Monday, November 25, 2013

A Mystery Anti-Tank Gun

Recently I acquired, among a whole swodge of interesting additions to my WW2 and Moderns projects (heaps of stuff I'll be working on for quite a while, I reckon!), were a couple of small anti-tank weapons that have occasioned me some perplexity and puzzlement.  Right here, I offer my thanks to everyone who has attempted to resolve the mystery for me.
Mystery German anti-tank guns.

'Mystery' gun and PaK38 
Mystery gun and PaK38 -
different angle.  The latter looks much larger.
When I first saw examples of these, and observing the superficial similarity to the larger 7.5cm PaK40, I supposed they were 5cm PaK38s, if perhaps on the small side.  As such I was pleased to have them.  

But then I found that they were not very similar to PaK38s at all.  The examples I had ended up as the basis for Soviet 45L46 antitank guns instead. 

A huge contrast between these two:
PaK38 on the left; on the right the
'mystery' gun.
Thinking about this in more recent times, I wondered if they might be one of those tapered bore weapons.  The 28mm Solothurn I could rule out.  Those first generation Airfix fellows were reasonable examples of those, as the following pictures indicate. 

Two Airfix sPzB41 anti-tank guns/rifles.
These are from the first generation
Airfix 'Afrika Korps' set of figures.
Image found in the internet
in which wheels are attached

A Solothurn sPzB41 abandoned at Stalingrad
Ruling out the 28mm Solathurn (a.k.a. sPzB41) and the PaK38: what remained?
ESCI and Fujimi 37mm PaK35/36s.
The slightly larger scale ESCI gun has
entered service in the Red Army as
45mm L46 ATGs.  Compare with the 'mystery'
gun at the bottom right.
Not the 37mm PaK35/36, that's for sure.  Totally different look there, and the actual gun was bigger even with the weapons overall smaller profile.  The picture below serves to compare and contrast:
Another comparative picture.  The 45L46
can be removed from its base, making a much
more flexible war games arrangement than the
fixed PaK38 (acquired second hand).
 From left to right as we see it:
1. Mystery gun
2. Fujimi 37mm PaK35/36 Anti-Tank (from the PzIIIM/N kit)
3. ESCI 37mm PaK35/36 Anti-Tank painted up as a Soviet 45mmL46 gun.
4. Metal 50mm Pak38 Anti-Tank.

Finally I seemed to recall the existence of tapered bore gun slightly larger than the 28mm sPzB: the tapered bore 42mm PaK41.  This was not to be confused with a 7.5cm weapon also designated PaK41.  Online researches into the appearance of this weapon were pretty inconclusive, but came up with this, from the 'Historywarsweapons' site:

"The 4.2 cm Pak (Panzerabwehrkanone41 was a taper-bore anti-tank gun in service with the Wehrmacht between 1941 and 1945. ... 
Barrel length: 2.25 m
Weight: 560 kg
Elevation: -8º to +25º
Muzzle velocity: 1265 m/s (4,150 ft/s)
Effective range: 1,000 m"
The image footing the brief article I have some doubts about, but even so, I will take it as my 'authority'.  My newly acquired mystery guns will enter service with the Wehrmacht - or the Army of Orotina as the case may be - as 4.2mm tapered bore PaK41 anti-tank guns.  The barrel on the model, including the breech, is just on 30mm, which, at 1:76 scale, comes to between 2.28m and 2.29m: very close to the the 2.25m barrel length specification.  That will do me!
Finally, just to close this posting, here is a pair of Soviet 45mm L66 anti-tank I bought second hand with a whole bunch of other stuff some years ago.  All I did was touch up the guns and reflock the bases (I tend to a fairly minimalist approach to this).  It has to be admitted that in Command Decision terms, the huge bases could be a problem!


  1. good to see you've found what to do with those mystery guns. must say that without much detail it was easy to confuse them with loads of things.

  2. It was really the size - or lack of it - that had me going. Were it bigger I would have said 'PaK38' and left it at that.

  3. Replies
    1. From memory those little guns were indeed Eidai. I stll have the box they came in (accommodating figures or something). I don't see any actual identification of the gun model itself.. A lot of these Eidai and Hasegawa kits, though not the most challenging or accurate models around, did come with some very handy accessories, such as these guns, plus panzerfaust and/or panzerschreck as well.

  4. Ion, you probably saw my post on Paul's blog. The 4.2cm Pak 41 was VERY similar to the 3.7cm Pak. The carriage was virtually identical (slightly different suspension), minor differences in the breach, slightly longer gun and a double skin shield (but still similar in profile to the 3.7cm). Hogg's German Artillery of World War Two has several pictures from different angles. From your own picture the Eidai or ARII model looks nothing like the 3.7cm Pak.

    Cheers, Dave

    1. Actually, I did see it, and then did a bit more hunting, without much result. This comment provoked me to look further and at last I found some really useful information. Expressing the search in a slightly different way seems to have given me a more focused response.

      Yes the gun shield on the 42mm PaK41 was very similar to that of the PaK35/36, but it was not the same, and had a significantly lower profile. As such I can see how the left-facing elevation view (as in the penultimate pic above) could have misled me without actually being incorrect. Well, I did express some doubts about it.

      Where does that leave us? Clearly the only real problem is the gun shield. At that it might be (have been) employable elsewhere. It may be possible to modify the existing shield. Alternatively, I can remove them and scratchbuild something more appropriate.

      Thanks Dave, for the alert.

  5. Oh, by the way, I made a very useful discovery in my searches. The Germans produced a 7.5cm infantry gun with the same carriage and gun-shield as the PaK35/36. Very handy modification if one has more 37mm anti tank than one knows what to do with!

    1. Tasty bit of info here Ion! Cheers.

    2. That was the 7.5cm IG 37 (even though it was introduced in 1944). I have to quote a lovely tidbit from Hogg: "One of the interesting features of this weapon was the Allies' discovery on the first captured specimens of the Soviet star impressed into the shield. This caused a certain amount of speculation in intelligence circles before it was discovered that the carriages had originally been sold to Russia in prewar days, complete with the 3.7cm gun; they had then been used by the Russians, captured by the Germans on the Eastern front and then cannibalised to provide carriages for the new gun."

      Talk about recycling...!

      Cheers, Dave

  6. I've posted my wild guess:

    7.5cm Pak 50

  7. I also found the "kit" it came in - see my post - and on the box it is called an Anti-tank Gun 50mm.