Skoda 47mm KPUV vz. 36
47mm Towed Anti-Tank Gun
The Czech 47mm KPUV vz. 36 anti-tank was eventually also adopted by the invading German forces as the 4.7cm PaK 36(t) series.
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With the rise in tank adoption by land forces following World War 1 (1914-1918), attention of arms manufacturers soon turned to tank-stopping measures that went beyond typical obstacles and battlefield trenches. Some developed effective, hard-hitting rifles firing powerful shells while others tried their hand at dedicated line-of-sight field guns defeating armor through simple penetration. The 37mm caliber became a standard for many fighting forces and this not only made up towed Anti-Tank (AT) guns but also main armament on tanks themselves.
Skoda Works of Pilsen, Czechoslovakia did them all one better and realized at an early stage that the 37mm projectile would not be enough to meet the growing trend of stouter armor protection. As such it put considerable effort into design and development of a newer, larger-caliber weapon which became the 47mm Kanon PUV vz. 36 series of the inter-war period. This became the culmination of work that began back in the 1920s. The gun entered production in 1934 and, as its designation would suggest, was adopted for widespread service into the Czech Army ranks in 1936 - just ahead of the start of World War 2 (1939-1945).
From the outset the weapon was a more effective piece than the original 37mm caliber designs then available. A 3.6lb armor-piercing shell was used which could penetrate all enemy armor from a range out to 700 yards - providing a considerable edge to Czech gunnery crews when most AT guns of the period managed, at best, several hundred yards and nothing more. The design carried a conventional arrangement with a two-wheeled tow carriage, gun shield and the recoil mechanism fitted over the barrel assembly. A traditional crew numbered four to six men. Borrowing a quality from World War 1 artillery, the weapon system utilized heavily spoked wheels as opposed to solid types.
With production undertaken at speed amidst the worsening situation across Europe, the guns were readily available to Czech fighting forces. Despite this, the weapon was not used in anger by the Czechs and instead saw its best fighting days at the hands of the invading Germans where it was designated as 4.7cm PaK 36(t). The German Army utilized both fixed and wheeled versions of the gun for their part and its numbers allowed the service to standardize the type into its inventory. Some of the stock were fitted to tracked vehicles for the tank destroyer role. The series was able to succeed on the battlefields well into the final days of the war in 1945 - such was its exceptional design.
The KPUV vz. 37 was an offshoot developed from the vz. 36 model in 37mm caliber following initial results of the 47mm form in service with Czech troopers. Rubber-tired roadwheels quickly differentiated this design from the larger caliber model. However the newer design, also taken into service by the Germans, was retired from frontline service as soon as 1941.
Some vz. 36 guns are known to have ended up in Yugoslavia by way of Czech export before the war began.