Sd.Kfz.164 ‘Nashorn’ Fgst.Nr.310063


Designed in 1942 as Panzerjäger, the Nashorn’s main task was to destroy heavy armored tanks at long range. As the Nashorn could be produced at relatively low cost and due to its superior mobility vs other heavier vehicles it remained in production until the end of the war.

Development

The Sd.Kfz.164 was designed in February 1942 by Alkett (Altmärkische Kettenwerke GmbH) weapons company by using components of both the Panzer III and Panzer IV tank. The 8,8 cm Panzerjägerkanone 43/1 (or shortly Pak 43/1), a long-barreled anti-tank gun known as the main armament of the Tiger II, was mounted on the rear of the chassis complete with its gun shield. An open-topped superstructure was built up around the gun to give the crew some protection. To accommodate the long and heavy gun, the hull had to be lengthened and the engine moved from the rear to the center of the chassis. The level of armor provided to the crew compartment was limited. They where protected from blast and small arms, but not armor piercing rounds. Therefore the vehicle was not intended to engage in tank fights, but to provide long distance tank cover with a powerful anti-tank gun.

After being approved by Hitler in October 1942, the type entered production in early 1943. In total 494 vehicles went into production of which the majority was built in 1943. Nashorn 310063 was built in April 1943. In January 1944 a new tank destroyer came to live, the Jagdpanzer IV! Though still primarily an ambush weapon, this vehicle was better built for armored engagements than the Sd.Kfz.164.

Production of the Nashorn continued into 1945, although at a slow pace.

In Combat

The Nashorn was issued to the heavy anti-tank battalions (Schwere Panzerjäger-Abteilungen). 6 would eventually be equipped with the SD.Kfz.164: Schwere Panzerjäger Abteilung 560, 655, 525, 93, 519 and 88. Each battalion was equipped with 45 Nashorns. Most of the Nashorns in these units fought either on the Eastern Front or in Italy, few having been sent to Western Europe. The Nashorn's gun was a variant of the Pak 43, one of the most effective anti-tank guns deployed during the war. The gun's performance enabled Nashorns to penetrate the front armor plating of any Allied combat vehicle and to engage enemy units while staying out of range themselves, thanks to its combination of excellent gun sights and optics and the highly-accurate gun.

The Sd.Kfz.164  made its combat debut during the Battle of Kursk in 1943, where it performed extremely well. The ability to engage the enemy at long distances outweighed the disadvantages of its light armor, lack of a roof and a large profile, and revealed that the weapon was well suited to the open and flat steppes that make up much of the landscape of what was then the western Soviet Union. However, in Italy, the hilly terrain was not as favorable to the Nashorn's ability to accurately engage enemy forces at long-range as in Russia.

On 1 May 1944, a Russian army tank of the 72nd Independent Guards Heavy Tank Regiment was lost after long-range fire from a German Nashorn tank destroyer at a range of 2600m.

Nashorn 310063 was destroyed in April 1945 in Köningsberg (known today as Kalinigrad). In the restoration project today, the authentic bullet holes are still clearly visible.

Restoration Project

Out of the 494 Nashorns produced, only 3 are left. 2 Nashorns are on display in military museums. One in the US and the other one in Russia (Patriot park military museum, Moscow). The 3rd one, Nashorn 310063, is owned by a Dutch restoration  'Vriendengroep' which devotes a lot of its time and money to restoring the Nashorn.

The project started back in April 2016. By 2019 a large part of the restoration was completed when, in March 2019, bad luck struck and the Nashorn was destroyed during a fire in the building where it was stored. In April 2019 it was decided by the team that instead of abandoning the project they would continue with the restoration and Sd.Kfz.164 ‘Nashorn’ 310063 was resurrected, hence the name of the project: Phoenix

Today the team raises money to support the project by selling T-shirts, hoodies and mugs.

Ultimate goal is to have the Sd.Kfz.164  completed to the smallest level of detail, including a new color scheme, and participate in re-enactment events.


I would like to thank the Nashorn Sd.Kfz.164 restoration 'Vriendengroep' for their hospitality and support. Go check out their Facebook page for more info: ‘Nashorn Sd.Kfz.164 restoration’ or vistit their Youtube channel: 'Jack-of-all-trades' 

Powered by SmugMug Owner Log In