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ATENÇÃO:
A publicação de qualquer imagem ou informação referentes ao nazismo, fascismo ou quaisquer outros regimes totalitários deve ser entendida como reprodução do rigor histórico e não como apologia a estes regimes, líderes ou símbolos.

Wespe - 10.5 cm leFH 18/2 auf GII - Sd.Kfz. 124 and ammo carrier version (Munitionsschlepper Wespe) - case report

Freunde ...

     Today's article focuses on this small self-propelled howitzer, which was widely used from the middle of WWII, until the end, by the Germans. Meet the Wespe 10.5 cm leFH 18/2 auf GII - Sd.Kfz. 124:
Wespe roaring in route at new firing position
Eastern Front - Summer, 1943
History:
   The Sd.Kfz. 124 Wespe (German for "Wasp"), also known as Leichte Feldhaubitze 18/2 auf Fahrgestell Panzerkampfwagen II (Sf.) ("Light field howitzer 18 on Panzer II chassis (self-propelled)"), is a German self-propelled gun developed and used during the Second World War. It was based on a modified Panzer II chassis.
PzKpfw. II Ausf. F in The Tank Museum - Bovington
     During the Battle of France in 1940 it became apparent that the intermediate tank of the German forces, the Panzer II, was unsuitable as a main battle tank. Though mechanically sound, it was both under-gunned and under-armoured. The chassis, however, proved serviceable for providing mobility to the 10.5cm field howitzer. Existing chassis were converted to self-propelled artillery vehicles, such as the Marder II conversion providing mobility to the PaK 40/7.5 cm anti-tank gun.
Marder II 7.5 cm PaK.40/2 auf Fahrgestell Pz.Kpfw.II Ausf.A-F (Sf) - SdKfz131
Kubinka Museum
    The design for the Wespe was produced by Alkett, based on the Panzer II Ausf. F chassis. Alkett had earlier worked with Alfred Becker to convert captured French armoured vehicles into self-propelled artillery carriers. Among other modifications the Panzer II's engine was moved forward and the chassis slightly lengthened to accommodate the rear-mounted 10.5 cm leFH 18 howitzer.

    The superstructure was lightly armored, with 10 mm armor plate (enough to stop small arms fire) left open at the top and rear. The vehicles were produced by FAMO's Ursus plant in Warsaw.
10,5cm Leichte Feldhaubitze 18-2 auf Fahrgestell Panzerkampfwagen II Sf. Wespe
Sd.Kfz.124 - Musée des Blindés - Saumur

   The Wespe was in production from February 1943 until June 1944, when Soviet forces approached the frontier.
A knocked out Wespe being inspected by a American soldier
Normandy, France - 1944

Wespe Sdkfz124 of the 2nd Panzer Division
France, Normandy, 1944.
    By that time, 676 had been produced. An additional 159 gun-less Wespe were produced to serve as mobile artillery ammunition carriers.
Munitionsschlepper Wespe in Eastern front - 1943.
Notice the flat steel plate closing the opening of the gun.
Wespes ammo carriers (Munitionsschlepper)  with "standard" Wespes 10,5cm SPH
Notice the truck ammo carrier in the background
Eastern front - Spring, 1944.

Wespes ammo carriers (Munitionsschlepper)  with "standard" Wespes 10,5cm SPH 
Notice the truck ammo carrier leading the line
Eastern front - Winter,  1943.
Wespe ammunition carrier captured by Free French fighters
France, Normandy, 30th August 1944
Notice the flat plate in the vehicle's front casemate
A Wespe ammo carrier with winter cammo bogged in the Russian road
Eastern front - 1944.
Combat history:
    The Wespe first saw combat in 1943 on the Eastern Front. It proved very successful, and Hitler ordered all Panzer II chassis production be dedicated to the Wespe alone, at the expense of other projects, including the Marder II self-propelled anti-tank gun.
Wespe waiting for a new phase in artillery fire...
Eastern Front - Winter 1943.

A battery of 3 Wespes opening fire against the Russians,
 "fed" by an Opel Blitz ammo carrier.
 Kursk - July 1943

Wespe wearing full winter cammo, in the
Eastern front - winter, 1943.

A posed picture of an immaculate Wespe with his smiling full crew.
Eastern front - Summer, 1943.
    The vehicles were allocated to the armored artillery battalions (Panzerartillerie Abteilungen) of Panzer divisions along with heavier Hummel self-propelled artillery. The Wespe brought greater mobility to the artillery formations of the panzer divisions.
Two wrecked German self-propelled guns (Wespe and Hummel)
somewhere in Germany in March 1945, victims of the guns of the
1st Belorussian Front.
An interesting pic showing Hummels and Wespes fighting togheter...
East front - 1945
   The Wespe proved relative reliability and poor performance, but sorely needed. Like contemporary self propelled guns such as the British Sexton 25pdr. SPG and U.S. M7 Priest 105mm SPG, had inadequate overhead gun crew protection. The Wespe was a considerably smaller target than either of these allied vehicles, but it also held less ammunition given it was based on a smaller chassis chosen based upon availability given limited production capacity for larger ones.

   The main deficiences observed in the Wespe were:
  1. The engine was too weak. Therefore, the Wespe are to slow (only one-third of the convoy speed of a motorized towed artillery). Concentrated movement of a Batterie was not possible because of continuous mechanical failures. The Wespe moved individually.
  2. The Wespe final drives frequently broke down while attempting to steer through the tight curves in the mountains.
  3. Due to overtaxing caused by the terrain, damage continuously occurred to the brakes, brake linings, and their rivets. As an example, because of these problems, only 11 out of 18 Wespe were still operational in the 3.Panzer-Grenadier-Division although this division first came into action with these vehicles for only several weeks. In the 26.Panzer-Division only two out of twelve Wespe still remained operational after four weeks in action. Three Wespe had to be blown up by the troops after they broke down during a retreat. These losses due to mechanical breakdown are especially high when one compares them to only two losses occurring due to enemy action. 
  4. The lack of room for carrying anything in addition to the crew and ammunition in the Wespe fighting compartment is bothersome. It isn't possible to carry along the necessary baggage for the crew such as blankets, washing kits, ration pouches, and cooking utensils. To try to compensate for this limitation in the amount of ammunition, the ammo-carrier version was a constant company of the armed version.
Wespes howitzers move through a town in southern Russia.
Notice the amount of stuff in the vehicle superstructures...
     In spite of several minor weaknesses, the Wespe have proven to be successful on the Eastern Front. The Wespe has proven to be an excellent weapon on the Eastern Front.
Battery of Wespe self-propelled howitzers supporting
German forces during the Battle of Kursk
Eastern front - Autumn, 1943.

A battery of Wespes ready to fire at the enemy.
Look at howitzers at maximum elevation.

A Wespe from an unknown unit with the sprocket wheel oil seal in terrible condition ...
Eastern front - 1943.

Wespe “43” of the Grossdeutschland Division.
 Ponyri  - Kursk,  July 1943

Wespe displaying a beautiful Panzer-gray camouflage with green stripes.
Notice the cammo net laying in the howitzer barrel...
Easern front - 1943.

Hallo, Greta!! A Wespe with white stripes
roaring by a russian road. Eastern front, winter. 1944.
    However, it has been established that this model of the self propelled gun is not suitable for employment in the mountainous terrain in the south and middle of Italy. The troops want their old towed batteries back.
Wespe 11 in howitzer maintenance in heavy mud conditions
Italy, 1944. Notice the  Famo Sd.Kfz 9 18t crane doing the job...

Wespe of the 26. Panzer-Division under howitzer maintenance...
Cisterna Italy 1944
Notice the M4A2 turned and burned on the side of the road...
Specs:



Wespe - 10.5 cm leFH 18/2 auf GII - Sd.Kfz. 124
TypeSelf-propelled artillery
Place of origin                            Nazi Germany
Service history
In service1943 - 1945
Used byNazi Germany
WarsWorld War II
Production history
DesignerAlkett
Designed1942
ManufacturerFamo-Ursus
Produced1943 - 1944
No. built676 (gun version)
159 (ammo carrier)
Variantsammunition carrier
Specifications
Mass11 tonnes
Length4.81 m
Width2.28 m
Height2.3 m
Crew5 (commander, driver, three gunners)

Armor5 - 30 mm
Main armament

1x 10.5 cm leFH 18/2 L/28 with 40 rounds
Engine6-cyl petrol Maybach HL62 TR 140 PS
(138 hp, 103 kW)
Power/weight12.7 PS/tonne
Suspensionleaf spring
Operational range
220 km
Maximum speed40 km/h

The kits:
     Another commission project, using the very good kit from Tamiya German self-propelled howitzer Wespe Sd.Kfz 124 (#35200) for the armed version.
German self-propelled howitzer Wespe Sd.Kfz 124 - Tamiya box art (#35200)
      For the ammo carrier version, I'll use a kit that I bought as scrap, from a colleague... An incredible Alan Sd.Kfz. 124 Wespe (#005), with missing pieces and a very rough construction.
Sd.Kfz.124 Wespe - Alan box art (#005)


      Starting by the scrap-kit (Wespe ammo carrier) ... See how it got my hands: a very rustic construction, with a thick layer of paint and with the exhaust muffler missing ...
Ouch...tons of fun in this case....

The painting is sooo crude!!

But where's the muffler???
      The former owner started converting the Alan kit in to Wespe ammo carrier, but he must have based himself on the art of a 1/72 ACE kit, because it is the only justification for the frontal shield to be curved. All the photos I've found so far of Wespe ammo carrier feature the flat front shield.
ACE kit box art: notice the front shield curved, similar to the gun shield
The drawing, in detail...

     It seems that ACE relied on this photo to make the art of its kit box. But the frontal shield is clearly flat, and not curved (red arrow) ... I think the vertical line (see the point in the double blue arrow) led them to the error of deducing that the frontal plate was the result of the union between the two curved shields of the howitzer ...


Wespe ammo carrier. Notice the side racks, not common to the vehicle
and which are reproduced in the drawing above (green arrows)
The Wesspe ammo carrier in clear picture
     Another Wespe ammo carrier, with flat armor front plate:
Notice the flat armor plate in the front of Wespe casemate..
The drawing redesigned with flat front armor...
Much better!!
     But back to Alan's crude kit: I decided to blast the kit, with a bath of brake oil (2 hours). With an old toothbrush, I brushed the surface of the kit, with the paint coming out in pieces ... After a good wash in running water, I put the kit in another bath this time with lye for another hour. the rest of the paint was blown off and I washed the kit with plenty of running water ... I was almost forgetting to mention that I neutralized the extreme alkalinity of the soda with an acid bath (90% water and 10% vinegar) for 10 minutes. After a lot of running water, what was left was this: All the paint removed, showing Alan's kit in all its glory !! (Oh my God!)
Holy cow!! I think the kit with the painting, the thing was not so ugly ...

The cracks, gaps and imperfections are huge!!

Is there a Doctor on board ???
      Well..let's turn the Alan-crap kit in something not so horrible ... I removed the curved front armor from the tractor and replaced it with something more realistic: the flat armor...And starting the Tamiya SPG.
The ugly and the beauty!!


Tamiya kits are really a delight to build ... 10.5cm Howitzer.

And the upper hull fits like a glove in the chassis...

I discovered some spare parts of Wespe Tamiya in my unbelievable and almost infinite box of spare parts.
Here is a touch of beauty in the monstrosity ....

Building the SPG armor plates

Notice I closed the driver's hatches...
Trying to improve the hinges and lashing hooks ...

Alan kits are really crude ... but they are so much fun !!!
      I researched on the internet, in books, under the rocks, I consulted mediums, astrologers, gurus and the Gods and nothing to find a photo of the interior of the Wespe ammo carrier...
      But as the old wise scholar said: "It is better not to do it than to do it wrong ...", I decided to make a canvas cover to hide the inside horrors of this kit. But never forget that I wanted to reproduce what appears in the photos: the Wespe ammo carrier with the canvas cover in place !!
My old technique of using tracing paper to make tarps...
The mooring strips I made with paper tape

Notice the gun's travel lock (in yellow= Tamiya spare part) in the upper middle deck
The real Wespe ammo carrier wearing tarp in the top of the superstructure...

My girl got very hairy !!

Rear view

I decided to detail the canvas with reinforcement seams and "trim the girl's braids" ...

I think she is getting almost decent!  Cute!!
      Continuing the building, we must now waterproof and "reinforce" the tracing paper layer, to avoid accidents and stains in the painting (the paper is hydrophilic). I make a mixture of water (30%) and PVA glue (70%) and apply it with a wide, soft brush ...
Appearance of the paper after applying a mixture of water (30%) and PVA glue (70%) ...

The tracing paper immediately crinkles and presents several wrinkles on its surface.
Don't worry ... it's like that ...

But an hour later ...

The surface stretches when the paper dries ...
The paper is waterproofed, more resistant and smoother ...
Primer Tamiya

Ready for cammo and markings..
      And as always, I try to locate the armored vehicles in the historical period, researching the units and theaters of operations that the girls used ... and making profiles as a guide for paintings and markings ... The girls fought in Italy, under the markings of the 24th Panzer Division (Wermacht), the so-called Leaping Horseman Division.


      Well, dark yellow in shades and layers... Old school!!
Wespe Ammo carrier and SPH.
left side

Wespe Ammo carrier and SPH.
right side

Wespe Ammo carrier and SPH.
rear view

Wespe 10,5cm SPH - interior details
radio and machine guns MP-38

Wespe SPH "closed" - right side

Wespe SPH "closed" - left side
      Next, cammo:


      Starting the cammo: German green strips with jagged edges: painting on the battlefield ...
Stripes in green. Notice the tarp in fieldgray...Wespe ammo carrier

Wespe ammo carrier - rear view

Wespe 10,5cm SPH - Stripes in green.
In background, ammo crrier version

Wespe 10,5cm SPH - right side
     When I went to apply the decals... Disaster!!!

     The numeral 1 tore and crumbled (very old decal ...). I decided to change the number of my ammo carrier to 4. And I found a chassis number decal, which I applied to the side of the armor. With that, I redesigned the profile of markings. My transport girl is now White-4.
The Wespe White-1

New markings profile with Wespe ammo carrier White-4
24th Panzer Division (Wermacht), the Leaping Horseman Division.

New Wespe ammo carrier White-4
24th Panzer Division (Wermacht), the Leaping Horseman Division.

Wespe ammo carrier White-4 - rear view
It is prudent to stay away from an ammo-carrier for at least 50m...

Wespe 10,5cm SPH White-11
24th Panzer Division (Wermacht), the Leaping Horseman Division.

Wespe 10,5cm SPH White-11
24th Panzer Division (Wermacht), the Leaping Horseman Division.
Rear view
      Now, let's choose some things to put on the girls. As described above in the History, Wespe was very tight and did not have the capacity to carry much equipment internally ... Therefore, placing roll-bags, tarps and crew stuff externally was common. So, let's choose some Value Gear Details miscellaneous to give it that a "circus truck look" !!!
Testing the fit for the Gunned Girl...
Value Gear Details  - left side

Testing the fit for the Gunned Girl...
Value Gear Details  - right side

Testing the fit for the Gunned Girl...
Value Gear Details  - rear top view

Testing the fit for the Ammo carrier Girl...
Value Gear Details  - left side

Testing the fit for the Ammo carrier Girl...
Value Gear Details  - right side

The two Wespe Girls waiting their accessories and jewelry ...



Tamiya white primer...
The Milk of the Mother Goddess

Tones and colors

Starting the weathering in the Value Gear stuff...

And the details from value Gear are ready for action...

Wespe Ammo Carrier - Fully loaded for action !!!
left view

Wespe Ammo Carrier - fully loaded - rear view

Wespe Ammo Carrier - fully loaded - right view

Wespe 10,5cm SPH - fully loaded - left view

Wespe 10,5cm SPH - fully loaded - rear-right view

Wespe 10,5cm SPH - fully loaded - front-right view

The two Wespe Girls  fully loaded
The end is very near!!
   And the Wespe Girls were ready. First, let's look at the armed version: Meet Wespe 10,5cm leFH 18/2 auf GII - Sd.Kfz 124 - White-11 - 1. Abteilung - 89. Panzer Artillerie Regiment - 24th Panzer Division (Wermacht), the Leaping Horseman Division. Italy, September, 1943.
Wespe 10,5cm leFH 18/2 auf GII - Sd.Kfz 124 - White-11
1. Abteilung - 89. Panzer Artillerie Regiment
24th Panzer Division (Wermacht)
Italy, September, 1943.


Wespe 10,5cm leFH 18/2 auf GII - Sd.Kfz 124 - White-11
left view

Wespe 10,5cm leFH 18/2 auf GII - Sd.Kfz 124 - White-11
rear-left view

Wespe 10,5cm leFH 18/2 auf GII - Sd.Kfz 124 - White-11
rear-right view

Wespe 10,5cm leFH 18/2 auf GII - Sd.Kfz 124 - White-11
right view



Wespe 10,5cm leFH 18/2 auf GII - Sd.Kfz 124 - White-11
with Kojak and Rover, the dog.

Wespe 10,5cm leFH 18/2 auf GII - Sd.Kfz 124 - White-11
1. Abteilung - 89. Panzer Artillerie Regiment 
24th Panzer Division (Wermacht)
Italy, September, 1943.

      And now, the Ammo carrier version: Munitionsschlepper Wespe (ammo carrier version)  - White-4 - 1. Abteilung - 89. Panzer Artillerie Regiment - 24th Panzer Division (Wermacht), the Leaping Horseman Division. Italy, September, 1943.
Munitionsschlepper Wespe (ammo carrier version) - White-4
1. Abteilung - 89. Panzer Artillerie Regiment - 24th Panzer Division (Wermacht)
 Italy, September, 1943.


Munitionsschlepper Wespe (ammo carrier version) - White-4
left side view

Munitionsschlepper Wespe (ammo carrier version) - White-4
rear-left side view

Munitionsschlepper Wespe (ammo carrier version) - White-4
rear-right side view

Munitionsschlepper Wespe (ammo carrier version) - White-4
right side view

Munitionsschlepper Wespe (ammo carrier version) - White-4
1. Abteilung - 89. Panzer Artillerie Regiment - 24th Panzer Division (Wermacht)
 Italy, September, 1943.

Munitionsschlepper Wespe (ammo carrier version) - White-4
with Kojak and Rover, the dog.

Wespe - 10.5 cm leFH 18/2 auf GII - Sd.Kfz. 124  and Munitionsschlepper Wespe 
Wespe - 10.5 cm leFH 18/2 auf GII - Sd.Kfz. 124  and Munitionsschlepper Wespe



Wespe - 10.5 cm leFH 18/2 auf GII - Sd.Kfz. 124  and Munitionsschlepper Wespe
with Kojak and Rover, the dog.

      Indeed, the life of the German gunners was not easy. Notice the difference in the size of the combat posts between three contemporary weapons, of similar caliber ...
M7 105mm Priest HMC with dozer, Wespe 10,5cm and Sexton 25pdr. SPG
Allied vehicles were much more roomier

Sexton Mk I and Wespe 10,5cm HMC
less space, less ammo, more fatigue for the crew ...

Another size comparison possible thanks to scale models:
two transport vehicles and their armed versions, side by side ...
Kangaroo APC - "Defrocked Priest"and Munitionsschlepper Wespe
Sexton Mk I and Wespe 10,5cm HMC
Wespe - 10.5 cm leFH 18/2 auf GII - Sd.Kfz. 124  and Munitionsschlepper Wespe
1. Abteilung - 89. Panzer Artillerie Regiment - 24th Panzer Division (Wermacht)
 Italy, September, 1943.