction with infantry or cavalry to attack unorganized enemy positions and were able to target positions over a greater range, but it was revealed that the vehicles did not meet the requirements for a reconnaissance vehicle, let alone it being used in the role of a conventional tank or deployment against enemy armored vehicles, which were fully out of the question. Comparative trials with wheeled armored vehicles, namely the OA vz.30 built by Tatra that was in development around the same time, concluded that the armored cars performed better in almost every case.

The P-I prototype. Its closest foreign counterpart was the Polish TK series of tankettes which were also developed from the Carden-Loyd Mk.VI. Source: Rotanazdar

The End?

With the tankettes performing this badly, ČKD feared no orders would come in, which would result in a financial problem. To prevent this from happening, a quick promise was made to make an improved design and rebuild one of the CL-Ps after this new design. Work was undertaken over the course of 1931 on the vehicle which bore registration number NIX-225. To differentiate from the CL-P, the vehicle was designated P-I, according to the new naming system the Czechoslovak Army had adopted. P stood for the manufacturer, in this case, Praga, part of ČKD, and I represented the type of vehicle, in this case, tankette.

Starting from the bottom, the track guidance system was reworked in order to decrease the number of times the tracks were thrown off. The armor layout was completely reworked, the radiator at the rear was protected by adjustable blinds instead of doors, the crew compartment was enlarged so that ammunition could be stored inside the vehicle and the crew was now able to see each other, which improved their communication possibilities. Compared to the CL and CL-P, the crew positions were swapped around, with the gunner now sitting on the left and the driver on the right side. However, the original driving controls were also retained on the left side, so when necessary, the gunner could drive the vehicle as well. The gunner received a 360-degree rotatable periscope, greatly improving his visibility. The vz.24 heavy machine gun was replaced by a ZB vz.26 light machine gun in a new sliding armored shield, providing a much larger firing arc, but this decreased its firepower. 2,400 rounds could be stored inside the vehicle in magazines of twenty rounds stored in larger boxes. The armor was thin, with only 9 mm at the front, 6 mm at the sides, and 3 mm on the bottom.

Three tankettes that were captured by the Germans in March 1939. Their armament has been removed. Source: eBay

Trials, Again

After completion, the rebuilt vehicle was soon subjected to extensive trials in the period 1931-32 by the military administration. Special attention was given as to whether the faults in the original Carden-Loyd design had been resolved. The vehicle drove 4350 km, during which it was observed that faults were still common, but overall the vehicle performed much better. Due to the enlargement of the wheels, ground clearance was increased by 3 cm, from 20 to 23, and although a small change, it was received positively by the VTÚ.

After these trials, the other prototypes were rebuilt according to the first one, but the armor thickness was requested to be increased from 9 to 12 and from 6 to 8 in other places, and a second machine gun to be added on the driver’s side to increase the firepower, which was considered too low. The three army prototypes were handed over to the armored division based in the city of Milovice on October 17, 1933. The fourth was kept at the factory.

The Order

Despite the better performance, army officials had still not found a tactical use and questioned the vehicle’s value. As such, a group of officers, led by Colonel Antonín Pavlík, commander of the armored unit at Milovice, argued that the vehicles were tactically worthless, technically not satisfactory and should therefore not be acquired. They were opposed by Albrecht, who was backed up by Minister Bradáč and, as the minister had the most influential voice in decision making, it is no surprise the opponents fought a lost cause. According to Albrecht and thus the Minister, the design was ready to be implemented and they did not want to let down the firm of ČKD, which was heavily invested in the project at the time and thought the denial of a contract would cause a scandal.

An order for seventy P-I tankettes was placed on April 19, 1933, which were after June 30 referred to as Tančík vzor 33. A price was negotiated with ČKD of 131,200 CZK a piece and 32 pounds for the license fee. ČKD promised to deliver 40 vehicles by the end of the year and the other 30 by September 1934. However, due to problems with the quality of the armor plating, production could only be initiated until November 9, and the first 10 were only accepted on January 9, 1934, and taken into service on February 6. In March, two batches of 10 each were accepted, followed by a batch in April, two batches in August, and the last batch in October. The vehicles passed the driving tests on the road from Prague to Milovice and back. However, some failed the armor tests and were penetrated by regular bullets. Despite this being a problem, the holes were riveted and never looked at again. The vehicles were declared ready for service.

The Final Design

The basic layout of the chassis and suspension still closely resembled that of the Carden-Loyd. It featured front driving sprockets, with thirty teeth and a jaw brake system that was mass-produced and used in the Praga Alfa car. The tensioning wheels at the back were mounted in spring-loaded brackets. These tensioning wheels were ordered to be made out of bronze but, in the end, an alloy of two different materials was used. On each side, four steel wheels, shod with rubber, were placed. They were grouped together in pairs and suspended by leaf springs. On the top, the tracks were guided by an ash wood beam with a 6 mm thick steel strip. The tracks consisted of 128-130 links, depending on how far the tensioning wheel was placed, which were connected to each other with individual pins.

The vehicle was propelled by a Praga AH 1.95 liters engine (bore 75 mm, stroke 110 mm) which produced 23 hp (16.9 kW) at 1700 rpm. At 3000 rpm, the power went up to 31 hp (22 kW). At full throttle, the tank could reach a speed of 32 km/h on-road, reduced to 20 km/h on dirt roads, or 15 km/h off-road. The air to cool the engine could enter through the blinds both at the front and rear of the vehicle. Just behind the engine, a beehive-type cooler was placed and behind this, a fan that sucked air in. The fan was protected by mesh, in case anything would enter the vehicle through the blinds. The exhaust muffler was mounted beside the rear right fender and above it. An exhaust siren was mounted which could be controlled by the driver. The sirens could be used to communicate with other vehicles in the platoon. The gearbox came from the Praga AN truck and featured four forward, and one reverse gear. The differential and drive axles came from the Praga Alfa cars. In front of the differential, a reduction was placed that could be enabled in case of off-road driving.

The fuel tank, with a volume of 50 liters, was placed behind the gunner’s seat. It supplied the carburetor in two independent ways with fuel, either by gravity or with an electromagnetic ‘Autopulse’ pump. The pump was needed to ensure enough fuel would reach the engine if the vehicle was tilted, while if the pump would fail, there would still be the gravity method. The engine could be cranked up. The crank was slid into a hole under the rear blinds which was protected by a hinged cover but a small electric starter engine was located inside the vehicle as well.

The crew compartment, which doubled as the engine compartment, was cramped and uncomfortable. The engine produced a lot of noise, bad air, and high temperature. Furthermore, a wide variety of equipment had to be stored inside the vehicle, including tools, spare parts, parts for the weapons, and ammunition, which reduced the movement capabilities of the two crew members, the driver on the right and the gunner on the left. Both could enter through hatches on top of the vehicle. The driving controls were duplicated on both sides. It featured three foot pedals for clutch, brake, and throttle. The vehicle could single-handedly be steered by a lever which, when moved either to the right or left, would cause braking of either the right or left differential shaft. This system was a direct copy of the British system in the Carden-Loyd. The driver had direct vision through an opening that could be closed with a small hatch. This hatch could be fixed in any position. The hatch itself featured a smaller vision slit that was covered with bulletproof glass. The gunner could look out through two vision slits placed in the movable gun shield. These were protected with bulletproof glass as well. If the bulletproof glass would be damaged, the slits of both the driver and gunner could be covered with an additional armored plate with a very narrow and long vision slit. Besides these front-facing viewing slits, there was one on either side and two at the back. Furthermore, the gunner had a monocular periscope, placed in a ball mount in the top hatch. It had a 35 degrees field of view. They were made by the German company E. Busch Opt. Werke and delivered by the firm of J.Krejčí, apart from ten that were delivered by Optikotechna from Přerov.

Further features on the outside of the vehicle were the headlight that could be placed on the front of the vehicle above the blinds, towing hooks on both the front and back capable of withstanding a force of 2000 kg, and engineer equipment that included a shovel, a pickaxe, and a five-meter long rope.

The rear of the tankette. Note the engineering equipment that was mounted on the back. In the vertical armor plate, two small vision slits were made and can be seen here as well. Source: valka.cz

Armor and Armament

The armored hull, with the plating provided by Huť Poldi (Poldi ironworks), with various thickness, was of riveted construction, except on a few places where it was bolted to the frame if the armor had to be able to be removed for maintenance. The vertical plates in front of the crew, the lower glacis and the extruding differential cover were 12 mm thick. The blinds at the front were 10 mm thick. The sides and the rear, including the blinds, were 8 mm thick. The sloped parts of the roof and the upper glacis were 6 mm thick, while the underside and mudguards had a thickness of 5 mm. The roof, including the hatches, was the thinnest with only 4 mm. Fire testing proved that the frontal armor could withhold 7.92 mm bullets from a distance over 125 m, the sloped sheets from 100 m, the bottom from 150 m and the top from 250 m. The armor would resist regular infantry ammunition from 50 m onwards.

The original armament of the CL-P consisted of a Schwarzlose re-chambered to fire Mauser 7.92 mm ammunition. This machine gun was known as the vz.24, but due to the problems with it mentioned earlier, a replacement was sought. When production was ordered in April 1933, the armament was considered to consist of one light vz.26 machine gun and a heavy machine gun, but by November, it was still unknown which heavy machine gun was to be chosen. Several options failed, the air-cooled CZ vz.30 overheated during a continuous fire and the heavy ZB-32 machine gun was too large. As such, the decision was made to temporarily replace the heavy machine gun with a second vz.26 light machine gun. However, a replacement was never found, which made the armament of two light machine guns a permanent feature.

The main gun was placed in a movable armored shield that had a firing arc of fifty degrees and an elevation of 16 degrees. Directly to the right of the gun, a small aiming hole was located. The secondary gun was operated by the driver with a trigger in front of him, connected to the trigger of the machine gun to his right. 2,600 rounds of ammunition were carried in boxes. Of these, 400 were fitted with a steel core which were to be used against lightly armored targets. When fired, the cartridges fell into canvas bags attached to the guns to be disposed of later.

Tankette 13.421 during an exercise, the visible crewmember is the gunner. He operated the main gun, which was originally planned to be a heavy machine gun, but due to problems fitting them, a light vz.26 machine gun had to be fitted. Source: Bellona Publishing

Registration Numbers and Camouflage

The four initial CL-P prototypes were painted in a regular army green color and painted ivory on the inside. Apart from the factory prototype, the other three received army registrations: NIX 223, NIX 224, and NIX 225. In December 1932, these registrations were changed to 13.359, 13.360, and 13.361 respectively. The serial produced vehicles received registrations from 13.420 to 13.489. When taken into service, all vehicles received a brown-green-yellow camouflage pattern. The pattern was identical on all vehicles which makes it near impossible to identify an individual vehicle on a photograph when its registration is not directly visible.

A Problematic Start

While the vehicles were gradually taken into service over the course of 1934, it was quickly proven that the Minister should not have listened to the vehicle’s greatest advocate, Albrecht, but to Pavlík and the other officers who did not believe the tankette would be a valuable addition to the army in its envisioned role. When most of the 70 vehicles took part in the big army exercises at the end of 1934, the concerns raised during the development process again became reality. Firstly, the crew could not properly function. The driver was busy driving, and could not operate his machine gun in any effective way, while the gunner could not effectively use the machine gun when a speed of 10 km/h or more was reached. Furthermore, the vehicles still experienced difficulty on rough terrain and when operating in platoons of five. Cooperation with the help of signal flags and horn signals proved to be very difficult and thus ineffective, rendering the vehicles basically useless for any effective well-organized and cooperative combat. While the crew was busy performing their tasks, they could not give enough attention to their surroundings, rendering the vehicles useless for reconnaissance as well.

There were also serious problems with the propulsion of the vehicle. To sort things out, a meeting was held on November 23, which was attended by representatives of the Ministry of Defence, the VTLÚ (former VTÚ), and ČKD. ČKD announced it would modify the gearboxes and replace the differential shafts on its own expense, but opinions were divided who should pay the costs for the necessary engine repairs and modifications. ČKD wanted the Ministry to pay for repairs. A proposal to equally share the costs between the Ministry and ČKD was turned down by the VTLÚ, which wanted ČKD to pay for everything. According to ČKD, the heavy wear on the engines was caused by improper handling of the starter engine by the tankers and the usage of oil with too high viscosity. This was disputed by the VTLÚ, whose research pointed out that the engine was not suited for the tank. The production vehicles compared to the initial prototypes had seen their weight increased with 640 kg, which was not compensated with a more powerful and reinforced engine and the material for the cylinder blocks was too soft which caused them to heavily wear down in a short time. They noted that high-quality oil was used in the vehicles and ČKDs accusation of too high viscosity oil usage was incorrect. By 1936, the problems with the starter engines were eliminated when they were modified. The only deficiency after this were the air-filters, the effectiveness of which was found to be unsatisfactory, but due to lack of available room inside the vehicle, other filters could not be fitted. After the military representatives had read the reports, they concluded the faults to be caused by constructional malfunctions and as such, all repair costs had to be paid for by ČKD.

Note on VTÚ and VTLÚ

The Military Technical Institute (Vojenského technického ústavu, shortened to VTÚ) was founded in 1925 and until 1932 based in the barracks at Pohořelec. Per January 1st, 1933, the institute was moved to Dejvice and merged with the Military Aviation Institute (Vojenský letecký ústav studijní, shortened to VLÚS). They went further under the name Military Technical and Aviation Institute (Vojenský technický a letecký ústav, shortened to VTLÚ), hence the name change.

Destined For Export?

In 1934, ČKD tried to export the P-I to other countries, but without success. It is said that conversations were held with Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Estonia, Lithuania, Persia (Iran), Sweden, and Yugoslavia, but to what extent these conversations progressed is unclear, especially in the case of the South-American countries. In January 1935, both Škoda and ČKD received letters from the Iranian purchasing commission in Paris. The Iranian Army wanted to acquire approximately 100 light tanks (2-3 tons class) for which it had contacted manufacturers in other countries as well, including Marmon-Herrington in the US. Škoda offered their S-I tank, ČKD both their AH-IV and TNH. To increase the chance of getting the deal, ČKD donated its P-I prototype to the Persian Shah. If this was a friendly gesture or a blatant bribery is up for debate. Although paid for by the Czech Army, the vehicle was the property of the company and it had no use in the factory anymore. The vehicle raised the Iranian interest for the tanks offered by ČKD. Pleased with the quality of the P-I, by May 14, a deal was secured for 30 AH-IVs and 26 TNHs. After successful trials with the prototypes of these vehicles at the end of 1935, the order was enlarged to 50 tanks of both. To that end, the P-I helped exporting other tanks, but was an export failure in itself. How long the Shah held on to the P-I is unknown, but it was likely scrapped long before 1945.

Service

From 1934 onwards, fifteen tankettes each were assigned to the 1st and 2nd Tankette Companies. Another ten were assigned to the 3rd Light Tank Company, where they were used to train the crews of the LT vz.34 light tanks which had yet to be delivered. The remaining thirty were put in storage and could be activated anytime in case of need. The three prototypes remained with the training unit (Učiliště útočné vozby, shortened to UÚV). With the reorganization of the armored units after September 1935, new units were created including PÚV-1 (Pluk útočné vozby, Assault Vehicles Regiment) in Milovice, PÚV-2 in Vyškov, and PÚV-3 in Martin. Twenty tankettes remained in Milovice with PÚV-1 and were divided over the two companies of the 1st Battalion. A further sixteen went to PÚV-2 in Moravia of which five were stationed in Olomouc, nine in Vyškov and the remaining two in Přáslavice. The thirty tankettes that were previously in storage were attached to PÚV-3 with fourteen in Martin, eight in Bratislava, and eight in Kosice. The last four vehicles were assigned to the training unit in Milovice.

Political Background

When the Czechoslovak state was created in October 1918, not only ethnic Czechs and Slovaks lived within the border, but other ethnic minorities as well, most notably Germans, Hungarians, Ruthenians, and Poles. Most of the Germans lived in the Sudetenland which roughly encompassed the northern, western, and southern border areas of Czechoslovakia. Although all citizens of the Czechoslovak state had the same rights under their constitution, the minorities still felt disadvantaged, including the Slovaks, as the Czechs were most prominently represented in government. This feeling of mild oppression was especially present with the Germans during the Great Depression as the industrialized Sudetenland was hit the most. This led to a growing demand for economic improvements and local autonomy. This nationalist movement was politically represented by the ‘Sudetendeutsche Partei’ (SdP), founded in 1933 by Konrad Henlein as Sudetendeutsche Heimatfront.

Germany’s Thirst for Czechoslovak Soil

After the annexation of Austria in March 1938, Adolf Hitler found the next territory to be added to the Third Reich, the Sudetenland. He expressed this to Goebbels on March 19. Fueled by German propaganda, the nationalist movement in the Sudetenland became more apparent each day, with the slogan ‘Heim ins Reich’ (back to home) becoming very popular. A military invasion was planned by the German General Staff, known as Operation Green. However, any military action was to be preceded by extensive diplomatic foreplay. The following events eventually lead to the signing of the Munich Agreement by Germany, France, Britain, and Italy. Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union were not consulted. The Agreement called for cession to Germany of the Sudetenland. With the loss of this territory, Czechoslovakia lost most of its industries and defensive lines, as well as a large portion of its population, considerably weakening the country.

The Agreement also directly led to territorial claims from both Poland and Hungary. On October 1, Czechoslovakia accepted ceding the area of Zaolzie to Poland. On November 2, it was followed by the First Vienna Award, which ceded most of Czechoslovak Hungarian-dominated territories to Hungary. The Munich Agreement had also granted autonomy to Slovakia within the Czechoslovak State.

The Tankettes During This Period

With the political situation worsening in 1938, the Czech Army decided to use the tankettes as infantry support, and when the army was partially mobilized during the spring, 23 platoons of three tankettes each were formed which were to strengthen the units on the border of Czechoslovakia. In July, fifteen special emergency units were established directly located in the border areas and to these units, three tankette platoons were assigned, six vehicles from PÚV-1 and three from PÚV-2. During August and September, the army got involved in fighting with members of German nationalists during which the tankettes were involved in combat missions 69 times.

During these missions against the lightly armed insurgents, the vehicles were quite successful in the sense that they provided moral support to the Czechoslovak troops and demoralized the hostile troops. The vehicles did not receive any combat damage, due to the German nationalists lacking any anti-armor capabilities. However, the vehicles often broke down, which meant the platoons went into action with regularly missing one or even two tankettes. After the Munich Agreement was reached on September 30, 1938, the Czechoslovak Army was forced to leave this part of their nation. All tankettes that were deployed in this area were returned to their unit’s headquarters.

At the end of the year, tankettes from PÚV-3 saw some service in Carpathian Ruthenia against Hungarian nationalists, but only on isolated occasions. As such, their action was quite limited. On October 10, an infantry unit, supported by two tankettes, captured members of a Hungarian paramilitary unit (Szabadcsapatok, similar to the German Freikorps). Later that month, both tankettes and light tanks supported an attack on such a unit with the size of roughly a battalion, 300 men were captured. After the first Vienna Award of November 1938, the army had to abandon this area as well.

German occupation

On March 14, the Slovak Republic was created out of the autonomous Slovak part of Czechoslovakia. The next day, on the 15th, German troops occupied Czechoslovakia, meeting virtually no resistance. Concerning the tankettes, the thirty vehicles of PÚV-3 were located in the former Slovak part of Czechoslovakia and were transferred to the Slovak Army. The 43 vehicles located in the former Czech part, were taken over by the German Wehrmacht but what they used them for remains unclear. It is possible that they were used in auxiliary and training units but concrete proof is lacking. Either way, it seems like all of them were scrapped during the war. One vehicle with registration 13.444 was on display at the Army Museum in Munich for some time but this vehicle disappeared as well.

A Tančík vz.33, carrying registration 13.444, at the Army Museum in Munich during the war. Sometime during or after the war, this vehicle disappeared. Source: Panzer-Archiv

In Slovakia

After Czechoslovakia was split up, a total of thirty vz.33s (registrations 13.460-13.489) ended up with the Slovak Army. A ‘V’ (for vojsko, meaning army) was added in front of the registrations, for example, 13.480 became V-13.480. Some were used as training vehicles for some time, but by the beginning of 1941, all vehicles were put in storage. In January 1944, the Slovak Ministry of Defence assigned the vehicles to the Military Training Command of the State Defense Guard (Veliteľstvu brannej výchovy – Stráže obrany štátu, abbreviated to VBV-SOŠ).

On March 21, 1944, three tankettes were reassigned. V-13.480 to the 1st Engineer Battalion (Pionýrsky prapor), V-13.468 to the 2nd Engineer Battalion and V-13.477 to the 3rd Engineer Battalion. In April, the ministry ordered PÚV to train drivers for 22 vehicles which were to be handed over to VBV-SOŠ, their training was completed on the 25th. The other five remained at the PÚV garages in Martin.

A tankette that was used by the Slovak partisans, but has been put out of action, can be seen in the background. Source: valka.cz

Of the 22 VBV-SOŠ vehicles, five tankettes were assigned to equip the border companies 1 to 5, three to both Automobile Battalion 2 and 11, three remained with PÚV in Martin, three went to a carpark in Trenčín, and five went to the 1st Cavalry Reconnaissance Division in Bratislava. After the outbreak of the Slovak National Uprising in August 1944, several Tančíks saw some use. The uprising was organized by the Slovak resistance movements and aimed to overthrow the collaborationist government and defeat the German occupation forces. The uprising failed and Slovakia was only liberated from Germany in 1945.

At the time of the uprising, ten vehicles were at the Martin barracks, but these were in bad condition and fell in German hands. Several Tančíks were used by partisans at the Tri duby airfield serving as ammunition transporters. The Slovak government had eleven Tančíks to their disposal, of which three were used by German troops. Two were used in fighting against partisans, while a third ended up as a range target at the local garrison. Around seven Tančíks were used by German troops, four of them were used by the 357. Infanterie Division to pull 7.5 cm Pak 40 anti-tank guns, they were still around in 1945. It is said that at least one was used by German troops in its original role, as an infantry support vehicle in Austria. It is presumed that some vehicles that survived in Slovakia up until the end of the war saw some limited use in the post-war Czechoslovak army but to what extent is unclear, maybe just as range targets. Over time, all vehicles disappeared and none are known to have survived.

Although no examples have survived, a very close replica has been constructed by Petr Bahenský during the 2000s. Its building progress has been documented. As of 2019, the replica still makes regular appearances during military events. It has been painted in the regular three-color camouflage scheme and with registration number 13.477. Source: Kateřina Adamusová

Conclusion

The Tančik vz.33 sometimes appears in top ten lists of the worst armored fighting vehicles ever and for valid reasons. It was technically unsound and had a low fighting value, resulting in a low tactical value as well. Financially, the vehicle was a burden, both to the Army and ČKD, nevertheless, its development would provide a firm base for ČKD to work from and resulted in the far better AH-IV which became an export success, as well the TNH series of tanks. The vehicle would also prove that it was logistically very favorable to use shared parts with other vehicles, in the case of the Tančik parts commonly used in Praga trucks and cars.



One of the three prototypes of 1933, kept for training recruits. Olive khaki was the standard factory livery between 1933-34.


A regular unit of the borderguard platoons in the summer of 1938. Such units fought against Polish and Hungarian infiltration as well as the Freikorps paramilitary units of Konrad Henlein’s SDP pro-Nazi movement. The three-tone camouflage was the new standard adopted in 1935.


Germany captured forty tankettes when they invaded the Sudetenland. There is no record of any units being equipped with these tanks. They could have been used by some local training units. Here is a prospective example of one of these, in the standard feldgrau paint.


The Slovakian army, allied to the Germans, retained thirty vz.33 tankettes. They were kept for police duties, but records show that, by 1940, most of them were used for training only. However, in September 1944, during the Slovakian insurgency against the Nazis and their local supporters, they had a late opportunity to be used in combat. Here is one of these, fielding the Slovakian cross.

Tančík vz.33 specifications

Dimensions 2.7 x 1.75 x 1.45 m (8.86×5.74×4.76 ft)
Total weight, battle ready 2.30 tons
Crew 2
Propulsion Praga WC 4-cyl, 30hp
Speed 35 km/h (22 mph)
Range (road/off road) 100 km/70 km (62.13/43.5 mi)
Armament 2x Skoda ZB vz.26 7.92 mm (0.31 in) machine-guns
Armor From 6 to 12 mm (0.24-0.47 in)
Total production 74

Sources

Československá těžká vojenská technika: Vývoj, výroba, nasazení a export československých tanků, obrněných automobilů a pásových dělostřeleckých tahačů 1918-1956 [Czechoslovak heavy armored vehicles: Development, production, operational use and export of the Czechoslovak tanks, armored cars and tracked artillery tractors 1918-1956], PhDr. Ivo Pejčoch, Charles University Prague, 2009, p.47-53.
Československá obrněná vozidla 1918-48 [Czechoslovak armored vehicles], V. Francev, C.K. Kliment, Praha, 2004.
Export Tankettes Praga, Vladimír Francev, MBI Publications, 2004.
Czechoslovak Fighting Vehicles 1918-1945, H.C. Doyle, C.K. Kliment.
Závady motorů Tančíku VZ.33 [Failure of Tančík VZ.33 engines], Jaroslav Špitálský, Rota Nazdar.
Konstrukce Tančíku VZ.33 [Construction of the Tančík VZ.33], Jaroslav Špitálský, Rota Nazdar.
Zavedení Tančíků do výzbroje [Introduction of tankettes to the Army Equipment], Jaroslav Špitálský, Rota Nazdar.
Tančík vz.33 database on Valka.cz.
Tančík vz.33, Martin Vlach, March 28, 2011, fronta.cz.
VTÚ and VTLÚ on vhu.cz.
Histocialstatistics.org used to convert currency.