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Nord
23 Jan 12,, 11:23
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Nashorn (German "rhinoceros", pronounced Nahz-horn, not Nash-orn), initially known as Hornisse (German "hornet"), was a German tank destroyer of World War II. It was developed as an interim solution in 1942 by equipping a light turretless chassis with the Pak 43 heavy anti-tank gun. Though only lightly armoured and displaying a high profile, it could frontally penetrate any Allied tank at long range, and its relatively low cost and superior mobility to heavier vehicles ensured it remained in production until the war's end.

Development

Nashorn tank destroyers on the Eastern Front, 1944
After the first German experiences with the newer Soviet tanks like the T-34 or the Kliment Voroshilov tank during Operation Barbarossa, the need for a Panzerjäger capable of destroying these more heavily armoured tanks became clear.

In February 1942, the Alkett (Altmärkische Kettenwerke GmbH) arms firm of Berlin designed a tank destroyer using their recently developed Geschützwagen III/IV which as its name indicated used components of both the Panzer III and Panzer IV tank. The 8,8 cm Panzerabwehrkanone 43/1 L/71 (or shortly Pak 43/1) , a long-barreled anti-tank gun, was mounted on the rear of the chassis complete with its gun shield and an open-topped superstructure was built up around the gun to give the crew some protection. The gun had the same traverse and elevation as if it had been on its carriage: 15° to either side and between -5° to +15° elevation. To accommodate the long and heavy gun, the hull had to be lengthened and the engine moved from the rear to the centre of the chassis. Weight considerations meant that the amount of armour which could be used for the fighting compartment was limited, the crew were only protected from blast and small arms.

This model was presented for approval to Adolf Hitler in October 1942 and entered production in early 1943. It had numerous official designations, such as 8,8 cm Pak 43 (L/71) auf Fahrgestell Panzerkampfwagen III/IV (Sf) or 8,8cm Pak43 (L/71) auf Geschützwagen III/IV (Sd. Kfz. 164), though it was also known as the Panzerjäger Hornisse (in English "armor hunter hornet")

During the first half of 1943, a new model of the Hornisse was introduced into production. This model altered the driver's front armour plate, along with other petty differences. The difference between this model and its predecessor, the few early production vehicles, were almost indistinguishable. It was renamed Nashorn by Hitler in 1944.

Total production of the Hornisse/Nashorn amounted to some 494 vehicles, of which most were built in 1943. Since January 1944 Germany favored the production of the newer tank destroyer, the Jagdpanzer IV, which had a much thicker armor (60 mm frontal plate) if a less powerful 7.5 cm gun. Production of Nashorn continued, though at a slow pace, into 1945.

There are two Nashorns on display in military museums: at the United States Army Ordnance Museum and at the Kubinka Tank Museum.