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German Balkenkreuz

Germany's Jagdpanzer 38(t) Hetzer (baiter, bull-baiting)

Design

In March 1943, Colonel General Heinz Guderian, wanted a light tank destroyer. The Army Weapons Department in 1943 chose the PzKpfw 38(t) chassis to be developed into a tank destroyer to replace the Marders.3,5,10 The Marders were tall and the crews were partially vulnerable.3

Fighting space was very cramped inside due to low silhouette and sloped armor.6 Gunner and loader were on left hand side of a gun designed to be right handed operation. The mantlet was the Saukopf (pig's head).5

Drive wheel was in the front, and the idler in the back.6

There were two fuel tanks installed.5

Chassis

The chassis of the PzKpfw 38(t) was made wider so that it could hold the 75 mm gun.9

Armament

The 7.92 mm MG34 was remotely controlled by the commander from inside the vehicle, who had a periscope and extended trigger.5 Same gun as in PzKpfw IV but with muzzle brake removed as it had a better recoil mechanism.5 The gun was 380 mm (15") to the right of center.5

In 1945 a few had the 75 mm KwK 42 L/70 gun installed.6 It was too heavy in the front and was discontinued.6

Prototype

First prototype appeared in December 1943.

Production

  • Jagdpanzer 38(t) Hetzer: 1,5773,7,8,9,10, 1,6006, 2,5481, 2,5842,3,5
    • Production: December 1943 - May 19459, late 1943 - May 19443, 1944 - ?8, April 1944 - May 19452, July 1944 - 1945
      • BMM: April 1944 - May 19455
      • Skoda: September 1944 - ?5
    • Manufacturer: BMM2,5,8,9, Skoda of Königgrätz2,5,8,9
      • Location: Pilsen3,4, Prague3, Königgrätz3, Böhm3, Breslau3
      • Armor: Poldihütte of Komotau9, BMM9, Linke-Hoffmann-Werke of Breslau9, Skoda of Pilsen9
  • Flammpanzer 38(t): 20 converted2
    • Production: December 19442, late 19448
    • Manufacturer: BMM2
  • Bergepanzer 38(t) Hetzer: 64 converted5, 1065
  • 150 Schwere Infanteriegeschütz 33/2 (Sf) auf Jagdpanzer 38(t) Hetzer; Bison5: 6 converted5, 245
  • Jagdpanzer 38(t) Starr: 10 prototypes5

Variants

  • Jagdpanzer 38(t) Hetzer; 7.5cm Pak 39 L/48 auf PzJäg 38(t) Hetzer (SdKfz 138/2); Jagdpanzer 38(t); JagdPz 38 für 7.5 cm Pak 39 L/48: Production model.9
  • Flammpanzer 38(t); PzJäg 38(t) Flammenwerferpanzer 38(t): Flamethrower.3,8,9,10 During the design phases of the Ardennes offensive it was decided that there was a need for flamethrower equipped tanks. 205 Hetzer's were converted to carry 14 mm Flammenwerfer in place of 75 mm.8 The projector was fitted inside the 75 mm barrel to help disguise it's function.5,6 154 gallons (700 liters) of flame fuel carried, in two tanks, with a range of 60 m / 197' / 55-65 yards.5,8
    Hitler wanted them to be used in the Ardennes offensive, but they were not finished in time.5 They were first encountered in Operation Nordwind, which was in Alsace in January 1945.5
    Used by the 352nd and 353rd Flame Tank Companies.5 The 352nd Company lost 6 of it's compliment of 10 during Operation Nordwind.5 The rest were lost in fighting from January to March 1945.5
  • Bergepanzer 38(t) Hetzer: Armored recovery vehicles.3,5,9,10 Gun was removed and winch fitted.5 Was open on the top. The superstructure was removed and a large wooden box was put in it's place.5 It weighed 14.5 tons.5
    It wasn't a success as it was too weak to tow the heavy tanks that made up most of the German Army's inventory.5
  • 150 Schwere Infanteriegeschütz 33/2 (Sf) auf Jagdpanzer 38(t) Hetzer; Bison5: First models were available December 1944. Based on the Bergepanzer 38(t) chassis. Had additional raised superstructure installed with 150 mm sIG 33/2. Were issued to the schwere Infanteriegeschütz company in armored infantry regiments.5
  • Jagdpanzer 38(t) Starr: Production was to start in May 1945. Was to have a 75 mm PaK 39/1 Starr L/48 or a 105 mm StuH42 Starr as main armament.
  • ?: Had a gun connected to the front armor that didn't have the recoil mechanism and the vehicle adsorbed the recoil.3,8 Around 100 were built.8
  • 8.8 cm Pak43/3 auf PanzerJäger 38(t): Prototype.9 Was to have 210 HP Tatra III, 12 cylinder, air cooled engine.9
  • 8.8 cm Panzerjägerkanone 43 auf Sfl. 38(d): Prototype by Rheinmetall-Borsig and Ardelt.9
  • 8.8 cm Panzerjägerkanone 43/3 auf Krupp/Steyr Sfl. 38(d): Prototype based on new PzKpfw 38(t) chassis.9

Usage

Entered service in May 1944 with infantry anti-tank battalions.5 The infantry division organization of 1944 included 10 Hetzers.5 The 1945 infantry division was to have 14.5 By 1945, only about 1/4 of the 100 remaining infantry divisions had Hetzers.5

In July 1944, the Panzerjägerabteilungen 731 and 743, and the 15th and 76th Infantry Divisions were the first to receive them.

The 2nd SS Panzer, 10th SS Panzer, 8th Panzer, 16th Panzer, 18th Panzergrenadier, 25th Panzergrenadier, and Kurmark Panzergrenadier divisions had Hetzer anti-tank batallions.5 Five assault gun brigades and seven independent tank destroyer battalions also were supplied.5 The V SS Mountain Corps had two independent companies attached.5 Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler's escort battalion contained Hetzers as well.5

100 were sold to Hungary.5 At least one battalion was formed in the southern sector and were used.5

At the End

On April 1, 1945, there were 627 Hetzers still in the Germany Army.5 Production continued to the end, with 121 being built and issued in the last month of the war.5

Switzerland

After the war Hetzer production recommenced and they were sold to Switzerland from 1947 to 1952.3 They were in use by the Swiss Army until the 1970s.3,10

Specifications

  Hetzer
Crew 41,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,10
Radio Fu 5, FuG52, FuG Spr F2
Radio - command Fu 8
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 31,900 lb10, 31,967 lb3
14,500 kg3,10, 15,750 kg1, 16,000 kg6
15.5 tons1,7, 15.75 tons2, 15.8 tons8, 16 tons5, 17.6 tons4
Length w/gun 20' 4.1"3,10, 20' 7"5,7, 20' 11.1"1
6.2 m3,10, 6.27 m5, 6.38 m1,2
Length w/o gun 15' 9"3, 15' 11"5, 16'4,7
4.8 m3, 4.87 m5,6
Height 6' 10"5, 6' 10.7"3,10, 6' 11"7, 7'4, 7' 1.4"1
2.1 m3,5,10, 2.17 m1,2,6
Width 8' 2.4"3,10, 8.4'4, 8' 7"5, 8' 7.5"1, 8' 8"7
2.5 m3,10, 2.63 m1,2,5,6
Width over tracks  
Ground clearance 16"4, 1' 4.5"
0.38 m, 0.42 m6
Ground contact length 112"4
2.69 m
Ground pressure 0.85 kg/cm2
Armament  
Main 1: 7.5 cm Pak 39 L/482,3,5,6,7,8
1: 7.5 cm1
1: 7.5 cm PaK 393,8,10
1: 7.5 cm Pak, L/484
Secondary  
MG 1: MG7
1: 7.92 mm MG1
1: 7.92 mm MG342,10
OR 1: 7.92 mm MG422
MG - roof 1: 7.92 mm MG344,5
1: MG6
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 40, 412: AP
414,5,6
Secondary  
MG 6004, 7805, 1,2002
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) 10 - 6010, 601
Front 2.4"@60°4
606
Side 0.8"@45°4
606
Rear 206
Hull Front, Upper 60@60°2, 60@30°5
Hull Front, Lower 60@60°, 60@40°2,5
Hull Sides, Upper 20@40°2, 20@60°5
Hull Sides, Lower 20@15°2
Hull Rear 20@15°2 & 8@70°2,5
Hull Top 8@90°2
Hull Bottom 10@90°2
Superstructure Front Gun Mantlet: 60 Soukopfblende2
60@30°5
Superstructure Sides 20@75°5
Superstructure Rear 20@75°5
Superstructure Top 8@0°5
Engine (Make / Model) Praga AC/21,2
Praga AC/28003,6,10
Praga EPA TZj5
EPA (type T2)4
Praga7
Bore / stroke  
Cooling Water4
Cylinders R65, 66, I-64
Capacity  
Net HP 1507, 150-1603,10, 1585, 1606
158@2,600 rpm4, 160@2,800 rpm9
Power to weight ratio 11.4 psi4
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type) Preselective, Olvar 40 12 16
5 forward, 1 reverse2,4,6
Praga-Wilson tarpaulin power drive.6
Praga-Wilson planetary4
Steering Clutch brake, two speed4
Steering ratio  
Starter Hand and electric4
Electrical system 12-volt4
Ignition Magneto4
Fuel (Type) Gasoline4,10
Octane  
Quantity 73 gallons9, 84 gallons, 85 gallons5, 85 gallons in 2 tanks4
320 liters6, 386 liters5
Use per 100 km of road travel: 178 liters
Road consumption 100 km/178 liters
1.3 mpg4
Cross country consumption 0.7 mpg4
Performance  
Traverse 11° right, 5° left2,4
5° right, 11° left5
Hand2
Traverse - MG roof 360°
Speed - Road 16 mph5, 24 mph4, 24.2 mph3,10, 25 mph7,9, 26 mph1
26 kph5, 39 kph3,10, 42 kph1,2,6
Speed - Cross Country 9 mph5, 10 mph4
14 kph, 15 kph5, 16 kph
Range - Road 100 miles5, 110 miles1, 111 miles4,7, 155 miles3,10
161 km5, 177 km1,2, 250 km3,10, 260 km6
Range - Cross Country 50 miles5, 60 miles4
130 km5 , 170 km6
Turning radius 4.5 m, 5 m6
Elevation limits -8° to +20°, -6° to +12°2, -6° to +10°4,5
Fording depth 2' 11"3,4,10, 2' 11.5"
0.9 m3,10
Trench crossing 4.3'4, 4' 3.2"3,10
1.3 m3,10
Vertical obstacle 2' 1"10, 2' 1.6"3,4
0.65 m3,10
Climbing ability 37° (75%) slope4
Suspension (Type) Christie
Two bogies with 1/2 elliptic springs4
Wheels each side 45
Return rollers each side 1
Tracks (Type) Dry pin4
Length 12' 10.75"
2.69 m6
98 link6
Width 1' 1.75", 13.8"4
0.35 m6
Diameter  
Number of links 984
Pitch 4.1"4
Tire tread  
Track centers/tread 6' 10.5", 6.98'9, 7'4
2.14 m
  Flammpanzer 38(t)
Crew 42
Radio  
Radio - command  
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 15.5 tons2
Length 4.87 m2
Height 2.17 m2
Width 2.63 m2
Width over tracks  
Ground clearance  
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure  
Armament  
Main 1: 14 mm Flammenwerfer 412
Secondary  
MG 1: 7.92 mm MG342
OR 1: 7.92 mm MG422
MG - roof  
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 154 gallons2,8, 24 bursts2
Secondary  
MG 1,2002
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm)  
Front  
Side  
Rear  
Hull Front, Upper 60@60°2
Hull Front, Lower 60@40°2
Hull Sides, Upper 20@40°2
Hull Sides, Lower 20@15°2
Hull Rear 20@15°2 & 8@70°2
Hull Top 8@90°2
Hull Bottom 10@90°2
Superstructure Front  
Superstructure Sides  
Superstructure Rear  
Superstructure Top  
Engine (Make / Model) Praga AC/22
Bore / stroke  
Cooling  
Cylinders  
Capacity  
Net HP  
Power to weight ratio  
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type) 5 forward, 1 reverse.2
Steering  
Steering ratio  
Starter  
Electrical system  
Ignition  
Fuel (Type)  
Octane  
Quantity  
Road consumption  
Cross country consumption  
Performance  
Traverse 11° right, 5° left, hand2
Traverse - MG roof  
Speed - Road 42 kph2
Speed - Cross Country  
Range - Road 177 km2
Range - Cross Country  
Turning radius  
Elevation limits -6° to +12°2
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. The Encyclopedia of Tanks and Armored Fighting Vehicles - The Comprehensive Guide to Over 900 Armored Fighting Vehicles From 1915 to the Present Day, General Editor: Christopher F. Foss, 2002
  2. Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War Two, Peter Chamberlain and Hilary Doyle, 1999
  3. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
  4. Tank Data, Aberdeen Proving Grounds Series, 1968?
  5. German Tanks of World War II, Dr. S. Hart & Dr. R. Hart, 1998
  6. Hetzer Jagdpanzer 38(t) and G-13, Horst Scheibert, 1990
  7. German Tanks and Armoured Vehicles 1914 - 1945, B. T. White, 1966
  8. Profile, AFV Weapons #55, German Self-Propelled Weapons, Peter Chamberlain, H. L. Doyle, 1973
  9. Profile AFV Weapons #22 Panzerkampfwagen 38(t) & 35(t), John Milsom, 1970
  10. Armored Fighting Vehicles, 300 of the World's Greatest Military Vehicles, Philip Trewhitt, 1999
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site