Military Review

Hungarian light tanks "Toldi"

1918 year became fateful for the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which ceased to exist. He did not bring anything good to Hungary either. After independence, the country was divided by civil war. During 1919-1920, not without help from the Entente, the “red threat” was over, but Hungary itself was on the side of the losers, she was found guilty of unleashing World War I, along with Germany, Bulgaria and Turkey. The country lost a tangible part of its territory, and significant restrictions were imposed on its army. The upper limit of the number of Hungarian army was determined 35 thousand people, and the armed forces could not have armored at all.

Of course, the Hungarian government did not like these restrictions. AND Tanks the country still acquired, but in very limited series. The first negotiations on the supply of tanks Hungarians began in 1919 with another brother in misfortune - Germany. They purchased 14 LK-II light tanks from the Germans, which were purchased through a Swedish intermediary company. It is worth noting that for those years it was quite modern combat vehicles.

For almost a decade, these tanks remained the only ones that the Hungarian army had. On the issue of buying armored vehicles, the country returned only in the 1929 year, when it became apparent that the LK-II was already too outdated. After a brief search, the choice was made in favor of the Italian Fiat 3000B light tank model 1930 of the year, which was armed with two 8-mm machine guns. Hungary acquired such tanks 5 units, but after a couple of years it became obvious that the “descendant” of the French FT-17, albeit substantially modernized, was very far behind its foreign counterparts. After that, the Hungarian military became interested in the British tan shoes Carden-Lloyd Mk.VIb, however, after buying one car, they abandoned them. Instead, in Italy, in 1935-1936, Hungary bought a total of 150 tanket CV3 / 33 and CV3 / 35.

At the same time, relations between Hungary and Germany were friendly at that time, and in the framework of military cooperation, Berlin handed one light tank to the Hungarians, Pz.Kpfw.I Ausf.A, which formed the Panzerwaffe back in 1937. The Hungarian military liked this tank, it had good speed characteristics and could fit to be used as a reconnaissance tracked vehicle. However, the doubts of the military caused too light a reservation, insufficient armament and the high cost of the tank. For this reason, they began to consider alternative options, one of which was the Swedish L-60 tank, which later became the basis for the entire line of Hungarian Toldi tanks.

Hungarian tank column. Ahead is the Hungarian light tank 38M Toldi I, followed by the wedge of the Italian production L3 / 35 (FIAT-Ansaldo CV 35). Photo:

In 1937, comparative tests were carried out in Hungary, in which light tanks took part: the V-4 (own Hungarian production), the German machine gun Pz.IA and the Swedish light tank Landsverk L-60. Victory in these tests won the "Swede". It is worth noting that the L-60 was a fairly simple tank, but at the same time different advanced design. For the first time in the world tank building, the support rollers on this combat vehicle had an individual torsion suspension, and the front armor plates were located at rational inclination angles, which increased the thickness of the reduced armor. Periscope sights were installed on the tank, and the engine's specific power made it possible to develop speed on the highway up to 50 km / h. In addition, the design of the Swedish tank best suited for further upgrades.

It was the Swedish Landsverk L-60 that was taken as the basis for the first production Hungarian tank. The licensed version of this combat vehicle, produced in Hungary, was named "Toldy". The tank was mass-produced from 1939 to 1944. At the same time, the machine existed in the following basic modifications 38.M Toldi I, 38.M Toldi II (IIA) and 43.M Toldi III. The tank was named in honor of the famous medieval hero Miklos Toldi, who was a semi-legendary analogue of the ancient Russian Ilya Muromets. At the same time, the commission, which conducted comparative tests of light tanks, recommended making some changes in its design compared to the prototype presented by the Swedes. At the same time, the hull and the undercarriage of the tank underwent almost no changes, only the drive wheel was slightly modified. Also, the tank tower was slightly changed, but the gun on it had to be changed.

Regarding the weapon system of the Toldy tank in Hungary, the biggest controversy unfolded. The 20-mm Madsen automatic cannon was mounted on the Swedish model. Hungarian designers offered to install the 25-mm automatic gun "Bofors" or "Gebower" (the latter - the Hungarian development), or even 37-mm or 40-mm artillery system. The last two guns demanded a serious rework of the tank tower, so their installation was temporarily abandoned. At the same time, the Hungarians did not acquire a license for the production of automatic cannons “Madsen”, due to their high prices, and also because the Danuvia plant in Budapest was not ready to master their production in a short time.

Hungarian light tanks "Toldi"
Hungarian tank 38M Toldi I tows a German truck Büssing-NAG 400 on the streets of the Soviet village. Photo:

As a result, it was decided to arm the 20-mm tank with a self-loading anti-tank rifle of the Swiss company Solothurn. This gun was produced in Hungary under a license under the brand 36.M. The anti-tank gun was powered from stores designed for 5 cartridges. Practical rate of fire reached the 15-20 shots per minute. Additionally, the tank was installed 8-mm 34./37.M machine gun with tape power. It was a licensed copy of the Czech machine gun. The tank's ammunition consisted of 208 ammunition for PTR and 2400 ammunition for the 8-mm machine gun paired with it. Another additional machine gun could be mounted on the roof of the turret in a special bracket, it could be used as an anti-aircraft gun.

Good optics and sights were supplied to Hungary from Germany, as well as engines. The heart of the Toldy tank was a German-made 155 gasoline engine, the Busing-NAG, which worked with the 5 speed gearbox. With this engine, the 8,5-ton tank developed a maximum speed close to 50 km / h, and the fuel supply in 230 liters was enough for 220 kilometers of highway traffic. Reservation of the tank was rather protivopulnym - the forehead and sides of the hull, as well as the forehead and sides of the turret had a thickness of armor 13 mm, mask guns - 20 mm Bottom and roof of the hull and turret - 6 mm.

The crew of the Toldy tank consisted of three people, who were stationed inside the combat vehicle in fairly comfortable conditions. The fighting compartment and the control compartment, as in the Swedish prototype L-60, were well ventilated. In the turret of the tank on the right side, under the commander's turret, equipped to observe the battlefield 7 triplexes, was the seat of the tank commander. To the left of the commander was the place of the gunner, who was following the battlefield through a periscope sight. The mechanic-driver of the tank was oriented on the ground along the observation slits, which were located in a small armored wheelhouse, which was to the left of the longitudinal axis of the tank.

The tank was serially produced from 1939 to 1944 years, while the release was quite modest, all in Hungary 202 made copies of such combat vehicles. The first order for the production of 80 light tanks was received in February 1939. The first production tanks 38.M Toldi I were transferred to the Hungarian military 13 on April 1940. All in all, before 14 March 1941 of the year in Hungary 80 tanks of this modification were assembled. Later, the country began production of 38.M Toldi II tanks, which were distinguished by enhanced armor. The first 4 tank of this modification were transferred to the Hungarian military back in May 1941. As of 22 June 1941, the Hungarian army had 90 Toldy tanks.

38.M Toldi IIA

The next series of tanks, which received the name "Toldi II", differed from their predecessors primarily in that they were made exclusively from Hungarian components. In addition, in the upgraded version of the light tank, a new radio station appeared, and the thickness of the gun mask armor was increased. For a while, a new modification of the tank was made in parallel with the old one, in which German-made components were used. The only difference between the Toldy I and the Toldy II, which was striking, was the shape of the antennas of the combat vehicles — however, after the first series of tanks was re-equipped with new radio stations, this visual difference disappeared. In total, 110 Toldy II tanks were produced in Hungary, of which 80 combat vehicles were later converted to the 38.M Toldi IIA version.

Since the tank’s arming with a heavy anti-tank gun in the 1940s looked frivolous, the Hungarian designers decided to install an 40-mm 42.M gun of their own design instead. This artillery system was a shortened version of the gun 41.M, which was specially created for the tank "Turan". The change in the main armament led to a decrease in the ammunition load; in the tank, 40-mm guns could accommodate all 55 shells. Simultaneously with the replacement of weapons, the designers have increased and the booking of the tank - the gun mask armor has grown to 35 mm. The machine gun on this modification was replaced by 34М / 37М, with part of its barrel was covered with an armor cover. On the Toldi IIA tank, the turret was significantly modified, and a hinged box appeared on the back, designed to carry equipment. The combat weight of the tank increased from 8,5 tons to 9,35 tons, which immediately affected its dynamic characteristics: the maximum speed dropped to 45 km / h, and the cruising range to 190 km.

In a single copy in Hungary a screened version of the Toldy tank was assembled. The sides of the hull and turret of this light tank were covered with 5-mm armored screens, and the radio station R / 5 was replaced by a more advanced R / 5a. The combat weight of the tank increased at the same time to 9,85 tons, which only increased the load on the transmission and engine. In the end, this version of the tank was never adopted.

The latest modification of the Toldy light tank, which was really produced by the Hungarian industry, was the 43.M Toldi III tank. The thickness of the armor on the modification of "Toldy III" was once again increased. This time it was brought to the 35 mm on the cabin of the driver and the mask of the gun. In addition, the stern niche in the turret was expanded, which made it possible to increase the ammunition load to 87 projectiles. The Toldy tanks in this modification in Hungary managed to assemble all the 12 units.

Combat use of Toldi tanks

For the first time, Toldy light tanks took part in hostilities in April 1941. After 4 a month after the conclusion of the Eternal Friendship Pact with Yugoslavia, Hungarian troops took part in the invasion of this Balkan state. Two Hungarian motorized brigades and one cavalry brigade, which invaded the territory of Yugoslavia together with the German troops, consisted of one company from the 18 lightweight Toldy tanks.

Their next campaign was the war against the USSR. The 81 tank "Toldi" as part of a separate mobile corps of the Hungarian army (along with Hungarian armored vehicles Csaba and Italian tankettes) took part in Operation Barbarossa. More 14 light tanks of the new type were sent to the Eastern Front later, in October 1941 of the year. In the battles on the Eastern Front, it became clear that a good tank at the end of the 1930-s was rapidly becoming obsolete. If the armor of the Soviet light tanks BT and T-26 anti-tank gun "Solothurn" could still cope, then fight against medium and heavy tanks with its help was almost useless.

38M "Toldi II" in the Armored Museum in Kubinka

However, the main problem of the Hungarian light tank was low, especially in terms of the conduct of hostilities in the USSR, the reliability of the transmission and engine. Hungarian tanks stuck in the mud, and their engines often broke down. The situation reached the point that the Hungarian repair units did not have time to repair the breakdowns of light tanks and were forced to call qualified civilian specialists from the Hungarian factories to the front. When the mobile corps battered in the battles on the Eastern Front returned to Hungary in November 1941, it turned out that most (37 of 65) combat vehicles requiring repair were out of order due to breakdowns, not combat damage. In the Soviet Union’s 1942 campaign of the year, the Hungarians used all 17 tanks of this type. At the same time, in March 1943 a year ago, only 3 machines returned to Hungary.

Light tanks "Toldy" of all modifications were actively used by the army of this country in repelling the offensive of the Soviet troops on the territory of Hungary in the final stages of the Second World War in Europe. By June 1944, the Hungarian army still had 129 tanks of this type - 66 "Toldi I" and 63 "Toldi II" and "Toldi IIA". They simply couldn’t stand up to the modern Soviet tanks, the EC-2 and T-34-85, so almost all were destroyed during the 1944-1945 campaign, the last of them were lost in the battles for Budapest. Until our time, preserved the entire 2 tank of this type. At the same time, both Hungarian combat vehicles are now on display at the armored museum in Kubinka, near Moscow. One of the tanks presented here relates to the modification of Toldi I, the second - Toldi IIA.

Information sources:
Open source materials
Dear reader, to leave comments on the publication, you must sign in.
  1. cobalt
    cobalt 14 July 2016 07: 48
    Here is another example of the tank industry in Hungary, is in a goblet. Turan tank, produced from 1942 to 1944. About 450 units were produced.
    1. mroy
      mroy 14 July 2016 16: 30
      The riveted tower in 1944 is already a clear anachronism. In general, in the forties it became clear that a developed tank industry with any noticeable mobilization opportunities in the event of war was the lot of powerful economies. Neither Hungary nor Italy could not withstand the race in the development of armored vehicles. On the other hand, the United States entered this race with a noticeable delay, and by 1944 the M4 was in sufficient quantities, and the M26 did not join the troops for administrative reasons only.
  2. kugelblitz
    kugelblitz 14 July 2016 09: 07
    Interestingly, it doesn’t work out very well with the reliability of this tank. In general, the most interesting of the light tanks of the Axis countries was the Italian L6. Very light with good booking of a 40 mm tower and 30 mm forehead, transverse engine, interesting suspension and fairly high reliability and ease of repair.
    The tank itself was essentially the development of the CV38 wedge, hence the peculiarities of the arrangement of the units. In fact, intended for reconnaissance, it was often used as a linear one, and it was released in scanty amounts. Nevertheless, I think for my class a good car.
  3. kugelblitz
    kugelblitz 14 July 2016 09: 12
    And by the way, the Swedes made on the basis of this tank a good self-propelled gun Landsverk L-62 Anti II, which was produced by the Hungarians under the license under the brand name 40M Nimrod, yet 40 mm Bofors was a powerful thing.
  4. Type 63
    Type 63 14 July 2016 17: 11
    The captured "Toldi" were not without success used by the Red Army
  5. Filxnumx
    Filxnumx 14 July 2016 20: 24
    Interesting thing, statistics! While conducting hostilities on the territory of the USSR, Toldi's tanks showed low technical reliability, and during the battles in Hungary "practically all were destroyed", as I understand it, were destroyed in battle. IMHO, the Magyars didn't really want to fight on foreign territory, so their tanks often broke. And while the techies were fixing the breakdowns, the crews could have a couple of days rest from the front line.
    Article plus, I hope for a cycle about Hungarian BBM
    1. mroy
      mroy 15 July 2016 09: 44
      The Magyars did not really want to fight on the territory of the USSR, it was much more interesting to rob and destroy civilians and prisoners. Although as soldiers they were worth much more than Romanians or Italians. And when the house began to burn, they fought to the last, because they did not hope for mercy for their "exploits". It was not just that in the battle for Voronezh the Hungarians were taken prisoner.
  6. antivirus
    antivirus 6 January 2017 18: 45
    just like that, the advantages of Soviet industry over European ones were revealed and consolidated.
    yesterday the Urals and Slobozhansky peasants learned the lessons of WWI better