Mareșal tank destroyer

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Mareșal tank destroyer
Mareșal tank destroyer.jpg
The M-05 prototype.
TypeTank destroyer
Place of originKingdom of Romania
Service history
In serviceMay - October 1944
Used byRomania
WarsWorld War II
Production history
DesignerComandamentul Trupelor Motomecanizate
Designed1942—43
ManufacturerRogifer
Produced1943-1944
No. built6 prototypes confirmed completed and tested[1]
1 prototype and 10 Series 0 vehicles incomplete[2]
Specifications (M-05 prototype)
Mass10 tonnes (9.8 long tons; 11 short tons)
Length5.8 m (19 ft 0 in)
Width2.44 m (8 ft 0 in)
Height1.54 m (5 ft 1 in)
Crew2 (3 for future versions)

Armor10–20 millimetres (0.39–0.79 in)
Main
armament
1 x 75 mm DT-UDR
Secondary
armament
1 x 7.92 mm ZB-53 machine gun
EngineHotchkiss H-39
120 horsepower (89 kW)
SpeedOn road: 45 km/h (28 mph)
Off road: 25 km/h (16 mph)

The Mareșal was a tank destroyer produced in limited numbers during the Second World War by the Kingdom of Romania. In May 1944, it was acknowledged by a Waffenamt delegate that the vehicle is the inspiration for the German Hetzer tank destroyer.[3][4][5]

Name[edit]

The vehicle was named after Ion Antonescu, who at that time was the marshal (mareșal) of Romania. The vehicle was also called Carul M ("[the] M-tank"). This designation was probably used before the idea of calling the vehicle Mareșal.[6]

History[edit]

Development[edit]

The Vânătorul de Care Mareșal was the most ambitious Romanian tank effort of the Second World War. While the armored units of the Romanian Army perceived a lack of effective anti-tank weaponry even during the initial attack against the Soviet Union, the problem became more acute after they first encountered Soviet T-34 and KV-1 tanks in 1942. As a result, Romanian Army leadership proposed the development of a light tank destroyer manufactured in Romania. A development team consisting of engineers Captain Gheorghe Sîmbotin and Major Nicolae Anghel were tasked with designing such a vehicle appropriate for service on the Eastern Front out of available parts.

Their solution was a testing program aimed at adapting an existing light tank to fire a heavier gun. The Soviet T-60 light tank was chosen because a significant number had been captured from the Red Army; similarly, availability of captured stocks influenced their choice of a Soviet 122mm howitzer as the vehicle's main armament. In order to be effective against enemy armor, the howitzer was intended to fire shaped charge rounds. The turret was removed and four 10-20mm thick steel plates were used to construct a completely enclosed casemate onto the hull. The initial prototype was built in Bucharest at the Rogifer works (former Malaxa factory, currently FAUR) with the assistance of engineers Constantin Ghiulai (designer of the TACAM R-2) and Radu Veres (director of Rogifer).

The initial prototype, christened Mareşal was designated M-00 and began testing at the Sudiți firing range outside of Slobozia on July 30, 1943. Fears that the tank would be toppled by the considerable recoil of the howitzer proved unfounded; however, other problems were noted mostly involving the gun mounting. Testing was considered successful and a committee to supervise the Mareşal project was created by orders of Ion Antonescu's cabinet.

Afterwards, areas within the Rogifer works were made available for the construction of three more prototypes: M-01, M-02, and M-03. These were completed by mid-October 1943 and were 43.2 cm wider and 13.4 cm longer than M-00. Also, construction methods were modified to use welding rather than riveting and the interior compartment was divided with a bulkhead. These three prototypes accommodated a crew of two in the forward compartment: a driver/aimer on the right side and a loader in a position left of center.

M-01, M-02, and M-03 were tested at Sudiți in front of Marshal Antonescu on October 23, 1943, the same day as the 75mm Resița anti-tank gun. Due to the exceptional performance of the Romanian anti-tank gun, Colonel Paul Draghiescu suggested that it should be mounted on future prototypes of the Mareşal. This change would be incorporated into all further prototypes.

The next prototype, M-04, incorporated significant changes and was completed in January 1944. It was powered by a French 120 HP engine, the same used in the Hotchkiss H-39 light tank instead of the original Soviet engine and mounted a Resița Model 1943 anti-tank gun instead of the 122mm howitzer. In February, the M-04 prototype was sent to Sudiți for evaluation. Again, concerns were brought up about the vehicle's ability to withstand the gun's recoil. Testing however showed the main gun could be safely fired. Two German representatives observed the testing of M-04 and were impressed by its maneuverability.

According to Mark Axworthy, it was a German Lieutenant-Colonel by the name of Ventz who, in May 1944, admitted that the Hetzer was created along the lines of the Mareșal.[7]

The final series of prototypes, M-05 and M-06, were built in the spring of 1944 and gave up on the T-60 chassis and hull in favor of a new Romanian design. M-05 was completed in May 1944 and tested that same month.

The latter stages on testing involving M-06 occurred in the immediate aftermath of King Michael's Coup in August and September 1944. Romania and the Allies concluded an armistice on September 12, which gave wide-ranging powers to the Allied Control Commission, in which the Soviets played a dominant role. Invoking the terms of the Armistice, the Soviets confiscated the Mareşal prototypes and all related materials on October 26. The history of the Mareşal after this point is unknown.

Planned production[edit]

Following the October 1943 testing of M-03, M-04 and M-05, Major Anghel and the director of the Rogifer Works were sent to Germany to learn about the mass production of armored vehicles. Preparations for mass production began in November 1943. To this end, a commission was sent to France to order 1000 Hotchkiss motors, and a Romanian technician was sent to Germany to coordinate the importation of other components.

In February 1944, Romania managed to secure contracts with suppliers in France, Switzerland, and Sweden for tank parts. The Germans also offered to assist Romania by sending specialists to the Rogifer Works and supplying necessary components, including gun optics, armored plates, and radio sets. The Army, however, planned to manufacture all components in Romania within one year of starting production. Mass production, however, never started.

Service[edit]

On 10 May 1944, the Mechanized Troops Command took over responsibility for the project and subsequently created the M Battalion within the 2nd Armored Regiment. The purpose of this battalion was to train would-be Mareșal crews and test new models of the vehicle. The M-05 prototype was tested preliminary at the end of May, then tested continuously from 24 July to 21 August. However, there are no mentions about tests of the previous prototypes. Indeed, the M Battalion would have little reason to further test previous prototypes, or train would-be crews by using them. This was due to several reasons. For one, the M-05 was too technologically different compared to the previous 5 prototypes. M-05 was largely Romanian-built, while its predecessors used many components from the Soviet T-60 light tank. Furthermore, the armament of all but one of the previous prototypes was entirely different: a 122 mm howitzer instead of a 75 mm anti-tank gun. Finally, the first 200 Mareșals which were going to be built were set to follow the design of the M-05. It is for these reasons that the only reports of Mareșal usage after the creation of the M Battalion in May 1944 refer solely to the M-05, as the previous prototypes were most likely unfit for training crews which were expected to operate in the near future solely on M-05 copies. Testing of the M-05 continued until the project was terminated by the Soviets on 26 October. In June 1944, the M-05 was tested in the attendance of Antonescu against a Sturmgeschütz III and a 75 mm Reșița anti-tank gun. M-05 performed the best in speed, handling, slope management, obstacle clearance and firing. Its performance earned it much praise from attending German officers.[8]

Prototypes and planned versions[edit]

Specifications for each prototype:[9]

Prototype Crew Armament Armor thickness Armor shape Chassis Weight Engine
M-00 2 122 mm M1910/30 howitzer 20-30 mm steel plate Turtle T-60 6.7 tons Ford V8 (85 hp)
M-01 2 122 mm M1910/30 howitzer 20-30 mm steel plate Turtle T-60 (enlarged and reinforced) 6.7 tons Buick (120 hp)
M-02 2 122 mm M1910/30 howitzer 20-30 mm steel plate Turtle T-60 (Rogifer-built, enlarged and reinforced) 6.4 tons Buick (120 hp)
M-03 2 122 mm M1910/30 howitzer 10 mm steel Turtle Rogifer 6.6 tons Buick (120 hp)
M-04 2 75 mm DT-UDR 10-20 mm armour plate (Reșița) Half-hexagon Rogifer Unknown Hotchkiss H-39 (120 hp)
M-05 2 75 mm DT-UDR 10-20 mm armour plate (Bohler) Half-hexagon Rogifer 10 tons Hotchkiss H-39 (120 hp)
M-06 (incomplete) 3 75 mm DT-UDR 10-20 mm armour plate (Reșița under Bohler licence) Half-hexagon Rogifer 10 tons Hotchkiss H-39 (120 hp)


  • Flakpanzer Mareșal

German plan to buy the vehicle and arm it with two (twin) 37 mm anti-aircraft guns. Nothing else is known about this plan.[10][11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Axworthy, pp. 219 and 228-235
  2. ^ Axworthy, pp. 219 and 228-235
  3. ^ Scafes, p.47-48
  4. ^ Axworthy, p.229
  5. ^ Steven J. Zaloga, Tanks of Hitler’s Eastern Allies 1941–45, p. 31
  6. ^ Artileria română în date şi imagini by Adrian Stroea, Gheorghe Bajenaru, p. 105
  7. ^ Axworthy, p. 229
  8. ^ Axworthy, pp. 231-233
  9. ^ Axworthy, p. 231
  10. ^ Steven J. Zaloga, Tanks of Hitler’s Eastern Allies 1941–45, p. 31
  11. ^ Axworthy, Scafes and Craciunoiu pp. 228-235.
  • Axworthy, Mark; Scafes, Cornel; Craciunoiu, Cristian, Third Axis Fourth Ally: Romanian Armed Forces in the European War, 1941-1945, pages 228 to 235