Rommel's Artillery in the Desert


10.5cm le.Fh 18 Light Field Howitzer
Barrel at 0 degree for rare AT mission
Awaiting fire command
Firing despite folded up spores
Stonewall as rudimentary front protection in case of counter-battery fire
Signalling fire readiness ("Feuerbereitschaft")
Giving fire command
Fixing spars manually as digging-in not feasible
Battery lined up in windy sand condition
Dispatching the le.FH from the Sd.Kfz.11 3-ton halftrack
The 7-men crew preparing the fire position
Sd.Kfz.11 3-ton Light Halftrack - Motorizing the Light Artillery
On parade in Tripoli with the 5th Light Division
Climbing up the Jebel on winding roads
Into the Cyreneica with the engine cover removed, early April 1941
Note folded-down and covered windshield, Air ID swastika flag and open Ammo stowage doors

15cm sIG 33 L/11 auf Pz.Kpfw.II (Sf.)

In 1941, the Alkett Company was chosen to develop a SPG mounting the sIG 33 L/11 heavy infantry gun onto the chassis of the Pz.II Ausf.C.
After successful trials, WaPrüf 6 ordered 12 self-propelled guns of the so-called zero series (Null-Serie). The order was to be performed in August and September 1941.

Unlike the self-propelled gun mounted on PzKpfw I tank chassis, the new vehicle was fitted with a special new 15cm slG 33 infantry gun carriage without certain elements e.g. trails.
The gun was fixed to the vehicle’s floor. In the front, a new low gun-shield (14.5mm thick) was added.

Due to delays caused by the fact that Alkett factory was over-burdened with current orders, the vehicles were ready as late as December 1941 and January 1942.
Alkett manufactured a small series of 12 vehicles on PzKpfw II Sd Kfz 121 Ausf. C tank chassis (7 in December 1941 and 5 in January 1942).
They were allocated to the 707th and 708th Motorised Heavy Infantry Gun Company (schwere Infanterie Geschütz Kompanie).
Both companies were sent to the African front.

The 708th Company reached Tripoli on 28 February 1942, and the 707th Company arrived there on 4 April 1942, just in time for the Gazala offensive on 20 May 1942.
Seven self-propelled guns survived the spring and summer battles of 1942, but were destroyed during the fighting near El Alamein (23 October-2 November 1942).
It is also mentioned that one repaired self-propelled gun was used by the Egyptian army during the war against Israel in 1948.

15cm sFH 18 Heavy Field Howitzer

15cm sFH 13 L/17 auf Lorraine Schlepper (Sf.), SdKfz.135/1

The initial batch of thirty Alkett built 15 cm sFH 13/1 (Sf) auf GW Lorraine Schlepper(f) sent to North Africa was divided up between three different Panzer Divisions. Twelve were going to be sent to the 21st Pz.Div.. Another twelve were going to be sent to the The 15th Pz.Div. and the remaining six were to be issued to the 90th Leicht Division.

The first 10 15 cm sFH 13/1 (Sf) landed in Tobruk were reported on 26 July to be on their way to the front for Panzer-Artillerie-Regiment 155 of the 21st Pz.Div. Two left Tobruk on 17 August and nine on 20 August for Panzer-Artillerie-Regiment 33 of the The 15th Pz.Div. The last two s.F.H.13 Sfl. arrived at Tobruk on 24 August 1942, too late to take part in the attack on the Alamein position.

The s.F.H.13 Sfl. were first employed in action during Rommel’s final attempt to break through the Alamein defenses on 30 August.
The 15th Pz.Div. reported that three s.F.H.13 Sfl. were total losses, with two more temporarily out of action during the period from 30 August to 3 September 1942.

On 1 October, the 15th Pz.Div. reported that eight s.F.H.13 Sfl. were available in the Sfl.Batterie under Panzer-Artillerie-Regiment 33, and the 21st Pz.Div. reported 11 in the Sfl.Batterie under Panzer-Artillerie-Regiment 155.

All 19 were reported available on 23 October when the British launched their attack on the German defenses at El Alamein, but the number operational was not reported. All were reported as having been lost by 2 December 1942. Of the eight with the 15th Pz.Div., three were reported as total losses on 26 October, one on 27 October, one on 30 October, two on 3 November, and the last one on 8 November 1942.

Note: The following photos showing captured vehicles

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Last Updated: Sep 14, 2022