824th TD Battalion M18 Hellcat (SOC)

M18 Hellcat

In March, 1945, the battalion was reequipped with the M-18 “Hellcat” tank destroyer. This vehicle packed considerable offensive punch with its 76mm main gun, but depended on exceptional speed and mobility—rather than good armor protection—for its battlefield survivability. Like its heavier cousins, the M10 and M36 tank destroyers, its turret was open-topped, to facilitate maximum observation for the commander and crew at the long ranges at which engagements with enemy tanks were envisioned by the designers. Unfortunately, it also meant that the turret crews were vulnerable to shrapnel from above. Fortunately, by the time the 824th was attached to the 100th Infantry Division, the days of fighting in the heavily-forested Vosges were all but over, and the race into Germany was on. Still, open-topped vehicles were vulnerable to attack from above when fighting in urban environments, and this was a definite consideration during the fighting for Heilbronn, in which elements of the 824th played a major role in the first half of April 1945.

M18 Hellcat

Height: 8.33 feet
Width: 9.1 feet
Length: 17.5 feet
Weight: 19.5 tons

Combat radius (how far one can go on a tank of gasoline): 150 miles (road); 105 miles cross-country.

  Front: .5 inches
  Side: .5 inches
  Turret Front: .75 inches
  Turret Side: .5 inches
  Mantlet (Armored shield on front of turret): .5 inches

Maximum Speed: 45 mph (road)

  Main Gun: 76mm M1A1 Muzzle velocity: 2,600 feet per second
  Anti-aircraft Machine Gun: .50-caliber

(All data from Aberdeen Proving Ground Series)