Tuesday, 5 June 2018

A lonely duck... a Guderian's Duck!

Yesterday I got my copy of Vae Victis 139. As usual the magazine was packing its usual assortment of articles. As usual some anti-american idiocy slipped in... (it is quite annoying, especially because they are usual gibberish) but this is not the point of my writing... much more annoying was a comment I found on the Team Yankee article, in the box highlighting the available miniatures. The writer was defining Peter Pig vehicles:

'par contre le chars uniquement en plomb ne sont plus aux standards actuels'

this is the sort of idiocy that you find in magazine and that seems more a product of people bashing companies rather than serious reviewers. Having painted a PP vehicles just few days ago...

I felt the comments was a gratuitous insult. Peter Pig is not the only manufacturers producing full metal tanks. As a manufacturer with a big catalog it is obvious that some vehicles will be better than others, often reflecting their age. The Jagpanzer IV/70 I had under my brushes is a relatively recent vehicle (in their production, not in history!) and while being a full metal model it is certain up to standard. Certainly better than some resin stuff I have seen around.

Rant done... let's talk a bit about it. As almost every German WW2 chassis also the Panzer IV was used for conversion. Despite the appearances, it was not a late war desperation conversion. The plans for it had been shown to Hitler in 1942 by Vomag AG. The basic concept was to use PZ IV hulls to produce a 75mm armed vehicle to replace the Sturmgeschutz III. The basic reasons were compatibility with the main tank, the ability of the new hull to take heavier weapons than the Panzer III (the design specified a L70 gun from the start, while the Sturmgeschutz III had reached its limit with the 75mmL48), and also the assumption that, when the new medium tank (the still infant Panther...) would have replaced the Panzer IV as mainstay of the panzer divisionen there would be plenty of surplus hull.

That was the idea. Guderian did not like the new vehicle (despite in the end having his name associated with it), but Hitler was adamant that the new tank destroyer would have replaced the Panzer IV. Guderian's argument were basically two: the Stug III was still adequate, the Panzer IV was necessary as medium tank. Tampering with production lines would have been bad. In the end both won in typical German fashion, with Guderian keeping the Stug and the Panzer IV, and Hitler getting the new one. German Army's logistics obviously won.

Production started in late 1943, with the first 30 vehicles being completed by Vomag in January 44. With the new L70 guns going to the new Panthers as priority, the Jagdpanzer IV was initially armed with the older L48 gun. Not until August the 75mm L70 guns were made available for the Jagdpanzer, with production fully switching sometime later. In the end the german factories produced 1977 Jagdpanzer IV, 1208 with the long barrel and 769 with the shorter one. Around 270 were produced by Alkett with a different superstructure.

All in all it was a good tank destroyer with a powerful gun, good armor, and a low profile. Yet it was often used as an assault gun or an ersatz tank with poor results. I have a Skytrex and a Flames of War ones, and they had always performed quite badly on the table...

Gaming experiences aside the main issues with the Jagdpanzer IV were production runs hampered by shortage of materials and allied bombing, and another vehicle complicating the whole logistic issue.

Now, after a short historical introduction... more pictures... so you can decide by yourselves about Vae Victis' comment.

I like it of course!

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