Marder III (Ausf. M)

Panzerjäger 38(t) mit 7.5cm PaK 40/3 Ausf. M (SdKfz 138), Marder III, was an armored vehicle (tank destroyer, AFV or armoured fighting vehicle) in combat use during the Second World War (World War II or WWII) in the European theater. The Marder III was a fully tracked all-terrain vehicle designed for military operations. Marder III, also known as the Pz.Jäg. 38(t) Ausf. M, was produced and deployed by the German Army (Heers) of Nazi Germany (the Third Reich). The technical drawing (plan, layout or profile) shows the general appearance characteristics of the specified model (version) of the Marder series of tank destroyers for purposes of identification and reference. For more detailed information about this armored fighting vehicle, refer to Marder III (Ausf. M).

Marder III (Ausf. M)
Class Vehicle
Type Armoured Fighting Vehicle
Manufacturer BMM
Production Period 1943 - 1944
Origin Germany
Country Name Origin Year
Germany 1943
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Germany 1943 1945 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
BMM 1943 1944 975 View

Even in the early stages of Operation Barbarossa, the Wehrmacht felt the need for a more mobile and more powerful anti-tank solution than the existing towed anti-tank guns, such as the Pak 36, or tank destroyers such as the Panzerjäger I. This need became urgent in 1942, when anti-tank shells failed to penetrate the armor of new Soviet tanks such as the T-34 and KV-1.

As an interim solution, it was decided to use captured French vehicles, such as the Lorraine (Marder I), obsolete tanks, such as the German Panzer II (Marder II), and Czech-supplied Panzer 38(t) (Marder III) as the base for makeshift tank destroyers. The result was the Marder series, which were armed with either captured Soviet 76.2mm F-22 Model 1936 divisional field guns, or German 7.5 cm PaK 40 anti-tank guns for later versions. Due to weight and space constraints of these small chassis, the Marder series were not fully armored. Thin upper armor protection against just shrapnel and small arms fire was provided only for the front and sides. All Marder series had open tops. Some were issued with canvas tops to protect the crew from the elements. In this regard, the Marder was more of a gun carriage than a proper Panzerjäger that could exchange shells with enemy tanks.

The various Marder IIIs fought on all fronts of the war, with the Sd. Kfz. 139 being used mainly at the Eastern Front, though some also fought in Tunisia. In February 1945, some 350 Ausf. M were still in service.

The Marder IIIs were used by the Panzerjäger Abteilungen of the Panzer divisions of both the Wehrmacht and the Waffen SS, as well as several Luftwaffe units, such as the Hermann Göring division.

The Marder IIIs were mechanically reliable, as with all vehicles based on the Czechoslovak LT-38 chassis. Their firepower was sufficient to destroy the majority of Soviet tanks on the battlefield at combat range.

The Marder' IIIs weaknesses were mainly related to survivability. The combination of a high silhouette and open-top armor protection made them vulnerable to indirect artillery fire. The armor was also quite thin, making them highly vulnerable to enemy tanks and to close-range machinegun fire.

The Marders were not assault vehicles or tank substitutes; the open top meant that operations in urban areas or other close-combat situations were very risky. They were best employed in defensive or overwatch roles. Despite their mobility, they did not replace the towed antitank guns.

In March 1942, before the Marder III appeared, Germany had already started production of the StuG III assault gun, which had comparable anti-tank capability (StuG III Ausf. F and later variants). These were fully armored vehicles, built in much greater numbers than the vulnerable Marder III. Among the many German fully armored tank destroyers, one based on the Panzer 38(t) chassis was built in numbers from 1944: the Jagdpanzer 38(t). The weakly armored Marder series were phased out of production in favor of the Jagdpanzer 38(t), but Marder series vehicles served until the end of the conflict.

Formal DesignationPanzerjäger 38(t) mit 7.5cm PaK 40/3 Ausf. M (SdKfz 138), Marder III
Production Quantity975Production PeriodApr. 1943 - May 1944
TypeTank DestroyerCrew4
Overall Length (m)4.95Barrel Overhang (m)n.a.
Width (m)2.15Height (m)2.48
Combat Weight (kg)10500RadioFuG Spr d
Primary Armament75mm PaK 40/3 L/46Ammunition Carried27
Traverse (degrees)Manual (21° L to 21° R)Elevation (degrees)-5° to +13°
Traverse speed (360°)-SightZF3x8
Secondary Armament1 x 7.92mm MG34 (loose)Ammunition Carriedn.a.

Engine Make & ModelPraga ACNo. of Links/Trackn.a.
Type & DisplacementLiquid, L6, 7.8 litersTrack Widthn.a.
Horsepower (Gross)150hp@2600rpmTrack Ground Contactn.a.
Power/Weight Ratio14.2 hp/tGround Pressure8.6 psi
Gearbox5 forward, 1 reverseGround Clearance (m)0.40
FuelGasoline (Petrol)Turning Radius (m)n.a.
Range on/off road (km)190Gradient (deg.)n.a.
Mileage (liters/100km)114 on roadVertical Obstacle (m)0.84
Fuel Capacity (liters)218Fording (m)0.90
Speed on/off road42 km/hTrench Crossing (m)2.08
Armor DetailFrontSideRearTop/Bottom
Gun Shield6mm@62°10mm@74°10mm@73°open

End notes