Credited with one of the highest kill ratios of any vehicle in World War Two, yet despised by its users, the 76mm M18 ‘Hellcat’ still divides opinion today. Craig Moore reports on one restored example

The ‘Bronx Bruiser’ leaving Dorchester during the 2022 Armour and Embarkation column

‘The publicity department of Buick coined the label ‘Hellcat’ to be used in the vehicle’s advertising campaign’

Mike and Chris Phelps are the proud owners of a restored and fully working 76mm Gun Motor Carriage M18 Hellcat tank destroyer, which they named the ‘Bronx Bruiser’. If you have visited any military history show over the past ten years, or have watched the Armour and Embarkation military vehicle cavalcade as it passes along the streets of Dorset, there is a good chance you would have seen it. It was purchased from Bob Fleming in 2004, with the restoration process taking approximately five years. This M18 last served in the former Yugoslavian army and saw action during the civil war.

It had been hit by a shell and its engine was completely destroyed. However, it was replaced with an air-cooled V8 diesel to keep it in active service. Mike and Chris sourced an original M18 new old stock Continental R-975-C4 9-cylinder air-cooled radial 400hp engine – subsequently removing the diesel engine and installing the new one. There is clear battle damage on the front glacis plate. A section of the rear hull on the co-driver side also had shell damage.

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