Hummel (Bumblebee)/ 15cm Schwere Panzerhaubitze auf Fahrgestell Panzerkampfwagen III/IV (Sf)

The Hummel was a fully tracked lightly armoured mount for the 15cm heavy field howitzer, and was designed to provide artillery support for the Panzer divisions.

Work on the Hummel (Bumblebee) began at Alkett in 1942. It was intended to mount the 15cm schwere Feldhaubitze 18 (heavy Field Howitzer 18) on a new chassis. By the summer of 1942 work was advanced enough for Alkett to receive an order to produce 200 Hummels by 12 May 1943. A soft steel prototype was ready by October 1942, and despite some delays the first complete vehicles reached the front line in May 1943.

A damaged Hummel
Damaged Hummel

The basis of the Hummel was the Geschützwagen III/IV, a gun carriage based on elements of the Panzer III and Panzer IV. The Panzer III provided the engine, the drive wheel, final drive and transmission, while the Panzer IV provided the basic design for the hull and the suspension and road wheels. The engine was moved to the middle of the vehicle to provide more space at the back for a large fighting compartment. The same chassis was also used to carry the 8.8mm PaK43/1 L/71 gun, with the resulting vehicle known as the Hornisse or Nashorn.

The Hummel lacked a number of the features that were seen as essential for the motorized artillery when development work had begun. It had been hoped to produce a vehicle that was significantly faster than the tanks, that could fire in any direction, and with a gun that could be removed and used as conventional artillery. The Hummel achieved none of these, with a top speed no better than the Panzer IV and a 30 degree traverse, and it was thus always seen as an interim vehicle, to be used until a better alternative was ready.

Hummel captured in Italy, 1944
Hummel captured in Italy, 1944

The Hummel was given an open topped fighting compartment protected by 10mm slanted armour bolted to the hull. This was considered to be thick enough to protect the crew against shrapnel from artillery fire, and the Hummel was not expected to enter close combat. For the same reason the very high superstructure was not seen as a problem.

Early Hummel’s had a small driver’s compartment on the left hand side of the hull. In early 1944 this was replaced with a crew compartment for the driver and radio operator built across the full width of the hull, with a straight front. 

Although this machine is now always referred to as the Hummel, that name was officially scrapped on Hitler’s orders on 27 February 1944.

Sources disagree on the number of armed Hummel’s produced, ranging from 724 up to 930. Another 157 were built as Munitions Fahrzeuge, or ammunition carriers, built on the theory that the ammunition carrier needed to have the same performance as the gun itself.

The Hummel was used to equip the heavy batteries of the armoured artillery detachments of the Panzer divisions, at first with six in a single heavy battery, later with six guns and one ammunition carrier. When production rose some divisions got a second heavy battery. The Hummel served on the Eastern, Western and Italian fronts.

Names
Hummel
Gerät 807 (Device/ Equipment 807)
15cm Schwere Panzerhaubitze auf Fahrgestell Panzerkampfwagen III/IV (15cm heavy self-propelled howitzer on the chassis of a Panzer III/IV hybrid)
15cm Panzerfeldhaubitze 18M auf Geschützwagen III/IV (15cm tank field howitzer on a gun vehicle III/IV)
Sd Kfz 165 (Special Vehicle 165)
Geschützwagen III/IV (gun vehicle III/IV)

Stats
Number produced: 930 or 724 plus 157 ammunition carriers.
Produced: May 1943-March 1945
Length: 7.17m
Hull Width: 2.97m
Height: 2.81m
Crew: 6
Weight: 24 tons   
Engine: Maybach HL120TRM
Max Speed: 42km/hr
Max Range:  215km
Armament: One 15cm sFH18/1 L/30 and one 7.92mm MG34

Armour

Armour

Front

Side

Rear

Top/ Bottom

Superstructure

10mm/ 0.4in

10mm/ 0.4in

10mm/ 0.4in

open

Hull

30mm/ 1.2in

20mm/ 0.8in

20mm/ 0.8in

15mm/ 0.6in

Gun mantlet

10mm/ 0.4in

 

 

 

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (4 August 2008), Hummel (Bumblebee)/ 15cm Schwere Panzerhaubitze auf Fahrgestell Panzerkampfwagen III/IV (Sf) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_hummel.html

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