Wespe

The Sd. Kfz. 124 Wespe (German for "wasp"), also known as Leichte Feldhaubitze 18/2 auf Fahrgestell Panzerkampfwagen II (Sf.) ("Light field howitzer 18 on Panzer II chassis (self-propelled)"), was a German self-propelled artillery vehicle developed and used during the Second World War. It was based on a modified Panzer II chassis.


Wespe
Class Vehicle
Type Armoured Fighting Vehicle
Manufacturer FAMO
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
FAMO 1943 1944 676 View

In 1940, during the Battle of France, it was apparent that the intermediate tank of the German forces, the Panzer II, was unsuitable as a main battle tank. Though mechanically sound, it was both under-gunned and under-armoured. The chassis, however, proved servicable for providing mobility to the 10.5 cm field howitzer. Existing chassis were converted to self-propelled artillery vehicles, just as had been done with the Marder II, which was a conversion designed to provide mobility to the PaK 40/7.5 cm anti-tank gun.

The design for the Wespe was produced by Alkett, and was based on the Panzer II Ausf. F chassis. Alkett had earlier worked with Alfred Becker to convert captured French armoured vehicles into self-propelled artillery carriers. Amongst other modifications to the Panzer II, the engine was moved forward and the chassis was slightly lengthened to gain sufficient space for the rear-mounted 10.5 cm leFH 18 howitzer. The superstructure was lightly armored, with 10 mm armor plate (enough to stop small arms fire) and was open at the top and to the rear. The vehicles were produced by FAMO's Ursus plant in Warsaw.

The Wespe was in production from February 1943 until June 1944, when Soviet forces approached the frontier. By that time, 676 had been produced. An additional 159 were modified to serve as mobile artillery ammunition carriers.

The Wespe first saw combat in 1943 on the Eastern Front. It proved very successful, and Hitler ordered all production of Panzer II chassis to be utilized in the production of the Wespe alone, dropping other projects, such as the Marder II self-propelled anti-tank gun.

The vehicles were allocated to the armored artillery battalions (Panzerartillerie Abteilungen) of Panzer divisions along with heavier Hummel self-propelled artillery. The Wespe brought greater mobility to the artillery formations of the panzer divisions.

The Wespe was very popular with its crew due to its reliability and high maneuverability.

GENERAL DATA
Formal DesignationLeichte Feldhaubitze 18/2 auf Fahrgestell Panzerkampfwagen II (Sf)
(SdKfz 124), Wespe, Gerat 803
Manufacturer(s)FAMO
Production Quantity676Production PeriodFeb. 1943-Jul. 1944
TypeSelf-Propelled GunCrew4
Length /hull (m)4.81Barrel Overhang (m)n.a.
Width (m)2.28Height (m)2.30
Combat Weight (kg)11000RadioFuG Spr f
FIREPOWER
Primary Armament105mm leFH18M L/28Ammunition Carried32
Traverse (degrees)Manual (17° L to 17° R)Elevation (degrees)-5° to +42°
Traverse speed (360°)-Sightn.a.
Secondary Armament1 x 7.92mm MG34 (loose)Ammunition Carriedn.a.

MOBILITY CHARACTERISTICS
Engine Make & ModelMaybach HL62TRTrack Links106/track
Type & DisplacementLiquid, L6, 6.2 litersTrack Width28cm
Horsepower (max.)140hp@2600rpmTrack Ground Contact240cm
Power/Weight Ratio12.7 hp/tGround Pressure11.7 psi
Gearbox6 forward, 1 reverseGround Clearance (m)0.36
FuelGasoline (Petrol)Turning Radius (m)4.8
Range on/off road (km)140/95Gradient (deg.)30°
Mileage (liters/100km)121 on roadVertical Obstacle (m)0.56
Fuel Capacity (liters)170Fording (m)0.85
Speed on/off road40/20 km/hTrench Crossing (m)1.70
ARMOR PROTECTION
Armor DetailFrontSideRearTop/Bottom
Hull30mm@75°15mm@90°15mm@71°5mm@0°
Superstructure20mm@60°15mm@90°8mm@90°10mm@0°
Gun Shield10mm@66°10mm@73°10mm@74°open

End notes