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German Balkenkreuz

Germany's 15cm schwerer Infanteriegeschütz 33(SF) auf PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf H Grille, SdKfz 138/1 "Cricket", "Bison";
15cm schwerer Infanteriegeschütz 33/1 auf Selbstfahrlafette 38(t) (SF) Ausf K, SdKfz 138/1 "Cricket",
15 cm S.I.G. 33 auf GW 38(t), SdKfz 138/1:

Design

Development of the sIG 33 PzKpfw 38(t) started in late 1942.

Conversions

Some of the early models were converted when they came back to the factory for work. The sIG 33 gun was mounted on the body with an armored shield built around it. The engine area was covered so it could store ammunition.

Prototype

Alkett delivered a prototype based in the PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf H chassis. An ordered was placed for 200 to be built on the PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf K chassis. These chassis weren't ready so the PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf H chassis was used initially in production.

Production

The PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf M chassis was used for the majority of production.

  • sIG 33(SF) auf PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf H: 90
    • Production: February 1943 - April 1943
    • Manufacturer: BMM
  • sIG 33(SF) auf PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf K: 282
    • Production: April 1943 - June 1943, October 1943 - September 1944
    • Manufacturer BMM
      • Chassis: BMW-Alkett
      • Gun: Rheinmetall-Borsig
  • sIG 33(SF) auf PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf M:
  • Total: 370
    • Production: 1942 - 1944

Variants

  • 15cm sIG 33(SF) auf PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf H, SdKfz 138/1: Used Czechoslovakian 38(t) Ausf H chassis and was converted by Alkett. Engine was mounted in rear to expedite production. The fighting compartment was extended over the engine.
    In June 1944, there were 12 issued (6 each) to the 38th Panzer schwere Infanteriegeschütz Abteilung of the 2nd Panzer Division.
  • 15cm sIG 33/1(SF) auf PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf K, SdKfz 138/1: Produced by Böhmisch-Mährisch. The engine was mounted in the front and the gun towards the rear. Maximum range 4,700 meters. Used FuG16 radio.
    The gun fired a 83.8 lb HE shell at a muzzle velocity of 787'/sec. to a range of 5,140 yards.
  • 15cm sIG 33 Ausf M:
  • ??: Ammunition carrier. Used the PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf M chassis.

Usage

They served in Russia, Tunisia, Italy, and France.

They were issued to the schwere Infanteriegeschütz companies of the Panzergrenadier regiments.

Issued to Panzergrenadier regiments from early 1943 and served on all fronts.

Late War

As of February 1945 there were still 173 Grilles still being used.

Specifications

  15cm sIG 33(SF) auf PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf H, SdKfz 138/1, Bison
Crew 5
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 25,760 lb, 25,353 lb
11.5 tons
Length 15' 1.5"
4.61 m
Height 7' 10.5"
2.4 m
Width 7' 1"
2.16 m
Width over tracks  
Ground clearance  
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure  
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 1.5 cm s.I.G. 33 L/11
1.5 cm sIG33/1 L/12
Secondary  
MG 7.92 MG34
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 15
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm)  
Hull Front, Upper 25@12°
Hull Front, Lower 50@15°
Hull Sides, Upper 15
Hull Sides, Lower 15@0°
Hull Rear 15@10° & 15@16°
Hull Top open
Hull Bottom 8@90°
Superstructure Front Gun shield: 15@12°
Superstructure Sides  
Superstructure Rear  
Superstructure Top  
Engine (Make / Model) Praga EPA/2
Bore / stroke  
Cooling  
Cylinders  
Capacity  
Net HP  
Power to weight ratio  
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type) 5 forward, 1 reverse
Steering  
Steering ratio  
Starter  
Electrical system  
Ignition  
Fuel (Type)  
Octane  
Quantity  
Road consumption  
Cross country consumption  
Performance  
Traverse 5° left, 5° right
hand
Speed - Road 21.7 mph
35 kph
Speed - Cross Country  
Range - Road 185 km
Range - Cross Country  
Turning radius  
Elevation limits -3° to +72°
Fording depth  
Trench crossing  
Vertical obstacle  
Climbing ability  
Suspension (Type)  
Wheels each side  
Return rollers each side  
Tracks (Type)  
Length  
Width  
Diameter  
Number of links  
Pitch  
Tire tread  
Track centers/tread  
  15cm sIG 33/1(SF) auf PzKpfw 38(t) Ausf K, SdKfz 138/1, Bison
Crew 4
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 26,880 lb, 26,455 lb
12 tons, 12.7 tons
Length 16' 2.75", 16.7'
4.95 m
Height 8' 1", 8.2'
2.47 m
Width 7', 7.3'
2.15 m
Width over tracks  
Ground clearance 16"
Ground contact length 102.75"
Ground pressure 10.1 psi
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 150 mm sIG33/2
15 cm s.I.G. 33, L/11
Secondary  
MG 7.92 MG34
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 15, 18
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) Front: 0.75"
Side: 0.5"
Hull Front, Upper 10@67°
Hull Front, Lower 20@15°
Hull Sides, Upper 10@15°
Hull Sides, Lower 15@0°
Hull Rear 10@0° & 10@41°
Hull Top 8@90°
Hull Bottom 10@90°
Superstructure Front 0.44"
Gun shield: 10@9°
Superstructure Sides 0.38"
Gun shield: 10@16°
Superstructure Rear Gun shield: 10@17°
Superstructure Top open
Engine (Make / Model) Praga AC
Praga THNP
Bore / stroke  
Cooling Water
Cylinders I-6
Capacity  
Net HP 125
Power to weight ratio  
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type) Praga-Wilson preselective
5 forward, 1 reverse.
Steering Clutch brake
Steering ratio  
Starter Hand and electric
Electrical system 12-volt
Ignition Magneto
Fuel (Type)  
Octane  
Quantity  
Road consumption  
Cross country consumption  
Performance  
Traverse ±5°
5° left, 5° right
hand
Speed - Road 22 mph
35 kph
Speed - Cross Country  
Range - Road 115 miles
190 km
Range - Cross Country 87 miles
Turning radius  
Elevation limits -3° to +72°, -0° to +73°
Fording depth 34.5"
Trench crossing 6.3'
Vertical obstacle 33.5"
Climbing ability 30° (57%) slope
Suspension (Type) Wheels on 2 bogies with 1/2 elliptic springs
Wheels each side 4
Return rollers each side  
Tracks (Type) Dry pin
Length  
Width 12.25" (shoe 11.5")
Diameter  
Number of links 93
Pitch 4.25"
Tire tread  
Track centers/tread 5.9'
  Grille 15cm Heavy Infantry SPG Ausf M
Crew 4
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 12 tons
12,192 kg
Length 16' 3"
4.95 m
Height 8' 1"
2.47 m
Width 7' 1"
2.15 m
Width over tracks  
Ground clearance  
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure  
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 5.91" sIG 33/2
15 cm sIG 33/2
Secondary  
MG 1: 0.312" MG34
1: 7.92 mm MG34
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 18
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) 15
Hull Front, Upper  
Hull Front, Lower  
Hull Sides, Upper  
Hull Sides, Lower  
Hull Rear  
Hull Top  
Hull Bottom  
Superstructure Front  
Superstructure Sides  
Superstructure Rear  
Superstructure Top  
Engine (Make / Model) Praga AC
Bore / stroke  
Cooling  
Cylinders 6
Capacity  
Net HP 150
Power to weight ratio  
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type)  
Steering  
Steering ratio  
Starter  
Electrical system  
Ignition  
Fuel (Type) Gasoline
Octane  
Quantity  
Road consumption  
Cross country consumption  
Performance  
Traverse  
Speed - Road 26 mph
42 kph
Speed - Cross Country  
Range - Road 118 miles
190 km
Range - Cross Country  
Turning radius  
Elevation limits  
Fording depth  
Trench crossing  
Vertical obstacle  
Climbing ability  
Suspension (Type)  
Wheels each side  
Return rollers each side  
Tracks (Type)  
Length  
Width  
Diameter  
Number of links  
Pitch  
Tire tread  
Track centers/tread  

Sources:

  1. Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War Two, Peter Chamberlain and Hilary Doyle, 1999
  2. World Encyclopedia of Armored Fighting Vehicles, Jack Livesey, 2006
  3. Tank Data, Aberdeen Proving Grounds Series, 1968?
  4. German Tanks and Armoured Vehicles 1914 - 1945, B. T. White, 1966
  5. Profile AFV Weapons #22 Panzerkampfwagen 38(t) & 35(t), John Milsom, 1970
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