Marder I Tank Destroyer

7,5cm Pak 40 L/48 auf Gw Lorraine Schlepper(f) (SdKfz 135) known as a Marder (Marten, a small weasel-like mammal) I. When Germany invaded the Soviet Union in July 1941, they were shocked that their 37mm anti-tank guns had little stopping power against T-34 and KV-1 tanks. Desperate to counter Red Army armor, Captain Alfred Becker designed the Marder I and it was converted in Paris and Krefeld, Germany in July and August 1942. 170 of the captured French Tracteur de ravitaillement pour chars 1937 L, Tracteur Blinde 37L for short, (Tank Supply Tractor 37L) were mated with the 75mm PaK 40 anti-tank gun. With an open-topped compartment, limited armor, and a high profile, the Marder I was deployed to the Eastern Front for use with infantry divisions. While they racked up impressive scores, this had more to do with the training and experience of German crews, and the lack of effective armor doctrine among the poorly trained Soviet troops, than the success of the Marder I. Considered a stopgap measure until purpose-designed tank destroyers could take the field. Becker, now a Major commanding Sturmgeschutz Abteilung 200 as part of the 21st Panzer Division, took back twenty-four of the surviving Marders in 1943 for service in France, where the Bocage country allowed the vehicle to mount successful ambushes of Allied forces. The dwndling numbers of Marder Is were used throughout the war; some six vehicles were still fighting in March 1945. Additional Marder Is were made from Hochkiss and FCM36 tanks. Captain Becker's workshop also mated these chassis to PaK 40s as well, and they were known as Marder Is too.
Caption Written By: 
Jason McDonald
Date Photographed: 
Friday, January 1, 1943