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  • Inside the Tanks

  • with Richard "The Challenger" Cutland

  • The Hetzer

  • Welcome to the Deutsches Tank Museum...

  • ...in Munster, for another...

  • ...in the series "Inside the Tanks."

  • Behind me...

  • ...as i'm sure you'll recognise....

  • ...is the Jagdpanzer 38 (t)...

  • ...otherwise known as "The Hetzer"...

  • ...one of the most interesting...

  • ...armoured vehicles of WWII.

  • Background

  • Let me try to position....

  • ...this vehicle for you.

  • Following the invasion...

  • ...of the Soviet Union in 1941...

  • ...it quickly became obvious...

  • ...that Germany needed more...

  • ...and better...

  • ...anti-tank solutions.

  • Both the infantry's anti-tank guns...

  • ...and the Panzer IIIs and IVs...

  • ...of the time...

  • ...we unable to penetrate...

  • ...the front armour of the USSR's...

  • ...KV-1s and T-34s.

  • Even the StuG, which then...

  • ...only had the short-barreled...

  • ...75mm gun, wasn't up to the job.

  • It was also a numbers game...

  • ...allied tank production...

  • ...was outpacing Germany's...

  • ...so solutions were needed...

  • ...that were cheaper...

  • ...and faster to build...

  • ...which meant using existing chassis.

  • This resulted in the Marder series of...

  • ...tank destroyers and, later,...

  • ...the Nashorns...

  • ...but while all could carry...

  • ...powerful guns...

  • ...they had thin armour...

  • ...open crew compartments...

  • ...and a high profile which made them...

  • ...easy targets.

  • They could dish out the punishment...

  • ...but they couldn't take it...

  • ...so in late 1943, Hitler called for...

  • ...increased production...

  • ...of light tank destroyers...

  • ...that could combine good speed...

  • ...with a powerful gun...

  • ...and better protection.

  • One result, was the Hetzer...

  • ...which means "chaser".

  • Construction

  • The chassis chosen was taken...

  • ...from the Panzer 38 (t)...

  • ...a medium tank that was...

  • ...originally designed and built...

  • ...in Czechoslovakia...

  • ...before being taken over by Germany.

  • The tank itself was by now...

  • ...under-gunned and obsolete...

  • ...but the chassis and engine...

  • ..were reliable and strong...

  • ...and had already been used...

  • ...for the Marder III.

  • It was partly because the chassis...

  • ...already existed, that the Hetzer...

  • ...incredibly...

  • ...was able to go from the...

  • ...drawing board to production...

  • ...in less than four months.

  • Design

  • The Hetzer was designed to be small...

  • ...fast, and carry a big punch.

  • It was also designed...

  • ...to be hard to spot...

  • ...and even harder to hit.

  • Just look at how low it is!

  • Less than 2m high...

  • ...with the gun very near to the top...

  • ...of the vehicle.

  • It was also quite short...

  • ...just 4.7m.

  • That's 2m shorter than the StuG.

  • But the most conspicuous feature...

  • ...of this compact Tank Destroyer...

  • ...is, of course...

  • ...this very sloped front armour.

  • Sweeping back at 60 degrees...

  • ...on the upper hull...

  • ...and 40 degrees below.

  • Both upper and lower hull armour....

  • ...was 60mm thick...

  • ...welded together and interlocked...

  • ...for additional strength.

  • The side armour...

  • ...while nicely sloped at 40 degrees...

  • ...was a different story...

  • ...just 20 mm thick...

  • ...which made it very vulnerable...

  • ...to penetration from the side...

  • ...by almost any allied tank...

  • ...or anti-tank gun...

  • ...and even Soviet anti-tank rifles.

  • Soviet PTRD 14.5mm anti-tank rifle.

  • Tactics for using the Hetzer, then...

  • ...were very simple.

  • Find a nice ambush position...

  • ...keeping its strong, sloped...

  • ...frontal armour facing the enemy...

  • ...then get the hell out of there...

  • ...if there was any danger...

  • ...of being out-flanked.

  • Gun.

  • The gun was one of the best...

  • ...anti-tank guns of World War II...

  • ...the 7.5cm PaK 39.

  • It was capable of punching through...

  • ...82mm of armour at 1000m...

  • ...and 91mm of armour at 500m.

  • Enough to take out most allied tanks...

  • ...of the day, including the T-34.

  • Its standard anti-tank round...

  • ...was the Panzergranate 39...

  • ...this was composed of...

  • ...a ballistic shield to help the shell...

  • ..fly straight...

  • ...behind this was a cap...

  • ...of very hard steel to crack the..

  • ...hardened face of the enemy armour...

  • ...behind this, was a heavy core...

  • ...to enlarge the hole...

  • ...and complete penetration.

  • ...Inside this was...

  • ...an explosive charge to maximise...

  • ...fragmentation of the core...

  • ...causing maximum damage...

  • ...inside the tank.

  • At the rear was the fuse and tracer...

  • ...to help the gunner...

  • ...see the fall of the shot.

  • As you can see...

  • ...the gun was mounted...

  • ...well to the right of the vehicle...

  • ...which restricted its traverse...

  • ...to the left to just 5 degrees...

  • ...because movement...

  • ...of the gun assembly inside...

  • ...will be stopped...

  • ...by the right hull wall.

  • To the right...

  • ...it can traverse further...

  • ...up to 11 degrees...

  • ...but at a total of 16 degrees...

  • ...this was well short of...

  • ...the Hetzer's original specification...

  • ...which called for 30 degrees.

  • So for targets outside...

  • ...the narrow field of fire...

  • ...especially to the left...

  • ...the whole vehicle...

  • ...would have to be moved.

  • Outside

  • Let's take a look...

  • ...at some of the Hetzer's...

  • ...other external features.

  • Here we've got the commander's hatch...

  • ...and next to it the escape hatch...

  • ...for the driver, the gunner...

  • ...and the Loader.

  • Then we've got various vision devices...

  • ...for when the whole vehicle...

  • ...was closed up.

  • The commander's rear-facing periscope...

  • ...the Gunner's periscope sight...

  • ...the loader's periscope...

  • ...and the driver's twin periscope.

  • There was also a periscope sight...

  • ...for the machine gun.

  • The machine gun itself...

  • ...was MG34 rundumfeuer machine gun...

  • ...obviously missing.

  • "Rundumfeuer" meaning...

  • ...all-round fire...

  • ...which meant it could literally...

  • ...be rotated through 360 degrees...

  • ...and fired remotely...

  • ...from inside by the loader.

  • This gun shield protected the loader...

  • ...when he had to change magazines...

  • ...or was firing from an open hatch.

  • From the side...

  • ...the Hetzer's silhouette...

  • ...is unmistakable...

  • ...not just because of the slopes...

  • ...front and rear...

  • ...but because of the four...

  • ...large diameter road wheels.

  • Drive went through a front sprocket...

  • ...and the tracks were quite narrow...

  • ...at 35cm.

  • Notice the schΓΌrze, or skirts...

  • ...5mm thick steel plates...

  • ...that added extra protection...

  • ...to the side armour.

  • Engine

  • Like the chassis...

  • ...the Praga engine was also...

  • ...Czech designed and built...

  • ...a 6 cylinder 7.8 litre petrol unit...

  • ...driving the front sprockets...

  • ...through a 5 speed...

  • ...semi-automatic gear box.

  • The original target weight...

  • ...for the Hetzer had been...

  • ...13 metric tonnes...

  • ...but it ended up at...

  • ...16 tonnes combat weight...

  • ...making it much slower...

  • ...than originally planned...

  • ...with a maximum speed of...

  • ...40 km/h on good road...

  • ...and just 15 km/h cross country.

  • Let's take a look inside.

  • Inside

  • Well I told you it was small.

  • There's only me...

  • ...and the cameraman in here and it...

  • ...already feels over-crowded.

  • You can now see why the gun...

  • ...has to be placed to the right.

  • The Hetzer is so narrow...

  • ...that if it had been placed...

  • ...more conventionally...

  • ...near the middle...

  • ...there would have been no room...

  • ...for the crew...

  • ...which is why 3 of the 4 crew...

  • ...had to sit in a row...

  • ...to the left of the gun.

  • Up front was the driver.

  • Behind him was the gunner...

  • ...and behind him was the loader.

  • The commander sat here...

  • ...at the rear, on the right...

  • ...directly behind the gun...

  • ...with his hatch and periscope above.

  • The loader probably had...

  • ...the most challenging job...

  • ...since the PaK 39 gun...

  • ...had been designed to be...

  • ...mounted centrally...

  • ...with the loader standing...

  • ...to the right of it...

  • ...but in the Hetzer...

  • ...as we've seen...

  • ...this wasn't possible.

  • So he had to reach...

  • ...over the recoil guard...

  • ...to feed shells into the breach...