Wespe

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Wespe
SdKfz124.jpg
Wespe at the Deutsches Panzermuseum in Munster, Germany
TypeSelf-propelled artillery
Place of origin Nazi Germany
Service history
In service1943 - 1945
Used byNazi Germany
WarsWorld War II
Production history
DesignerAlkett
Designed1942
ManufacturerFamo-Ursus
Produced1943 - 1944
Number built676
Variantsammunition carrier
Specifications
Weight11 tonnes (24,250 lb)
Length4.81 m (15 ft 9 in)
Width2.28 m (7 ft 6 in)
Height2.3 m (7 ft 7 in)
Crew5 (commander, driver, three gunners)

Armor5 - 30 mm (.19 - 1.18 in)
Main
armament
1x 10.5 cm leFH 18/2 L/28
with 40 rounds
Engine6-cyl petrol Maybach HL 62 TR
140 PS (138 hp, 103 kW)
Power/weight12.7 PS/tonne
Suspensionleaf spring
Operational
range
220 km (137 mi)
Speed40 km/h (25 mph)
 
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Wespe
SdKfz124.jpg
Wespe at the Deutsches Panzermuseum in Munster, Germany
TypeSelf-propelled artillery
Place of origin Nazi Germany
Service history
In service1943 - 1945
Used byNazi Germany
WarsWorld War II
Production history
DesignerAlkett
Designed1942
ManufacturerFamo-Ursus
Produced1943 - 1944
Number built676
Variantsammunition carrier
Specifications
Weight11 tonnes (24,250 lb)
Length4.81 m (15 ft 9 in)
Width2.28 m (7 ft 6 in)
Height2.3 m (7 ft 7 in)
Crew5 (commander, driver, three gunners)

Armor5 - 30 mm (.19 - 1.18 in)
Main
armament
1x 10.5 cm leFH 18/2 L/28
with 40 rounds
Engine6-cyl petrol Maybach HL 62 TR
140 PS (138 hp, 103 kW)
Power/weight12.7 PS/tonne
Suspensionleaf spring
Operational
range
220 km (137 mi)
Speed40 km/h (25 mph)

The Sd. Kfz. 124 Wespe (German for "wasp"), also known as Leichte Feldhaubitze 18/2 auf Fahrgestell Panzerkampfwagen II (Sf.) ("Light field howitzer 18 on Panzer II chassis (self-propelled)"), was a German self-propelled artillery vehicle developed and used during the Second World War. It was based on a modified Panzer II chassis.

Development[edit]

In 1940, during the Battle of France, it was apparent that the intermediate tank of the German forces, the Panzer II, was unsuitable as a main battle tank. Though mechanically sound, it was both under-gunned and under-armoured. The chassis, however, proved servicable for providing mobility to the 10.5 cm field howitzer. Existing chassis were converted to self-propelled artillery vehicles, just as had been done with the Marder II which was a conversion designed to provide mobility to the PaK 40/7.5 cm anti-tank gun.

The design for the Wespe was produced by Alkett, and was based on the Panzer II Ausf. F chassis. Alkett had earlier worked with Alfred Becker to convert captured French armoured vehicles into self-propelled artillery carriers. Amongst other modifications to the Panzer II, the engine was moved forward and the chassis was slightly lengthened to gain sufficient space for the rear-mounted 10.5 cm leFH 18 howitzer. The superstructure was lightly armored, with 10 mm armor plate (enough to stop small arms fire) and was open at the top and to the rear. The vehicles were produced by FAMO's Ursus plant in Warsaw.

The Wespe was in production from February 1943 until June 1944 when Soviet forces approached the frontier. By that time, 676 had been produced. An additional 159 were modified to serve as mobile artillery ammunition carriers.[1]

Combat history[edit]

A battery of Wespe self-propelled howitzers supporting German forces during the Battle of Kursk

The Wespe first saw combat in 1943 on the Eastern Front, and proved so successful that Hitler ordered all Panzer II chassis production to be reserved for the Wespe alone, dropping other projects such as the Marder II self-propelled anti-tank gun. They were allocated to the armored artillery battalions (Panzerartillerie Abteilungen) of Panzer divisions along with heavier Hummel self-propelled artillery. The Wespe had major success because of its ability to fit in with the German plan of Blitzkrieg by having a great mobility along with firepower.

The Wespe was very popular with the crew of Panzer Divisions because of its high maneuverability.

Notes[edit]

A Wespe destroyed in Normandy, 1944.
  1. ^ Thomas L.Jentz, Hillary Louis Doyle: Panzer Tracts No.23 - Panzer Production from 1933 to 1945

References[edit]

External links[edit]