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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.

15 cm sFH 13/1 (Sf) Geschützwagen Lorraine Schlepper (f) - SdKfz 135/1 - case report

Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren...
      This project I conclude about 8 years ago. I took new pictures of her finished and now, let's publish this interesting vehicle. Let's talk about a very powerful and simple self-propelled artillery piece, much to the German taste of modifying and using captured material: let's talk about the might 15 cm sFH 13/1 (Sf) LrS - Sd.Kfz. 135/1.

      The 15 cm schwere Feldhaubitze 13/1 (Selbstfahrlafette) Geschützwagen Lorraine Schlepper (f) , abbreviated to 15 cm sFH 13/1 (Sf) LrS (identification number: Sd.Kfz. 135/1), was a German self-propelled artillery appeared during the Second World War . Made a bit less a hundred copies, the self-propelled gun was one of several armored vehicles produced by Nazi Germany with the reuse of captured or obsolete materials: it was a French artillery tractor Lorraine 37L which was coupled with a heavy field howitzer sFH 13 150 mm, without any other substantial modification.
An 15 cm schwere Feldhaubitze 13/1 (Selbstfahrlafette) Geschützwagen
Lorraine Schlepper (f) abandoned in the Desert Front - 1942.
      The vehicle was mainly used in North Africa by the Deutsche Afrika Korpd of General Erwin Rommel and by the troops placed in defense of the Atlantic Wall, operating from the second line with indirect support fire.

      The victorious French campaign in the spring of 1940 provided to Nazi Germany a huge war booty, including large quantities of French motorized vehicles: among these were also dozens of Lorraine artillery tractors 37L. For some years most of these vehicles were left in storage in warehouses, until at the beginning of 1942 an German officer stationed in Paris , Major Alfred Becker, thought about the use of these tractors for assembling various types of heavy artillery and with this provide the Army with simple and cheap yet battle effective self propelled guns.
Major Alfred Becker - engineer and artillery officer.
Born: 20 August 1899 - Krefeld, German Empire.
Died: 26 December 1981 (aged 82) - Viersen (Krefeld am Rhein)

      Major Becker was assigned to Alkett to create these mobile field pieces for Rommel in North African campaign. The battles in the open spaces like the desert placed a premium on mobility. The Lorraine chassis, with its forward engine design and reliability, lent itself to this SPG conversion.
A German Sd.Kfz. 135/1, a 15 cm self-propelled howitzer on a french Lorraine tractor chassis,
 North Africa - 1942
      The resulting vehicle, known as 15 cm sFH13/1 (Sf) auf Geschützwagen Lorraine Schlepper (f), obtained the approval from the Oberkommando des Heeres (OKH), which issued a directive for the immediate manufacture of the vehicles. The waepons were immediately shipped to North Africa for use with the Afrika Korps.
15 cm sFH 13/1 (Sf) Geschützwagen Lorraine Schlepper (f) - SdKfz 135/1
in the desert of  North Africa - 1942.
      The manufacture began in May 1942: the Alkett was responsible for providing the superstructures and the modified vehicles were delivered to Paris and finalized there on the hulls of the forty prepared Lorraine tractors under the supervision of Major Becker. At the beginning of July, another seventy-eight Lorraine were subjected to the conversion process. Ninety-four units were built in total, although it is not known when the modifications had actually ended.

An immaculate 15 cm sFH 13/1 (Sf) Geschützwagen Lorraine Schlepper (f) - SdKfz 135/1
in field tests. Notice the painting in panzer-gray. 
Operational use:
    Of the units already produced, some were sent by ship to Libya: ten units went to the artillery groups of the 21. Panzer-Division and eleven to the 15. Panzerdivision.  Some sources reports different data: it was planned to deliver twelve to each of the Panzerdivisions and six to the 90. leichte Division , but during the sea trips between July and August some vehicles were lost and only twenty-three arrived at their destination.
     The 15 cm sFH 13/1 (Sf) Geschützwagen Lorraine arrived too late to contribute to the Battle of Gazala, took part in the advance to El Alamein and unsuccessful attempts of General Rommel to continue towards Alexandria in Egypt. Then they fought during the Battle of el-Alamein, but by the end of November 1942, all the Lorraines had been destroyed or abandoned and then captured by the 8th British Army.
A German 15 cm sFH 13/1 (Sf) Geschützwagen Lorraine Schlepper (f) - SdKfz 135/1
in North Africa, captured by the 8th British Army - November 1942.
      The rest of the units produced remained in Europe and there are no reports of the use of these weapons on the Eastern frontiers or the Italian front.
A 15 cm sFH 13/1 (Sf) Geschützwagen Lorraine Schlepper (f) - SdKfz 135/1 - code A245
in North Africa, captured by the British  - November 1942.
The same 15 cm sFH 13/1 (Sf) Geschützwagen Lorraine Schlepper (f) - SdKfz 135/1 - code A245 seeing above
     On D-day Normandy landings, 6 June 1944 the German forces in France still counted fifty-four of these self-propelled howitzers Lorraine in their ranks.
An american GI poses in front an abandoned 15 cm sFH 13/1 (Sf) Geschützwagen Lorraine Schlepper (f)
France, Normandy - June 1944. 
15 cm sFH 13/1 (Sf) Geschützwagen Lorraine Schlepper (f)
France, Normandy - 21. Panzer Division - June 1944. 
      Exactly as it had been in other French hulls conversions, Major Becker retained the chassis of the Lorraine and designed an open-superstructure to contain the field howitzer, attaching it on the tractor's rear floor. Overall the self-propelled gun weighed 8.5 tons and exerted a ground pressure of 0.64 kg / cm² also due to the narrow tracks. To keep a light weight, the vehicle did not have heavy armor. The front armour and the shield were 10 mm thick and inclined at 8 °; the sides measured 9 mm at 12 ° and the rear, with the same inclination, was equipped with a 7 mm thick plate. The hull had 12 mm armor on the rounded snout, 9 mm for sides and rear, and 5 mm for the floor.

      In the tractor's rear superstructure, a 150 mm Ig. sFH 13/1 L17 heavy howitzer with 17 calibers (L17-long barreled) was install. Dating back to the World War I , the weapon was slightly modified for this particular use.
German 15 cm sFH 13 L14 (14 caliber - short barreled) howitzer displayed as a monument in Brantford, Ontario

Artillerymen of 5. Badisches Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr. 76 (29th Division) pose beside a
150 mm sFH 13/1 L17 caliber (long barreled) heavy howitzer near Vimy - France. April, 1917.
     The heavy howitzer had a limited manual transverse of 5 ° to the left and right, while the elevation covered an arc from 0 to + 40 °. The aim was achieved thanks to a telescopic sight Rblf. 36. The maximum range of the piece was about 8.620 meters; the high explosive shells used were 42 kilos each and reached a muzzle velocity of 365 m/s.
       Because of the size and weight of the ammunition and the tractor's dimensions, the SdKfz 135/1 presented a major problem of storage of ready-to-use projectiles: only eight of then.
A British officer inspects the cramped interior of a
15 cm sFH 13/1 (Sf) Geschützwagen Lorraine Schlepper
captured in Africa.
       For close defense and anti-aircraft use, a 7,92mm MG 34 machine gun could be installed in the right front corner of the vehicle superstructure.
A line of 15 cm sFH 13/1 (Sf) Geschützwagen Lorraine Schlepper in the road.
Notice the driver's station completely open and the 7,92mm MG 34 machine gun
(with AA sight) in the right front corner of the superestructure.
Because of the color (panzer-gray) and driver behavior,
these vehicles are not in front line. Maybe moving to an inspection ...
       Firing operations revealed the instability of the weapon system, so a large tailskid was hinged to the rear of the superstructure, which was lowered to touch the ground to keep the vehicle firmly in place when firing.
A rear view of 15 cm sFH 13/1 (Sf) Geschützwagen Lorraine Schlepper (f) - SdKfz 135/1.
Notice the tailskid in lowered position.
21. Panzer Division - Lybia, 1942.
      The engine was the original, a Delahaye 103 TT six- cylinder, displacing 3.556cc , water-cooled and delivering 70 hp at 2 800 rpm ; it was fueled by petrol and the attached tank could contain up to 111 liters.

     The front mechanical transmission was connected to a manual not synchronized gearbox with five forward gears and one reverse; the steering was done through the use of two directional levers assisted by the action of the clutch and the brake, also there was a differential to facilitate off-road driving.  Six large road wheels in three pairs of bogies gave a low ground pressure and good weight distribution. Each bogie is allowed a vertical movement in its entirety, sprung by an inverted leaf spring assembly located just below the upper track run, the three assemblies being placed between the four top rollers.
   The suspension was completed with the front drive sprockets and the rear idler wheels.  The rear ones were reinforced by the Germans to better withstand the additional weight of the armament. The tracks had not been replaced: they consisted of 109 steel links with an outer tooth guide and measured 220 mm in width. There was no type of shock absorber.
Lorraine tractor suspension
      Of the crew only the driver sat in the hull, while commander and servants remained in the open casemate, thus exposed to the danger of air strikes, shrapnel or infantry ambushes. For communications, a FuG Sprf radio was available with a 3-kilometer radius when the vehicle was stationary, with a 1.40 or 2 meter high-styled antenna.

      The vehicle was capable of a maximum speed of 34 km/h on paved road and 13 km/h in off-road conditions; The autonomy was 135 and 88 kilometers, respectively. The self-propelled howitzer could overcome rather deep fords (0.85 meters), trenches up to 1.80 meters wide and vertical obstacles 0.56 meters high. The suspension clearance was 18/30 centimeters.
A captured 15 cm sFH 13/1 (Sf) Geschützwagen Lorraine Schlepper (f) - SdKfz 135/1
being taken for rear-end evaluations by the British, in a  British M9 12 wheel trailer tank transporter.

15 cm sFH 13/1 (Sf) LrS 
Sd.Kfz. 135/1
TypeSelf-propelled artillery
Crew4 (commander, gunner, loader, pilot)
DesignerAlfred Becker
Entered in serviceSummer 1942
Main userGermany
No. built94 (?)
Derived from                                                                    Lorraine 37L
Dimensions and weight
Length5.21 m
Width2.23 m
Height1.83 m
Weight8.5 t
Fuel capacity110 liters
Propulsion and technique
EngineDelahaye 103 6-cyl. 3.556 cc  -petrol - air-cooled
Power70 hp @ 2 800 rpm
Weight / power ratio8.2 hp / t
SuspensionsSemi-elliptical leaf springs
Speed ​​on the road34 km/h
Off-road speed13 km/h
135 km on-road

88 km off-road
Gradiente max.24° (45%)
Armament and armor
Aiming apparatusOptical sight Rblf.36
Main armament
range 6200 m; traverse:14° left & right; elevation: 
0° to 40°
Second. armament1x 7.92 mm MG 34 machine gun
Ammo8 rds
Front armor9 - 12 mm at 35°
Lateral armor9 mm at 10° - 35°
Back armor9 mm at 11° - 36°
Upper armor6 mm
Lower armor5 mm
The kit:
      As I said before, this project is quite old, about 8 years ago. For the construction of this beauty, I used this RPM's kit (#35053), the Normandy version of the 15 cm sFH 13/1 (Sf) Geschützwagen Lorraine Schlepper (f) - SdKfz 135/1     
RPM's kit 35053 15 cm sFH 13/1 (Sf) auf GW Lr. S. (f) - SdKfz 135/1     
Starting by cleaning the injection marks (which are many ...)

The instructions are Spartans....

Removing the two central rivets from transmission cover ...

Cleaning the suspension spring clamps .... I see this as something physically painful ...
      Starting by the suspensions...
First of all, the bogies...

the semi-elliptical springs ...

The return rollers brackets...

...return rollers...

springs conectors...

semi-elliptical spring limiters ...

return rollers of the extremities...

The infamous spring clamps...and some beer to help swallow this boring step !!

The beer-etched working like a glove!!!

Adding final details...
     This was a very cheap project: original RPM vinyl tracks !!! For the strongest !!!
Friulmodel tracks are for fragile and sissy girls !!!

Testing the wheel alignment... The drive sprocket wheel's condition is hopeless ...
      Trying to turn the horrendous into something acceptable ...
Drive sprockets!!!  Mother of God!!

Increasing the inner thickness of the wheels...
      Phew ... While my heartbeat returns to normal, let's devote ourselves to one small detail: since I'm going to make the Normandia version, I need extra wheels to attach to the front armor (a characteristic of this version ...). But the sweet RPM did not include those spare wheels in your kit. Is not it awesome ???
The spare wheel in the front armor...
      Where are the wheels ???
RPM booklet...Where are the wheels ???

Testing...Notice the gap between the armor plates ...
Testing... Where are the spare wheels ???
Notice the cooper wires as handles...
Notice the gun support in place...

      But back to the spare wheels, luckily, I have another RPM kit available to copy the wheels. I would hate to sacrifice a kit just for this ... Time to copy the parts !!!
And since I'm going to make a wheel's mold,.. I'll double it ...
I will use paper tape to made the form  and as a molding material, dental reversible hydrocolloid.
      The dental reversible hydrocolloid already liquefied by heating (in microwave ... it is very important not to boil !!)
The hydrocolloid already liquefied...

The hydrocolloid shed in the mold of wheels...

Now just wait for the liquid to cool and gel ...
I will use dental acrylic to reproduce (casting) the new wheels ...

The mold gelled and without the wheels. Perfect!!

Adding acrylic in the mold ...

And the spare wheels done!!!

Gaps and howitzer with tons of putty!!!
      Well...painting time: dark yellow with dark green and red brown!!  German Normandy era cammo!!
Front view

Painting the spare wheels...

The howitzer in position...

rear view...
      And the girl was ready. 15 cm sFH 13/1 (Sf) Geschützwagen Lorraine Schlepper (f) - SdKfz 135/1. - 21. Panzer Division - Panzer Artillery Regiment 155 - 5th Battery - II. Abteilung -  France, Normandy - June 1944
15 cm sFH 13/1 (Sf) Geschützwagen Lorraine Schlepper (f) - SdKfz 135/1.
21. Panzer Division - Panzer Artillery Regiment 155
5th Battery - II. Abteilung -  France, Normandy - June 1944

15 cm sFH 13/1 (Sf) Geschützwagen Lorraine Schlepper (f) - SdKfz 135/1.
21. Panzer Division - Panzer Artillery Regiment 155
5th Battery - II. Abteilung -  France, Normandy - June 1944

15 cm sFH 13/1 (Sf) Geschützwagen Lorraine Schlepper (f) - SdKfz 135/1.
with Kojak and Rover, the dog.

Bis bald, meine Kameraden !!