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"The German Gun Ferdinand" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following U.S. intelligence report on the German "Ferdinand" self-propelled gun appeared in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 35, October 7, 1943.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


Characteristics of the "Ferdinand," a German self-propelled gun which first appeared in July, on the Russian front, are:

a. General

Weight     70-72 tons
Length22 feet, 11 3/4 in
Height9 feet, 10 in
Width11 feet, 5 3/4 in
Track width2 feet, 5 1/2 in
Clearance1 foot, 7 1/2 in

[The Ferdinand (Front and Side View) - WWII German Self-Propelled Gun]

b. Armor

(1) Hull
    Front     7.87 in
    Sides (vertical)6.29 in
    Rear4.33 in
    Belly1.57 in
(2) Fighting Compartment
    Front (vertical)7.87 in
    Sides (sloping)3.74 in
    Rear (sloping)3.34 in
    Roof1.57 in
    Mantlet plate4.33 in

c. Armament

(1) One 88-mm super-long gun fitted with muzzle brake.
(2) One MG 42.

d. Ammunition carried

70-90 rounds for gun, 2,000 rounds for MG.

e. Suspension

Six independently sprung bogies, diameter 2 feet, 7 1/2 inches; evenly spaced and not overlapping.

f. Performance

Maximum speed     12 1/2 mph
Cruising speed     6-9 mph
Maximum gradient     30°

g. Drive

Two Maybach motors, HL-120 TRM 300 hp each.

h. Crew

Total, six: commanding officer of ordnance--lieutenant (tank or artillery), gunner, mechanic-driver, radio operator, two loaders.

[The Ferdinand (Side and Rear View) - WWII German Self-Propelled Gun]

The "Ferdinand" is guided by observation through periscopes (one each for the commanding officer, the driver, and the gunner). There are no observation slots. Radio transmitter and receiver are provided for external communication; there is a radio-microphone for internal communication. The motor is situated practically in the center of the hull. Gasoline capacity is 242 gallons.

Russian experience shows that the most effective methods of fighting the "Ferdinand" are:

(a) Concentrated artillery fire, with the use of armor-piercing incendiary projectiles of all calibers on the armored installation of the gun and on the gasoline storage tanks in the center of the hull.

(b) Artillery fire of all calibers on the cannon, observation equipment and on the mobile parts of the gun (caterpillar, driving and steering wheels, bogie wheels).

(c) Grenade and Molotov cocktail attacks on the motor section, the turret lid, the rear slot of the turret through which empty shell cases are discharged.

The "Ferdinand" self-propelled guns are organically included in German heavy demolition antitank battalions. Such battalions contain three artillery companies, a headquarters company, a repair company and transport. Each artillery company has a total of 14 "Ferdinands," four to each of three platoons and two to immediate company control. The headquarters company has two of these new self-propelled guns also. Thus the battalion has a total of 44 "Ferdinands."


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