Leichte Feldhaubitze 18/2 auf Fahrgestell Panzerkampfwagen II (Sf)/ Wespe

The Wespe (wasp) was the last, and most numerous, of a series of self propelled guns based on the Panzer II fuselage. The need for mobile artillery became obvious early in the Russian campaign, and in 1942 the Alkett subsidiary of Rheinmetall-Borsig began work on modifying the standard Panzer II fuselage to carry the German army’s standard 10.5cm howitzer (the Leichte Feldhaubitze 18M or leFH18M).

This was a relatively simple process. The turret was removed, and the gap armoured over. A new open topped fighting compartment was built from sloping sheets of 10mm armour on top of the rear superstructure, with the howitzer emerging through a small gap in the front of the compartment. Three or four of the crew were stationed here, while the driver remained isolated in his original position towards the front of the tank. The fighting compartment can not have provided a great deal of cover – the entire tank was just only seven and a half feet tall, and half of that was accounted for by the fuselage, leaving at best three and a half feet for the fighting compartment. In every picture showing the Wespe in use, the crew are exposed from the waist up. Fortunately for the crew, the howitzer had a maximum range of just over 10km/ 6 miles.

The Wespe was also known as the  Leichte Feldhaubitze 18/2 auf Fahrgestell Panzerkampfwagen II (Sf), which translates as “light field howitzer 18/2 on the chassis of a Panzer II”, as the Gerät 803 (Device no.803) and as the Sd Kfz 124.

A total of 835 Wespes were built before production ended in the summer of 1944. Of these 676 were full armed, while 159 were completed with out the howitzer, and used as ammunition carriers.

The Wespe was used to equip fully mobile detachments within the artillery regiments, using armoured cars or captured light tanks to spot their targets. It entered service in time to take part in the Battle of Kursk, and remained in use until the end of the war.

Number produced

676 plus 159 without the howitzer

Produced

February 1943-July 1944

Hull Length

4.81m/ 15.8ft

Hull Width

2.28m/ 7.48ft

Height

2.3m/ 7.54ft

Crew

4 or 5

Weight

11 tons

Engine

Maybach HL62TR

Horsepower

140hp

Max Speed

40 km/hr/ 24.8mph

Max Range

220 km

Armament

One 10.5cm leFH18M howitzer
One 7.92mm MG34 machine gun


Armour

Front

Side

Rear

Top/ Bottom

Superstructure

20mm/ 0.8in

15mm/ 0.6in

8mm/ 0.3in

10mm/ 0.4in

Hull

30mm/ 1.18in 

15mm/ 0.6in

15mm/ 0.6in

5mm/ 0.2in

Gun shield

10mm/ 0.4in

10mm/ 0.4in

10mm/ 0.4in

 

German Light Panzers, 1932-1942, Bryan Perrett. This is a well balanced book that combines a technical discussion of the various types of light tanks, a look at the Panzer divisions and their equipment and the battlefield tactics and experience of the German light tank forces. [see more]
cover cover cover

 

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (23 February 2008), Leichte Feldhaubitze 18/2 auf Fahrgestell Panzerkampfwagen II (Sf)/ Wespe , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_panzer_II_wespe.html

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