Heuschrecke 10 (German Grasshopper)

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by Smudger Jnr, Jan 17, 2010.

  1. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    I came across a mention of the above named Tank / Self Propelled Gun and found it quite interesting, the concept of transporting a ready made AT Gun and at the same time before deployment, being a normal tank.

    Heuschrecke 10 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



    German WWII tank photos by Laszlo Nyary.

    This was the novel concept of a portable pillbox. Only 3 prototypes built. A fully rotating turret could be removed and replaced on the ground using a lifting gantry on the vehicle. Separate wheels and mounting pad components were carried on the tank. It was mounted on the Pz III/IV chassis developed for the Hummel.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]



    Only three prototypes apparently produced so not much chance of them being used in the field unless someone has further information.

    von Poop likes this.
  2. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    First of all the piece was a 10.5 cm howitzer, not an anti-tank gun.

    Also, one can't simply unload the turret on any old piece of real estate. No, beforehand there has to be a prepared base for the turret to fit in, which means that the Engineers have to be in place a few days before to lay down the foundation, be it in concrete, steel or whatever.

    Also considering the pretty state German production was by the end of 1944, I think this is more of another cloud-cuckoo project to keep some design team from being despatched to the Russian Front!

    The equivalent and much better vehicle would be the Wespe SPG, mounting the same howitzer, and not needing to dtrack resources to an overcomplicated design that would never work as intended. Considering the Wespe was based on the Pz.II chassis, using a Pz.IV chassis for the same piece was a criminal waste!
  3. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    It's also worth remembering that there were two tested variants of the demountable gun concept. Both Rheinmettal and Krupp submitted prototypes.
    A Krupp one (above) now resides in the Aberdeen Collection.
    Remarkably the Duxford owned Rheinmettal selbstahrlafette (In my opinion a marginally more credible vehicle) also survives, and is apparantly sat in Mr Wheatcroft's sheds for some reason:
    (The third Krupp proposal for the concept never apparently left the drawing board, though there were other spin-offs from the design process.)

    They were intended to carry a variety of calibre/role guns eventually, a 'Type 10' for a 10.5cm or 10cm gun, and a 'Type 15' envisoned with a 15cm or 12.8cm.

    I don't believe they ever made it to action, or possibly even troop trials, but would have to double check to be sure. (They confuse me slightly.)
  4. Stig O'Tracy

    Stig O'Tracy Senior Member

    What would be the problem with digging a ditch you can drive the vehicle into and when things get too hot you just back it out and run off to a new hiding spot?
  5. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    The concept, certainly with the Krupp variant, was that each vehicle could have two demountable guns, one fitted as the 'turret', and another identical one towed behind. Then when the guns were emplaced you had handy Munitionschlepper/recovery/general tracked vehicles knocking around to serve the emplacement.

    If you look at it as a field artillery carrier with the added stop-gap facility to fire 'portee', rather than as a tank with a removable turret, it makes a lot more sense.
  6. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    But still you'd need to have the poor sods having to dig and install the b****y emplacement infrastructure, which defeats the whole mobility concept of making semi-mobile fortifications. Any old truck with a gantry crane would do, so why sacrifice an entire set of tank mechanics at a time when you needed your utmost to avoid the Gotter join the Dämmerung, eh?

    Another silly kraut idea, these guys looked like Tolkienian Dwarves, obssessed with their machines while losing the notion of their actual purpose :p
  7. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Not really any more emplacement effort & digging in than for any field gun, possibly less as the gun had more built in armour, & the piece could simply be dumped on the ground. They envisioned considerably more guns than chassis so the artillery units could increase their fluidity of movement if required, and gain maximum tracked mobility with some added assault capacity.

    I'm not so sure it fits the bill for really stupid weapon systems, perhaps mostly by virtue of the fact it never went into production. Their designers & military men were not always quite as daft as often cited on these special projects and they eventually plumped for more conventional designs, so we can hardly blame them for actually deciding not to press on with the project. The process of investigating demountable guns also fed into later waffentrager projects, a useful stop-gap when the production/supply crisis really began to bite.
  8. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    I must admit that I fail to see the purpose of this. Why would you want to give up mobility? Fixed emplacements were suicidal especially in the face of overwhelming Allied air supremacy. As Za says, it kept a Design Team from being inducted into the Volksturm and marched off East!
  9. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    Adam, if you're just going to drop the thing on the ground how is it going to be rotated? On earthworm bearings?

    And who's going to crew it? Munchkins? Legless mutilated vets? :lol:

    No, you need a minimum structure for this, you need to dig a hole and emplace some infrastructure.

    For an equivalent look at those Panther turret fortifications, or tank turrets on the Atlantic Wall.


  10. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    I think a real misconception's crept in here. There's very little in common with tank turret fortifications.
    These vehicle's guns are no more completely fixed emplacements than any other field gun - each demountable piece had wheels for if the situation required, (the Reinmettal one even having a full conventional trail permanently fitted), the idea was to have a completely normal field piece when it was dismounted.
    The wheels were removed and carried on the rear of the body for turret mounting, and fitted for towing or emplacing. Or the wheel-less gun could indeed just be plonked on the ground, it's integral carriage allowing full traverse.

    I thought it worthwhile scanning these from Spielberger to better illustrate the concept:


    The idea is definitely more one of giving artillery units a vehicle that can take multiple guns forwards or backwards as the situation demands across the sort of rough country that only full tracks can handle.
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2017
  11. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    Ok, so it has a turntable. Nevertheless it's going to be operated by a crew of legless amputees, and you still get more mobility for the same bang for less money with a Wespe or a French Hotchkiss/Lorraine/whatever SPG.

    Also setting the thing on the ground would limit high angle fire, which is the raison d'être of howitzers.

    So you get a casemated short ranged low angle howitzer crewed by Sturmmidgets with 30mm front but an open top.

    By the way, looking up on other photos in good old Doyle/Chamberlain's German Tanks Encyclopedia, I can't see any way to fix the baseplate on the ground. Cerainly no big spades to dig on the ground as on a regular artillery piece, or those suspect looking nails on the Flak 36. So when firing what is going to happen, will the Überwaffe make a sudden and acrobatic retreat towards the Heimat?

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  12. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    So you get a casemated short ranged low angle howitzer crewed by Sturmmidgets with 30mm front but an open top....Also setting the thing on the ground would limit high angle fire, which is the raison d'être of howitzers.
    Not necessarily, the idea was to have assorted pieces from AT guns to indirect fire jobs, what you get is essentially a normal gun sat on the ground. Have a shufti at the Reinmettal one in those wheatcroft shots and you'll see a pretty much unaltered gun, certainly far less so than the Krupp suggestion. The mounting is designed to give no compromise over what a conventional field piece can do. Anything else would indeed be silly.

    and you still get more mobility for the same bang for less money with a Wespe or a French Hotchkiss/Lorraine/whatever SPG.
    Which is why they abandoned it and stuck with, or switched to, those concepts. Not entirely thick those german engineers & soldiers, despite the man-hours invested in an above average level of assorted peculiar prototypes ;).

    All nations had their peculiar prototypes to bear...
  13. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    Donnerwetter, Adam! I'm going to catch the next plane to Blighty, find wherever you are and stick your head in a bathtub filled with vulture droppings until you see the light and admit this was another crappy and unworkable idea :D This reminds me of my last talk with the Mahatma :lol:

    The only way for this to technically work was to put it in a propoer emplacement as the two examples I gave above :) With enough room for the crew's legs and for the breech to recoil at elevation! And preferably with a roof, otherwise I wouldn't give it 10 minutes with a mortar in the neighbourhood!

    Oh, and a proper way to hold it on the ground, or every time it fired it would become temporarily if rather erratically airborne :p
  14. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    You know full well I'm nearly as cynical as you regarding the old hunt for Wunderwaffen, but it's worth giving some credit where credit's due - they may have been a bit loopy sometimes, but doubtless they'd have addressed the issues of securing etc. Just because we don't have the specific info doesn't mean they didn't sort such things.

    The broad design concepts may have often been flawed, from Interleaved wheels to the Maus, and several points between, but it seems churlish to assume that German Engineers weren't actually rather good at the details.

    Not that there's anything definitely wrong with being churlish ;).
  15. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    I never thought I would cause so much debate on this project. :D

    After reading a reference I thought it was a case of Engineers "Thinking outside the box" for new ideas and utilising an old chassis.

    I personally think it looks ok, but perhaps that's as far as it goes as the project was dropped, albeit at the very late stage of the war.

  16. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    It's good stuff Tom, I've not had a bit of Panzer-Streit for a while ;).
  17. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin


    I have just ressurected an old thread that may cause a little more headscratching.:D

  18. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    I never thought I would cause so much debate on this project. :D

    ah go on, You just knew the "Armored Boffins" would be pouring over this as soon as you posted it!! :p

    Well done though!
  19. Phaethon

    Phaethon Historian

    Tanks are waaaay out of my area of expertise but the idea behind this seems to me to be a tank with a removable ATG sticking out the top of it; not a mobile turret.
  20. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    There's another way of looking at this project...

    Don't forget that the Germans came up with a number of small mobile pillboxes ;) Big enough for one or two men. At the time this was designed, it could be viewed as being at the top of that particular design path...

    As for why put it on a tank chassis - like an AVRE, it would be expected to get its cargo/emplacement forward under fire at some time in its life...AND to operate away from roads etc. so would need the all-terrain capability of a tracklayer.

    The question then would be - how MUCH preparation would such an installation need? Could it for instacne simply be plonked on top of a foxhole, for the depth? Is it JUST a case of the stabilisation?

    As for it flipping...do we have any pics of the actual trials? Look how many of the SPGs mentioned above are for instance pictured NOWADAYS without their rear ploughs/trails/wheelie bars :) IIRC one of the aforementioned Lorraine-based SPGs it's parked nearby at Aberdeen is sans its gurt big trail, for example. We don't KNOW there was no form of recoil stabilisation....

    10.5 cm leFH 18M - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    ...and we should remember there's an even BIGGER muzzle brake on the Grasshopper's gun than even the one mentioned in the body of the above. It could be that recoil was kept down to a minimum..

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