M18 (China)

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RANK 6 BRITAIN
Rooikat 105 PACK
␗M18 Gun Motor Carriage
us_m18_hellcat.png
AB
RB
SB
General characteristics
Brief
Detailed
4.7/5.7/4.7BR
5 peopleCrew
82 %Visibility
front / side / backArmour
12 / 12 / 0Hull
25 / 12 / 12Turret
Mobility
17.7 tWeight
878 hp460 hpEngine power
50 hp/t26 hp/tPower-to-weight ratio
78 km/h forward
25 km/h back
72 km/h forward
23 km/h back
Speed
Armament
76 mm M1 cannonMain weapon
45 roundsAmmunition
6.1 / 7.9 sReload
-10° / 20°Vertical guidance
12.7 mm M2HB machine gunMachinegun
800 roundsAmmunition
8.0 / 10.4 sReload
200 roundsBelt capacity
577 shots/minFire rate
-10° / 70°Vertical guidance
-60° / 60°Horizontal guidance
Economy
33 000 Rp icon.pngResearch
130 000 Sl icon.pngPurchase
Sl icon.png2 830 / 3 500/2 440 / 3 018/1 580 / 1 954Repair
36 000 Sl icon.pngCrew training
130 000 Sl icon.pngExperts
470 Ge icon.pngAces
148 % Rp icon.pngReward for battle
110 % Sl icon.png120 % Sl icon.png90 % Sl icon.png

Description

GarageImage M18 (China).jpg


The ␗M18 Gun Motor Carriage is a rank III Chinese tank destroyer with a battle rating of 4.7 (AB/SB) and 5.7 (RB). It was introduced in Update 1.91 "Night Vision".

General info

Survivability and armour

The M18 (China) has extremely thin armour throughout its construction. As such, a player with the M18 should throw away any notion of trying to survive a shot and instead aim to avoid being hit at all. With an open-top construction and the placement of certain crew members, even enemy machine gun rounds can knock out the crew members inside and lower combat efficiency.

The thin armour is also both a blessing and a curse for the vehicle. It is a curse as it means the vehicle can suffer through the hull-break mechanics. A single shell has the potential of knocking out the M18 instantly regardless of how many crew member it defeats. The blessing is that if the enemy kinetic round hits the M18 and does not meet the requirements for a hull-break, the M18 may end up with minimum critical damage such as a damaged module or crew member. As such, there can be second chances for this vehicle, but as mentioned, this should not be relied upon as a combat strategy.

With five crew members, the M18 has a standard amount of crew to survive off of. Three are essential for combat efficiency: the gunner, loader, and driver. The commander operates the cupola machine gun and if knocked out will cause the machine gun to no longer function. This will be a constant occurrence due to the position of the commander model with the torso exposed above the turret, and so enemy machine gun rounds can hit and incapacitate the commander from the vehicle's functions.

The M18's module configuration is rather standard with the transmission in front and engine in the back. The spread out nature means there are more "wiggle room" for kinetic shells to hit and pass through around the modules, but it also means that any part of the M18 exposed can be hit and induce a hull-break.

Armour type:

  • Rolled homogeneous armour
  • Cast homogeneous armour (Gun mantlet)
Armour Front (Slope angle) Sides Rear Roof
Hull 12.7 mm (39-64°) Front glacis
12.7 mm (23-52°) Lower glacis
12.7 mm (23-26°) Top
12.7 mm Bottom
12.7 mm (12°) Top
12.7 mm (36°) Bottom
8 mm
Turret 25.4 mm (15-26°) Turret front
19 mm + 25.4 mm (0-55°) Gun mantlet
12.7 mm (1-21°) 12.7 mm (7°) N/A Open-top
8 mm Bustle and Front

Notes:

  • Suspension wheels and tracks are 15 mm thick.
  • Belly armour is 5 mm thick.
  • The hull underside right above the tracks are only 8 mm thick.
  • Tracks are attached the turret rear, granting some 15 mm in thickness.

Mobility

Game Mode Max Speed (km/h) Weight (tons) Engine power (horsepower) Power-to-weight ratio (hp/ton)
Forward Reverse Stock Upgraded Stock Upgraded
Arcade 78 25 17.7 653 878 36.89 49.6
Realistic 72 23 407 460 22.99 25.99

Though the previous section on armour may imply poor survivability, the M18 (China)'s shining trait will be in its mobility. It produces enough engine horsepower to become a speed demon on the battlefield, quickly traversing through rough terrain to get to advantageous positions to ambush enemies that are just starting to get to the fight.

The vehicle displays great mobility when driving forwards and backwards, and so it can perform quick exits from a compromised position.

Armaments

Main armament

Main article: M1 (76 mm)

76 mm M1 is an extremely capable gun with a high damage potential and a very good gun handling. It can be found on tanks used up to battle rating 6.0, making it one of the most widely used guns throughout the battle ratings and with M18 being the first tanks to use it - it gives it a very high staying power throughout battle ratings. Once upgraded, the turret has very fair guidance in both: horizontal and vertical axis allowing to quickly catch pot-shots, though given exceptional mobility of the platform even it struggles to catch up with the near-instant hull rotation.

76mm M1 Turret rotation speed (°/s) Reloading rate (seconds)
Mode Capacity Vertical Horizontal Stabilizer Stock Upgraded Full Expert Aced Stock Full Expert Aced
Arcade 45 -10°/+20° ±180° N/A 21.13 29.25 35.50 39.30 41.79 7.93 7.02 6.47 6.10
Realistic 14.28 16.80 20.40 22.60 24.00
Ammunition

M18 comes with an exceptionally good stock shell, allowing it to unleash its full potential pretty much right off the bat. Additional unlocks are more specialized.

  • M62 shell - APCBC - The best anti-tank shell, also the stock round. It has very good penetration and an excellent post-penetration effect.
  • M42A1 shell - HE - The best round for dealing with unarmored targets or unarmored sections of vehicles. It should be used carefully, as everything over 10 mm armour can negate its effects. Typically M62 is superior.
  • M79 shot - AP - Round inferior in every way to the M62, it's in-game largely for historical reasons.
Penetration statistics
Ammunition Type of
warhead
Penetration @ 0° Angle of Attack (mm)
10 m 100 m 500 m 1,000 m 1,500 m 2,000 m
M62 shell APCBC 149 146 133 119 106 95
M42A1 shell HE 7 7 7 7 7 7
M79 shot AP 134 132 121 109 99 89
Shell details
Ammunition Type of
warhead
Velocity
(m/s)
Projectile
Mass (kg)
Fuse delay
(m)
Fuse sensitivity
(mm)
Explosive Mass
(TNT equivalent) (g)
Ricochet
0% 50% 100%
M62 shell APCBC 792 7.0 1.2 14 63.7 48° 63° 71°
M42A1 shell HE 800 5.84 0.1 0.5 390 79° 80° 81°
M79 shot AP 792 6.8 N/A N/A N/A 47° 60° 65°
Smoke shell characteristics
Ammunition Velocity
(m/s)
Projectile
Mass (kg)
Screen radius
(m)
Screen deploy time
(s)
Screen hold time
(s)
Explosive Mass
(TNT equivalent) (g)
M88 274 3.44 13 5 20 50
Ammo racks
Ammo racks of the M18 (China).
Full
ammo
1st
rack empty
2nd
rack empty
3rd
rack empty
4th
rack empty
5th
rack empty
Visual
discrepancy
45 37 (+8) 27 (+18) 17 (+28) 9 (+36) 1 (+44) No

Turret empty: 37 (+8)

When fighting in downtiers it's best to take only 17 shells, which allows the turret and sides of the tank to be empty of shells, notably increasing survivability. Otherwise, it doesn't matter how many rounds are loaded, as most hits against the tank will prove deadly regardless.

Machine guns

Main article: M2HB (12.7 mm)
12.7 mm M2HB
Pintle mount
Capacity (Belt capacity) Fire rate
(shots/minute)
Vertical
guidance
Horizontal
guidance
800 (200) 576 -10°/+70° ±60°

Usage in battles

Before all, avoid colourful or bright decals. Camouflage is the main part of the M18's defence. Chances for good performance in battle are: be "invisible", fast and effective. The M18's speed is its best ally. This speed has to be used for flanking manoeuvres and relocate. Not for trying to cross an open field, that will leave it open to enemy fire, speed is not a substitute for armour.

Relocate:

  • This movement will have to be done again and again. Choose a good spot wisely, remove the foliage if necessary to get a clear field of fire. When in the fire spot, use the gun depression and stay in a hull-down position until a target is located. Once a target is locked on, aim at critical components. Try to immobilize the enemy by firing at the engine or transmission, or remove their firepower by shooting the gun or breech, or for instant destruction with a shot to the ammo storage. The last option can work very well or not, as skilled players only carry a few rounds of ammo.
  • If positive that the enemy hasn´t discovered the firing spot, go for another shot. Stay attentive that none of the enemy's teammates has also located the firing spot. If detected, hide immediately and relocate.

Flanking:

  • Flanking is the most dangerous manoeuvre of all because the vehicle will have to be exposed as it moves to the enemy's rear, but it is very effective when it's coordinated with other vehicles. A distraction is needed to gain the enemy's attention while the M18 makes its move. Isolated enemy units are very vulnerable to this tactic. Using the M18 speed to get to the rear and as the enemy heads toward the objective, the firing perspective should give a very clear view of the enemy's side armour. A good shot with the M62 APCBC shell could knock out the enemy rather quickly, but if using solid AP shots like the M79, aim at critical components on mobility and firepower before knocking out the crew or ammo stowage.

Avoid flat terrain

  • Flat terrain means that the Hellcat will become an easy target for virtually any vehicle by exposure, especially when not moving or when moving in a straight line. Open plains are the bane of the Hellcat. Whenever possible, one should try to stay amongst hills.

Modules

Tier Mobility Protection Firepower
I Tracks Parts Horizontal Drive
II Suspension Brake System FPE Adjustment of Fire M79 Shot
III Filters Crew Replenishment Elevation Mechanism
IV Transmission Engine M88

As with every ground vehicle Parts and FPE are an absolute top priority. Following that, depending on player preferences, one of 3 should be researched: Horizontal Drive (close-range, flanking), Suspension (medium-range) or Adjustment of Fire (long-range of a typical engagements). Following this the goal is to get rank IV mobility improvements in order Filters -> Engine -> Transmission. On rank III, along the way, the Crew Replenishment should be prioritized, as its an open-top vehicle, so it will suffer significant causalities from enemy airplanes. If your preferred engagement range is above 700m then the Elevation Mechanism should be researched. Otherwise: Mobility upgrades are the most important, shells are the lowest priority, as even the situational advantage of the M93 shot is not worth researching over improved mobility, or even accuracy.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Overall mobility is superb, with very responsive manoeuvring that allows the Hellcat to excel in flanking manoeuvres
  • Fast reload speed and turret traverse
  • Stock APCBC round has great penetration and lots of explosive fillers, rarely requiring more than one penetrating shot to kill common tanks like M4, Cromwell, Tiger H1 or Panther
  • Low profile, reducing target size and allows it to hide behind small bushes or rocks easily
  • The nature of its thin armour means AP rounds have a tendency to pass straight through without damaging modules, and an APHE fuze may not even be triggered. For example the Russian 122mm (mixed battle) will over-penetrate, dealing little damage.

Cons:

  • Thin armour means rapid-fire autocannons, heavy machine guns, and aerial weapons could easily shred it. Beware of the R3 T20 FA-HS and Wirbelwind!
  • Commander is exposed at the 0.50 calibre machine gun mount, and knocking him out would render the weapon useless
  • Open-top construction means aerial strikes and artillery could rain havoc onto the crew
  • Gun has poor penetration in an uptier, often can't penetrate anything frontally unless hitting a weak spot. The Ho-Ri, Tiger II (H) and M26 are frontally immune to this 76mm M1.
  • Doesn't have access to APCR unlike its American counterpart.
  • Rarely reaches 50 km/h in Realistic Battles, even in a straight line, therefore can be outran by the Sd.kfz.234 series or the R3 T20 FA-HS
  • A moment of immobility due to a damaged engine or transmission could be a sign of impending doom for the M18
  • Hull-break mechanics mean any explosions, HEAT or well-aimed AP round could instantly destroy the vehicle

History

US Tank Destroyer Doctrine

The self-propelled anti-tank doctrine established by the US military called for fast, powerful vehicles able to stop the German blitzkrieg tactics by ambushing the attacking tank forces. This doctrine, known as the "Tank Destroyer Doctrine", called for anti-tank forces to be held in reserve to blunt the massed Panzer attacks that many in the War Department believed was the key to German victory in France in 1940. The concentration of antitank weaponry away from the frontline was eventually determined to be an unnecessary weakness, and the solution was to keep a few anti-tank guns in the front-line as the first defence, while a large reserve of mobile tank destroyers would move in at the location where a German tank breakthrough is happening to ambush and destroy the enemy forces. This role led to the desire for a fast vehicle with a powerful gun and mobility. Minimal emphasis was placed on armour, as the doctrinal role of tank destroyers was to respond rapidly to an enemy armoured breakthrough; heavy armour would only hinder a timely response. The development of a purpose-built tank destroyer languished in bureaucratic limbo for the early years of the war (a delay caused by poor designs such as the M5 Cletrac and bureaucratic infighting between the various departmental cliques), and consequently, the majority of self-propelled tank destroyers were expedients derived from the M4 Sherman chassis. The most common tank destroyer was the M10 GMC, made from the M4 Sherman hull and armed with a 3-inch M1918 gun. Although perfectly capable and welcome addition for frontline forces, it was no faster than an ordinary Sherman tank. The tank destroyers would in 1944 finally receive their purpose-built self-propelled tank destroyer in 1944: the M18 Hellcat.[1]

Development

The origin of the M18 design came as early as December 1941 with the requirement of a Christie suspension and a 37 mm gun. This requirement called for a radical new tank design rather than a derivative of the M4 Sherman. These requirements changed as the war progressed, the first change was to the new and innovative Torsion bar suspension from Buick Motor Division from General Motors and another change was to mount the British QF 6-pounder gun then in use on their Churchill Mark III tanks, the developed prototype vehicle was called the T49 GMC. Then the US Army wanted the heavier 75 mm gun used on the Shermans on it, this prototype was designated the T67 GMC. Finally, the army decided to mount the 76 mm gun also in development for the Sherman onto the prototype, now known as T70 GMC. Changes to hull shape and turret took place to accommodate all these new requirements and armament, but it eventually was approved for service and finally renamed as the M18 GMC and started production in mid-1943, which went on until ending in October 1944 with 2,507 units produced. A variant called the M39 Armored Utility Vehicle was also produced, its turret was removed for space for cargo, 8 personnel, or to tow guns.

Combat usage

These vehicles saw combat debut in the summer of 1944, where they are given the unofficial nickname "Hellcat" by the crews using them. Unlike the M10 tank destroyer that was built before it, the M18 GMC was purely made for emphasis on speed. Armour was restricted down to a maximum of 1-inch (25 mm) on the turret front while the rest of the body plating is a measly .50-inches thick (12.7 mm). The turret was also an open-top design similar to the M10 tank destroyer, meaning the crew are left exposed to the elements and enemy fire and shrapnel. These faults were mitigated by the fact that as its role as a tank destroyer, it was to have minimum contact with infantry and ambush enemy tanks in concealed position rather than face them in an offensive operation. Nevertheless, the M18 GMC was well-liked by the crew for its 76 mm cannon, which allows it to destroy the newer German Tiger Is and Panthers tanks from the front with HVAP ammo (though the Panther at close range only) when unable to flank around to the side or rear of these tanks. The speed was also astounding, reaching 55 miles per hour maximum, this makes the M18 GMC the fastest armoured fighting vehicle in World War II.

While use in the Pacific theatre was limited due to the inadequate armour of Japanese tanks, it saw most of its service in the European theatre against Nazi Germany. Due to the lack in armour and emphasis on speed, the M18 crews utilize the "shoot and scoot" tactic in attacking the enemy from one position and quickly move to another before the enemy could find their initial firing position, this tactic confuses the German tanks, and could even lead them to believe there is more armoured enemy than what it appears. The M18 GMCs were present during the Battle of Arracourt in France as the 704th Tank Destroyer Battalion. Lt. Edwin Leiper led an M18 platoon of C Company and in the battle knocked a total of 15 German tanks for the loss of three M18; six of these German tank kills, most of which were Panthers, were credited to one M18 led by Sgt Henry R. Hartman. The M18 also played a crucial part in the Battle of the Bulge, where its top speed of 55 mph was finally put to good use in bypassing the enemy forces. Four M18 tank destroyers of the 705th Tank Destroyer Battalion assisted the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment in attacking the 2nd Panzer Divison and their support to kill the fuel lines to the German tanks. The overall attack had the M18 GMC credited with at least 24 tank kills of the 30 total inflicted in the attack.

Legacy

Overall, the M18 GMC proved itself by having the highest kill-to-loss ratio to any other tanks and tank destroyer in American service, making it the most effective tank destroyer in American service. However, like its other tank destroyer brethren, it soon found itself obsolete along with the entire tank destroyer doctrine. Mainly due to increasing prevalence of well-armoured tanks that could do its job more efficiently such as the M26 Pershing, but also the lack of German AFVs at the time of the war and a study on ammo usage indicates that the tank destroyers spent more time supporting infantry with high-explosive shells than killing tanks with armour-piercing, rendering the anti-tank section an unnecessary component in the modernizing armoured forces.

Today, some countries in the world such as Yugoslavia still have the M18 Hellcats in reserves.

In-game description

Media

Excellent additions to the article would be video guides, screenshots from the game, and photos.

See also

Links to the articles on the War Thunder Wiki that you think will be useful for the reader, for example:

  • reference to the series of the vehicles;
  • links to approximate analogues of other nations and research trees.

External links

Paste links to sources and external resources, such as:

  • topic on the official game forum;
  • encyclopedia page on the tank;
  • other literature.

References

Citations

  1. Zaloga, S. (2004)

Bibliography

  • Zaloga, Stephen. (2004). M18 Hellcat Tank Destroyer 1943–97. Oxford: Osprey Publishing.


China tank destroyers
American  ␗M8 HMC · ␗LVT(A)(4) (ZiS-2) · ␗M10 · ␗M18 · ␗M36 · ␗M113A1 (TOW)
Soviet  ␗SU-76M · ␗ISU-152 · ␗ISU-122 · ␗SU-100