Hungarian tanks, SPGs & armored cars
Around 1118 AFVs in service between 1941-1945

Models

Prototypes

Fakes

Introduction

During WWII, the Hungarian army used some 1118 armored vehicles. About 924 vehicles were locally built (prototypes included), while the other 194 were delivered by Italian and German contractors. Like Czechoslovakia, Hungary developed a small industrial basis and was capable of building tanks and armored cars of its own. Famous engineers, like Nicolas (Miklós) Straussler, also brought their expertise in some fields. However, the latter mostly worked for the Allies, whereas his country was an active member of the Axis during the war.

Hungary in 1938-40

Hungary was rebuffed by the Versailles treaty after WW1, following the dislocation of the Austro-Hungarian empire and borders being redrawn, resulting in territorial losses to Czechoslovakia, Romania and Yugoslavia. The royal, but democratic regime, eventually grew more authoritarian under Regent Admiral Horthy in the late 1930s, and became sympathetic to the similar territorial claims made by Germany and the Nazi Regime. In 1938, Hungary obtained parts of Slovakia and Ruthenia and, the next year, the German invasion of Czechoslovakia gave the opportunity to secure the rest of Ruthenia. During these events, the Royal Hungarian army was mobilized and border clashes erupted around Munkács with Czech troops. While the northern border of Hungary was secure in 1940, the deficiencies of the Hungarian armour were made clear. Most units were then equipped with the 1930s Italian CV-35 tankettes, which were totally unable to stand up to regular tanks. This weakness was a problem for the Hungarian army, especially due to the remaining territorial issues with Yugoslavia and Romania. In August 1940 though, Hungarian claims (backed by Germany) against Romania led to the transfer of some parts of Transylvania to Hungarian sovereignty. Also, Yugoslavia eventually agreed to the annexation of Bánát.

Operation Barbarossa

Tankettes

35M Tankette

120 delivered. An export version of the Italian CV-35.

Light tanks

Toldi I,II,IIa,III

202 built in total. The main Hungarian light tank. It was a licence built Swedish L/60.

Medium tanks

Turán I,II

375 built. Main Hungarian medium tank, armed with a 47 or 75 mm (1.85-2.95 in) gun. The 3rd variant remained a prototype.

Tas 44M

Prototype only, heavily inspired by German Panther. Built by Weiss in March 1944.

Self propelled guns

40M Nimród

135 built. Built under licence from the Swedish L-62, and was an unrivaled AA tank for the time.

40/43M Zrínyi II

60 built. A very efficient SPG armed with a short-barreled 105 mm (4.13 in) gun.

44M Zrínyi I

Prototype only. It was the long-barreled, tank-hunter version of the Zrínyi I.

Armored cars

39/40M Csaba

145 built. The main Hungarian armored car, mostly used for reconnaissance, armed with a Solothurn 20 mm (0.79 in) auto-cannon.

Tracked APCs/tractors

Sd.Kfz.11 37M

74 German-built armored heavy half-tracks, used as artillery tractors and APCs.

Lehel A/S

Prototype only. A locally built APC adaptation of the Nimród chassis, built by Ganz in early 1943.

Links about the Hungarians in WW2

A link about the Hungarian Kingdom’s Army during WW2


The Toldi tank, a locally produced version of the Landsverk Stridsvagn L-60. It was the staple of the Hungarian light tank force during the war. Over 200 were built in several versions, however neither their 40 mm armour (late model) or 20 mm autocannon were up to the job against the T-34.

The Turán, derived from the Škoda LT vz.35, was the Hungarian main medium tank. The Wehrmacht used the Panzer 35(t), which was the German modified LT vz.35, sharing technical similarities with the Hungarian medium. By 1944, its mobility was obsolete, and its armament (a 40 mm/1.57 in gun) and armor (only 50 mm/1.96 in thick) were completely inefficient against the Soviet KV-1 and T-34.

The Turán II was a variant developed in 1942. It was an attempt to up-gun the model, but unfortunately the turret was too cramped for something else than a short-barrel Bohler 75 mm (2.95 in), which was barely sufficient against the T-34 and not at all against the KV-1.

The 43M Turán III was a prototype developed in 1944 with a brand new turret, housing a gun derived from the German KwK 40 L43 75 mm (2.95 in), also used on the Panzer IV. It would have been up to the job against most Soviet tanks, but the project was eventually dropped, as the same Panzer IV, produced in large numbers, was made available to the Hungarian Army. The illustration above is a what-if recreation made by our illustrator.

The 43M Zrinyi II was a self-propelled assault gun inspired by the German StuG, armed with a 105 mm (4.13 in) cal.20 howitzer, providing close support to the infantry and able to repel other tanks due to the sheer explosive power of its rounds.

The 44M Zrinyi I was the tank hunter variant of the same, armed with a gun derived from the KwK 40 L/43 used by the Panzer IV and StuG III Ausf.G. Although it was promising, it never entered production due to the Soviet invasion of Hungary.

The 40M Nimród was perhaps one of the first modern SPAAGs (Self Propelled Anti-Aircraft Guns), developed from the Swedish Luftvärnskanonvagn L-62 Anti II. Altough few were built, it strongly influenced the German AA variants which appeared throughout the war.

The 39M Csaba was the only Hungarian-built armored car to see service during the war. It was the brainchild of engineer Miklós Straussler, whom had already created several innovations and hybrid tank concepts in the UK and Hungary and also worked on the famous DD screen systems of the amphibious Shermans used during the D-Day landings.

12 Responses to Hungary

  1. Brian L Korbelik says:

    Thank you for taking the time and effort and research to list the Hungarian armour from World War II. It’s nearly impossible information to find in such a complete study as yours.
    It’s very helpful to an old Eastern Front “Alte Hasen” such as myself who wants to learn everything about the “Russian Front”. Again, thank you very much!

  2. Laza Márton says:

    When will the 44m tas medium and the 45m tank hunter appear as proto of the week?

  3. Brandon says:

    Did the Hungarians ever have “light tank companies” during the later period of the war (44ish)? I’m wondering if the Toldi IIas were ever fielded en mass.

    Thanks!

    • Laza Márton says:

      They were, but only in mixed battalions and exclusively for recce missions, most of them were lost during the fighting in western Ukraine.

  4. James says:

    The Area where you talk about the Turan says by 194, instead of by 1944.

  5. Attila says:

    Hello! The Zrínyi II mounted a 105 mm howitzer ( MÁVAG 40/43M L/20.5 howitzer ) not a 75 mm one.

  6. Tomi says:

    Hello!

    This website is great!
    Maybe I can give you a small help about Hungarian tanks and armored vehicless with my webpage: http://vesszentrianon.n1.hu/kephadit.html

    Best wishes: Tomi

  7. Fanatic says:

    Hi. The Turan section has wrong info about the origins. Along the LT vz. ( light tank) models, the czechoslovakians wanted to produce medium tanks too, it was called the s-ll project. Skoda and Praga designed their own s-ll class models, however the country was occupied by the germans and the project stopped. Skoda offered it’s s-ll prototype for several countries. This was called Skoda T-21. Hungary bought the license of this tank instead of the swedish Lago to develop the hungarian medium tank.
    Turán was based on Skoda T-21 prototype, which is only similar to the LT vz 35, but a different and heavier vehicle.

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