Nashorn – Sd.Kfz 164

Another of Germany’s fearsome tank destroyers, the Nashorn served from mid-1943 to the end of the War.

We’ll take a quick look at this well known hunter.

As related here several times before (!) the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 triggered a rapid escalation in armor size and effectiveness. The Wehrmacht was shocked to discover that the latest Soviet tanks (T-34, KV-1) could only be knocked out by their heaviest guns.
The best German gun in development, indeed perhaps the best anti-tank of the War, was the 8.8 cm Pak 43. This is not the same gun as the more famous Flak 88 (several models), that was the best German gun in use at the start of the War and was mounted in the Tiger I tank. This was more specifically a tank killing gun with a bigger charge and longer barrel for higher velocity, longer range and increased armor penetration. So while the Flak 88 could be pushed into service immediately, a more specialized platform was needed for the Pak 43. The first of these was to be built from a modified Panzer III/IV chassis. Designed for anti-armor support and armed with a long range gun it was felt heavy armor was not needed, so it was only given splinter protection and an open top. This allowed for high speed (20+ mph) on a fairly small platform.

The new AFV was known as the Panzerjager Hornisse (Tank Hunter Hornet) and entered production in early 1943. It first saw service at the Battle of Kursk that summer and was generally considered to have performed well. In early 1944 in was renamed “Nashorn” (Rhinoceros). Total production was 494 vehicles, they served in six heavy tank destroyer battalions of 45 each, mostly in the Soviet Union and Italy.
The Ferdinand/Elefant was a heavier tank destroyer with the same gun, that entered service at about the same time. Late in the War both were being replaced by similarly armed Jagdpanthers, but the replacement was never complete and the earlier types saw service to the end.

This particular Nashorn served with the 88th Heavy Tank Destroyer Battalion on the Eastern Front, Summer 1944.

Soviet armor like T-34 (lower right) and KV-1 (upper right) led to Germany needing bigger and more effective tank killers.
Nashorn with a pair of more normal sized tank destroyers; Marder (bottom) and Hetzer (top).

This is the 100th model in Tamiya’s 1/48 scale vehicle series. It was mostly a simple build, but with the breach of the gun visible in an open fighting compartment it was more involved than most such AFVs.

Nashorn with Elefant (top right) were the initial AFVs with the ferocious 88 mm Pak 43 gun. Jagdpanther (left) was meant to replace both, but never did completely.

About atcDave

I'm 5o-something years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I was an air traffic controller for 33 years and recently retired; 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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12 Responses to Nashorn – Sd.Kfz 164

  1. Pierre Lagacé says:

    Glad you are back Dave.

    • atcDave says:

      I’m still here on and off! If all goes well I may get two more builds done this month. But the overall rate will still be lower for a while.

  2. a gray says:

    Very interesting post. Thank you.

  3. Jeff Groves says:

    Always interesting to see the different types side-by-side!

  4. jfwknifton says:

    A wonderfully thorough account, complemented by your superb models. The first name, “Hornisse”, wasn’t thought through, though. Hornets are the biggest of the European wasps and “…..have an unwarranted fearsome reputation, but will only sting humans if attacked.”

  5. It’s certainly was a brut!

  6. Ernie Davis says:

    The German war machine did turn out some scary beasts with a quick turnaround to counter new threats from the enemy, but there is a part of me that always chortles at their production numbers. Over the course of the war we probably misplaced more Shermans than they produced Nashorns.

    • atcDave says:

      I figure, at any given time, there are more models being built of German armor than were actually built during the War… at least for the big late War stuff.
      I love the quip about lost Shermans, that is so true and so perfect.

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