Categories
WW2 Hungarian Prototypes

Toldi páncélvadász

Hungary (1943)
Tank Destroyer – 1 Prototype Built

Introduction

The Toldi páncélvadász was a tank destroyer prototype that did not enter production or service with the Royal Hungarian Army during World War Two. The designers choose to use the obsolete Toldi I light tank chassis on which to mount a large, powerful and heavy 75 mm (2.95 in) anti-tank gun. The chassis, however, could not cope with the additional weight when crossing rough country so the design was rejected in the end.
Authentic photo of the Toldi páncélvadász
The only known authentic photograph of the ‘Toldi páncélvadász’, a Toldi light tank based self-propelled tank hunter in the courtyard of the Hungarian Institute of Military Technology (Haditechnikai Intézet, HTI) in the spring of 1944.

Problems with the Toldi tank suspension

The first batch of the Toldi light tanks, the 38M Toldi I (Toldi A20) were manufactured between 1939-1940. These 80 vehicles were assembled in Hungary with a few imported components, such as the torsion bars that came from Germany. However, these bars did not meet the required standards because some of them tended to break during extensive usage.
38M. Toldi I
A 38M. Toldi I light tank.
This problem was solved on the second batch of Toldi light tanks. Among other small improvements the imported German torsion bars were replaced with stronger, domestically manufactured Hungarian ones. With these new bars the new 38M. Toldi II (Toldi B20) could carry approximately 700 kg more than the earlier design. 110 units of this model were manufactured between 1940-1941.
Even though it was a state-of-the-art design at the time of its creation in the late 1930’s, the standard Hungarian WWII light tank, the 38M. Toldi became completely obsolete by 1941-1942. With its weak armament and only 13 mm (0.51 in) thick frontal armour it was unable to completely fulfill even the scout tank role on the Eastern Front.
To increase the combat value of these tanks, between 1942-1944 the Hungarians increased the armor thickness on the most vital parts on the front and replaced the original 20 mm (0.79 in) heavy rifle to a 40 mm (1.57 in) anti-tank gun on the majority of the already manufactured Toldi II tanks. The upgraded 80 vehicles were given the designation of 38M. Toldi IIA (Toldi B40).
Only the second batch, the Toldi II light tanks could be upgraded to Toldi IIA standard because their higher load capacity was crucial to carry the weight of the thickened armor plates and the heavier armament of the new, upgraded Toldi variant. It was not possible to upgrade the older Toldi I tanks because their feeble torsion bars just could not bear the additional weight required for it. Still, the Hungarian engineers wanted to figure out a way to make the Toldi I light tanks useful again.
Captured 38/42M. Toldi IIA
A 38/42M. Toldi IIA light tank.

Development

One of the first ideas intended to solve this above mentioned problem was to convert the redundant Toldi I tanks into self-propelled guns, similarly how the Germans had already converted some of their older obsolete Panzer I and Panzer II light tanks into tank destroyers. In theory, it would have been a cost-effective and time-saving way to upgrade the Toldi I tanks. The Hungarian authorities asked the Germans for help to carry out this idea.
Between 1942-43 on the Eastern Front, the German Wehrmacht temporarily gave 7 Marder II tank destroyers, without crews, to the Armoured Divisions of the Royal Hungarian Army as replacements for its destroyed tanks. One of these Marder II SPGs was sent to the HTI for tests and to investigate its technological solutions in 1943.
Hungarian Marder II
A German built Marder II tank destroyer in Hungarian service on the Eastern Front.
Marder II in the courtyard of HTI.
A Marder II in the courtyards of the HTI during its trials in Hungary in 1943.
Toldi pancelvadasz side view
Side view of the Toldi based tank destroyer.


Illustration by Jarosław Janas.


Illustration by David Bocquelet

The ‘Hungarian Marder’

From the knowledge gained by testing and examining the Marder II, in the autumn of 1943 the Hungarian Ganz factory (one of the two companies that manufactured the Toldi tanks) created a prototype tank destroyer. The unofficial name of the project was ‘Toldi páncélvadász’ which literally meant ‘Toldi armor hunter’, the same term as the German ‘Panzerjäger’. This prototype was based on a previously knocked out, then later overhauled Toldi I light tank chassis (licence plate H-376).
Although the prototype Toldi páncélvadász was armed with the 7.5 cm (2.95 in) Pak 40/2 L/46 anti-tank gun – borrowed temporarily from the ‘loaned’ German vehicle – the Hungarian designers did not record what gun the Toldi páncélvadász would mount if it went into mass-production. This would have depended on the availability of guns and the correct ammunition to supply them.
Toldi pancelvadasz armament in a mockup
The main armament of the Toldi páncélvadász on Á. Bíró’s mockup.
The design followed the structure of the Marder II tank destroyer. The Toldi páncélvadász also had an open top superstructure built around the gun in the middle section of the chassis. It’s thin armor would have been provided some protection only against small arms fire and high explosive (HE) artillery shell shrapnel. It would not have provided any defense against armor piercing (AP) shells fired by enemy tanks or SPGs.
This Hungarian Toldi based tank destroyer would have been supplemented with an 8 mm (0.31 in) 31M. Solothurn light machine gun to be used for self-defence against enemy infantry and aerial targets. Its mounting point was located on the right inner side of the superstructure.
There was a large, enclosed metal box on top of the engine roof which was designed to balance the weight of the large and heavy main armament. It also housed some, but not all, of the ammunition. It could be tilted vertically to enable quick access to the carried 75 mm rounds and to allow the crew to maintain the engine below it.
Toldi pancelvadasz ammo rack on a mockup
The ammo rack design represented on the same mockup.
All in all, the Toldi páncélvadász was very similar to the Marder II, both in appearance – it was only 140 mm (5.5 in) narrower and 30 mm (1.2 in) taller than the German vehicle – and in its characteristics. Basically both tank destroyers used the same 75 mm anti-tank gun mounted on an obsolete light tank chassis. Only the Hungarian prototype had a little bit less armor in exchange for a better power-to-weight ratio giving better mobility and higher top speed compared to its German counterpart.

Rejection

Despite the fact that the Hungarian troops could definitely use such a vehicle, it never left the prototype stage. The main reason for this was the still weak and unreliable torsion bars of the Toldi I. They were put under further stress with the increased weight of the tank destroyer variant as it was nearly 2 tonnes heavier than the original light tank. This would have been made the Toldi based tank destroyer even more prone to break down than the Toldi I light tank.
It’s imperfect design was probably also an issue. It was tall and narrow with a high center of gravity which would make it relatively unstable. Additionally, it could not carry a sufficient amount of ammunition – only 21 rounds compared to the 37 of the Marder II – and part of its ammo rack was also too exposed to enemy fire.
Another major factor was the lack of industrial production capacity at the end of the war. Every resource was focused on the production of Turán medium/heavy tanks and Zrínyi II assault howitzers which the Hungarian Army high command believed to have more combat value than a lightly armored, Toldi based Marder II copy.
After the unsuccessful first trials with the prototype the Hungarian military leaders decided that this issue did not worth further efforts and canceled the project.

Legacy

Unfortunately, the fate of the only prototype is unknown although some sources suggests that it was disassembled soon after the cancellation. The whole project was forgotten until 1982 when a sole photograph and some documentation of this tank destroyer were found. Unfortunately, the rest of the original documentations and blueprints were most likely destroyed during the war.

The Toldi páncélvadász did not see service

There are a number of photos about the Toldi páncélvadász on the internet that would suggest that it was manufactured and saw service in the Hungarian Army during WW2. This is not true. Some even show this tank destroyer with ‘kill rings’ on the gun barrel, but they are pictures taken of various models. The photograph at the beginning of this article is the only surviving authentic photograph of the Toldi based tank destroyer know to exist.
Toldi pv mockup
Photograph of a Toldi páncélvadász mockup made by Á. Bíró. Note that it’s inaccurately based on a Toldi IIA (or Toldi III) chassis instead of a Toldi I. For instance, the upper front plate should be different.
Toldi pancelvadasz mockup 2
Another well-known photograph of a model of the Toldi based tank destroyer. Notice the unhistorical ‘kill rings’ on the gun barrel.

An article by Károly Németh

Sources and further read:

Bíró, Ádám: „Magyar Marder” vadászpáncélos, Toldi alvázon. In: Haditechnika 1990/4. 45-47.
Bíró, Ádám: A 38 M. Toldi könnyű harckocsi fejlesztésének kísérletei 1941-1944. In: Haditechnika 2000/3. 79-82.
Bíró, Ádám – Éder, Miklós – Sárhidai, Gyula: A Magyar Királyi Honvédség külföldi gyártású páncélos harcjárművei 1920-1945. 34.
Bíró, Ádám – Sárhidai, Gyula: A Magyar Királyi Honvédség hazai gyártású páncélos harcjárművei 1914-1945. 154-161.
Bonhardt, Attila – Sárhidai, Gyula – Winkler, László: A Magyar Királyi Honvédség fegyverzete. 74-75.
Sárhidai, Gyula: A Magyar Királyi Honvédségnél rendszeresített 7,5 cm-es 40 M. páncéltörő ágyú. In: Haditechnika 1998/3 53-57.
Toldi páncélvadász on the FTR – For the Record blog
fortepan.hu

Toldi páncélvadász

Dimensions L-W-H 4.7 m x 2.1 mx 2.2 m (15’5” x 6’11” x 7’3”)
Total weight 10.5 t
Crew Unknown
Propulsion Büssing-NAG Type L8V/36TR, water cooled 8 cylinder petrol, 155 hp (116 kW), 14.8 hp/t
Suspension Torsion bars
Maximum speed 45 km/h (28 mph)
Armament 7.5 cm (2.95 in) Pak 40/2 L/46 – 21 rounds
8 mm (0.31 in) 31M. Solothurn light machine gun
Armor 6 mm to 13 mm (0.24-0.51 in)
Production One converted from a 38M. Toldi I light tank
Categories
WW2 Hungarian Prototypes

44M Tas

Hungary (1944)
Heavy Tank – 2 Incomplete Prototypes

Introduction

By early 1943, due to the heavy casualties and overall bad experiences gained on the Eastern Front against the Soviet Union, it became clear to the leaders of the Royal Hungarian Army that their armored units had become almost hopelessly obsolete. The Hungarian forces were in dire need for better equipment, especially medium/heavy tanks which would be able to compete against the Soviet T-34 and KV series of tanks.
To resolve this issue as soon as possible, the Hungarians first turned to their ally, Germany. They asked if they could buy the manufacturing rights for one of Germany’s more advanced tanks, for example a late Panzer IV variant with the long 75 mm (2.95 in) gun or the Panzer V Panther. The Germans turned down this wish in a short time, firstly because these variants were in an immature state at the time and secondly, they were fully aware – unlike the over-optimistic Hungarian military leaders – that the Hungarian heavy industry would not have been able to manufacture such sophisticated designs in the foreseeable future anyway.
Soon after the failed negotiations, the Hungarian Ministry of Defense (Hadügyminisztérium, HM) decided to solve the problem domestically. In April 1943, as a temporary solution, the HM started a modernization program for the Turán tanks. This program would add bolt on armor plates to increase its frontal protection and would mount the long barrel 43M 75 mm tank gun in a new enlarged turret. This project become the 43M Turán III.
However, as a long-term solution in the same month the HM commissioned the Weiss Manfréd corporation (WM) to lay out and assemble a new type of tank as a replacement for the obsolescent Turán series. The new vehicle should have been able to carry a high velocity tank gun and have similar protection and mobility characteristics as the Soviet T-34 or the German Panther. This new project has become the 44M Tas.
It was named after chieftain Tas, a historical figure who – according to tradition – was one of the leaders of the seven Hungarian tribes in the 9th century.
The preliminary blueprints for the Tas prototypes were ready in record time, by the end of August 1943.

The Tas ‘heavy’ tank

According to the Hungarian tank classification system during WWII, any tank mounting a 75 mm or larger caliber gun was classified as a ‘heavy tank’, regardless of its weight or size. Therefore, the 44M Tas would also have been a heavy tank according to the Hungarian terminology much like how even the 41M Turán II with its short barreled 75mm gun was often referred to as the ‘Heavy Turán’. However, its size, weight and basic combat role would have been much closer to what is considered as a ‘medium tank’ in the Western Allied, German or Soviet terminology.
The Tas factory mockup next to a 41M Turán II mockup
The Tas factory mockup next to a 41M Turán II mockup.

Hull and turret

The overall design of the 44M Tas was heavily influenced by the Panther. This can be traced back to the fact that a few officers from the Institute of Military Technology (Haditechnikai Intézet, HTI) had had the opportunity to examine the exterior of the new Panther and Tiger tanks in early 1943 in Kummersdorf. They were later deeply involved in the design process of the new Hungarian vehicle.
The shape of the welded hull mostly followed the general shape of the Panther, except on the front, where a thick near vertical middle front plate had been designed along with two ‘cheeks’ angled backwards on the sides of the upper front plate. The armor thickness ranged from 120 to 75 mm (4.72-2.95 in) on the front and around 50 mm (1.97 in) on the sides and the rear. The overall armor protection of the Tas would have been on par with the Panther’s.
The hull of the Tas
The hull of the Tas.
Unfortunately though, very little documentation about the turret of the Tas survived the war other than a few photographs of its 1:10 scale factory mockup and several other written descriptions. What is known is that it was octagonal, it closely resembled the Panther’s turret with its wide gun mantlet, and it had 100 mm (3.94 in) all around armor thickness. There was a cupola with a hatch for the commander and another hatch for the gunner on top of the turret. Two other hatches were added to the sides sometime after the above-mentioned mockup was made.
Dimension wise – according to the most recent studies – the 44M Tas would have been somewhat smaller than the Panther, although because of the sometimes contradictory values in the still existing documentations (or the lack of such sources), some of the values are unclear or just estimates and should be treated with caution.
The Tas would have been manned by a crew of five, also resembling the Panther.

Armament

The selected main armament for the Tas was the 29/44M 80 mm (3.15 in) L/58 gun. It was a heavily modified, license produced version of the Swedish Bofors 80 mm anti-aircraft gun, developed by DIMÁVAG as a replacement for the obsolescent 29/38M 80 mm L/48 anti-air guns of the Hungarian air defense at that time. The above-mentioned 1:10 scale mid-development Tas mockup – which most likely was made sometime around the end of 1943 – was armed with this gun.
The original 1:10 scale mockup photographed from different angles. These photos have surfaced in 1992 from a Czechoslovak archive
The original 1:10 scale mockup photographed from different angles. These photos have surfaced in the early 1990’s from a Czechoslovak archive.
80mm 29/44M AA gun
The 29/44M 80 mm L/58 anti-aircraft gun in firing position.
The first prototype of the 29/44M gun was ready in October 1943 but its first firing trials pointed out some serious flaws. This delayed its development significantly and its developer estimated that the mass production could not start earlier than the summer of 1944. Whereas the Tas development could not wait for that long, its designers had to make a compromise, and use what was at least available for the Tas prototypes in order to progress until the 80 mm gun would have been ready.
The chosen temporary armament was the 43M 75 mm L/43 tank gun, which was also only in a prototype form at that time. Only two pieces had been produced until then and both of them were already used in the prototypes of the 43M Turán III medium tank and the 44M Zrínyi I assault gun. Thus, the Tas project still had to wait precious weeks until a third one could be manufactured and mounted.
The Tas prototype with the 43M 75mm tank gun, in transport position
The Tas prototype drawing with the 43M 75mm tank gun, in transport position.
As secondary armament, the Tas received a coaxial 34/40AM 8 mm (7.92 mm to be exact or 0.31 in) Gebauer machine gun in the turret. A second 8 mm machine gun to be placed in the hull and operated by the radioman was also considered although it is not present on the factory mockup.

Engine

Right at the start of the development, some developers from WM allegedly wanted to create a new V12 engine with at least 700 hp power output for the Tas project. The idea was abandoned almost immediately because in reality neither the time nor the resources were available to create it before the deadline.
Instead, the Hungarian developers used what they had at hand and put two connected Turán tank engines in the relatively large engine compartment of the Tas. On the upside, this solution would not require too much time or effort to be put into mass production but on the downside, these engines only produced 520 hp combined, which would have been barely adequate for such a heavy (almost 37-ton) vehicle. Even so, in theory the Tas was estimated to reach 45-47 km/h on road according to the available documentation.

Suspension

The suspension of the Tas was a native design, but it was inspired by the suspension of the Panzer 38(t). The drive wheel was at the front, idler wheel at the back, and the 6 medium-sized road wheels were combined together in pairs of leaf sprung bogies. Unlike on the original Czechoslovak vehicle, the bogies were amended with shock absorbers, and the system was supplemented with 5 return rollers.
Drawing based on the factory mockup by E. Kovácsházy
Drawing based on the factory mockup by E. Kovácsházy.

Prototypes

Soon after the baseline of the Tas was accepted, the HM ordered two prototypes from Weiss Manfréd – one ‘iron’ prototype with mild-steel body for further experiments and one ‘finalized’ prototype with armor plate superstructure. The assembly of the first mild-steel prototype started in May 1944 and its chassis with the suspension and the built-in twin-engine was ready in June. Shortly after that the raw assembly of the turret with the 43M 75mm tank gun also started, presumably along with the preparatory works on the second prototype vehicle.
However, on July 27, 1944, the WM factory on the Csepel Island was seriously hit by an Allied bombing run. The main assembly hall collapsed and the mild-steel prototype of the Tas was buried underneath and burnt out. Along with that most of its spare parts, the heavy machinery and numerous mid-assembly Zrínyi II assault howitzers and Turán medium tanks were also destroyed.
As the WM was unable to finish or redo the Tas prototypes, the design work was halted. In August 1944, WM gave the whole project to the Ganz company, which still had some manufacturing potential at that time. Even though the development restarted for some time after that, substantial work on it had not been carried out before the advance of the Red Army in the Hungarian territories and the political changes in the Hungarian government after October 1944 made it impossible to continue the whole project.
The last domestically designed and manufactured Hungarian tank design practically ceased to exist in the summer of 1944 with the destruction of its prototypes.
The first published Tas mockup ever, made by P. Korbuly in the early 1980’s. It was made before the first photographs of the original factory mockup had been found, and was only based on the reminiscences of the people involved in the Tas development. It is completely outdated by now.
The first published Tas mockup ever, made by P. Korbuly in the early 1980’s. It was made before the first photographs of the original factory mockup had been found, and was only based on the reminiscences of the people involved in the Tas development. It is completely outdated by now.

An article by Károly Németh

Sources and further read

Barczy, Zoltán – Sárhidai, Gyula: A Magyar Királyi Hovédség légvédelme 1920-1945. 96.
Bíró, Ádám – Sárhidai, Gyula: A Magyar Királyi Honvédség hazai gyártású páncélos harcjárművei 1914–1945. 249-264
Bonhardt, Attila – Sárhidai, Gyula – Winkler, László: A Magyar Királyi Honvédség fegyverzete. 94-95
Hajdú, Ferenc – Sárhidai, Gyula: A Magyar Király Honvéd Haditechnikai Intézettől a HM Technológiai Hivatalig 1920-2005. 48-56
Hatala, András: Lövegcsőcserével továbbfejlesztett magyar tüzérségi eszközök 1945-ig. II. rész. In: Haditechnika 2014/1. 73-75
Kovácsházy, Ernő: A Tas nehéz harckocsi műszaki ismertetése I. rész. In: Haditechnika 2006/4. 86-87
Kovácsházy, Ernő: A Tas nehéz harckocsi műszaki ismertetése II. rész. In: Haditechnika 2006/5. 82-85
Sárhidai, Gyula: Kiegészítés a Tas nehéz harckocsi leírásához. In: Haditechnika 2006/6. 84-85
Turcsányi, Károly: Nehézharckocsik – Összehasonlító értékelések, műveleti alkalmazások és a magyar TAS tervezése. 199-238

44M Tas

Approximate dimensions 6.3 x 3.15 x 2.7 m
(20’8” x 10’4” x 8’10”)
Total weight 36.6 t
Crew 5 (commander, driver, gunner, loader, radioman)
Propulsion 2x Weiss Manfréd V-8H, water cooled V8 petrol, 520 hp (2×260 hp, 388 kW), 14 hp/t
Suspension Leaf springs
Estimated maximum speed 45 km/h (28 mph)
Armament, planned for series production 29/44M 80 mm (3.15 in) Bofors/DIMÁVAG L/58
2x 34/40AM 8 mm (0.31 in) Gebauer machine guns
Armament, prototypes 43M 75 mm (2.95 in) L/43
coaxial 34/40AM 8 mm (0.31 in) Gebauer machine gun
Armor 20 to 120 mm (0.79-4.7 in)
Total production Two partially completed prototypes


Illustration of the TAS 44M in what-if camouflage by David Bocquelet