LgsFH 13 (Sfl) auf Lorraine-Schlepper
Self-Propelled Howitzer (SPH) Vehicle
The French Lorraine tracked vehicle made up the basis of the German wartime Lorraine-Schlepper self-propelled gun series.
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The conquer of France by Germany in World War 2 (1939-1945) yielded the victors a grand amount of war booty. Among the loot was the fleet of newly-minted French Lorraine tracked vehicles. Due to need, the German Army reconstitute these vehicles and generated a new line of Self-Propelled Artillery (SPA) platforms designated "LgsFH 13 (Sfl) auf Lorraine-Schlepper". The vehicles emerged from conversion in 1942 and fought into 1944. The concern of Alkett was charged with the modification of some thirty initial vehicles. Speed in production was of the essence for General Rommel required SPAs in some number for his campaign across North Africa.
The reliable Lorraine tracked chassis was fitted with the proven, manually-aimed 15cm sFH 13/1 series heavy field howitzer and a relatively basic superstructure was set over the rear of the vehicle. This structure was open-topped and provided only limited protection for the gunnery crew. A driver took his position within the hull as normal with the gunnery crew numbering three within the superstructure. Dimensions included a length of 5.3 meters, a width of 1.8 meters and a height of 2.2 meters. While tall, the vehicle was quite narrow which presented a smaller target to hit from the frontal profile. Weight was 8.5 tons. Eight total 150mm rounds were carried on the vehicle proper and no self-defense machine gun was installed. The tank did, however, carry the FuG Spr 1 series radio kit. An anchor spade was attached to the rear hull and this was lowered when the vehicle fired so as to help absorb the violent recoil effects of the action - in turn reducing the strain on the track components and chassis.
Drive power was had from the original French DelaHaye 103TT six-cylinder engine developing 70 horsepower at 2,800rpm. Road speeds reached 21 miles per hour and ranges were out to 84 miles on road (55 miles cross-country).
Within the span of just one month, the company completed all thirty of the requested gun platforms and these were quickly shipped across the Mediterranean - though seven of the lot was lost during the journey. Once in theater, the SPAs acquitted themselves quite well under Rommel's direction despite the operating temperatures and terrain - a testament to the original French mechanical workmanship and overall design.
In July of 1942, an additional sixty-four of the type were ordered and their conversions handled by the German Army itself. Changes included a longer ground spade assembly that could be lowered from the within vehicle (original models required the spade to be manually lowered from outside the vehicle). These saw combat service along the West Front, in particular during the Normandy Invasion of June 1944, though, before the end of the year, losses were such that only a single unit remained in service.