Please note that the dates for this section are contradictory. Panther & Its Variants gives the date of the issuing of the Geschützwagen Panther für sFH 18/4 (Sf) requirement as February 11th, 1944; while Panther Variants 1942-1945 gives it as July 6th. July seems to be the correct date; it also comes from the more recent book. Strangely, one sentence in Panther & Its Variants says that the Gerät 811 was based on “AZ 735 Wa.Prüf 4/Is from July 6th, 1944”. This would seem to indicate that the Gerät 811 was an entry for the July 6th requirement; and the authors did not realise this at the time.
On July 6th, 1944, Wa.Prüf 4 put out the Geschützwagen Panther für sFH 18/4 (Sf) requirement: a request for designs for a vehicle based on the Panther. In near identical repetition of the events two years prior, the requirements were that the vehicle carry a 15cm gun in a dismountable turret that could rotate 360 degrees. The 15cm sFH 18 cannon was required to have no muzzle brake, as it was supposed to be able to fire Sprenggranate 42 TS sabot rounds. Without the muzzle brake, the force of recoil of the cannon was a massive 28 metric tons; this was deemed acceptable for the chassis.
Mittelerer Waffenträger sFH 18 auf PantherEdit
Krupp was the only company to show interest; on September 16th, 1944, they unveiled drawing Bz 3423 for the Mittelerer Waffenträger sFH 18 auf Panther. It had a hexagonal, forward mounted turret on a lightly armored Panther chassis. The turret rested on a round pedestal within the tank. To remove the turret assembly, the turret was traversed 90 degrees to the left. The left side panel was folded down, forming two guide rails running perpendicular to the tank. At the end of each guide rail was a vertical spar, reinforced to one another with crossbeams. Roller blocks with two wheels each were affixed to either side of the turret and allowed it to be hoisted up, presumably by hand, onto the guide rails, where it was free to roll. Exactly how the turret was then moved off the tank is unclear. This whole process is described only in “Panther & Its Variants”, which states that two block and tackles were used to lift the turret. These would require some type of overhead gantry, which, if correct, raises the question as to why hoisting the turret assembly onto guide rails first is necessary at all. Presumably the Panther was then driven away and the turret assembly lowered to the ground.
However the dismounting process was intended; once the turret assembly was on the ground four outriggers, which were otherwise stored fore and aft of the turret on the tank’s hull, were attached to it. Wa.Prüf 4 required that the number of outriggers be changed to three, as this would lower the gun’s overall height and give the gun crew easier access.
The design did not advance any further, and by September 21st Krupp had turned its attention to another design. Only one day later the project would be cancelled.
There is reference to a Gerät 811, but apart from the fact it was armed with a 15cm sFH 18/4 cannon and was an entry to the Geschützwagen Panther für sFH 18/4 (Sf) requirement, all other details are unknown. Due to the fact that Krupp was the only entry for the Geschützwagen Panther für sFH 18/4 (Sf) Project, it is plausible that Krupp’s Mittelerer Waffenträger sFH 18 auf Panther was assigned the designation Gerät 811, but that is unproven.
- 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