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.
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.