Built between January and November 1944, a total of 769 vehicles were produced in both L/48 and L/70 variants. The Jagdpanzer followed the design principles of the iconic Sturmgeschütz or StuG assault gun with its main gun mounted in a fixed casemate on the hull rather than in the more usual turret. This limited its traverse (the whole vehicle having to turn to lay its sights on a flanking enemy) but allowed a compact, low profile shape that suited its role well.
The Jagdpanzer was never intended to slug it out in open combat with enemy tanks but to operate more like an anti-tank gun on tracks, firing from prepared, camouflaged hides before rapidly withdrawing to its next hiding place. Its reduced profile, speed and firepower was perfect for its intended role. As the war progressed however, the Jagdpanzer was sometimes pressed into service as an infantry support gun in much the same way as the StuG.
The first version of the Jagdpanzer IV was equipped with the 75mm L48, only later was it equipped with the longer barrel L/70 to aid in dispatching heavy Soviet armour although even this potent mix could not scratch the heaviest of Soviet tanks like the Josef Stalin IS-2. The L/70 increased both range and velocity at the expense of a longer profile. Intriguingly, the vehicle was equipped with a muzzle brake but this was sometimes removed in the field as it betrayed the vehicle’s position upon firing as it kicked up large amounts of dust.
Jagdpanzers first served in Hungary and Italy and later on the Eastern Front, particularly in the battles in the German heartland. A relatively small number served in Normandy and the battle for France with both Panzer and Waffen SS units, including the infamous Hitlerjugend, however these acquainted themselves well, proving quiet the match for Allied Shermans.
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