March 1943 the Panzerjägerprogram or G-13 was started to replace all
existing "interim solutions" (e.g. Marders) and towed anti-tank
artillery (e.g. 75mm PaK 40 guns).
The chassis was to be the one of the Panzerkampfwagen
38(t) chassis. The design evolved from "Leichtes Sturmgeschutz 38(t)"
to "Jagdpanzer 38(t) für 7.5cm Pak 39 L/48", and eventually to "Jagdpanzer
38(t) Hetzer" (Sd.Kfz.138/2). On December 17,1943 the design was completed
and in March 1944 the first three prototypes rolled
out of the BMM factory (Böhmish-Mährische Maschinenfabrik).
Preparations were made for full production at BMM
in Prague and Skoda Works in Pilsen, which started in April 1944 at BMM
and in September, at Skoda. Production continued until May 1945 with 2,584
to the Hetzer programme, BMW and Wesserhuette were working on a small tank
destroyer - kleine Panzerjaeger Rutscher (Sander). This program was cancelled in
February of 1944 and resurrected in January of 1945.
As the Hetzer used a widened chassis compared to the standard Panzerkampfwagen 38(t) chassis, and the suspension from the Praga TNH n.A prototype, some time was needed to get the production ramped up. In order to equip the frontline units as quickly as possible with a light tank destroyer, Skoda produced a limited series of vehicles on the unmodified Panzerkampfwagen 38(t) chassis between March and April 1944. As the rear engine deck was to be kept unaltered and the chassis was slightly narrower than the Hetzer, a higher superstructure was needed to accommodate the crew and armament (the same 75mm L/48 gun as the Hetzer). No official designation is known, but it is sometimes called the "Hetzer Zwischenlösung".
certain angles the vehicle looked either like the Jagdpanzer IV L/70 (A) or the
Jagdpanther, leading to the name Jagdpantherjunges (Jagdpanther Cub) with the
crews and some nervous reactions with the opposing troops.
model is based on the Fujimi 1/76 Panzer 38(t) kit, which I was trying to
convert to a Munitionsschlepper, until the UM kit came out, when I converted it
to this contraption. Everything but the chassis and rear engine deck is scratch,
with the barrel coming from an Esci Panzer III.
those who are still wondering, this design never really existed (to my
knowledge), and was just a way for me to have some fun.
Photos and text © by Rob Haelterman