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BT-42

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"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. 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 unpopular 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. 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 and its crew Mika as the commander, Aki as the gunner and loader and Mikko as the driver transferred from Jatkosota High School.

Initial performance as part of Team Dandelion is largely ineffective as the BT-42's main gun would be unable to pierce the frontal armor of the Pershing at range, limiting its ability to be of use in facing off against the Pershings, though it is possible that it offers fire support to the other tanks in its company.

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.

Having landed right in middle of a trio of very surprised Pershings, the BT-42 is able to get of the first shot. Taking advantage of the confusion of the enemy tanks the BT-42 is able to rapidly knock out one of the enemy Pershings by firing at its side from point blank range, immobilizing it before the opposition tanks had an opportunity to react to the threat amidst their ranks. Once this was accomplished and the remaining two enemy tanks had 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.

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 BT-42 weak gun, it has to go dangerously close to the enemy tank to score a hit at the tank's weak-spot, this method also use by Turtle Team during the match against Pravda Girls High School.

Gallery

Tanks
Light Tanks and Tankettes Panzerkampfwagen IIPanzer 38(t)CrusaderM24 ChaffeeM22 LocustT-70Type 95 Ha-GoType 97 Te-KeBT-42AMR-35R35FT-17CV L3/337TPTK Tankette
Medium Tanks Panzerkampfwagen IIIPanzerkampfwagen IVPanzerkampfwagen V "Panther"Matilda II Centurion Mark IM3 LeeM4 ShermanT-34T-44Type 89 I-Go/Chi-RoType 3 Chi-NuType 97 Chi-HaSomua S35M13/40

Heavy Tanks Panzerkampfwagen VI "Tiger"Panzerkampfwagen VI Ausf. B "Tiger II"VK45.01 Porsche TigerPanzerkampfwagen VIII "Maus"Churchill Mark VIIBlack PrinceIS-2KV-2M26 PershingRenault B1 BisCarro Armato P40
Tank Destroyers Sturmgeschütz IIIJagdpanzer 38(t) "Hetzer"Jagdpanzer IVJagdpantherElefantJagdtigerT28 Super Heavy TankSemovente da 75/18
Self-Propelled Artillery Karl-Gerät Mortar
Main Battle Tank Type 10

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