SdKfz 165 Hummel
|Manufacturer||Alkett, Berlin & Deutsche Eisenwerke, Duisberg, Germany|
|Primary Role||Self-Propelled Gun|
Contributor: Alan Chanter
ww2dbaseThe Hummel (Bumble Bee) self-propelled gun, officially "Panzerfeldhaubitze 18M auf Geschützwagen III/IV (Sf) Hummel, SdKfz 165", was developed in 1942 in order to provide German Panzer and Panzer-Grenadier divisions with a heavy artillery element. Apart from a few converted captured French H39 tanks this was the closest thing the Germans ever came to providing their armoured forces with a self-propelled artillery piece as opposed to a pure assault cannon like the 15-centimeter sIG 33 tracked infantry gun which had seen some use in the French and early desert campaigns. The Hummel self-propelled gun first saw action at the Battle of Kursk in Jul 1943 when some 100 served in the Panzerartillerie Abteilungen of Panzer divisions. However, by mid-1944, sheer firepower was the prime need on the Eastern Front to counter the massive Red Army tank superiority. So most of the Hummel vehicles would eventually be employed to assist in the assault gun role.
ww2dbaseThe Hummel self-propelled gun was consisted of a standard 15-centimeter Model 18 field howitzer (sFH 18) mounted on a modified Panzer IV chassis incorporating both Panzer III (qv) and IV (qv) components. The specially designed but relatively lightly armoured hull was basically that of a lengthened Panzer IV incorporating the Panzer III's driving and steering system and the Panzer IV's chassis, engine, suspension, sprockets and bogies. The same chassis was also used for the 88 mm Pak auf Gw-III/IV Nashorn tank destroyer. The twelve cylinder Maybach engine was moved forward so as to leave the rear of the hull clear to provide a working platform, on which the gun was pedestal-mounted. The hull sides were then build up to form an open topped barbette structure to protect the gun and its crew. Late models had a slightly redesigned driver compartment and front superstructure offering more room for the radio operator and driver.
ww2dbaseAlthough space was somewhat restricted the Hummel self-propelled gun actually proved to be a useful and popular weapon which saw widespread usage on all fronts, having plenty of room for the gun crew of five and the mobility to keep up with the Panzer divisions. In service, a shortage of ammunition storage within the vehicle made it necessary to provide each troop of four guns with a Munitionsträger armoured ammunition carrier to keep them supplied in action; this was simply an unarmed Hummel vehicle. Well over 600 Hummel vehicles had been produced by late 1944 with 150 similar vehicles, without guns, converted into the ammunition carriers; as lorries, particularly on the Eastern Front, were sometimes found to be inadequate for the task during difficult or inclement weather conditions. One other variant was the Oskette, a wider tracked version specifically produced for winter fighting on the Russian Front.
Ian V. Hogg & John Weeks, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Military Vehicles (Hamlyn, 1980)
B. T. White, Tanks and other Armoured Fighting Vehicles 1942-45 (Blandford Press, 1975)
Philip Trewhitt, Armoured Fighting Vehicles (Dempsey-Parr, 1999)
Last Major Revision: Apr 2019
SdKfz 165 Hummel Timeline
|27 Feb 1944||Adolf Hitler ordered the name Hummel to be dropped from the official designation of the SdKfz 165 self-propelled gun as the bumble bee was not deemed to be fiersome enough of an animal mascot for a fighting vehicle.|
|Machinery||Maybach 11,860cc V-12 petrol engine rated at 300bhp @ 3,000rpm|
|Armament||1x15cm sFH 18 L/30 howitzer with 18 rounds|
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