It was for the solution of these tasks that a special structure was created in the structure of the ground command of the ground forces - the Army Armaments Directorate, which from April 1940 of the year until the end of the war was headed by General Artillery E. Leeb.
There were several headquarters within the weapons department, which were engaged in the following:
development of new types of weapons, ammunition and equipment and their testing;
placing orders for the production of weapons, ammunition and equipment at industrial plants;
ensuring the serial production of weapons, equipment and ammunition at industrial plants;
military acceptance of finished weapons, equipment and ammunition at industrial enterprises;
collection and accounting of captured weapons and equipment.
Assembling fighter jets of Jagdpanzer 38 (t) Hetzer tanks at the VMM plant in Prague. Summer 1944 of the year (NM)
By the beginning of 1941, more than 25 thousand people worked in the armaments management structure.
The headquarters engaged in the development of new types of weapons and equipment, subordinated to the so-called armaments test departments - Waffen-Pruf or abbreviated as WaPruf, which in 1944 was counted 13. Each department worked on its own topic (communications, optics, engineering property, small, artillery, tank, rocket weapons, etc.). Departments obeyed special polygons on which new samples were tested. If necessary, it was possible to use for this purpose polygons or training centers of the Wehrmacht or Luftwaffe.
The 6 armament testing department (WaPruf 6), which from 1943 of the year until the end of the war was headed by Colonel Holzhauer (later in the text of the work, for convenience of perception, the 6 department of the tank armament test), was engaged in armored vehicles. This department oversaw the development, testing and organization of the mass production of new models of armored weapons, as well as army vehicles and tractors. By order of the Army Arms Control Headquarters, the department officers developed tactical and technical requirements for the creation of new types of equipment, while they worked closely with the engineers and designers of the respective firms and factories, and also supervised the work of civilian specialists. At the disposal of the department there was a test site in Burke.
The design of new designs in this department was led by Major General E. Knipkamp, an engineer who can be redeployed as “Chief Designer of the Tank Armaments Test Department”. He was known as the author of the so-called “chess” undercarriage, which was used on all German semi-tracked vehicles and armored personnel carriers, as well as on the Tiger and Panther tanks.
The activities of industrial enterprises involved in the production of military equipment (including tanks) were led by the Reich Ministers of Armaments and Ammunition, created on March 17, 1940, and renamed the Reich Ministers of Arms and Military Industry on March 2, 1943. F. Todt led his activities, and after his death from February 9, 1942 until the end of the war, A. Speer. As part of the Reich ministry, there was a technical department, headed by O. Zaur, who directed the work of the so-called committees (tank, artillery, aviation etc.). Each of them oversaw their industry, engaged in the placement of military orders at enterprises and monitoring their implementation.
Destroyed by the troops of the 3 of the Ukrainian Front, the tank Pz. IVAusf.J. Hungary, March 1945 of the year. According to the “crisis” production program for tanks, in 1945, these vehicles and their chassis should have been taken out of production, as well as the Pz chassis. Ill (ASKM)
In addition, the structure of the Reich Ministerial Arms had a so-called “tank commission”, which was once headed by the designer F. Porsche. It was created as a kind of deliberative body to address issues related to the development of new types of armored weapons. The commission often worked in close cooperation with representatives of the tank weapon test department, as well as with officers from the headquarters of the tank forces.
In addition to the control of armaments of the ground forces and the Reich ministry of armaments, there was another structure in the Third Reich that participated in the creation of new models of armored vehicles - the headquarters of the general inspector of tank forces.
This position was approved by Hitler 28 February 1943 of the year with the appointment of Colonel-General G. Guderian (held until 28 March 1945 of the year). The functions of the inspector general included the organization and training of tank units, the provision of personnel and equipment to the front, the distribution of armor units manufactured at enterprises, a synthesis of combat experience gained in the use of tank units, the development of regulations and manuals and the like. Spare and training units, as well as schools and schools of tank forces were subordinate to him. The inspector general of tank forces reported directly to Hitler.
The new post of Guderian did not imply his participation in the process of developing new types of armored vehicles. However, using his position and influence (“the father of the German tank forces” after all), he often attended the discussion of new projects and gave his recommendations. And the fact that Guderian was subordinate directly to Hitler allowed him to intervene in the issue of the release of tanks. To be fair, after the appointment of Guderian as Chief of the General Staff of the Ground Forces in July 1944 (he remained Inspector General of the Tank Forces), Major General Tomale, the Chief Inspector of the Armored Forces, assumed most of his duties.
As can be seen, the tank design system in Germany and the organization of their mass production was carried out according to a rather complicated scheme. The design order was issued by the Army High Command, entered the weapons department, which, in turn, “lowered” him to the tank weapons testing department, which was specifically financed for these purposes. The WaPruf 6 department developed detailed tactical and technical requirements and entered into a design contract with a company, often bypassing the Reich ministry of armaments.
Tank destroyer Jagdpanzer IV / 70 (V), abandoned by the crew at the close approaches to Berlin. April 1945 of the year. The car most likely was recently obtained from the factory, as it is painted in a single color without camouflage, some symbols and numbers
After the project was ready, it was discussed by representatives of the tank weapon test department and the “tank commission” (or the workers of the Reichs ministry of armaments), then a prototype was made and tested under the control of WaPruf 6. If the machine met the requirements for it, it was accepted for service. The decision on this issue was taken by the Army Chief of Command, often after the approval of Hitler (as commander-in-chief). The latter were necessarily made relevant reports (the armaments department or the Reich ministry of armaments). Often, Hitler personally attended the demonstration of prototypes.
After the adoption of the model, the issues of serial production of the tank or self-propelled guns were coordinated with the Reich Minister. At the same time, part of the issues of weapons management had to be addressed directly with the manufacturer. This primarily concerned the organization of deliveries of a number of components and parts, such as armaments, optics, communications equipment, etc.
Thus, the Armaments Administration of the Ground Forces High Command was the customer, and the Reich Minister of Arms was the executor. True, there was one nuance - private companies were engaged in the manufacture of armored vehicles (or any other weapons), with which the armaments control was calculated for the products manufactured. As a result, the Reich ministry was like an intermediate link between the customer and the direct executor - the manufacturing company. This, of course, created additional bureaucratic red tape when solving problems of organizing the production of weapons and military equipment.
Jagdtiger heavy tank destroyers at the Nibelungenwerke assembly shop in St. Valentine. January 1945 of the year. Onboard the leftmost car, its number -54 and the date of shooting 16.01.45 are marked.
A certain “element of destabilization” in this process could be introduced by the headquarters of the general-inspector of tank forces, insisting upon designing a prototype on the fulfillment of some of its requirements. Do not forget that all of the above structures (arms management, Reich ministry of arms, manufacturer, headquarters of the inspector general) had different subordination. This required a very clear organization of all the work. Often it was extremely difficult to do this, as a result of which a lot of time was spent on solving some problems or developing a sample, and the results obtained were unsatisfactory.
When compared with similar structures of the Red Army, the test section of tank weapons (WaPruf 6) by purpose and function roughly corresponded to the main armored control of the command of the commander of the armored and mechanized troops of the Red Army. True, the German department was engaged only in the development of samples, and also provided assistance in the organization of their mass production, if necessary. All other problems of the German tank forces (acceptance of finished products, repairs, training, formation and staffing of parts, etc.) were handled by other units, and in various structures: directly in the weapons control, in the main command of the ground forces, in the headquarters of the general inspector of tank troops. Thus, in the Red Army, all questions related to tank forces were concentrated in the same hands — the command of the commander of the armored and mechanized troops, while in the German army this was “spread out” in different departments and headquarters.
In addition, in the USSR there was a people's commissariat of the tank industry, created at the beginning of the war. It consisted of all tank (with the exception of GAZ) and armored hulls, as well as plants for the production of diesel engines and other equipment. The leadership of the People's Commissariat of the tank industry worked closely with the command of the commander of the armored and mechanized forces of the Red Army. Such tough centralization in wartime conditions greatly facilitated the work, while in Germany it took considerable time to coordinate the activities of various military and civilian structures.
Repair and evacuation tank Bergepanther, padded in the area of Budapest. February 1945 of the year. These vehicles were used to evacuate armored vehicles from the battlefield, but their number was extremely small.
In the middle of the 1943 year, to improve the organization of the production of armored vehicles on the initiative of A. Speer, a so-called “Tank Development Commission” is being created. It included not only the leaders of the Reich ministry of armaments and armor companies, but also the military - representatives of the Army Armaments Directorate, Panzer Tank (WaPruf 6) and Artillery (WaPruf 4) Armaments Departments, as well as Headquarters of the Inspector General of Tank Forces. The chairman of the commission was the representative of the company Henschel, doctor of technical sciences S. Hedkamp.
If necessary, employees of various departments, both military and civil, were involved in the work of the commission. The creation of such a body consisting of representatives of various departments made it possible to make decisions more quickly on various problems arising in the production of tanks.
By the fall of 1944, the enterprises of 16 firms were engaged in the production of tanks and self-propelled guns in Germany, and 9 produced armored vehicles and armored personnel carriers. In addition, 20 factories of various companies supplied armor details and armored hulls to ensure the assembly of equipment and 9 - artillery weapons (see tables).
Since the second half of 1944, the bombing of German industrial enterprises by Allied aviation has increased significantly. For example, two-week bombing attacks at Daimler-Benz’s factories resulted in the destruction of the diesel engine plant in Berlin-Marienfeld and the truck production workshop in Gaggenau, the 85% engine and body shop in Sindelfingen, the 70% the main shop in Stuttgart (where cars were made).
The yard of the company Ml AG in Braunschweig after its capture by US troops. May 1945 of the year. Here, up to 30 armored corps fighter jagdpanther tanks and six corps with logging (lie separately) assault guns
To ensure the uninterrupted release of tanks and self-propelled guns, the Reich ministry of armaments attempted to “disaggregate” production. For this, separate assembly lines or workshops from head factories were transferred to other places. For example, in September 1944, part of the equipment of Daimler-Benz was removed from the main plant in Berlin, placing it in small production facilities in Küstrina, Teltova and Falkensee, as well as in the Sudetes and Pomerania. On the one hand, this made it possible to keep separate assembly lines from Allied aviation attacks, on the other hand, it created additional problems related to the organization of transportation of finished products and the delivery of the necessary raw materials to numerous production sites. Indeed, in addition to the main assembly plants of the three companies (Daimler-Benz, MAN, MNH), the Panthers issue also included 133 companies or firms that received armor details, engines, weapons, optics, communications equipment, tracks, black and color castings metals and more. Naturally, with the "downsizing" the number of enterprises increased significantly. By the way, another interesting point: for example, of the eight enterprises of Daimler-Benz, the tanks were assembled on only one. The rest were engaged in the production of aircraft engines, automobiles and other products.
It is curious to provide data on the number of workers involved in tank production. For example, at MAN's factory as of 1 in March 1945, 5448 people were involved in the manufacture of “panthers”, of which 124 held various positions in the administration, 841 in the auxiliary production, 3983 produced various units and assemblies of the “Panthers” and 500 assembly of tanks.
Of the 5448 people, 5023 were men (2719 were foreigners) and 425 women (230 did not know German). Work went on around the clock, in two shifts of 12 hours.
The MAN plant was not the largest among the German enterprises engaged in the production of tanks. But for comparison, in 1944, the smallest plant out of four that produced T-34 (No. 183, No. 112 “Red Sormovo” and No. 174), factory No. 174 in Omsk, worked 14 thousand people.
The assembly shop for tank fighter tanks “Hetzer” from Skoda in Pilsen after the bombing of American aircraft. 1945 year. At this enterprise, only armored case production was carried out, and the Hetzer was assembled at the Skoda plant in Königratz (German name of the city Hradec Králové) (NM)
Corps of tanks "Panther" Ausf. G at the factory of the company Ruhrstahl in the city of Hattingen. The photo was taken after the enterprise was captured by the Allied forces in the spring of 1945. Please note that the enclosures were assembled on special tilters (NM)
Heavy tank "Royal Tiger", shot down in the area of Budapest. February 1945 of the year. This machine was supposed to remain in production in 1945 too.
October 4 1944, the so-called “crisis” tank production program is adopted. Its main task was to reduce the range of products, as well as the possible simplification and cheapening of the production of armored vehicles. As a result, it was decided: to leave in production only three types of tracked vehicles - the Hetzer, the Panther and the Royal Tiger. The release of the chassis Pz.III and Pz.1V was supposed to stop, and all the released capacity to switch to the manufacture of three approved types of tanks and SPG on their base.
In November, 1944, the company Kshrr proposed a number of conceptual developments, in which it proposed to strengthen the armament of combat vehicles in production. It was assumed that this can be done by minimal improvements.
The company sent draft designs to the inspector general of the tank forces, who, in turn, handed them over to the tank weapon test department (WaPruf 6). 20 January 1945, the discussion of the proposed options. The military believed that the idea of the Kshrr company was only to reinforce the weapons with the existing armor protection. Representatives of the department of tests of tank weapons believed that it was also necessary to strengthen and armor. With the most rough calculations, it was clear that the mass of machines would increase, which would require reinforcement of the suspension and a number of other components and assemblies, and, consequently, the restructuring of production.
Of the projects proposed by the Krupp, several options aroused the greatest interest. One of them is the installation of turret from tank Pz.IV on the “Herzer” chassis. Despite the seeming attractiveness, the tank armament test department rejected this development - the 16-ton Hetzer already had a mass limit, and further increasing it would have required reinforcing the suspension, a more powerful engine and transmission. I also did not find support for the installation option in the “quadruple” turret instead of the 75-mm cannon of the reactive 80-mm gun PAW 600.
Tank destroyer Jagdpanzer 38 Starr, armed with recoilless 75-mm cannon. 1944 year. It is clearly seen that the form and booking of the mask are different from the serial "Hetzer" shown in the adjacent photo.
The design of the 75-mm Cannon 42 cannon on the Jagdpanzer 38 chassis (with a rear combat compartment) was approved, especially since production of the Jagdpanzer IV / 70 with similar weapons based on the Quartet was to be discontinued. At the same time, the military noted that the transfer of the fighting compartment to the “Het-tsera” stern will require a serious rework of the vehicle, and strengthening its armor will increase the mass to 18 tons. As a result, the chassis will be heavily overloaded.
Kshrr’s proposal to create a tank destroyer on the Panther chassis armed with an 128-mm cannon, the same as on Jagdtigre, did not receive approval. In the proposed version, the combat compartment was located in the rear of the hull, which required a serious redesign of the base chassis. In addition, preliminary calculations showed that the mass of 128-mm Jagdan-tera will be at least 51 tons, which would undoubtedly have a negative effect on the mobility and reliability of the machine.
Also rejected the option "Yagdtigra" with a more powerful X / NUMX-mm gun L / 128 (with a barrel length of 66 calibers). And the proposed projects on the Pz.IV chassis (with the installation of the “narrow” tower from “Panther” Ausf.F) were not considered at all in connection with the impending cessation of production of the base chassis.
However, in their conclusion, representatives of the Tank Armament Testing Department (WaPruf 6) wrote that the final decision on this matter remains with the leadership of the Army Armaments Directorate. But the latter Krupp proposals did not find support. The fact is that by this time the program for the production of armored vehicles already existed, although not fully developed.
Consider the appearance of what kind of combat vehicles could have been expected in 1945, according to the "crisis" program of production of tanks.
Tank destroyer Jagdpanzer 38 (t) "Hetzer", front view. In 1945, this machine was supposed to be replaced by another -Jagdpanzer38 D
Jagdpanzer 38 STARR
Back in 1943, the engineers at Kshrr and Rheinmetall-Borsig began work on designing recoilless guns to arm tanks and self-propelled guns. The advantages of such artillery systems were obvious - a reduction in production, an increase in the internal volume of the combat vehicle and mobile ammunition. The main task that was required to solve in the manufacture of such a gun is how to extinguish the recoil in the production of a shot.
In the spring of 1944 of the year, Alkett manufactured a prototype of a StuK L / 75 48-mm cannon without a recoil device, which was installed in a Jagdpanzer 38 tank destroyer. To compensate for the recoil, the gun had a rigid attachment - the recoil force was transmitted directly to the body of the self-propelled gun. The trials began in May, and continued intermittently until September 1944. The machine with such an artillery system received the designation Jagdpanzer 38 Starr (Starr - "hard" or "fixedly fixed").
In addition to the small pointing angles of the gun, the installation also revealed other shortcomings: when firing, a sight flew off from the mount, other details broke. And the power of bestowal
The flywheel through the horizontal flywheel turned out to be so big that the gunner, who held the flywheel at the moment of the shot, could not move his hand for two days. Left much to be desired and accuracy of shooting at distances 500 and 1000 meters.
Nevertheless, representatives of the artillery armament test units (WaPruf 4), as well as sights and optical devices (WaPruf 8) of the ground forces control armors, gave a positive conclusion about this artillery system, recommending to modify its design and begin serial production of such weapons. As a result, the weapons department issued an order to manufacture a batch of 100 recoilless 75-mm StuK L / 48 cannons, which were planned to be installed on the Hetzer tank destroyer.
The tests of Alkett’s second prototype of a recoilless rifle, carried out in September by 1944, showed that, despite the introduction of a number of changes in its design, the artillery system was not suitable for combat use. To solve the problem, Rheinmetall-Borsig engineers were involved, who conducted special studies and made a number of changes to the design of the gun. First of all, they altered the lifting and turning mechanism, as a result of which it was possible to significantly reduce the effect of recoil force on the flywheels of guidance. The sight setting was changed - now it did not fail when firing, as it was before.
Jagdpanzer 38 Starr tank destroyer with 75-mm recoilless cannon, rear view. In addition to the new gun, this machine received a Tatra 103 diesel engine with 220l power. c, for which cooling an extra ventilation hood (NM) was installed
In addition, the attachment mechanism of the gun in the front hull sheet was changed from gimbal to ball. The result was a fully functional artillery system, which in December 1944 was successfully tested. In March, 1945, a prototype Jagdpanzer 38 Starr with a modified gun entered the test at the Ber-ka test site, after which the machine had to be demonstrated to the head of the Army Armaments Directorate General L Eebue and then Hitler.
In December, 1944 - January 1945, the company VMM manufactured ten Jagdpanzer 38 Starr tank fighter jets of the so-called “zero” series. In February, 1945 was issued an order for the first industrial batch of Jagdpanzer 38 Starr from 100 machines, but until the end of the war only four cars were collected. Thus, the total release of the Jagdpanzer 38 Starr was 15 pieces, including the prototype.
Cutting the frontal armor plate and mounting the gun in the serial Hetzer (left) and Jagdpanzer 38 Starr (right)
The prototype Jagdpanzer 38 Starr, who was on the Burke training ground, was blown up by Hitler’s command as the allied forces of 23 march 1945 approached. Serial vehicles entered the tank school in Mylovice, but did not participate in the battles. After the war, ten of them were briefly used by the Czechoslovak army, after which they were converted into ordinary “Hetzer”.
By decision of the Army Ground Forces Command, in 1945, it was planned to equip a new tank destroyer Jagdpanzer 38 D with recoilless guns (detailed story about it below). To this end, in addition to developing the StuN L / 75 X-mm Knee-Responsive Cannon, Rheinmetall designed other kick-down gun systems - 48-mm KwK L / 75 and 70-mm StuH 105. In addition to the Jagdpanzer 42 D, the option of installing such “boxless trailers” on Ausf Panther tanks was also considered. F, for which the firm Kshrr developed 38-mm and 75-mm tools.
The prototype Jagdpanzer 38 Starr, in addition to the recoilless gun, differed from the serial "Hetzer" and the power plant. By car, we installed a Tatra 103 diesel engine with a power 220 HP, developed by Tatra in 1943 year for the German heavy armored vehicles of the Sd series. Kfz. 234. This engine was also intended to be used as a power plant on the new tank destroyer Jagdpanzer 38 D.