German Anti-Tank Weapons

Shell Types and Armour Penetration Capabilities

StuH 42 Ausf. G, Fujimi conversion

StuH 42 Ausf. G assault howitzer conversion of the StuG III.G, mounting the 10.5 cm L.28 infantry support weapon. The vehicle fired concrete piercing shells which proved very effective against buildings, and bunkers. An armour piercing shell was available, but the howitzer offered significantly less armour penetration than the 7.5 cm L.48 gun mounted in the StuG III.G. Sturmgeschütz batteries fielded six StuGs early in the war, and they were officially increased to 10 vehicles in 1942, three of which could be StuH 42. Jim Gordon upgraded a Fujimi 1:76 scale StuH 42 to arrive at this beautifully detailed model.

The table lists armour penetration values for German infantry anti-tank weapons as well as German guns at 0 to 100 meters range and 0 degrees inclination of armour. Dates indicate the year when a particular shell type entered production, not necessarily the year of availability to combat units. New shell types would take several months to reach the troops at the front, some favoured units receiving the new shells more quickly than others. Andrew Mark Reid is the author of Panzergranate, a set of miniature wargame rules using carefully researched gunnery data to simulate armour penetration results.

Anti-Tank Rifles Projectile Penetration
7.92 mm Infantry Rifle SmK Bullet (1916) 13 mm
7.92 mm MG 13, MG 34, and MG 42 SmK Bullet (1916) 9 mm
7.92 mm C.Z. Marosheck A.P. 34 mm
Named after the Czech engineer who came up with the idea of firing a 7.92 mm "K" bullet from a 20 mm cannon shell case. Barrel pressure is enormous when these types of bottlenecked rounds are fired, and a very long length calibre is required to obtain high velocity. After German annexation of Czechoslovakia, this design became available to the Wehrmacht, and all German anti-tank rifles of 7.92 mm employed the Marosheck principle.
7.92 mm Panzerbüchse 38 A.P. 34 mm
7.92 mm Panzerbüchse 39 A.P. 34 mm
7.92 mm C.Z. Model S.S. 41 A.P. 34 mm
An innovative Czech design commissioned by the Waffen SS. This weapon featured automatic firing, a centrally mounted pistol grip, and a magazine which protruded out of the stock at a 30 degree downward angle to the right. A telescopic sight was fitted. The S.S. 41 fired the same ammunition as the Panzerbüchse 38/39 series, but it was significantly shorter than either of these weapons. The S.S. 41 was prone to seizures caused by dust, dirt, heat, and other adverse battlefield conditions. It was dropped as a frontline weapon in 1942, at a time when anti-tank rifles were already obsolete. The modern British army S.A. 80 rifle is nearly a scaled down replica of the S.S. 41 design.
13 mm Mauser T-Gewehr (1917) A.P. 21 mm
The Mauser Tank-Gewehr anti-tank rifle was an upscaled version of the Model 98 infantry rifle, designed to defeat the armour of upgraded British Mark IV tanks which were immune to the "K" bullet.
20 mm S.18/100 Solothurn Tankbüchse A.P. 38 mm
The Swiss Solothurn anti-tank rifle was used by the Wehrmacht right up to at least 1944. The author recalls reading an account of a skirmish between a German bicycle infantry unit, and an American unit mounted in half-tracks, where this weapon was used. The weapon was carried on a small trolley which could be towed by bicycles and other light vehicles. The Italian army of World War II mounted the Solothurn on Carro Veloce L3 Tankettes. The S.18/100 is still in production today, it is listed in Jane's "Smallarms of the World 1979".
Anti-Tank Devices, Rocket Projectors Projectile Penetration
Geballte Ladung Explosive (Wracking) approx. 20 mm
Seven stick grenade heads wired together on a common handle, and detonated by the central fuse. The device was used by tank destroyer teams on the Eastern Front, desperately courages men who attempted to immobilize enemy vehicles by throwing explosive devices onto the tracks or under the turret overhang. The Wehrmacht issued fancy Panzervernichtungsabzeichen insignia and special leave to reward men who succeeded in destroying a tank single-handedly. Many did not succeed, and the practise of close-assaulting combat vehicles became even more dangerous when the Soviet army attached infantry tank riders to armoured units. A figure carrying the geballte Ladung is included in Revell's 1:72 scale set of German engineers.
Tellermine Explosive (Wracking) approx. 20 mm
Mines are triggered by the weight of a vehicle driving over them. If they do not destroy the vehicle itself, they may immobilize it by breaking the tracks, or rupturing tires.
Panzerwurfmine H.C. (Munroe) 89 mm
A shaped charge with 5.16 ounces of explosive, attached to a stick with spring-loaded fabric fins at the rear. When it was thrown, the fins unfolded and stabilized the warhead in flight. A pair of Swiss inventors were the first to think of using the well documented Munroe effect to penetrate armour plate. They tried to sell the design to foreign arms manufacturers, claiming that a new explosive had been discovered. Unfortunately for the inventors, explosives experts soon figured out that a shaped charge was responsible for the amazing penetration results, and they went ahead and copied it. German, British, and Soviet troops received H.C. anti-tank grenades as early as 1940.
Panzergranate 46 Rifle Grenade H.C. (Munroe) 89 mm
An anti-tank rifle grenade based on the Wurfmine, it had a maximum range of 200 metres.
Panzergranate 61 Rifle Grenade H.C. (Munroe) 89 mm
3.7 cm & 5 cm Stielgranate (1941) H.C. (Munroe) 206 mm

A modification for the 3.7 cm PaK 35/36 and 5 cm PaK 38, using the 15 cm Igr. 39 Hl/A artillery shell H.C. warhead. The oversized warhead had a stick attached to it which could be inserted into the PaK barrel. A blank cartridge was used to fire the device. Tail fins stabilized the warhead in flight, but it was not a very accurate weapon beyond 200 meters range. If a hit was achieved, the device proved successful even against KV-1 heavy tanks.

Reloading had to be done by a courageous crew member walking around the gun shield, and exposing himself to enemy fire while he inserted another stick grenade into the muzzle. In effect, this was a one-shot ambush weapon, very difficult to conceal after it had fired. Hungarian Nimrod AA/AT vehicles fired these rounds from their 37 mm Bofors gun.

Faustpatrone/Panzerfaust 50 Klein H.C. (Munroe) 153 mm
Faustpatrone/Panzerfaust 100 Klein H.C. (Munroe) 219 mm
Recoilless weapons like the Panzerfaust, and Russian RPG-1 copies of the same, had a tremendous backblast which made it nearly impossible to fire the weapon from buildings, bunkers, and similarly enclosed positions. In the heat of battle, this important safety instruction was often ignored, resulting in many accidental casualties among the operators. In addition, the noticeable backblast would draw enemy return fire to the firing position.
8.8 cm Raketenpanzerbüchse/Panzerschreck H.C. (Munroe) 209 mm
Bazooka, and Panzerschreck rocket projectors are missile weapons which produce a less dangerous backblast than the Panzerfaust, although the backblast is still noticeable enough to reveal the firing position. Rocket projectors can be fired from enclosed spaces with minimal risk to the operator, and there is enough historic evidence to suggest that this was done in combat. The Panzerschreck fired a larger warhead than the Bazooka, and the weapon had a face shield to protect the operator.
15 cm Do-Gerät (1941) H.C. (Munroe) 206 mm
Infantry rocket projector issued to Fallschirmjäger units as early as 1941.
Haft-Hohlladung 3 kg H.C. (Munroe) 206 mm
Haft-Hohlladung anti-tank magnetic hollow-charge sported three industrial magnets at the front of the device which held the shaped charge firmly in place against armour plate. When the device became available in 1944, it proved very effective, and it was assumed that the Soviet Army would copy it immediately. As a counter-measure, the Wehrmacht developed Zimmerit anti-magnetic coating for armoured vehicles, defeating its own magnetic charge technology. The Soviets never did copy the Haft-Hohlladung, and Zimmerit turned out to have been an unnecessary precaution.
Zimmerit Mine H.C. (Munroe) 206 mm
An anti-tank device designed to defeat vehicles equipped with Zimmerit anti-magnetic coating. Stronger magnets were used to hold the device firmly in place against the uneven surface of a vehicle coated with Zimmerit. Like the Haft-Hohlladung, it used the 15 cm Igr. 39 Hl/A artillery shell H.C. warhead.
15 cm Wire Guided Missile H.C. (Munroe) 206 mm
The Rotkäppchen was a winged bomb with the usual 15 cm Igr. 39 Hl/A artillery shell H.C. warhead, fired from a sled. Like its modern counterparts, this wire guided device had a joystick for remote control. The weapon was introduced in 1945, and it was apparently used on the Eastern Front.
Tank and Anti-tank Guns Projectile Penetration
2 cm L.55 KwK 30/38 A.P.H.E. (Pz.Gr.) 24 mm
2 cm L.55 KwK 30/38 A.P. (Pz.Gr. 39) 31 mm
2 cm L.55 KwK 30/38 A.P. (Pz.Gr. 39-1) 40 mm
2 cm L.55 KwK 30/38 A.P.C.R. (Pz.Gr. 40) 52 mm
Apparently, there are pictures of the FlaK 38 on a low carriage for use as an anti-tank gun by Volkssturm militia units. It is very likely that this gun had substantial anti-tank capabilities or at least stocks of good ammunition to commend it for that role. The gun was also popular during the early Russian campaign for firing at Soviet T-26 and B.T. tanks. There are photos of Sd.Kfz. 221 light armoured cars mounting this weapon, instead of the light machine gun they had previously been armed with exclusively.
2 cm L.112.5 FlaK 30/38 A.P.H.E. (Pz.Gr.) 49 mm
2 cm L.112.5 FlaK 30/38 A.P. (Pz.Gr. 39) 57 mm
2 cm L.112.5 FlaK 30/38 A.P. (Pz.Gr. 39-1) 81 mm
2 cm L.112.5 FlaK 30/38 A.P.C.R. (Pz.Gr. 40) 106 mm
Apparently, there are pictures of the FlaK 38 on a low carriage for use as an anti-tank gun by Volkssturm militia units. It is very likely that this gun had substantial anti-tank capabilities or at least stocks of good ammunition to commend it for that role. The gun was also popular during the early Russian campaign for firing at Soviet T-26 and B.T. tanks. There are photos of Sd.Kfz. 221 light armoured cars mounting this weapon, instead of the light machine gun they had previously been armed with exclusively.
2.8 cm schwere Panzerbüchse 41 A.P.S.V./A.P.S.B. 94 mm
An improved version of the Solothurn anti-tank rifle which turned out to be no match for the medium tanks encountered in the 1941 and 1942 campaigns. The weapons was heavy, and it required a three-man crew which effectively made it a battalion support weapon. Many s.PzB 41 were handed down to the Italian army who used it in North Africa, and still had many of them in inventory at the armistice in 1943. A model of the s.PzB 41 can be found in the first generation Airfix sets of German infantry and Afrikakorps soldiers. The weapon may be fitted with small wheels taken from an Airfix Spitfire aircraft kit. There was also a self-propelled version of the s.PzB 41 mounted on an Sd.Kfz. 250/11 light half-track. A number of Sd.Kfz. 221 light armoured cars serving in Africa and on the Easter Front were equipped with the schwere Panzerbüchse 41, instead of the light machine gun they had previously been armed with exclusively.
3.7 cm L.45 KwK 35 & PaK 35/36 A.P.H.E. (Pz.Gr. 18) 41 mm
3.7 cm L.45 KwK 35 & PaK 35/36 A.P. (Pz.Gr. 39) 65 mm
3.7 cm L.45 KwK 35 & PaK 35/36 A.P.C.R. (Pz.Gr. 40) 79 mm

The 3.7 cm PaK 35/36 was the standard infantry anti-tank gun of the Wehrmacht. It had been the most successful anti-tank weapon of the Spanish Civil War, an event which led the Wehrmacht to believe that the gun would be adequate for some time. Unfortunately for the Wehrmacht, the PaK 35 could not penetrate the French and British infantry tanks it encountered in France in 1940.

An automatic version of this gun was produced in 1942, which was loaded with a clip of six rounds. The weapon proved marginally successful as an anti-aircraft gun. It had low recoil, and it proved very reliable, two factors which made the weapon imminently suitable as an aircraft anti-tank gun. The chosen gun platform was the Junkers JU 87 Stuka. Dated as a dive-bomber, the JU 87 turned out to be a very successful ground attack aircraft, provided that enemy fighter cover was minimal. Such conditions existed on the Eastern Front where 4th Air Group ground attacks destroyed thousands of tanks and other vehicles.

3.7 cm L.89 FlaK 43 A.P.H.E. (Pz.Gr. 18) 42 mm
3.7 cm L.89 FlaK 43 A.P. (Pz.Gr. 39) 128 mm
3.7 cm L.89 FlaK 43 A.P. (Pz.Gr. 40) 156 mm
FlaK (anti-aircraft) guns have far greater hitting power than PaK guns because of their longer barrels. Increased velocity results in longer range, and better armour penetration. Anti-tank guns are usually derived from anti-aircraft guns or howitzers because these are high velocity weapons. The A.P.H.E. shell would probably shatter on impact, which is why its penetration is as low as that of the PaK 35/36 above. The A.P.C.R. and A.P. penetration data has been calculated on the basis that 3.7 cm PaK and FlaK ammunition was interchangeable, as is the case with the 2 cm FlaK and KwK guns.
4.2 cm le.PaK 41 (Squeeze Bore) A.P.S.V. (1941) 120 mm
The barrel of the 4.2 cm PaK 41 Squeeze Bore gun tapered from 42 mm to 30 mm. The gun was mounted on the PaK 35 chassis, the original chassis of the le.IG 35 (infantry gun) which later became the le.IG 37.
5 cm L.42 KwK 38 A.P. (Pz.Gr. 39) 69 mm
5 cm L.42 KwK 38 A.P.C.R. (Pz.Gr. 40) 115 mm
5 cm L.60 PaK 38 & KwK 39 A.P. (Pz.Gr. 39) 99 mm
5 cm L.60 PaK 38 & KwK 39 A.P.C.R. (Pz.Gr. 40) 141 mm
The PaK 38 was introduced in April of 1940, just prior to the German invasion of France. The weapon looks practically identical to the PaK 40 anti-tank gun. PaK 38 had a good performance for its time, and this is the gun which should have been used to upgrade Pz.Kpfw. III main battle tanks after August of 1940. However, the German Ordonance Department had already decided to use the 5 cm L.42 KwK 38, and it simply ignored the order. The instructions were not carried out until late 1941, when the Pz.Kpfw. III Ausf. J was equipped with the 5 cm L.60 KwK 39. When the British 8th Army encountered this formidable vehicle in the Desert War, they nicknamed it Mark III Special.
7.5 cm L.11.8 le.IG 18 A.P. (Pz.Gr. 39)
7.5 cm L.11.8 le.IG 18 A.P.C.R. (Pz.Gr. 40)
7.5 cm L.11.8 le.IG 18 H.C. (Igr. 38) 75 mm
7.5 cm L.11.8 le.IG 18 H.C. (Igr. 38 Hl/A) 90 mm
7.5 cm L.11.8 le.IG 18 H.C. (Igr. 38 Hl/B) 96 mm
7.5 cm L.11.8 le.IG 18 H.C. (Igr. 38 Hl/C) 128 mm
The le.IG 18 entered service in 1927, and it remained in use throughout the Second World War. The weapon's armour penetration capabilities were improved when the hollow-charge Infanteriegranate 38 and Igr. 38 Hl/A were introduced.
7.5 cm L.22 le.IG 37 and le.IG 42 A.P.H.E. (K. Gr.rot. Pz.) 46 mm
7.5 cm L.22 le.IG 37 and le.IG 42 A.P. (Pz.Gr. 39) 42 mm
7.5 cm L.22 le.IG 37 and le.IG 42 A.P.C.R. (Pz.Gr. 40) 75 mm
7.5 cm L.22 le.IG 37 and le.IG 42 H.C. (Igr. 38 Hl/A) 90 mm
7.5 cm L.22 le.IG 37 and le.IG 42 H.C. (Igr. 38 Hl/B) 96 mm
7.5 cm L.22 le.IG 37 and le.IG 42 H.C. (Igr. 38 Hl/C) 128 mm
The le.IG 37 eventually received an improved chassis, and it was designated the le.IG 42. Two versions of the le.IG 42 were built, using different chassis, designated le.IG 42 a.A (old type) and le.IG 42 n.A. (new type). The gun's ammunition and performance remained the same, but it became a much lighter weapon, more suitable for Fallschirmjäger operations.
7.5 cm L.24 StuK 37 & KwK 37 A.P.H.E. (K. Gr.rot. Pz.) 50 mm
7.5 cm L.24 StuK 37 & KwK 37 A.P. (Pz.Gr. 39) 57 mm
7.5 cm L.24 StuK 37 & KwK 37 A.P.C.R. (Pz.Gr. 40) 76 mm
7.5 cm L.24 StuK 37 & KwK 37 H.C. (Igr. 38 Hl/A) 90 mm
7.5 cm L.24 StuK 37 & KwK 37 H.C. (Igr. 38 Hl/B) 96 mm
7.5 cm L.24 StuK 37 & KwK 37 H.C. (Igr. 38 Hl/C) 128 mm
Mounted in Pz.Kpfw. III Ausf. N, and Pz.Kpfw. IV Ausf. D support vehicles.
7.5 cm L.43 StuH 40 & KwK 40 A.P.H.E. (K. Gr.rot. Pz.) 108 mm
7.5 cm L.43 StuH 40 & KwK 40 A.P. (Pz.Gr. 39) 129 mm
7.5 cm L.43 StuH 40 & KwK 40 A.P.C.R. (Pz.Gr. 40) 154 mm
7.5 cm L.48 KwK 39 & PaK 39 A.P. (Pz.Gr. 39) 144 mm
7.5 cm L.48 KwK 39 & PaK 39 A.P.C.R. (Pz.Gr. 40) 172 mm
PaK 39 looks identical to a 75 mm L.46 PaK 40 or 50 mm L.60 PaK 38 except that it does not have a muzzle brake. Early StuG III with 75 mm KwK 39 guns did not have muzzle brakes either, but this was rapidly changed. Wargamers and collectors may want to convert one of the available PaK 40 anti-tank gun models to a 7.5 cm PaK 39. The PaK 39 has a lower performance than the PaK 40, despite the fact that its barrel is L.2 longer than that of the PaK 40. The difference is in the cartridge. Like most guns, the PaK 39 had a cartridge of the same diameter as the 75 mm shell it fired, whereas the PaK 40 had a bottle-necked cartridge.
7.5 cm L.46 PaK 40 A.P. (Pz.Gr. 39) 149 mm
7.5 cm L.46 PaK 40 A.P.C.R. (Pz.Gr. 40) 176 mm
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.
7.5 cm PaK 41 (Squeeze Bore) A.P.S.V. (1941) 226 mm
7.5 cm L.70 KwK 42, StuK 42, PaK 42 A.P. (Pz.Gr. 39) 170 mm
7.5 cm L.70 KwK 42, StuK 42, PaK 42 A.P. (Pz.Gr. 42) 210 mm
7.5 cm L.70 KwK 42, StuK 42, PaK 42 A.P.C.R. (Pz.Gr. 40) 239 mm
7.5 cm L.70 KwK 42, StuK 42, PaK 42 A.P.D.S. (Pz.Gr. 44) 298 mm
Main Armament of the Panther tank. There was also a 75 mm L.70 tank destroyer based on a standard Sd.Kfz. 251 light half-track, which had the weapon mounted across the top of the crew compartment. The gun's recoil system was anchored to the rear corners of the half-track, and the vehicle retained its troop carrying capacity. A similar version was made by removing the wheels from PaK 39 and PaK 40 anti-tank guns, and welding or bolting the trail to the top of the vehicle. This type looked like the gun had been just dropped on top of the vehicle. These field modifications made the vehicle top-heavy and very difficult to drive cross-country.
7.7 cm L.23 W.W.I. Field Gun A.P.H.E. 53 mm
8.8 cm L.56 KwK 36 A.P.H.E. (Pz.Gr.) 67 mm
8.8 cm L.56 KwK 36 A.P. (Pz.Gr. 39) 146 mm
8.8 cm L.56 KwK 36 A.P. (Pz.Gr. 39-1) 177 mm
8.8 cm L.56 KwK 36 A.P.C.R. (Pz.Gr. 40) 224 mm
8.8 cm L.56 KwK 36 A.P.D.S. (Pz.Gr. 44) 280 mm
Main armament of the Tiger I, it had a lower performance than the 7.5 cm L.70 mounted on the Panther tank. The KwK 36 was designed for tank use in 1936 and then shelved when the German army decided against a heavy tank programme. It was later revived for use in the Tiger. According to some sources, the weapon was tried out in a few early Jagdpanther tank destroyers until replaced by the more suitable 8.8 cm L.71 PaK 43 below.
8.8 cm L.71 FlaK 35/36, KwK 43 & PaK 43 A.P.H.E. (Pz.Gr.) 86 mm
8.8 cm L.71 FlaK 35/36, KwK 43 & PaK 43 A.P. (Pz.Gr. 39) 225 mm
8.8 cm L.71 FlaK 35/36, KwK 43 & PaK 43 A.P. (Pz.Gr. 39-1) 247 mm
8.8 cm L.71 FlaK 35/36, KwK 43 & PaK 43 A.P.C.R. (Pz.Gr. 40) 311 mm
8.8 cm L.71 FlaK 35/36, KwK 43 & PaK 43 A.P.D.S. (Pz.Gr. 44) 355 mm
Originally designed to attack high-altitude bombers, these guns were often used in the anti-tank role. Flak 35/36 deployed at the Battle of Kasserine Pass destroyed vast quantities of closely bunched American tanks at ranges between 3 and 6 miles. The maximum anti-tank firing range is reported to have been 9 miles. The weapon became the main armament of the Tiger II, Elefant and Jagdpanther tank destroyers. The PaK 43 was considered the best German anti-tank gun of the war.
8.8 cm L.98 FlaK 37 A.P.H.E. (Pz.Gr.) 118 mm
8.8 cm L.98 FlaK 37 A.P. (Pz.Gr. 36) 292 mm
8.8 cm L.98 FlaK 37 A.P. (Pz.Gr. 39-1) 341 mm
8.8 cm L.98 FlaK 37 A.P.C.R. (Pz.Gr. 40) 429 mm
8.8 cm L.98 FlaK 37 A.P.D.S. (Pz.Gr. 44) 490 mm
Developed from the 8.8 cm L.98 FlaK 18
10 cm K 18 A.P. (K. Gr.rot. Pz.) 202 mm
10.5 cm L.28 le.FH 18 (towed)
10.5 cm L.28 le.FH 18/1 (Sd.Kfz. 165/1)
10.5 cm L.28 StuH 42 (Sd.Kfz. 142/2)
10.5 cm L.28 le.FH 18/2 (Wespe)
10.5 cm L.28 le.FH 18/40 (Pz.A. 39 H (f))
A.P.H.E. (Pz.Gr.) 78 mm
10.5 cm L.28 le.FH 18 (towed)
10.5 cm L.28 le.FH 18/1 (Sd.Kfz. 165/1)
10.5 cm L.28 StuH 42 (Sd.Kfz. 142/2)
10.5 cm L.28 le.FH 18/2 (Wespe)
10.5 cm L.28 le.FH 18/40 (Pz.A. 39 H (f))
A.P. (Pz.Gr. 39) 106 mm
10.5 cm L.28 le.FH 18 (towed)
10.5 cm L.28 le.FH 18/1 (Sd.Kfz. 165/1)
10.5 cm L.28 StuH 42 (Sd.Kfz. 142/2)
10.5 cm L.28 le.FH 18/2 (Wespe)
10.5 cm L.28 le.FH 18/40 (Pz.A. 39 H (f))
H.C. (Gr. 39 Hl/A) 103 mm
10.5 cm L.28 le.FH 18 (towed)
10.5 cm L.28 le.FH 18/1 (Sd.Kfz. 165/1)
10.5 cm L.28 StuH 42 (Sd.Kfz. 142/2)
10.5 cm L.28 le.FH 18/2 (Wespe)
10.5 cm L.28 le.FH 18/40 (Pz.A. 39 H (f))
H.C. (Gr. 39 Hl/B) 116 mm
10.5 cm L.28 le.FH 18 (towed)
10.5 cm L.28 le.FH 18/1 (Sd.Kfz. 165/1)
10.5 cm L.28 StuH 42 (Sd.Kfz. 142/2)
10.5 cm L.28 le.FH 18/2 (Wespe)
10.5 cm L.28 le.FH 18/40 (Pz.A. 39 H (f))
H.C. (Gr. 39 Hl/C) 128 mm
Standard light howitzer of the Wehrmacht, normally deployed in batteries of four pieces, although some batteries had only three in 1944-45. Panzer and Panzergrenadier divisions had batteries of six howitzers. In 1942, le.FH 18 was mounted in StuG III Ausf. G chassis, designated Sturm-Haubitze 42. Assault gun batteries officially consisted of seven StuG III Ausf. G and three StuH 42, deployed in three sections of three vehicles, and one StuG III for the battery commander. In the same year, the le.FH 18/2 was mounted on modified Panzer II chassis, designated Panzer-Artillerie II (Wespe). Panzer and Panzergrenadier divisions received two armoured artillery batteries of six Wespe each. The new Wespe batteries saw their first large-scale action at the Battle of Kurks in 1943.
10.5 cm L.56 A.P. (Pz.Gr. 39) 232 mm
10.5 cm L.56 A.P.C.R. (Pz.Gr. 40) 292 mm
10.5 cm L.56 A.P.D.S. (Pz.Gr. 44) 334 mm
Main armament of the Panther Ausführung F. Panther F had a normal Panther G hull with Tiger II suspension, and a smaller turret with "Frogeyes" range finder bulges on either side. The gun has no muzzle brake.
12.8 cm L.55 KwK 44 & PaK 44 A.P.H.E. (Pz.Gr.) 230 mm
12.8 cm L.55 KwK 44 & PaK 44 A.P.H.E. (Pz.Gr. 43) 227 mm
12.8 cm L.55 KwK 44 & PaK 44 A.P. (1944) 253 mm
12.8 cm L.55 KwK 44 & PaK 44 A.P.C.R. (1944) 350 mm
12.8 cm L.55 KwK 44 & PaK 44 A.P.D.S. (Pz.Gr. 44) 400 mm
Main armament of the Jagdtiger tank destroyer, and the Panther II tank. Panther II is similar to the Panther F described above, except that it has the larger gun. Apparently, Panther II appeared in small numbers in 1945.
12.8 cm L.61 K 40 A.P.H.E. (Pz.Gr.) 244 mm
12.8 cm L.61 K 40 A.P.D.S. (Pz.Gr. 44) 443 mm
A naval gun mounted in large static defenses like those on the Siegfried line. The 12.8 cm PaK 44 was developed from this weapon, and it was the main armament of the Maus tank, which also sported a co-axial 7.5 cm L.70 KwK 42.
15 cm L.11 s.IG 33 A.P.H.E. (Pz.Gr.) 43 mm
15 cm L.11 s.IG 33 A.P. (Pz.Gr. 39) 65 mm
15 cm L.11 s.IG 33 H.C. (Igr. 39 Hl/A) 206 mm
15 cm L.17 s.FH 13 A.P.H.E. (Pz.Gr.) 67 mm
15 cm L.17 s.FH 13 A.P. (Pz.Gr. 39) 101 mm
15 cm L.17 s.FH 13 H.C. (Gr. 39 Hl/A) 206 mm
15 cm L.29 s.FH 18 A.P.H.E. (Pz.Gr.) 118 mm
15 cm L.29 s.FH 18 A.P. (Pz.Gr. 39) 172 mm
15 cm L.29 s.FH 18 H.C. (Gr. 39 Hl/A) 206 mm

German Panzergranate anti-tank shells used the following designations:

  • Pz.Gr. = early A.P. shell, probably Pz.Gr. 18.
  • Pz.Gr. 39 = A.P. shell.
  • Pz.Gr. 39-1 = improved A.P. shell.
  • Pz.Gr. 40/41/42 = A.P.C.R. shell variants.
  • Pz.Gr. 43 = A.P. shell replacing A.P.C.R. after Tungsten supplies ran out.
  • Pz.Gr. 44/45 = A.P.D.S. shell.

Shells were colour-coded to avoid confusion in the heat of battle. German tank ammunition used the following codes, with special stencilled markings to indicate sub-types:

  • A.P. - Black
  • H.E. - Yellow or Dark Green
  • H.C. - Light Grey/Green

Compared to Allied weapons of the same calibre, German guns appear to be heavy hitters. When the Wehrmacht encountered heavily armoured British, French, and Soviet tanks in the 1940 and 1941 campaigns, it was quick to respond to the need for increased armour penetration of its primary anti-tank weapons. Designs which had proven successful against Matilda, Char B, and KV-1 tanks were developed further. The more powerful guns also required heavier tanks like the Panther, Tiger, Königstiger, and Elefant to carry them.

The Wehrmacht equipped many of its own units, and allied Axis formations with a variety of captured anti-tank weapons which are listed separately.

Andy Reid

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