The 38M Toldi was a light tank used by Hungary during World War II.


The Toldi was powered by a Bussing-Nag V8 engine that gave it a top speed of 46 kilometers per hour. The armament consisted of a single 20 mm S-18-100 "36M" cannon and a secondary 8 mm machine gun. To man the vehicle, the Toldi required a crew of at least three men.[1] The total weight of the vehicle was around 8,700 kilograms while its total length was around 4.7 meters. 

The operational range of the vehicle was around 200 kilometers. To protect the crew, the Toldi had 23 mm of plate armor mounted around the hull. While sufficient for its development period, the 23 mm quickly became outdated and too easy to penetrate for even the smallest anti-tank guns. However, the little armor gave the tank better mobility. To build upon these strengths, Hungarian tank divisions used the Toldi as a quick, combat reconnaissance vehicle instead of frontline tank. The good radio equipment used in the vehicle certainly aided it in this role.[2]


The first variant of the Toldi series to help the platform become more useful in the field was the 41M Toldi II which had upped the protection to 35 mm in the frontal armor plates. While the new amount of armor was still relatively insufficient, it was certainly an upgrade. Following came the 41M Toldi IIa which was introduced in 1942. This model had been equipped with a 40 mm main gun for increased penetration against enemy vehicles. Again, in a similar manner to the Toldi's armor upgrades, the new gun was certainly an upgrade, but not necessarily more effective.

The final variant of the Toldi series was the 43M Toldi III. The Toldi III was a far more modernized tank which was for the most part, a reliable light tank for the time. It had its hull armor increased to 40 mm in the frontal glacis plate and was given the German Schürzen Armor or spaced armor.[3]

This gave the Toldi a better chance when facing heavier enemies and infantry anti-tank weapons. However, due to unstable Hungarian industry and the increased Allied bombing effort, the Toldi III never saw full-scale production, with only twelve examples being produced by the end of the war.


41M Toldi IIa

A 41M Toldi IIa being towed by Half-Track

The Toldi was initially developed in 1937 following Hungary's purchase of a Swedish L-60 light tank for licensed production. Testing with new prototypes began immediately with the finished Toldi I being accepted for service in 1938. The results were excellent with the finished product being superior to its inspiration. Naturally, the first combat operations that the Toldi took place in were all during the Invasion of Yugoslavia.

However, the campaign ended before the Toldis could fully see their true potential. It wouldn't be their last opportunity though, because in 1941, the Toldi was sent in to combat Soviet forces during Operation Barbarossa. Here, they lost some effectiveness as standard tanks due to their rivals, the T-34 and KV-1 being technologically superior. The 38M continued to be used by Hungarian forces throughout the war through its several variants. In all, around 202 examples of 38M were made during the war.



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