Sunday, March 22, 2015

7.62cm FK36(r) auf Panzerjager Selbstfahrlafette Zugkraftwagen 5t (Sd Kfz 6) - Diana

Surprisingly enough, the SdKfz 6 was modified only slightly during its service career. Most were produced as standard tractors with seating for the artillery detachment that could be covered by a canvas tilt, but there were also three weapon-carrier variants. The first was the 7.5-cm Slf L/40.8 and never really got past the prototype stage; it was an attempt to produce a mobile 7.5-cm (2.95-in) gun for use with cavalry units, and at least three prototypes were produced between 1934 and 1935. The type was never placed in production, but at least one was captured during the fighting in North Africa. Then there was the model known as the 'Diana' or 7.62-cm Pak 36(r) auf Panzerjäger Slf Zugkraftwagen 5t, an attempt to mount captured Soviet 76.2-mm (3-in) guns in a high armoured superstructure built onto the rear of an SdKfz 6. This superstructure was open and rather high and the gun was placed on the vehicle complete with its wheels and attenuated trails. The gun was the Soviet Model 1936 which was used as a dual anti-tank/field gun. Only nine were produced and again one was captured in North Africa by the Allies. The third SdKfz 6 weapon-carrier was the SdKfz 6/2, which mounted a 3.7-cm (1.456-in) Flak 36 anti-aircraft gun on an open platform behind the driver's position; the sides folded down to act as a working platform for the gun crew. The first of these variants was produced during 1937 and most of them went to the Luftwaffe. They had a crew of seven and were widely used.

During the initial phases of operation Barbarossa, the Germans captured huge numbers of the Russian 76.2mm M1936 field gun. Designated 7.62cm FK36(r) or FK296(r) by the Germans, it was issued in large numbers to Panzerjager detachments, unmodified and using Russian ammunition. In late 1941, an attempt was made to self-propel this heavy anti-tank gun, by mounting it in an armoured box on the rear of a five ton semi-track. Nine such conversions were sent to Africa.

Served with the 605th Panzerjagerabteilung in North Africa. Six guns were delivered in January, and three in February 1942. They were prominent in the battle of Gazala in May/June 1942. 

The Germans started with Panzerjager Is, 47mm Czech guns on Pz I chassis.

These equipped the self-propelled gun companies in the 605th Panzerjager. In late 1941 through to May 1942 a total of 9 "Dianas" were supplied. These were captured Russian 76.2 guns mounted on an Sdkfz 6 half-track, with a thin armoured box enclosing the chassis. There were a very small number of experimental Self-Propelled 75mm Panzerjagers but these mostly broke down. From around May 1942 a small number of Marder IIIs were brought into the desert. This was the version with a Russian 76.2mm gun on a Panzer 38t chassis. These increased in numbers.

By Alamein, there were probably Marder IIIs, the remaining Diana's were captured after the battle so possibly 1 or 2 were around.

605th PzJgr Abt and in theory a Platoon of 3 went to each of the 3 companies (officially it was supposed to be 1 coy of Dianas and 2 coys of PzJgr Ib's). The Companies were originally 1 HQ Pz.I and 3 Platoons of 3 PzJgr Ib each, but by Gazala  only about 18-20 of the PzJgrs remained and none of the Pz.I's. As the Diana's arrived they reinforced each company in turn, although 1 source suggested they did end up consolidated in a single company. By 2nd Alamein there were still about 6 Dianas and 12 PzJgr Ib's operational.

Note that the Diana was not like the Marder III, it had a standard Russian 76.2mm field Gun installed, not the modified/rebored one that fired PaK40 type ammo at a higher velocity... it's fire power was therefore about the same as (or a little better than) the US 75mm in the Grant...

Chassis Nos.: 3001-3617 9 converted in late 1941
Crew: 5
Engine: Maybach HL54TUKRM
Weight (tons): 10.5
Gearbox: 4 x 2 forward, 1 x 2 reverse
Length (metres): 6.33
Width (metres): 2.26
Speed (km/hr): 50
Height (metres): 2.98
Range (km): 317
Armament: One 7.62cm FK36 (r) L/51.5
Traverse: 30° left 30° right (hand)
Ammunition: 7.62cm pzgr 39, pzgr 40, Spgr 39

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