1944 Buick M-18 Hellcat Tank Destroyer

When it entered the battlefields of Europe in the summer of 1944, the M-18 Hellcat was the latest in tank destroyer technology. The M-18 was designed to be lightweight and fast. It waited to ambush enemy tanks and shoot them from behind, where their armor was thinnest. The big 76 mm main gun proved effective against enemy tanks.

Its light weight (20 tons) allowed the M-18 to reach speeds of up to 50 miles per hour. By contrast, the American M4 Sherman and the German Tiger II could only reach speeds of 24 mph. What the Hellcat gained in speed, it lacked in protective armor. The front of the turret measures only one inch thick. The front of the Sherman turret was nearly four inches thick and the Tiger II was seven inches.

Like most tank destroyers, the M-18 used an open turret design, which allowed the gunners a better view of the battlefield. The open top, however, exposed the crew to small arms fire. Regardless, the M-18 remained an effective combat vehicle. In fact, the 630th Tank Destroyer Battalion reported destroying 53 German tanks and 15 self propelled guns with a loss of only 17 M-18s.


Crew: 5
Year: 1944
Make: Buick
Model: M-18 Hellcat Tank Destroyer
Weight: 40,000 lbs
Length: 21'10" with gun
Length: 17' 4" without gun
Height: 8'5"
Width: 9'9"
Ground Clearance: 14'
Armament: 76 mm gun
Armor thickness: 12 millimeters, 25 millimeters at front of turret
Engine: Continental nine cylinder rotary engine, Gasoline powered.
Total Production: 2,507

DSCF1119 DSCF1123 DSCF1115

© 2024 Flint Institute of Science and History. All Rights Reserved.