Jagdpanzer IV L/48


New Jagdpanzer IV/70(V) was basically modified late model Jagdpanzer IV armed with 75mm Pak 42 L/70 gun without muzzle break (also 20cm offset to the right) and one 7.92mm MG42 machine gun. The 75mm L/70 gun had limited hand traverse of 12 degrees to the left and right and could be elevated 15 degrees up and lowered 7 degrees down. Overall design remained the same but newer chassis of PzKpfw IV Ausf H (and later Ausf J) was utilized. Jagdpanzer IV/70(A) was a slightly modified Jagdpanzer IV/70(V) superstructure (Ubergangsaufbau – transitional superstructure) mounted directly on unmodified PzKpfw IV Ausf H/J chassis/hull. The difference was that there was a vertical section in the lower part of the superstructure instead of being sloped. Alkett’s design was easier to manufacture but it also significantly increased the height by 50cm (1.85m of Vomag model vs. 2.35m of Alkett model). Just as in IV/70(V), main gun had limited hand traverse of 12 degrees to the left and right and could be elevated 15 degrees up and lowered only 6 degrees down (due to the use of unmodified PzKpfw IV chassis/hull). Alkett’s vehicle was also called Jagdpanzer IV/70(A) “Zwischenlosung” (interim solution). Four men crew – commander, gunner, loader and driver, operated IV/70(V) and IV/70(A). Both vehicles were modified during production for example in September, number of return rollers was decreased to three per side. Many vehicles were fitted with Schurzen or Thoma wire mesh shields and were factory applied with Zimmerit anti-magnetic paste until September of 1944. Also starting in September of 1944, Jagdpanzer IV (L/48) and Jagdpanzer IV/ 70(V) were fitted with flame dumping exhausts and mufflers (Flammentoter). Heavier long barrelled gun and thick frontal armour made the nose extremely heavy and both vehicles less mobile (especially in rough terrain) and difficult to operate causing drivers to gave them the nickname “Guderian’s Duck” (“Guderian-Ente”). This problem was partially rectified by fitting steel-rimmed wheels at the first two wheel stations in IV/70(V) and on the first four wheel stations in IV/70(A) instead of rubber ones that could not handle the weight. Another problem was the length of the gun that caused problems during driving through rough terrain as it often vibrated and even got stuck in the ground during manoeuvres. This problem was also partially rectified by installing the travel lock. Panzer IV/70(V)’s weight was 25.8 tons and Panzer IV/ 70(A)’s 28 tons with maximum road speed of 35km/h and 38km/h respectively. Jagdpanzer IV/70(V) carried 55 to 60 rounds of 75mm ammunition, while IV/70(A) carried 90 rounds and both vehicles 1200 rounds of 7.92mm ammunition. Both Jagdpanzer IV/70(V) and IV/70(A) were also produced in command version (Befehlswagen) and were fitted with additional radio equipment operated by fifth crewmember – the radio-operator. All Jagdpanzer IV were powered by standard 12-cylinder Maybach HL 120 TRM engine, while some IV/70(A) were powered by Maybach HL 120 TRM 112 engines (used in PzKpfw IV Ausf J). Also, all three models used the same 80mm thick cast gun mantlet – Saukopfblende. The general layout of Jagdpanzer IV remained unchanged in all variants as the fighting compartment was at the front of the vehicle and engine compartment at rear. Original Jagdpanzer IV and IV/70(V) had a range of 210km, while IV/70(A) had a range of 200km. In November of 1944, Krupp also proposed to modify Jagdpanzer IV/70(A) (Sd.Kfz.162/1), so that 88mm Pak 43/3 L/71 gun can be mounted, but it proved to be impossible and it remained only a project – Panzerjager IV mit 8.8cm Pak 43/3 L/71. Tests were also carried with Jagdpanzer IV/70(V) with rigid mounted 75mm L/70 gun, but those were never fully concluded.

Early-Jagdpanzer-IV


Jagdpanzer IV was issued to Panzerjager Ab-teilungs of Panzer and Panzer Grenadier Divisions from March of 1944 onwards. They first saw combat in service with Hermann Goering Division in Italy, followed by service with 4”1 and 5th Panzer Division on the Eastern Front. In June of 1944, 62 Jagdpanzer IV were in service with Panzer Lehr Division, 9th Panzer Division and 12th SS Panzer Division “Hitlerjugend” (which received some 10 in mid 1944, just before D-Day) awaiting the Allied invasion of Normandy. In general, Jagdpanzer IV was used in groups for infantry support and for anti-tank defence.
In August of 1944, first Jagdpanzer IV/70(V) equipped 105th and 106th Panzer Brigade, which operated on the Western Front. New vehicles were issued to Panzerjager Abteilungs of Panzer and Panzer Grenadier Divisions and even to Panzer Brigades and Panzerjager Abteilungs. The largest number of Jagdpanzer IV/70(V) took part in the Ardennes Offensive, when some 137 were in service. In 1945, Jagdpanzer IV/70(V) was also issued as a replacement tank, practice that was a mistake but the desperate situation and the overall shortage of tanks made it a necessity.
Jagdpanzer IV/70(A) was issued first in September of 1944. It was issued as regular tank to Panzer Abteilungs or as a replacement assault gun to Panzer and Stug Brigades. It was used as an anti-tank support vehicle for regular battle tanks. Most of the vehicles saw service on the Eastern Front.
On April 10th of 1945, there were still 285 Jagdpanzer IV/70 in service with the German Army, 274 on the Eastern Front, 8 in Italy and 3 on the Western Front. After the war, approximately 6 Jagdpanzer IVs (L/48 and L/70) found their way to Syria.
Jagdpanzer IV with its low profile, good mobility and firepower was liked its crews. It was a difficult target and dangerous opponent, especially when on defensive. Its main gun, especially 75mm L/70 was able to destroy all Allied tanks other than Soviet JS-122 (JS‑2) tank at safe distances. The main– problem was that lack of turret, forced the vehicle to face its target in order to function, but since at the time Germans were already on the defensive it was not as problematic as in the offence. Jagdpanzer IV was great defensive weapon but was produced too late and in small quantity to have greater impact on the war situation. The most notable Jagdpanzer IV ace was Knight’s Cross holder SS-Oberscharfuehrer Roy from the 12th SS Panzerjager Abteilung of 12th SS Panzer Division “Hitlerjugend”. He accounted for 36 tank kills with his Jagdpanzer IV, since the D-Day only to be killed by an American sniper, while looking out the cupola on December 17th of 1944, during the Ardennes Offensive. Post-war West German Jagdpanzer based on HS-30 armoured personnel carrier armed with 90mm gun resembles its World War II predecessor Jagdpanzer IV.
Today, there is a number of Jagdpanzer IV preserved around the world. Jagdpanzer IV (0-Serie) can be found at Saumur Armour Museum in France along with two Jagdpanzer IV (L/48) and the only surviving Jagdpanzer IV/70(A). In addition, Jagdpanzer IV (L/48) can be seen at Panzermuseum Munster in Germany and Panzermuseum Thun in Switzerland. There is also single one on display in Syria. Jagdpanzer IV/70(V) can seen in Shrivenham in England, Sofia in Bulgaria, at the Patton Museum in Fort Knox in USA, Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland in USA, War Museum in Ottawa in Canada and in Kubinka, Russia.
George Parad

 

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