Historical Information for Jagdpanzer IV
The Jagdpanzer IV, Sd.Kfz. 162, was a Tank destroyer based on the Panzer IV chassis built in three main variants. It was developed against the wishes of Heinz Guderian, the inspector general of the Panzertruppen, as a replacement for the Stug III . Guderian objected against the needless, in his eyes, diversion of resources from Panzer IV tank production, as the Stug III and Stug IV were still more than adequate for their role.
Nevertheless in late 1942 the Wehrmacht's arms bureau, the Waffenamt, called for a new tank destroyer design based on the Panzer IV, which would be armed with the same 7.5 cm gun as fitted to the Panther - the PaK 42 L/70 .
Unlike previous tank destroyers like the Marder series, this gun was to be mounted directly into the Jagdpanzer's superstructure, keeping its silhouette as low as possible.
The Jagdpanzer IV kept the basis chassis of the Panzer IV tank, but the original vertical front plate was replaced by a sharp edged nose. Internally, the layout was changed to accommodate the new superstructure, moving the fuel tanks and ammunition racks. Because the Jagdpanzer lacked a turret, the engine which originally powered the Panzer IV's turret could be eliminated.
The new superstructure hadSloped armour, which gives a much larger armor protection for a given thickness than conventional armor and at the front was a 100 mm thick. To make the manufacturing process as simple as possible, the superstructure was made out of large, interlocking plates which were welded together.
Armament consisted of a 7.5 cm main gun, originally intended to be the PaK 42 L/70, but shortages meant that for the preproduction and the first production run different older guns were used, the 7.5 cm PaK 39 L48. These were shorter and less powerful than the PaK 42.
On later variants, the much larger PaK 42 meant that the Jagdpanzer IV was quite heavy in the nose, especially with the heavy frontal armor. This made them less mobile and more difficult to operate in rough terrain, leading their crews to nickname them Guderian-Ente; Guderian's Ducks.
The final prototype of the Jagdpanzer IV was presented in December 1943 and production started in January 1944, with the PaK 39 L/48 armed variant staying in production until November. Production of the PaK 42 L/70 armed variants started in August and continued until March/April 1945.
It was intended to stop production of the Panzer IV itself at the end of 1944 to concentrate solely on production of the Jagdpanzer IV, but this did not seem to have happened.
Minor modifications and improvements were made throughout the production runs of all variants, as well as several field improvements, the most common being the addition of armor sideskirts.
Originally the Jagdpanzer IV/48's gun had a muzzle brake installed, but because the gun was so close to the ground, each time it was fired, huge dust clouds would rise up and betray the vehicle's position, leading many crews to remove the muzzle brake in the field. Later variants dispensed with the muzzle brake.
Early L/48 and L/70-armed vehicles hadzimmerit, but this was discontinued after about September 1944. Later vehicles had three return rollers rather than the original four, and adopted the twin vertical exhausts typical of the late Pamzer IV series. Some late vehicles also had all-steel road wheels on the first bogie on each side.
Jagdpanzer IV served in the anti tank sections of Panzer and SS Panzer divisions. They fought in Normandy , the Battle of the Bulge and on the Eastern Front (WWII). They were very successful Tank destroyers but performed badly when used out of role as substitutes for tanks or assault guns, as most tank-destroyers did.
In the later stages of the war however, they were increasingly used as tank substitutes, because there was often nothing else available.
One of the more notable Jagdpanzer IV aces was SS-Oberscharführer Roy from the 12th SS Panzerjäger Abteilung of 12th SS Panzer Division. He was killed by an American sniper while looking out of the hatch of his Jagdpanzer IV on December 17 1944 during the Ardennes Offensive in Belgium.
After the war, West Germany continued the Jagdpanzer concept with the Kanonenjagdpanzer, but few other fixed-casemate self-propelled guns were built postwar.