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11
Jagdpanzer 38(t) “Hetzer

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The Jagdpanzer 38(t) “Hetzer”: Inside and Out.

The Germans inventiveness when it comes to quick draw solutions when the need for them was the greatest have always been very effective and successful. And the story of the Jagdpanzer 38(t) was no exception to this rule.

When the Alkett factory in Berlin was bombed at the end of November in the year 1943, the production of the Sturmgeschutzen ran to an absolute low and an alternative had to be found. Initially the plan was to restart fabricating the Sturmgeschutzen at BMM (Boemisch Marische Maschinenfabrik) but it became clear that they had no capacity to lift the heavier components of the Sturmgeschutzen. The suggestion was made to convert the 38T chassis into a light Panzerjager and the interim solution was born.

Things moved very quickly. Shortly after the BMM plant was turned down to resume the Sturmgeschutz production, the proposition was made for a 13 ton vehicle capable of speeds of 55, up to 60, kilometers per hour. With a low profile made up of thin sheets of sloped armour offering protection at the sides for shrapnel only. The vehicles` speed had to make up for the rest.

Mid December 43, the drawings were presented to produce the leichte Panzerjager on the chassis of the 38T. By 24 of January 1944 the wooden mockup was finished. Already the low profile of the vehicle was visible. As main armament they choose the 7,5 cm Pak 39 which was also selected for the Jagdpanzer IV. And by March 1944 the vehicle should be ready to send out to the troops. The vehicle went into production in just 4 months with no prototypes and no testing. Which was not necessary as all the components were already tested on other vehicles before the production on the Jagdpanzer 38(t) had started. The vehicles were produced in two plants; the BMM plant and the Skoda Plant.

What’s in a name
How the Jagdpanzer 38(t) exactly got the nickname Hetzer is a bit of an ongoing mystery. Initially the name was reserved for the E10 which also was a low profile high speed Panzerjager and several stories go as to how the name got connected with the le.Pz.Jg. 38t. Some sources state that a mix up came from a misunderstanding between the Germans and the Czechs while discussing the project and competitors, with the Czechs not realizing that the name was for a competing project. Another source state that Guderian said the troops gave the vehicle the nickname.

The Walkaround
The Hetzer in this Walkaround belongs to the Crompton Military Vehicle Collection owned by Bruce Crompton, a private collector who has a huge love for German vehicles and restoring them to original and running state. And they do an absolute stunning job at that. Bruce Crompton started the collection with restoring an OT810. After that followed a schwimmwagen and since then the collection grew rapidly. Containing vehicles like SdKfz 10, SdKfz 7, SdKfz 250 and 251D, Bussing Nag 4500 with Bilstein crane, Kubelwagen and some Kettenkrads.

This Jagdpanzer 38(t) is number 10 from the first batch of vehicles to be produced at the Skoda plant and was intended to start at a training school, but eventually found its way to a front unit. On the 13th of April it was immobilized by an AT round fired by the 7th Btn, Hampshire Rgt in the battle for the city of Cloppenburg (near Bremen). The tank was struck at the left side near the driver, If you examine the pictures you will see shrapnel marks inside the vehicle.

After the war the vehicle was pushed in a crater and buried, only to be discovered in 1982 when they were working on the road. It then came into the hands of a German collector who started some restorations on it. Around a decade back Bruce bought the vehicle and had it restored to the condition to which it now runs around. Some small notes regarding the vehicle and my photography.
During all the years this vehicle has been worked on some small things managed to slip in. Some of the parts from what I understand are from Postwar G13 chassis’ and the stenciling inside, although in the correct terms and the correct locations, are not in the correct font type. Something that I’m told will also be worked on in the future.

As for the interior shoot. I tried my best to photograph all I could but from the outside it is a small vehicle… from the inside it is even smaller. I’m around 1,80 tall and not gifted with a very athletic body. Climbing into the vehicle was already an exercise on its own. Moving around in it was near impossible. Let alone do it with a camera bag and a Nikon D70S. You can guess that tank crews were selected on size in that time… or better said… the absence of size. Therefore I had to fold myself into acrobatic angles to get some of the shots and even though I did my best there are some corners of the vehicle I simply could not take pictures of.
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About the Author

About Robert Blokker (FAUST)
FROM: NOORD-HOLLAND, NETHERLANDS

Started modelling when I was about 7 or 8 years old had a little break in between (school, girls partying) and eventually returned when finding this site in 2002. Main interest WW2 German army, wheeled vehicles and radio and communication troops or every other thing that manages to catch my interest...


Comments

Awesome walkaround - thanks!!!!!
FEB 09, 2013 - 04:11 PM
Thanks for sharing Robert, fantastic photos. How I wish the pics were on hand when I was painting my Tamiya Hetzer. I would think this to be Tamiya's inspiration for one of the paint shemes of its kit. Was the vehicle painted in this scheme during the war? Cheers, Tat
FEB 09, 2013 - 06:52 PM
@ James Thanks a lot for publishing it. You have done a great job. @ Scott Glad you like it. @ Tat To be honest I don't really know if this vehicle was painted in this Disc Camo presentation of the restoration. But since it was built in the Skoda plant the chances are very high that it started it's career in the distinct camo that the Skoda plant painted their vehicles in. It could be repainted during it's action but I'm afraid that is lost to time. And as for painting your model.... well there is always another Hetzer to be built
FEB 10, 2013 - 03:09 AM
Excellent photos! Whoever did the restoration needs to be applauded. Nice to see a real Hetzer and not one of the later Swiss versions masquerading as one.
FEB 10, 2013 - 06:19 AM
@ Bob Yeah the people at the Crompton collection really do their homework when it comes to restoring their vehicles. From what I heard there are a few Swiss G13 parts that slipped through during the different owners and successive restaurations. But I also have heard they are going to correct this. The Schwimmwagen, SdKfz 250/1 Neu, SdKfz 251/1 D and the SdKfz 7 of which the walkarounds were published here as well are also from this same collection. All brilliantly restored.
FEB 10, 2013 - 06:29 AM
FEB 10, 2013 - 04:35 PM