The Czech Mint launches its four-coin look at the potent tanks that fought on both sides during the Second World War

A new series from the prolific Czech Mint features a favourite subject of ours, historical military hardware. Sadly, the 20th century is a veritable goldmine for weapons of destruction, containing an almost endless parade of brutal conflagrations in all areas of the globe, in which to develop them. The biggest of them all was the Second World War, that ran from 1939-1945, although it did grow from regional conflicts dating back to the Japanese invasion of China.

King of the battlefield in that period, in Europe and North Africa, at least, was the tank. It had debuted barely two decades previously, but development and utilisation in WW2 was on a much greater scale. Starting in 1939 with tanks that rarely approached 25 tons in weight, and with guns of a relatively small calibre, by 1945 tanks of almost double that weight were commonplace (one prototype hit a staggering 188 tons!), and guns had hit 88 mm, and even 128 mm.

The Czech Mint has chosen four tanks, one each from Britain, Russia, Germany, and the US, which show the different doctrinal, and technical approaches to tank warfare. Each coin is available in 1 oz silver (mintage 1,000), or 1/10 oz gold form (250), carrying the same design. This has a silhouette in profile of the tank at the top, a detailed perspective view of the tank in the centre, and a sectional tank track design forming a half-border, the last of which also features on the obverse (we have no images of that at present, but it’s the usual effigy of QEII).

The first coin has the British Cromwell tank as its subject, and the second the legendary Russian T34/76. Both are near perfect renditions, and a credit to the artist, Luboš Charvát. They’re not to the same level as the two Russian coins we looked at last year, but they are much cheaper in silver form. Unusually, each coin, both gold and silver, comes mounted to a faux catalogue card, packed with period photographs, and information on the tank (Czech language only, unfortunately). These can be collected in a custom folder,which cost €14. Both are available now, with the silver at €76, and the gold at €320. The German Tiger, and American Sherman will round out the set in November, and September respectively.

2022 MK.VIII CROMWELL (UNITED KINGDOM)

The so-called cruiser tanks, which formed the backbone of British armoured forces in the interwar period, were to operate independently of the infantry and heavy infantry tanks that accompanied them. They were designed to make forays deep into enemy territory and relied almost exclusively on speed. The extraordinary mobility of such tanks went hand in hand with their light weight, and they therefore possessed only thin armour and weak armament. When the cruiser tanks clashed with their much more powerful German counterparts in France and Africa, the British General Staff realized that it had to rethink its existing concept. So the first heavy cruiser tank named the Cromwell was born.

Its armour and firepower rivalled those of medium tanks, yet it remained agile. With its powerful and reliable Rolls-Royce Meteor engine, derived from the famous Merlin aircraft engine that powered such aircraft as the Spitfire fighter, it became the fastest British tank of the war years. Cromwells were first deployed during the Normandy landings in 1944. At the time, British tank regiments were armed primarily with American Shermans, but Cromwells also intervened in the fighting in Europe. They gave British tankers the opportunity to be equal opponents of the Germans. (Czech Mint)

2022 T-34 / 76 (RUSSIA)

When the Third Reich attacked the Soviet Union in June 1941, its troops clashed with the T-34/76 tanks, whose existence was kept secret. The bewildered Nazi command assumed that the enemy had only light tanks or clumsy multi-towered monsters at their disposal, but instead of that the German panzers encountered fast, easy to handle, and well armoured machines whose sloping armour provided twice the protection of the thickness of the steel plates used. As more and more powerful German machines appeared on the battlefield, the Soviets continually upgraded their medium tanks – especially in the turret area, which was very small.

The most significant change in design came in 1943, when the T-34/85 model was introduced. This tank helped to restore the balance of power on the eastern front. The T-34/76 and T-34/85 models were produced parallel to each other until 1944, when production of the original model ceased at 35,099 units. The T-34 tank in all its forms was not perfect, but it was quite possibly the best armoured tank of the Second World War. (Czech Mint)

THE COLLECTORS FOLDER

The Czech Mint has a good history of making the collecting together of their various coin sets, relatively easy. These often take the form of a wooden box, or more commonly of late, a themed tin. This time, it’s a small, themed ring binder, that will hold all four coins, and possibly all eight if you collect both variants, with ease. Unusually for the mint, the 14 Euro price seems a little high for what it is, but credit to them for making it available at all, as it’s something lacking from the overwhelming majority of producers today.

SPECIFICATION
DENOMINATION $1 NZD (Niue) $5 NZD (Niue)
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver 0.9999 gold
WEIGHT 31.1 grams 3.11 grams
DIMENSIONS 37.0 mm 16.0 mm
FINISH Proof Proof
MODIFICATIONS None None
MINTAGE 1,000 250
BOX / C.O.A. Card / Yes Card / Yes
CZECH MINT