Written by Károly “Karika” Németh of Tanks Encyclopedia
Tas rohamlöveg mockup by Á. Bíró.
After the end of the Second World War, under the soon established communist regime in Hungary, it was unwise (and unrequested) to publicly talk about any involvement in the military developments of the previous, condemned era. Therefore, the designers of the Hungarian 44M. Tasheavy/medium tank also chose to remain silent and its history soon faded away.
Nobody bothered to research the history of the Hungarian tanks and armored fighting vehicles until the late 1970’s, the time when most of the primary sources, the key people involved in it had already passed away. This made it even harder for the new generation of historians to form a coherent story because most of the time they had to rely on the few remaining, sometimes contradictory written documents or on the memories of the people who only played a minor role in the stream of events.
Consequently, because of the lack of primary sources, some outdated books and articles falsely claim that a self-propelled gun on a Tas chassis would also have been designed in parallel with the 44M. Tas development.
Historical authenticity issues
The ‘myth’ of the Tas rohamlöveg (literally ‘Tas assault gun’) dates back to the 1980’s when the son of the former chief engineer of the Weiss Manfréd factory, Pál Korbuly, first started to collect data about the almost completely forgotten 44M. Tas. His study was mostly based on oral sources, the memories of those who were involved somehow in the Tas project.
When Korbuly found out that in some cases two sets of Tas components were manufactured, he suspected that one set was for the prototype of the 44M. Tas and the other set must have been made for something else, e.g. for an assault gun variant of the Tas, based on the same chassis. This would have been a logical assumption considering how successful the – at that time of the Tas development recently deployed – 40/43M. Zrínyi II was. Without any knowledge about the little surviving documentations in the archives, Korbuly jumped to the conclusion that the designers of the Tas must have copied that proven idea on the basis of their vehicle as well. The result would have been similar to the German Jagdpanther.
Tas and Tas rohamlöveg cardboard mockups made by P. Korbuly as illustrations for his research results in the early 1980’s. Both of them were made before the first photographs or blueprint parts had been found and were only based on the reminiscences of the people involved in the Tas development. Both of these mockups are completely outdated by now.
Nevertheless, the most recent studies have found evidence contradicting Korbuly’s theory. According to some original documents – which have been found in the Hungarian archives only in the late 2000’s – both sets of components were intended to be used in the 44M. Tas development. It turned out that the Hungarian Ministry of Defense ordered two Tas prototypes from Weiss Manfréd instead of just one and there are no mentions about an assault gun variant anywhere. There is no physical evidence that supports Korbuly’s claim. Therefore, it must be assumed that no such thing ever existed in the first place or only as a vague proposal at the very best.
As the Tas rohamlöveg most likely never existed in the first place, its characteristics are only limited by the fantasy of the authors who wrote about it.
In the old articles about this vehicle, it was assumed that the armor and mobility of the assault gun variant would have been more or less the same as on the controversial Tas.
In turn, most of the debate was about its would-be armament. The invented options ranged from the 7.5 cm (2.95 in) Kw.K. 42 L/70 (the gun used on e.g. the German Panther tank) to the 8.8 cm Kw.K. 43 L/71 (the gun used e.g. on the Tiger II heavy tank). In any case, it was agreed that the gun must have come from abroad because the most powerful, domestically manufactured, dedicated anti-tank gun of the time, the 43M. 75 mm L/43 gun would not require such large and expensive platform when it could be fitted in the Zrínyi I.
Anyhow, the question of how would Hungary acquire any of these German guns in adequate quantities has been conveniently ignored in these articles.
The designers of the 44M. Tas were struggling to finalize the blueprints and finish prototypes even for the conventional tank variant because of the lack of resources, raw materials and, most importantly, the lack of time during the end stages of the Second World War. Even if they thought about creating such a self-propelled gun variant, they probably could not afford to waste time or energy to design something nobody asked them to.
Up until any valid proof of its existence will be found it must be assumed that the Tas rohamlöveg never existed.
Tas rohamlöveg by Jarja – Jarosław Janas.
Artistic impression of how the Tas rohamlöveg could have been looked like (if it would have been designed properly at all) by I. Bajtos. Created in the early 1990’s based on P. Korbuly’s works. The armament on this drawing is the German 8.8 cm (3.46 in) Kw.K. 43 L/71. Note how little the gun could depress if this assault gun would have been looked like this.
Another artistic recreation of how the Tas rohamlöveg could have been looked like by Á. Bíró.
Á. Bíró’s artistic illustration how the 7.5 cm Kw.K. 42 L/70 anti-tank gun could be fitted in his Tas rohamlöveg model.
3D model of the Tas rohamlöveg based on Á. Bíró’s articles.
Sources and further read
Bíró, Ádám – Sárhidai, Gyula: A Magyar Királyi Honvédség hazai gyártású páncélos harcjárművei 1914–1945. 264.
Bíró, Ádám: A Tas nehéz rohamlöveg I. rész. In: Haditechnika 2009/3. 27-31.
Bíró, Ádám: A Tas nehéz rohamlöveg II. rész. In: Haditechnika 2009/4. 59-63.
Bombay, László – Gyarmati, József– Turcsányi, Károly: Harckocsik 1916-tól napjainkig. 112.
Bonhardt, Attila – Sárhidai, Gyula – Winkler, László: A Magyar Királyi Honvédség fegyverzete. 102-103.
Hajdú, Ferenc – Sárhidai, Gyula: A Magyar Király Honvéd Haditechnikai Intézettől a HM Technológiai Hivatalig 1920-2005. 49
Poór, István (editor): Harckocsik és páncélozott harcjárművek típuskönyve. 163.
Turcsányi, Károly: Nehézharckocsik – Összehasonlító értékelések, műveleti alkalmazások és a magyar TAS tervezése. 233-234.