This prolific early war tank was a key part of the Wehrmacht’s Panzer divisions even though it was never made in Germany. It’s derivatives would remain in production past the war’s end.
Join me for a look at an important light tank.
The Panzer 38(t) started as the LT-38 from Czech tank builder CKD. This was a simplification of the earlier LT-35 that CKD had built in partnership with Skoda. Once Germany took over Czechoslovakia in 1938 they assumed control of the manufacture and sales. The designation is obviously derived from the original type name and the “(t)” suffix is simply from the German word for “Czech”.
Germany was going through rapid expansion and modernization of its military at this time, and the 38(t) was to play a key role. It fit somewhere between the Panzer II and Panzer III in capability and was considered both a light and medium tank in different ways. It was about the size of the Panzer II. It’s armor was slightly heavier than the II, but Czech armor was of a slightly lower quality than German armor (more brittle). A big asset was its main gun, the Skoda 37 mm was far more powerful than the 20 mm on the Panzer II; really equal to the 37 mm on the Panzer III.
But the greatest strength of the little Czech tank was its drive train and overall reliability. With a high travel speed (over 25 mph) and reliability it could easily cover twice the distance in any given time as German types. It was also considered comfortable and simple by its crews. These features were strong enough for the platform to be developed as a tank destroyer after it was obsolete as a tank. In its final guise it was being produced for the Swiss Army until 1960.
This example is from the Tamiya kit and depicts a tank that served in the early phases of Barbarosa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union.