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|© Michal Derela, 2007-2009||Updated: 1. 9. 2009 - added Survivors section, improvements, added pictures|
|Captured TKS tankettes gathered by the Germans in 1939 (note a signal flag).||[photo Hugo Jaeger]|
This page contains description of the Polish tankettes TK (TK-3) and TKS (camouflage, armament, armour, technical description, specifications), list of survivors and a modelling section. For their development and production models - see Part I.
|The TKS in the early camouflage, displayed in Estonia in 1934.|
Between 1932 and 1936, the Polish armoured vehicles used an early camouflage scheme, commonly called: "the Japanese camouflage" in Poland. Its normative source has not been found in archives so far, therefore there are some doubts concerning the colours used. According to the newest research, basing on examination of museal items, it consisted of big irregular patches of yellowish sand, olive green and light blue-gray, separated with thin black stripes; blue-gray being the lightest shade. Traditional publications commonly quoted dark brown colour instead of blue-gray, and considered sand the lightest shade[1,3,10]. There was a standard pattern of patches initially (seen on TKS here), but many tanks featured different patterns or had some colours inverted. The interior was blue-gray, inner surfaces of hatches were camouflaged.
Before an introduction of the "Japanese" camouflage, five "iron" TK-3 of the first series were experimentally painted in black and white patches, five in blue-gray overall and five in yellow and green patches .
|TK-3 tankettes in the early camouflage, with tactical signs (left - the 2nd platoon's commander, right - the 1st platoon's tankette).|
|TKS tankettes in the early camouflage (left: tested in Estonia - note camouflaged hatches).|
|Late production TKS in the new camouflage (late variant), funded by the workers of Ursus works in 1938. [AJ, 6]|
From 1936 on there was a new standard three-colour camouflage scheme introduced for all the Polish military vehicles. It consisted of irregular patches of greyish sand and dark brown (sepia) airbrushed over a base color of olive-green. The patches had soft transitions, their shapes were mainly horizontal, often close to rectangular or rhomboid. There was not any standard pattern of patches, although the patterns used were similar (the instruction gave example views of front and right side of the TKS only). Often the patches created a kind of a chessboard, especially on late series vehicles. Transitions between colours are often inconspicuous on black and white photos. An interior was painted sand, including hatches.
Almost all tankettes were repainted in the new camoflage in the late 1930s, only some of tankettes used as armoured draisines of armoured trains and possibly some training vehicles remained in the old camouflage in September 1939 (like this TKS from an armoured train, captured by the Germans).
|Left: TK-3 in the early camouflage. Right: a cannon-armed TKS in the final standard camouflage. Copyright © Thierry Vallet - Kameleon Profils - courtesy by Thierry Vallet.|
|Drawings of TKS and a cannon-armed TKS in the standard camouflage. A camouflage layout on the TKS (left) is based upon the instruction. Copyright © Thierry Vallet - Kameleon Profils - courtesy by Thierry Vallet.|
|Examples of TK-3 and TKS in the standard camouflage, author Adam Jońca . Note, that these drawings are quite old, and may not represent a layout of patches accurately.|
|Three TKS in an early camouflage during exercises, with tactical signs of the 1st platoon. From the left: the platoon commander, the 2nd in command and a platoon's tank. [AJ]|
From the early 1930s until 1939, the Polish armoured vehicles carried no nationality signs in any form. Before the war, there were used tactical signs of metal sheet attached for training purpose - discs (the 1st platoon), triangles (the 2nd) or squares (the 3rd). The signs were white with a vertical red stripe for a platoon commander, or with a small red disc, triangle or square inside for the 2nd in command. Squadron commanders had a sign of a triangle in a circle in a square (example). Their colors could also be inverted.
In September 1939, the tankettes generally carried no insignia at all. Usage of any insignia was forbiden in case of war by the regulation from 1938, nonetheless there are several photos known of tankettes captured in September 1939, still carrying tactical signs. The photos from 1939 also show a few cases of unofficial unit and possibly individual insignia painted on tankettes (Pomerania's Griffon for TK-3s of the 81st Armoured Unit, arrows for TK-3 of an unknown unit, rocking horse - possibly on a tank of the 10th Cavalry Brigade, and one photo of a sword-armed hand on TK-3). Four-digit registration numbers were painted on front plates only until 1936, then registration plates with new numbers were carried inside.
See a gallery of a museal TKS in a camouflage according to the 1937 manual.
|The German-captured TK-3 tanketes in 1939. Left: a symbolic comparison of the tankette with the German tanks PzKpfw-IV and PzKpfw-II. It carries a sign of the 2nd in command of the 3rd platoon, of an unknown unit (note, that squadrons and companies in 1939 were two-platoon).|
On the right, unique color photo of the TK-3 by Hugo Jaeger. The tankette carries a mysterious sign of a hand armed with a sword.
|German-captured TK-3 tanketes in 1939, with evident standard camouflage and an arrow insignia, of an unknown unit.|
|The TKS in an early camouflage (non-standard patches) with the wz.25 machine gun on an anti-aircraft pivot, shown to Estonian officers in 1934. The tankette is from the early series (with four-part commander's hatch without an observation periscope). Note MG telescopic sight and leather straps on hatches. [AJ]|
Serial TK and TKS tankettes were armed with one 7.92mm Hotchkiss wz.25 machine gun, mounted in a front plate, before a commander/gunner. It was a standard machine gun of the Polish armoured vehicles.
In the TK, the machine gun was mounted on a pivot behind a drum armoured cover, which was turning horizontally with a weapon. Horizontal angle of fire was 40°. Vertical angle of fire was 50°, after opening gunner's observation hatch with an upper cover of the machine gun. The machine gun had standard open sights only. Ammunition was 1800 rounds, in 120-round belts (in 15 cases).
In the TKS, the machine gun was mounted in an universal ball mounting, with telescopic sights. Horizontal angle of fire was 48°, vertical angle of fire was -15 +20°. Ammunition was 1920 rounds, in 120-round belts (in 16 cases, one case being attached to the machine gun).
On both sides of the TK superstructure, and right side of the TKS superstructure, there was a pivot anti-aircraft mount for the wz.25 MG. It could be used only from the outside of a parked vehicle, after dismounting a weapon from the inside. There is no information if it found any practical usage. TK-3 tankettes fitted with radio, used as armoured draisines, had this pivot only on the left side, moved to the rear corner plate. Apart from the gun, 2.5 kg of explosives were carried.
Armour of rolled plates, thickness: (thicker plates were vertical)
|TK-3:||6 - 8 mm||8 mm||6 - 8 mm||3 - 4 mm||4 - 7 mm|
|TKS:||6 - 10 mm||5 - 8 mm||5 - 8 mm||3 - 6 mm||4 mm|
|TKS late:||8 - 10 mm||8 - 10 mm||8 - 10 mm||3 - 6 mm||5 mm|
|Armour thickness of a basic production TKS (base drawing: , data: ).|
|Front view of the TK (left) and the TKS (right). |
|Rear view of the TK (left) and the TKS (right). Note a towing hook with springs and a tactical sign on the TK. |
|Main units of the TKS suspension: the suspension frame and bogies with the main semi-elliptical leaf spring, from a manual [1,6,8]. The TK-3 suspension was very similar.|
|An original cross-section of the TK3 [1,10]|
|Up and below: an original cross-section of the TKS, from a manual . See drawings with descriptions|
Chassis: on each side of the vehicle there were four road wheels, rubber rimmed, blocked in two two-wheel bogies, sprung with a pair of semi-elliptical leaf springs in each bogie. Bogies were moving up and down in runners of a suspension frame, and were sprung with a main semi-elliptical leaf spring, fixed centrally to the hull side (it was the main improvement over the Carden-Loyd suspension). A sprocket wheel was in front. At the rear there was an idler wheel, mounted on a suspension frame, with a tension adjustment mechanism. On each side there were 4 return rollers, mounted on an upper frame. The suspension of TK and TKS was similar, but differed in details, mainly in mounting of the idler wheel and a shape of a front frame connector (no. 3 on a drawing on the right).
Tracks: metal, single-pin: TK-3 - width 140 mm, pitch 45 mm, TKF and TKS - width 170 mm, pitch 45 mm (?), average length 124-125 links.
Hull was of armour plates, screwed to a frame. A major part of the hull was taken by a common combat compartment, containing also an engine and transmission. A driver's seat was on the left, a commander/gunner's seat on the right. The seats were separated with the engine and a gearbox before it. In front part of the hull there were drive gears with a differential mechanism, under two service hatches. Behind a driver there was a vertical water radiator with a fan behind it, under a rear housing. Behind a commander there was a fuel tank and, in a rear, a battery (under a right rear service hatch). A cooling air was drawn through a radiator from a crew compartment and, in need, from a small bottom hatch before the radiator (40x15 cm in TKS; this hatch was also used to operate mechanisms in case of usage as an armoured draisine). The air came out by a grill in a left rear service hatch. Under this hatch there was a shaft for emergency starting the engine by crank (the crank was carried in a battery compartment). The cooling air also came out by a mesh above the fan housing and, in need, by a small rectangular hatch in the rear bottom vertical plate (operated by the driver; the TKS had a wider hatch).
In the upper part of the superstructure, there were observation hatches around the vehicle (first series TK-3 had two observation hatches on each side, later series had one hatch one each side). On all the flat roof above the compartment there was a common, wide, four-part hatch (TK-3) or two individual hatches, four-part above a driver and three-part above a commander (TKS. The earliest series without a periscope had two four-part hatches). The hatches had pairs of leather straps attached underneath and above for handling.
In the TKS, the driver's front observation hatch had a vision slot with a periscope. In the TK-3 there were simple observation hatches without vision slots, the same for TKS side hatches (they could be raised leaving a slot). In the TKS, starting from the 54th tank, the commander had the Gundlach's reversible periscope(W) for all-round observation, some were retro-fitted with it later. Tankettes were not fitted with a radio, except for some tankettes used as armoured draisines (they had batteries in outside boxes, on front or rear fenders, and had a folding pole aerial on the right side). Signaling in a platoon was carried out by colour flags. The TK3 had 6V electric wiring, the TKS - 12V. The TK-3 had a single headlight on the left of the superstructure or a detachable searchlight, the TKS had a detachable searchlight only (usually not seen on photos). Both tankettes had a single red light at the rear, on the left.
Engine: petrol, inline, 4-stroke, water-cooled:
Transmission: multi-disc dry main clutch; mechanical gearbox - 3 (TK-3) or 4 (TKS) gears forward, 1 reverse (TK-3 had a reducer multiplying number of gears). Differential steering mechanism with band brakes; side drives. Turns were made by braking one track, using a steering wheel, connected with brakes. Fuel tank - 60l (TK3) or 69l (TKS)
|A color cross-section of the TKS, by Janusz Magnuski |
|Empty weight||2430 kg||2570 kg (later series 2650 kg)|
|Length||2.58 m||2.58 m|
|Width||1.78 m||1.78 m|
|Height||1.32 m||1.32 m|
|Ground clearance||30 cm||33 cm|
|Track width||14 cm||17 cm|
|Distance between track centres||147.5 cm||145 cm|
|Track length||127 cm||127 cm|
|Max. speed on road||46 km/h||40 km/h|
|Road / off-road range||200 / 100 km||180 / 110 km|
|Water depth||50 cm||50 cm|
|trench width||120 cm||100 cm|
|Power to weight||16.5 KM/t||15 KM/t|
|Ground pressure||0.56 kg/cm²||0.43 kg/cm²|
|Turn radius||240 cm|
|Fuel consumption on road (off road)||28 (60) l/100 km||38 (70) l/100 km|
From among tankettes captured by the enemies, several survived until now, more or less incomplete (for many years only two vehicles, in museums in Sweden and Yugoslavia, were known). None survived in Poland - only in the first decade of the 21st century three incomplete vehicles returned home from the abroad and were next reconstructed in Poland. Existing vehicles are:
We will be grateful for supplementing information and comments on models.1/72:
1. Janusz Magnuski, "Karaluchy przeciw panzerom"; Pelta; Warsaw 1995
2. Leszek Komuda, "Przeciwpancerne tankietki" in: "Militaria" Year 1 Nr. 3 and Nr. 4.
3. Adam Jońca, Rajmund Szubański, Jan Tarczyński, "Wrzesień 1939 - Pojazdy Wojska Polskiego - Barwa i broń"; WKL; Warsaw 1990.
6. "Czołg rozpoznawczy TK-S", Militaria i Fakty nr. 31 (6/2005)
7. "Czołg rozpoznawczy TK-S cz.2", Militaria i Fakty nr. 33 (2/2006)
8. "Opis i wskazówki obsługi czołga TK-S", PZInż. Biuro Studiów, 1935 (Army manual)
9. Janusz Magnuski, "Czołg rozpoznawczy TKS (TK)"; TBiU nr. 36; Wydawnictwo MON; Warsaw 1975
10. Zbigniew Lalak, "Czołg rozpoznawczy TK3 / Reconnaissance tank TK3" in Z. Lalak, T. Basarabowicz, R. Sawicki, M. Skotnicki, P. Żurkowski "Pojazdy II wojny światowej (tom 2) / Military Vehicles of WW2, part 2", Warsaw 2004, ISBN 8392036107
AJ - photos from a collection of Adam Jońca
All photos and pictures remain the property of their owners (some might be public domain). They are published in non-commercial educational and research purpose.
Text copyright to Michal Derela © 2007-2009.