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"German 128-mm SP Gun" from Tactical and Technical Trends

A preliminary intelligence report on WWII German 128-mm self-propelled gun encountered on the Eastern Front, from Tactical and Technical Trends, Dec. 2, 1943.

[Editor's Note: The following article is wartime information on enemy equipment published for Allied soldiers. More accurate data on German weapons and equipment is available in postwar publications.]



A brief and not too satisfactory account of a brand-new, rather mobile, German 128-mm SP gun has been supplied by an allied source. The gun-caliber is a newcomer in the list of German artillery, and appears to be one of the ultra-modern long weapons which have been recently turned out by the Rheinmetall Company. No specifications are yet available concerning it.

Present data indicate the gun-and-mount assembly is an improvement on the rather cumbersome, 70-ton "Ferdinand", which mounts only an 88-mm (3.46 in) weapon rather than the new 128-mm (5.03 in) piece, and carries massive hull armor running from 4.33 to 7.87 inches (see Tactical and Technical Trends No. 35, p. 16) -- a plating heavier than that carried at sea by most heavy naval cruisers. The hull armor on the 128-mm gun varies from 30 to 45 millimeters (1.18 to 1.38 in) over the fighting compartment and 15 to 30 millimeters (.59 to 1.18 in) on the lengthened PzKw 3 hull and chassis. The weight is thereby cut to about 35 tons and the speed has been stepped up from the 6 to 9 mph of the "Ferdinand" to about 15.5. Whether the added mobility is justified at the cost of stripping down the armor to a thickness that may be pierced by many small-caliber antitank guns is an open question, and is certainly a reversal of trend. Perhaps "Ferdinand" was too massive to be thoroughly practical in mobile warfare. It is believed that the "128" may be used for the most part against fixed fortifications, in which case protection would be supplied by other means, which is further indicated by the fact that no machine gun is reported as part of the equipment. Only 18 rounds of separate-loading ammunition are carried. While the type of shell is not yet reported, mixed AP and anticoncrete projectiles may be expected. The crew is five.

[German 128-mm Self-Propelled Gun]

The German designation is 12.8cm Selbstfahrlafette L/61 (Panzerselbstfahrlafette V). The Germans produced two vehicles in 1942 which were dispatched to the Eastern Front. One was captured by the Russians in 1943 and analyzed.

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