Jagdpanzer IV

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Jagdpanzer IV
Panzermuseum Munster 2010 0449.JPG
Jagdpanzer IV at the Deutsches Panzermuseum
Type Tank destroyer
Place of origin Nazi Germany
Production history
Produced December 1943 – April 1945
Number built about 2,000
Specifications (Jagdpanzer IV/70(V)[1])
Weight 25.8 tonnes (28.4 short tons; 25.4 long tons)
Length 8.5 m (27 ft 11 in)
Width 3.17 m (10 ft 5 in)
Height 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
Crew 4

Armor 10–80 mm (0.39–3.15 in)
Main
armament
1x 7.5 cm Pak 42 L/70
55 rounds
Secondary
armament
1x 7.92 mm Maschinengewehr 34
600 rounds
Engine Maybach HL 120 TRM
300 PS (296 hp, 221 kW)
Power/weight 11.63 PS/tonne
Suspension Leaf springs
Operational
range
210 km (130 mi)

The Jagdpanzer IV, Sd.Kfz. 162, was a tank destroyer based on the Panzer IV chassis built in three main variants. As one of the casemate-style turretless Jagdpanzer (tank destroyer, literally "hunting tank") designs, it was developed against the wishes of Heinz Guderian, the inspector general of the Panzertruppen, as a replacement for the Sturmgeschütz III (StuG III). Guderian objected against the needless, in his eyes, diversion of resources from Panzer IV tank production, as the Stug III and Sturmgeschütz IV were still more than adequate for their role.

Officially, only the L/48-armed vehicle was named Jagdpanzer IV. The L/70-armed vehicle was named Panzer IV/70. In this article, both versions are referred to in general as Jagdpanzer IV, except in the variants and surviving vehicles section.

Development[edit]

After the Battle of Stalingrad, in September 1942 the Wehrmacht's arms bureau, the Waffenamt, called for a new standard for assault weapons: 100 mm of armor to the front, 40–50 mm on the sides, wider tracks, ground clearance of 50 cm, top speed of 26 km/h and the lowest possible firing positions. The new Panzerjager ("tank hunter") design would be armed with the same 7.5 cm gun as fitted to the Panther: the Pak 42 L/70. Initially a new chassis was planned, but that of the Panzer IV had to be used.

Previous efforts to mount bigger guns on smaller chassis resulted in the Marder series as well as StuG IIIs. The Marder series were tall and had open crew compartments. The new design had a low silhouette and completely enclosed fighting compartment.

The Jagdpanzer IV used Panzer IV chassis 7 (known as BW7), but the almost-vertical front hull plate was replaced by sloped armor plates. Internally, the layout was changed to accommodate the new superstructure, moving the fuel tanks and ammunition racks[clarification needed]. Since the Jagdpanzer lacked a turret, the engine which originally powered the Panzer IV's turret could be eliminated.

The new superstructure had 80 mm thick sloped armour, which gives a much greater armor protection than a vertical armor of 100 mm. To make the manufacturing process as simple as possible, the superstructure was made out of large, interlocking plates which were welded together.

Armament consisted of a 7.5 cm main gun, originally intended to be the Pak 42 L/70, but due to shortages older guns were initially used, the 7.5 cm Pak 39 L/43 for preproduction, and the 7.5 cm Pak 39 L/48 for initial production variant. These were shorter and less powerful than the Pak 42.

Installing the much heavier Pak 42 meant that the Jagdpanzer IV was nose heavy, especially with the heavy frontal armor. This made them less mobile and more difficult to operate in rough terrain, leading their crews to nickname them Guderian-Ente ("Guderian's duck"). To prevent the rubber rims of the roadwheels being dislocated by the weight of the vehicle, some later versions had steel roadwheels installed on the front.

The final prototype of the Jagdpanzer IV was presented in December 1943 and production started in January 1944, with the Pak 39 L/48 armed variant staying in production until November. Production of the Pak 42 L/70 armed variants started in August and continued until March/April 1945.

On August 19–22, 1943, after the Battle of Kursk, Hitler received reports that StuG IIIs performed better than Panzer IV within certain restraints of how they were deployed. It was thus intended to stop production of the Panzer IV itself at the end of 1944 to concentrate solely on production of the Jagdpanzer IV, but the Panzer IV was in production all the way until the end of the conflict along with Jagdpanzer IV.

Variants[edit]

The 0-Serie preproduction vehicle at Deutsches Panzermuseum
  • Jagdpanzer IV 0-Serie
with 7.5 cm Pak 39 L/43: a small number of these were built as the preproduction (0-Serie) probably in December 1943.[1]
  • Jagdpanzer IV (Sd.Kfz.162[1])
with 7.5 cm Pak 39 L/48, official name Sturmgeschütz neuer Art mit 7.5 cm Pak L/48 auf Fahrgestell PzKpfw IV, with 769–784 produced in January 1944 - November 1944.[1]
  • Panzer IV/70 (V) (Sd.Kfz.162/1[1])
was one of two variants armed with the same Pak 42 L/70 gun. The (V) stands for the designer, Vomag. The most produced version, with 930–940 built in August 1944 - April 1945.[1]
  • Panzer IV/70 (A) (Sd.Kfz.162/1[1])
the other Pak 42 L/70 armed Jagdpanzer IV. In order to send Pak 42 L/70 armed vehicles to the front as soon as possible, in July 1944 Hitler ordered an interim solution to speed up Nibelungenwerke's transition from Panzer IV production to Panzer IV/70 production. "A" stands for Alkett, a manufacturer of the StuG III, that was ordered to redesign the Jagdpanzer IV superstructure to be mounted onto a standard Panzer IV chassis. The Vomag design used a modified chassis permitting a very low silhouette, mounting the superstructure onto the original Panzer IV chassis required additional vertical steel plates mounted onto the chassis to counter height differences. The resulting vehicle was about 40 cm taller and lacked the sharp edged nose of the Vomag variant. Only 278 were built by Nibelungenwerke from August 1944 to March 1945.

Minor modifications and improvements were made throughout the production runs of all variants, as well as several field improvements, the most common being the addition of armor sideskirts.

Originally the Jagdpanzer IV's gun had a muzzle brake installed, but because the gun was so close to the ground, each time it was fired, huge dust clouds would rise up and betray the vehicle's position, leading many crews to remove the muzzle brake in the field. Later variants dispensed with the muzzle brake.

Early vehicles had zimmerit applied to the hull to protect against magnetic mines, but this was discontinued after about September 1944. Later vehicles had three return rollers rather than the original four, and adopted the twin vertical exhausts typical of the late Panzer IV series. Some late vehicles also had all-steel road wheels on the first couple of bogies on each side.

Combat history[edit]

Jagdpanzer IV with infantry support, Hungary, 1944

The Jagdpanzer IV served in the anti-tank sections of Panzer and SS Panzer divisions. They fought in Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge and on the Eastern Front. They were very successful tank destroyers but performed badly when used out of role as substitutes for tanks or assault guns, as most tank destroyers were.

In the later stages of the war however, they were increasingly used as tank substitutes, because there was often nothing else available.

Romania received several Jagdpanzer IV tank destroyers from the Red Army after the war ended. They were officially known as TAs T4 in the army inventory and were used until 1950. All German armour was scrapped in 1954.

One of the more notable Jagdpanzer IV aces was SS-Oberscharführer Rudolf Roy from the 12th SS Panzerjäger Battalion of 12th SS Panzer Division. He was killed by an American sniper while looking out of the hatch of his Jagdpanzer IV, on December 17, 1944 during the Ardennes Offensive in Belgium.

After the war, West Germany continued the Jagdpanzer concept with the Kanonenjagdpanzer, but few other fixed-casemate self-propelled guns were built postwar. An innovative exception was the Swedish Stridsvagn 103, or "S-Tank".

Survivors[edit]

Jagdpanzer IV 0-Serie
Jagdpanzer IV L/48
  • Deutsches Panzermuseum in Munster, Germany. It is an early version with 60 mm armor. This vehicle is on loan from the WTS in Koblenz, Germany, and previously belonged to the United States Army Ordnance Museum in Aberdeen, Maryland. It was returned to Germany in the 1960s.
  • Musée des Blindés in Saumur, France. It is an early model with 60 mm armor.
  • Thun Tank Museum in Switzerland. It is a late model with 80 mm front armor.
  • In storage in a military area in Bulgaria. This is a very early L/48 model, and the only surviving example with the driver's machine gun slot welded over. It was previously part of a defensive line on the Bulgarian border. In February 2008 it was ordered recovered by the Bulgarian Defense Minister to be either preserved in a museum in Bulgaria, or sold to a private collector.
Panzer IV L/70 (V)
Panzer IV L/70 late (A)
  • Musée des Blindés in Saumur, France. The vehicle was used in 1944-45 by Free French forces. The vehicle is displayed with damage resulting from a direct hit by an armor-piercing shell.
Wrecks

A wreck of Jagdpanzer IV L/48 is stored in Armoured Warfare Museum in Poznań. It was excavated in 2009 in the vicinity of the Citadel.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Jagdpanzer IV and IV/70", Achtung Panzer! 

External links[edit]