This video by FPSRussia features one of the fastest armored vehicles in the world – the M18 Hellcat tank destroyer.
The M18 Hellcat is an American tank destroyer of the Second World War, used in the Italian, European, and Pacific theatres, as well as in the Korean War. It was considered the fastest armored vehicle until the production of the turboshaft-powered M1 Abrams main battle tank a few decades later.
The M18 Hellcat is known for superior paved-road top operating speed. This top speed was attained by keeping the Hellcat’s armor to a minimum, which was no more than one inch thick. The tank also had roofless, open-top turrets, which was a standard design feature for all fully tracked U.S. tank destroyers of World War II.
The M18 Hellcat was one of three armored vehicles that provided respectable mobile anti-tank capability against the German armored types. The other two notable American armored vehicles in World War II were the M4 Sherman-based M10 tank destroyer and the 90mm gun-armed M36 tank destroyer.
The M18 Hellcat’s design incorporated a number of labor saving and innovative maintenance features. The Hellcat’s Wright R-975 engine was fully unitized, meaning that it was mounted on rails equipped with steel rollers. This allowed maintenance crews to disconnect the engine easily from the transmission, roll it out onto the lowered engine rear cover, service it, and then reconnect it back to the transmission. Even the transmission of the Hellcat could be easily removed and rolled out onto a front deck plate to facilitate quick inspection and repairs.
The M18 Hellcat was lighter, smaller, significantly faster, and more comfortable than the M4 Sherman and the M10 tank destroyer, both of which used heavy chassis. But even though it was lighter and smaller, the Hellcal carried the same gun as the Sherman 76 mm models.
The M18 Hellcat carried up to 45 rounds of main gun ammunition and an M2 Browning machine gun on a flexible ring mount. The Hellcat was manned by a five-man crew.