Heavy self propelled gun on Panzer III/IV chassis
German World War II armored fighting vehicles gallery
Based on the experience gained during the first year of fighting on eastern front, the German army was asking for a heavy self-propelled gun to destroy enemy strongpoints and other obstacles blocking the advance of infantry and motorized units. Heavy 150 mm howitzer sFH 18 was a clear choice for this purpose but suitable carrier for this gun was missing. Chassis of obsolete light tanks were not able to carry such a heavy piece of artillery and the chassis of medium tanks Panzer III and Panzer IV shown themselves not ideal.
Alkett company was assigned the task to create new chassis, fitting the purpose, based on elements of Panzer III and IV. The resulting gun carriage therefore received designation Geschützwagen III/IV. 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. Armor protection was not considered critical because the vehicle was intended to provide indirect fire support from behind the frontline.
New SPG received a combat name Hummel (bumblebee). Serial production started in spring of 1943 and continued till the end of war. Total production score reached more than seven hundred vehicles. Hummel had a mass of 24 tons and was powered by a 300 hp Maybach HL120 TRM gasoline engine. It was operated by a crew of six men.