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Elefant

Discussion in 'German Motorised Weapons' started by Jim, Feb 8, 2008.

  1. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Both the 12-ton Sd.Kfz. 8 half-track (at right) and the 8.8cm Flak 36 it is towing are camouflaged with a dark yellow pattern over dark grey. They are passing by the weapon that turned out to be the hit of the summer of 1943 the Elefant. During the fighting on the Kursk bulge, the Elefant won immortal fame as the heaviest AFV of this period. In the following decades this vehicle was described almost solely as unsuccessful and basically inefficient in combat. This description is based mainly on one statistic, the number of Elefants that were lost, which was 39 pieces. The losses were, in fact, heavy, but they were only about 50% of the strength of Jagdpanzer Regiment 656 (comprising Pz.Jag.Abt.653 and Pz.Jag.Abt.654). It should be noted that the same percentage of losses was experienced in some Tiger units. The German Elefant crews forced the Soviets to pay a very high price for their victories. As of 27 July 1943, during only 22 days of battle, the Elefants destroyed 502 tanks and many other weapons. The camouflage of the Elefant seen in this photo consists of large green spots on a dark yellow background. Note that there is no tactical number.

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  2. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    One of the 39 Elefants lost was captured in almost perfect condition by the Soviets. The vehicle showed only minor damages (the frontal parts of mudguards are shot off, for example). Note the camouflage pattern that was not typical of these self-propelled guns. The inscription on the superstructure reads: "Self propelled German gun 'Ferdinand' taken into captivity, together with the crew, by soldiers of 129th Orel Division". The division, commanded by Col. I.V. Panchjuk, took part in the capture of Orel city (with 4 other divisions and 3 tank units), and it was honoured with the name of the city. For many years it was thought that most of the Elefants were lost because they had no machine guns, but this is not true. Many of them were lost due to damage or a lack of fuel, not because of deadly shooting from enemy guns or infantry. The Elefant was an offensive weapon, so during retreating combat it had less chance of fighting successfully (especially in cities!), and many of them had to be abandoned on battlefields with only minor damage, like the one seen here.

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  3. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    The Elefants were so heavily armoured (200mm armour on the superstructure) that not one Soviet gun could penetrate their frontal armour during gun duels. Only anti-tank rounds from 152mm guns were effective in face-to-face duels, and then they enjoyed only limited success, however, if they were fired from ranges under 500 meters (547 yards). On the other hand, rounds from the Elefant’s 8.8cm gun could destroy any Soviet armoured target at any range, even over 2,000 meters. In this photo the crew of an Elefant is examining traces of hits from 76.2mm guns. These rounds could penetrate only about 1/4 of the armour plate’s thickness.


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