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BT-42
"Don't underestimate a BT-42 with Christie suspension!"
―Mikko

The BT-42 was a Finnish assault gun, constructed during the Continuation War. It was constructed from captured Soviet BT-7 light tanks and British 4.5-inch howitzers (114 mm-caliber light howitzer, model 1908) from 1918, which had been donated during the Winter War. Only eighteen vehicles were constructed. It first appeared in Girls und Panzer der Film.

History

As the Second World War progressed, the Soviets were fielding better and better tanks. The Finnish Army, on the other hand had to make do with a large number of captured tanks, which were for the most part lightly armored and armed.

The Finns decided to redesign the BT-7 Model 1937 tank so they constructed a new turret and armed it with British-made 114.3 mm howitzers that had been supplied by the British during the Winter War (Q.F. 4,5 inch howitzer Mark II, also known as 114 Psv.H/18 in Finland). Eighteen BT-42 were built and these were pressed into service in 1943.

The BT-42 was used for the first time in 1943, at the Svir River, where it was used against enemy pillboxes. The design worked reasonably well against soft targets but was completely unsuitable for anti-tank warfare. To counter this, the Finns copied a German-designed HEAT round for the gun and it was initially thought that it would be effective against the sloped armour of the T-34. However, this was not the case.

These converted vehicles quickly became very impopular with their crews. The weaknesses could mainly be attributed to the new turret, which apart from giving the tank a high-profile also added significant weight to the vehicle, stressing the suspension and the engine.

The BT-42s were used again during the major Soviet offensive in 1944. They were deployed in the defense of Vyborg. In one encounter, a Finnish BT-42 hit a Soviet T-34 18 times, failing even to immobilize the enemy vehicle as this vehicle's fuses failed to work correctly. Eight of the 18 BT-42s in action made no significant contribution to the fighting. At the time Finnish armored units were still composed mostly of older designs such as the Vickers 6-Ton, T-26 and T-28 tanks, and all of these suffered losses.

Emergency supplies of Panzer IV tanks and StuG III self-propelled assault guns from Germany, as well as captured T-34s, made it possible for the Finns to replace its losses with more effective vehicles. The BT-42 was retired soon after the Vyborg battles, replaced in their intended role by German-made StuG IIIs.

In Girls Und Panzer

Der Film

The BT-42 makes its debut right before the start of the match between Ooarai Girls High School and the Selection University as part of the various schools that have come to aid Ooarai. The BT-42 is crewed by Mika as the commander, Aki as the gunner and loader and Mikko as the driver transferred from Jatkosota High School.

Its moment of glory, however, comes when Acorn Platoon makes a move to take out the Karl-Gerät artillery. The BT-42 went and acted as bait to distract the Pershings guarding the artillery gun. As these were situated on a raised plateau to which there was only one access route, a bridge that was under constant watch of the Pershings, a diversion would be needed. By using a strip of ground in order to build up speed the BT-42 is able to leap across the gap, making it landing in the middle of the Karl's escort and shot down on of the Pershing, the two others having recovered from the initial surprise the BT-42 makes a quick getaway, luring the remaining two Pershings away from the Karl-Gerät in the process, leaving it vulnerable to attack by the remainder of Acorn Platoon.

During its high-speed chase the BT-42 is constantly able to keep ahead of its two pursuers, its small size aiding it in safely traversing the debris field that was created when the Karl-Gerät fired at its attackers, destroying the bridge in the process. Navigating her tank between the debris Mikko is able to guide her tank through whilst retaining her speed. This fate is not shared by one of the pursuing Pershings, which gets stuck and is then subsequently taken out when a falling piece of debris tears off its main gun, rendering the vehicle inoperable.

Briefly losing sight of the third and last Pershing, Mikko is unable to avoid a collision with the much heavier vehicle resulting in the BT-42 losing its left track and flip over several times, losing its other track in the progress, before slamming hard into a dip. Devoid of its tracks the BT-42 is left in a state of appearing helpless before the Pershing, undaunted by this prospect Mikko installs a steering wheel and guns the engine as she kicks in the BT-42's unique feature of its Christie suspension, which allows the tank to travel across ground on just its drive wheels. Breaking into a running start, the BT-42 uses a mound of earth to launch itself past the surprised Pershing, whose crew is left in a state of shock seeing the nimble tank moving without tracks, and races off at high speed.

The Pershing resumes chasing the BT-42 around the bridge supports. The BT-42 uses a shallow ditch to circle around behind its opponent. The Pershing brakes without warning, causing the BT-42 to overshoot. The Pershing hits the BT-42 with a shell, almost tipping it over, but Mikko keeps the tank balanced on its edge for several moments, and turns around to drive back at the Pershing. Aki shoots into the side of the Pershing just before the BT-42 crashes into the dirt, resulting in both tanks being immobilized.

The BT-42 is last seen being evacuated on Mika's boat during the match.

Phase Erika

The BT-42 is used by Mika, Aki and Mikko, during the practice match against Kuromorimine Girls High School under the designation Kalevala 3. Its role is to lead the BT squad, composed of the BT-42 with a BT-5 and a BT-7, using their speed and dodging abilities to disrupt Kuromorimine's defense net and pushing on their nerves. Later on the match, still with the squad, it lures Erika, Miho and Koume away from the main group and send them into the grasp of the T-28 and its BT-5 and return with the main group, who ambushed and isolated the enemy flag tank. It then go near the river for Mika to find a jumping spot. Once found the BT-42 charge at this spot, losing its BT-7 escort, and jump across the river to knock down a Tiger II by shooting its upper armor and land among the enemy main battle group to once again bring chaos into their ranks. The BT-42 after rejoining its team made a final charge to take down Kuromorimine's flag tank the same way as the previous Tiger II but before the jump Mika sense something went wrong and the BT-42 is intercepted in mid-air before making its shot by Miho's Tiger I sending it crashing on the ground. Their ace down the rest of Jatkosota's tanks are shot down one by one until defeat.

Trivia

  • The BT-42 is referred to as Continuation-chan, by the other members of Acorn Platoon, in reference to the war in which the tank historically saw combat.
  • As seen in the movie, due to the BT-42's weak gun it has to go dangerously close to the enemy tank to score a hit at the tank's weak-spot. This was similarly necessary for Turtle Team during the match against Pravda Girls High School.

Gallery

Main article: BT-42/Gallery
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