TM-E 30-451 Handbook on German Military Forces

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department Technical Manual, TM-E 30-451: Handbook on German Military Forces published in March 1945. — Figures and illustrations are not reproduced, see source details. — As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. — Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]



1. General

a. DEVELOPMENT. German self-propelled artillery has now developed to a point where there is scarcely any artillery piece up to and including 150-mm caliber which has not appeared on at least one self-propelled chassis. Some of these have been experimental, but others have been standardized and have appeared in large numbers.

b. PRODUCTION METHODS. Self-propelled artillery has been produced in three different ways. First, there are the gun-chassis combinations which have been designed and engineered carefully to fill a particular role. These were produced in quantity by major armament factories in Germany and exist in large numbers. The 75-mm and 105-mm assault guns are examples of this type. Second, there are the standard guns fitted on standard tank chassis. Conversion has been carried out in accordance with well-engineered designs at considerable expense of time and skill. Among these are the 10.5 cm. le. F. H. 18/2 on the Gw. II (Wespe) and the 15 cm s. F. H. 18/1 on the Gw. III/IV (Hummel). Third, there is a large class of self-propelled guns produced by field conversion, carried out in unit or base workshops, and requiring little skill, time, or material. An example of this is the 15 cm s. I. G. 33 mounted on the chassis of the Pz. Kpfw. I.

c. TACTICAL USES. German self-propelled artillery may be divided into four types from a tactical point of view, but the line of demarcation often is not clear, as many self-propelled artillery pieces have dual missions. These types are: close-support artillery, including assault guns; field and medium artillery; tank destroyers; and antiaircraft artillery.

(1) Close-support and assault guns. The development of close-support and assault guns was begun about 1940. Assault guns are designed for the close support of infantry, and normally consist of a gun of limited traverse on an armored self-propelled chassis carrying heavy frontal armor. They are inclined to be slower and less maneuverable than tanks but are suited particularly well for attacks on enemy infantry heavy weapons and main point of resistance.

(2) Field and medium self-propelled artillery. Field and medium self-propelled artillery was introduced first about the middle of 1942. Both types of howitzers (10.5 cm le F. H. 18 and 15 cm s. F. H. 18) in the division artillery now may be found on self-propelled chassis.

(3) Self-propelled antitank guns. The first self-propelled antitank gun was the 4.7 cm Pak. (t) mounted on the then (1941) obsolescent chassis of the Pz. Kpfw. Ib. Antitank guns now form the numerically largest class of self-propelled artillery weapons.

(4) Self propelled antiaircraft artillery. Self-propelled antiaircraft artillery actually was developed before any attempt was made to apply this principle to other types of weapons, but so far no serious effort has been made to mount antiaircraft guns larger than 37-mm on motor-driven carriages.

d. GUN AND CHASSIS MODIFICATIONS. Guns with the exception of assault guns, are mounted normally on their self-propelled carriages without any major alteration. Assault guns usually are fitted with electric firing devices and modified recoil systems. The chassis, however, particularly in cases where they are those of existing tanks, have undergone considerable modification. Not only have the superstructures been altered, but in some cases the engine has been moved from the rear to a central position, to enable the gun crew to stand on the floor of the hull to serve the gun.


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