TACAM R-2

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TACAM R-2
TACAM R-2 tank destroyer.JPG
A TACAM R-2 on display at the National Military Museum, Bucharest
Type Tank Destroyer
Place of origin Romania
Service history
In service 1944—45
Used by Romania
Wars World War II
Production history
Designer Leonida
Designed 1943
Manufacturer Leonida
Produced 1944
Number built 20 + 1 prototype
Specifications
Weight 12 tonnes (12 long tons; 13 short tons)
Length 5 metres (16 ft)
Width 2.064 metres (6.77 ft)
Height 2.32 metres (7.6 ft)
Crew 3

Armor 10–25 millimetres (0.39–0.98 in)
Main
armament
1 x 76.2 mm ZIS-3
Secondary
armament
1 x 7.92 mm ZB-53 machine gun
Engine 4-cylinder, water-cooled Škoda T11/0 gasoline
125 horsepower (93 kW)
Transmission 6 x 6
Suspension leaf spring
Ground clearance 35 centimetres (14 in)
Fuel capacity 153 litres (40 US gal)
Operational
range
130–160 kilometres (81–99 mi)
Speed 25–30 kilometres per hour (16–19 mph) (road)

The TACAM R-2 (Tun Anticar pe Afet Mobil - Self-propelled Anti-tank Gun) was a Romanian tank destroyer used during World War II. It was built by removing the turret of the R-2 light tank and building a pedestal to mount an ex-Soviet 76.2 mm (3.00 in) ZiS-3 field gun in its place. A three-sided fighting compartment was built to protect the gun and its crew. Twenty were built in 1944, but only one is known to exist today. It participated in the Budapest Offensive and the Prague Offensive.

Development[edit]

By December 1942 it was blatantly obvious that Romania's R-2 light tanks were no longer capable of standing up to Soviet medium tanks, but something had to be done to extend their service. It was decided to convert them to tank destroyers on the model of the German Marder II and Romania's own TACAM T-60, still in development. The turret was removed from one R-2 to serve as the prototype over the summer of 1943 to test the concept. A captured Soviet 76.2 millimetres (3.00 in) M-1936 F-22 field gun was removed from its carriage and a new mount was fabricated to fit the gun to the turretless R-2. A fighting compartment was built using armor salvaged from captured Soviet tanks. New Romanian and German gun sights were fitted to suit the new Romanian ammunition. Testing in late 1943 proved that the gun didn't overpower the chassis, but the gun was only effective against T-34s up to ranges of 500–600 metres (550–660 yd). Forty were planned to be converted by Leonida in Bucharest, but the process couldn't begin immediately because Germany hadn't yet delivered the tanks that were to replace the R-2 which allowed the F-22 gun to be exchanged for the more powerful ZiS-3 gun on the production models.[1]

Proposals were made to rearm them to better counter the new heavily armored Soviet Iosif Stalin tanks. Proposals were made to up-gun the vehicle with either the Romanian-built 75 mm (3.0 in) Reşiţa Model 1943 anti-tank gun or the German 88 mm (3.5 in) gun, but nothing was done before Romania changed sides in August 1944.[2]

Description[edit]

The TACAM R-2 had a 76.2 millimetres (3.00 in) ZiS-3 gun mounted on a R-2 light tank chassis from which the turret had been removed. The gun was protected by a three-sided, fixed, partially roofed gun shield with sides 10–17 millimetres (0.39–0.67 in) thick. The armor plate for the gun shield was salvaged from captured Soviet BT-7 and T-26 tanks. The gun could traverse 30°, elevate 15° and depress 5°. A total of thirty rounds were carried for the main gun, twenty-one HE and nine AP. The chassis was little changed from that of the R-2 and retained its hull-mounted 7.92 millimetres (0.312 in) ZB-53 machine gun. The armor of the hull ranged from 8 to 25 millimetres (0.31 to 0.98 in) thick. It could cross a ditch 2 metres (6.6 ft) wide, climb an obstacle .5 metres (1.6 ft) high and ford a stream .8 metres (2.6 ft) deep.[3]

Operational history[edit]

Leonida began work in late February 1944, and the first batch of twenty conversions was complete by the end of June. Production was halted then because the gun was thought inadequate to face the new heavily armored IS-2 tanks being fielded by the Soviets. Ten vehicles were organized into the 63rd TACAM Company in July 1944 and assigned to the 1st Armored Training Division. They didn't see combat until after Romania's defection to the Allies. A company of twelve was assigned to the Niculescu Detachment when it was rushed north at the beginning of September to defend the Transylvanian frontier against the Axis counterattack from Hungary. Four more were added when the Niculescu Detachment was absorbed into the ad hoc Armored Group on 29 September in preparation for attacks intended to clear Northern Transylvania. This was successful and the Armored Group was disbanded when the last Axis units were forced from Romanian territory on 25 October 1944.[4]

Twelve were assigned to the 2nd Armored Regiment when it was sent to the front Czechoslovakia in February 1945. The Soviets immediately seized most of the TACAM R-2s in exchange for a few captured German tanks, but two were reported as operational on 31 March and two were still on hand on 24 April. One of these was destroyed before 30 April and the other was damaged mopping up German units near Brno in May. None were reported with the remnants of the Regiment when it returned to Bucharest on 14 May 1945.[5]

One survives today in the Romanian National Military Museum in Bucharest.[6]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Axworthy, pp. 223, 225
  2. ^ Kliment and Francev, p. 199
  3. ^ Axworthy, p. 225
  4. ^ Axworthy, pp. 194-201
  5. ^ Axworthy, pp. 212-13
  6. ^ "Colectii — Specialitati militare" (in Romanian). Retrieved 2009-05-21. 

References[edit]

  • Axworthy, Mark; Scafes, Cornel; Craciunoiu, Cristian (1995). Third Axis, Fourth Ally: Romanian Armed Forces in the European War, 1941-1945. London: Arms and Armour. ISBN 1-85409-267-7. 
  • Kliment, Charles K.; Francev, Vladimír (1997). Czechoslovak Armored Fighting Vehicles. Atglen, PA: Schiffer. ISBN 0-7643-0141-1. 

External links[edit]