About The M18 Hellcat Tank Destroyer
In the early years of World War 2 a tanks main gun had a general role and lacked the high muzzle velocity to penetrate other tanks with good armour when firing armour-piercing shots. So Anti-Tank guns were developed, such as the 76mm M1 which had a high muzzle velocity and were mounted to existing tanks or fitted to new tank destroyers such as the M18.
The M18’s development started around late 1941. Other anti-tank guns were originally considered but dropped in favour of the 76mm M1 (which was also fitted to some Sherman tanks) during the production process.
It was decided that the vehicles survivability would rely more on mobility rather than heavy armour, so it was a small, light (as it had thin “chocolate” armour) weight design that had a good engine with a high power to weight ratio and torsion bar suspension, which allowed it to shoot and scoot before its position was discovered and fired upon.
Named the Hellcat due its good mobility, which out-performed any tracked AFV of the war, production started in July 1943 and ended in February 1944 totalling 2500+ vehicles built.
It served in a number of theatres of the war, most notably Europe where one Battalion knocked out 53 tanks and over a dozen SPG’s with the loss of only 17 M18’s.
It was sold off after the war to various countries where they were upgraded over the years. They were still being operated by Serbian Forces during the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990’s and its believed that Venezuela still holds some M18’s as part of their reserve force.
The M18 Hellcat Tank Destroyer Specifications
Armament: x1 76mm Main Gun & x1 12.7mm MG
Ammunition Stored: x45 76mm
Dimensions: Length 6.7m (over gun) / Width 2.97m / Height 2.6m
Combat Weight: 18.14 tonne
Engine: Continental R-975 9-cylinder
Top Road Speed: 80+ km/h
Operational Road Range: 240 km
Armour: 12mm (max frontal) steel