Nashorn

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SdKfz 164 Nashorn
Nashorn on display at the US Army Ordnance Museum in Aberdeen, MD
Type Tank destroyer
Place of origin Nazi Germany
Production history
Designer Alkett
Manufacturer Deutsche Eisenwerke
Number built 473
Specifications
Weight 24 tonnes (52,910 lbs)
Length 8.44 m (27 ft 8 in) with gun
Width 2.95 m (9 ft 8 in)
Height 2.65 m (8 ft 8 in)
Crew 4 or 5

Armor hull: 20-30 mm (.78-1.18 in)
superstructure: 10 mm (.39 in)
Main
armament
8.8 cm (3.46 in) Pak 43/1
Secondary
armament
7.92 mm MG (carried inside)
Engine Maybach 11.9 litre V-12 gasoline
300 PS (296 hp, 221 kW)
Power/weight 12.5 PS/tonne
Suspension leaf spring
Operational
range
235 km (146 mi)
Speed 42 km/h (26.71 mph)

Nashorn (German "rhinoceros", pronounced [ˈnaːshɔɐ̯n]), initially known as Hornisse (German "hornet"), was a German Panzerjäger-type tank destroyer of World War II. It was developed as an interim solution in 1942 by equipping a light turretless chassis with the Pak 43 heavy anti-tank gun. Though only lightly armoured (without a complete casemate enclosing the gun's breech, used for the later Jagdpanzer tank destroyers) and displaying a high profile, it could frontally penetrate any Allied tank at long range, and its relatively low cost and superior mobility to heavier vehicles ensured it remained in production until the war's end.

Development[edit]

Nashorn tank destroyers on the Eastern Front, 1944

After the first German experiences with the newer Soviet tanks like the T-34 or the Kliment Voroshilov tank during Operation Barbarossa, the need for a Panzerjäger capable of destroying these more heavily armoured tanks became clear.

In February 1942, the Alkett (Altmärkische Kettenwerke GmbH) arms firm of Berlin designed a tank destroyer using their recently developed Geschützwagen III/IV which as its name indicated used components of both the Panzer III and Panzer IV tank. The 8,8 cm Panzerabwehrkanone 43/1 L/71 (or shortly Pak 43/1), a long-barreled anti-tank gun more known as the main armament of the Tiger II, was mounted on the rear of the chassis complete with its gun shield and an open-topped superstructure was built up around the gun to give the crew some protection. The gun had the same traverse and elevation as if it had been on its carriage: 15° to either side and between -5° to +15° elevation. To accommodate the long and heavy gun, the hull had to be lengthened and the engine moved from the rear to the centre of the chassis. The amount of armour provided for the crew compartment was limited. The shielding provided was adequate to protect the crew from blast and small arms, but not armour piercing rounds. Thus like the Marder series weapons, the vehicle was not intended to engage in tank fights, but to provide mobility to an excellent anti-tank gun.

This model was presented for approval to Adolf Hitler in October 1942 and entered production in early 1943. It had numerous official designations, such as 8,8 cm Pak 43 (L/71) auf Fahrgestell Panzerkampfwagen III/IV (Sf) or 8,8cm Pak43 (L/71) auf Geschützwagen III/IV (Sd. Kfz. 164), though it was also known as the Panzerjäger Hornisse (in English "Tank-hunter Hornet")

During the first half of 1943, a new model of the Hornisse was introduced into production. This model altered the driver's front armour plate, along with other petty differences. This model and its predecessor, the few early production vehicles, were almost indistinguishable. It was renamed Nashorn by Hitler in 1944.

Total production of the Nashorn amounted to some 494 vehicles, most of which were built in 1943. In January 1944 Hitler favored production of a newer tank destroyer, the Jagdpanzer IV, which had a much lower silhouette, thicker frontal armor (60 mm frontal plate), and an effective though less powerful 7.5 cm gun. Though still primarily an ambush weapon, this vehicle was better built for armoured engagements. Production of the Nashorn did continue into 1945, though at a slow pace.

There are two Nashorns on display in military museums: at the United States Army Ordnance Museum and at the Kubinka Tank Museum.

Combat service[edit]

Nashorn in Italy, April/May 1944

The Hornisse/Nashorn was issued to the heavy antitank battalions (schwere Panzerjäger-Abteilungen), with which six would eventually be equipped: schwere Panzerjäger Abteilung 560, 655, 525, 93, 519 and 88. Each battalion was equipped with 45 Nashorns.

Nashorn's gun was a variant of Pak 43, one of the most effective anti-tank guns deployed during the war and closely related to guns used later for Ferdinand/Elefant, Tiger II, and Jagdpanther. Its tungsten carbide–cored round, Pzgr. 40/43, was capable of penetrating 190 mm of rolled steel armour at a 30° angle of impact at a distance of 1,000 m.[citation needed] The gun's tremendous performance enabled Nashorn to penetrate the front plating of any Allied armoured vehicle and to engage enemy units while staying out of range themselves.

The Hornisse/Nashorn made its debut during the Battle of Kursk, where they performed well. The ability to engage the enemy at long distances negated the disadvantages of light armour and a high profile and revealed the weapon was suited to the open, flat landscape of much of Russia.

Armor[edit]

Sd.Kfz. 164 Nashorn
Thickness/slope
Front Side Rear Top/Bottom
Turret/Gun Shield 10–15 mm (0.39–0.59 in)/30°[1]

open
Superstructure 15 mm (0.59 in)/70° 10 mm (0.39 in)/15° 10 mm (0.39 in)/10° 10 mm (0.39 in)
Hull 30 mm (1.2 in)/12° 20 mm (0.79 in)/0° 20 mm (0.79 in)/21° 15 mm (0.59 in)

Technical data[edit]

  • Manufacturer: Deutsche-Eisenwerke AG, in Teplitz-Schönau
  • Crew: 4 or 5
  • Combat weight: 24 metric tons
  • Dimensions
    • Length (with gun): 8.44 m
    • Length (without gun): 7.26 m
    • Width: 2.95 m, 3.176 m with 'Ostketten' tracks
    • Height: 2.65 m
    • Ground clearance: 0.4 m
  • Road speed: 42 km/h
  • Road range: 235 km
  • Tracks: 61/400/120 kg
    • Type: single pin
    • Width: 400 mm
    • Ground contact length: 3.80 m
    • Shoes(links)/track: 104
    • Ground pressure: 0.85 kg/cm²
  • Suspension: leaf spring
  • Shock absorbers: no
  • Vertical obstacle: 0.6 m
  • Trench: 2.3 m
  • Fording: 0.8 m
  • Engine: Maybach HL 120 TRM Ausf. A
    • Type: V-12 60 deg
    • Horsepower: 300 PS @ 3000 rpm
    • Displacement: 11,867 l
    • Compression ratio: 6.2-6.5:1
    • Fuel: gasoline
    • Fuel consumption (road): 2 l/km
    • Fuel capacity: 470 l (two fuel tanks)
  • Transmission: ZF (Zahnradfabrik Friedrichshafen AG) SSG 77 Aphon
    • Type: synchromesh manual
    • Gears: 6/1
  • Steering: Daimler-Benz/Wilson clutch/brake
  • Clutch: Fichtel & Sachs La 120 HDA dry, triple disc
  • Armament
    • Main gun: 88 mm Pak 43/1
    • Type: Anti-tank gun
    • Caliber: 88 mm
    • Barrel length: 71 calibers
    • Breech: semiautomatic, horizontal sliding block
    • Traverse: manual, +/-15°
    • Elevation: manual, +20/-5°
    • Rounds carried: 24 to 40
    • one 7.92 x 57 mm MG-34 or MG-42 machine-gun carried inside the vehicle
    • appr. 600 rounds
  • Primary gun sight: Sfl. Z. F. 1a (Selbstfahrlafetten-Zielfernrohr)
    • Magnification: 5x
    • Field of view: 8°
  • Indirect fire sight: Aushilfsrichtmittel 38
    • Magnification: 3x
    • Field of view: 10°
  • Radio: FuG Spr. f

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ 15mm after May 1943

External links[edit]