Marder III Tank Destroyer

This ungainly looking vehicle was improvised to add serious anti-tank capabilities to mobile formations.

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Join me for a brief look at this German Tank Destroyer.

When Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June of 1941 one of the first nasty surprises was that so much Russian armor was tough to knock out.  Especially the later Soviet designs like T-34 and KV-1 could only be faced by the latest model Panzer IV, and these were always in short supply.  So it was decided to attach anti-tank guns to obsolete armored platforms.  The first of these, the Marder I used a captured French chasis; while the second model switched to the Panzer II.

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The gun mount can elevate and rotate.  But the build is fragile enough I’m not going to mess with it much!

The Marder III would be the most numerous and successful of this series.  It started with the Czech built Panzer 38(t) from the Skoda arms works.  This was a very reliable light tank that was simply too small to be effective in 1941.  So the turret was removed and a captured Soviet weapon, the 76.2mm field gun was mounted in its place.  The gun was given a rotating mount and splinter shield, but it was open in back and on top. Later versions would use a German 75mm gun.

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Ammunition storage is visible beside the gun on the floor (brass end caps) and in boxes on the sides just below the side flaps of the splinter shield.

This was a reliable AFV with an effective anti-tank ability.  It was most often attached to infantry units for organic anti-tank fire. With its high profile and thin armor it was clearly not a tank substitute.  It was best deployed to the rear of a formation, or better, in a defensive ambush.

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The projection from the top, front of the hull is a travel lock for the gun barrel.  This will hold the gun in place and take a load off the gun transport mechanism when the vehicle is underway.  Just below the travel lock is a 7.92mm machine gun for defense.

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Later in the war a better, more complete conversion of the Panzer 38(t), commonly known as the Hetzer, was built for this same role.  But the Marder III would remain in service to the end of the war.

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Marder III and Panzer II.  The Marder III was developed from a tank of about this size when it became too small to be effective on the battlefield.

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The Panzer III at left was the main German battle tank at the start of Barbarosa (the German invasion of the Soviet Union, 6/1941).  It was quickly obvious it did not have the firepower to stop the latest Soviet tanks like the T-34 at right.  The Marder has ample stopping power.

This is the Tamiya kit and represents a vehicle based in Tunisia during the last stages of the North Africa campaign.  This is another example of field applied camouflage with a desert sand color hastily painted over the original dark grey.

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The Marder III with a Stug III.  The Stug III was converted from a Panzer III to provide mobile field artillery to the infantry.  But its howitzer was not effective against armor so the Marder III was needed too.  Later Stug III did have anti-tank guns making the Marder somewhat redundant.

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The JagdPanzer 38(t) Hetzer at left is a later Tank Destroyer developed from the same Czech chassis.  It is obviously a more complete conversion with a much more survivable armored box.

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About atcDave

I'm 53 years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I've been an air traffic controller for 30 years; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
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15 Responses to Marder III Tank Destroyer

  1. jfwknifton says:

    Some beautifully made kits! We have a programme over here with a dealer who buys and sells German armour of this type. Amazingly, the prices start around $400,000 for a working example!

  2. Great models you have and an interesting background to each. Enjoyed it.

  3. So I must ask the question that I get the most often….how do you display all your builds?

    • atcDave says:

      Well you know, that’s a sticky situation where my wife is concerned…

      Seriously I have most of the basement set up as my man cave and I have shelves everywhere full of models and books. It is pretty excessive. I am wrestling with the idea of “thinning the herd”. This website is liberating in some ways; some of my models I feel are disposable once they’ve been documented. Of course I also enjoy a lot of the compare/contrast pictures where I put different models side by side and then write about why. Makes me think I must save everything forever!

      Do you have any other thoughts on this?

      • It’s as if I wrote the reply myself. My wife is actually pretty understanding so far. I’ve been thinking lately what I’m going to do when all my room is used up. It’s a scary dilemma.

      • atcDave says:

        Time for a bigger house!

        I bet that would be unique for the realtor; “my model collection has outgrown the house…”

        I have a feeling many modelers homes are like this. I’ve even considered more permanent display cases, but I don’t really have the drive to follow through on that. At one point I dreamed of getting them on display at a local museum (“Yankee Air Museum”) but I know enough about the organization and facilities to know there’s no room for such a thing. They have “model donations” tucked in every spare corner as it is. I like them too much to do that to them…

        My wife is also pretty supportive. And she paints. We have hobbies coming out our eyeballs!

  4. Some of the German armoured improvised innovations looked terrific, the Marder is no exception. Great job Dave.

    • atcDave says:

      Thanks Rich! It does look pretty fearsome, especially how oversized that main gun looks. The German ability to cobble things together was pretty amazing. Not that the British would ever do anything like that!

      • Haha! No, we weren’t known for innovative tank design in WWII, perhaps the Comet showed the most promise. We would have to wait until the Centurion arrived after the war before we got a decent tank. Great article!

      • atcDave says:

        I was actually being sort of serious; the British had a number of significant, improvised weapons. Like Sherman Flail and Bridging tanks, flame throwing tanks, a Crusader with a twin 40 anti-aircraft mount, Lee tanks modified as APCs. I’d actually say it’s a close run thing between Germans and British as to who had the more interesting hardware. Although no doubt the Germans had a huge edge on size and toughness of many of those weapons.

        But I really wish we’d see more British tanks in 1/48. Actually, I wish we’d see more of everything except German…

  5. Pierre Lagacé says:

    Great comments! My wife is also understanding.

  6. Pingback: Panzer 38(t) | Plane Dave

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