Thursday, 27 July 2017

Cold War Czechoslovakia's own armour designs

Image result for TVP 51 Czech world of tanks

Rendering of the Czech TVP T51 design courtesy World of Tanks

Readers of this blog will know we quite enjoy playing with Imagi-Nations, from the 1700's to the Cold War.

One of my fellow gamers has conceived of an interesting  Alternative History scenario, where WW2 never happened. The idea is to build alternative 1980’s Eastern European armies based on what the real countries may have done in that scenario, and thus avoid the relative sameness of all the various Eastern European WarPac armies. 

He started with Poland, looked at who manufactured their equipment and then replaced it with 1980’s functional equivalents from the same countries. Now, one of my Cold War armies is Czechoslovakia, and I wondered what they may look like in this scenario - the answer has proven to be very interesting.

The first thing you realise with the Czechs is that in the 1930’s and 40's they built all their own equipment, they didn't buy it from others as the Poles did. They also were designing and building their own equipment until the mid 50's, when the Soviets effectively put a stop to it. And even then they almost automatically re-engineered all the post-war Russian equipment they were given, used a higher proportion of own designs than any other WarPac member  (their own wheeled APC  the OT-64  and various gun carriages plus co-operation with Hungary to build a scout car, the OT-65) besides their own trucks, guns and aircraft designs. 

So, it’s highly likely that with no WW2 and no WarPac, they would still have designed and built their own weapons systems. Thus with the Alt-History scenario Czechoslovakia it wasn’t so much about which other countries’ 1980’s equipment I would use, but more what would they have built and what may it have looked like (and then how to model and represent it).  

Usefully, it’s possible to get an idea of what was on their mind as their efforts were only finally stopped in the mid 1950’s. From the point of view of the noticeably different weapons systems (in 6mm scale armies) they had:

  • Planned how to update the Pz 38 series – the chassis had proven very reliable in WW2, the gun carriages and Hetzer tank destroyer had had a very good war (the Swiss carried on using a modified Hetzer into the 70’s). This new "Lehký podvozek" (Light tank) light tank was to use the Pz 38 running gear, the much better engines now available, and take lessons from angled armour in its design. The Skoda T-17 design was given a Czech high velocity 75mm gun. Given the success of the WW2 Hetzer & Marder,  Tank Destroyers and Gun Carriages were likely variants. An APC was also in prototype stage, and given the planned armour it would have been a proper IFV.
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T-17 Light Tank

  • Designed an amphibious tank, the U-9376 Leták, in 1954 - several years earlier than the not dissimilar Soviet PT-76 in shape and concept but with a high velocity 75mm gun, not the low power 76mm. There was already a previous floating tank project (VOŽ), and a suspension and floating system were already available. Given the Czechoslovakians used the OT-62 based on the PT-76 chassis it's not hard to imagine and an APC would have followed.  
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Leták Amphibious tank

  • Studied the later war tanks, especially the T-34 running gear and angled armour, and were designing a new MBT based on a number of lessons.  There were a number of evolutions of the “Tank for general use” - Tank všeobecného použití (TVP) - project. Below is the final form, c 1950/51. There are also drawings of a Tank Destroyer based on this hull with a German 128mm gun.
Image result for czech tanks cold war TVP 50/51

Rendering of the Czech TVP T51 design by World of Tanks

Tank destroyer based on TVP 51 hull - initially designed with a c 100 - 105mm gun in mind, allegedly it could carry a Czech version of the 128mm German gun

The For the Record blog has a more detailed discussion of various projects

Thus, in an Alt-History world the Czechoslovakians would very probably have built an entire family of light armoured vehicles in the 1950’s, plus an amphibious tank (and given their conversion of the BTR-50 into the OT-62 they would very possibly have built an APC option too), and a post war MBT and (less possibly) a derived Tank Destroyer with their version of the German 128mm gun.

The Czechoslovakian designs seem in general lighter or average weight with more powerful engines, and guns at the heavier end of the scale. All these tanks apparently would have had autoloaded guns. 

There is no record of similar Czechoslovakian post war armoured car or wheeled APC designs, but if one assumes they would have built the OT-64 and OT-65/66 wheeled vehicles and their various artillery systems anyway, that gives a good basis. In addition they experimented with using heavier weapons on the OT-64 and OT-65 (up to 30mm cannons, ATGW missiles and 82mm RRLs, and the SKOT is easily big enough to take larger guns - so that certainly gives a good set of wheeled weapons systems to go with in an Alt-Czechoslovakian force.  

All of these would have been both for home use and export. So, for my Cold War Alt-History army, all (all....) that is required is to work out how these designs would have evolved from entering service in the 1950's until the next generation vehicles used in the 1980's, and then what non-Soviet army TO&E they may have used, and finally how to represent them on the table - but that is for the next blog post...


  1. Interesting premise WWII never taking place, lots of room to maneuver MTO&E as well as tactically. Looking forward to seeing where this one goes !

    1. It's a simple idea, and on teh surface its given a bunch of us a lot of fun building Alt-History armies. But when you start to look into it, it gets very interesting - how was WW2 prevented? Did the Czechs resist, and Britain & France back them up? They had a formidable army. Also, does that mean no US-Japanese war - unlikely, as the causes of the Pacific war were different. Also, given the USSR-Nazi antipathy a war may well have broken out there too. Anyway what I've dome is extrapolated these vehicles and the stuff the Czechs did actually build (OT-64, 65 etc) into a 1980's force for my next outfit.

    2. I'm remembering the beginning video for the old Command And Conquer game,
      I guy went back to 1928 and shot Hitler....changed everything. The war with the US and Japan would have ended quicker I think! I like the Czech Tank there very clean and dare I say modern looking design.

    3. It is hard to imagine German and Russia not going to war, which begs the question of what happens to Poland - and I agree the war in the Pacific would have happened anyway.

  2. I've modelled the Czech TVP 51 tank with the AMX 32 hull and T-55 105mm top, the Letak is so close to the Pt-76 I've used that hull but with an IKV-91 turret for the more angular shape and the 90mm gun. I think the TVP in the 80's would have had composite armour hull (which the AMX-32 had anyway) and I've used the Tiran 105mm turret with the added reactive armour