The 38M Toldi was a Hungarian light tank, developed on the basis of the Swedish Landsverk L-60. It was named after the 14th century Hungarian knight Miklós Toldi.
The Hungarian general staff wanted a modern light tank as soon as possible, after the domestically developed V-4 turned out to be too expensive by 1936 and work on it progressed slower than expected.
Meanwhile, the Swedish AB Landsverk finished its recent development, the Landsverk L-60 in October, and was looking for a customer to cover the costs. After a series of trials in 1937 with the V-4 and the Panzer I, the MÁVAG heavy industries decided to purchase the license of the L-60, with a prototype for further development.
The turret of the vehicle was then modified, making space for the radio and other devices, with a cupola being placed on top (since the L-60 was still unfinished and lacked in many necessary features). The original main armament, the 20 mm Madsen was also replaced initially by a 25 mm Bofors autocannon, and then by the 20 mm Solothurn anti-tank rifle, as it was already in service in the Hungarian army. The hull would then be changed on the front, upper sides, and rear, to riveted plates instead of welded for faster and easier production, with the original Scania-Vabis 1664 engine being replaced by the German Büssing L8V.
At first, 80 vehicles were ordered from MÁVAG, then an order for 110 more vehicles were placed in 1940. In total, 202 units were produced.
The Toldi tanks first saw action with the Hungarian Army in the 1941 invasion of Yugoslavia. These tanks were then mostly used against the USSR between 1941 and 1944. Because of their light armour, armament and good communications equipment, they were mostly used for reconnaissance. The design was effective against Soviet light tanks widespread during the early stages of Operation Barbarossa, such as the obsolete T-26 and BT-5. However it was totally inadequate against the Soviet T-34 medium tanks encountered during the later stages of the war on the Eastern Front.
Several Toldi tanks were captured by the USSR late in the war, two of them were transported to Kubinka for testing and are still preserved there.
Photo by: Fortepan / Lissák Tivadar