44M Tas

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44M Tas
Hungarian 44.M Tas heavy tank.jpg
1:10 iron model of the Tas heavy tank
TypeMedium / Heavy tank
Place of originKingdom of Hungary
Service history
Used byKingdom of Hungary
WarsWorld War II
Production history
DesignerManfred Weiss Works
Designed1943
ManufacturerManfred Weiss Works
Produced1943–1944
No. built2 prototypes
Specifications
Mass38 tonnes (37 long tons; 42 short tons) [1]
Length9.2 metres (30 ft 2 in) gun forward[1]
Width3.5 metres (11 ft 6 in)[1]
Height3 metres (9 ft 10 in)[1]
Crew5[1]

Armor50–120 mm (2.0–4.7 in)
Main
armament
1 × 7.5cm 43.M tank gun L/46
Secondary
armament
2 × 34/40A M 8 mm machine gun
Engine2 x gasoline Manfred Weiss-Z[1]
520 hp (390 kW)
2 x 260 hp (2 x 195 kW)[1]
Power/weight13.68 hp/ton
Operational
range
200 km (120 mi)
Speed45 km/h (28 mph)

The 44M Tas was a Hungarian medium/heavy tank design of World War II. The only prototype built was destroyed when the Manfred Weiss factory was bombed in 1944.

Design[edit]

A rear quarter view.
44.M Tas, hungarian heavy tank prototype Artist: Valery Petelin
44.M Tas, Hungarian heavy tank prototype Artist: Valery Petelin

In 1943 Hungary already realized that its tank productions were all obsolete and had little chance of survival against Russian medium tanks. To solve the problem Hungary started to develop the Turán III and Zrínyi assault guns. However, it still tried to buy the licence of foreign vehicles, the Pz.Kpfw. IV Ausf. H and the Pz.Kpfw. V "Panther" to be exact, but Germany rigidly refused to sell the blueprints. Hungary had no other option but to design its own modern heavy tank. In April 1943 the Ministry of Defence (HM) charged the Manfred Weiss factory to design the vehicle.

In the same year, a group of military experts of the Institute of Military Technology of the Hungarian Army (HTI) traveled to Kummersdorf, Germany where they saw the famous Tiger and Panther tanks but those were not showed to them from the inside. However, because they were the only Hungarians who saw the modern German vehicles from up close in the given year 3 HTI specialist officers took part in the designing procedures from the beginning.

The blueprints with all necessary data and budget plans were finished on December 3, 1943. Photos of the 1:10 scale metal model of the new vehicle was given to the HTI on December 6, 1943. The vehicle looked very similar to the German Panther but the designers used the steep slope angle of the Russian T-34's frontal armor. The new heavy tank was named Tas, the HM accepted the plans, developing and production started in May, 1944.

Construction of the prototype vehicle progressed slowly because it was the very first tank project of Hungary which was entirely its own so it was still in its infancy. The engineers constantly discovered newer and newer problems which needed solutions. Furthermore, the tank had welded armor which was a new method for the engineers. The Toldi light tanks had welded armor too but that tank had very thin armor plates. The Tas had 75 and 120mm thick armor plates which proved to be a challenge for the engineers. Constant material shortages and Allied bombing raids did not help either.

The chassis of the Tas' iron made sample vehicle was ready in June, 1944 with fully operational suspensions and built-in engines, and the turret's construction readiness came to a raw binding state. Sadly on July 27, 1944 an Allied bombing raid seriously damaged the Manfred Weiss factory. The production hall where the Tas was made collapsed and the sample vehicle completely burned out. Hungary tried to re-start the project at Ganz factory but it didn't had enough time to actually start the re-building of the prototype.

According to the original plans and the 1:10 scale model the Tas would have an 80mm gun. In 1943 when the blueprints were made Hungary had only one such gun, the 80mm 29/38.M Bofors AA cannon. We don't know if the conversion of the gun from an AA cannon to a tank gun actually started but we do know that there was a converted AT gun prototype of the same gun which was made in 1942. Perhaps the engineers planned to use that or waited for an actual converted tank gun.

However, during the building state of the Tas, it became clear that the conversion of the 80mm gun would progress slowly and the Tas project would be held back because the engineers would had to wait for the guns. That's why the designers decided to use the same 75mm gun for the prototype which was used in the Turán III and the Zrínyi I. That 75mm gun already had 2 finished models so the production of the gun would go more smoothly than waiting for the gun factories to change their equipment to convert and produce the 80mm tank gun. With a 75mm cannon, the finished sample vehicle made of iron could be tested on the field and later could be easily modified to build in the 80mm gun which was predicted to be ready by the time a serial vehicle made of armor plates would be finished.

However - due to material shortage - the third 75mm gun was never finished by the time when the Tas prototype was destroyed and the DIMÁVAG factory which produced the gun was later captured by the USSR

According to the remaining documents, the Manfred Weiss factory undertook the production of 2 vehicles. One prototype made of iron as a sample vehicle on which further developments could be carried out more easily, and one prototype made of actual armor plates. Because the documents mentioned 2 vehicles the first Hungarian researcher let his fantasy go wild and thought that 1 vehicle was meant to be a tank destroyer version and even made a sketch about it according to his imagination. Because of this many people still, think that the Tas tank destroyer was an actual project even though no documents or blueprints were found and despite of other researchers already stated that this was just a mistake. Even the one who made that mistake later told to a historical themed magazine that the Tas tank destroyer was completely his idea which was based on that habit of WW2 where every successful tank chassis had a tank destroyer superstructure.

Another mistake that many people make that they think that the 75mm gun was a KwK 42. Hungary never had the license of the KwK 42 and did not have any, furthermore, Germany never gave any KwK 42 tank guns to Hungary. It was simply a tank gun variant of the Hungarian license built Pak 40 (and NOT the KwK 40) which was called 7.5cm 43.M anti-tank gun, the tank gun variant being the 7.5 cm 43.M tank gun.

See also[edit]

Similar tanks

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g For The Record website.

Bibliography[edit]

  • J C M Probst. "Hungarian armour during WW2". Airfix Magazine (September 1976).

External links[edit]