|Manufacturer||Panstwowe Zaklady Inzynieryjne|
Contributor: Alan Chanter
ww2dbaseIn an attempt to improve the TK-3 tankette, a Polish licence built copy of the British Carden-Loyd Mark VI, which had suffered numerous complaints concerning the inadequacy of its Ford four-cylinder engine, led to a decision to produce a modernised type, which would became the Scout Tank TKS, (PZInz 110). Development by a team of engineers from the National Engineering Works (Polish: Panstwowe Zaklady Inzynieryjne; PZInz for short) and the Design Bureau of the Armoured Force commenced in 1932 with approval for production being granted on 22 February 1934. With a Polski-Fiat 122 four-cylinder petrol engine to provide the power the design team redesigned the TK-3's hull to improve ballistic protection with thicker armour and new vision devices. The glacis plate was completely changed and a ball socket for a Hotchkiss machine-gun fitted. One of the more interesting features of the TKS was a small mounting on the right rear of the hull which permitted the Hotchkiss to be dismounted for use outside the vehicle as an anti-aircraft gun.
ww2dbaseHowever by the mid-1930s it was evident that small tankettes like the TKS would be unable to deal with newer German and Soviet tank types with armour in excess of 15 millimeters. In 1937. the State Rifle Factory (Polish: Panstwowa Fabryka KarabinÃ³w) in Warsaw, Poland developed an extremely effective 20-millimeter automatic cannon which could penetrate the armour of most contemporary Soviet or German tanks. The aim was to fit these cannons to about 150 TKS tankettes, but by the outbreak of World War II only a small number had been completed. Eight each went to the 10th Motorised Brigade and the Warsaw Armoured Motorised Brigade (the only two fully motorised formations in the Polish Army), and four each went to the Wielkopolska, Krakowska, Pomorska, Mazowiecka, Nowogrodzka, Podolska and Kresowa cavalry brigades.
ww2dbaseThe brigades allocated the tankettes to either independent companies to support infantry formations, or to armoured troops to scout for the horsed cavalry brigades, the independent companies consisted of a command tank and two platoons of six tankettes. The armoured troops contained a tankette squadron with thirteen tankettes (both TK-3 and TKS versions) plus an armoured car squadron equipped with seven wz.28 or wz.34 armoured cars.
ww2dbaseA total of about 440 TK-3 and TKS tankettes were mobilised in 1939 of which 50 were allocated for use on armoured trains; about 180 were TK-3 tankettes and about 260 were TKS tankettes. In total there were some thirty Polish tankette units in action during September 1939. While not intended to engage with enemy tanks or infantry protected by anti-tank guns the desperate circumstances of September 1939 saw them often employed in assaults for which they were quite unsuitable.
ww2dbaseThe TKS with a 20-millimeter cannon proved surprisingly effective. For example, on 17 September 1939, while remnants of the 71st Armoured Troop were fighting their way through the Kampinos forest, north of Warsaw, a TKS tankette with 20-millimeter cannon encountered a German tank formation and knocked out three PzKpfw 38(t) tanks of the 11th Panzer Regiment, 1 Leichte Division. During the Battle of Mokra on 1 September, 1939, the 21st Armoured Troop was sent into combat against tanks of the 4th Panzer Division which were attacking entrenched cavalrymen of the Wolynian Cavalry Brigade. Although their TKS tankettes were not equipped with the 20-millimeter cannon, and did not even have the usual armour-piercing ammunition for their machine-guns, their valiant attack helped to break up a German tank attack, which bolstered the morale of the cavalrymen who had been on the verge of being overrun.
ww2dbaseIn a less successful action. five camouflaged tankettes of the 82nd Armoured Troop commanded by a sergeant-major were completely destroyed when they attempted to stop a large German tank force near the highway leading from Kiernozi to Rybno, but taking out a several German tanks in return.
ww2dbaseThe tankettes were more successful in their use against German infantry, although it would seem that combat losses to infantry anti-tank guns were generally greater than losses to German tanks. By the end of September, however, few tankettes had survived a month of heavy fighting against the numerically superior invaders. A small number were driven into Hungary to prevent their capture by the Germans; some of these were later used by the Hungarians in anti-partisan operations against Josip Broz Tito's guerrillas in Yugoslavia.
ww2dbaseIn total about 269 TKS tankettes were manufactured including six sold to Estonia. Romania expressed an interest and Spain planned to order eighty but the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War interrupted this sale.
Steven Zaloga and Janusz Magnuski: Polish Armoured Vehicles of W.W.II (Military Modellling , Faebruasry 1983)
B. T. White: Tanks and other AFVs of the Blitzkrieg Era 1939-41 (Blandford Press, 1972)
Last Major Revision: Jul 2022
|22 Feb 1934||Approval for the production of the Polish TK-3 tankette was granted.|
|Machinery||One Polski-Fiat 122 AC four-cylinder petrol engine rated at 42hp|
|Armament||1x7.92mm Hotchkiss machine gun or 1x20mm Panstwowa Fabryka Karabinow automatic cannon|
|Range||110 km off-road; 180 km on-road|
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Winston Churchill, 1935
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