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Weapons of World War Two

Jagdpanzer Hetzer

Jagdpanzer Hetzer

In January 1938 a technical committee of the Czechoslovak Ministry of War, after having assisted to comparative tests between some models of tanks presented by the national heavy industries, decided to select the tank TNH of Skoda as the standard tank for the Army, replacing the precedent model LT 35 (Lehky Tank or Light Tank) produced by Skoda as well. The election was a very fortunate one. The tank, which many considered absolutely the best one of the moment, was examined as well by numerous foreign commissions, and many countries decided to acquire it. Maybe Great Britain would have ordered it if the 15th March 1939 the German troops had not occupied what remained of Czechoslovakia after the Munich Agreement, annexing the territory to the Reich.

Since then until 1945 Czeshoslovakia would be denominated "Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia". Annexed the country, its Army was largely dissolved, and weapons and equipment were incorporated into the Wehrmacht. Surely it was one of the most successful business of the Panzerwaffe, which received this way some hundreds of excellent tanks coming "as a godsend", which the Germans used very fruitfully in Poland, France, Yugoslavia, Greece and Russia. But naturally, over time the excellent Panzer 38(t), as the LT 38 had been rebaptized, started to show its limitations, and ultimately it was used only for antipartisan and police actions.

But the quantity of material able to operate was notable, and the production lines of the ex-Czechoslovak factories still worked, so in the winter of 1943 it was decided to make use of the hull and the mechanics of the Panzer 38(t) to build new tank destroyers that allowed to better contain the onslaught of the Russian armored elements in the east. The order, decided by Hitler in person, was transmitted in December to the Skoda factory of Pilsen, and already in May 1944 the first tanks were delivered to the frontline units. Actually the Panzer 38(t) was not new in this kind of transformations. From its hull had been already achieved the self-propelled anti-tank cannons Marder (Marten) 138 and 139, but the best creation was precisely this new armored vehicle, the Hetzer (Harasser), born for the specific purpose of fighting the enemy tanks, and built in 1577 exemplars.

Its dimensions were very compact, its armament was powerful (a 75/48 cannon able to perforate 135 millimeters of armor at 500 meters with 0 degrees of incidence, or 106 millimeters with 30 degrees of incidence) and its speed was enough to compete with the most powerful enemy tanks. Interesting detail was the secondary armament: one MG 34 7.92-millimeter machine gun which fired from the top of the casemate (with a larger firing arc that if it were in the front plate) and remote-controlled from inside. Clearly, the Hetzer was not a normal armored vehicle destined to support the troops, but one that had to operate often alone, in a war of ambushes and traps, but with the possibility to defend itself from the attacks of infantry without exposing its crew to enemy fire.

The design had indubitable success. Are proof of this the hundreds of Allied armored vehicles destroyed by the Hetzer until the last days of the war, and the fact that during three decades after the war the Swiss Army had in dotation a tank destroyer which was no other than a slightly modified and enhanced Hetzer.

Year: 1944

Weight: 17.6 tonnes

Length: 4.87 meters

Width: 2.54 meters

Height: 2.13 meters

Ground clearance: 40 centimeters

Maximum armor: 60 millimeters

Engine: ETA T2 of six cylinders in line and 160 horsepower

Maximum speed on road: 38.5 kilometers/hour

Maximum speed on countryside: 16 kilometers/hour

Operational range on road: 178 kilometers

Operational range on countryside: 100 kilometers

Crew: 4

Armament: One 75-millimeter cannon; one 7.92-millimeter machine gun

Ammunitions: 41 of 75 millimeters; 600 of 7.92 millimeters

Maximum surmountable trench: 1.29 meters

Maximum surmountable step: 88 centimeters

Maximum surmountable slope: 37 degrees

Fording: 65 centimeters

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