The M18 Hellcat (officially designated the 76 mm Gun Motor Carriage M18 or M18 GMC) was an American tank destroyer of World War II, also used in the Korean War. It was the fastest U.S. tank on the road. The speed was attained by keeping armor to a minimum, using the innovative Torqmatic automatic transmission, and by equipping the relatively light vehicle with the same main gun used on the much larger Sherman tank.
The Hellcat was the most effective U.S. tank destroyer of World War II. It had a higher kill to loss ratio than any other tank or tank destroyer fielded by U.S. forces in World War II.
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The M18 Hellcat was a tank destroyer developed and used by the United States during World War II. It was designed to be fast and agile, with a top speed of 55 mph (89 km/h) on road and 26 mph (42 km/h) off road. It had a thin armor of 25.4 mm (1 inch) at most, which made it vulnerable to enemy fire but also reduced its weight and improved its mobility. It was armed with a 76 mm gun M1A1, M1A1C, or M1A2, which could penetrate most German tanks at medium range. The M18 Hellcat had a crew of five: commander, gunner, loader, driver, and assistant driver.
The M18 Hellcat entered production in July 1943 and saw its first combat service in spring 1944. It served mainly in Western Europe, but also in Italy and the Pacific. It was the most effective U.S. tank destroyer of World War II, with a kill-to-loss ratio of 2.4 to 1. It claimed 526 kills in total, including 498 in Europe, 17 in Italy, and 11 in the Pacific. However, it was not primarily used for tank fighting, but rather for direct fire support for infantry or reconnaissance missions. The M18 Hellcat was retired from U.S. service after World War II, but some variants continued to serve in other countries until 1995.