Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Jagdpanzer IV, Sd.Kfz. 162, was a tank destroyer based on the Panzer IV chassis built in three main variants. It was developed against the wishes of Heinz Guderian, the inspector general of the Panzertruppen, as a replacement for the Stug III. Guderian objected against the in his eyes needless diversion of resources from Panzer IV tank production, as the Stug III and Stug IV were still more than adequate for their role.
Nevertheless in late 1942 the Wehrmacht's arms bureau, the Waffenamt, called for a new tank destroyer design based on the Panzer IV, which would be armed with the same 75 mm gun as fitted to the Panther: the PaK 42 L/70.
Unlike previous tank destroyers like the Marder series, this gun was to be mounted directly into the Jagdpanzer's superstructure, keeping its silhouette as low as possible.
The Jagdpanzer IV kept the basis chassis of the Panzer IV tank, but the original vertical front plate was replaced by a sharp edged nose. Internally, the layout was changed to accommodate the new superstructure, moving the fuel tanks and ammunition racks. Because the Jagdpanzer lacked a turret, the engine which originally powered the Panzer IV's turret could be eliminated.
The new superstructure had sloped armour, which gives a much larger armor protection for a given thickness than conventional armor and at the front was a 100 mm thick. To make the manufacturing process as simple as possible, the superstructure was made out of large, interlocking plates which were welded together.
Armament consisted of a 75 mm main gun, originally intended to be the PaK 42 L/70, but shortages meant that for the preproduction and the first production run different older guns were used, the 75mm PaK 39 L/43 and PaK 39 L/48 respectively. These were shorter and less powerful than the PaK 42.
On later variants, the much larger PaK 42 meant that the Jagdpanzer IV was quite heavy in the nose, especially with the heavy frontal armor. This made them less mobile and more difficult to operate in rough terrain, leading their crews to nickname them Guderian-Ente; Guderian's duck.
The final prototype of the Jagdpanzer IV was presented in December 1943 and production started in January of 1944, with the PaK 39 L/48 armed variant staying in production until November. Production of the PaK 42 L/70 armed variants started in August and continued until March/April 1945.
It was intended to stop production of the Panzer IV itself at the end of 1944 to concentrate solely on production of the Jagdpanzer IV, but this did not seem to have happened.
- Jagdpanzer IV with 75mm PaK 39 L/43: a small number of these were built as the preproduction series.
- Jagdpanzer IV with 75mm PaK 39 L/48, official name Sturmgeschütz neuer Art mit 7.5 cm PaK L/48 auf Fahrgestell PzKpfw IV. Some 780 or so were produced in 1944.
- Jagdpanzer IV/70 (V) (Sd.Kfz.162/1) was one of two variants armed with the PaK 42 L/70 gun. Some 940 were built in 1944 and 1945. The (V) stands for the builder, Vomag.
- Jagdpanzer IV/70 (A) (Sd.Kfz.162/1) was the other PaK 42 L/70 armed Jagdpanzer IV. This differed in that its superstructure was mounted directly on the original Panzer IV chassis and as such lacked the sharp edged nose of the other variants. Only 278 were built during 1944 and 1945. The (A) stands for the builder, Alkett.
Minor modifications and improvements were made throughout the production runs of all variants, as well as several field improvements, the most common being the addition of armor sideskirts.
Originally the Jagdpanzer IV/48's gun had muzzle brakes installed but because this was so close to the ground, each time the gun was fired, huge dust clouds would rise up and betray the vehicles position, leading many crews to remove the muzzle brakes in the field.
Jagdpanzer IV served in the anti-tank sections of Panzer and SS Panzer divisions. They fought in Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge and on the Eastern Front (WWII). They were very successful tank destroyers but performed badly when used out of role as substitutes for tanks or assault guns.
In the later stages of the war however, the were increasingly used as tank substitutes, because there was often nothing else available.
- Information about the Jagdpanzer IV at Panzerworld
- Information about the Panzer IV/70 at Panzerworld
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