Monday, March 23, 2015


Marder III Sd.Kfz.139

 Marder III Sd.Kfz. 138 Ausf. H

 Marder III Sd.Kfz. 138 Ausf. M

Marder III Ausf H: H is for "heckmotor" (rear mounted engine)

Marder III Ausf M: M is for "mitte" (middle mounted engine)

There were two self-propelled guns that were known as the Marder III, and both used the same chassis, a derivation of the Skoda TNHP-S tank chassis. This tank had originally been produced by the Skoda factory at Pilsen for the Czech army, but with the annexation of the Czech state by Germany in 1939 the Skoda works continued production of tanks under the designation PzKpfw 38(t) for the German army. The Germans introduced many production and in-service changes to the original Skoda design, and by 1941 the PzKpfw 38(t) may be regarded as a German design, but the original turret was too small to carry weapons powerful enough to defeat enemy armour after 1941, and the chassis was then kept in production for a number of alternative purposes.

One of these purposes came to light in 1941. The appearance of tanks such as the Soviet T-34 meant for a while that the German army had no anti-tank gun powerful enough to knock them out and all manner of hasty improvisations were made to counter this state of affairs, One was to take the chassis of the PzKpfw 38(t) and mount on it a captured Soviet field gun, the 76.2-mm (3- in) Model 1936. This was a very good dual-purpose weapon that could be used as an anti-tank weapon, and the Germans even went to the length of converting some for use as specialized anti-tank guns. On the PzKpfw 38(t) the gun was mounted in a fixed shield and the conversion went into production in early 1942 as the Marder III, otherwise the Panzerjäger 38(t) für 7.62-cm Pak 36(r). Some 344 of these conversions were made, and the Marder III was used not only on the Eastern Front but in North Africa and elsewhere. However, it was at the time regarded only as a stopgap until sufficient numbers of the German 7.5-cm (2.95-m) Pak 40 became available. When this happened during 1942 production of the Soviet-gunned Marder III ceased and that of the German-gunned version commenced. The gun/chassis combination was still called the Marder III, but had the designation Panzerjäger 38(t) Ausf H für 7.5-cm Pak 40/3 and used a slightly differing gun shield and mounting from the earlier model. The first of the Pak 40-armed Marder Ills were rushed into action during the last stages of the Tunisian campaign where some were captured, providing Allied intelligence staffs with something to mull over. But their 'find' did not last for long, for the Marder III was soon to undergo another transformation.

Up to 1943 the various German selfpropelled guns using the Skoda chassis used the PzKpfw 38(t) tank as a basis. However, with some early conversions (including the original Marder III) the vehicles were nose-heavy, which at times limited mobility. Using the original Czech design as a basis, German engineers now relocated the engine at the front of the chassis and moved the 'working platform' to the rear to produce a specialized selfpropelled gun carrier. As soon as this became available Marder III production changed once more to the new Panzerjäger 38(t) Ausf M für 7.5-cm Pak 40/3 configuration with the gun and its protection mounted at the rear of the vehicle. This provided a much better balanced vehicle and the new chassis was also used to mount a variety of other weapons. The late type of Marder III was manufactured by BMM of Prague, and when production ceased in May 1944 799 had been made. They were used on all fronts.

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