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M18 Hellcat

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M18 Hellcat

AnnoA41_M18_Hellcat.png
USA | Turreted TD | Tier VI
Battle Tier
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Overview
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Well, the ones further down, of course.
" for more information
[Client Values; Actual values in
Specifically, the mismatch in crew values caused by commander's 10% crew skill bonus. Outside of a crew of 1 commander only, 100% crew is a fiction. The client values, given for 100% crew, will normally be taken into battle with 110% crew skill members aside from specific functions, causing their actual performance to deviate from the expected client value. These differences are taken into account in tooltip boxes.
]
950,000  Credits Cost
550570 HP Hit Points
17.42/17.9520.26/21.8 t Weight Limit
Crew
  1. Commander
  2. Gunner
  3. Driver
  4. Radio Operator
  5. Loader
Mobility
350460 hp Engine Power
72/12 km/h Speed Limit
3030 deg/s Traverse
20.0922.7 hp/t Power/Wt Ratio
YesYes Pivot
Armor
12.7/12.7/12.7 mm Hull Armor
25.4/12.7/12.776.2/31.8/127 mm Turret Armor
Armament







{{#ifeq:ARMOR_PIERCING_CR|ARMOR_PIERCING||



{{#ifeq:HIGH_EXPLOSIVE|ARMOR_PIERCING||


AP/APCR/HE







{{#ifeq:ARMOR_PIERCING_CR|ARMOR_PIERCING||



{{#ifeq:HIGH_EXPLOSIVE|ARMOR_PIERCING||


AP/APCR/HE
Shells




















56/2800/56




















255/4400/255
Shell Cost
110/110/175240/240/320 HP Damage
101/157/38160/243/45 mm Penetration



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15.38 r/m 

Standard Gun

Reload Times
Nominal: 3.9 s
50% Crew: 4.83 s
75% Crew: 4.22 s
100% Crew: 3.74 s
Rammer: 3.37 s
Vents: 3.66 s
Both: 3.29 s
Both and BiA: 3.22 s
Both and Max Crew %: 3.09 s

See Crew, Consumables, or Equipment for more information.



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7.06 r/m 

Standard Gun

Reload Times
Nominal: 8.5 s
50% Crew: 10.53 s
75% Crew: 9.19 s
100% Crew: 8.15 s
Rammer: 7.34 s
Vents: 7.97 s
Both: 7.17 s
Both and BiA: 7.02 s
Both and Max Crew %: 6.73 s

See Crew, Consumables, or Equipment for more information.
Rate of Fire






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1750.1

Standard Gun

Using Shell Type 1 (110 Damage):


Theoretical Damage Per Minute
Nominal DPM: 1750.1
50% Crew: 1412.4
75% Crew: 1618.1
100% Crew: 1824.9
100% Crew
Vents: 1865.6
Rammer: 2027.3
Both: 2073.5
Both and BiA: 2119.7
Both and Max Crew %: 2211

Advantageous Damage Per Minute
First-shot DPM: 1860.1
50% Crew: 1522.4
75% Crew: 1728.1
100% Crew: 1934.9
100% Crew
Rammer: 2137.3
Vents: 1975.6
Both: 2183.5
Both and BiA: 2229.7
Both and Max Crew %: 2321

See here, here, or here for more information.

Standard Gun

Using Shell Type 2 (110 Damage):


Theoretical Damage Per Minute
Nominal DPM: 1750.1
50% Crew: 1412.4
75% Crew: 1618.1
100% Crew: 1824.9
100% Crew
Vents: 1865.6
Rammer: 2027.3
Both: 2073.5
Both and BiA: 2119.7
Both and Max Crew %: 2211

Advantageous Damage Per Minute
First-shot DPM: 1860.1
50% Crew: 1522.4
75% Crew: 1728.1
100% Crew: 1934.9
100% Crew
Rammer: 2137.3
Vents: 1975.6
Both: 2183.5
Both and BiA: 2229.7
Both and Max Crew %: 2321

See here, here, or here for more information.

Standard Gun

Using Shell Type 3 (175 Damage):
With wholly penetrating hits

Theoretical Damage Per Minute
Nominal DPM: 2784.25
50% Crew: 2247
75% Crew: 2574.25
100% Crew: 2903.25
100% Crew
Vents: 2968
Rammer: 3225.25
Both: 3298.75
Both and BiA: 3372.25
Both and Max Crew %: 3517.5

Advantageous Damage Per Minute
First-shot DPM: 2959.25
50% Crew: 2422
75% Crew: 2749.25
100% Crew: 3078.25
100% Crew
Rammer: 3400.25
Vents: 3143
Both: 3473.75
Both and BiA: 3547.25
Both and Max Crew %: 3692.5

See here, here, or here for more information.






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1694.4

Standard Gun

Using Shell Type 1 (240 Damage):


Theoretical Damage Per Minute
Nominal DPM: 1694.4
50% Crew: 1368
75% Crew: 1567.2
100% Crew: 1766.4
100% Crew
Vents: 1807.2
Rammer: 1963.2
Both: 2006.4
Both and BiA: 2052
Both and Max Crew %: 2140.8

Advantageous Damage Per Minute
First-shot DPM: 1934.4
50% Crew: 1608
75% Crew: 1807.2
100% Crew: 2006.4
100% Crew
Rammer: 2203.2
Vents: 2047.2
Both: 2246.4
Both and BiA: 2292
Both and Max Crew %: 2380.8

See here, here, or here for more information.

Standard Gun

Using Shell Type 2 (240 Damage):


Theoretical Damage Per Minute
Nominal DPM: 1694.4
50% Crew: 1368
75% Crew: 1567.2
100% Crew: 1766.4
100% Crew
Vents: 1807.2
Rammer: 1963.2
Both: 2006.4
Both and BiA: 2052
Both and Max Crew %: 2140.8

Advantageous Damage Per Minute
First-shot DPM: 1934.4
50% Crew: 1608
75% Crew: 1807.2
100% Crew: 2006.4
100% Crew
Rammer: 2203.2
Vents: 2047.2
Both: 2246.4
Both and BiA: 2292
Both and Max Crew %: 2380.8

See here, here, or here for more information.

Standard Gun

Using Shell Type 3 (320 Damage):
With wholly penetrating hits

Theoretical Damage Per Minute
Nominal DPM: 2259.2
50% Crew: 1824
75% Crew: 2089.6
100% Crew: 2355.2
100% Crew
Vents: 2409.6
Rammer: 2617.6
Both: 2675.2
Both and BiA: 2736
Both and Max Crew %: 2854.4

Advantageous Damage Per Minute
First-shot DPM: 2579.2
50% Crew: 2144
75% Crew: 2409.6
100% Crew: 2675.2
100% Crew
Rammer: 2937.6
Vents: 2729.6
Both: 2995.2
Both and BiA: 3056
Both and Max Crew %: 3174.4

See here, here, or here for more information.
Damage Per Minute


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0.41 m 

With 50% Crew: 0.508 m
With 75% Crew: 0.443 m
With 100% Crew: 0.393 m
With BiA: 0.384 m
With BiA and Vents: 0.376 m
Maximum possible: 0.361 m

For more details, see Crew


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0.35 m 

With 50% Crew: 0.434 m
With 75% Crew: 0.379 m
With 100% Crew: 0.336 m
With BiA: 0.328 m
With BiA and Vents: 0.321 m
Maximum possible: 0.308 m

For more details, see Crew
Accuracy


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1.7 s 

With 50% Crew: 2.106 s
With 75% Crew: 1.839 s
With 100% Crew: 1.63 s
With GLD: 1.482 s
With BiA: 1.594 s
With BiA and Vents: 1.559 s
With both and GLD: 1.418 s
Maximum possible: 1.359 s

For more details, see Crew or Equipment


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1.7 s 

With 50% Crew: 2.106 s
With 75% Crew: 1.839 s
With 100% Crew: 1.63 s
With GLD: 1.482 s
With BiA: 1.594 s
With BiA and Vents: 1.559 s
With both and GLD: 1.418 s
Maximum possible: 1.359 s

For more details, see Crew or Equipment
Aim time
1616 deg/s Turret Traverse
360° Gun Arc
-10°/+20°-10°/+20° Elevation Arc
4530 rounds Ammo Capacity
General
2020 % Chance of Fire






370 m 

With 50% Crew: 290.7 m
With 75% Crew: 330.4 m
With 100% Crew: 370 m
With Recon and Situational Awareness: 388.7 m
With Coated Optics: 407 m
With Binocular Telescope: 462.5 m
Maximum possible: 529.7 m

For more details, see Skills or Equipment






370 m 

With 50% Crew: 290.7 m
With 75% Crew: 330.4 m
With 100% Crew: 370 m
With Recon and Situational Awareness: 388.7 m
With Coated Optics: 407 m
With Binocular Telescope: 462.5 m
Maximum possible: 529.7 m

For more details, see Skills or Equipment
View Range


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325 m 

With 50% Crew: 262.4 m
With 75% Crew: 300.5 m
With 100% Crew: 339 m
With 100% Signal Boost: 390 m
When affected by 100% Relaying: 357.5 m
Maximum possible: 487.9 m

For more details, see Skills or Equipment


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750 m 

With 50% Crew: 605.4 m
With 75% Crew: 693.4 m
With 100% Crew: 782.2 m
With 100% Signal Boost: 900 m
When affected by 100% Relaying: 825 m
Maximum possible: 1125.9 m

For more details, see Skills or Equipment
Signal Range
Values are Stock - click for Top

Additional Statistics
(Top Configuration)

Camouflage

  • Stationary: 21.1%
  • When Moving: 12.9%
  • When Firing: 7.7%


Terrain Resistance

  • On Hard Ground: 0.96
  • On Medium Ground: 1.15
  • On Soft Ground: 2.01


Dispersion Change Values

  • Turret Contribution
  • Rotation: 0.2
  • Shot Recoil: 3.84
  • Suspension Contribution
  • Acceleration: 0.36
  • Turning: 0.36


With 100% Crew

VI

AnnoA41_M18_Hellcat.png

950000

The M18 Hellcat is an American tier 6 turreted tank destroyer.

Development started in 1942. In April 1943 the General Motors company produced the first prototypes. One of a few American tank destroyers manufactured on its original chassis, not on a tank chassis. The tank destroyer became the fastest armored vehicle, of this type, of World War II. A total of 2,507 vehicles were produced from July 1943 through October 1944.

The M18 Hellcat is a unique tank destroyer with its top speed of 72 km/h -- making it the fastest TD in the game (although historically it could go as fast as 92 km/h), and is also one of the most played tanks in World of Tanks. Armed with the high powered 90 mm AT Gun M3, the M18 Hellcat is a dangerous tank to fight. The Hellcat has negligible armor and an open turret so use your speed to avoid enemy fire or die quickly. The M18 Hellcat can scout and flank enemy positions to some degree but with the slow turret traverse speed, drivers will quickly learn it is not the best of roles. The Hellcat is very popular in tank companies along with the KV-85. In tight situations the Hellcat can be used as a scout tank, although it is not highly recommended due to the traverse speed on both its hull and turret, and the paper-thin armor.

The M18 Hellcat leads to the T25/2.

Modules / Available Equipment and Consumables

Modules

Ico_gun_alpha.png

Guns

Tier Gun Penetration
(mm)
Damage
(HP)
Rate of fire
(rounds/minute)
Dispersion
(m/100m)
Aiming time
(s)
Weight
(kg)
Price
(Credits)

V 3-inch AT Gun M7 101/157/38 110/110/175 15.79 0.41 1.7 1450 33500
VI 76 mm AT Gun M1A1 128/177/38 115/115/185 17.65 0.39 1.7 1567 50330
VI 76 mm AT Gun M1A2 128/177/38 115/115/185 19.35 0.35 1.7 1590 62000
VII 90 mm AT Gun M3 160/243/45 240/240/320 7.06 0.35 1.7 2050 81000

Ico_turret_alpha.png

Turrets

Tier Turret Turret Armor (front/sides/rear)
(mm)
Turret Traverse Speed
(deg/s)
View Range
(m)
Weight
(kg)
Price
(Credits)

V M18 M34A1 25.4/12.7/12.7 16 370 2300 9000
VI M18 M1 76.2/31.8/127 16 370 4500 16250

Ico_engine_alpha.png

Engines

Tier Engine Engine Power
(hp)
Chance of Fire on Impact
(%)
Weight
(kg)
Price
(Credits)

IV Wright Continental R-975EC2 350 20 515 10500
IV Wright Continental R-975C1 400 20 516 11000
V Wright Continental R-975C4 460 20 550 13900

Ico_suspension_alpha.png

Suspensions

Tier Suspension Load Limit
(т)
Traverse Speed
(гр/сек)
Rmin Weight
(kg)
Price
(Credits)

V M18 T67 17.95 30 0 4000 8600
VI M18 T69 21.8 30 0 4000 17000

Ico_radio_alpha.png

Radios

Tier Radio Signal Range
(м)
Weight
(kg)
Price
(Credits)

IV SCR 510 325 80 1980
VI SCR 610 420 100 24600
X SCR 619 750 80 54000


Compatible Equipment

Medium Spall Liner Camouflage Net Fill Tanks with CO2 Coated Optics Experimental Optics Wear-Resistant Gun Laying Drive Innovative Loading System Extended Spare Parts Kit Enhanced Gun Laying Drive Enhanced Torsion Bars 1 t Class Medium-Caliber Tank Gun Rammer Binocular Telescope Toolbox "Wet" Ammo Rack Class 1 

Compatible Consumables

Stabilizer Greasing Automatic Fire Extinguisher Natural Cover Optical Calibration Case of Cola Aim Tuning Experienced Firefighters 100-octane Gasoline 105-octane Gasoline Manual Fire Extinguisher Vent Purge Large First Aid Kit Large Repair Kit Duty Comes First Shell Organizer Orderly Ammo Rack Focus on Target Increased Focus Small First Aid Kit Small Repair Kit Gearbox Intricacy Steady Hand Pre-Battle Maintenance Combat Course 


Player Opinion

Pros and Cons

Pros:


  • Good damage, accuracy, aim time for its tier
  • Excellent gun depression
  • Very good camouflage values
  • Above average view range
  • High top speed


Cons:


  • HE shells are a death sentence for this TD due to an open-top turret, frontally-mounted transmission, and paper hull.
  • 2nd worst penetration of all tier 6 TDs, along with Jackson
  • Slow turret & hull traverse speed, poor speed retention & backward speed, massively worse dispersion values than Jackson
  • Mediocre acceleration with poor performance on soft ground due to high Terrain Resistance, and terrible reverse speed
  • Third worst DPM out of all tier 6 TDs, only better than the SU-100Y and ARL V39 with 90MM.


Performance

The M18 "Hellcat" is a very effective sniper and limited scout/ light skirmisher. Armed with a decent gun for its tier and provided with generous speed in exchange for being protected by something that resembles armor, use your speed, camouflage and turret to be able to fire from various locations and quickly relocate before opponents can return fire. Shoot-and-scoot tactics familiar to artillery will be very successful in avoiding fire. Do note while the Hellcat is indeed very fast, it has poor hull traverse and even worse turret traverse, equal to the M36 Jackson. Due to the M18's preferred play style, it is far more of an issue than on the M36 Jackson.

However, caution must be taken when playing with the Hellcat. Its notoriously thin armor makes high-explosive rounds extremely effective against it, especially the hull. Combined with the open-topped turret, it is the poster child for HE targets. It is also vulnerable to automatic cannons that many light tanks carry. It is also prone to module damage, and will lead to an untimely demise. The speed is also a point of caution: it may be fast in a straight line on hard ground, but it cannot reverse very quickly, turns rather sluggishly and tends to bog down on soft ground. This means that it will be harder to get out of sticky situations.

The M18 does not retain its speed during turns or when climbing up hills, since speed was derived from the lack of armor rather than a particularly powerful engine; the same engine as the T67 in a chassis that is 33% heavier. However, this does not prevent it from changing position rapidly. Use this to wreak havoc on enemy advances, as it has done in real life. By firing from multiple positions, it would be as if they were to engage a new target. Coupled with a preference to hull-down positions, this can slow down an advance considerably.

On the offensive, the 90mm AT Gun M3 can reliably engage heavy tanks one or two tiers above it, and the speed can be used to secure forward positions. The 90mm gun allows it to hold the position long enough for reinforcements to be brought up. However, some vehicles, such as the IS-3, T28 and the Tiger(P) will give the standard 90mm AP shot problems. However flanking or premium ammunition are always viable options, especially with a 72kph top speed and a potent 90mm gun.

In close combat, players have to turn turret well in advance to compensate for slow turret traverse and high speed. When you are in long range combat, use its camo factor and speed to get into advance positions where the enemy would not expect a TD to usually sit, retreating before they can overwhelm or flank you. This tank can scout if needed at the end of the round; you'll most likely be the fastest thing out there and also the deadliest. When stuck in close quarters with a heavier tank, your gun mantlet can sometimes surprisingly bounce some shells from enemy tanks. While it can hold corners down with peek-a-boo tactics, it is useless in a turning fight with a fast medium tank such as a Cromwell or Easy Eight. You will be certainly destroyed by these vehicles. Engage them at range and stick with teammates if it is likely to encounter these machines.

Do note that, like scout tanks, the Hellcat's vulnerabilities can be used as bait. Cooperate with your team to draw enemies into the line of fire, while giving your victims a nasty dose of 90mm shells too.


Early Research

  • If coming from the T67, the 76mm M1A1, top radio and top engine will carry over.
  • If coming from the M10 Wolverine, the 76mm M1A2 and 2nd engine will carry over.
  • Top engine also carries over from the scout line, the Shermans and the M7 Priest.
  • Top radio also carries over from the SPGs.
  • Top gun carries over from the M36 Jackson.
  • Research priority should be M1A2 (if coming from T67) or top engine (if coming from the M10), followed by tracks, turret, 90mm gun and finally radio.


Suggested Equipment


Camouflage Net Binocular Telescope Medium-Caliber Tank Gun Rammer 


Gallery

Historical Info

The 76 mm Gun Motor Carriage (GMC) M18 was an American tank destroyer of World War II. The manufacturer, Buick, gave it the nickname "Hellcat" and it was the fastest tracked armored fighting vehicle during the war with a top speed up to 60 mph.[1] Hellcat crews took advantage of the vehicle's speed to protect against hits to its thin armor. Many German Panther and Tiger tanks were destroyed because they could not turn their turrets fast enough to return fire.

Development

From the “Buick at its Battle Stations” booklet. Post-production field test.

In December 1941, the Ordnance Corps issued a requirement for the design of a fast tank destroyer using a Christie suspension, the Wright/Continental R-975 engine, and a 37 mm gun. In light of experience gained in North Africa, the 37 mm gun was found to be inadequate and the design was changed to use a British 57 mm gun. During the development process, the design was further upgunned to a 75 mm gun, and then finally to the 76 mm gun. The Christie suspension requirement was also dropped, and replaced with a torsion bar suspension. The design was standardized in February 1943 and production began in July 1943. As a new design, the M18 incorporated several innovative maintenance features. The Wright R-975 engine was mounted on steel rollers, which permitted it to be disconnected from the transmission, rolled out onto the lowered engine rear cover, serviced and then reconnected to the vehicle. Similarly, the transmission could be removed and rolled out onto a front deck plate to allow inspection and repairs. The T70 prototype for the M18 first saw combat at Anzio, Italy, and production versions of the M18 were used in North-West Europe and Italy from the summer of 1944 onwards. In contrast to the M10 tank destroyer, which used the chassis of the M4 Sherman, the M18 Hellcat was designed from the start to be a fast tank destroyer. As a result it was smaller, lighter, and significantly faster, but carried the same gun as the Sherman 76 mm models. The M18 carried a five-man crew as well as 45 rounds of main gun ammunition, and an M2 Browning machine gun on a flexible ring mount for use against aircraft and infantry.

The main disadvantages of the M18 were its very light armor, and the inconsistent performance of its 76 mm gun against the frontal armor of later German designs such as the Tiger and Panther. The open-topped turret (a characteristic which it shared with the M10) left the crew exposed to snipers, grenades, and shell fragments. The doctrinal priority of high speed at the cost of armor protection thus led to an unbalanced design. The problem of the main gun performance was remedied with High Velocity Armor Piercing (HVAP) ammunition late in the war, which allowed the 76 mm gun to achieve greater frontal armor penetration, but this was never available in quantity.
Early protoype T70

While the M18 was capable of high road speeds this attribute was difficult to use successfully in combat, but along with the high top speed was a commensurate ability to accelerate rapidly and change direction rather quickly. Although sustained travel at road speeds was hardly ever used outside of the Allied response during the Battle of the Bulge, most Hellcat crews found the higher speeds especially useful in a sprint to flank German tanks, which had relatively slow turret traverse speeds, and such maneuvering allowed the tank destroyer crew a shot instead into the enemy's thinner side or rear armor. In general, Hellcat crews were complimentary of their vehicle's performance and capabilities, but did complain that the open top created a cold interior in the Northern European winter of 1944-45. This problem was not helped by the fact that the air-cooled engine pulled a percentage of its cooling air through the crew compartment, creating in effect, a large armour plated refrigerator. It was not designed to do so, but it proved impossible to seal off the crew compartment entirely from engine induced drafts.

The only M18 variant which was produced in significant numbers was the M39 Armored Utility Vehicle, a turretless variation used to transport personnel or cargo or as a gun tractor. This version was armed with a single M2 machine gun on a flexible mount. 650 early production M18s were converted into M39s by removing the turret and fitting seats for up to eight men in the open fighting space. M39s saw combat during the Korean War, primarily as armored personnel carriers and munitions carriers, and were finally declared obsolete on February 14, 1957. About 100 M39s were transferred to the West German Bundeswehr in 1956, where they were used to train the reestablished Panzergrenadier armored infantry units. The M18 continued in production until October 1944, when the war was nearing its end. 2,507 had been produced by that time, at a unit cost of $57,500. Though all tank destroyer units were disbanded by the U.S. after the war, surplus M18s continued to see limited service.

Combat Performance

Company A, 637th TD Battalion at Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides islands
The M18 served primarily in Western Europe, but was also present in the Pacific. Upon the American entry into the war in 1941, it had begun to supply China with AFVs including later the M18 Hellcats which along with M3 Stuarts, and M4 Shermans, trickled in through Burma and formed part of the several well-equipped, well-trained armies that the Chinese Nationalists could deploy. These units were responsible for stopping numerous Japanese attacks during the later phases of the war. However, due to the comparative rarity and poor quality of Japanese armor it was often used in a fire support role instead of as a tank destroyer. On September 19, 1944, in the Nancy Bridgehead near Arracourt, France, the 704th Tank Destroyer Battalion was attached to the 4th Armored Division. Lt. Edwin Leiper led one M18 platoon of C Company to Rechicourt-la-Petite, on the way to Moncourt. He saw a German tank gun muzzle appearing out of the fog 30 feet away, and deployed his platoon. In a five minute period, five German tanks of the 113 Panzer Brigade were knocked out for the loss of one M18. The platoon remained in their position and destroyed ten more German tanks, with the loss of another two M18s. One of the platoon's M18s, commanded by Sgt Henry R. Hartman, knocked out six of these and lived to fight another day. Most of these knocked-out German tanks were Panthers. The M18 Hellcat was a key element during World War II in the Battle of the Bulge. On December 19–20, the 1st Battalion of the 506th PIR, was ordered to support Team Desobry, a battalion-sized tank-infantry task force of the 10th Armored Division (United States) assigned to defend Noville located north-northeast of both Foy and of Bastogne just 4.36 miles (7 km) away. With just four M18 tank destroyers of the 705th Tank Destroyer Battalion to assist, the paratroopers attacked units of the 2nd Panzer Division, whose mission was to proceed by secondary roads via Monaville (just northwest of Bastogne) to seize a key highway and capture, among other objectives, fuel dumps—for the lack of which the overall German counter-offensive faltered and failed. Worried about the threat to its left flank in Bastogne, it organized a major joint arms attack to seize Noville. Team Desobry's high speed highway journey to reach the blocking position is one of the few documented cases wherein the legendary top speed of the M18 Hellcat (55 miles per hour (89 km/h), faster than today's M1A2 Abrams) was actually used to get ahead of an enemy force as envisioned by its specifications.
Anzio, Italy, May 1944

The attack of 1st Battalion and the M18 Hellcat tank destroyers of the 705th TD Battalion near Noville together destroyed at least 30 German tanks and inflicted 500 to 1000 casualties on the attacking forces, in what amounted to a spoiling attack. A Military Channel historian credited the M18 destroyers with 24 kills, including several Tiger tanks, and believes that in part, their ability to "shoot and scoot" at high speed and then reappear elsewhere on the battlefield and therefore appear to be another vehicle entirely played a large part in confusing and slowing the German attack, which subsequently stalled, leaving the Americans in possession of the town overnight. The Hellcat, due to its 76mm gun, had major difficulty penetrating the glacis of Panther tanks. Due to the almost absent armor of the Hellcat and its use of high flash powder the Hellcat made a relatively easy target for German tank crews. Tank destroyers, in contrast to the pre-war doctrine governing their deployment, came to attack enemy armour from long range from an ambush position, acting in essence like self-propelled anti-tank guns. The Hellcat had a gun that could penetrate roughly 88mm at 1000 m. The average combat range noted by the Americans for tank vs. tank action was around 800m to 900m. This was just enough to penetrate a Panzer IV frontally, a tank designed in 1939. If facing a Panther, a Hellcat would be facing a tank with roughly 140mm of line-of-sight armor frontally. Hypothetically, if the Soviet Union decided to invade the rest of Europe during the war, the Hellcat would face the IS-2 with a glacis of roughly 200mm line of sight armor.

Tank Destroyer Doctrine

Irsch, Germany
American prewar armored doctrine was based on using tanks solely in a support and exploitation role, usually in conjunction with infantry. Tank destroyers, such as the Hellcat, were to be used against tanks. To this end the Hellcat was not intended to engage in protracted combat, and had light armor and extremely high speeds to quickly respond to breakthroughs in the line by German armor. In reality, the opposite was true, as the attacks with the Sherman ran into defending German tanks far more often than intended. In Italy, TDs compensated for a shortage of 155mm artillery ammunition by using their 3 inch or 76mm guns in indirect fire role. Near the end of the war, there were so few German tanks that tank destroyers were increasingly used as self-propelled artillery in support of infantry for lack of any other targets. The Hellcat was theoretically supposed to be used independently as a sort of mobile anti-tank gun, brought up from reserves to buffer an incoming armored thrust. In practice a TD battalion was assigned nearly permanently to a division. The doctrine of the time had Shermans acting in support of infantry to break enemy defenses, and then leading the attack with infantry in support during exploitation. Prewar expectation was that all anti-tank work was supposed to be done by tank-destroyer crews, because attacking tanks could concentrate against a small part of a defending line. Independent TDs groups were to counter concentrate, to stop enemy tanks from penetrating deeply. Speed was essential in order to bring the Hellcats from the rear to destroy incoming tanks. Obviously this would make it harder for an armored force to achieve a deep breakthrough, a main objective of armor, if the enemy had tanks. It would also be easier for an opposing armored force to achieve a local breakthrough against an American tank battalion which would not have all of its anti-tank assets at the front during the beginning of any attack. Thankfully, for Sherman crews, this doctrine was not entirely used as it would create a small window of time of weakness in the armored battalion until tank destroyers moved to the front. TD battalions assigned to front line divisions often split up to companies attached to regiments, and platoons attached to infantry battalions. When so attached, defending TD units supplemented organic antitank weapons (bazookas and 57mm towed guns).
Okinawa on the Shuri Line in May 1945. Note .30 cal

Post War

After World War II, many M18s were given to other countries. These were rebuilt and refurbished by Brown & Root in northern Italy in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and bear data plates that indicate those rebuilds. One of the users was Yugoslavia, which kept them in reserve until the early 1990s. A number of these vehicles were later used by the Military of Serbian Krajina and Army of Republika Srpska during the Yugoslav wars. One example was used on an armored train named the Krajina Ekspres (Krajina Express). Taiwan also operated several M18s until their chassis and hulls were worn out, at which point the turrets were salvaged and installed onto surplus hulls of M42 Duster anti-aircraft vehicles to produce Type 64 light tanks.

Variants

  • 105 mm Howitzer Motor Carriage T88: M18 with the 76 mm gun replaced with a 105 mm T12 howitzer; canceled after the end of the war.
  • 90 mm Cannon Motor Gun Carriage : M18 with the 76 mm gun replaced with a 90 mm Cannon; canceled after the end of the war
  • 76 mm Gun Motor Carriage T86 (Amphibious): M18 with a specially-designed flotation hull, using its tracks for water propulsion.
  • 76 mm Gun Motor Carriage T86E1 (Amphibious): Same as T86, but with the addition of propellers for propulsion.
  • 105 mm Howitzer Motor Carriage T87 (Amphibious): This model had the 105 mm T12 howitzer of the T88, and like the T86, used its tracks for water propulsion.
All work on the three amphibious models was canceled after the end of the war.


Historical Gallery

Historical Accuracy Errata

The following are consensus errors or inconsistencies which have been identified with the configuration of the vehicle in question and conflict with information available on the public record. The causes for these divergences in the game are normally not disclosed and may be rooted in game balance.

The 76mm Gun Motor Carriage M18 variant of the Hellcat had an actual top speed of 92 kph, making it one of THE most mobile tanks of WW2.
  • One of its historical armaments, the 105 mm T12 howitzer, is missing. This configuration was known as the 105 mm Howitzer Motor Carriage T88.


Sources and External Links

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