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17th SS Panzergrenadier Division “Götz von Berlichingen”
Normandy Front, June 1944
This project began as a Mardon Callanta Marder III Ausf. H tank hunter. The Marder III, was one of many stop gap measures to get heavier guns on any armoured vehicle available. In this case it is the fine anti-tank Pak 40 (Pak40/3) gun on the reliable but obsolete Panzer 38(t) chassis. This was the earlier Ausf. H version which maintained the engine on the rear of the vehicle and pushed the fighting compartment forward. It began to be delivered to the front in late 1942. By the time of the Normandy invasion in the summer of 1944, there were various units which had this version and the later Ausf M version as well as the Sd. Kfz. 139, also called Marder III, which carried the Russian 7.62 gun.
On the order of battle references there are no notes of which Marder III were in the field. In one of the forums, Martin Block wrote the following in response to an attempt of identifying a Marder III Ausf H in a phot in front of the Carentan Cathedral, sorrounded by US Paras:
“When on June 13 elements of the newly arrived 17. SS-Pz.Gren.Div. tried to retake the city(Carentan), the 3./SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 17 took part supporting SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. 37.
The company - renamed from 2./SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 16 (16. SS-Pz.Gren.Div. RF-SS) in early 1944 - was equipped with 3 Sd.Kfz. 139 and 9 Sd.Kfz. 138. The exact variants of the Sd.Kfz. 138, i.e. all Ausf. H or maybe a mix of Ausf. H and M is not fully clear to me.
Since a total of 20 Sd.Kfz. 138 had been delivered to 'Sturmbrigade RF-SS’ already in the summer of 1943, there is a certain probability that they included a number of Marder III Ausf. H. So I would bet on 3./SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. in this case.
The records I have on the 17. SS-Pz.Gren.Div. show, that the 3./SS-Pz.Jg.Abt. 17 had lost a single Marder III 7,5 cm before June 20, 1944 without giving the exact date.”
Plenty of WIP images here:
Details of the Model
Used the Nuts and Bolts Vol18 Marder III Ausf H publication by Andorfer/Block and Nelson. These publications are highly recommended for any vehicle project.
I replaced the stock Mardon Callanta running gear with Panzerwerk’s wheels, idlers, drivers and individual track lins made of plastic (no longer available). I had done the same on my Panzer 38(t) many, many years ago. This time around I also trimmed the small wing on each link to make them look more like Marder III links. Also from Panzerwerk are the periscopes which I altered to try and resemble the pieces used in this vehicle, the radio, armour piercing and high explosive rounds and the front and rear tow hooks. Many parts, from many 1/6 detailers were used to upgrade the stock parts. The muzzle brake was replaced with a wonderful piece from Panzer Trap(Tim Bowman). The fire extinguisher(with Michigan Dawg decals), rear towing hook (not accurate as it is a US piece, but I altered it a bit as the actual piece is not available), tarp attachment loops(metal), front and rear Notek lights are from Armorpax. The jack block is from Toysurgeon (Dennis Widner). The barrel cleaner rods, antenna, wire cutters and tow cable (looped on the rear) are from Mike Stannard(RIP). The jack is the stock Callanta piece with some alterations. Decided to keep it as it was tucked under the rear fighting compartment plate and only partially visible. Made some brackets for extra links in front and on both right and left fenders with styrene(intended to add more spare links, but when I was placing the tracks on the running gear I came up short!). Also made the antenna mount(not accurate) and replaced the front machine gun with the fine DID 7.92mm MG37(t) and a styrene cradle. Made a custom piece to hold the barrel cleaning rods. The interior is barely visible, but decided to add some “imagineering” detail so that any glimpse inward would not look awkwardly bare. For the interior I used many parts from everywhere, particularly my “for parts only” DML PzIIs.
Made a transmission, placed a center shaft and added lots of equipment to the interior.
Added the rear of the DID MG37(t) to the interior as well as a radio. Also made an extra rack for more rounds(the one with the AP rounds on the right) and also made one of the round holders on the interior of the super structure, to match the one that came with the vehicle. This vehicle is listed to carry 38 rounds, and I have room for only 24. Other rounds can easily be carried on the rear deck, but the real vehicle must have had more interior storage. Used coat hanger wire and tube styrene to make the top bracket and the spikes on each side(I imagine these were for the tarp). Made two tarp bundles and one camouflage net bundle and added those to the fenders. Made a sight for the gun and changed the handles of the guns adjustment wheels. Used plenty of Aves Apoxie to re-aligne the gun to the armored front and anywhere that I needed to fortify or secure a particular part.
In all references the crew is described as follows: four men, a driver, a radioman/MG operator, a gunner and a loader commander. Honestly I have given this a lot of thought and it makes little sense for the commander to be the loader! Looking around the internet I found a DML 1/35 Heer Marder III crew kit and the four figures were in poses for a driver, a gunner, a loader and a commander. This set up makes a lot more sense. I imagine these vehicles were mostly used in ambush situations but if they had to fight on the move the loader could go to his post and the commander pinch hit as a loader. Those in the rear deck of this vehicle, would be VERY exposed. The loader would for sure be crouching or kneeling and the commander would be laying low too and exposed either way from the sides.
Painted the vehicle in a three color camo, using Tamiya acrylic colors. Used XF58(Olive Green) for my green this time around. Added usual shading and dry rushing and painted on the crosses using photo-etched stencils that I got from Vince Abbott ages ago. Did not add any unit specific markings as these were sparce in the images I could find, but mainly so I can use this vehicle for another unit, mainly a Heer PzJager unit in Normandy, for example the PJAbt. 243 (243. ID) with 14 units, PJAbt. 346 (346. ID) with 14 units, PJAbt. 352 (352. VGD) with 14 units and PJAbt. 353 (353. ID) with 14 units.
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