The M18 Hellcat was born from the need that the U.S. high command detected after observing the new combat tactics used by the Germans at the beginning of World War II. The “BlitzKrieg” (or Blitzkrieg) relied on the surprise, speed and mobility of armored divisions, concentrations of large numbers of tanks and other armored vehicles such as the world had not seen before, had achieved spectacular results in the early years of the conflict. Hence the US priority to build tank destroyer vehicles capable of destroying German tanks, one of which was the M18.
The first tank destroyer designed to engage German tanks was the M10 Destroyer, however this model proved to be somewhat slow. The M18 Hellcat was able to reach top road speeds close to 90 km/h, thanks to a weight reduction(18 tons), at the cost of reducing its armor to a minimum(from 4 to 25 mm maximum thickness) and to the new “Torqmatic” automatic suspension. The M18 was fitted with a 76 mm M1A1 main gun and a 12.72 mm Browning M2HB as a secondary weapon.
The Hellcat first entered combat in the summer of 1944, some 2,500 units were built, and its effectiveness made it the best tank destroyer designed by the United States in World War II.
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