MANUFACTURER(S): Rheinmetall-Borsig - Nazi Germany
OPERATORS: Nazi Germany (cancelled)
LENGTH: 15.26 feet (4.65 meters)
WIDTH: 7.55 feet (2.3 meters)
HEIGHT: 6.73 feet (2.05 meters)
WEIGHT: 12 Tons (10,500 kilograms; 23,149 pounds)
ENGINE: 1 x Maybach HL66 gasoline-fueled engine developing 188 horsepower.
SPEED: 37 miles-per-hour (60 kilometers-per-hour)
RANGE: 124 miles (200 kilometers)
Detailing the development and operational history of the 5cm PaK auf Pz.Kpfw.II Sonderfahrgestell 901 Tank Destroyer Prototype Vehicle.
Entry last updated on 9/28/2018.
Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
Seeking to shore up its self-propelled, tank-destroying needs as the war progressed in its favor, the German Army once again turned to Rheinmetall-Borsig (of Dusseldorf) this time to develop a lightweight vehicle to suit the requirement. The contract arrived in July of 1940 by which point northern France and the Low Countries has all fallen to the German war machine. Rheinmetall used the chassis of the proven Panzer II light tank as a starting point and the equally-proven 5cm (50mm) Kanone I/60 (PaK 36) anti-tank gun was selected as primary armament.
The resulting vehicle was a low-profile, compact form relying heavily on the inherent capabilities of the Panzer II chassis. A four-man crew would operate the various systems of the vehicle. The gun was seated within a superstructure atop the hull. The driver retained his position at the front of the hull with the engine installed at the rear of the vehicle. The track-and-wheel arrangement featured the usual German overlapping roadwheels and the front-mounted drive sprocket. The track idler was seated at rear and no track return rollers were used. Combat weight was 10,500 kilograms and armor protection reached up to 30mm along the frontal facings. Power was from a single Maybach HL66 engine of 188 horsepower (upgraded from the originally suggested HL45 of 150 horsepower). Road speeds could reach 60 kmh.
The vehicle's formal designation became Panzerselbstfahrlafette 1c 5cm PaK 38 auf Panzerkampwagen II Sonderfahrgestell 901 (abbreviated as "Pz.Sfl. Ic").
Rheinmetall was able to complete two pilot vehicles and these were assigned as active components to the 559th Tank Destroyer Battalion where they were trialled along the East Front. From this exposure was to come a production count of 2,000 vehicles but, for one reason or another, the design never entered production.
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