Prior to World War II Škoda produced LT-35 and LT-38 tanks for the Czechoslovak Army, which were considered among the best tanks employed by any European army. However, the Czechoslovak Army never got a chance to use them.
Following the Munich Conference, Czechoslovakia was forced to surrender without fighting. The Škoda Works, with their skilled workforce, fell intact into the Germany's hands, and production of the tanks continued under their German labels Panzer 35(t) and Panzer 38(t). These tanks were used extensively by the Wehrmacht in the invasion of Poland in 1939, of France in 1940 and of the Soviet Union in 1941. The Škoda Works also contributed significantly to Nazi Germany's war effort in many other ways, throughout the war.
After the war the Škoda Works were nationalized by the Communist Czechoslovak Government, and privatized again after 1989.
The Škoda Works in The War That Came EarlyEdit
When Czechoslovak defeat became certain, the Czechoslovaks themselves thoroughly destroyed all that was left of the Škoda Works, so as to completely deny their use to the Germans. Many of the Škoda workers were killed or scattered in the fighting, and those who were left showed no enthusiasm to work for the German conquerors.
The Wehrmacht did capture some Czechoslovak tanks and press them into service. However, all technical information about their production had been destroyed. German engineers needed to go into a time-consuming process of dismantling and analyzing the captured tanks before they could begin producing more of them.
The German invasion of France had to be carried out mainly with far less advanced tanks, having considerably less firepower and thinner armor. This was a significant factor in the French Army not collapsing in face of the German offensive and finally rallying and blocking it at the Battle of Paris.
By 1940, the Škoda Works had been rebuilt and were turning out more Czech tanks for the German army and these took an active part in the invasion of the Soviet Union. The Nazis made the point of using the Škoda Works to produce the same tanks which had been produced by the Czechs, rather than prduce there the German Panzers. Moreover, soldiers in the field who saw these tanks indetified them as " Czech tanks" even when they had been produced by the German-controlled factory.