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Countdown to Bagration: the tanks of Bagration – Hungarian Zrinyi II

by on August 17, 2012

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Following the success of assault guns on the World War II Eastern Front, the Hungarians developed their own model, based on the chassis of the Turán tank. There were two designs, the 44M Zrínyi I, incorporated a long 43M 75mm gun, but it did not pass the prototype stage. The 40/43M Zrínyi II was armed with a 40M 105mm L/20 howitzer.The Zrínyi II design was a traditional infantry support vehicle. The Zrínyi I was hoped to fulfill an anti-tank role.Between 40 and 66 Zrínyi II units were produced between August 1943 and July 1944 and a single Zrínyi I prototype. There is only one surviving Zrínyi II in the Kubinka tank museum near Moscow.

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ZRINYI II was lower, than the StuG III. Hungarian assault gunners liked it and shot a lot of Soviet tanks and assault guns out with their Zrínyi’s. It had two problems: Zrínyi’s had welded armour and the gun’s barrel was short (the muzzle velocity of the howitzer’s shell wasn’t enough for a firefight against Soviet heavy tanks over 1 km). However, they had firefights at long distances very rarely, and the 105 mm AT shell against Soviet tanks was very effective. The Soviets had to sacrifice 3-4 armored vehicles for one Zrínyi. It was an excellent vehicle for ambushes and for escorting attacking infantry.

The Zrinyi assault howitzer used a 105mm howitzer on a Turan chassis. The tank bears a striking resemblance to the Italian Semoventi with the 105/25 gun. Proposed manufacturing had the Zrinyi to be armed with the long barreled 75mm as well. The manufacturer was Manfred Weisz of Cspel and MAVAG of Dios-Gyor. Modifications included the addition of side skirts to deflect hollow charge anti-tank weapons in 1944. The Hungarians seeing the successes of the German Sturmgeschutz in the East, made the production of an assault gun a very high priority. This was especially true after the disastrous debut of the Turan tanks of the 2nd Hungarian Army. Two versions were planned – the Zrinyi I, armed with a long-barreled 76mm anti-tank gun; and the Zrinyi II, armed with a 105mm howitzer. They chose the name Zrinyi to honor Nikolaus Graf Zrinyi, a Hungarian national hero who fought the Turks, and was killed in the battle of Szigetvar in 1566. A total of eight assault battalions were planned, each with thirty vehicles, to be used as an independent army or corps for the support of infantry divisions.

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As a basis, the Turan medium tank was utilized. It’s engine, suspension and basic chassis were identical to the Turan. The chassis did have to be widened by .45m to make room for the armament. In 12/42, the Manfred Weisz company had already finished a prototype of the Zrinyi II with a 105mm 40/43M howitzer made by MAVAG Dios-Gyor. The howitzer was a modified version of the MAVAG developed 105mm 40M towed howitzer. This weapon was known to provide good performance against the Soviet T-34.

The Zrinyi II prototype was taken to the artillery range at Hajmasker in western Hungary. It went through tests between 12/12/42 to 1/20/43. After these tests proved successful, the vehicle was accepted for production and was designated 43M Zrinyi II assault howitzer. It was later redesignated 43M Zrinyi 105 assault gun.

The Zrinyi I used the same modified chassis and engine as the 105mm-armed version, but it mounted the MAVAG Dios-Gyor developed 75mm 43M (L/43) anti-tank gun that was developed for the Turan III. Development initiated in 5/43, but a prototype was not completed until the winter of 1943-44. Production was planned for 6/44 at manfred Weisz and Ganz. Service designation for this type was 44M Zrinyi I assault gun. A contract was placed at Manfred Weisz for 40 Zrinyi vehicles. The number was later raised to 104 vehicles to be built by Manfred Weisz and Ganz, 54 each in 1943 and 50 in 1944. The first Zrinyi IIs arrived by 8/43. A total of 60 of the Zrinyi II were produced by Manfred Weisz before production halted in 7/44. Production of the Zrinyi I was never initiated, and a single prototype was used for trials only.

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Crew: 4     Armament: One 105mm howitzer and one 8mm machine gun.

Speed: 26.72mph   Engine: 260 hp Manfred Weisz V8 water cooled engine.    Fuel: 117.6 gallons.

Armor: 13mm minimum to 75mm maximum.  Ground clearance: 14.96 inches.  Range: 136.7 miles.

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From → Flames of War

6 Comments
  1. The Zrinyi II is a really ugly tank, but as posted above, it was also a very well designed tanks for the most part. Of particular note was that the Soviets had to sacrifice 3-4 soviet tanks for one Zrinyi II to be taken out.

  2. It looks like it should be a slow tank with a speed of 26.72-

  3. 26.72mhp is faster than the 40kph that the Stug III was capable of at max speed. 40kph = 24.85mhp.

  4. Early models of the Panther were about 29mhp and later models were around 34mhp. The Tiger I moved around 24mhp. So really, the Tiger I should technically move at medium speed, but for FoW game balance, it moves as a heavy. Even the IS-2 could move 23 mhp. However, the other thing to consider is that most of the heavy tanks have really large guns with very long barrels and no stabilizers, so are very nearly ineffective at moving and shooting on the move, particularly at full speed.

  5. Ah I was looking at it as Kph, my bad. I was thinking that’s hella slow!

  6. *nods* I also meant to add in my last comment – tanks like this Zrinyi II assault gun and the Stug III assault gun could be more effective at moving up and firing, at least at infantry, as they have much shorter barrels and the gun is more stable being connected (or almost entirely inside of the Zrinyi II) and thus could be brought to firing position more quickly. So because in fow you can move and then shoot a tank, perhaps we can imagine that elements like this are being taken into account in terms of how much a tank can move.

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