Soviet Hellcat


Hello everyone,

another interesting article by Yuri Pasholok came up – this time, about the Soviet M18 Hellcat. According to him, the vehicle, standing in the Kubinka museum, is one of the oldest vehicles of this type in existence.


Technically, it’s not even an M18 Hellcat. It was built by the Buick company in 1943 (its M1A1 gun, serial number 1272 was made by another plant, GM-Oldsmobile. This type vehicle was designated as M18 Hellcat in March 1944, so the vehicle in Kubinka is actually its earlier incarnation, the T70 Gun Motor Carriage and that’s how it is called in the Soviet documents. This is how this T70 GMC (serial number 40108549) looked in 1945:



The vehicle was tested in 1944 by the Soviets at NIIBT proving grounds, both regarding its mobility and firepower.As a fun fact, this vehicle was also used in live firing at a captured Tiger II. The Soviets actually considered requesting this vehicle from the Americans as a part of the Lend-Lease program, but after the tests, they decided not to do it, because the results proved unsatisfactory. Yuri Pasholok also posted the documents, showing the test results, so I will translate a part of it for you to see, what flaws did they see in it. The original documents can be seen in Yuri Pasholok’s post, linked above.

“American self-propelled gun T-70 cannot be recommended for import for following reasons:

I. Weak armor, protecting only from rifle-machinegun fire and small shell fragments.

II. High fuel consumption:
- on paved road 78,5 liters per hour
- off-road 80,5 liters per hour
- on field with snow 130,5 liters per hour
which is several times more than the consumption of fuel of other self-propelled guns of this class in the same conditions

III. It uses high octan gasoline as fuel, making this self-propelled gun dangerous, when it comes to fires

IV. Bad terrain passability”

What the Russians also noted was:

- maximum speed 75,6 km/h
- sharp braking at speeds over 45 km/h causes the vehicle to drift
- average road speed is 45 km/h, offroad 23,8 km/h, on field with snow 19,4 km/h
- speed on asphalt roads is limited by the fact that vehicle is unstable, especially if the road is covered by icy snow
- offroad speed and speed on snow is limited by insufficient torque, produced by the hydramatic torque converter
- fuel consumption is significantly higher than norms for this class
- lack of torque also makes this vehicle unable to cross roadside ditches and deeper holes
- lack of torque doesn’t allow the vehicle to tow other vehicles of its class off the road
- maximum angle of slope on icy surface the vehicle can climb is 16 degrees, at higher angles the tracks slip, to compare, SU-76 can cross 26 degrees slope
- maximum angle of slope on snowy surfae the vehicle can descent is 24 degrees

(there were several such numbers more, all pointing out insufficient terrain passability)

- maximum fording depth 1,55 meters, more the vehicle cannot ford, because water would get into engine compartment
- muzzle velocity of the AP-T round is 803 m/s
- the vehicle has sufficient stability when firing, the recoil moves the machine only very little
- firing from short stops is possible and effective
- firing when moving is ineffective
- technical (unaimed) rate of fire is 11,4 RPM
- aimed rate of fire without shifting fire is 9,7 RPM, with shifting fire 7,7 RPM
- the gun mechanism works reliably and had no issues
- gunner’s space is comfortable
- loader’s space is cramped and not comfortable
- commander’s space does not allow comfortable function, because periscope is missing and the commander is exposed to small arms fire
- driver’s and his helper’s space is comfortable
- ammunition is not stowed comfortably, out of the entire set of 45 rounds, loader can easily reach only 9
- the entire vehicle works reliably, it did not suffer from breakdowns
- double differential actually reduces the stability and maneuverability of the vehicle

There were several more points. Overall, it seems that the Soviets didn’t mind this vehicle that much, but I didn’t notice any point, where they would state that this vehicle is clearly superior to Soviet designs (probably because it wasn’t).

75 thoughts on “Soviet Hellcat

        • Yeah, I threw the name at Google too. The hits seemed to talk about modern commercial systems which presumably aren’t terribly topical to tanks of ~70 years ago, beyond what you can guesstimate as above.

          • The Torqmatic was a common heavy application automatic transmission, though I’m doubting the current Allison offering shares much more than the name and some core mechanical concepts.
            It is much heavier duty and much larger physically than the Hydromatic that one finds paired up in the M5 light and M24 Light.

            Not sure where the Russians got the idea that the R975 required high octane fuel, it ran on the same 80 octane standard fuel as every other U.S. vehicle of the day, and utilized self sealing tanks divorced from the crew compartment behind a substantial bulkhead.
            I’d also point out that higher octane fuels are less volatile, and hence less prone to igniting then lower octane fuels so that statement gets a very large “WTF?” from me.

            Not sure what they meant by “insufficient torque” as the one I’ve driven and worked on had far more power than was really needed. I suspect they simply had a test driver(s) unfamiliar with the behavior of a torque converter, and the operation of the vehicle.

            High fuel consumption is fair, as you have an unusually large and powerful engine for the vehicle’s mass, coupled with a transmission that while offering better offroad performance and ease of operation, is not as efficient a carrier of applied power as other systems.

            The analysis of the crew positions is fair, the gunner does indeed have the best seat in the house, and the TC has no sighting instruments other than handheld binocs.
            The loader’s position is not large, but compared to other designs of the time it is efficiently laid out. They finding the driver’s space “comfortable” is amusing, as it is quite “compact” for anyone much over 5’7. A 6′ tall person will find their knees in their chest, and the hatch tapping them on the head. Luckily there is only a throttle pedal, and the brake/steering levers are mounted on the roof of the hull.

            I’d point out that by the time the vehicle is taking small arms fire, a number of very large mistakes on the part of the crew have been made. It simply does not have sufficient armor protection to play “tank”, nor was it intended to. “Shoot and scoot” was the intended use of this vehicle, and for that it is very very capable.

              • The “Pimp My Tank” has begun. Note the center mounted headlamp, in lieu of the siren normally mounted there.
                Very flash.

            • AFAIR In the red army diesel was the standard for tank fuel.
              Most common gasoline in the tank forces was KB-70 (Octane rating 70) As follows from the document by reference, to increase оctane rating to 80 they used ethyl liquid R-9 (tetraethyl lead) plus bromatan plus chloronaphthalene.

              The torch can be turned off when immersed in diesel fuel (don’t try this at home!). Therefore, “this self-propelled gun dangerous, when it comes to fires”. In comparison with the T-34:)

              • It’s a gasoline powered vehicle. At what point do your testers realize “hey this stuff is flammable!”? As if the Russians had no gas powered vehicles.

                Again, “high octane fuel” and “more flammable” in context to that with no comparison is silly.

                I’d be willing to bet that 975 would have run fairly well on whatever low octane sauce the Russians were using, it was a fairly low compression engine with a low ratio blower in that application. Around 6 to 1 with around a 7.5 to 1 blower IIRC.

                • Most Soviet tanks of WWII had a diesel engine. Compared with them, T70 much more flammable. Testers decided existing tanks was better and refused to buy.

                • Once again about “high octane fuel”. Most common gasoline in the RA tank forces had octane number 70. If they bought T70, they would need another fuel’s standard (octane number 80). Complication support and logistic.

                • Yet the Red Army had no issues fueling the swarms of Studebaker trucks, MB/GPW jeeps and other motorized equipment sent to them, meaning they either had the needed fuel, or the supplied vehicles ran just fine on the lower octane fuels. So much for that logistical issue.

                  Insisting on it being a Diesel was fine.
                  Claiming the higher octane fuel it required was somehow more dangerous when they were already dealing with a more volatile domestic product, again, is silly.

                • Unlike other trucks in US, there were installed 4.42-liter 104-strong motor GMC-270, in Russian Studebaker were installed engine “Hercules” JXD. He could use the Soviet aviation gasoline B-70 (ON 70)

                  Well, maybe Russian testers thought that high-octane gasoline burns better:) Though probably in a short summary gave a reference to the fire danger (compared with diesel engine)and nonstandard (by the standards of Soviet logistics of that time) gasoline.

                  They didn’t want to buy, this lobby of local manufacturer!:)

                • “we don’t want it” is a much fairer decision than making up something about it’s fuel.
                  Akin to the nonsense the US pulled with the T34′s air filter when they tested it.

                  I can say the R975 is not at all fragile considering the range of versions and the power extracted from later versions, though yes the big Herc is a similarly understressed design.

                • I very sincerely doubt the fuel was a major factor in the decision against ordering the thing, however much the Soviets now preferred diesels for actual combat vehicles. They just noted it as a con as usual.
                  Rather more important was probably that the whole “turreted tank destroyer” gig was kinda dubious even in the US military and produced a fair degree of pointless redundancy and confusion, and accordingly didn’t survive very long after the war. Hard to see why the Soviets would have found it desirable to *import* the whole mess in the form of a whole new AFV with all the associated additional logistical complexity, as opposed to just ordering more proper tanks with proven track records, established support infrastructre and a lot more versatility.

  1. The Soviets should have proposed improvements, like powerful diesel engine, more armour, moving the gun to the side or something to make more room for loader etc.

    But I guess again, too much effort to something the SU-100 could not accomplish double as better.

    • Different nations, different doctrine and so different priorities within a design.

      This is highlighted by the part:
      - commander’s space does not allow comfortable function, because periscope is missing and the commander is exposed to small arms fire

      Which reminds us that Soviets had a habit of fighting closed up.

  2. Oh my god… that fuel consumption…

    - on paved road 78,5 litres per hour – with average road speed of 45 km/h
    - off-road 80,5 litres per hour – 23,8 km/h average speed
    - on field with snow 130,5 litres per hour – 19,4 km/h average speed

    So it’s about 174, 338 and 670 litres per 100km (1.35, 0.7 and 0.35 MPG).
    This is insane.

    • Tanks generally have poor fuel economy. When you add in “american” in front of it… up to the 70′s large American sedans had a fuel economy of up to and above 100L to the 100.

      And this is nothing : the Abrahms has a 392 L/100 fuel economy.

      • The gas turbine probably wasn’t the brightest idea in the concept. The Soviets tried it too (in T-80 IIRC) and apparently weren’t unequivocally happy with the results.

        • TBH when it is running it outperforms all piston engines. But thats the problem, hitting fuel trucks in real combat is very easy compared to killing tanks loaded with fuel.

          All you need to do is kill light skinned trucks filled with jetfuel :)

          But the acceleration is unrivaled and we all know acceleration is much more important than high speed. Its a major advantage in fire and maneuver.

          • Eh, I dunno. Probably revealing that the two modern MBT designs that greatly emphasize agility and mobility, the Leclerc and K2, use high-spec diesel jobs with turbines only in auxiliary roles.

  3. I wonder if the Russians tested it with normal tracks or winter tracks… Also it is an air cooled airplane engine… It would suffer from the same problems as the proposed BMW Type 132 De 880PS motor for the Tiger II. High fuel consumption and difficult to transfer low torque.

  4. - offroad speed and speed on snow is limited by insufficient torque, produced by the hydromatic transformer (SS: sorry, no idea what that is)

    Torque converter. They wanted a higher stall speed, for increased torque multiplication at low speed.

    • So, is this how the designers of Hellcat coped with high horsepower? By using a torque converter? If so, there’s no wonder why German designers designed some kind of “torque converter” for GT-101 engine…

          • …I thought ‘Murican cars were all about Rated M For MANLY manual transmissions though? :/

            Then again, the fuck do I know. I don’t even drive.

            • I can’t say in percents but I think a huge majority of cars sold in murica are automatic. They don’t know how to drive manuals. Also their dicks are too short to press the brake.

  5. Imagine if WoT had a fuel consumption mechanic but adjusted to the maximum 15minutes of a round. This POS would stop after 2-3mins lol.

    You know SS you could open a new section called : failed tank designs. Or a top.

    This one would take the crown for sure.

    • But it did not fail, the Hellcat served well, through WW2 and into the 90s in some armies.
      And guys its “America”, I don’t trash talk your countries, in fact I respect them.
      Had our boys not gone to Europe, and died by the thousands, Germany, or someone else maybe still be in power, and as screwed up as this world can be, including a lot of things my country has done. It could be a lot worse, and freedom might not exist as we know it.

      Sorry for the soapbox,
      Semper Fi

      • Typical Murican thinking they single-handedly defeated the Nazis. Also a “FREEDOM” line. 10/10 Murica.

        • And there was complete freedom in the beautiful(It can be very beautiful) and glorious Soviet Union with decisions originating usually in Moscow rather then in your own country’s capital…

          America may not have single-handedly defeated the Nazi’s but we sure handed out/sold/loaned out a large proportion (if not majority) of the equipment needed to do the job.

          • America didn’t hand out the large proportion of equipment they made a killing of munitions contracts and lend lease agreements not to mention loans, don’t pretend that it was a righteous crusade, as for freedom what freedom if you quantify being a slave to capitalism as freedom false flag attacks and warmongering for profiteering as freedom then yes we are all free.

            don’t forget the victorious write the history books enjoy the spoon-fed censorship

            • Because the Marshall Plan didn’t happen or anything.
              AFAIK there was a quiet understanding the war debts would be more or less waived; not in the least owing to how well trying to collect on the *previous* ones had gone. (Short form: pretty much nobody got their monies but everyone got pissed off.)

        • Hell I never said we did it alone, that’s you putting words in my mouth.
          It took the majority of the world.

      • yeah… died by the thousands, whereas russians, englishmen and canadians died by the millions… so gtfo with your silly notion that the americans did sooo0o0o0o0o0o much… you really didnt.

        • I didn’t know we equivocate importance of victory by counting who lost more men. America did do quite a bit during WW2, and its pretty disrespectful to the men who got drafted to fight in a war who had no reason to be there by pretending their deaths and sacrifices were somehow sub par or far less important to the other nations who fought against the axis. In fact, when I see tripe like this posted on forums, it makes me wonder if the US made a mistake in helping Europe in the first place if their descendants were only going to shit all over them in the pages of history.

          • Isn’t your country the source of “cheese eating surrendering monkeys”? If so, you’d better clean your own mess before lecturing people on the internet.

            • France, historically, didn’t usually surrender; they just tended to do what the US did in the World Wars: show up late and take the credit for the victory (and I say this as an American, as in public schools at least they tend to downplay the roles of the other nations involved in the World Wars, if not ignore them entirely, though it’s mostly in regards to World War II), and in World War II they were just completely outmatched, as while having superiority in almost every way over the invading Wehrmacht, they didn’t have superiority where it counted: foresight. They planned to fight the last war, and so weren’t prepared for German Fallschirmjager (Paratroopers) capturing defensive forts in Belgium, and thus effectively crippling their defensive lines before they were in position to properly repel the invasion, and then the Blitzkrieg did the rest; by the time they surrendered it was impossible to salvage the situation – their defensive plan had been an abysmal failure and there was literally no point in continuing to fight except out of spite.

              • Eh, the German feint into the Benelux was met and held just fine despite the whole bag of problems the little countries’ reality-defying insistence on their neutrality (and the rather abrupt collapse of the Belgians’ main line of resistance) caused. The clincher was the hook through the Ardennes, or more to the point the French supreme command’s somnambulatory lack of timely reaction to it.
                Gamelin has an AWFUL lot to answer for, because if the Germans were held at Sedan they’d have been well and truly fucked.

          • pearl harbor wasn ur reason? its not like its mine country history so what do i know…

            • Pearl Harbor was our reason for going to war with Japan. The United states has always had a large interest in the Pacific, we couldn’t give 2 flippin shits about Europe, you see, we left that shit hole to come here.

              • More like America was where European states dumped their cranks, nutjobs, fanatics and surplus lower-class residuum of all stripes; the mean-spirited have been known to argue this is only too evident today.

                And good for you guys your politicians on the whole knew better than to merely contemplate the miracle of your own navel lint, whatever John Q. Public in his infinite wisdom might have preferred. The Chinese and Japanese tried that and we know how well THAT worked out.

                • And what did those cranks, nutjobs, fanatics and surplus lower-class residuum do when they got here? They created a political, economic and military powerhouse that even to this day is only rivaled by a couple of other nations in sheer might. Who said insanity had to be a bad thing?

                  Also, you kind of forgot that this wasn’t always true, as after the revolution, the UK decided to start shipping them to Australia instead. :P

                • Actually they mostly dicked around burning witches and whipping negroes for a few centuries until they eventually decided to wipe out the natives for some Lebensraum – major influx of immigrants from the by that time rather overpopulated Europe was doubtless quite helpful. After that, well.
                  When you have an entire damn continent essentially to yourself you’d kinda have to make an active effort at screwing up to *not* become a power worth noting. Just look at Russia – that place’s spent the past four-five centuries serially failing at just about *everything* expected of a modern state, but due to its sheer size and the resultant resource base it simply has to be taken into account.

                  Somewhat ironically both the Muscovite empire and the USA are, despite their wildly different histories and backgrounds, embarassingly full of stupid though. Seems to be a “thing” for really big states; smaller ones probably can’t afford that kind of dubious luxury, or at least, not without serious and usually crippling repercussions.

                  Also nobody gives a toss about those sheep rustlers and turnip thieves Down Under. ;p

          • Fighting a war that you had no reason??forgetting pearl harbour and your rage…..laughable that you believed that the axis wouldn’t have been defeated without US involvement. The tide of the war was turned air superiority was established Russia was pushing from the East Germany couldn’t replace lost equipment.

            It’s true to say that the US played their part however don’t believe the Hollywood tripe that you won the war. The war made the US a fortune the US had allied forces by the short and curlies and didn’t waste a moment in pilfering as much as they could.

            To many all action heros forgetting the real course of WW2, pick up a book and study the subject.

      • Uh, Appy? Would it be rude to point out your soapbox moment bears *no relevance whatsoever* to anything topical and basically amounts to a gratuitous outburst of RAH RAH MURICA flagwaving bullshit – ie. Exhibit A of the origin of any number of negative sterotypes?

        • This isn’t some form of RahRah, nor soap box preaching. A fool stated that the hellcat was a complete failure, a fellow stated, it was not a failure, and he was then verbally bashed for being American. Talk shit all you want, the Hellcat did its job well enough, and the Americans who fought in them did as well. Its unfortunate you must be such a smug cunt.

          • your incorrect the comment that your inferring was regarding the Hellcat never mentioned the Hellcat your incorrectly surmising that it was when the comment was regarding the design in the article which as said by SS is technically not a Hellcat meaning it is not a Hellcat.

            Jump off the soapbox read the comments correctly and stop being so defensive over a issue that needn’t have your overly sensitive reaction.

          • Pay attention to the answer branching dumbass. I commented on Appy’s *first* response to the OP, which God only knows how segued into pointless “Murica saves the world” ranting in response to the OP’s mocking of the Hellcat.

            • Perhaps it is you who should pay attention or at the very least learn to read;

              “Technically, it’s not even an M18 Hellcat. It was built by the Buick company in 1943 (its M1A1 gun, serial number 1272 was made by another plant, GM-Oldsmobile. This type vehicle was designated as M18 Hellcat in March 1944, so the vehicle in Kubinka is actually its earlier incarnation,” (sic)

              You still have the opinion that OP was mocking the Hellcat?

    • Actually the Maus would most likely be the top of that list, considering that the only thing it was good at was sinking into any sort of soft ground one tried to drive it on. XD

  6. Wow. I walked by that thing twice and never realized anything like that. Granted I thought it looked funny for a Hellcat (not comparing it to WoT, but other historical photos of M18′s). Even it’s nameplate states that it is an M18 Hellcat with the M1A1 cannon.

    Another angle of the tank at Kubinka

  7. These tests seem so far off from what US and Brit tests were im not sure this was even the same Engine or drivetrain. I mean 70 KPH top speed vs the 90+, and “Low Tourque”? Also as TQ Convertors became more advanced they became exponentially more efficient.

    Maybe this truly was a prototype/pilot/1st offering?

    Im sorry but the Hellcat was soooooo much better vs things like Tigers and Panthers and heavily armored tanks than SU`s. Su`s couldnt withstand 88mm guns either and they were much slower and needed to line up shots with no turrets and little depression.

    Imagine white knighting it in a SU76/85 and realizing shit we need to flank him. Driving with no turret to his flanks then rotating vehicle 90 degrees and hoping in all that time you aren`t sighted all while doing it much much slower and using much less terrain as cover since you are lower to ground with crap depression.

    On the other hand the Hellcat screams from point to point and can use 10 degrees depression behind a railroad crossing accelerate up or turn turret sideways, fire drive forward while sideways then fire without stopping and turning each time while being semi hulldown…..

    Sorry but unless it was an ambush Hellcat seems to be better in every way as speed and relocation are the very best things outside of magical armor, even with massive armor the shockwave killed crews.

    Hellcat and and fast turreted TD was worlds better for fighting Tigers/Panthers. Now fighting Panzer 3`s and 4`s ISU/SU had a chance to actually use there armor and that makes sense. Also vs infantry SU was probably much better…And in winter the convertible Hellcat was horribad

    • Because the big cats were totally the only threat on the battlefield you needed to worry about, right.
      By this time the Soviets were already starting to field T-34/85s which not only had rather more gun than 76mm but also enough armour to not die if any random peashooter so much as looked at them funny.
      As well as about twice the Hellcat’s operational range and no extra logistical complications.
      While the SU-85 was about to get replaced with the SU-100, which could merrily frontally take out a Panther from well over a kilometer – have fun doing that with the 76mm. (Also, protection and logistics as above.)

      No idea why you’re even mentioning the SU-76, that thing was a cheap & cheerful light assault gun for infantry support work (and very good at it too).

  8. - gunner’s space is comfortable
    - loader’s space is cramped and not comfortable
    - commander’s space does not allow comfortable function, because periscope is missing and the commander is exposed to small arms fire
    - driver’s and his helper’s space is comfortable
    - ammunition is not stowed comfortably, out of the entire set of 45 rounds, loader can easily reach only 9

    This was adorable….The USSR talking about tank comfort and or smart ammo stowage LOLOL

    Have you seen a T54/Any USSR tank lately?

    • T-54 was barely in the pipeline in ’44. And when Soviet engineers discussed “comfort” what they meant wasn’t ‘creature comforts’ but whether the ergonomics of the position allowed the crew member in question to carry out his duties efficiently.

      T-54 also came with an awful lot more gun and armour.