The Jagdpanzer IV Tank Destroyer Background
Through out World War 2 Germany produced a number of tank destroyers, nearly all based on existing tank chassis’s. By doing so they were able to reduce the time taken in development compared to a new design, they could use existing tank production lines rather than starting new ones, the cost of production was lower as was the production time compared to that of building a tank, whilst retaining the same firepower.
The German Panzer Mk IV medium tank had to be the most successful of Germanys World War 2 tanks in terms of overall balance and production numbers. Produced through out the war, its chassis was used for a number of other fighting vehicles including the Jagdpanzer IV.
The Jagdpanzer IV Tank Destroyer Description
Development of the Jagdpanzer IV started in 1942 and production started in early 1944 as an intended replacement for the Sturmgeschutz III (Stug III). It offered great protection for the crew thanks to its low profile, front slopping armour and fully enclosed fighting compartment.
The vehicle through out its service life used different versions of a 75mm (7.5 cm) anti-tank gun (see variants below) mounted in its front with a 7.92mm MG and the same Maybach engine of the Panzer Mk IV located in the rear of the vehicle. It had a 4 man crew: driver, gunner, loader and commander.
The Jagdpanzer IV Tank Destroyer Variants
Jagdpanzer IV 0-Serie
Pre-production model armed with the 7.5 cm Pak 39 L/43 (calibre Length 43) main gun.
Jagdpanzer IV “Sd.Kfz.162”
Principal design variant armed with the 7.5 cm Pak 39 L/48 (calibre Length 48) main gun. The increased Length meant a greater muzzle velocity, thus improving range, accuracy and armour penetration. 769 were produced between January 1944 and November 1944.
Jagdpanzer IV/70 (V) “Sd.Kfz.162/1”
Armed with the Pak 42 L/70 main gun as used on the Panther Tank (hence the 70 in its name) it was the most produced model, totalling 930 built between August 1944 and April 1945. The “V” in its name stands for the designer, Vomag.
This larger gun increased the front of the vehicles significantly enough that the 2 front road wheels were replaced with solid steel ones to reduce wear and tear.
Jagdpanzer IV/70 (A) “Sd.Kfz.162/1”
A victim of its own success, the Jagdpanzer IV/70 (V) could not be delivered fast enough to meet the demands of the German Army. So Hitler ordered that to speed up production, unmodified Panzer Mk IV tank hulls would be used (so they lacked the low profile and sloping armour) and the normal Jagdpanzer IV/70 (V) fighting compartment built straight on to them.
Only 278 were built by from August 1944 to March 1945 and increased the number of German vehicles on the battlefield fitted with the Pak 42 L/70 high muzzle velocity anti-tank gun.
The Jagdpanzer IV Tank Destroyer Combat History
The 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. Many were fitted in the field with side armour plates to protect against bazooka fire. Some did have zimmerit added to protect against magnetic mines.
The Jagdpanzer IV Tank Destroyer Post War
Romania received several Jagdpanzer IV tank destroyers from the Red Army after the war ended. They were officially known as TAs T4 in the army inventory and were used until 1950. Most of Germanys former vehicles were scrapped, but a few examples can be found in museums.
The Jagdpanzer IV Tank Destroyer Spec’s “Sd.Kfz.162”
Armament: 7.5mm anti-tank gun & x1 7.92mm MG
Armour: 60mm Steel (frontal)
Dimensions: Length 6.85m / Width 3.17m / Height 1.85m
Weight: 24 tonne
Engine: 296hp Maybach HL 120 TRM
Top Road Speed: 40 km/h
Operational Range: 210 km