The Panzerkampfwagen 35(t), commonly shortened to Panzer 35(t) or abbreviated as Pz.Kpfw. 35(t), was a Czechoslovak-designed light tank used mainly by Nazi Germany during World War II. The letter (t) stood for tschechisch (German: "Czech"). In Czechoslovak service it had the formal designation Lehký tank vzor 35 (Light Tank Model 35), but was commonly referred to as the LT vz. 35 or LT-35.
Four hundred and thirty-four were built; of these the Germans seized two hundred and forty-four when they occupied Bohemia-Moravia in March 1939 and the Slovaks acquired fifty-two when they declared independence from Czechoslovakia at the same time. Others were exported to Bulgaria and Romania.
In German service it saw combat during the early years of World War II, notably the Invasion of Poland, the Battle of France and the invasion of the Soviet Union before being retired or sold off in 1942. It was used for the remainder of the war by other countries and as a training tank in Bulgaria into the 1950s.
Type: Light tank
Place of origin: Czechoslovakia
Service history: In service 1936–50?
Used by World War II: Czechoslovakia, Nazi Germany. Kingdom of Romania, Slovakia, Kingdom of Bulgaria, Kingdom of Hungary
Production history: Designer Škoda 1934–36
Manufacturer: Škoda, ČKD
Unit cost 741,868 or 745,068 Czechoslovak koruna
Number built: 434
Variants: T-11, TACAM R-2
Specifications (Panzerkampfwagen 35(t))
Weight: 10.5 tonnes (10.3 long tons; 11.6 short tons)
Length: 4.90 metres (16.1 ft)
Width: 2.06 metres (6.8 ft)
Height. 2.37 metres (7.8 ft)
Armor: 8–35 millimetres (0.31–1.38 in)
Armament: 3.7 cm KwK 34(t) gun + 2 x 7.92 mm MG 37(t) mg
Engine: 4-cylinder, water-cooled Škoda T11/0 gasoline, 120 hp (89 kW)
Power/weight: 11 hp/tonne
Transmission: 6 x 6
Suspension: Leaf spring
Fuel capacity: 153 litres (40 US gal)
Range: 120 kilometres (75 mi) or 190 kilometres (120 mi)
Speed: 34 kilometres per hour (21 mph)
The Czech Army formulated a requirement in the II-a category of light cavalry tanks by the end of 1934. Českomoravská Kolben-Daněk proposed an improved version of its P-II light tank already in service as the LT vz. 34, but Škoda offered a new design that used the pneumatic system and engine earlier proved by its unsuccessful SU or S-II light tank prototype. One prototype was ordered from each company for delivery during the summer of 1935.
Both tanks had the same armament and three-man crew, but ČKD's P-II-a was much smaller at 8.5 tonnes (8.4 long tons; 9.4 short tons) and had only a maximum 16 millimetres (0.63 in) of armor while Škoda's S-II-a weighed 10.5 tonnes (10.3 long tons; 11.6 short tons) and had 25 millimetres (0.98 in) of armor. The army thought that P-II-a was at the limit of its development while the S-II-a could be improved as needed.
The first production order for 160 LT vz. 35s, as the S-II-a was designated in Army service, was placed on 30 October 1935 and deliveries began in December 1936. An additional order for 35 was made on 12 May 1936 and a follow-on order placed for 103 more a month later. The total order for 298 tanks was split equally by Škoda Works and ČKD according to their cartel agreement.
Development was rushed and there were many defects in the LT vz. 35s. Many tanks had to be returned to the factories to be repaired. Most of these repairs involved the electrical system, not the complicated pneumatic system.
In August 1936 Romania placed an order for 126; the bulk of these were delivered from the end of 1938 by Škoda. Afghanistan ordered ten in 1940. The Afghan vehicles were sold instead to Bulgaria. Total production was 434, including 298 for the Czechoslovak Army, 126 for Romania (under the designation Škoda R-2) and ten for Bulgaria. The Wehrmacht used 218 vehicles captured from the Czechoslovak Army in March 1939.
Britain's Alvis-Staussler negotiated for a production license from September 1938 until March 1939 when the Nazi occupation made an agreement impossible. The Soviets were also interested so Škoda shipped the S-II-a prototype and one production LT vz. 35 to the proving grounds at Kubinka for evaluation. The Soviets were only interested in buying the prototype, but Škoda refused to sell unless a license was purchased as well, believing that the Soviets would simply copy the design and build it without paying any royalties.
The chassis was used for both a command tank (Panzerbefehlswagen 35(t)) which featured extra radios (20 built) and also as an artillery tractor (Artillerie Schlepper 35(t)) by removing the turret and upper hull and covering the gap with canvas (49 converted from March 42 onwards).
The T-11 was built to an Afghan order placed in 1940 and differed mainly in that it used an improved Škoda A-8 gun. Ten were built, but were sold to Bulgaria and delivered in the third quarter of 1940.
The TACAM R-2 was a tank destroyer built by removing the turret of the R-2 and substituting a captured Soviet 76.2 mm (3.00 in) USV field gun in its place. The gun and crew was protected by a thin, fixed, three-sided, partially roofed casemate that used armor plate salvaged from captured Soviet tanks. The prototype was completed by September 1943, although it used the older 76.2 mm M-1936 F-22 field gun, and proved reasonably successful.
Conversion of an additional twenty was completed by the end of June 1944 when the project was stopped because of concerns that its gun was inadequate against the heavily armored Soviet Iosif Stalin tanks. Proposals were made to up-gun the vehicle with either the Romanian-built 75 mm (3.0 in) Reşiţa Model 1943 anti-tank gun or the German 88 mm (3.5 in) gun, but nothing was done before Romania changed sides in August 1944.
The 298 LT vz. 35 tanks were assigned to the armored regiments belonging to the four Mobile (Rychlá) Divisions between 1936—39. Each regiment was supposed to detach three-tank platoons to support the infantry divisions and border areas in times of crisis. These platoons were heavily used suppressing the protests and violence instigated by Konrad Henlein's Sudeten German Party (Sudetendeutsche Partei - SdP) and the Sudetendeutsche Freikorps (paramilitary groups trained in Germany by SS-instructors) between May and October 1938.
After the Munich Agreement two tank battalions were sent to reinforce the 3rd Mobile Division in Slovakia. They were used to repel Hungarian and Polish border-crossers, sometimes up to a battalion in strength. They screened the infantry when they had to evacuate southern Slovakia after the First Vienna Award on 2 November 1938.
A company of nine LT vz. 35s was in Michalovce when Carpatho-Ukraine declared independence and Hungary invaded on 14 March 1939. They bolstered the Czech defenses in front of Svaliava before being forced to retreat into Slovakia by 17 March. They were turned over to Slovakia the next day. The S-II-a prototype and one LT vz. 35 tank were returning from testing in the Soviet Union when the fighting began.
They detrained in Sevljus and participated in a counterattack at Fančíkovo, but the LT vz. 35 was damaged and captured by the Hungarians. The prototype was forced to retreat into Romania by 17 March, along with most of the other Czech troops in eastern Ruthenia. The Romanians returned it to Škoda six months later