Marder III is the name which indicates a type of German Hunter of tanks of the Second world war builds on the frame of the Panzer 38 (T). It was in production of 1942 to 1944 and was useful on all fronts until the end of the war.
At the beginning of the Operation Barbarossa, the Wehrmacht had felt the need to install a weapon more powerful anti-tank device and more mobile that the towed anti-tank guns or that hunters of tanks autotractés such as the Panzerjäger I. This need became crucial at the end of 1941 with the appearance of the new Soviet tanks like the T-34 or the Kliment Voroshilov.
As intermediate solution, one decided to use tanks with the design exceeded like the Panzer II and of the vehicles captured like Lorraine as a base to build expédients of tank destroyers. It in result the series of Marder, which was armed either with the anti-tank gun of 75 mm PaK 40 or with the Russian gun of 76,2 mm whose many specimens had been taken with the enemy.
Sd.Kfz. 139 Marder III
Although Panzer 38 (T) became largely exceeded like tank at the beginning of 1942, it always constituted an excellent platform to be transformed into tank destroyer inter alia roles. As the Soviet artillery gun of 76,2 mm was available in great quantities because of the catches on the enemy, one made the decision to adapt it to Panzer 38 (T).
For this purpose, the turret and the top of the superstructures of Panzer 38 were removed and a new superstructure was fixed on the frame. The upper part, where the gun was, was open on the top and with the back and had for the remainder only one light shielding. In general, the thickness of the shielding varied from 10 to 50 Misters a major disadvantage of this alternative was a high silhouette which made the machine more vulnerable to enemy fire.
The gun itself had been recalibré in order to be able to use the German standard ammunition of 75 mm, of which 30 units could be carried. In addition to the gun, Marder III carried a machine-gun of 7,92 mm assembled on the hull.
This tank destroyer was put in production under the name of Sd. Kfz. 139 Panzerjäger 38 (T) für 7,62cm PaK36 (R). A total of 363 specimens of this alternative of Marder III were built of April 1942 at 1943.
Sd. Kfz. 138 Marder III Ausf. H
This alternative of Marder III carried the standard German anti-tank gun of 75 mm PaK 40 on the frame of Panzer 38 (T) Ausf. H. The engine was with the back of the vehicle (Ausf. H means Heckmotor (driving back)), while the gun was in a compartment located at the center of the frame. This version carried 38 shells and, as it was the case of the Sd version. Kfz. 139, also had a machine-gun of 7,92 mm Czech manufacture on the hull.
The complete name of this alternative was the 7.5cm PaK40/3 auf Panzerkampfwagen 38 (T) Ausf. H (Sd Kfz 138) . The figures of production for this version are the following: 243 specimens (including a prototype) single were built between November 1942 and April 1943. In addition, 175 were built in 1943 at the beginning of Panzer 38 (T) reconverted.
Sd. Kfz. 138 Marder III Ausf. M
The last version of Marder III was based on Panzer 38 (T) Ausf. M (Ausf. M meaning Mittelmotor (driving exchange)), armed like the preceding one with the anti-tank gun PaK 40 of 75 Misters In this alternative, the compartment of the gun and the stations of combat were placed with the back of the frame. Contrary to the two other versions of Marder III, this compartment was closed on the back, although it does not have roof. It could carry only 27 shells. It did not carry a machine-gun on the hull but the crew laid out on the other hand of a machine-gun MG 34 or MG 42.
Ausf. M was the version produced with the greatest number of specimens, approximately 975 specimens being produced in 1943 and at the beginning of 1944. Its name supplements was the Sd.Kfz.138, Panzerjäger 38 (T) put 7.5cm PaK40/3 Ausf. M .
The various types of Marder III fought on all fronts, Sd. Kfz. 139 being used primarily on the face of the East, although some were engaged in Tunisia. Even in February 1945, approximately 350 Ausf. M were always in service.
Marder III were used by Panzerjäger Abteilungen of armor-plated divisions belonging as well to the Wehrmacht as with the Waffen-SS like by several units of Wehrmacht such as the Division Hermann Göring.
Marders were technically reliable as it was the case of all the vehicles developed on the basis of Czech frame 38t. Their firepower was sufficient to destroy at a reasonable distance any light or average armored vehicle met on the battle field.
The weaknesses of Marder were due primarily to the vulnerability of the crew. A high silhouette combined with the absence of roof made them vulnerable to the indirect artillery shooting. Moreover, a shielding summons all not very thick made them vulnerable to the opposing tanks.
Marders were not vehicles of attack or substitutes of tanks. The absence of roof meant that the operations in urban environment or close combat induced risks. They were preferably used in defensive roles or of support. In spite of their weaknesses, they were much more effective than the towed anti-tank guns than they replaced.
- OnWar (Marder III M)
- World War II vehicles
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