Mareșal tank destroyer

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Mareșal tank destroyer
Mareșal tank destroyer.jpg
The M-05 prototype.
Type Tank destroyer
Place of origin Kingdom of Romania
Service history
In service 1943—44
Used by Romania
Wars World War II
Production history
Designer Comandamentul Trupelor Motomecanizate
Designed 1942—43
Manufacturer Rogifer
Produced 1943-1944
No. built 7 prototypes (1 unfinished)
Specifications (M-05 prototype)
Weight 10 tonnes (9.8 long tons; 11 short tons)
Length 5.8 m (19 ft 0 in)
Width 2.44 m (8 ft 0 in)
Height 1.54 m (5 ft 1 in)
Crew 2 (3 for future versions)

Armor 10–20 millimetres (0.39–0.79 in)
Main
armament
1 x 75 mm DT-UDR (122 mm howitzer M1910/30 for early prototypes)
Secondary
armament
1 x 7.92 mm ZB-53 machine gun
Engine Hotchkiss H-39
120 horsepower (89 kW)
Speed On 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. It has been proposed that the vehicle is the inspiration for the German Hetzer tank destroyer. [1][2][3]

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. [4]

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 an armored case-mate 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.

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. A June 1944 demonstration with Ion Antonescu in attendance saw M-05 competing against a StuG IIIG as well as a towed Resita Model 1943 anti-tank gun. The Maresal fared very well in those tests. From July 24 through August 31, 1944, M-06 went on to a series of difficult trials simulating conditions on the front lines. During these tests the gun mounting gave way, putting further use of the vehicle on hold until August 31. M-05 finisted testing on September 21 while M-06 remained uncompleted.

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 12th 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 deploying 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, was never started.

Prototypes and planned versions[edit]

  • M-00 prototype

First prototype. It was based on a Soviet T-60 chassis armed with a 122mm howitzer. [5]

  • M-01 prototype

Second prototype, was based on a reinforced T-60 chassis, same armament.[6]

  • M-02 prototype

The M-02 was based on a reinforced and slightly larger T-60 chassis, same armament.[7]

  • M-03 prototype

The fourth prototype and last one to use the 122 mm howitzer. It was also based on a lengthened and widened T-60 chassis.[8]

  • M-04 prototype

The fifth and first prototype to use the 75 mm gun. It was also based on a modified T-60 chassis.[9]

  • M-05 prototype

The major prototype, armed with the 75 mm gun and built on a Romanian-made chassis, unlike the previous vehicles. It used the Panzer 38(t) suspension.[10]

  • M-06 prototype

An unfinished prototype of which little is known. It was different from the previous ones and had a crew of 3.[11].

  • 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. [12][13]

  • Self-propelled howitzer variant

Talks between German generals of giving the Mareșal different guns in case not enough 75 mm Reșiţa AT guns could have been delivered. Planned guns were 122 mm and 150 mm howitzers, or a 75 mm Vickers anti-aircraft gun, mounted as an AT gun (possibly referring to the Vickers Model 1931). [14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Scafes, p.47-48
  2. ^ Axworthy, p.229
  3. ^ Steven J. Zaloga, Tanks of Hitler’s Eastern Allies 1941–45, p. 31
  4. ^ Artileria română în date şi imagini by Adrian Stroea, Gheorghe Bajenaru, p. 105
  5. ^ Axworthy, Scafes and Craciunoiu[page needed]
  6. ^ Axworthy, Scafes and Craciunoiu[page needed]
  7. ^ Axworthy, Scafes and Craciunoiu[page needed]
  8. ^ Axworthy, Scafes and Craciunoiu[page needed]
  9. ^ Axworthy, Scafes and Craciunoiu[page needed]
  10. ^ Axworthy, Scafes and Craciunoiu[page needed]
  11. ^ Axworthy, Scafes and Craciunoiu[page needed]
  12. ^ Steven J. Zaloga, Tanks of Hitler’s Eastern Allies 1941–45, p. 31
  13. ^ Axworthy, Scafes and Craciunoiu pp. 228-235.
  14. ^ https://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=70126&start=45
  • Axworthy, Mark; Scafes, Cornel; Craciunoiu, Cristian, Third Axis Fourth Ally: Romanian Armed Forces in the European War, 1941-1945