Germany produced a large number of well thought out and elegantly composed improvised vehicles during the Second World War. The main character of this article is not one of them. Its large and clumsy appearance war far from perfection. Nevertheless, the 7.62 cm F.K.(r) auf gp. Selbstfahrlafette (Sd.Kfz. 6/3) left its mark on history.
One of the main challenges faced by the Wehrmacht during Operation Barbarossa was the sudden encounter with T-34 and KV-1 tanks. Their armour turned out to be difficult to handle for the 37 mm Pak anti-tank gun. Even the 50 mm Pak 38 was not available in sufficient numbers, and the 75 mm Pak 40 only entered production in January of 1942. Using captured field guns as a temporary solution seemed sensible. In part, the Germans converted over 3700 French Mle.1897 75 mm guns into improvised anti-tank weapons. The Germans also captured about 1250 Soviet 76.2 mm model 1936 divisional guns (F-22) and a few hundred modernized model 1939 guns (F-22USV) from mid-1941 to mid-1942.
Conversion into an anti-tank gun involved drilling out the breech to accept new rounds developed by German specialists using the 716 mm long casing from the Pak 40 gun. The converted F-22 was indexed Pak 36(r) and the converted F-22USV became the Pak 39(r). Production began in 1942 and deliveries lasted all the way until January of 1944. Overall, the Wehrmacht received 560 guns on towed carriages with as many as 300 Pak 39(r) among them. 894 guns (all Pak 36(r) ) were built for self propelled guns.
Most Pak 36(r) guns went to arm Marder tank destroyers built on the chassis of light tanks. Attempts to create a tank destroyer with the foreign gun on a halftrack chassis actually predate them. Alkett was given directions to begin working on this topic on August 14th, 1941. Development was targeted at the German Africa Corps. Initial production plans were limited to 20 SPGs.
|Sd.Kfz.6 halftrack (BN 9 variant) used as the chassis.
|Sd.Kfz.6/3 tank destroyer.
|The Sd.Kfz.6/3 had a large cutout in the front of the casemate.
|Sd.Kfz.6/3 with an open side door.
|Destroyed Sd.Kfz.6/3 halftrack. The stock gun carriage can be seen.
|Sd.Kfz.6/3 and a Panzerjager I of the 605th Tank Destroyer Battalion.
|Sd.Kfz.6/3 prepared to fire.