Czechoslovak armor before WW2

Czechoslovakia was established from the ashes of the Austro-Hungarian Empire as a result of internal political upheaval that finally led to its dissolution in 1918. During the two decades of its pre-WW2 existence, it was one of the most developed countries in the region, inheriting the majority of the former empire's industrial potential. Even before it existed as a separate entity, Czech-made Škoda artillery was world-famous so it was only logical for Czech companies to use the arms-making expertise to design and build tanks.

The Beginnings

The Czechoslovak army was from early on conceived as a mobile force to compensate for the lacking numbers of its larger neighbors. The most important element of its philosophy – mobility – came from the Legion experience. Czechoslovak Legions in Russia thrived on mobile warfare with infantry units supported by the firepower of armored trains and at one point practically controlled the entire Trans-Siberian Railway before being evacuated from Vladivostok and making their way back to their homeland. Old Legion officers were often appointed to positions of command.


Very early on (1918-1920), the Czechoslovak military, unlike its northern neighbor, had little in the way of armor, relying on a couple of obsolete armored trains and some very old armored cars from Italy. All the heavy equipment used by the Legions in Russia stayed behind when the troops were evacuated.

The first tanks of the Czechoslovak army, as was often the case back then, were French Renault FT vehicles from surplus sales. Attempts to purchase such vehicles date back to 1919 with the first 5 tanks being purchased and delivered in 1922 and 1923 and 2 more in 1924. The 20s were quite chaotic for Czechoslovak army development with military experts unable to agree upon the correct tactical use of tanks, so these Renault FTs for many years remained the only tracked armored vehicles of the Czechoslovak military. That however does not mean there were no attempts to change the situation and to develop the first indigenous tank for mass production.

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