Medium tank destroyer
German World War II armored fighting vehicles gallery
To be able to face the masses of Soviet medium and heavy tanks, German army needed a powerful self propelled anti tank weapon. Existing tank destroyers (Panzerjägers) were based mostly on obsolete light tank chassis and therefore inappropriate for this purpose. More robust base was needed to carry the desired heavy weapon. Suitable chassis had already been under development by the Alkett company for a self propelled howitzer and the army ordnance dept. decided to use it also for the new tank destroyer.
The chassis was a combination of elements from medium tanks Panzer III and IV, and therefore it was called Geschützwagen III/IV (Geschützwagen = gun carriage). Extremely effective 88 mm PaK 43/1 L/71 anti-tank gun was selected for the main weapon of the new vehicle. Open top superstructure was installed on the chassis to provide protection for the gun crew. To save as much weight as possible, the armor thickness was just 10 mm. The vehicle was anyway intended to destroy enemy AFVs at long ranges and not to get involved in any close combat. Thin armor was therefore not critical drawback.
Initially, the new machine received combat name Hornisse (hornet) but later on it was renamed to Nashorn (rhinoceros). Nashorn had a mass of 24 tons and was powered by 300hp Maybach HL120 TRM engine. It was produced from February 1943 until the end of war with total production score of almost five hundred copies.