Czech Republic to obtain rare Czechoslovak-built tank from Peru

LTP tank

The Czech Republic is to obtain an historic tank from Peru that was built specifically for export to the South American country in the 1930s. Prague’s Military History Institute, which falls under the Defence Ministry, and the Peruvian town of Mollendo recently signed an agreement by which Peru will make a gift of the tank to the Czech Republic. In return, it will receive a donation of 50,000 US dollars for the building of a new library.

LTP tank
The LTP 38 tank owned by Mollendo, Peru, was one of 24 tanks originally commissioned by the country in the 1930s and one of only eight still in existence. Soon, the unique tank, which was built specifically for high terrain by Czechoslovakia’s ČKD works, and equipped with military systems by Škoda Plzeň, will return to the Czech Republic, which until now had no sample of its own. Aleš Knížek is the head of the Military History Institute that signed the deal; he told me more about the LTPs.

“Peru in the mid-1930s took the decision to equip its army with tanks and the country approached around five firms in Europe including ČKD and Škoda Plzeň. ČKD won the tender due to overall quality, capable of producing tanks that manoeuvred exceptionally well at 4,500 metres above sea level. ČKD, together with Škoda Plzeň which provided the weapons systems, beat out firms such as Fiat, Vickers, Renault and others. The tanks were then delivered in 1938 and 1939 – before Nazi troops marched in to Czechoslovakia.”

Particularly interesting, says Aleš Knížek, is that in September 1938 the completed tanks still at ČKD were ready to take part in the defence of the republic, although in the end troops were ordered to stand down. They did see battle soon enough, in the conflict between Peru and Ecuador in the early 1940s, Knížek says. Today, only a few models remain. Aleš Knížek again:

Aleš Knížek
“I know of eight existing LTP tanks in Peru, that I saw with my own eyes. Most of them are on memorial pedestals and only two are complete, that means with the engine and the transmission system intact. One is even still roadworthy and is used in traditional military parades in Lima. Interestingly, the Military Academy has a large metal fresco honouring battles of the Peruvian army and that includes a depiction of the Czechoslovak-built tank.”

When the tank is delivered to the Czech Republic it will be on view to the public for a year in the courtyard of the Military History Institute in Prague, after which it will be transferred to the institute’s museum in Lešany, where it will undergo restoration work and then be added to the prestigious permanent exhibit.