Flammpanzer 38(t) Hetzer

The Flammpanzer 38(t) Hetzer was the designation given to twenty Jagdpanzer 38(t) Hetzers that were converted to carry flame throwers instead of their normal 7.5cm guns. A tube was installed on the front of the flamethrower to make the Flammpanzer look like the standard Hetzer and avoid making it too much of a target.

The Flammpanzer 38(t) Hetzer carried 154 gallons of fuel for the flame thrower, all of it carried internally. The flamethrower had a range of 66 yards.

The Flammpanzer 38(t) was produced in response to a demand from Hitler for twenty to thirty flame thrower tanks for use in a 'special operation' - ideally the Ardennes offensive of December 1944 but in the event Operation 'Northwind'. The twenty Jagdpanzer 38(t)s were taken from the factory on 8 December and quickly given their flame throwers. Two companies, each with ten vehicles were ready by late December. Panzer-Flamm-Kompanie 352 was able to depart for the western front on 25 December and Panzer-Flamm-Kompanie 353 followed a few days later. The two companies were to form part of the main attack group for Operation Northwind, the last major German offensive on the western front.

The operation involved an attack in Alsace and Lorraine, and began on 31 December 1944. The Flammpanzer companies suffered heavy losses during this operation. Company 353 lost seven of its ten tanks and was absorbed into Company 352 after an attack on the village of Hatten on 9 January 1945. A post-combat report stated that the basic design was sound, but that the vehicle always needed to operate with tanks or suitable anti-tank weapons as it had no anti-armour abilities of its own. By 15 March the merged companies had eleven vehicles of which eight were still operational.

Production: 29
Hull Length: 4.87m/ 16ft
Hull Width: 2.63m/ 8.6ft
Height: 2.10m/ 6.9ft
Crew: 4
Weight: 13.5 tons
Engine: Six-cylinder water-cooled Praga AC petrol engine, 160 bhp
Max Speed: 40km/h/ 24.8mph
Max Range: 112 miles/ 180km on roads, 80 miles/ 130km cross-country
Armament: Koebe Flammenwerfer and one MG 34 on roof
Armour: 60mm on front, 20mm on sides and rear

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (16 August 2013), Flammpanzer 38(t) Hetzer , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_flammpanzer38t_hetzer.html

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