Hungary put considerable effort into the creation of its tank industry before and during WW2. The light Toldi and medium Turan tanks were further developments of foreign projects, but the heavy Tas tank was an original tank, or at least was going to be if it was finished in time.
Hungarian army command had no illusions about the state of their armoured forces by 1943. The Turan (both the 40M Turan I with a 40 mm gun and the 41M Turan II with a short 75 mm gun) were powerless against Soviet T-34 tanks, let alone their heavies. They turned to the Germans for a license to produce either the Pz.Kpfw.IV with a long 75 mm gun or the Panther. The response was the same in both cases. The Germans did not consider Hungarian industry capable of producing complex tanks. The Hungarian Ministry of Defense decided to find its own way.
The Hungarian Ministry of Defense initiated a two-step program to renew its armoured forces in April of 1943. The first step called for the creation of the 43M Turan III armed with a long 75 mm gun. This was only a transitional model on the way to a completely new fighting vehicle: the 44M Tas. This name was rooted in history, as Tas was one of the legendary chieftains of the seven Hungarian tribes in the 9th century. The classification of the tank also had a national twist to it. It was considered to be a heavy tank, although its weight and dimensions were on par with those of German and Allied medium tanks. Hungary classified its tanks by armament, not by weight. Tanks with 75 mm guns and larger counted as heavies (even the Turan II and Turan III). The Tas project was given to the Manfred Weiss company in April of 1943. The development process was quick and blueprints were ready by August of 1943.
|Modern reconstruction of the Tas tank's hull.
The overall layout and design of the Tas were heavily influenced by the Panther. This is not surprising, as a group of the Hungarian Military Technical Institute had a chance to familiarize themselves with the tank at the Kummersdorf proving grounds in early 1943. With the exception of the front hull, the design was very close to the Panther's. The front part consisted of one sloped central plate and two "cheeks". The front armour was 75-120 mm thick, the sides and rear were 50 mm thick.
|Armour layout of the 44M Tas.
|The tank would have looked something like this.
|Model of the 44M Tas.
|Photographs of the Tas tank model.
|Production 44M Tas tanks could have looked like this.