Self propelled howitzer on Panzer II chassis
German World War II armored fighting vehicles gallery
Already since 1940 it was obvious, that the Panzer II light tank was insufficient for the role of main battle tank. During next two years, the German army was gradually replacing them with more advanced medium tanks and Panzer II became available for other service in considerable numbers. Except being just lightly armed and armored, it still was overall well designed and mechanically reliable machine and moreover it proved capable of carrying pretty heavy weapons.
It was therefore chosen to become a platform for a new self-propelled 105 mm howitzer in 1942. Design of this new vehicle was prepared by Alkett company using the Panzer II Ausf. F chassis. Beside other modifications, the engine was shifted forward and the chassis was lengthened and a sixth road wheel was added to each side.
It was armed with 105 mm leFH 18 howitzer mounted in the rear of the chassis. The combat compartment was protected by a simple fixed superstructure with armor thickness of just 10 mm. The combat name Wespe (wasp) was assigned retroactively in 1944. Wespe had a mass of 11 tons. It was powered by a 140 hp Maybach engine and could achieve a top speed of 40 km/h. Production ran since 1942 (or 1943) until 1944 with total of approximately 680 vehicles.