Jagdpanzer 38(t) (Hetzer)


The Hetzer was a tank destroyer based on the chassis design of a proven Czechoslovakian light tank – the Panzerkampfwagen 38(t). Mated with a new angular hull, the vehicle had a very low profile and featured steeply-sloped armor, including 60 millimeters of frontal protection. The Hetzer was powered by a 6-cylinder gas engine and carried a PaK 39 L/49 gun which fired a 75mm shell that could penetrate the armor of most Allied tanks at a reasonable range.

Rushed into service in 1944, the Hetzer carried a crew of four and was often employed in ambushing advancing Allied tanks. With its small profile, angled armor, and high-powered gun, a Hetzer was hard to spot and difficult to hit. A skilled Hetzer crew lying in wait could make their first shell hit solidly against a moving target from 1,000 meters away. The tank destroyer's nickname Hetzer loosely translates to "Baiter" or "Troublemaker." Though not the official name for the Jagdpanzer 38(t), German troops began using the nickname late in the war and post-war writings popularized the term.

Crews who fought in the small tank destroyer reported that the Hetzer's size and angled armor left very 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 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. Versions of the Hetzer were made in two factories in German-occupied Czechoslovakia during World War II. More than 2,800 of the type were constructed in slightly over one year – a much faster production rate than other factories working to build larger and more complex Panther and Tiger tanks.

GENERAL STATISTICS:
Crew: 4
Width: 8 ft 8 in
Length: 20 ft 7 in
Height: 6 ft 11 in
Weight: 35,274 lbs
Engine: 1 x Praga AC/2 6-cylinder gasoline-powered
Engine power: 160 hp (119 kW)

PERFORMANCE:
Maximum speed: 25 mph
Radius of Action, Road: 112 miles

ARMAMENT:
1 x 75mm PaK 39 L/48
1 x 7.92 MG 34

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
Germany/ Czechoslovakia

The Story of Our Vehicle: After World War II, factories in Czechoslovakia continued to build Hetzers. They used unfinished production models and components as well as refurbishing damaged and abandoned combat machines. The new vehicles were designated ST-1s. The Czechoslovakian Army was equipped with some 250 ST-1 in 1949 and used them until the mid to late 1950s. The FHCAM's Hetzer was created from a mixture of salvaged parts from combat machines and factory components.

The tank destroyer is painted in Panzerjäger-Abteilung 167 ("tank hunter" battalion) markings. As part of the 167. Volksgrenadier ("people's infantry") Division, the unit participated in the Battle of the Bulge near Bastogne, Belgium, in the winter of 1944/45.