Pz.Kpfw.38: why the Germans attacked the Soviet Union on the Czech tanks

Weapons 11/01/20 Pz.Kpfw.38: why the Germans attacked the Soviet Union on the Czech tanks

Speaking about the first months of the great Patriotic war, usually compare the performance characteristics of Soviet and German tanks, forgetting that the composition of armored forces of the Wehrmacht were captured Czech tanks LT vz.38 or the Pz.Kpfw.38(t) German specification — a very committed light tanks, which became, without exaggeration, the symbol of the blitzkrieg.

Armor is strong and tanks are fast

Before world war II, Czechoslovakia was one of the leading tank powers, that provides, in particular, competition between the companies Škoda and ČKD. Armored vehicles, the latter went into service not only in Czechoslovak army, but also in Romania, Iran, Sweden.

In October 1937, the Ministry of defence of Czechoslovakia announced a competition for the creation of a new light tank to replace the LT vz.35 that caused so many complaints that the state order for these cars decreased in two times — up to 300 cars. Škoda has provided a slightly modified version of the same LT vz.35, while two companies went to trial with the new light tank, with increased engine power, increased to 25 mm thick armor (at the time it was quite serious reservation because of the lack of anti-tank artillery) and an tower. The tank was nearly 6, 000 miles without problems, then as a model Škoda with half the mileage repeatedly broke down and refused to work. A modified prototype of the two companies appeared before the high Commission on July 1, 1938. The tank was accepted for service as Lehký tank vz.38, abbreviated as LT vz.38. The first batch consisted of 150 cars, the order had to be completed in February 1939. LT vz.38 was a masterpiece of engineering, was easy to operate and maintainable in the field. 37-mm gun pierced the armor thickness of 38 mm at a distance up to a mile. The armament was supplemented with two strandelih machine gun caliber 7.92 mm. Except that the armor was riveted, not welded, but weld armor when few people knew how.

the Only thing that did not suit the Czechoslovak military — the price of a new tank, a third higher than the cost of the LT vz.35: 640 CZK 180 ($25 600). For comparison, the export to the Soviet T-26 were delivered at a price of $20,000, and BT-5 — $30 000. Thus the LT vz.38 in all respects surpassed its predecessor, and that led to a high price. The talks went on for two months, as a result, the manufacturer signed a contract for the supply of 100 tanks for 620 146 kroner apiece and 50 for 619 570, – CZK.

unfortunately, by the time of the German invasion of Czechoslovakia was ready in just 10 tanks without weapons, so the military fate of the LT vz.38 began in the armored forces of the Wehrmacht.

In the service of Hitler

Contrary to popular belief, in the late thirties of the tank fleet of Germany left much to be desired and the seizure of production facilities ČKD, ready to produce the best at the time of European light tanks, was a kind of godsend. Experts of the German Department of arms was conquered by the Czech light tank. The Wehrmacht captured the tank received index Pz.Kpfw.38(t). the main shock bronezhelete, excellent showing himself in the Polish and French campaigns. At the beginning of June 1941 captured Czech tank was of the order of 17% of the Wehrmacht tank fleet.

To the beginning of the invasion of the Soviet Union, the tank was modernized and superior performance characteristics of the Soviet light T-26 and T-60, not to mention the machine-gun amphibious T-37, T-38 and T-40. In the invading army Pz.Kpfw.38(t) occupied almost a fifth of all tanks. Available at the service of the red army in 1941 antitank weapons were powerless against the Czech tanks. Its characteristics make it superior to the German Pz.Kpfw.II Ausf.C, closely approaching the Pz.Kpfw.III Ausf.E, whose production in Germany was established with difficulty. In the modification of the Pz.Kpfw.38(t) Ausf.G machine was probably the best light tank in the world. Tank with the modifiedKazemi were produced throughout the Second world war. In battles with the red army was involved until the end of 1942, when Soviet tank Park was filled medium T-34-76, against which a light machine couldn’t survive. However, Pz.Kpfw.38(t) continued to use on the Western front and in the anti-guerrilla struggle in the USSR and Europe. In addition, the tank was used in reconnaissance and patrolling. After the Second world war, the tank finally entered service with the Czechoslovak army, where he served until the early sixties.

Konstantin Baranovsky

© Russian Seven

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