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Waffenträger leFH 18/1 auf GW IVb Weapon Carrier

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In 1942 proposals were made to produce an armoured multi-purpose vehicle that could meet all the requirements of the armoured artillery. A whole series of prototypes was developed by Krupp, Rheinmetall, Daimler-Benz and Skoda for vehicles that could carry dismountable artillery pieces. These vehicles were known as Waffenträger (weapon carriers) and were fitted with lifting devices to enable them to drop down and pick up their main armament, usually fitted in a turret with all-round traverse.
The Waffenträger GW IVb was based on a PzKpfw IV Ausf F chassis very similar to that of the GW III/IV but which retained the engine in the rear. Some sources give it the designation Heuschrecke (Locust) 10 but others state this was used for a similar vehicle that was based on the PzKpfw II chassis. For the Waffenträger GW IVb, the PzKpfw IV chassis was lengthened at the rear but still had the same track length on the ground. The driver’s compartment at the front of the superstructure was very similar to that of the late production Hummel. On either side of the superstructure at the rear there was a set of rails and a block and tackle. These enabled the turret to be lifted and moved to the rear of the vehicle, and then unloaded. The turret could either be dropped onto a simple platform, when it was ready for immediate use, or it could be fitted with two wheels so that it could be towed into position. The unloaded chassis could then be used for carrying ammunition, loading and unloading it using the same block and tackle system.
The prototype of this vehicle appeared in 1942 and eight vehicles were built in total by Krupp of Essen. The vehicle did not enter full production but was used as the basis for a number of later Waffenträger projects. It would appear that the prototype utilised the same drive sprockets, with eight circular holes, as used on the PzKpfw III Ausf E to G. Later vehicles had drive sprockets with six holes from the PzKpfw III Ausf H, and also had towing lugs cut from extensions of the hull side armour as introduced on the PzKpfw III Ausf J.
Another experimental self-propelled mounting based on the PzKpfw IV chassis was built at about the same time as the Heuschrecke, this was the leFH 18/1 (Sf) auf GW IVb, SdKfz 165/1. It mounted the same main armament, though in a modified mantlet and longer turret. The chassis was more extensively adapted and used six larger roadwheels, and three return rollers, per side. Again only eight examples were built by Krupp and the difficulty in justifying the use of tank chassis for artillery pieces prevented the vehicle going into production. The completed vehicles served in Russia.

Model Id:200
Manufacture:Krupp-Gruson Werk AG, Magdeburg, Germany (Sole manufacturer 1942-3)

1) U.S. Army Artillery Museum, Fort Sill, USA

Number of Photos: 6
Sample Photo from Album Number 190

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Unique ID: 190
Serial Number:
Other Identification: Painted overall yellow (previously overall pale sand, with German crosses painted on turret sides).

Text in original Preserved German Tanks publication:

This is a late production Heuschrecke IVb with PzKpfw III Ausf H sprockets and Ausf J towing lugs.

Text in Preserved German Tanks Update:

This Waffenträger was transferred from the Ordnance Museum at Aberdeen Proving Ground in about November 2012; it had previously been on show in the Display Park. In October 2013 it was being stored in a car park next to Cannon Walk, having been refurbished and repainted overall yellow.