The M18 Hellcat. A marker image by @matreshka_ulu for All Pyrenees

The M18 Hellcat (officially designated the 76 mm Gun Motor Carriage M18 or M18 GMC) is a tank destroyer that was used by the United States Army in World War II and the Korean War. Despite being equipped with the same main gun as some variants of the much larger Sherman tank, the M18 attained a much higher top speed of up to 55 mph (89 km/h) by keeping armor to a minimum, and using the innovative Torqmatic automatic transmission.

The M18 Hellcat was the culmination of the development of various prototypes of fast tank destroyers dating back to 1941. Entering production in summer 1943, the M18 first saw combat service in spring 1944. The M18 served primarily in Western Europe, but was also present in smaller numbers in Italy and the Pacific. Production continued until October 1944, with 2,507 built.

The Hellcat was the most effective U.S. tank destroyer of World War II. It had a higher kill-to-loss ratio than any other tank or tank destroyer fielded by U.S. forces in World War II.

The M18 Hellcat was an example of the balancing act between firepower, armor, and mobility in armored fighting vehicle design. Despite its excellent mobility and reasonably powerful main gun, the M18 Hellcat also had drawbacks, including thin armor and a poor high explosive shell for its main gun. Historian Steven J. Zaloga characterized the overall design of the M18 as “poorly balanced” and stated that “the Hellcat’s combat record is attributable to the training and dedication of its crews, not to its ill-conceived design.”

Manufacturer: Buick Motor Division of General Motors

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