BackgroundEditIn early 1942 Wa.Prüf 4, the German organization in charge of field artillery, put forward a design requirement for a vehicle to move heavy artillery. The main stipulation was that it should use parts from the new Panther medium tank. A similar competition was already underway for a vehicle to move lighter field artillery, such as 10,5cm guns, using the Geschützwagen III/IV chassis. This had inspired Wa.Prüf 4 to do the same for a vehicle to move heavier 12,8cm and 15cm artillery pieces, as the Geschützwagen III/IV was too small to handle them. The guns in question were the 12,8cm K 43 and 15cm sFH 43. The sFH 43 was a projected improvement on the 15cm sFH 18, the new gun was to use bagged propellant and had a screw-type breech. The 12,8cm K 43 is unknown in most literature, but is presumably a predecessor to the 12,8cm K 44 L/55. Neither of these cannons were ever built.
In order to keep weight down, the designs were to be open-topped. Prototypes were to be built using Panther parts, but it was projected that any serial production vehicles would be made using the Panther II chassis. This idea was discarded when the Panther II was cancelled in June of 1943.
Both Krupp and Rheinmetall-Borsig took part in this design competition. All designs were able to be transported by rail with a few adjustments; and all could carry at least 30 rounds of ammunition, however Rheinmetall’s design had trouble with this.
15cm sFH 43 Selbstfahrlafette Rheinmetall-Borsig (Gerät 5-1530)Edit
Rheinmetall-Borsig presented their first designs on July 1st, 1942. They were the 12,8cm K 43 (Sfl.) Rheinmetall-Borsig (indexed Gerät 5-1213), and 15cm sFH 43 (Sfl.) Rheinmetall-Borsig (indexed Gerät 5-1530). The vehicles were identical except for armament. Both had a 360 degree rotating turret and a hydraulic gun dismounting mechanism designed by Daimler-Benz, similar to that used on the Heuschrecke 10.
The 15cm version was armed with a 15cm sFH 43 L/32.5; identical to the gun used on Krupp's design except that Rheinmetall’s had no muzzle brake. The 15cm sFH 43 L/35.5 had a range of 18,000 meters. The gun assembly for this version weighed 8.2 metric tons; the total weight of the vehicle was about 40 metric tons. Two prototypes were expected to be ready by Summer 1943, one 12,8cm and one 15cm.
Rheinmetall's design was seemingly met with little enthusiasm; Krupp's Grille was the clear favorite. Despite the design not having been rejected, Rheinmetall chose to drop their original entry and proceed with another design.
- Special Panzer Variants: Development - Production - Operations - Hilary Louis Doyle and Walter J. Spielberger, 2007
- Panther Variants 1942-1945 - Osprey New Vanguard, 1997
- Panther & Its Variants - Walter J. Spielberger, 1993