The Hummel ("Bumble Bee") was a self-propelled artillery gun based on the Geschützwagen III/IV chassis, armed with a 15 cm howitzer.
It was used by the German Wehrmacht during the Second World War from late 1942 until the end of the war.
The full designation was Panzerfeldhaubitze 18M auf Geschützwagen III/IV (Sf) Hummel, Sd.Kfz. 165.
On February 27, 1944, Hitler ordered the name Hummel (German: "Bumblebee") to be dropped as being inappropriate for a fighting vehicle.
The Hummel was designed in 1942 out of a need for mobile artillery support for the tank forces, the lack of which had first been felt during Operation Barbarossa.
There were some self-propelled artillery vehicles already in service with the Wehrmacht at the time, but most were of limited value.
The first option looked at was to mount a 10.5 cm leFH17 howitzer on a Panzer III chassis, but this was rejected in favour of the same howitzer on a Panzer IV chassis.
One prototype was built of this design.
This design was again rejected, this time in favour of a more powerful solution: mounting the 15 cm sFH 18 L/30 howitzer on the specially designed Geschützwagen III/IV, which took elements of both the Panzer III (driving and steering system) and Panzer IV chassis (suspension and engine).
The same chassis was also used for the Nashorn tank destroyer.
The Hummel had an open-topped lightly armoured fighting compartment at the back of the vehicle which housed both the howitzer and the crew.
The engine was moved to the centre of the vehicle to make room for this compartment.
Late model Hummels had a slightly redesigned driver compartment and front superstructure, to offer more room to the radio operator and driver.
Because the basic Hummel could only carry a limited amount of ammunition, the Munitionsträger Hummel (ammunition carrier Hummel) was developed.
This was basically a standard production Hummel without the howitzer (a 10 mm armour plate covering the gun mount) and with racks fitted to hold the ammunition.
When necessary, these could still be fitted with the 15 cm howitzer of the normal Hummel; this could even be done as a field conversion.
By the end of the war 714 Hummels had been built with another 150 ammunition carriers using the same design.
The Hummel first participated in large scale combat at the Battle of Kursk, when some 100 Hummels were in service.
They served in armored artillery battalions or Panzerartillerie Abteilungen of the Panzer divisions, forming separate heavy self-propelled artillery batteries, each with 6 Hummels and one ammunition carrier.
Romania received one unit from the Red Army after the war ended.
The Hummel was used by the 2nd Armoured Regiment with the registration number U069009.
Officially known as the Hummel TAs self-propelled gun in the army inventory.
The gun couldn't be used because it was missing the lock.
It was shown to the public on the 10th of May Bucharest parade in 1946 with Romanian markings.
All German armour units in Romania were scrapped by 1954.
Five Hummels survived the war.
They may be seen at the Munster Deutsches Panzermuseum, the Wehrtechnische Studiensammlung in Koblenz and the Sinsheim Auto & Technik Museum in Germany, the Musée des Blindés in Saumur, France, and the Patton Museum of Cavalry and Armor in Fort Knox, Kentucky.
Type Self-propelled artillery
Place of origin Nazi Germany
In service 1942 - 1945
Wars World War II
Weight 24 tonnes (52,910 lbs)
Length 7.17 m (23.52 ft)
Width 2.97 m (9.74 ft)
Height 2.81 m (9.21 ft)
Crew 6 (Driver, gun crew (x5))
Armor 10–30 mm (.39 - 1.18 in)
Primary armament 1 × 15 cm sFH 18/1 L/30
Secondary armament 1 × 7.92 mm Maschinengewehr 34
Engine Maybach HL 120 TRM V-12 Petrol, 300 PS (296 hp, 221 kW)
Power/weight 12.5 PS/tonne
Suspension Leaf spring
Operational range 215 km (133 mi)
Speed 42 km/h (26 mph)