7.5 cm L.46 Panzerabwehrkanone PaK 40 Anti-Tank Gun of the Wehrmacht

75 mm L.46 PaK 40 Anti-Tank Gun of the German Wehrmacht

7.5 cm tank and anti-tank guns were introduced to counter the threat posed by Soviet medium and heavy tanks which surprised the Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front. Soviet KV-1 and KV-2 tanks were immune to German tank and anti-tank guns, with the exception of the 8.8 cm anti-aircraft gun. The famous 88 had already been involved in the tank battles of the 1940 campaign in France when the standard 3.7 cm infantry anti-tank gun proved incapable of penetrating French Char B1 and British Matilda infantry tanks. German Panzerjäger, tank destroyer units attached to infantry formations, were equipped with the 5 cm L.60 PaK 38, but there were never enough of these to cover all likely routes of attack of enemy armour.

The PaK 40 had an unusual design feature, it fired bottle-necked rounds with a 75 mm shell and a super-calibre cartridge behind it. To accept the larger round, the PaK 40 had a super-calibre breech. The operating principle is to squeeze-bore the explosive force behind the shell, causing a more rapid acceleration of the shot along the barrel. Unburnt explosive is forced into the barrel, and it continues to burn there. Guns firing bottle-necked rounds have to be designed and manufactureed to tolerate higher breech pressures and temperatures caused by the enormous explosive forces involved in the process.

The 7.5 cm PaK 40 proved very reliable, and it was capable of taking on Soviet armour at acceptable ranges. The weapon was built in large enough numbers to equip Panzerjäger units and anti-tank platoons in infantry formations. PaK 40 became the weapon of choice for a number of successful Panzerjäger conversions based on obsolete armoured vehicles which continued to serve as self-propelled anti-tank gun platforms.

Available Scale Model Kits

Technical Specifications

  • Calibre: 75 mm
  • Barrel Length: L.46
  • Rate of Fire: 12 shots per minute
  • Armour Penetration at 0-100 m:
    • Panzergranate 39 (A.P.) 149 mm
    • Panzergranate 40 (A.P.C.R.) 176 mm

Bibliography

Historical Employment

  • German Army, April 1941 – May 1945
  • Romanian Army, 1944–1945
  • 5 cm L.60 Panzerabwehrkanone 38 (similar to PaK 40).

Possible Conversions

Self-Propelled Mountings

  • 7,5 cm L.46 PaK 40 auf Sfl. Geschützwagen LrS (f) – Pz.Jäg. Marder I (Sd.Kfz. 135)
  • 7,5 cm L.46 PaK 40 auf Sfl. Gw. II - Pz.Jäg. Marder II (Sd.Kfz. 131)
  • 7,5 cm L.46 PaK 40 auf Sfl. Gw. 38 (t) – Pz.Jäg. Marder III Ausf. H (Sd.Kfz. 138)
  • 7,5 cm L.46 PaK 40 auf Sfl. Gw. 38 (t) – Pz.Jäg. Marder III Ausf. M (Sd.Kfz. 138)
  • 7,5 cm L.46 PaK 40 auf Sfl. Gw. 39 H (f) (StuG.Abt. 200, Normandie)
  • 7,5 cm L.46 PaK 40 auf Sfl. Steyr RSO/01 (Raupenschlepper Ost)
  • 7,5 cm L.46 PaK 40 auf Sfl. m.Schützenpanzerwagen Sd.Kfz. 251/22
  • 7,5 cm L.46 PaK 40 auf Sfl. Pakwagen Sd.Kfz. 231/- (1945)
  • 7,5 cm L.46 PaK 40 auf Sfl. Pakwagen Sd.Kfz. 234/4 (1945)

Airfix and Matchbox/Revell offer very nice model kits of the PaK 40, including Opel Blitz or Sd.Kfz. 11 tractors and crew figures. The Airfix model is more suitable as a gun in action, the Matchbox PaK 40 looks better towed behind its tractor.

Frequently Asked Questions

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