The German “Hetzer” tank destroyer was often used to ambush advancing Allied tanks. Rushed into service in 1944, the Hetzer combined the chassis of a proven light tank with a new hull. Its low profile made it hard to spot and steeply-sloped armor made the vehicle difficult to knock out. A skilled Hetzer crew lying in wait could make their first shot hit solidly against a moving target from 1,000 meters away. Though not the official name of the Jagdpanzer 38(t), Hetzer loosely translates to “Baiter” or “Troublemaker.” The name was popularized by German troops and post-war historians solidified the term.
Crews who fought in the small tank destroyer reported that the Hetzer’s size and angled armor left limited room for men and ammunition inside the vehicle. It was also hard to see oncoming threats when the Hetzer was concealed in a good ambush spot. The gun, offset to the right to for easy loading, had a limited traverse, particularly to the left, leading crews to often have to turn the vehicle during an attack.
Hetzers could be built quickly and relatively inexpensively compared to larger German tanks and more than 2,800 of the type were constructed in slightly over one year. The FHCAM’s Hetzer was built in Czechoslovakia after World War II, using parts of damaged and abandoned Nazi combat machines as well as new factory components. The tank destroyer is painted in Panzerjäger-Abteilung (“tank hunter” battalion) 167 markings, a unit that participated in the Battle of the Bulge in the winter of 1944/45.