Tank VK 4501 (P) or "Tiger" Porsche design was first shown to Hitler 20 April 1942, along with its main rival VK 4501 (1-1) "Tiger" development offices Henschel. According to the views of Hitler, in a batch creation had to go to both machines. They were asked to produce small batches. This decision vigorously resisted office arms of Germany, whose employees could not endure Hitler's pet designer Ferdinand Porsche. The tests revealed no trivial advantage of one over the other cars. With all this willingness to release the construction of tanks Porsche was higher. By July 6, 1942 it was ready to send in troops 16 tanks VK 4501 (P), to which the company Krupp has ended creation of the towers. At the same time rival — the company Henschel could pass at this time only one tank and that without the tower. 1st Battalion of the "Tigers" Porsche was to be formed by August 1942 and sent to Stalingrad, but suddenly office arms suspended all work on the tank for 1 month.
At this time, the managers showing Hitler used to develop a self-propelled guns based on the tanks VK 4501 and the Pz IV. Machines based on the VK 4501 had to get on arms latest anti-tank gun Pak 43/2 88 mm caliber. Specifically with the filing of the Office of the arms was decided to rework all finished and being in the chassis assembly VK 4501 (P) in the ACS.
Design work on the project began in September 1942. Engaged in the design, Porsche designers in conjunction with the Berlin plant Alkett., Who had extensive experience in the development of assault weapons. Because bronerubku planned to locate in the rear of the vehicle, the assembly endured tank chassis configuration. The engine and generators were installed in the middle of the body. First you have to collect the ACS in Berlin, but this venture had to quickly turn away because there were difficulties with transportation by rail and unwillingness to suspend the creation of StuG III, who were the main products of the plant Alkett. As a result, the assembly tank destroyer took place at the plant Nibelungenwerke. As a symbol of respect to the designer Ferdinand Porsche, Hitler's personal order they were given the official title of Ferdinand.
To say whether the Germans more successful ACS exactly impossible, but the fact that it has left in the memory of Russian soldiers indelible memory — the truth. It came to that from the second half of 1943, almost every Russian troops destroyed his report at least one ACS "Ferdinand." If you sum up all the lost data on Russian reports of machines, the bill will go to the thousand. The piquancy of the situation lies in the fact that throughout the war, the Germans released 90 "Ferdinand" and a few other ARV based on them. Hard to find another standard technique 2nd World War, which was released as a small series, but with all this got such fame. In the Red Army in the "Ferdinand" recorded virtually all of the German self-propelled guns of large size: Mrader II, Hummel, Nashorn, Vespa, etc. The emergence of this myth is related to the well known car in the Red Army. It was connected with the prevalence of brochures on how to combat this self-propelled guns and unknowledgeable about the other fighter ACS Wehrmacht.
ACS Ferdinand had a very unusual assembly with the placement of the crew compartment in the rear of the vehicle in the spacious cockpit armor. The stern was fighting compartment gun, ammunition and four crew members. In the central part of the machine was the MTO, which were installed in the 2 motors, ventilation and heat sink assembly, generators, fuel tanks. At the front of the chassis ACS finds a place of the driver and radio operator. With all of this direct communication between the department of management and fighting compartment was not. They were defeated by the power plant equipment and heat resistant metal partitions.
Body armor, "Ferdinand" went into his inheritance from languid tank design Porsche. It was assembled from sheets of hardened armor-drawn surface width of 100 mm. — Head-body, 80 mm — the highest part of the board, 60 mm — bottom of the board. At ACS head-booking body was strengthened with additional armor plates width of 100 mm., Which was attached to the armor-head bolts with bullet resistance. The total thickness of the frontal armor was 200 mm. With all this body armor did not have optimal tilt angles. Airborne Corps armored plates were connected with feed and head-on "in the spike." With all of this on both sides are welded together. Bottom of the car had a thickness of 20 mm. In the front part of the body were ACS hatches for a radio operator and driver. On the roof of the central part of the body placed louvers for intake and venting of the engines.
Bronerubka Tank Destroyers "Ferdinand" was collected from a 200-mm (forehead) and 80 mm (sides and stern) of armor plates. Side plates were placed at an angle to make the design more snaryadostoykosti. For reservations frontal part of the cabin was used forged armor of the supplies of the German Navy. Armored plates also connected "to spike" in critical areas amplified by Gougeon and scald to full density. At the sides (one side) and aft cabin (three) had hatches with plugs for firing of personal weapons. In addition to the aft cabin was a round door, which was intended to substitute guns or emergency escape ACS crew, she also carried a loaded ammunition. In the roof of the cabin had two hatches for boarding / landing four crew members: commander, gunner and 2-charging.
The main armament was the self-propelled 88-mm long-barreled rifled cannon StuK 43 with a barrel 71 gauge. Cannon mass of 2200 kg. equipped with a massive two-chamber brake and mounted in the front of the cabin, hiding behind a mask of a special ball. In the stowed position, the trunk was laid on a special mount. The gun was equipped with with 2 recoil device that had been placed at the edges and in the upper part of the trunk, and automatic vertical shutter. Mechanisms pointing guns were placed on the left side, near the gunner's
seat. Pointing the gun carried by periscope sight has a five-fold increase and a field of view of 8 degrees.
The gun had a strong ballistics and at the time of the occurrence was the most massive in the middle of the tank and self-propelled guns. Until the end of the war this tool easy to hit most of the Allied armor. Certain difficulties may arise only from the frontal armor of tanks M26 «Pershing" and IS-2 and then only at certain angles and distances of course. Ammunition of the guns was 50 shots, the "Elephanta" — 55. In ammunition guns were armor-piercing, piercing and high-explosive shells.
In late 1943 early 1944, all remaining in service "Ferdinand" (total 47 pieces) were planned modernization. Realized works included the installation in the front of the chassis ACS MG-34 machine gun in a ball mount. Also, the substitution of the gun barrels, shield on the gun barrel was deployed "backwards" to embody the best mount on the roof of the conning tower was mounted observation cupola with seven periscopes motionless. Additionally been improved sealing of the exhaust pipes, made a change on lighting poles generator also enhanced reservation in the bottom front of the chassis 30 mm armor plate for added protection from mines (1.35 meters). Ferdinand received a wider track, increased by 5 shots ammunition, paint finish tsimmeritom.
Over the last upgrade ACS stuck title "Elephant." But the order to rename the ACS was not signed until February 27, 1944, after carrying out all the work on modernization. With all this new title stuck badly and right up to the end of the war in the official documents of the self-propelled guns and troops often called "Ferdinand." With all this in English literature in most cases used the last title ACS, because in battles with the Anglo-American troops in Italy participated machine specifically with this name.
More massively "Ferdinand" were used during the operation "Citadel" in 1943, acting on the northern end of the bulge of the Kursk salient. It was the only time during the war, when the ACS data were used at the front in such numbers. New German self-propelled guns in the 2-made battalions (653 and 654) languorous assault guns were fighting in the vicinity of the station Ponyri.
The battle for the station Ponyri of fundamental importance and located at the railway branch Orel-Kursk, had a very stubborn character. By July 9, leaving the station to take the blows of the sample in the forehead, the Germans suffered a stroke in the north-east direction through the farm "1st May". Was formed to strike big strike group composed of 654 came in the first battalion of languid assault guns, armed with "Ferdinand".
According to the reports of Russian gunners in this day the Germans for the first time used a new martial construction of the "in-line" with the ACS "Ferdinand" in the head of the group. The battalion was acting in self-propelled languid 2 lanes. In the first tier, two companies of the battalion moved to the interval between the cars in the 100 meters, in the 2nd tier was the third company with an interval of between 120-150 meters in ACS. Company commanders were at the heart of battle formations, their commander "Ferdinand" were marked by special flags on the antennas.
"Ferdinand" advancing, leading fire during a small stops, hitting the target with a distance of 1000-2500 meters. Having undergone the concentrated fire of artillery or encountering a minefield, machinery retreated back up to any cover-up, which were rebuilt, changing the direction of movement. With all this self-propelled guns have always tried to expose the enemy own immune from artillery fire forehead.
Russian artillery, making sure that the strike "Ferdinand" can not have missed the strong ACS minefield, opening fire from the flank and rear on medium tanks and assault guns, coming after them. As a result of this strike group Germans suffered the loss of languid and was obliged to move to the state farm "1st May". Samples breakthrough to the station Ponyri eventually came to nothing lead, and left in a minefield 12-15 ACS failed to evacuate. Evacuation prevented a very large weight machines and the incessant attacks of the Russian infantry and tanks. All during the battles near the station Ponyri Germans lost 21 ACS.
Most of the surveyed "Ferdinand" struck a mine field, which used homemade bombs from captured bombs and shells. More than half the cars had damage to the chassis (the destruction of rollers, the gap caterpillars) of mine. 5 cars were damaged chassis, which were caused by artillery shells hit a 76-mm caliber and more than 2 self-propelled guns were disabled because of shooting their gun barrels shells and anti-tank rifle bullets. Another one, "Ferdinand" was destroyed by a direct hit with bombs bomber Pe-2 shell and 203-mm howitzer in the roof of the crew compartment. Only one self-propelled gun was lined hole in the left side, which was made 76-mm armor-piercing projectile. This "Ferdinand" was fired from all directions 7 T-34 tanks and a battery of 76-mm divisional guns at a distance of 200-400 meters. Another machine was set on fire infantrymen with a bottle of the COP.
During the Battle of Kursk, the Germans lost irretrievably 39 cars. According to the German data for the July-August 1943 ACS was hit more than 500 Russian armored vehicles. Even if we consider that this number may be too high, the efficiency of their use was still pretty good. After the Battle of Kursk "Ferdinand" were used only porotno, having to do some fighting in Italy, Galicia and Germany. 2 self-propelled guns were hit by Russian troops during the battle for Berlin.
The performance properties of Ferdinand:
Weight: 65 tons
Length 8.14 m, width 3.38 m, height 2.97 m
Crew: 6 people.
Reservations: Up to 200 mm.
Armament: 88-mm gun StuK 43 L/71, 7,92-mm machine gun MG-34, after the upgrade
Ammunition: 55 shells, 600 rounds of ammunition.
Engine: two 12-cylinder liquid-cooled gasoline engines "Maybach» HL 120TRM, 300 hp each.
The highest speed: on the highway — 30 km / h on the road — 15 km / h
Progress in store: on the highway — 150 km., Cross country — 90 km.