Sunday, March 22, 2015

Panzerkampfwagen 38H 735(f)

28/32cm Wurfrahmen auf Pz Kpfw 35H, consisting of a frame with two metal projectors bolted to movable plates, one frame being attached to each side of the vehicle, as permanent fittings. This device was similar to that fitted on the Sd Kfz 251/1. Three racks were attached to each side of the vehicle, and they were designed to act both as container and launcher for the rockets. The pivoting plates within the sWR40 frames were adjustable for elevations from 5° to 45°, and the rockets were aimed by manoeuvring the vehicle.

The Hotchkiss was the French Army Cavalry tank which had been ordered in 1936. Although slightly larger than the Renault R-35, it had the same fighting ability and performance. The turret was also of the APXR type. Neither the French nor the Germans differentiated between the three different versions in manuals or organization reports. The original, so-called, 35H had a 3.48lit 75PS motor, and the L/21 gun. The 38H was similarly armed, but had the 120PS motor, while the 39H was armed with the longer L/33 gun. In May 1940, the French had more than 800 38H in service, and large numbers fell into German hands. Many of these, after some modification were issued to German units from 1941. Turretless 38H were also issued in large numbers as 'Artillerie Schlepper 38H (f) and were also used as Munitionspanzer. In 1943, some 38H were fitted with various types of launcher for the 28cm Wurfgerat 40, to increase offensive power.

All the Hotchkiss tanks taken into German service had the commander's observation cupola replaced by an opening split hatch. German radio sets were fitted, with a 2 meter rod aerial mounted on a tripod on the front right-hand mudguard.

From 1941, the Pz Kpfw 38H was issued to newly formed units and to units being reformed in France after destruction in earlier actions. The 211th Panzerabteilung with its 38H, attacked across Finland in the summer of 1941, and was the first German unit to see action with French equipment. Other units with 38H were also sent to Norway and the Balkans from 1941 to 1943, including 10 independent platoons to fight partisans in the Balkans. Twenty-nine 38H were still in service on 30 December 1944.

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