Based on the fighting on the Eastern Front, an easier way to move the 88 mm PaK 43/1 L/71 guns was needed. In February 1942 a contract was issued for the vehicles. By November 1942, they were being issued to the Army's heavy antitank units. It was initially nicknamed the Hornisse (hornet) but it was changed to Nashorn (rhinoceros) by order of Hitler.
Was rather high and vulnerable. When used at ranges of 2,000 m it was less vulnerable and very effective.
Two different driver's hatches were used during production.
The chassis was called the Geschützwagen III/IV (gun carriage), which was a hybrid. In early 1942 Alkett and Deutsche Eisenwerke developed the chassis from PzKpfw III and PzKpfw IV chassis. The engine was moved forward allowing for a larger rear compartment.
Because of a shortage of hardened armor plate the hull was protected by unhardened armor plate. This superstructure armor was supplied by Witkowitzer Bergbauund Eisenhütten. The chassis was supplied by Werk Duisburg and it was assembled by Deutsche Eisenwerke at Teplitz-Schönau. Only the front and sides were armored. There was a canvas cover to protect the crew from the weather.
The AP round weighed 22.4 lbs. and had a muzzle velocity of 3,281'/sec. The HE shell had a maximum range of 11,925 yards. The muzzle of the barrel was 2.24 m high.
Rounds were stored in lockers on the sides.
There were direct sites for the 88 mm gun for direct fire and dual sites to allow for the 88 mm to be used as artillery.
Initially the 8.8 cm Pak 43 was used when the 8.8 cm Pak 43/41 was substituted as it was quicker to manufacture.
The gun was placed over the engine in an armored superstructure.