Jagdpanzer 38(t) Hetzer Walkaround Book
The Hetzer was a tank destroyer based upon the chassis of the Czechoslovakian Panzer 38(t), which was modified accordingly. It was developed very quickly in order to counter the huge number of T-34s and other tanks being fielded by the Russians, which had exposed a need for an effective tank destroyer. From a wooden mock-up in January 1944, the first unit received 45 production models in July of that same year. An order of 1,000, upped to 2,000 was placed before the prototype was even built, such was the need and confidence in the type.
Equipped with the outstanding Rheinmetall-Borsig Pak 39 L/39 7.5cm anti-tank gun, Over 2,800 of the type were built until the end of the war, partly because until Italy fell into Allied hands, the factories in Prague and Pilsen were out of range of heavy bombers. Production was finally halted by American and then British raids that dropped over 900 tons of bombs on both factories. Post war however, the Swiss produced new examples, as did the Czechs, as well as repairing battle damaged chassis to give them a substantial force of almost 250, which they designated the ST-1.
The book starts with a one page introduction, then moves onto the different variants of the Hetzer, which seems to have changed on an almost monthly basis, although these changes did not affect the gross outline, but were responses to either combat feedback or attempt to streamline production.
Lots of period black & white photos follow, interspersed with modern colour photos of preserved examples, as well as some shots of wrecks that could be inspiration for dioramas. The various aspects of the vehicle that changed are also studied in detail, such as the flame damper and the gun mantlet, with some great pictures of the interior of an all-over grey machine’s interior, which is in superb condition, so every detail is visible. Some side profiles of notable examples are also given toward the back of the book, and the final few pages show some Swiss Hetzers on exercises after the war.
Another great walkaround book from Squadron Signal, and you get the impression that the preserved examples have been covered completely once you’ve reached the back of the book. The in-service pictures are excellent, and give plenty of ideas for dioramas, as well as how the Hetzer was designed, developed and deployed. It’s a good read too, with plenty of information imparted via the detailed captions to each photo.
I’m eyeing my Eduard Hetzer in the corner of the workshop as I type these last few words…