Grille/ 15cm sIG33 (Sfl) auf PzKpfw 38(t) ausf H, M

The 15cm sIG33 (Sfl) auf PzKpfw 38(t) Grille (Bison), SdKfz 138/1 was a self-propelled artillery gun that mounted the standard German 15cm heavy howitzer on the chassis of the obsolete Panzerkampfwagen 38(t).

The first version of the Grille was based on the PzKpfw 38(t) ausf H chassis. The turret and the top plate of the superstructure were removed and the howitzer was mounted by welding its cross-shaped mount to the front, back and sides of the superstructure. A gun shield was built all around it, with 25mm armour at the front and 15mm on the sides. The front armour was taller than the rear armour, and the side armour got shorter as it ran from front to back.

The prototype Grille was completed by BMM in October 1942. Production began in February 1943 and 90 were completed on the ausf H chassis.

At the same time a new ausf M chassis was developed, specifically for use with the 15cm gun. The main change was to move the engine from the rear of the vehicle to the middle, allowing the gun compartment to be moved to the rear. The ausf M also gained a new single piece sloping front glacis plate. The same ausf M chassis was also used on the final version of the Marder III, the Panzerjager 38(t) fur 7.5cm PAK 40, ausf M (SdKfz 138). The original order had been for 200 Grille, with 90 completed as ausf H and 110 as ausf M, but production of the second model continued until September 1944, by when 282 ausf Ms had been completed

The ausf M had a wider but shorter gun compartment, this time with full height armour at the front and half-way along the sides. The sides and rear of the gun compartment ran along the sides and rear of the superstructure. The rear armour plate could be dropped down.

The Grille had several advantages over conventional artillery. The most obvious was its mobility, which let it keep up with the fastest infantry advance and move across terrain that would have greatly slowed down conventional towed artillery. It could also open fire almost instantly, while the normal gun needed to be emplaced before it could fire. It did have very limited ammunition storage space, and so some were completed as the ammo carrying Munitionsfahrzeug 38(t), with the gun removed and extra shell storage space installed instead.

The ausf H Grille served in Russia, Tunisia and Italy in 1943. Some were still in use with the 2nd Panzer Division on D-Day. 

The ausf M served with the schwere Infanterie-geschutz companies (SP) of the armoured infantry regiments and saw action on all fronts. 173 were still available in February 1945.

Names

Stats (ausf M)
Hull Length: 4.95m/ 16.2ft
Hull Width: 2.15m/ 7.1ft
Height: 2.47m/ 8.1ft
Crew: 4
Weight: 12 tons
Engine: Praga AC
Max Speed: 35km/hr/ 21mph
Max Range: 190km/ 118 miles
Armament: One 15cm sIG33/2 and one 7.92mm MG34

Armour



Armour

Front

Side

Rear

Top/ Bottom

Superstructure

10mm

10mm

10mm

8mm

Hull

15mm

15mm

10mm

10mm

Gun shield

10mm

10mm

10mm

Opem

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (8 August 2013), Grille/ 15cm sIG33 (Sfl) auf PzKpfw 38(t) ausf H, M , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_grille.html

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