Hobby Master HG6001 US M18 Hellcat Light Tank Destroyer - 705th Tank Destroyer Battalion, 11th Armored Division, Ardennes, Battle of the Bulge, 1944 (1:72 Scale)
"Seek, strike and destroy."
- Motto of the US Tank Destroyer Forces during World War II
In December 1941, the War Ordnance Department issued a requirement for the design of a fast tank destroyer which used the Christie suspension, the Wright Continental R-975 engine, and a 37mm gun.
After observing events in North Africa, it was decided that the 37mm gun was inadequate and the design changed to accommodate a 57mm gun instead. During a series of prototypes and tests, the design was further upgunned to a 75mm gun, and then to the 76mm gun. The Christie suspension was also dropped and replaced with a torsion bar suspension. The design was eventually standardized in February 1943 and production began in July.
The M18 first saw combat in northwest Europe and Italy during the summer of 1944. It excelled at ambush and hit-and-run tactics. Its low silhouette, high firepower and great speed gave it the capability of destroying all but the heaviest of German armor, although it was too lightly armored to stand and fight. One notable instance was that of the 630th Tank Destroyer Battalion. In July 1944, they reported the destruction of 53 Panthers and Tigers, along with 15 self-propelled guns for a loss of only 17 M18's.
In contrast to the M10 Wolverine, which used the chassis of the M4 Sherman, the M18 Hellcat was designed from the start to be a tank destroyer. As a result it was smaller, half the weight, and significantly faster yet still carried a powerful gun. There was also more internal stowage capacity, able to accommodate a five-man crew as well as 45 rounds of ammunition and a M2 machine gun.
There was only one variant of the M18 which saw any real production, the Armored Utility Vehicle M39. It was a turretless variation of the M18 that was used to transport personnel and cargo or act as a gun tractor.
The M18 continued in production until October 1944, when the war was nearing its end. At that time, some 2,500 vehicles had been produced.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of a US M18 Hellcat light tank destroyer that was attached to the 705th Tank Destroyer Battalion, 11th Armored Division, then fighting in the Battle of the Bulge during the winter of 1944. Sold Out!
Length: 3-3/4 inches
Width: 1-3/4 inches
Release Date: February 2012
Historical Account: "Pre-War Doctrine" - The 705th Tank Destroyer Battalion was a tank destroyer battalion of the United States Army active during the Second World War. It was originally formed from artillery elements of the 5th Armored Division, and its lineage is today perpetuated by the 75th Cavalry Regiment.
The battalion operated in northern France with Third Army in 1944, where it fought in Brittany at the capture of Brest, and then along the Moselle River, reaching Germany at the end of the year. During the Battle of the Bulge, it was engaged at the Siege of Bastogne along with the 101st Airborne Division, where it received the Presidential Unit Citation, and in the spring of 1945 it advanced through southern Germany with the 11th Armored Division, reaching Austria by the end of the war.