“HORNET”, AKA “RHINO”

The Polish campaign of 1939 forced the military leadership of the Wehrmacht to equip the troops of the mobile means of combating enemy tanks. In the same year the firm “, Alkett” created the first self-propelled anti-tank artillery. The developers did is quite simple: they took off with a light tank Pz.Kpfw.I tower, and in its place hoisted a bridge with a 47-mm anti-tank gun Czech A9.

 
By this time, the Pz.Kpfw.I was already considered obsolete. Having a mass of about 5 t, the thickness of its armor was only 6 -13 mm; he was carrying only machine-gun armament – two 7.92-mm “Draize” MG-13; the motor – 57-strong. In 1939, these characteristics were already insufficient. Therefore, it decided to use as a self-propelled chassis.
 
The wheelhouse, mounted on self-propelled, was an armored box with a wall thickness of 12 – 14.5 mm, open at the top and the stern. It is reliably protected the commander of the machine, carrying out the functions of the gunner and loader.
 
The driver-mechanic was located in the front of the compartment. The engine is a more powerful – 100-strong “Maybach”, allows machine weight 6.5 t to reach the speed of 40 km/h.
 
The 47 mm gun had a barrel length of 43.4 per caliber, her piercing projectile could penetrate at a distance of 500 m armor thickness almost 60 mm. But to fire on the tanks the T-34 or KV it could only close range. The installation is easily destroyed even by our 45-mm guns.
 
By the end of 1941 these self-propelled guns, which received index 4,7 cm Pak (t) auf Pz.Kpfz.l (the index of Sd.Kfz.101), produced about 200 units. However, due to heavy losses almost all of the remaining intact cars removed from the Eastern front and sent to fight in Africa.
 
 
“Nashorn” in the Museum of the armored armament in Kubinka. Installation of issue 1943 had a camouflage color of the spots are olive-green and red-brown colours on a sand yellow background
 
88-mm self-propelled gun Pak 43
 
88-mm self-propelled gun Pak 43 “, Nashorn”. Issued 494 units
 
The mass means of dealing with our tanks in early war, the troops of the Wehrmacht were 37-mm anti-tank guns Cancer 35/36, which began producing in 1934 On September 1, 1939 in artillery units they were 11 thousand units that by 1 June 1941, this number had increased to nearly 14 500. Gun could more or less successfully act against our tanks BT and T-26 armor 8-13 mm, T-37, T-38, T-40, but against the T-34 and KV they were completely powerless.
 
Deciding to increase the combat capability of its artillery units, army command drew attention to the 76.2 mm guns Cancer-36 (d) and 75-mm Cancer-and Cancer 40/2-40/3, setting them also on the chassis of the tanks, ready to write off. So, Cancer 36 knead on the chassis of the Pz.Kpfw.ll Ausf.D and Pz.Kpfw.38(t).
 
However, well-established in this purpose of Cancer 36 represented our Soviet guns of the divisional artillery, f-22, in considerable quantities seized as trophies in the beginning of the war. For shooting of them was also used captured Soviet ammunition, including armor-piercing and high-explosive. At the distance of 1000 m armor-piercing projectile penetrated the armor thickness of 80-100 mm.
 
The Germans used them as field guns, and on all fronts. They had a small weight of only 1700 kg and rate of 12 to 15 RDS./min.
 
Anti-tank guns Cancer 40 put into service in November 1941, They had a direct fire range 900 – 1300 m. the thickness of the armor, penetration of sabot projectile at a distance of 500 m, was equal to 150 mm. Our military experts all the shots of these guns were “considered a threat to T-34”. Did stand against them tanks is-2 and T-44. The British failed to create a machine with cannon-proof armor, only the U.S. had enough reliable M26 “Pershing”.
 
Self-propelled gun on the chassis of the Pz.Kpfw.ll Ausf.D had a mass of about 9 tons, the frontal armor thickness up to 30 mm, was armed with 20-mm tank gun KwК 30. In 1940, it provided shell with a tungsten core that could penetrate the armor to 20 mm at a distance of 500 m. a 10-ton tank Pz.Kpfw.38(t) was a Czech production, and had armor 10-25 mm; armed with a 37 mm cannon “Skoda” A-7.
 
Self-propelled gun Pak 43
 
Self-propelled gun Pak 43 “, Nashorn”:
 
1 – the muzzle brake of the gun; 2 – barrel 88 mm gun Pak 43; 3 – cutting self-propelled; 4 – driven wheel; 5 – hole plug, kick starter; 6 – support roller; 7 – driving wheel; 8 – the radio operator hatch; 9 – shield gun; 10 – bracket-retainer of gun barrel; 11 – the armored covers holes cool brakes; 12 – armour gun shield; 13 – flywheel vertical guidance; 14 muffler; 15 – seat gunner; 16 – flywheel horizontal guidance; 17 – driver’s hatch; 18 – observation devices of the driver; the 19 scope; 20 – the aft door of the wheelhouse; 21 – spare support roller

 
The installation crew in their jobs on the left and the radio operator on the right - a driver, cabin: left - loading, centre - gunner, on the right - the commander of the machine. Eastern front, 1943
 
The installation crew in their jobs on the left and the radio operator on the right – a driver, cabin: left – loading, centre – gunner, on the right – the commander of the machine. Eastern front, 1943
 
88-mm antitank gun Pak 43
 
88-mm antitank gun Pak 43
 
Calculation of loads gun ammunition. Right in the cockpit - the gunner's station, in front of the seat visible to the flywheel of the horizontal guidance, in the stern deckhouse telescope commander
 
Calculation of loads gun ammunition. Right in the cockpit – the gunner’s station, in front of the seat visible to the flywheel of the horizontal guidance, in the stern deckhouse telescope commander
 
The basis of the antitank defense of the Wehrmacht - 88-mm divisional gun Pak 43 mounted on a wheeled carriage and on anti-aircraft gun carriage. Aberdeen proving ground, Maryland, United States
 
The basis of the antitank defense of the Wehrmacht – 88-mm divisional gun Pak 43 mounted on a wheeled carriage and on anti-aircraft gun carriage. Aberdeen proving ground, Maryland, USA
 
And those other tanks, the German leadership considered it obsolete, and they have shown themselves in the battles not effectively enough, so they began gradually to retire, and many of the rest began to fit under chassis anti-tank self-propelled guns.
 
The basis of anti-tank artillery of the Wehrmacht at that time was 88-mm Pak 43 gun on wheels. It was a very effective means of dealing with armored vehicles. Of all who fought on the fronts of the tanks against his fire could stand only the is-2, upper front with a “flattened” nose armored plate which well withstood the hit, but it did not give satisfactory protection in General: the shells the Pak 43 is relatively easily pierced his tower, side and lower front plate. In overall statistics for the deadweight losses of is-2 losses from 88-mm guns accounted for about 80 %. Any other tank of the USSR, Britain, USA did not provide its crew protection against projectiles Pak 43. Reliable could be the is-3, but he did not take part in hostilities.
 
But for all its excellent ballistic data of the weapon was inactive due to a large mass, which in the stowed position nearly 5 tons And even though it towing applied a special powerful tractor, permeability, such as soft grounds was unsatisfactory. In addition, if this weapon into battle with tanks, it is often to get out of it was not possible: either it was to destroy the enemy or be destroyed himself.
 
A consequence of the large mass turned out to be high losses in materiel and personnel. Therefore, the German military leadership took action on the simultaneous protection of guns and of their calculation and the increase in so-called tactical flexibility, making them self-propelled. This used the already previously applied the principle of combining guns and tank chassis: Cancer 43 posted on Pz.Kpfw.lll (index Sd.Kfz.141). This tank had a mass of 19.5 tons, armour up to 30 mm. was Armed with a 37 mm cannon KwK 36 or KwK 39, sabots which at the distance of 500 m could penetrate the armor thickness of 72 mm, and 1000 m – up to 38 mm. the Pz III was Produced up to 1943
 
For the implementation of the military requirements of the Berlin firm “Alkett”, who already had experience in such developments, modernized case of the Pz III, using his own transmission, differentials, drive wheels, some units and components. Other chassis components: support and track rollers, driven wheels, crawler tracks taken from the tank Pz.Kpfw.IV. The engine is supplied from another tank – Pz.Kpfw.IV modification F. It was a 12-cylinder carburetor “Maybach” НL 120ТRМ, V-shaped four-stroke; its capacity was 300 HP with a working volume of 11 cm3 867. Posted it in the Central part of the body, above it is mounted a reinforced deck, which on a standard cruciform carriage mounted gun.
 
The wheelhouse of the fighting compartment occupied the whole aft part of the machine. Its profiled front plate, in fact, the gun shield had a rounded shape, to ensure the rotation of the gun barrel horizontally. However, its thickness was only 10 mm. of the same thickness was side and stern sheets set vertically. Practically they were little reliable protection for a maintenance calculation, fencing only from small fragments and bullets neponimayu, although the initial project voiced front part of the deckhouse, alloy steel, SM-Stahl 50 mm thick, Board and food was supposed to be 20 mm, However, experiencing a great shortage of high-quality steel from it all abandoned, leaving only 30mm of armor in the hull of the machine. The thickness of the remaining parts were: depth – 20 mm, feed 20 mm, roof 10 mm, bottom 15 mm, they were also vulnerable.
 
Under the floor of the fighting compartment housed two fuel tanks of 300 l each; filling the neck went inside the cabin. Fuel – leaded gasoline with octane rating of 74.
 
The intakes of the engine, covered by blinds, were on the shelves only at the center of the housing on both sides of the cabin. The flow of air produced by two fans.
At the rear of the car over the tracks was located the boxes with the spare parts and tools.
 
Chassis had eight double rubber rollers on Board with a diameter of 470 mm; they were connected by four truck that had suspension on the leaf springs. Track length 3520 mm consisted of 104 tracks width 400 mm.
 
The main feature of the layout machine was the location of the transmission, the drive wheels in the front of its hull and engine in the center. The drivetrain consisted of a driveline master clutch, the transmission, the rotation mechanism and final drives. It provided ten forward speeds and one backward.
 
Another important detail: the car had the inertia starter drives in action the kickstarter.
 
Extensive for its size the cabin allowed for a powerful semi-automatic self-propelled gun 88 mm Pak 43 gun with a barrel length of 71 cal. Over its barrel was a heat exchanger under it lakatnik on the sides – special controllerservice cylinders.
 
The gun had a horizontal sliding breech, semi-automatic mechanism at a height of 2240 mm from ground level. For the sustained viability of the trunk in movement used the device in the form of a “tripod” with automatic control from the wheelhouse.
 
Sector its traverse was 15° in each direction, vertical – from -5° to +20°. Initially, the self-propelled guns were installed two sight Zieleinrichtung 34. One of them was used for direct fire, the other from the closed position. Later posted a sighting system Zieleinrichtung 37/43 with the periscope SII.ZFIa, allowing both types of shooting. The guns rate of fire – 10 RDS./min.
 
At the disposal of the calculation had a large set of shells for various actions: cumulative Gr.39 HL and Gr.39/43 HL, armor-piercing-tracer Pz.Gr/Patr.39/1 Pz.Gr/Patr/39/43, high-explosive Spr.Gr.Patr.43. Latest, weight 9.5 kg, could fire at ranges up to 15 000 m. caliber armor-Piercing projectiles with a mass of 10.2 kg having an initial velocity when leaving the barrel more than 1000 m/s could at a distance of 1000 m to penetrate the armor thickness of 200 mm at 1500 m to 170 mm.
 
The ammunition consisted of 40 gun shots, placed on the sides of the pilings eight each: 24 more were on the floor of the fighting compartment. In addition, there were cartridges of caliber 7.92 mm machine gun MG – 600 units and cartridges of caliber of 9 mm to the Mr-40 – 384 pieces.
 
With this penetration, the installation called “Nashorn” (“Rhino”), was extremely dangerous for all enemy tanks at combat at great distances. However, in melee, it loses its advantages. In this case, began to affect under-booking. Due to the open felling she was very vulnerable in close combat, and medium range domestic “thirty” and KV left her little chance for survival, especially when firing direct fire. Self-propelled gun could operate successfully only at ranges of over 2 miles or pre-selected positions, keeping a certain distance combat. Later it turns out that this tank destroyer was to have not only powerful weapons, but also to be heavily armored and have a low silhouette, difficult to defeat is self-propelled. The last two advantages “, Nashorn” had.
 
Gun Pak 43 is set by the calculation to the firing position
 
Gun Pak 43 is set by the calculation to the firing position
 
SAU
 
SAU”, Nashorn” in ambush. Eastern front, 1943
 
SAU
 
SAU”, Nashorn” shot down by our artillery fire. Belarus, 1944
 
The crew of the SAU waiting for the order for the nomination to the firing position. Italy, 1944
 
The crew of the SAU waiting for the order for the nomination to the firing position. Italy, 1944
 
In addition to guns in the artillery armament consisted of two 7.92-mm machine gun MG-34, as well as personal weapons two pistol – machine gun MP-40 of 9 mm caliber.
 
The crew was five people. In the front of the housing in a separate cabin to the left was the driver, right – the radio operator in the conning tower housed the commander of the machine and two man artillery calculations. The relationship of linear plants VHF radio Fu.Spg.Ger.”f” Fu.G5 working in the range of 27 – 33 MHz with a range of up to 10 km For installations commanders of batteries used radio Fu.G5 or Fu.G8 with a range of up to 80 km.
 
Installation of issue 1943 had a camouflage color of the spots are olive-green and red-brown colours on a sand yellow background. Later cars were olive green. In winter they are all painted washable white paint.
 
The first tank destroyers – self-propelled Sd.Kfz. 164 effective 88-mm gun was accepted into service in late 1942 the Serial production began in February of next year on the factory of the company “Deutsche Eisenwerke” in Duisburg. They were produced from February 1943 to end of war. In all there were 494 units. The SPG was armed with heavy anti-tank parts of the Reserve Command and were part of the separate battalions of fighters of tanks. They were attached to various units and formations in order to strengthen them by order of the headquarters of corps or armies. Often used postarano on the tank hazardous areas. The staffing in each division were 45 cars.
 
For the first time “Nashorn” took part in the fighting at Kursk in the composition of the 655 th fighter tank regiment. During the period of the war the German command was able to equip six regiments, armed with were only these settings.
 
In the end, we note that the draft of the fighter tanks from the very beginning was the name “Hornisse” (“Hornet”), but in January 1944 on the personal instructions of Hitler, the installation for some reason was renamed “Nashorn” (“Rhino”) May, in the opinion of the Fuehrer, to the enemy Rhino horn was worse than the sting of a hornet.
 
AMMUNITION GUN PAK 43
 
AMMUNITION GUN PAK 43
 
PENETRATION SHELLS GUN PAK 43
 
ARMOR PIERCING SHELLS GUN PAK 43
 
THE PERFORMANCE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE ANTI-TANK GUN PAK 43
 
Caliber, mm…………………………………………88
Combat weight, kg………………………………4380
Barrel length, cal……………………………….71
The length of the barrel, m………………………………6610
The length of the gun, mm……………………………9114
The height of the gun, mm………………………….1981
The greatest
firing range, m………………….15 300
Sighting range, m………………..2500
Maximum
the elevation of the barrel, hail…………………….38
The rate of fire, RDS./min………8 – 10
Initial
the speed of the projectile, m/s……………..950 – 1130
Armor-piercing projectile, mm
at a distance of 500 m…………………………217
at the distance of 1000 m……………………….193
at the distance of 1500 m……………………….171
 
THE PERFORMANCE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE ACS”, NASHORN”
 
Combat weight, kg……………………………24000
Crew…………………………………………5
Full length mm……………………………8440
Length excluding stem mm……………..6200
Width, mm……………………………………2950
Height, mm……………………………………..2940
Ground clearance, mm……………………………………..400
Database of caterpillars, mm…………………………….2520
Length of larvae, mm………………………….3520
Width of Shoe, mm…………………………..400
Specific ground pressure, kg/cm2…..0,85
Engine…………………….12-cylinder
four stroke carburetor “Maybach” HL 120TRM V-shaped liquid cooling; 300 HP, volume 11 867 cm3
Transmission………………10 forward
Suspension………………………..8 reference
rubber rollers, combined in 4 trucks;
leaf spring, driven wheels front
Weapons…………..88-mm gun Pak 43,
two 7.92-mm machine gun MG-34
Ammunition……………………..40 shots
7.92-mm cartridges – 600
Link……………………….radio VHF
Fu.Spg.Ger. f, Fu..G5, G8
Capacity of fuel tanks, l……………..600
Cruising range, km:
on the highway………………………………………..260
cross country……………130
Speed km/h:
maximum…………………………………..40
cruising on the highway………………………25
the lane………………………………15 – 20
Overcoming obstacles in m:
the height of the wall…………………………………0,6
the width of the pit……………………………………..2,2
fording depth…………………………………1,0

 
V. TALANOV

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