Panzerjager 38(t) fur 7.62cm PaK36(r) (Sd Kfz 139) Marder III
The problems faced by the German troops in Russia when they encountered superior Russian armour was to be solved in the short term by the production of self-propelled anti-tank guns. Since the Pz Kpfw 38(t) was obsolete as a battle tank and considered too slow as a reconnaissance tank, it was ordered that a number of the chassis under construction be converted to gun carriages. A prototype Sf (SP) mounting a Russian 7.62cm gun was built in December 1941, and an order dated 22 December 1941 called for production of 17 units per month from 24 March 1942, and for capacity for 30 per month from July. Several orders were issued so that eventually 344 were built. From July 1942, Hitler ordered that all Pz Kpfw 38(t) production be used as Sf. The 7.62cm PaK36(r) was the Russian FK296 rebuilt to German specifications and rechambered to take a PaK40 cartridge. Conversion was made from the large stocks of guns captured during the initial success in Russia.
To cope with the greater weight of the self-propelled guns, the motor was increased in power to 150PS. This model was introduced in July 1942 as the Ausf H (chassis numbers from 1601).
Served mainly with Panzerjager detachments in Russia. A total of 66 were dispatched to North Africa where those that arrived from July to November 1942 served with the 33rd Panzerjagerabteilung of the 15th Panzer Division, and with the 39th Panzerjagerabteilung. The first six units, which arrived in North Africa in May 1942, remained with the HQ of the Tank Army.
15cm slG33 auf Fahrgestell Panzerkampfwagen II (Sf)
After the success of the 15cm slG33 auf Fgst Pz Kpfw I (Sf) in France in 1940, plans were made to mount this heavy infantry gun on a more suitable chassis, and to drastically lower its height. A prototype was built on a Pz Kpfw Ausf B chassis in February 1941 when it was realised that the normal chassis did not provide sufficient room for the large gun. A new chassis was planned using basic Pz Kpfw II components and was to have been ready for production in July 1941. Because of design problems and delays, however, the twelve 15cm slG33 (Sf) were not delivered until late 1941.
The chassis for this vehicle was basically a Pz Kpfw II chassis which had been widened by 32cm and lengthened by 60cm to accommodate the 15cm slG33 and maintain a low silhouette. This lengthening required the addition of a sixth road wheel on each side, but no further suspension changes were required. The fighting compartment was formed by 15mm plates on the front and sides, but was open on top and at the rear. The engine cooling was greatly increased by large hatches on the rear deck which could be braced open to allow a large volume of cooling air to circulate.
All twelve 15cm slG Sfl auf Pz II were shipped to North Africa early in 1942, with the 707 and 708 slG Kp (Sf) (Heavy Infantry Gun Companies (SP). They took part in the spring offensive at Gazala, and all further major offensives in North Africa with the Deutsches Afrika Korps until the last of them were eliminated in the spring of 1943.
Marmon Herrington Mk.ll
The South Africans produced their armoured cars by importing Ford truck chassis from Canada, four-wheel drive transmissions from Marmon Herrington in the USA and the armament from the United Kingdom. Local assembly and production was undertaken in local vehicle assembly plants and railway workshops, and the armour plate was produced at local steel mills. The first vehicles were known under the designation South African Reconnaissance Vehicle Mk I, and these had a long wheelbase and a 4×2 drive configuration. The South African Reconnaissance Vehicle Mk II had a shorter wheelbase and a full 4×4 drive. After early experience with the Mk Is against the Italians in East Africa, the South Africans thereafter confined the vehicles mainly to training purposes, but the Mk Us went on to better things.
The Mk II, known to the British as the Armoured Car, Marmon Herrington, Mk II, was a fairly simple but effective conversion of the original truck chassis to take the new 4×4 transmission and a well-shaped armoured hull. The early versions had a turret on the roof mounting a Vickers 7,7-mm (0.303-in) machine-gun, another light machinegun being located in the hull front, but once this combination had been tried in action it was changed to a Boys 13.97-mm (0.55-in) anti-tank rifle mounted alongside a 7.7-mm (0.303-in) machine-gun in the turret. The vehicle had a crew of four housed in the roomy hull, and the engine was a Ford V-8.
When they were first produced and issued to South African and British units in North Africa, the Marmon Herringtons were the only armoured cars available in any numbers and they formed the main equipment used by the reconnaissance units during the early Western Desert campaigns. They proved to be surprisingly effective vehicles, but their 12-mm (0.47-in) armour was often too thin to be of much use, and the armament was really too light.