“WASP” – THE FIRST “PROTAGONIST” OF THE WEHRMACHT

“Field guns on the mobile carriage” was initially called in the troops of the Wehrmacht 105-mm self-propelled howitzer Sd.Kfz.124 Wespe (“Vespa”, “Wasp”), They appeared at the front in the spring of 1943 and their baptism of fire had for the operation “Citadel”, to participate in the battle of Kursk. There is evidence that while the German combat formations were up to seventy guns, fifteen of which were destroyed by the fire of our divisions.

 

Until that time, the Wehrmacht self-propelled artillery still was not in service. So, the Second world war the Germans began with a field howitzer LeFH 18/36 mostly horse-drawn, although in the motorized divisions, they are towed by tractors. It was a three-ton half-track tractor Sd.Kfz.11 or the five-ton Sd.Kfz.6. However, the maximum speed of artillery systems was only 17 km/h and already the fighting in Poland revealed a significant backlog of artillery units from the armored units and motorized infantry. Therefore, to increase the mobility of artillery units fire support had an urgent basis to create self-propelled guns. The first of these represented the samples on the chassis of captured tanks captured in 1940 the French and the British. Only in 1942 on the basis charged by the time with the weapons of a light tank T-Il Pz. Kpfw. Il Sd.Kfz.121 the industry has been producing self-propelled guns 10,5 cm LeFH 18/40..

 

The vehicle was developed for the firm of Alkett (Altmarkische Ketten-fabrik), which was a division of Rheinmetall-Borsig AG in Spandau, area of Berlin. The serial production is established in February 1943 at the FAMO plant in Wroclaw (Pol. – Breslau), and then on the FAMO-URSUS in Czechowice, near Warsaw; manufactured until August 1944, 676 self-propelled guns (according to other sources, 682) and 159 tractors, the forwarders ammo. The production stopped because of the evacuation of the plant in the interior of Germany, in connection with the Soviet offensive.

ACS “Vespa” went into service battalions of artillery regiments of armored divisions. The division consisted of two batteries, which had six plants and two carriers each. The task of the units was to support fire tank and motorized units on the battlefield. They were firing mostly from the closed position close to the front lines.
 
105-mm self-propelled guns,
 
105-mm self-propelled guns, “Vespa” in the exposition of the Military Museum in Koblenz, Germany. Created on the basis of the German light tank Sd.Kfz.121. Was used in tank units of the Wehrmacht, August 1943
 
ACS
 
ACS “Vespa” from the exposition of the Military historical Museum in Munich, Germany
 
Self-propelled guns fought on the front until the end of the war. According to some, by this time there were slightly more than three hundred units.
 
When designing the installation, its creators have changed the chassis of the MT-II. They increased its length, moved the engine closer to the front end along with the transmission and cooling system. Released in the body enough space for the fighting compartment. Over it mounted armoured cutting open in which he placed the breech of the gun.
 
The place of the driver has shifted forward and to the left, freeing up space for the powertrain, and was surrounded by his armored vertical walls.
Engine set Maybach HL 62 TRM gasoline four-stroke OHV, liquid-cooled, having a capacity of 140 HP and a working volume 6191 cm3, with a carburetor Solex 40 JFF II and starter motor Bosch GTLN; piston stroke – 130 mm, their diameter is 105 mm, the compression ratio is 6.5, the maximum speed – 2600 rpm./min.
 
The jet fuel was leaded petrol OZ 74 with an octane rating of 74. They filled the two fuel tanks total capacity of 200 L.
 
The air intakes had three: two for the engines, which were on the sides of the hull, another with the exhaust pipe on the right side of the fighting compartment. The silencer stood on the starboard side near the stern.
 
ACS
 
ACS “Vespa”:
 
1 – the muzzle brake; 2 – barrel 105-mm howitzer; 3 – lateral viewing slot logging driver; 4 – combat tower installation; 5 – output gear; 6 – support roller; 7 – elliptical polariser rink; 8 – driving wheel; 9 – the lifting mechanism; 10 – the breech of the howitzer; 11 – swivel mechanism howitzers; 12 – output driver’s hatch; 13 – cabin of the driver; 14 – front viewing slot logging driver; 15 – front optical sight

 
German tank Pz. Kpfw. II (T-Il), on the chassis which created the ACS
 
German tank Pz. Kpfw. II (T-Il), on the chassis which created the ACS “Vespa”
 
ACS
 
ACS
 
ACS “Vespa”
 
Suspension left from the tank T-Il. It had five road wheels with rubber tires; they are independently suspended on elliptical prorestore. Caterpillar – razdelennye dvuhgrivnevka – width 500-mm – consisted of 108 tracks each. Changed only the number of support rollers -they were reduced to three and put rubber stops on the leaf springs.
 
Transmission was mechanical, semiskorostnoy, SSG 46 Aphon gearbox. Drive shaft, transmit torque, and passed along the right side; final drives – synchronous. Clutch double-disc dry Fichtel & Sachs TO 230К. Brakes – disc MAN, hand – mechanical.
 
Vespa had a crazy design: the tower was replaced by combat tower, welded from armored sheets with a thickness of 15-20 mm. They only had a front and sides, the roof was absent.
Armament consisted of a 105 mm howitzer LeFN 18/28 and the MG 34 machine gun. The howitzer had a barrel length of 28 gauge, horizontal pinch bolt, weight – 726 kg; was designed by the firm Rheinmetall-Borsig. She was fitted with a special muzzle brake SP18. The arc of fire of the howitzers equal sides is 20°, the angles of elevation: – 5°… +48°. The firing range of 10 600 m. in the conduct of fire was used telescopic sight RSFЗ6.
 
Ammunition were 32 shots of separate loading ammunition with armor-piercing, cumulative and high-explosive shells. The mass of the latter, for example, was 14.8 kg, mass of the propellant charge – 1.02 kg; the initial velocity of the projectile – 4370 m/s.
 
Ammunition was stored in the wheelhouse in four boxes: right in two – liners, to the left in the two shells.
 
Machine gun MG34 of 7.92 mm calibre was carried in the fighting compartment: the fire from it to conduct and ground and air targets. In addition, the crew had submachine guns MP-40 with ammo about 200 rounds of ammunition; they were stored on the sides of the cuttings in special clamps.
 
105-mm howitzer unit equipped with hill-start assist device
 
105-mm howitzer unit equipped with hill-start assist device
 
Fighting compartment installation. In the center-front of the optical sight, below the lifting mechanism of the howitzer, to the right - breech howitzers
 
The fighting compartment installation. In the center-front of the optical sight, below the lifting mechanism of the howitzer, to the right – breech howitzers
 
Also in the wheelhouse on the port side in frame-rack, took the rubber shock absorbers, protecting them from vibration and shock, was the radio station FuG Spr f, its antenna was mounted outside the cabin.
 
The crew consisted of five people: commander, driver and three members of the gun crew. The driver placed separately from the others, in the Department of management. He was towering over the sides of the machine lookout cabin, in front of which was mounted a surveillance device with glass blocks triplex, and left and right were cut peepholes. A front plate the driver could raise, to improve visibility. In the casemate roof mounted double leaf escape hatch.
 
The first German “Vespa”, according to military experts, proved to be very expedient “alteration” outdated T-Il, successfully supporting the combat actions of tank units.
 
THE PERFORMANCE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE ACS “VESPA”
 
The crew cel……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..5
Weight, kg………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….11 000
Length, mm……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………5810
Width, mm………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..2280
Height, mm………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….2300
Booking, mm:
forehead korpusa……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….30
side corpus…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….15
forehead rubki…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..20
side rubki……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….15
Weapons:……………………………………………………………………105-mm howitzer 7.92 mm machine gun
Boekomplekt:………………………………………………………………………………32 shot 600 rounds
Engine:………………………………………………………………..carburetor Maybach HL 62 TRM
four-stroke OHV, liquid-cooled
Motor power l s……………………………………………………………………………………………….140
Running caste:……………………………………………………………………………………five rollers,
three support rollers, an elliptical proressor
Gusenicy:………………………………………………………………………………………………razdelennye,
width 500 mm tracks – 108
The speed on the highway, km/C…………………………………………………………………………………………………40
Speed along the lane, km/C……………………………………………………………………………………………..20
Fuel l…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….200
Radiostanciya……………………………………………………………………………………………………….FuG Spr f
On-Board Swazi…………………………………………………………………………………………Bord Spr
Produced ed…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….676
 
The PERFORMANCE characteristics of the HOWITZER LeFN 18/28
 
Years proizvodstva…………………………………………………………………………………………… 1935 – 1945
Proizvoditel…………………………………………………………………………………………………..Rheinmetall
Caliber mm……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………105
Rate, mystr./min…………………………………………………………………………………….4-6
The initial velocity of the projectile, m/s……………………………………………………………………………………470
Sighting range, m…………………………………………………………………………………………. 10 675
Sarajane…………………………………………………………………………………………..razdelno-gilboe
Wheel device……………………………………………………………..hydropneumatic
Zatvor………………………………………………………………………………………..horizontal wedge

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