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Battle of |l ; l:l,r l::, rt ill:u:ti t:rl
Volume 8 Ise lll
Published by
Orbis Publishing Ltd
@ Aerospace Publishing Ltd 1985
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llrril(Destro ers
of we-- dllilarll
Successful tank desigms are the product of a carefuf The small frontal atea of the
compromise between firepower, protection and. mobility, J adgpanzer 38(t) Hetzer made the
vehicle a difficult target to spot or hit,
Nevertheless, during World War II many of the belligerent which assisted greatly in the Hetzels
nations resorted to producing 'tank desttoyers', vehicles overall prctection. The Hetzer
mounted a75-mm (2.95-in) modified
which sacrtficed, armour, speed or Ilexibility in order to catry tankgun andwasfast, handy and
a much more powerfuJ ga n than contemporary tanks. relatively easy to produce.

The tank destroyer was very much a product of the milrtary and econo- to defeat a tank was to use another tank. The tank destroyer could be
mic developments peculiar to World War IL During the war years the used for thrs purpose but at a cost in weapon flexibiiity and all too often r:
tank destroyer flourished for various reasons which will be described tn protection for the crew.
this study, but rn the years that followed 1945 the type all but vanished, Tank destroyers were also important during World War il for pwel-.-
and it is a rare thing to find rn modern iank parks, The truth was (and sttll economic and production reasons, Among the types of tank destroyel
Ls) that the tank destroyer has severe limitations as a fighting vehtcle, but and German Panzerjdrger (tank hunter) were some superb frghtrng
ihat it was capable of carrying a large-calibre gun, one far heavier than vehicies such as the Hetzer, the Ml8 Hellcat and the superlative Jagi-
-he correspondrng tank chassls of the time could ever carry and fire. panther, of which the last would be a viable frghtrng machine today. Bu.
The tank destroyer and the tank were very different beasts. Although there were some dreadful lash-ups that were undergunned, lackec
-hey often used identical chassis, and at times even looked alike, they protection for their unfortunate crews and, in addition to these farlings
'rere markedly dissimrlar when it came to combat, The tanks with their were so underpowered ihey had difficulty in moving at combat speeds
:ombination of flrepower, mobrlity and protection usually had the com- Add to these lumbering monsters such as the Jagdtiger,and the scope c:
bat edge over the tank destroyer wrth its limited-traverse armament and thrs study can be appreciated,
relatrvely thin armoured protection, but to be set against thrs the tank
iestroyer usually had the more powerful gun and a low silhouette that
qave it the edge in concealment. There was at one time the philosophy The Gun Motor Carriage M36 was a late war version of the M10 series
mounting a 90-mm (3.54-in) anti-aircraft gun as a counter to the German
,hat as tanks were not expected to fight tanks, specralized tank des- equivalents.ltwas used in Europe from late1944 onwards, but never in large
royers would have to be used. This approach did not last long under the numbers.Itwas relatively lightly armoured and the tufiet hadno overhead
severe strictures of combat, where it was soon learned that the best way protection.
Panzerjigrer I
-,r'ten
the first PzKpfw I (Panzerkampf- shreld that was left open at the top and
-,';agen I) light tanks were produced in rear. The crew consisted ofthe driver,
,334 it was intended that they would still usrng his original PzKpfiri I posi-
be used only as trainingr vehicles, but tion, and two men serving the gun. A
-: rne event they had to be used as total of 74 rounds could be carried as
::mbat tanks during the early war standard, although more could be
-.'ears for the simple reason that larger added to this total. The chassis mainly
ald heavier tanks were not yet avail- used for the conversion was that ofthe
able rn sufflcient numbers But the PzKpfw I Ausf B.
PzKplw I had a crew of a mere two The Panzerj6rger Is served in North
nen. carried only a machine-gun Africa and during the early stagres of
ilnament and was poorly protected the camparqns in the Soviet Union.
by thin armour. By no stretch of the They proved to be powerful enougrh to
rnaqdnation was it a viable batile tank defeat opposing tanks, but their over:
and most were phased out of use after all lack of protection for the crew made
:le end of 1940 (but retarned for the them very lrrlnerable targets. Accor-
:ngrnal training role), Thrs left a num- dtngly when better equrpments be-
ber ofspare tank chassrs wrth no oper- came available they were withdrawn
aiicnal role, so the opportunity was from front-line use and assigned to
:aken to convert these vehicles into the theatres where they could be used for ThisSdKfz 101 Panzerjdger I was the mounted an ex-Czech 4.7-cm
:JSt German self-propeiled gun, policrng rather than for combat duttes. first example captured by the Allies (1.85-in) anti-tankgun in an open
It had already been decided that Among the iocatrons so honoured inNorth Africa andwas subjected to mounting that used only a frontal
scme form of mobile anti-tank gun were the Balkans, where the vehicles a great deal of technical scrutiny. It shield for crew protection.
,'rould be a great asset to the anti-tank were used on anti-partisan operations,
'mits who would otherwise have to use Units operating on the Eastern Front
lo-red gnrns. Thus the first example of after about the end of 1942 frequently
.:s requirement was met by mounting removed the giuns and used the chas-
a 3.7-cm (1,456-in) Pak 35/36 onto a sis for supply carrying, and some unrts
rrretless PzKpfw L WhLle thrs conver- replaced their Czech gmns with cap-
ston showed promise it was
not tured ex-French 47-mm guns, Few
adopted because even by mid- 1940 it Panzerjeiger Is remarned in use after
,,vas appreciated that the 37-mm gmn mid-1944.
lacked power to deal with future
arrnour, Thus a Czech 47-mm (1.85-in)
antrtank qtun was mounted instead, Specification
and this combination was adopted for Panzerjiger I
service as the Panzerjiiger I fiir 4.7-cm Crew:3
Pal<(t). Weight: 6000 kq ( 13,228 Ib)
The Czech gun was a powerful Powerplant:one Maybach NL 38 6-
lard-hrtting weapon that was well cap- cylrnder perrol engrne developing
able of penetrating most armour it was 74.6 kW (lO0 hp)
1,kely to encounter and Alkett AG pro- Dimensions: Iength overall4. 14 m (i3 ft
iuced a total of 132 conversions, The 7 in); wrdth 2.013 m (6 ft 7,25 in); heisht
result was very much a flrst attempt for 2.1 m (6 ft 10.7 in)
aLi that was required was to remove the Performance: maximum road speed
:rignnal turret, plate over the front of 40 km/h (24.8 mph); rangre 140 km (87 This photograph of a Panzerjiiger I Iifeof thePzKpfw I lighttank.The
.ie turet ring and afiange a small miles); gradient 57 per centt vertical shows the extemporized nature of gunwas powerful enough, but the
.'.': lk-ng platlorm over lhe engine cov- obstacle 0,37 m (14,6 in); trench 1.4 m this earlyGerman conversion, made mounting pr ov ide d vir tu aLly no
The gun was mounted in a small (4 ft 7 in); fordins 0 6 m (2 ft) in an attempt to prolong the service protection.
=:s
GERMANY

Marder II
-:-.
-.;th the PzKpfw I, when the PzKpfw tection, To accommodate the weight of
-- eliered service in 1935 rt was meant the gn-rn the engine was moved to the
.: be used only as a training and de- rear of the hull and the engrne covers
.'el:pment tank. In the event it had to were used as a working platform to
i:: .sed as a combat tank from 1939 to selve the Emn, The vehicle was known
-:12 smply because there were not as the Marder II (Marder meaning
::-,:.:qh combat tanks to replace the marten) although other and more
.'.'p: which acquitted itself well cumbersome designations (such as
::=-:'-gr despite the fact that 1ts main 7.5-cm Pak 40/2 aufSlfII) were used on
:::-:rr.ent -oas limited to a 2-cm can- official documents,
:,::- i:1' 1941 the PzKpfir II was over- The Marder II remained in produc-
:*e :cr replacement as its armament tton until 1944 and became one of the
-.';=': ..ci abie to penetrate other than most widely used of all the many Ger-
-.::-skri targets and the small tuffet man sellpropelled gun conversions,
:-::;: coi;1d not accommodate a heavier In production terms it was manufac-
r.':apon. However, the productton ltne tured rn greater numbers than any
::r ::e chassrs was still rn being and at other weapon of its type, for 1,2 l7 were
--:-: .r:re it seemed to be too valuable to made. The Marder II was certainly a
,l'.s:e so the opportunity was taken to handy and efficrent weapon in combat
r: :.,:r lhe PzKpfw ll to a Panzerjager for it was relatively small, had a good
,.1e prototype of this new Panzerjd- cross-country performance and the The SdKfz I31 Marder II mounted a thePzKpfwll Ausf A,C orF, 1217
;::,';as fltted with a S-cm (1,97-in) anti- gun could knock out virtually any 7.1-cm ( 2.9 5 -in) Pak 40/ 2 and was one were produced to be used on all
::::< !nin. but the fu]I production ver- enemy tank other than super-heavy of the more important of the fronts. The crew was four, including
s-:-=,'ras fitted with a special versron of Soviet tanks such as the IS-2. Racks for Panzerj iiger conversions. Based on the driver.
-.'-: : 5-cm (2.95-in) Pak 40 antt{ank 37 rounds were provided over the en-
;-: known as the Pak 40/2. This gine covers and there was also space often reduced by one man to conserve novel equipment could have but little
1:','.'erir-rl gun was the German army's for stowingr 600 rounds for the manpower, but the deveiopment of the impact on the outcome of the war.
. --iald anti-tank weapon and the in- machine-gmn usually carried; this was type did not cease. During the latter
:::p:raiion of greater mobility added a 7.92-mm (0.312-in) MG34 or MG42, stages of the war some Marder IIs
:::-s-ierably to the gun's anti-armour Most Marder II production was sent were equipped with infra-red search-
; -.=:iral The qnrn was placed behind to the Eastem Front, but the Marder II lights for engaging tarqets at night and Specification
r -,-nm (0.39-in) thick armoured was found wherever German troops some of these equlpments were used Marderll
.,-,-:.j ihat sloped to the rear to pro- were in action, By i944 the type was in action on the Eastem Front duringt Crew: 3 or 4
. -i= :he grm crew with adequate pro- out of production and the crew was the last staqres of the war, By then such Weight: I iO00 ks (24,25 L Ib)
Marder II (continued) Tank Destroyers of World War II
i*( .
,_,,1.

\:

:i:
!,,i

AMarder II with the7.j-cm (2.95-in) Powerplant:one Maybach HL 62 Performance: maximum road speed This profile of the Marder II shows
Pak40/2 gun barrel clamps lowered. petrol enqine developing 104.4 kW 4Akrn/h(24,8 mph); roadrange 190 km the rather high mounting of the
Althoughthisvehiclewas one of the (140 hp) ( I IB miles): gradient 57 per cenr; 7.5-cm (2.95-in) Pak40/2, a specia!
more important (numerically) of the Dimensions:length 6,36 m (20 ft vertical obstacle 0.42 m ( 16, 5 in); version of the standard G erm an ar ::.
Panzerjdger, itwas rather high and 10.4 in); width 2,28 m (7 ft 5.8 in); heisht trench l,B m (5 ft 1 I in); fording 0,9 m tank gun of the late waryears.
g e ne rally lac ke d protection. 2.20 m(7 ft 2,6 in) (35ln)

Marder III
l:ere were two self-propelled gmns model, The frrst of the Pak 4O-armed
:at were known Marder III, and
as the Marder IIIs were rushed lnto action
:3th used the same chassis, a deriva- durinq the last stases of the Tunisian
:-:n of the Skoda TNHP-S tank chassis. campaign where some were cap-
lls tank had onginally been pro- tured, providing Ailied intelligence
r:ced by the Skoda factory at Pilsen staffs with somethinq to muli over But
-:: the Czech army but with the their 'find' did not last for long for the
=nexation
of the Czech state by Ger- Marder III was soon to underqo
::any in 1939 the Skoda works con- another transformation,
-:.ied production of tanks under the Up to 1943 the various German self-
::signation PzKpfw 3B(t) for the Ger- propelled guns using the Skoda chas-
::.ir army. The Germans introduced sis used the PzKpfw 3B(t) tank as a
- =ry producrion and in-servrce basis, However, with some early con-
-:-lrges to the orrginal Skoda design, vetsions (including the original Mar-
- .r by 1941 the PzKpfir 3B(t) may be der III) the vehicies were nose-healry,
:=;arded as a German desiqn, but the which at times limited mobrlrty Usrngr
,r-::.nal tullet was too small to carry the orrgrnal Czech desrgn as a basis
-.--:1Dons powerful
enouqh to defeat German enqdneers now relocated the
::,.my armour after 1941 and the engine at the front of the chassrs and
-:-srs was then kept in production for moved the 'working platform' to the
. : -mber of alternative pxrposes. rear to produce a specialized self-
l:e of these purposes came to hght propelled gnrn carrier, As soon as this
--. -:-11. The appearance oftanks such became available Marder III produc-
.- :,= Sovret T-34 meant for a while that tion changed once more to the new
= 3erman army had no anti-tank gmn Panzerjiger 38(t) Ausf M fiir 7.5-cm
: - ,-,-:rful enough to knock them out Pak 40/3 confiqn-rration with the gnrn and
.: : :ll manner of hasty improvisations its protection mounted at the rear of
"=:: made to counter this state of the vehrcle, This provrded a much bet- The laterMarder IIIyhad the main more handyvehicle, and nearly 8Cl
.
'-
-:s. One was to take the chassis of ter balanced vehicle and the new gun position moved to therear of the were produced, still using the bas:c
= :zKpfw 3B(t) and mount on rt a cap chassis was also used to mount a var.e- chassrs and tfte engine to the front. components of the PzKpfw 3B(t) ta:.-i<
-=i Soviet fleid gmn, the 76.2-mm (3- ty of other weapons. The late type of This provided a better-balanced and
I.l:del 1936. This was a very grood Marder III was manufactured by BMM
-r:-oinpose weapon that could be of Prague, and when production
-i=r as an anti-tank weapon and the ceased in May 1944 799 had been
,=:::-ans even went to the lenqth of made. They were used on all fronts.
". '.':riing some for use as speclalized
. - - :ik gn:ns, On the PzKplW 3B(t) the Specification
'.','.s
r,:
-=
mounted in a fixed shreld and Panzerjdger 38(t) Ausf M
:::version
'?42
went into production in Crew: 4
. ':
.- as the Marder iIi, otherwise Weisht: 11000 kq (24,251 lb)
= ?aruerjiger 3B(t) fur 7.62-cm Pak Powerplant: one Praga AC petrol
-: : '.me 344 of these conversions engine developinq 1 1 1,9 kW (150 hp)
=- = :::ade, and the Marder III was Dimensions: lenqrth overall4.65 m ( 15 ft
- -- --r: only on the Eastern Front but 3. I in)t width 2,35 m (7 ft 8,5 in); height
,-:-n Africa and elsewhere 2 48 m (B ft 1,6 in)
' -
=-.-.i it was at the time regarded Performance: maximum road speed
: : i-opgap until sufficrenl num- 42ktn/h(26 mph); roadrangre 140 km
r-- .-,- b:came
:re German 7,5-cm (2,95-in) (BZ miles); gradient 57 per cent;
avarlable. When this vertical obstacle 0,84 m (33 in); trench
'-.::-=:-: during 1942 productron of
J--.' :,-qmnned Marder III ceased
1.3 m (4 ft 3 in); fording 0,9 m (35 in)

:. - .r li the German-gfirnned ver-


. ':-:,:.--.n
-.r::r:renced. The qudchassis This Marder III was captured in
was still called the Mar- N orth Africa in April I I 43 and
- -, ::: had the desrqnation Pan- mounted its 7.S-cm (2.91-in) Pak40/3
::::je: 38(t) Ausf H fiir 7.5-cm Pak in a central position.ltwas avery
-.' : -... -+o a slrohlly orllerrno grun simple conversion of a Czech tank
-.: =--.: mountrnq from the earlier chassis butwas effective enough.
TheTcrnkDestroger
Tank destroyers were as much the product of expediencyas
combat doctrine ; specifically-designed' tank killers' were
soon supplemented by obsolescent vehicles modified to carry
massive anti-tank guns. The German late-war tank destroyers
took the concept to its logical conclusion andwere capable of
dealing with any tank on the battlefield.
The concept of the tank destroyer as a vehicle different from the battle tan k may
be considdred to originate in two basic philosophies: one is the concept of the
tank destroyer as an brmed vehicle produced specif ically for tactioal deployment
as a tank k,ller; and tne other is the philosopny ol using existing tanks or other
armoured vehicles to carry weapons larger and more powerful than those tor
which they were originally designed. Boih philosophies were current in World
War ll.
The concept of vehicles designed specif ically as anti-armour weapons-w^as
very much a iesult of American ihinking during the late 1930s and early 1940s
The Americans came up with the ideb that fast-moving armoured columns,
epitomized by the Panzer divisions of the German army, could be arresfed in
tAeir forward'progress only by the use of massed high-velocity guns of large
calibre, both towed and seif-propelled. At that time it was fashionable in some
armies to consider that tanks would not meet tanks in combat, but exactly why
is now diff icult to fathom for it soon emerged that the tank was indeed the ideal
platform with which to counter enemy tanks. The tank had good. mobi,lity, a
lowerf ul main armament and protection for the crew in combat. The vehlcles
ihat emerged as the specialized tank destroyers used by the US Army lacked
this overallbalance. While they did indeed have powerf ul main guns;they lacked TheAmericanMll was used by severalof theAllied armies including thatof
protection for the crew and with the exception of the remarkable M1B Hellcat French, seen here on exercises in North Africa. The M 10 was based
the Free
their overall performance in actlon was such that they gained liltle in mobility onthewidely-usedM4 chassis, butwasrelatively lightly armoured and had an
over conveniional tanks. By 1 944 this had been realized bythe US Army, and the open4opped turret mounting the main 7.62 - mm (3-in) high velocity gun.
specialized tank destroyei vehicles were diverted to the more conventional
aimoured formations, by which they were used as assault guns or even self-
propelled artillery
ihus the Ameiican tank destroyer concept may now be seen as an aberration,
and it was in the second concept that the tank destroyer had its main origins
during World War ll, Many of the tanks that were ln use when World War ll
begai may now be seen as being undergunned, a situatlon common to nearly all
tarik designs of the period wheriit was donsidered that there would be little call
for tank glns with calibres larger than about 40 mm ('1 .57 in) on the grounds that
opposlng tanks would be relatively lightly armoured and that really heavy guns
would thus not be needed. Therefore, tanks could be produced that were
relatively small and possessed of small turrets and, more importantly, small
turret rings. This state of affairs did not last long once eombat started in earnest
during 1940: lt was soon learned that new tanks had thicker and thicker armour
bandd applied to their hulls, and the only way to get through this armour was to
use heaVier projectiles f ired f rom larger-calibre guns. Thrs was acutely demons-
trated by the arirval of the T-34 tankS during 1941, for with their combination of
thick armour and a powerf ul 76-mm (3-in) gun they were virtually invulnerable to
German countermbasures for a period. Even before the arrival of the T-34 the
British Matilda had demonstrated during May 1940 that its armourwas proof
guns. Based on thewidely-used Panzer IV chassis, theJadgpanzer IV combineda
"The existing German anti-tank and tank
against
powerfulT.S-cm (2.95-in) Pak 39 gunwith a )owwell-armoured supersttucture
main problem for tank designers lay in the turret ring, which absorbed
most of the gun recoilforces. Most tanks of that period were already titted w th andgood overall performance.Well-sloped armour added to the overall
weapons as'large in calibre as their turret rings could bear. The only way to fit protection for thecrew offour. Laterversions mounted a longer7.5-cm gun.

This Elefant, captured inltaly, bears awrittenwarning that booby traps are TheSdKfz 139 MarderIII series was typicalof the improvisedPanzeri|ger
suspecled lo ft ave been attached. This photograph shows the size of the main produced by the Germans that were still very efficient fighting vehicles. Based
fig*ting compartmentfor the crew of six, but this made it abulkyvehicle that on a Czechfankcfiassis, the Marder III carried a 7.5-cm (2.95-in) Pak 40/3 gun
was difficult to hide and easy to hit. and was handy and powertd for its role.This is an early type.

:a=
Tank Destroyers of World War II
bigger guns was to produce tanks wlth larger turret rings and that took time,
more time than could usually be spared. Designing a tank from scratch and
setting up the necessary production lines from nothing was a lengthy process
which only nations such as the United States could eveh contemplate overcom-
ing in a short time. Thus many of the early World War ll tanks were virtually
obsolete within a few months of taking the field, yet some form of vehicle to
mount larger guns had to be found.
The answer was the conversion of the existlng tanks to accommodate new
superstructures in which the larger-callbre guns could be mounted in limited-
traverse mountings. Usually this meant removing the old turret and turret ring
and building onto the chassis a boxlike superstructure, usually with sloped sides
to improve projectile def lection, with the new gun mounted on the f ront plate.
There were many of these conversions du ring the years '1 940 to 1 943, usually by
the German army who termed their conversions Panzerj6ger (tank hunters), for
the conversions were intended as tank destroyers. One irnportant fact to
remember when considering the.Panzerjdger is that theywere not tanks. One of
the main attributes of the tank is still its combination of f irepower, mobility and
protection, and the Panzerjdger/tank destroyer often lacked at least two of these
attributes. Most of the PanzerjSger and their ilk were only thinly armou red. And,
being vehicles from an earlier generation, they were generally underpowered
for the new loads they had to carry, and mobility was thus impaired.
The early generation of conversions was replaced by full production exam-
ples, at first by using existing production lines and then by deslgning and
producing purpose-built designs specif ically for the Panzerjdger/tank destroyer
role. For nations such as Germany this was a deliberate policy to boost the
number of armoured vehlcles in the field, for it was appreciated by them that a
lrmited-traverse mounting on a tracked chassis could be produced in less time The SdKfz I 84 Elefant (or Ferdinand) was first used in action at Kursk in I 945
and at far less cost than a turreted tank on the same chassis. This expediency andwas afailure, as itcarried no secondary armament andwas thus
cost something tactically. for the limited-traverse main armament had severe vulnerable to Soviettank-killer squads. Althoughitwas meant tobe a
iactical disadvantages. Panzerj 6ger it was oflen used as an assault gun.
The main disadvantage was the limited traverse itself. ln mobile armoured
warfare targets can appear from any point of the compass, and if a target
appeared to the side of a Panzerjdger the entire vehicle had to be turned towards
t, which often took too long: once the Panzerjdger had been turned the target
rad elther gone or had been able to get in its first important shot, with all its
consequences. Set against this was the fact that the tank destroyers with their
iow huils often had a much lower silhouette than corresponding tanks, so they
rvere easier to conceal, the Hetzer providing the supreme example. They were
ihus usually used as ambush weapons that could lle in wait for targets and then
'nove out after f iring before being spotted for the inevitable retaliation; here the
3ntish Archer provides a good example.
Thus the World War ll tank destroyer was very much a compromise between
,veapon power and production expediency. lt was relatively easy to produce but
n action lacked the overall combat eff iciency of the tank. lt relied almost entirely
:n its main weapon for its existence, as the limited-traverse mounting could
:arry a gun much heavier than that of a tank of similar size and weight. Later
jesigns had far more power than the hasty improvisations of the war years, and
.rus had more mobility.
After World War ll the tank destroyer concept all but died, and today there are
:nly a few in-service armoured vehicles thirt ref lect the philosophies of the war
.ears, some of these are based on the use of guided missiles. lt has been This is an SdKfz 132 PzKpfw II conversiontocarry acapturedSovietT.62-cm
:ccepted that the best counter to the tank ls another tank, and now that the gun.The conversionused a new large-wheeled suspension and a new hull
::oduction pressures of wartime have gone, the tank destroyer has all but andwas sometimes knownas theMarder IL The ex-sovietgunswere fitted
::ssed away. with Pak 40 muzzle brakes.

?ommel inspects a rather awkward-looking conversion of old French Thesevehicles areconversions of thePzKpfw II Ausf D or E light tanks -,,,-::.
iotchkiss H.39 tankcftassjs fo carry a 7.5-cm (2.95-in) Pak 40 gun. This Luchs (Lynx) suspension and captured Soviet 7.62-cm (3-in) fieldgurs.
:onversion was made in early 1944 in an attempt to provide more weapons for rechambered to fire German anti-tank ammunition. They were usec' -:1--_,
:e defences ofnorthern France, and aboutT2 conversionswere produced. on the Eastem Front but some were used in France during 1944.
iT#"'
Although tank-destroyer conversions
of existing tank chassis to produce
weapons such as the Marder lll were
moderately successful, the results
were, rn overall terms, high and clum-
sy vehicles that lacked finesse and
showed every srqn of the haste in
which they had orrgrnally been pro-
duced, In contrast, the various Sturm-
qeschiitz close-support artillery vehi-
cles demonstrated on many occasions
that they too could be used as tank
destroyers, and thus in 1943 it was de-
cided to produce a light Panzerjdger
along Sturmgteschiitz lines, the chassis
of the PzKpfw 3B(t) being taken as the
basis,
The result was one of the best of all tion for the new Czech army, The Het- 2,50 m (B ft2,4 in); heiqht 2 10 m (6 ft This Jadgpanzer 38(t) Hetzer has a
the German Panzerjiiger, the Jagdpan- zer was even exported to Switzerland 10,7 in) roof- mou nted remote control
zer 38(t) fiu 7.5-cm Pak 39, or Hetzer between 1947 and 1952, the Swiss Performance: maximum road speed m achine- grun for local and s elt-
(baiter, as in bull-baitinEt), The Hetzer army using these Hetzers until the 39krn/h(24,2 mph); roadrange 250 km protection. The small stand-off
used the basic engine, suspension and 1970s, ( I 55 miles); grradient 75 per cent; armour side plates are fitted with the
running gear ofthe PzKpfw 3B(t) allied The wartime Hetzers were used for vertical obstacle 0,65 m (25,6 in); large road wheels providing more
to a new atmoured hull that sloped a series of trials and various weapon trench L3 m (4 ft 3,2 in); fording 0,9 m side-on protection.Well over 1,500 of
inwards to provide extra protection for mountings, At one point trials were (35 in) these vehicle s wer e produce d.
the crew of four, The armament was carried out with guns connected
the usual 7,5-cm (2.95-in) Pak 39 mod- directly to the front hull armour and
ifled for the vehicle, along with a roof- with no recoil mechanism fltted to see
mounted machine-gmn, Production of if the concept would work (it did), One
the new vehicle began in Pragn:e at the trial model was an assault howitzer
end of 1943 and also involved were mounting a lS-cm (5,9-in) infantry
factorres at Pilsen, Koniqgraitz, BOhm howitzer and there were several simr
and Breslau, These factories were lar projects, but none reached the pro-
soon working flat out, for the Hetzer duction stage for the assembly lines
proved to be a very successful grln/ had to concentrate on churning out
chassis combination: tt was small and more and more basic Hetzers to meet
low, yet it was well protected and had demands,
very good cross-country pedormance, The Hetzer is now reqarded as one
The gn:n could knock out all but the of the best of all the German Panzerjd-
very heaviest enemy tanks, yet the ger for it was a powerful little vehicle
Hetzer itself was very difflcult to knock that was much mote economical to
out and in combat it was so small as to produce and use than many of the lar-
be virtually invisible to the enemy gun- ger vehrcles, Despite berng armed
ners. Calls for more and mote came with only a 75-mm gnrn, it could knock
from the front line, to the extent that by out nearly every tank it was likely to
late 1944 all available PzKpfw 3B(t) pro- find and yet it was little higher than a
ductlon was diverted towards the Het- standinq man,
zer, Production continued until the fac-
tories were overun in May 1944, by Specification
which trme 1,577 had been built. Hetzer
Several versrons of the Hetzer were Crew:4
produced: one was a flamethrower, Weisrht: 14500 kq (31,967 Ib)
the Flammparuer 38(t), and another a Powerplant: one *aga ACl2800petrol
Iigrht recovery version, the Bergepan- engine developing I I 1,9-1 19.3 kW The low height of the Hetzer can be protection and the lack of a muzzle
zer 38(t). But the Hetzer story did not (150-160 hp) clearly appreciated. Note the weII- brake, usually fitted to other German
cease in 1945. It was not long before Dimensions: lengrth overall 6,20 m (20 ft shaped'Saukopf (pig's head) gun vehicles of this type.
the Hetzer was placed back in produc- 4. I in) and hull4,B0 m (15 ft 9 in); u'tdth mantlet that provided extra head-on

g i-,i[o"*er IV
Combat experience gained dwinq the
1942 campaigns indicated to German
staff planners that the existing Sturm-
geschi.itz close support artillery vehi
cles would have to be upgnrnned ifthey
were to continue to be used as tank-
destroyers, and the future standard
weapon was selected as the long ver-
sion of the 7,5-cm (2.95-in) tank gn:n
fitted to the Panther tank. Thts gun was
70 calibres long (as opposed to the
49-calibre lenqth of the tank and antt-
tank versions of the Pak 40 family) and
to house this gnrn in vehicles such as
the Sturmgeschiltz IIi would require
considerable modifications. These
modifications would take time so it was
decided to adapt the larger PzKpfw IV
tank chassis to act as a 'fail safe' model, examples had to be content with 48- thad the hulVturret combination of the TheJagdpanzer IV (SdKfz I 62) was a
Desigm work was soon under way on calibre quns, tank, and mounted the gpn in a well- Panzerjdger version of the PzKpfw IV
this new model, which emerged tn The first of these Jagtdpanzer IVs protected mantlet on the front hull. The tank and housed its 7.1-cm (2.9 5-in)
1943 as the Jagdparuer IV Ausf F fii,r appeared in October 1943, They con- result was well-liked by the Panzerjii- main gun in a superstructure formed
7.5-cm Pak 39 or Panzerjiger 39, but by srsted of the well-tried suspension and qter crews, who appreciated the low from well- slope d armoured p lates.
the time the first examples were ready engine layout of the PzKpfiw IV allied to silhouette and the well-protected hull, This is anearlyexamplewith the
the long 7,5-cm gnrns were earmarked a new armoured carapace with well- so the Jagdpanzer IV was soon rn gneat gruns still retaining the muzzle brake,
for the Panther tanks and so the first sloped sides. This hull was much lower demand, The qun was powerful an item later omitted.

rB66

t
Jagdparuer IV (continued) Tank Destroyers of World War II
enough to tackle virtually any enemy simply had to be overlooked, for the
tank, and rn action the Jagdpanzer IV Allies were at the gates of the Reich
was soon knocking up appreciable and anything that could be put into the
'ki11' totals, especially on the Eastern field was used.
Front where most were sent. The The Jaqdpanzer IV proved to be a
secondary armament of two 7,92-mm sound PanzerjiiQler that enabled the
(0,312-in) MG34 or MG42 machine- Germans to utilize exrstinq production
gmns also proved highly effective, capacity and maintain the PzKpfim IV
Many Panzer commanders const- line in being when it would otherwise
dered that the Jagdpanzer IV was have been phased out. In service the
good enouqh in its orignnal form to re- Jagrdpanzer IV was a popular vehicle
quire no upgnrnninq but Hltler insisted and a powerful tank-killer,
that the change to the lonq gnrn had to
be made, Thus durrnq 1944 someJagd- Specification
panzer IV mit 7.5-cm Stuk 42 equip- Jagdpanzer IV mit 7.S-cm Stuk 42
ments with the longer L/70 gun Crew:4
appeared, but the changeover on the Weight: 25800 ks (56,879 ]b)
production line took time, too much Powerplant: one Maybach HL 120
time for Hitler, who insrsted that the petrol engine developinq 197.6 kW
changeover to the new gnrn had to be (265 hp)
made even if it meant divertinq all Dimensions: length overall B 58 m (28 ft
PzKpfw IV tank production to that end. 1,8 in); width 2,93 m (9 ft 7.4 in); height
Thus a third Jagdpanzer IV appeared, overall 1;96 m (6 ft 5,2 in)
this time a hasty conversion of a basic Performance: maximum road speed
PzKpfw IV hull to take a form of Jagd- 35 krn/h (22 mph); road range 2 14 km
panzer IV sloping carapace and ( 133 miles): gradrent 57 per cent:
mounting the 70-ca[bre gmn. This con- vertical obstacle 0,6 m (23.6 in); trench
version was known as the Panzer N/70 2.3 m (7 ft 6.6 in); fording 1,2 m (3 ft
Zwischenlosung (interim) and was in il in)
production by late 1944,
In service the 70-calibre qmn Jagd-
panzer IVs proved to be powerful tank
killers, but the extra weight of the longr This early production J agdpanzer IV
qun made the vehicles nose-heauy to has the muzzle brake still fitted. Later
the extent that the front road wheels versjons used a much longer 7. 5 - cm
had to be ringed with steel instead of (2.95-in) maingun, hutthis longer
rubber to deal with the extra weight, gun rather overloaded lhe cftassi5
The gmn weight also reduced the over- and later versions also used side
all performance of the vehlcle, espe- armour plates. This P anzerj dger was
cially across rough terrain, But by late later considered to be one of the best
1944 and early 1945 such drawbacks of its type.

GERMANY

Nashorn
During the mid-war years the German
army carrred out a large number of
hurried improvisations in order to qet
useful numbers of Panzerjdger into the
field, and some of these improvrsations
fared better than others. One ofthese
hasty measures was the adoption of the
specral weapon-carrier vehicle that
had originally been produced to carry
the large l5-cm (5.9-in) sFH 18 field
howitzer and known as the Geschiitz-
wagen IIVIV as it was based on the
chassis of the PzKpfw IV but used
some of the drive components of the
PzKpfw IIL Despite the grreat demand
for lhe arlillery versron ol lhs weapon
carrier it was decrded to adapt it to
carry the largre B,B-cm (3.46-in) Pak 43
anti-tank qun as the B.B-cm Pak 43/I auf
GW IMV. The first of these new Pan- was often used as a 'stand-off weapon B,B-cm Pak 43/4 1, a weapon introduced TheSdKfz 164 Hornissewas the frrct
zerjiiger were issued during 1943, and that was able to use the considerable to speed up production ofthe Pak 43; Panzerjdger to mount the 8.9-cm
-&e type went under two names: the power and longt-rangte accuracy of its although it was manufactured dif- (3.46-in) Pak43/1, andused the same
official name was Nashorn (rhi- gn-rn to pick off tarQiets at ranqes of ferentiy from the original it was iden- cfiassr's as lheHummel
roceros) but Hornisse (hornet) was 2000 m (2, lB7 yards) and more; most of tical as far as balhstics were con-
also widely applied, the other Panzerjdqer types fouqht at cerned, The Nashorn carried a
The Nashorn was very much one of much closer combat ranqes, machine-gn-rn for local defence and the Specification
the lnterim' Panzerjdger designs, for The Nashorn carried a crew of five crew was supposed to be tssued with Nashorn
although the gnrn was mounted behind with only the driver under complete at least two sub-machrne gmns. Crew:5
armour at the front and sides this armoured protection. The rest of the Most Nashorn production was cen- Weight: 24400 ks (53,793 1b)
armour was relatively thin, ;ind the top crew was carried in the open fightlng tred at the Deutsche Eisenwerke. at Powerplant: one Maybach HL 12C
ald rear were open. The gun mount- compartment with only a canvas cover Teplitz-Schonau and Duisburg, and by petrol engine developinq 197.6 kr,';
rng itself was rather hrgh, so the to protect it from the elements. Most of the time the last of the vehicles rolled (265 hp)
Nashorn had defrnite combat deficien- the 40 rounds carned were located in ofI the lines during 1944 473 had been Dimensions: length overall8.44 r
cies, not the least of which was the lockers along the sides of the open made, in combat the powerful gnrn 8.3 in) and hull S B0 m (19 ft 0.3 :.
problem of concealinq the height and compartment and the gunner was made the Nashorn a potent vehicle/ ::
width 2,86 m (9 ft 4.6 rn); heiglt 2 o:
bulk of the vehicle on a battlefreld As equipped not only with the usual drrect weapon combination, but it was really (B ft 8.3 in)
ihe chassis had been intended as an
artillery carrier the bulk problem was
vision sighting devices but also with
artillery dial sights for the occastons
too high and bulky for the Panzeaager
role and only a shortaqe of anything
Performance: maxrmum roai :r
- :
40 km/h (24.8 mph); range 2rl ]c-
ongnnally of little moment, but for a when the Pak 43 could be used as a better at the time maintatned the type (130,5 miles); gnadient 57 pe: :::-:
Panzerjager it was of considerable im- long-range artillery weapon, During in production, As it was it was suc- vertical obstacle 0.6 m (23 e ::,' ::-::
-Dortance, making the stalking of tank the latter stages of production the Pak ceeded by the Jagdpanther, 2.3 m (7 ft6 6 in); fordinoC ! :.i -'-
:argets very drfficult. Thus the Nashorn 43 gmn was replaced by the similar 7.5 in)
El ii"ni"faser Tiser (P) Elefant
,',1::- -ie tank that was to become the
l-;:: ,';as still in its planning staqe two
:::l3rns, Henschel and Porsche,
;r:re r competition for the production
:::-lact. The Porsche entry was at one
::-e the more favoured, mainly as a
::.sl.i cf Professsor Porsche's influence
]i: Hitler, but also because the de-
s-;n ieatwed a radical approach by
::-ployurg a petrol-electric drive with
:rec-inc motors actually propelling the
;:hrcle. However, the Porsche
approach proved to be unreliable on
.:; a:rd the Henschel entry went on to
i:ecome the PzKpfw VI Tiger.
But by the time the Henschel desiqn
il production, Porsche drives and
-,.;as
r-e hulls to put them in were also ready
rr production. It was then decided to
place the Porsche design in produc-
::n ior use as a heary tank-destroyer Above: The Elefant used a complex
incuntmqt the new B,B-cm (3.46-in) Pak twin- engine power p ac k driving an
i3.2 anti-tank gmn, a development of electric transmisison that did not
-ie earlier Flak 18-37 anti-aucraft gun work too well in sewice. I t was heavy,
senes. (Actually the Pak 43 was virtual- slow and ponderous, making it more
11,. a new gun and fired more powerful of a heavy assault gun than a
ammunition than the earlier gmns.) The P an zerj dger. Most were us ed in
gun would be placed in a larqe Russr'a but a few ended up in ltaly in
armoured superctructure tl.th limited 1944.
taverse, and 90 ofthese vehrcles were
produced to become the Panzerjiger
Tiger (P), later known as either Ferdi- organized in two battalions
nand or Elefant. The (P) denoted Pors- (Abteilungen) of ParuerregTiment 654,
che. and even before going into action their
The Elefants were produced at the troubles began, The Elefants had been
NrJcelungruverke in something of a hur- rushed inlo use before their many
ry duringT early 1943, the urqency techmcal bugs had been entirely re-
being occasioned by the fact that Hit- moved, and many broke down as soon
ler demanded them to be ready for the as they started to move forward, Those
cpemng of the main campaign of 1943, that did make it to the Soviet lines were
'r;Luch was to commence aqalnst the soon in trouble, for although the vehi- withdrawn to other fronts such as Italy The Elefant was one of the failures of
l{ursk salient on the Eastern Front; the cles were fitted with the most powerful but even there their unreliability and the German Panzerjdger designers,
:]ew Panther tanks were also sche- anti-tank guns then available they lack of spares soon rendered them for despite its main 8.8-cm (3.46-in)
Culed to make their combat debut in lacked any form of secondary arma- useless. Some were captured by the gun itwas too cumbersome and,
-ne same battle, Production delays and ment for self-defence. Soviet tank- Allies in ltaly, more importantly, the first examp)es
fammg the Panzertruppen to use their killer infantry squads swarmed all over lacked any kind ofself-defence
rew charges delayed the start of the them and placed charges that either Specification armamenL I t was also too
:fensive until 5 July 1943. blew off their tracks or otherwise dis- Elefant complicated and was generally
By then the Red Army was more abled them, The Elefant crews had no Crew:6 unreliable.
:ral ready for them. The defences of way of defending themselves at all and Weight: 65000 kq (143,300 lb)
re Kursk salient were formidable and those that could either withdrew or Powerplant: two Maybach HL 120 TRM heisht 2.997 m (9 ft 10 in)
re delays had enabled the Red Army abandoned their vehicles and ran. V- 12 petrol engines each developing Performance: maxrmum road speed
:o add to their effectrveness in depth so Some Elefants did suwive Kursk and 395.2 kW (530 hp) and drivrng a 20.1 krr/h (12,5 mph); roadrange
:at when the Germans attacked their were later fitted with machtne-gmns to Porche/Siemens-Schuckert petrol- 153 km (95 miles); crradient 40 per
e:'crts were of little avail, For the Ele- defend themselves, but the Elefant electric drive cent; verticalobstacle 0.8 m (31,5 in);
:=s the Kursk battles were a dreadful never recovered from its rnauspicious Dimensions: Iengrthoverall B, 128 m trench 2.65 m (B ft 8.3 in); fordlng LO m
.apilsm of flre, The Elefants were debut. The few that were left were (26 ftB in); wldth3.378 m(II fr 1 rn); (3 ft 3,4 in)

ffi i"s[p""ttr"t
',"ien the vehicle now known as the The Jagdpanther was one of those
vehicles where superlatles could be
fact for which Allied tank crews must
have been very qrateful, The marn
mock-up had been built. But even with
the usual B.B-cm gn-rn the Jagrdpanther
Jagdpanther was flrst produced in justifiably lavished, for it was a superb cause of these low production totals was truly a formidable tank destroyer
::bruary 1944, it marked a definite f,ghtingr vehicle and destined to be one was the drsruption and damage that was much feared and respected
::::i away from a period where Pan- of the most famous of all the many caused by Allied bomber raids on the by Allied tank crews, Few other
:=:iEer were hasty conversrons or im- World War II armoured fighting vehi- two main centres of production, the armoured fighting vehicles of World
;::.,':satrons to a point where the tank- cles. It was fast and well protected, MIAG plant at Braunschweig and the War II achreved rts unique combina-
i:siroyer became a purpose-built and it mounted a potent gun, but not Brandenburg Eisenwerk Krrchm6ser tion of power, lethality, mobility and
-,';:apon of war. The content with all that it had about it a at Brandenburg. These disruptions led protection.
Jagdpanther was
,:s: rnooted rn early 1943, at a time def,nite aura that distingnrished it from to their being several variatrons of
',',-:e:: tank destroyers were requrred all its contemporaries. So well bal- Jagdpanther rn use, Some had large
:- 1:antity, and by taking the best anced was the design that it would not bolted-on gun mantlets while others Specification
:-,-Jable tark chassis it was hoped that be too out of place in any tank park had much smaller mantlet collars. Jagdpanther
!::i:chon totals would meet demand. today, 40 years after it first appeared. Late-production versions used gnrns Crew:5
l:---;te Panther chassis was used vtr- The Jagdpanther could knock out vir- built with the barrels rn two parts to Weisht: 46000 ks (10 1,4I I lb)
-al unaltered as the basis for the tually any enemy tank, includtng the ease barrel changnnq when the bores Powerplant:one Maybach HL 230
-=-:-,';'?alzerjdqrer, and an B.B-cm (3.46- healry Soviet IS-2s, although for them a became worn, and the stowage of tools petrol engine developing 447.4-
:- ?ak 43 aati-tank gun was mounted side shot was required for a certatn and other bits and pieces on the out- 522,0 kW (600-700 hp)
::, a'r,ell-sloped armoured hull super- kill. At times single Jagdpanthers or side also varied considerably, Dimensions: length overal]9,90 m (32 fl
:-i*::dre, with a 7.92-mm (0.312-in) small groups of them corid hold uP The Jagdpanther had a crew of five 5.8 in) and hull6.87 m(22 ft 6,5 in);
l"l3:i or MG42 machine-giun for local Allied armoured advances for con- and there was space inside the well- width 3.27 m ( 10 ft 8.7 in); heiqht
::-:r:e. The prototype, then known siderable periods, Fortunately for the sloped and heavily-armoured super- 2.715 m (B ft 10.9 in)
--- -:-e Paruerjiger Panther, was de- Allies, production of the Jagdpanther structure for 60 rounds of ammunition. Performance: maximum road speed
::-::i:ated to Hitler in october 1943 never reached the planned rate of 150 When the war ended plans had been 55 kn/h (34,2 mph); roadranqe 160 km
-i was Hitler tumself who decreed per month, By the time the productlon made to produce a new version mount- (99.4 miles); grradient 70 per cent;
=r
-::: ie name should be changted to facilities were overun during April ing a 12.8-cm (5.04-in) anti-tank gun, vertical obstacle 0.9 m (35 in); trench
--
-:-^
*+L ^-
1945 only 382 had been completed, a though in the event only a wooden 1,9 m (6 ft 3 in); fording I.7 m (5 ft 7 in)

:::
Icgdpcntherin Acfion
Despite the limitations of a turretless desr'gn, the J agdpanther praved to be the most
outstanding tank destroyer of the war. W ell arm6ured, its Maybach engine still
provided enough power to give vital mobility and its formidable 8.9-cm Ll7 I Pak
43/3gun could defeatanyAllied tank.Taking every advantage of terrain,the
] agdpanthers had to defend their positions agarnsf uas tly superior numbers.

By the tlme the first JaEdpanthers were issued but 1t dld work against smaller magnetic
to Panzerjiiger unlts during early 1944, rhe charges. The srde plates along each srde oi lhe
crews had become experienced in the particu- vehrcle were lhere to detonale hol[ow-charqe
lar art of warfare drctated by their special anti- warheads belore they courd hrt rhe huJl proper.
iank weapon platiorms. The Panzerjdrgertrup- The rdea was that the thin metal sheets would
cen assigned to the new Jagdpanthers were ail cause the warhead to detonate and dissipate ils
rlghly experienced men who had nearly all lethal fire jet before it could bore its way
:lewed some form of Panzeldger in action, through'he main armour. Thus the plates were
-:C some of the men involved wrth the new useful againsl infantry weapons such as This early productionJagdpanther still used the
'.':hicles couid state that they had escaped bazookas or anti-tank grenades, but in action welded gun mantlet later replaced by a bolled-or.
-::m the Elefant disaster at Kursk the year be- they were often easrly knocked offor otherwrse component. Thk example also features the firs t
lost, so they were at best oi secondary vahre. type of driver's vision blocks, later replaced bv a
-;re. Their experrence rnras to be put to good one-piece item. These early models were
'rse ln the months ahead, for the Once inside the crews iooked around them
lagdpanther produced by MIAG atBraunschweig, with the g:;r.
',ras the very epitome of the Panzerjziger they and liked what they saw. The rnler-or was fromKrupps.
rad demanded for years. rather cramped, the massive breech mechan-
The PanzerliLger crews had prevrously been ism of the Pak 43/3 and the racks for the 60 surprise, Every member of the crew ha :: :=
-s<ed to drive into battle on what were essen rounds of ammunition taking up much of the able to drive the vehicle in case oi ba..-=
.:a11yopen and lightly protected mobile gnrn space, but the five men that made up the crew casualiies and they soon found that the _ia=l:r-
ctatiorms. Althouqh the vehrcles usually found that there was adequare space lo work. panther had plenty of power and that the -,-::..
:-rrnted powerlul guns such as the 7.5-cm The driver sar aL the lelt ironL, r,vhrle on the cle handled well. The power came frci: .:-:
- 9i in) Pak 40. their crews had Io serve Lhese other side of the gun sat the wireless operator Maybach HL 230 P3O installed at the rea' .: .
; ,ns with only thin armour between them and who also used the ball mounted machine-gun. V-12 unit could suppiy adequate power a: :--
:heir opponents and usually with no protection Behind lhem were Lhe gunner (wirh his roof- times, and provided the Jagdpanther ',"r i:r ..
rr cover to the sides and rear, This lack ol mounled sighlrng systems) and the loader, The grood power-to-weight ratio; and vrhije ::-:
' ver made lhe crews vulnerable even to commander sar al lhc rear ol the compartmenl overall agility of the heavy Jagrdpanther cc-::
:rali-arms fire and prone to injury lrom mortar under hrs own cupola. In the rear watl of the never be described as spnteLy. rL was a deh:-- .
-:,ci artillery projectrle splrn'ers. On the new superstructure was lhe main compartment rmprovemenl over lhal oi lhe many -ypes ::
-agdpanther that was about to be put right, for hatch through which some ol the crew could troops had been using befirre, In particular ::-e
' e Jagdpanther had thrck armour all round and enter or ieave but which also doubled as a placrng ol the gun well back in rhe slcp--..
:n top as well, To add more protection, the loading hatch for the long fixed-type ammun- superstructure virtually overcame the nos:
lrmour was well sloped so that lncoming tron. Insrde the comparlmenl was slowage lor heaviness of vehicles such as the Jagidpan.::
:rrnour-piercing projectrles would tend to be 600 rounds for the machine-Qun, Jagdpanthers
used by section or plaloon commanders had This large vertical sliding breech mechanism of
iei1ected away ralher than contjnue their hori.
the B.8-cm (3.46-in) Pak4Sl3was carried by the
::ntal path. The frontal armour was 80 mm extra radio installed. Externally these could be
Jagdpanther. The two cylinders over the
: - 5 rn) thick and ser a I an angle of 35' from the dislrngurshed by lhe two radio aerrals at the'he mechanism are the recoill recuperato:r cylinders,
iorizontal. The massive gun mantlet, always rear of the supers'ruclure. and the breechcouid close as tft e cartridge case
re main targel of any anri-lank qunner. was no When lhey oot a chance to drrve their new was pushed into the chamber; it was ejected
-=ss than 120 mm (4.72 in) thick Jagdpanrhers the crews were in for a pleasant automatically.
The gmn was a Eood one. It was the 8.8-cm
: 46-rn) Pak 43/3 wrth a barrel 71 calibres long,
:he same qn-rn that was used to arm the massive
lger II (Konigstiger) battle tank, This gnrn was
-ble to penetrate up Io 274 mm (10.79 1n) of
:rrnour with its special Panzerqranate 40/43
,rnour-piercrng projectrle at a range of 500 m
:47 yards), and even at 2500 m(2,734 yards) it
uld punch rhrough 159 mm (6 26 rn) of
:rmoLlr. thus the crew would be able to knock
:ut virtually any tank they couid see on the
:attlef,eld. However, the lack of secondary
-r mamenr so dearly learned by the Elefants at
:,ursk was not going to be repeated. On the
:: :nt of the sloping front plate was a ball mount
.:g lor a 7,92-mm (0 312-1n) MG34 or MG42
.:.r--hine gun to keep away enemy infantry
.:.nk-killer squads. This close-in deience was
:-rpplemented by a turret-roof fitting ior a new
.:.d rather unusual defence weapon. Ihis was
..:-o wn as the Nahverteid igungswaf le (literally
:lose-in defence weapon) and projected a
small high explosive charge against enemy in
'.r..ry it doubled as a defensive smoke projec-
.t t
:!
I c add to their proteclion against the enemy
'.nk-killer squads thal had by 1944 become
:ommonplace on every battlefield, the Jagd-
:anrhers were often coated wrth a substance
<:rrwn as Zjmmerrl. a plasLer-like coating thal
.:-ade Lhe attachment of maqnetic charqes
-:ainst the hull more difficult. 'l hrs coating had
i Lmitalions and olten flaked olf after a whrle,
r.,r::, lfi:
1:.

'.{i': ::.

The SdKfz I 73 Jadgpanther was one of the


finestcombat machines of WorldWarll. and
despite fhe overall lack o{traverce for ils
43 3 main gun it was
8.8-cm ( 3.46 -in) Pak r

capable of defeating any AIIied lankset agarnsl


it. Counteracting this overall lethality.
production of theJadgpantherswas limited to a
total of anly 382, mainly as a resultof Allied
bombing iampiaigns. The futl crew of a
Jadgpanther was five. all protected within a
well- armoured and we I 1- s haped
superstructare. This exampie is from the late
prcduction batch that used a bolted-an mantlet
lor the main gun. A7.92-mmQ.31Z-in)
m a chi ne g u n was carr jed.
-

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Tank Destroyers of World War II

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Jagdpanther in Action
issued to the Panzerjeigertruppen it was an arti-
cie precious beyond its monetary worth, for all
too frequently rf lt was lost in combat there was
no other vehicle to replace it,
This was particularly noticeable on the East-
ern Fronl, where lhe Red Army was pressrnq
lowards 'he border of the Rerch all throuqh
1944. On the Eastern Front there was llttle
f,nesse rn the frghling. Red Army advances
were always heralded by massed artillery bar-
ragfes and presaged by waves of T-34 tanks
"backs
The well- sloped roof of the J agdpanther allawed This J adgpanther, straig ht off the production line, cairying ontheir squads of Soviet infan
the main gun to be depressed fior hull-down action has its tool and other stowage intact. The
whenvirtually all that could be seen of thevehicle superstructure is coated with Zimmerit, a try. Under such circumstances a single Pan-
was the wn.The long tube on the side of the hull substance intended to prevent magnetic charges zerjdger unit equipped wrth Jagdpanthers
housedihegun cleaning rods, and the railfor being applied; the overlapping road wheels could hold back whole waves ol Red Arn,-
carrying extra side stand-off armour can be seen. addedexlra side protectian against incoming tanks, From carefully concealed positions the
projectiles. Note the tctwcable Jagdpanthers could easily knock out the T-34s
before they reached their combat ranges and ii
IV wirh its long 1,,70 gun a tendency so severe knocked out. there were alwavs more left for rhe lacr,cal srlualion diclaled an ambush a
that the type frequentiy got stuck even in sma11 the A.lres had vrrtuarly limrtless stockprles and closer ranges the machine guns of the Jagci
gullies and the lront road wheels wore out alter producrion facrlilres lor more. The Germans panthers could be brought into use to sweep
short periods in action, even when they were of were in no such situation: every time a Jaqd the rnfantry ofltheir carrier tanks. The problem
ah steel construction. panther was lost, usually by being taken in the on the Eastern Front, as elsewhere, was thal all
Ihe mobility of the jagdpanther was pul to flank lrom close range by a tank that escaped too olten the Jagdpanthers had to operate in
good use as soon as the type went into combat, notice while others were engaged, it could not ones and twos in order to cover as much battie
Among the very flrst to do so were the few that be replaced. There were quite simply not irontage as possibie. Thus single Jagdpanthers
became embroiled rn the fighting rn Normandy enouqh new Jagdpanlhers being produced. frequentl.y had to operate in vrtual isolation
lotlowrng Operation 'Overlord' rn June 1944. The streams of Alhed bombers that flew over lrom the iest ol theli unit, back-up beingr pro
Despite the fact that they were in qieneral out- the Reich day and night not only disrupted the vided oniy by Panzergrenadiers (when thev
numbered by Alhed tanks, the JaQrdpanthers German assemblv lines but created havoc with were available) or small Panzer units.
took a fearlul roll oi tanks out ol all propor tion 'o the German rnternal communicalions nerwork Thus to add to their own protection (and to
Lheir numbers. Itwas durino th-s perrod tha' Lhe of roads, rarlways and canals that supplied the ensu-re lhat they could frghl and run away l.
Jaqdpanther crews began t6 notice increasing factories. Thus every time a Jagdpanther was fighL another day) rhe PanzerjagerLruppen de-
Iy thar allhough they frequently came ou'on 'op veloped some devrous combat ploys. One was
in combat sitrlations, they were nearly always Allied soldiers examine a knocked-out to conceal the Jagdpanther in ambush situa-
Iagdpanther. This is an early version lacking the
lalling back, The reason lor this was stmple 'he Iater bolt-on mantlet around the Wn baftel Note tions by srmply driving it into a house or farm
Jagdpanthers were berng overwhelmed by the size of the spent propellant case in the front oI buildln-g. This was an old Panzertruppen trick,
sheer weight of numbers and materiel. No mat- the vehicle and the distinctive appearance but it partrcularly suited the defensive Jagd-
ter how many Shermans the Jagdpanthers provided by the well-sloped superstructure. panthers, for the building structures not onty
provided good concealmenL bul added to the-r
overall protection When rhe lime came -o
move out the vehicle could be driven either
backward or forward as required, Another
ploy was to make as much use of the gmn de-
pressron as possible, Again, thrs was an old
'tankie' trick, but as the gun barret could be
depressed to *8'the vehlcle could be em-
placed on reverse slopes with only a smali
amodnl ol the vehrcie visible from the fronr
Wilh a Lllle camouflaqe added the Jagdpan-
ther was almost invisible and any target com
ing wrthin the 22o total traverse of the gun could
be engaged, Ii was for this reason that the rool
ol rhe Jaqdpanlher sloped upwards to the rear
givrng the commander a good field of vision
These were only two of the combat ploys
used by the Jagdpanther crews. There were
many more, ior the Jagdpanthers were always
grvento lhe most experienced crews, men wh:
had already proved their worlh in combar
They had many ways oI using Lhe capabilitres o:
their charges to the utmost and yet staying aiive
and retaining their vehicles to fight anolher
day. But they were consistently outnumbered.
Despite the large numbers of Allied tanks that
they knocked out there were always more to
come and al1 the tlme the Panzerjdgertruppen
were being pushed back over lhe borders ol
the Reich to their inevitable defeat. When the
end came the Jagdpanthers were no longer
comrng ofl the production irnes. The Allied
bombers had iorced them to close during April
1945, by which time some of the assembly lines
had even been overrun. But riqht until the end
the Jagdpanther crews fought on, continuing
their attempts to stem the flood until they were
either knocked out during combat or were
simply disabled by lack of further fuel supplies.

),a72
m i"s[tige'
By 1943 it was an established German
Tank Destroyers of World War II

policy that as soon as any new tank


design became avarlable, a flxed-
superstructure version mountrng a li-
mited-traverse qun would be pro-
duced. Thus when the massive Tiger II
or Konigstiger (King Tiger) appeared,
a correspondinqt Panzerjdqer was de-
veloped. An ron mock-up develop-
ment model of thrs super-healry tank
destroyer appeared in October 1943,
and production began during 1944
under the desiqnation Paruerjdger T!
ger Ausf B, more commonly known as
the Jagdtiger.
With the Jagdtiger the Germans pro-
duced the heaviest and most powedul
armoured vehicle of World War IL The
Jagdtiger had an official weight of no
less than 70000kq (154,3241b) but by
:he time extra combat equipment and
a firll load of ammunition plus the crew
:fsix had been added the weight rose
:c around 76000 kq (167,551 1b), Much
:f thrs weight was attributtible to the
armour, whrch was no less than Above: Two types ofsuspensrbn
250 mm (9,84 in) thick on the front plate w ere u s ed on the J ag dtiger. This
cf the superstructure. The main arma- example has the Henschel
ment was originally a i2.B-cm (5.04-in) suspersior; fft e other type used
Pak 44 anti-tank gun, but thrs was later larger roadwheels from Porsche.
chanqed to the similar Pak B0 and at Based on the Tiger I I tank chassis,
cne time a shortaqe of these guns only aboutT0were produced, andit
caused by Allied bomber raids meant was the heauiestAFv to see service
ihat the much smaller B,B-cm (3.46-in) duringWorldWar II.
Pak 43/3 had to be used. The lZ.B-cm
Euns were the most powerful antrtank box, but by the time the Jagrdtigrer was
weapons used by any side during in sewice the Germans were fiqhtinq a
World War II, and the large size of rts defensive war so the lack of mobility
ammunition meant that each Jagdtiger was not so desperate as it once miqht
could carry only 38 or 40 rounds, The have been,
Cefensive armament was tvvo 7.92-mm The produclron hne Ior the Jagdtiger
10.3 I 2-in) machine-quns. was at the Nibelungwerk at St Valentin
Without a doubt the Jagdtiger was a where total production ran to only 70
massive and powerful vehicle as far as vehicles, as a result mainly of the dis-
weapon power and protection were ruption caused by Allied bombing, not
concerned, but in respect of mobility it only at the factories but in the raw
could be reqarded only as ponderous. materral supply lines, By the time the
ll was driven by the same engrne as war ended two types of Jagdtiger were
hat used in the Jagdpanther, but this to be encountered, one with Henschel Specification The massive J agdtiger with ils I 28-
engine had to drive the much g[eater suspension and later versions with an Jagdtiger mm (5.04-in) gunwas apowerful
-weight of the extra road axle and Porsche suspen- Crew:6 weapon, but it was underpowered
Jagdtiger and to do this
had usually to be driven full out, con- sion. In both forms the Jaqtdtigrers were Weisht:76000 kq (167,55i lb) and too heavy to be anything other
siderably increasinq the fuel con- ponderous to an extreme and although Powerplant: one Maybach HL 230 than a purely defensive weapon. Not
sumption and reducingt range, When on paper they were the most heavily petrol engine developing 447,4- many were made before the war
moving across country the Jagdtiger armed and protected of all the 522.0 kW (600-700 hp) ended, but the 250-mm (9.84-in)
had a speed of only 14.5 km/h (9 mph) armoured fighting vehrcles used dur- Dimensions: length overall 10. 654 m frontal armour made it a difficttlt
ard often less, and the maximum possi- ing World War Ii (and for many years (34 ft 1 1,4 in), width 3,625 m ( I I ft vehicle to knock ouL
ble cross-country range was only afterwards) they remained consrder- 10,7 in); height 2,945 m (9 ft B rn)
120 kn (74,5 miles). This reduced the ably underpowered, a fact that ren- Performance: maximum speed cent; verticalobstacle 0,BS m (33.5 lt:_
Jagdtiger from being a true Panzerja- dered them little more than mobile 34.6 km/h(21.5 mph); roadrange trench 3.0 m (9 ft l0 in); fordinq 1 65 ::,
ger to a sort of mobile defensive pill- weapon platforms. 170 km ( 105 miles); gradrent 70 per (5 ft 5 in)

5.*o*r"nte L.40 da 47/32


During World War II the Italians were
never noted for dramatic innovations
as far as armoured vehicle design was
concerned. However, in one aspect
they were abreast of tactical thinking
elsewhere for they became interested
rn the tank-destroyer concept durinQr
the late I930s. At that tlme they pro-
duced an intrignring design known as
the Semovente L.3 da 47132 mounting a
47-mm (1,85-in) anti-tank gmn with a
barrel 32 calibres long (hence 47132).
The L.3 mounted the qun on an open

The I talian Semovente L.3 da 47 / 32


was an early attempt to mount an
anti-tank gun on a lglrt fanJ<cftassl's,
andwas muchused for trials and
var iousWnnery tes ts. I t gener ally
Iacked protection and was later
replace d by better desr'grns.
Semovente L. 40 da 47 /32 (continued)

mountinq at the foont of a small and low purpose anti-tank/infantry support the long slog north that lasted through
chassis based on that of the L,3 tanket- gnrn, one of the hardest-hitting of all 1944 and 1945 was such that armour
te; a two-man crew was carried, This anti-armour weapons in its day, On the could be used on few occasions, and
early project did not get far for there new Semovente L.40 da 47132 it was the Semovente L.40s often had their
was virtually no protection for the crew mounted in a simple box-like super- antt-tank armament removed and
and the idea attracted little attentron. structure built directly onto the light were used instead as mobile com-
When the ltalians entered the war in tank chassis, and while this simple mand posts for senior commanders,
1941 they soon realized that their arrangement worked well enough the with an armament of one B-mm (0.315-
much-vaunted tank arm was seriously slab srdes ofthe superstructure lacked in) Breda modello 38 machine-grun,
undergmnned and lacked protection, the added protection that sloping sides The Semovente L.40 da 47/32 may
This was particularlay true of their would have pronded But it was better have been a simple conversion and it
lighter tanks, in which the italian treas- than nothing and went straight into ser- had little impact on enemy armour, but
ury had invested to a considerable de- vice foom 1942 onwards, In all about it did demonstrate that the Itahans had
erree, especially the L.6 series that 280 were produced and in action they absorbed the tank destroyer concept The S emovente L.40 da 47 / 32 was
generally lacked protection and were proved to be capable enough when at an early stage ofthe war and used it usedr'n somenumbers by the ltalian
armed oniy with a short 37-mm (1,456- dealing with the lighter British and as well as their limited production andlater theGerman armies, and
ur) gnrn of hmited antr-armow capabil- other armour on the battleflelds of basrs allowed, was a conversion of the L.6/40 light
ity. The main combat version, the L.6/ North Africa, Ammunition stowagie tank to take the powertil lhlian 47-
40, soon proved to be of little combat was 70 rounds. Specification mm ( I .B 5-in) anti- tank gun. I ts box-
value against the Britrsh armour then in When the Italians surrendered to Semovente L.40 da47/32 like supers tructure was latet widely
use in North A-frica and was obviously the Allies in 1943 the Germans quickly Ctew:2 used toactas amobile command
npe for the usual limited-traverse anti- took over as many ltalian armoured Weisht: 6500 kq (14,330 lb) post or ammunition carrier.
tank gnrn treatment. it was not long in vehicles and as much Italian equ-tp- Powerplant: one SPA lBD 4-cylinder
coming when Fiat-SPA and Ansaldo ment as they could, The Semovente petrolengine developing 50,7 kW Performance: maxim'um road speed
combined to use the chassis for the L,40 da 47/32 was amongt this booty, (68 hp) 42.3 krr/h(26,3 mph); roadrange
basis of a tank destroyer. and was quickly Lmpressed as part of Dimensions: lenqlh 4,00 m (13 ft 1,5 in) 200 kn ( 124 miles); qradient 84 per
The gmn used for the new vehicle the equipment of German units andhu1l3.7B2 m (12 ft4,9 in); width centi vertical obstacle 0.8 m (31,5 in);
was the powerful 47-mm licence-bult fightlng in ltaly, However, the terrain of 1.92 m (6 ft 3,6 in); heisht 1.63 m (5. ft trench l.7 m (5 ft 7 in); fording 0.8 m
version of the Austrian Bdhler dual- many of the ltalian battlefields during 4.2in) (31,5 in)

f $l*ou"nte M.4IM da 9o/s3


The ltalians used the chassis of their
M.13 tank as the basis for a number of
self-propelled gmns (Semovente), but
most of them were built alonq the iines
of the German Sturmqeschiitz types
ald were intended for use as close-
support assault artillery. At trmes they
could be used against tanks with some
degiree of success, but that was not
ther primary function and the Italians
produced only one really heavy type
of tank destroyer, This was the
Semovente M.4lM da 90/53, which
used the chassrs of the M, 14141 tank, a
development of the M, 13 tank series,
The Semovente M,4iM da 90/53 car-
ned a powerful anti-armour weapon in
the form of the cannone da 90/53 anti-
aircraft gun, a long and very powerful
weapon that had a performance very
simrlar to that.of the famous German
8 8-cm (3,46-in) Flak series, The gmn's
orrmary characteristics were denoted
by the 90/53 desrgnation, for it was a were produced, The main reason for Specification The Semovente M.4 I M da 90/ 53 was
90-mm (3.54-in) Qnrn with a barrel 53 this small total was the lack of produc- Semovente M.4lM da 90/53 the most powerful of the ltalian tank
:alibres long, To accommodate the tion potential within ltalian industry Crew: (on gnrn) 2 destroyers, andused the 90-mm
gun mounting the engrne was moved and the ever-pressing requirements weight: i7000 kq (37,479 lb) (3.54-in) anti-aircraft gun mounted
ro the front ofthe chassis and the gmn for the Cannone da 90/53 as an anti- Powerplant:one SPA 15-TM-41 B- on an M.l5/42 tankcfiassis.
',\-as mounted at the rear. In action two aircraft gun. In the field the Semovente cylrnder pet rol engine developing
men sat on the gnrn mounting behind a M,4lM proved to be a powerful 108, I kw (145 hp) A Semovente M.4 I M da 90/ 53 is
glrm sLueld; there was no other form of weapon, especially across the flat Dimensions: lenqth 5,205 m ( 17 ft examined by American troops after
protection as the ltalian approach was wastes of the North African deserts, 0,9 in); width 2,20 m (7 ft 2.6 in); heisht being knocked out in Sicily in I I 43. I
Lrat such a powerful gmn would not be but once that campaign ended so did m (7 ft 0,6 rn)
2. 15 To serve the gan, the crew had to
used directly ln the front line but would the gnrn's career with the ltalian army, Performance: maxrmum road speed stand behind the breech and only the
rstead be used as a 'stand-off weapon Soon after the fall of Sicily and the inva- 35.5 km/h (22 mph); roadrange 200 km driver had all-round armour.These
picking offtank targets at long ranges. sion of the ltalian mainland the ltalians (124 miles); vertical obstacle 0,9 m gruns were first used in North Africa
\o ammunition could be carried on the surrendered, The Germans had been (35,4 in); trench 2. I m (6 ft 10.7 in); in late 1943 and were much
';ehicle itselt 26 rounds were carried expecting such a move and promptly fording 1,0 m(3 ft3 in) respected.
r a special conversion of the L,6 lght took control of as much ltalian war
:alk that used a box-like superstruc- mat6riel as they could lay their hands
:trre very similar to that of the on, and amonQl the loot was a number
Semovente L.40 da 47/32, and another of Semovente M.4lMs, The Germans
4,1rounds were carried in a trailer soon had control of the gnrns ammuni-
::wed by the ammunition carrier, In tion production facilities and thus the
acion the long rounds were loaded weapon ended up as part of the Ger-
-:io the qun breech by ammunition man army's rnventory, with the type
:-.:mbers standing on the grround be- still in service in northern Italy when
:.rnd the Semovente M.4I. the war ended, By then there was little
Affer noting the power of the Ger- call for their tank-killing capabilities,
nan 8.8-cm Flak series the Italians for much of the Italian campaigm took
ir;ere quick to get their Semovente place over mountainbus country
lv141M into production, The first exam- where few tanks could move, so the
ple came off the Fiat, SPA and Ansaldo Semovente M,4lMs were used mainly
hnes dwing 1941, but inthe end only 48 as long-rangre artillery.
Battleof theBulge
As the Allied armies advanced inexorably across France towards the German
frontier,Hitler plannedhis counter-attack. Despitetheproximity of the RedArmyto
thePrussianheartland and the pleas of his generals, theFthrer insistedon
attempting a repeat of his masterstroke of 1940 - an attack through theArdennes
forest.

By mid-December 1944 the main bulk of the varying from 20 to 90 minutes they peered out
A-llied forces were concentrated (as were the into the pre-dawn murk, they found themselves This frame from a German propaganda film
attentions of the Allled hlgh command) towards overrun by German shock troops surging for- purports to show German infantry moving up past
ward through their posrttons, followed shortly a burningAlliedvehicle. Despite thet initial
both ends of the battlefront, In the north the successes lfiat caught the Allies off guard in late
Anglo-Canadian armies had at iast cleared by powerful Panzer and Panzergrenadier December 1944, Allied air supremacy was
-l,ntwerp and opened the Scheldt estuary, and units, many of them bearing the;agged double instrumental ingaining theupper hand once the
re US lst and 9th Armres were set to close up streak ol the Waffen-SS, weather cleared to allow air operations.
:: the Neder Rhine and threaten the vttal Roer It had all been Hrtler's idea, as usual at this
:ams, In the south Lieutenant-General George penod of the war, in drrect contradiction to the shoulder' against any possible northward coui-
:ation's US 3rd Army, after iis spectacular advice tendered to him by the army's generals, termove by formaticns of the US 3rd Army u'e
jrive across France, was poised to sweep Even as the fightrng in the Falarse Gap was the 7th Army under the dogged but unimagina-
rrough the equally important Saar region to- ending, Hitler had announced that by Novem- tive General Errch Brandenburger.
-,'.'ards
the Rhrne at Mannheim, ber a force of some 25 drvisions must be pre- Altogether some 200,000 men would take
Between the two powerful groupings were pared to launch a huge counteroffensive part in Operalion'Wacht am Rhetn', equippeci
:.runQt out some 80,000 American troops along against the Anglo-American armies; and to the with more tanks, more artillery and more
-=5 km (90 miles) of front, the bulk of them astonishment of the German htgh command ammunition than had been granted to any sirn--
::nsistrng of Major-General Troy Mrddleton's that force had come into existence, conjured larly assembled German force for man;,'
-.-ilI from every corner of German lifer rear-area months past; and in addrtion to those more cr
Corps which had been brought across
::m Brittany, backed by one armoured divi- administrative echelons, 16-year-old boys, less conventional fightrng divisions, there
--:n, the 9th, whlch had but lately arnved in the civil servants, small shopkeepers, university warted in the rear 1,250 paratroops under
-:ea and had not yet seen actton, They were students and the scourinqs of the prisons, all Oberst von der Heydte, a veteran of Crete. :c
:-ere because thrs part of the front, the Arden- had been swept into the armed services, some- drop rn front of the main assault, seize bridges
--:s section, was a quiet part, covered in front times to jorn the new formations themselves, and crossroads, and attack any headquarter
:-.-the sparsely settled German Schnee Etfel, and sometimes just to release experienced organizations they could find, Moreover :c
help them spread alarm and despondency, ihe
--C behind by the steep wooded hrlls and men to bulk them out,
,:aming trout streams which had always been Thus had been formed three German famous raiding commander Otto Skorzenl'
::spite the events ol 1940, regarded as ursuit- armies. and they were by mid-December mar- commanded a special force of volunteers dri;-
country for open warfare. Moreover the shalled under an exemplary cioak of secrecy ing American vehicles and wearing America:-
-le winter snows had fallen and hear,ry clouds and subterfuge opposite that thinly occupied unrforms, a ploy which would result in the:
-st berng shot if they fell into Allied hands
:-.'erhead had lately kept the Alhed and Ger- 145-kn (9O-mrle) strip oiltne, so tenuously held
::an air forces on the ground; both green and by the US VIII Corps, In the north were poised The objectrve for this surreptitiously asse=-
.::eran troops crouched in thetr foxholes, lis- the units of the 6th SS Panzer Army under bled force was Antwerp, plus the splrttLng ::
::ned to reports of bitter fighttng to north and Generaloberst Sepp Dietrtch, erstwhile com- the Allied armres threatemng the German fron-
.- rth with thoughts of thankfulness that they mander of Hrtler's personal bodyguard tn the
street-fightrng days and later of the crack'Lteb- An M 1 in the Ardennes. This vehicle is from the
0
,';ere not there, and dreamed ol Christmas. lstArmy and by that stage of thewatthe Ml0s
They were thus considerably shaken when standarte Adolf Hrtler' lst SS Panzer Division, In were used,less as tank destroyers and more as
=. t5.30 on the morninq of i6 December they the middle section olthe attack front waited the assa ulf Eruns, fo r which they were not ideally suited
lere suddenly deluged by the heaviest artil- Sth Panzer Army under the trusted army due to their relatively thin armour. This vehicle is
-:ry bombardment even the veterans among General Hasso von Manteuffel, And on the carrying extra passengers and is armed with a
::em had experienced, and when after periods southern flank of the attack to form the 'hard I 2.7 -mm (0.50-in) machine-gun.

.
Battle of the Bulge

i-.:

-:

Above: This picturewas long believed to be Oberst


Peiper, the SS officer who executed US prisoners in
cold blood at Malmedy. In fact it is a still from the
newsreel produced by aGermanfilm unit to
document the advance. The vehicle, inappropriate
to the surroundings. is aSchwimmwagen
amphibious scoutcar.

\,
"ef,
st* i-..::::. l

..is

N E'" -.

-G
Tank Destroyers of World War II

tier, the annihilation of the Anglo-Canadian Nevertheless, aided by that essential factor swept ihrough the embattled American pcs:-
armies and lhe US lst and 9th Armies alongside of surprise, some of them drd very well at the tions it produced feelings of both fury and des-
them by starvation as their maln supplli-port beqinning, Leading elements of the lst SS Pan- peration and caused even the greenest ulr:s
was captured, and an immense morale boost zer Drvision under their ruthless commander. sometrmes commanded by only junror NCCs
:or the German pubtic together with such a Obersl Peiper, swept rhrough a gap in Amer- to fight with a committed ferocrty lvhrcr
shock to the Allies that the consequent bicker- ican lines to Honsfeld in the north, captured a baulked the important German thrusi to :he
ing between them would wreck their future large pelrol dump at Bullingen and then caught south.
sttategic planning lor weeks and possibly American lroops on the move at Malmedy It also spelied the almost immediate death c-
nonths. crossroads before racing on towards Stavelot. any of Skorzeny's men discovered at their clan-
It was not regarded in thls light by all the Unfortunately for all parties concerned, his destine tasks
lerman commanders. Generalfeldmarschall men, inured to the bitter fighting on the Eastern One of von Manteuffel's spearheads had suc-
ierd von Rundstedt, whom Hitler had piaced Front, shot down 19 American prisoners at cess similar to Peiper's, but without that ruirr-
-:, overall command of the front, was scathing: Honsfeld, 50 at Bullinqen and nearly 100 at lessness, and reached the villaqe of Auw just il
-:,ntwerp?' he cried. 'lfwe reach the Meuse we Malmedy, a prece of barbarism which defe- front of the vital road junction of St Vrth, bu:
.rould go down on our knees and thank Godl' ated rtself when i:iimour oi the massacres here it ran into the tank destroyers and mairr
Sepp Dietrich, who would seem by now to have artrllery of an American infantry dlvlsron whlcr
-:st hrs original admiration icr the Firhrer, later held them, lorcing the main drive ol von Man
::marked:'A11 I had to do was to cross the river, teuffel's army southwards into the gap betweer,
:apture Brussels, and then go on to take the St Vlth and the other vitai road junction, Bas-
::rt of Antwerp. The snow was waist deep and togne,
.ere wasn't room to deploy four tanks abreast,
-:: alone six armoured drvisrons, It dldn't qet
-,;nt untrl eight and was dark again at four, and
:,_r tanks can't fight at night, And all thts at
lrristmas timel'
- eff;SS-Sturmbahnfiihrer Otto Skorzeny was
:t s trumental in organizing the behind- the- line s
rfiltration force that used captured vehicles and
equipment in an attempt to create havoc in the
.lllied lines. The operationwas notvery successful;
Germans captured in Americanuniforms
=any
;,rere sfiol as spies.

F' li j-'
* ': ::l::

I :
l'
..

t-
i._

J
The initial shock to Americanforces caused by the
powerful German armoured thrust was quickly
replaced by stiffening resistance and resolve. The
decisive engagement occurred between St Vith
and Bastogne, where von Manteuffel's spearhead
was forced south by.divisional artillery and tank
destroyers, allowingGeneral Bradley time to move
his I2th Army Group into positions llanking the
German drive.The concentration of armour,
artillery and tankdestroyers was towreak havoc
on the over-extended German line.
Battle of the Bulge

An M I 0 of the American 90 th I nfantry Division Crews from M IOs belonging to the 3rd Armoured M4 Sherman crews of the 3rd US Armoured
moves through the wreckage of Berle in Division have a brew-up during a short lull in the Division of the I st Army stand by to await
Luxembourg, the crew readywith their machine' late 1944 operations in the Ardennes. The fire is developments during a lullin theArdennes
guns to counter any German nests of resistance formed from scrap timber, as American troops in fighting.These tankies had much todo duringthe
that might be around. The weather during the the field were not as well supplied as other Allied late 1944 fighting as it was often their mobility and
Ardennes campaignwas bitter, andMl0 crews armies. firepower that halted many of the German
had little cover. advances and later threw them back.

And it was here that the attenttons of both of mobrlity, and that game the Americans knew order to 'tldy up the battlefield' he authorized a
attackers and defenders became concen- how to play, withdrawal from the St Vith salient, and he
trated. It was Lreutenant-General Omar Brad- As von Manteuffel's spearheads probed brought the Britrsh 29th Armoured Brigade
1ey's iZth Army Group which caught the offen- farther and farther west (they never crossed down on the Americans right flank to hold the
sive in its centrai sectton, and at flrst Bradley the Meuse, though the I lth Panzer Division did deepest penetration; when on the following
wrote it off as merely a spoihng attack to disrupt reach nearly to Dinant) American tank des- day the whole of the US ZndArmoured Division
the lst Army's threat to the Roer in the north troyers and artillery shored up the flanks ofthe came down to join them, Hitler's last offensive
and the 3rd Army's to the Saar rn the south; but penetration whrle their rnfantry fought dogged- in the west was brought to a halt,
he soon realized that it was more than that, On ly forward rnto the gaps or held on grimly in It had undoubtedly given the Ailied leaders
19 December he ordered Lieutenant-General isolated positions, For most of the time, a nasty jolt, and it would be many more days
Courtney Hodges in the north to swing some of moreover, they fought without air cover, for the before the Ardennes salient was entirely flat-
his lst Army divisions back to hold a flank and weather favoured the Germans lirr days on tened, but in fact the offenslve had used up a
then drive down to St Vlth and Patton to do the end. But by Christmas Day, after some of the great deal of the rapldly-diminishlng German
same in the south and send his crack 4th bitterest f,ghtrng in Europe, the sting had been war materiel and it caused Httler the loss of
Armoured Division up to relieve Bastogne. drawn from the German onslaught; although manpower whrch he could better have used on
Being Patton, ol course, he objected, but then von Manteuffel mounted a last desperate attack the other side of the Rhine. it had been de-
suddenly cheered up. 'What the hell,'he said, on Bastogne, it was beaten off and on the fol- feated by the abiilty olAmerican leadership to
'we'li still be killing Krautsl', and with an lowing day Patton's tanks arrived to break the deploy guns and armour with supreme
efflciency which compels the greatest admira- effrciency, and by the dogged courage of the
tion he swung the bulk of his army through 90' Meanwhile, Field Marshal Montgomery had American infantryman.
in 48 hours. taken command of the northern flank and tn It was, indeed, a great American victory
In the meantime, Generai Dwiqht Eisenhow-
er had released his reserves and they sped to
the two vital points in every truck and ieep they
could find: the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divi-
sions, recently recovered from their battles at
Nrlmegen and Eindhoven, raced north from
Patton's lines, the I01st dropping off to begin its
famous stand at Bastogne and the 82nd passing
on io St Vith, The battle now was becoming one

A.bove: M 10s move up to the tighting in the


Ardennes and are used tocarry forward infantry
]x?vff
*=F-1lil:ffi
riding on the turrets andhulls. ?ftese same M I1s
would later havebeen used fo support the infantry
in action, as by the time of theArdennes campaign
the Ml1swere littleused intheir intendedrole of --r tntaFrortLne * * * border
MANNHEIM
tank destroyers. rrr -
1 91m 146km --+,
Limtol Gema. advance

<<1 cermanaftacr. A
Right : The ultimate obj ective of H itler's Ardennes N
6t atd-tr (
offensivewas the capture otAntwetp, but despite >:' A lied counlerattacks l u.s.S2ndAbnDiv. x
all the German efforts this was to prove hopelessly
-----E--J"- - u.s {thArmd Div l.* ' '^""n'*" /
unrealistic.

3?B
ffi Slin cun Motor Carriase MIo
During the late 1930s and early 1940s
the US Army formulated a novel tactic-
al doctrine, whereby fast-moving
armoured formations were to be coun-
tered by a new tank destroyer force
comprisinq towed and self-propelled
high-velocity antl-tank quns, This tank
destroyer force was to be used en
masse and was to be armed with
powerful guns, and one of the first
operational results of this doctrine was
the Gun Motor Carriage MIO self-
propelled mountingT armed with a
76.2 mm (3-in) gun known as the M7, a
development of an anti-aircraft
weapon, The secondary armament
,vas one 12,7-mm (0,5-in) Browning
machine-gmn.
The MtO used the main chassis of
he M4A2 medium tank (the Sherman)
alhed to a new thinly-armoured upper Above : The American M I 0 was
:u11 and an open{opped turret, The designed to be the main weapon oI
:elatively thin armour of the hull was the T ank D es troye r C omm and's
-nproved by the use of sloping armour mobile units, and mounted a 3-in
"Dlates to increase protection, and
(76.2-mm) gun in an open-topped
sloped armour was also used on the turret. The armour protectionwas
:.rret. Unlike many other tank des- rclatively thin, as the weight of better
:oyers of the time the M10 had a turret armourwas sacrificed for all-round
',';ith 360" traverse, for althouqh the performance and speed once in
\410 was intended for use as a tank action.
iestroyer it was seen by the US Army
3s a Cun carrier and was not intended used more as assault forces than tank
-cr close-order combat, hence the re- destroyers. The M10 was lhe primary
latively thin armour, The gun was quite equipment of these battalions and was
powerful for the perrod it was intro- used not only by the US Army but by
Cuced. Production commenced dur- the British (who knew the M10 as the
-ng September 1942, and such was the Wolverine) and Iater by the French
-ootential of American industry that and ltaltan armies, In combat the M10
,'rhen production ceased in December proved to be less than a complete suc-
-942 4,993 had been produced. cess, for despite its thrn armour it was a aircraft elements, By early 1945 most of Late in thewar the M10 (left)was
The bulk of this total went to US large and bulky vehicle and as time the tank destroyer battalions were dis- suppJemenfed by the M36 (right),
.Vmy tank destroyer battalions, and in went on the gun lost much of its anti- trrbuted among the more conventional whichused a90-mm (3.54-in) gun.
:arly 1943 there were 106 actlve batta- armour effectiveness, But the MiOs armoured formations, and were then still in an open-topped turret. The
lions. But as the war continued their were still in use when the war ended. used exactly as other armoured forma- M36 was desigmed as early as I 942
:umber gradually decreased when rt By then the British had re-gunned tiors and the exclusive tank destroyer but took a long time to get into
,vas realized that the tank destroyer many of their Mlos with 17-pdr gmns concept died. production, so that it was late I I 44
:cncept as an arm separate from the and re-named the type Achilles. The before the first of them reached
:est of the American armoured forces MlO had in the meantime been joined Specification Europe. By then they were mainly
,';as wrong and as it emerged that the by the Ml0Al, whrch was the same MIO used as assa uJl Sruns.
ilest counter to a tank was another vehicle but using the chassis of the Crew:5
:enk, But the tank destroyer force re- M4A3 medium tank wrth its different Weight 29937 ks (66,000 lb) (B ft 5 in)
::ained in being until the war ended, enqine installation and some other Powerplant: two General Motors 6- Performance: maximum road speei
:::ost of the batta[ons being used in changtes, cylinder dresel engines each 51 kn/h(32 mph); roadrangre3Z?kr
=:rope, By the end of the war many of The M10s were used in battalions, developing276,6 kW (375 hp) (200 miles); grradient 25"; vertical
:e Ml0s and their associated equip- each with around 36 M10s and with Dimensions: length overall6,83 m (22 ft obstacle 0,46 m (18 in); trench 2.26r:
:::ents and towed guns were being strong reconnaissance and anti- 5 in); width 3,05 m (10 ft); height 2,57 m (7 ft5 in); fording0.9l m(3 ft)

5iir, cun Motor.Carriage MI8


=,',trereas the MIO was produced for
:e tank destroyer battalions by con-
';ertinq an existing tank chassis (the
l,i4A2), the Gun Motor Carriaqe Ml8
r;as desiqned from the outset for the
:alk destroyer role. Development be-
::ar during 1942, and the first examples
,';ere ready during 1943.
in service the MIB proved to be one
:i the best examples of the American
:ank destroyer concept, It was much
:maller than the M10 and weighed
:n-ly about half as much, but it carried a
:ore powerful gun and was much fas-
.er. Indeed, the MIB was the fastest
:acked vehicle to be used in action
iuringr World War IL The gun was the
16,2-mm (3-in) MlAl or MlA2, the lat-
:er havinq a mrrzzle brake, The MlAl
lun was a development of the gun pected in a tank and the MIB relied with excellent acceleration and agtlity, The M 18 Hellcat had the distinction
.:sed in the M10, but had a better all- upon its mobrlrty and striking power to Internal stowage was such that as well of being the fastest of all AFVs used
lound performance and it was defend rtself, The engine was posr- as carrying the crew of five men there duringWorldWar IL Armedwith a
nounted in an open{opped turet, In tioned to the rear of the hull and was a was space for 45 76.2-mm rounds and a long 7 6-mm ( 3-in) gun, it was an ideal
appearance the MlB resembled a radial air-cooled petrol engine with 12.7-mm (0,5-in) healry machrne-gun tank-hunting vehicle, but as with
:ank, and it dld indeed have a 360' aviation origins that was powerful for local and anti-aircraft defence, other vehicles of its type it generally
:raverse turet, but its armour protec- enougrh to give the MlB a good power- in sewice with the tank destroyer lacked armour andwas fittedwith an
:on was much less than would be ex- to-werght ratro to provrde the vehicle battahons the MlB was given the name open-topped turret.
3-in Gun Motor Carriage M18 (continued)

Hellcat, Despite their success in actton attempts to mount a 90-mm (3,54-in)


the MlBs were gradually switched gnrn and turret on the chassis, None of
from the tank destroyer battalions as these versions qot past the ex-
the enthusiasm for the exclusive tank perimental stage, a fate shared bY
destroyer concept dwindled, and bY many other trial versions of the basic
1945 many MlBs were used bY con- MIB including a mobrle command
ventional armoured formations within post, a utitity carrier and an amphi-
the US Army. By then theywere belngt bious variant.
used more and more as assault guns
and conventional self-propelled artil- Specification
lery, M18
The production runof the MIB lasted Crew:5
from July 1943 to October 1944, when it Weisht: 17036 ks (37,557 1b)
was obvious that the war was not going Powerplant: one Continental R-975 Cl
to last much longer. Between those radral petrol engine developing
dates 2,507 MIBs were produced, 253,5 kW (340 hp)
some being completed wtthout tufiets Dimensions: lenqthoverall6.65 m (21 ft
as the M39 for use as high-speed troop 10 in) and hull 5 .44 n(17 ft 10 in); width
or supply carners, There was also a 2,87 m (9 ft 5 in); heisht 2.58 m (B ft
T65 Flame Tank basedonthe MIB with 5,5 in)
a much revised upper hull mounting a Performance: maximum road speed
flame gmn tn front. The T8B Howitzer BB,5 kr/h (55 mph); road ranete 169 lrn M18 Hellcats went out of production Army's tank destroyer role, andwas
Motor Carriage was an attempt to (105 miles); Eradient 60 per cent; inOctober 1944 after 2,507 had been amosf successfu I com b at vehic Ie
mount a 105-mm (4, 13-in) howrtzer on vertical obstacle 0.91 m (36 in); trench built. The M I8 was the only vehicle capable of tackling all but the very
the basic MlB and there were other 1,BB m (6 ft 2 in); fordins L22 m(4 ft) specifically designed for the US heaviestGerman tanks.

ffi Arcte,
Although the Bntrsh army tended to lag
behind the Germans in upgn-mninq its
tanks as World War II prognessed, an
early decision by Brltish planners to
make a quantum leap tn anti-tank gnrn
calibres from the 57mm (2,244in) of
the 6-pdr to 76,2 mm (3 in) was a bold
one, for rt was made at a time when the
6-pdr was only just gettinq into produc-
tion. It was realtzed that the new 76.2-
mm gun, soon to be known as the 17-
pdr, would be a very large and hearry
weapon on its towed carriage. so it was
decided to flnd some means of making
it mobile, Ideally the 17-pdr was to be
used as a tank gnrn, but the tanks large tions reached the fighting in Europe, The British Archerwas a conversion The first of them were used in action
enougth to cary such a larqte weapon By then the type had become known of theValentine infantry tank to in late 1944 and proved to be very
were still a long way off (indeed had as the Archer, and in action the mount a 17-pdr (3-in/76.2-mm) anti- useful weapons with a |ow silhouette.
not even left the drawing boards) so a Archer's tank-killing capabilities were tank gan that fired over the rear hull. They were used by the Royal Artillery.
short{erm alternative had to be found. soon demonstrated, The rearward-
After investigating such in- facinqt gnrn was soon seen to be no
production means as the Crusader problem, but rather a virtue. The
tank chassis it was decided to mount Archer was soon. in use as an ambush
the 17-pdr on the Valentine infantry weapon where its low silhouette made
tank chassis, The Valentine was tn pro- it easy to conceal in a hide. As enemy
duction and could be rapidly adapted tanks approached a few shots could be
for its new gun-carryinq role bY flred to kill a tank and then the Archer
adding a sloping superstructure, open was facrng the riqht way to make a
at the top, on the forward part oi the qurck getaway before enemy retalia-
hull. To ensure the gmn/chassis com- tion arrived, The Archers were used
binatron would not be nose-heavy and by the anti-tank companies of the
unwieldy, it was decided to place the Royal Artillery, and they were de-
gun in a hmited-traverse-mounting finitely preferred to the weight and
facing over the rear of the chassis. This bulk ofthe towed 17-pdr gnrns used by
vehicle was obviously meant to be a the same companies,
tank destroyer and it was placed in The end of the war brought about a
production in late 1943, halt in Archer production at a point
It was March 1943 before the first SP where 655 of the original order for 800
l?-pdr Valentine rolled offthe produc- had been produced, The Archers
BO0 that
tion lines, the initial example of went on to equip British army anti-tank
had been ordered. The troops looked units until the mid-1950s,
at the new vehicle with some trepida-
tron, for the idea of havinq a gun that Specification
faced to the rear only was agratnst Archer
established practice, Drivers were Crew:4
also less than enchanted, for they were Weight: 16257 kg(35,840 lb)
positioned at the centre front of the Powerplant: one General Motors 6-71
fiqhting compartment and the gun 6-cyhnder diesel developing 143, 2 kW
breech was directly behind their (192 hp)
heads; on flring the breech block Dimensions: length overall6.68 m (21 ft
came to within a short distance of the I I in) and hull 5.54 m (18 ft 6 in); width
back of the driver's head, The rest of 2,76 m (9 ft 0 5 in); heiqht 2.25 m (7 ft
the crew was made up of the gnrn layer, 4.5 in)
the commander and the loader. Pro- Performance: maximum road sPeed
tective flre could be supplied by one 32 2 km/h (20 mph); road range 225 km Although the rear-facing main gun of ambush position and then driving
7.7-mm (0,303-tn) Bren gun. (140 miles); gradient 32"; verttcal the Archer could have been a tactical away after the actionwith the gun
It was October 1944 before the first obstacle 0.84 m (33 in); trench 2.36 m liability, the users put it to advantage barrel still pointing to the rear.
of these Valentrne/17-pdr combina- (7 ft 9 in); fordins0,9l m (3 ft) by using the Archers from an

I 880
Armed Forces of the World

SovietAir Forces
Part 3
Myasishchev M-4'Bisons', '1 15 Tupolev Tu-142 tional agreements), and is expected to continue at
Of the three major elements comprsing 'Bears', 315 Tu-.1 6 'Badgers', 140 Tu-22 'Blinders' this tempo untll the end of the 19BOs. Remarkably,
a r force (Voyenno-Vozdushnyye S lv, or and 1 40 fu-22M 'Backfires'. manufacture is also under way (at Taganrog) of the
appears recently to have suffered a demot Most capable of these is the 'Backfire', whrch can Tu-95, some 20 years after main production was
:trategic bomber force r.e Da 'nVava cover the whole of North America when operating completed. The new variant, which entered servlce
-ong-Range Av at on \',,s a ao-r:ld subsonically at high level f rom bases in the Sovret late in '1 984, is the 'Bear-H' dedicated launcher f or
-ght until the reorga- zz-.:- '-' '?3' Arct c with the aid of rnflightrefuelling. On shorter the AS-X-15.
:.;sets were appare-- ' ..^'- .=. -' a'ss ons against targets in Europe and Asla, it can Re-working of earller 'Bears' rs also in hand tc
-rCer ultimate comrra-r :- -. ::. :. -se ts supersonic dash capabilitiesto good effect. A produce the 'Bear-G' carrier for AS-4'Kitchen' m s-
.- r r ario.rs DA compo ..'r33porl load of up to 12000 kg (26,455 lb) may be siles. The su bjects for this prograrn me are the 'Bea r-
' .'e Air Armres wh ch :-: . .= -- - .-:, :a" ed by the 'Backfire' (some stores on external B' and 'Bear-C', which have been armed with AS-3
, SSR's five continenia --=. ':. ,' ' '::<s be ow the air intake trunks) and in addition to 'Kangaroo' cruise missiles since the early 1960s. t
. -.. They n-ay lrus . - ''e: 'al nuclear weapons, this includes an AS 4 therefore seerns that the giant, swept-wing turbo
- ,-

-:rbv units of Fronta -. , (::ren' cruise missile semi-recessed in the belly. prop will remain as a useful component of the Sov et
: nmand wrthin a s no : - -: .-: , -:er- oevelopment is the AS-X-1 5, a far more cap front-line inventory for many more years to come
, ''ordirg to the de'ra' .- ' , -:: r ssr e which will take its place on the'Back- The 'Badger', though dating back to a 1952 pro-
;trat've of th s freec ' -= :s rn;ell as the 'Bear' and forthcoming 'Black- totype, is an equally valuable asset to DA for theatre
'o'Trpolev-l-6I:-' .1:. the near future.
,,..,,r{f 11 attack (that rs to say, medium-range nuclear strike c'
-" bombing of A'g-" . -
--- 5 crurse mrssile s believed to have a
AS-X-'1 a non-strategic nature). ln rts 'Badger-G' form it car-
le new chain of cor -- . - : '- ' , '.-2= t'3000 km (1,865 miles) and, as such, wrll ries two 45-6 'Kingfrsh' cruise missile or a pair c'
cse by the ICBM ic':: =. ::-- :erab y mprove the Soviet potential for low- shorter-range AS-5 'Kelts' for the tactical role, wh j s:
-: ear deterrence Hcr',:. :.: :-d siand-off attack in both theatre and inter- specialrzed ECM/jamming variants are ava lab e t:
:rance ground Jaunc.e: =ll'.' - :, -: ^:-iar operations. lt is expected to be followed accompany other bombers. The latest vafant, th3
-.
of the air 'o'ce, rl. - : : =
-
:. ,.-ar weapons having an even greater range 'Badger-K', is assigned to electronic intel igenc:
.-l'taryarrr'o'lhsr-.. . = -: .'. in tne hrgh accuracyachieved in US counter- gathering
--ee chestovo Nazn"c-t .: l\ tire use of terrarn-comparison guidance. AS-4 Kitchens a re addltionally carried by the Tu-2 2
:,-:es, or RVSN). Operatec:. :: :: : -:.ge ls a useful asset, but not as essential 'Blinder-B' which, with the'Badger', constitutes tr:
RVSN has 1,398 sio a--,-: .: .-= ,SSl as it is to the USA: 55 American cities
-
-:<et Armies, including Bi 8
. and hardened since 1972 -- :- :' lre 1OOjathom rne ln the Atlantic and Aremarkable aircraft by anyone's standards, the
i:spite this impress ve arn-:- :.- ' : lceans, whereas the USSR has only s x Tupolev Tu- 142 still lumbers around the world's
oceans for hours at a time, collecting data from
srbmarine-launched m ss -.s , :: :-r 2 2 m llion people n the same exposed ground defences, naval exercises and anything it
rs for the bombers o'lre I - can fly near.The'Bear-D'is the most common
-sentrates on carriage of cr- s= ).,..' '= oroduction continues at an alleged rate version, and is intercepted frequently by RAF
raval air forces, the USSR ^a: ,' :: z':'z:I per year (ln contravention of tnterna- fighters over thelVorfh Sea.

: .:::i:::::::: _!i€:i::
.
Armed Forces of the World Soviet Air Forces
-
DA's medium-range element. The'Blinder' was the Having dealt with the might of the DA, lt may 4600 km (2,860 miles) or up to 200 paratroops. lts
USSR's first operational supersonic bomber. and is appear to be an anti-climax to consider the equip- internal volume is sufficient for .the largest main
now assigned by the DA entirely to cruise-missile ment of the Voyenno-Transportnaya Aviatsiya battle tanks and all the elements of an SS-20 mobile
carrying, with the exception of a few reconnaiss- (Transport Aviation, or WA). But thls is not so. for intermediate-range missile system.
ance models. this component of the V-VS is a vital element in Remembering the role played by USAF heavy
Apart from 170 aircraft (including 40 'Backfires') Soviet defensive and offensive strategy, as evi- transporters in the seizure of Grenada and their use
based in the Far East Theatre of Military Operations, denced by the massive airlift of troops and their in reinforcement exercises to Europe and the Mid-
the DA's assets are concentrated in the western equipment into Afghanistan during December 1 979. dle East, it is not dlfficult to deduce that the Soviet
sections of the USSR. lt should be noted that in The WA operates some 600 four-engine aircraft Union is seeking a similar ability io act rapidly on a
addition to the above, 530 tankers, electronic war- and many more smaller types, but has call on global scale. With the service entry in a few years'
fare and reconnaissance aircraft are operated by the another 1,400 medium and heavy aircraft of the time of the 'Blackjack' intercontinental bomber and
DA, mostly as conversions of the older bombers. airline, Aeroflot. Modernization of the force is main- 'Condor' carry-all strategic transport, the USSR will
Looking to the future, the DA will be considerably tained from annual productio.n of over 300 transport have drawn parallel to Western capability in a further
revitalized from 1987 when the Tupolev bomber aircraft in all categories, of which 75 go to WA. two areas.
known to NATO as 'Blackjack' attains operational Forming the backbone of Transport Aviation is the
status. As the Soviet Union's first truly intercon- Antonov An-12 'Cub' turboprop, of which some 375
tinental bomber, the'Blackjack' is similar in appear- are being replaced by the four-jet llyushin ll-76'Can-
T he early MiG-25'Foxbat-As' have recenily been
ance to the variable-geometry Rockwell B-1 in pros- did'. 'Cubs' will carry 100 paratroops or 20000 kg updated to 'Foxbat-E' standard with some
pect for the USAF, but 25 per cent larger and with a 144,090 lb), but thelr substitute has been designed capability against low-flying targets. Main
gross weight of 267625 ks (590,000 lb). lts high- to transport twice the payload over five times the differences include an infra-red sensor under the
altitude dash speed is Mach 2.1 , and with a range range (and in the rigours of the Siberian winter, if nose and strengthened sttucturc. It is likely that
doublethatof the'Backfire' itwill beableto mounta required), Some 250 'Candids' have been delivered more powedul engines have been fitted.
hi-lo-hi mission against any target in the USA with- so far.
out inflight-refuelling. The conventional bombload of Presently, the heavy-lift element of WA consists
the 'Blackjack' is in the region of 13600 kg of 50 Antonov An-22 'Cocks' shared with Aeroflot.
(30,000 lb), although it will also act as a carrier for Powered by four contra-rotating turboprops. the
the AS-X-1 5 and later Soviet cruise missiles. 'Cock' will lift up to 80000 kg (176,365 lb), including
missiles such as the SA-4'Ganef'on its transporter,
and is the only WA aircraft able to carry a T-62 tank.
A ammon sight around a US Navy carriet batue This distinction will be lost in 1987 or 1988,
group is an escorting Tu- I 42 . This 'Bear-C' is however, when the gigantic Antonov An-400 'Con-
arcompanied by a Grumman F- I 4A Tomcat from
W- 1 I 1 'Sundowners' . Both aircraft share one dor' enters setuice. Similar to the Lockheed C-5
thing: they are both many miles from their home. Galaxy, but larger, the 'Condor' prototype is current-
Soiet long-range aircraft have been an ever- ly the biggest flying aircraft in the world. With the
inqeasing sight over the world's oceans. WA, it will carry a load of 1 20000 kg (254,550 lb) for