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Mar 14, 2013

"Devil wears Praga" - a 38t Praga TD proposal

"Devil wears Praga" - a 38t Praga TD branch proposal


Hello everyone,

recently, an attempt to re-work the current German TD branches has been published on the EU forums. I did not like it - too many fantasy designs (including the usual suspects, such as the "Krokodil") and it was generally just mashing up for the sake of mashup. Well, here's a thought: a lot of people asked thru the months, how would the leicht Waffeträgers (Ardelt, Ardelt-Krupp, Ardelt-Steyr) fit into World of Tanks. Well, I think I found a proper way. Surprisingly, thru the hull/suspension.

The famous LT-38 light tank (known as Panzer 38t) evolved from the basic Praga TNH variant, which in turn, was built around the Praga TN engine (TNH means TN - housenkový: 'tracked'). This is not the place to describe its journey, but from the basic TNH, meant for export to Iran, the Panzer 38t would eventually evolve. The LT-38 was a great tank, judged by many (including Mr. H.Doyle) to be one of the best pre-war light tanks in the world, surpassing the Panzer I and Panzer II light tanks completely. When Czechoslovakia surrendered to Hitler after the western powers betrayed it during the Munich conference, a number of those vehicles, intended for the Czechoslovak army, was captured and later used by Germans to fight in Poland, France and against Soviet Union. But it was just a light tank - its armor and armament couldn't keep up with the enemy medium and heavy designs of 1941/1942. One part never got old though - the suspension. Simply put, it was great. It was valued by the Germans greatly and became the basis for whole series of various vehicles, from recovery vehicles over tank destroyers to self-propelled guns. In late 1944, a decision was even made in connection with phasing out of the Panzer IV production, only 3 platforms will be manufactured in 1945: the Tiger platform, the Panther platform and the 38d platform. But we'll get to that.

Basically, here's a tank destroyer branch proposal based on the 38t/d suspension. Let's look at it.

Changes in the original branch

Before we can start building a new branch, we have to modify the old one a bit. The old branch has something we need: the Hetzer, built on the 38t chassis. That's why I suggest the following:

- remove the Hetzer from the branch
- replace the tier 4 tank destroyer slot with the historical StuG III. Ingame StuG III has 80mm frontal armor and an unhistorical gun (the L/70). Regarding the gun - the latest StuG III version manufactured (the Ausf.G) had the StuK 40 L/48. There was a proposal project to arm the StuG with the L/70, designated Ausf.H (as far as I know), but that never reached a prototype stage. So, give the StuG its historical early version armor (50mm front), its historical gun (L/48), it would make a nice T4.
- put the StuG IV on tier 5. Well, here we'd have to improvise a bit. StuG IV has enough armor for T5 (80mm front), but it still carries the L/48. Basically, a StuG IV with L/70 mounted was renamed to Jagdpanzer IV, but I think we can still work with that.

StuG IV



Alternatively, we can put the StuG III Ausf. H project on T5, but that probably wouldn't work too well, as the vehicle is similiar. What would however work would be T4 StuG III "early" (let's say until Ausf. F/8) while the T5 would be StuG III "late" (Ausf.G,H) with schürzen.

StuG III Ausf.G


The StuG III Ausf.H (its real project name was 7,5 cm PaK 42 L/70 auf StuG III) is sort-of historical. A project for re-arming the StuG III was made in 1943 by Alkett. The rearming was ordered by Hitler himself in December 1942. A wooden mockup was made. After the war, the mockup was captured by the Americans and ended up in Aberdeen. The gun wouldn't however fit in normally - the superstructure was radically reworked. Thus, the ingame StuG III with original superstructure but the L/70 cannon is a fake.



The new branch

So, now that we have the Hetzer available, let's have a look at how such a tree would work:

T2: Panzerjäger I
T3: Marder III Ausf.M
T4: Jagdpanzer 38t "Hetzer"
T5: Hetzer (Krupp) or Aufklärungspanzer 38
T6: Jagdpanzer 38d
T7: Waffenträger Ardelt
T8: Waffenträger Ardelt-Krupp
T9: Waffenträger Rheinmetall-Borsig 128mm
T10: Waffenträger Rheinmetall-Borsig 128mm/150mm

Tier 3: Marder III Ausf.M




Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marder_III

The history of Marder III is described pretty much everywhere, it's a rather known vehicle. In the end, it doesn't really matter which Ausführung you choose, because none of them had usually compatible weapons. The first Marder III, known as Panzerjäger 38t, was equipped with the Sovier 76,2mm gun (PaK 36(r)), modified to fire the German 75mm rounds. Later variants (Ausf.H and M) were fitted with the 75mm Pak 40/3 gun. From what I could find, no Marder III was originally armed with a 50mm gun, so there would be little continuity from the Panzerjäger I. However, given the fact that the second German branch announced by Wargaming (the one with the Waffenträger E-100) has Marder III on T3 slot too, I don't think Wargaming would see this as a problem (or it would dish out some unhistorical mashup of the various Marder III models). Either way, this vehicle is hard to make completely historically, so some suspension of disbelief is necessery.

Weapons: (?) 50mm PaK 39 L/60, 76,2mm PaK 36(r), 75mm PaK 40/3

Tier 4: Jagdpanzer 38t "Hetzer"




Source: http://wiki.worldoftanks.com/Hetzer

Here it's kinda pointless to add anything, the vehicle is already in the game and it works fine. Just refer to WoTwiki for details.

Weapons: 75mm StuK40, 75mm PaK39, 105mm StuH 42

Tier 5: Jagdpanzer 38t "Hetzer" (Kruppvorschlag)



In November 1944, Krupp made several proposals regarding the rearming ("Umbewaffnung") of existing hulls. Amongst them was a proposal to upgrade the Hetzer with a superstructure and to mount the 75mm KwK 42 (L/70) gun within. The design had some serious flaws. In order to install the superstructure, the engine and crew compartment would have to be completely reworked. Also, it was doubtful whether the original 38t suspension could hold the weight of the added weight - in order to reach a sufficient level of protection, it would have to carry 18 tons. According to the WaPrüf6 report, this vehicle would have about the same characteristics as the Jagdpanzer IV lang (A), currently being recalled from the front for being a failure.
This project never reached prototype stage. A great number of Krupp redesign project was most likely motivated (the way the 3rd Reich worked) by the attempt to secure further contracts. Most of the design proposals were rejected in January 1945 - it was no time for introduction of new projects. Krupp returned to this concept with a similiar construction, built on 38d hull - with marginally better parameters.

We can only estimate how such a vehicle would behave game-wise. It would most likely have thinner armor and would be slower than the current StuG III, which would have to be compensated by different weaponry.

Weapons: 75mm StuK40, 105mm StuH 42, 75mm KwK 42, PAW600 (German advanced gun project - 81,4mm smoothbore gun, firing HEAT rounds of roughly 140mm penetration)


Tier 6: Jagdpanzer 38d


The Jagdpanzer 38d was based on an evolution of the 38t suspension. Originally, it was called 38 "Reich", but quickly got renamed to 38d (Deutsch). Basically, in September 1944, OKH (army high command) decided they want a new light tank destroyer, based on the 38t chassis. There was a problem however: the 38t chassis was ill-suited for German mass production (due to the way it was manufactured, Czech industrial methods were different from the ones of Germany and could not be copied easily). Thus it was decided the suspension would be modified using the German methods. This project was designed by Alkett and and re-named 38 Ausführung Reich. Basically, the suspension was made 60mm wider and its final drive was strenghtened. In the meanwhile, in October 1944, it was decided to limit the future production of the Third Reich to only three platforms: the Tiger, the Panther and the 38(t/d). The project was finished really quickly - in November 1944, the basic works were finished (by that time it was renamed 38d.) The result was actually quite good and a new tank destroyer was planned based on it. It was to resemble the original 38t, but it was to carry either the 75mm PaK39 L/48 or the 75mm KwK 42 cannon. A version for 105mm StuH42/2 was also concieved. The frontal armor was projected at 60mm. It was projected to be propelled by the Tatra T103 220hp engine, propelling it to 40 km/h.
In January 1945, a detailed meeting of the Entwicklungskomission Panzer in Obering took place, where the plans for the development and production were laid forth, but by then the war was only months from its end. Some plans were made, but they never came to fruition. Two partially assembled prototypes were made by Alkett, but it's unlikely the company ever made them running.

In the game, this could be the "Hetzer on steroids", but truth to be told, it's not that different from the original Hetzer. It would however be rather small - that means good camo rating. The weapons choice is a bit lackluster, but it'll get better.

Weapons: 75mm PaK39 L/48, 105mm StuH 42, 75mm KwK 42, PAW600


Tier 7 onwards - the Waffenträgers

Here it's starting to get a bit complicated. Originally, I thought about the Jagdpanzer 38d (project Krupp) on this spot. It was basically a Jagdpanzer 38d with a superstructure, in the back, armed with a top-of-the-line PAW1000 gun (essentially a smoothbore HEAT-firing German gun, capable of penetrating cca 200mm of armor). It looked like this:



But it has two problems. First: it uses the PAW1000 which is smoothbore (well, at least it's historical), but not the 88mm PaK 43, which would get skipped, only to return on tier 8. That's just weird. Furthermore, the vehicle wasn't exactly stellar. As with the 38t Krupp proposal, the chassis was rather stressed and the characteristics wouldn't be exactly great. I was thinking of adding some later (rifled) variant (81mm L/105 prototype - yes, such a thing existed), but I am not sure it would fit the superstructure. Thus, it would be historically correct to continue with the Waffenträgers.

"Waffenträger" in German means "weapons carrier" - and that's exactly what the Waffenträgers were. If we skip all the improvised weapons carries, made either from captured or German knocked-out tech, the idea to make an unified mass-produced weapons carriers came to be in early 1944. In January 1944, a conference took place between the members of the army and the industry representatives. The army complained that the PaK 42 and PaK 43 cannons were simply way too heavy to manhandle and impossible to tow without special artillery tractors. It was a reasonable complaint - Doyle mentions one incident, when brand new 88mm PaK 43 cannons had to be destroyed without firing a single shot in order to prevent them from falling to the enemy - just because there were no towing vehicles available. Thus a decision was made to mount all the heavy anti-tank guns on a simple, effective and cheap 38t platform, designated as "Einheitsfahrgestell", or "unified platform". Hitler personally started messing around too, ordering the abovementioned decision thru one of his directives and so the Waffenträger concept was born.

The first one to react to this new demand was Ardelt. Its 88mm PaK 43 Waffenträger proposal  was made in two versions: one lighter, practically without any protection weighting 10 tons, one protecting the crew at least from small arms fire, weighting 13 tons, having a fully revolving turret. Versions for 75mm PaK 42, 105mm leFH 18/40 and 88mm PaK 43 (L/71) were concieved. This design (with two 1:10 models) was presented to Hitler in late January - Hitler, after seeing it, decided to go straight for the 88mm version, using the "Kreuzlafette" (cross mount). The vehicle was to be equipped with the L/71 gun with 50 rounds of ammo, with depression/elevation of -8/+45 degrees. The gun for the Ardelt project was to be modified by Rheinmetall Borsig. The armor was cca 20mm thick and the maximum speed in terrain was to be cca 30 km/h. This is how it looked:



The prototype (although not fully functional) was ready in April 1944 - it was tested and the tests were reasonably successful (no major breakdowns). The WaPrüf officials were very positive about the vehicle - the only issue being the gun mount, which was not ideal (Ardelt would later move to the Krupp mount). This project was actually still noted as active in September 1944, but at some point after that, it was cancelled due to the low resources.

Another, competing platform would be created by Steyr. Carrying the same weapon and having nearly the same characteristics, its PaK 43 gun mount was modified by Krupp. The vehicle was again using the 38t platform and was to be propelled by the V12 "boxer" Steyr enging (140hp), but that engine was not yet available and so the Praga EPA AC/2 180hp engine was used instead. Maybach HL and Klocker-Deutz diesel engine was also considered. From this point, the pieces of information are a bit sketchy. At least one prototype was made (and captured by the Allies) - it was scheduled to be read around October 1944. At some point after that, the program was stopped. This is how it looked:


The third Waffenträger was built in cooperation of Krupp and Ardelt. A modified platform from the original Ardelt vehicle was used. The vehicle had once again a fully revolving turret with the 88mm PaK 43 cannon. The elevation was -8/+25 this time and the gun had 42 pieces of ammo (6 in the ready rack on the side of the turret. Two prototypes were made until the end of 1944 (2nd prototype was ready on 23.9.1944) - further 7 serial vehicles were also produced. This was probably the only Waffenträger ever to see live combat. All 7 vehicles were attached to Panzerjäger-Alarmkompanie Eberswalde, commanded by Oberleutnant Ardelt (he died fighting on the vehicle). The unit fought near Eberswalde, roughly 50km northeast from Berlin, where it was defeated. One of these vehicles was then brought to Russia, tested in 1946 and remains in Kubinka to this day. This is how it looked:






And how to make this work in World of Tanks? Well, let's see:

Tier 7 - Ardelt Waffenträger (75mm L/70, 88mm PaK 43)
Tier 8 - Ardelt-Krupp Waffenträger (88mm PaK 43, 81mm L/105) (or the Steyr variant)

Tier 9 and 10 - well, this is where it gets REALLY complicated. First, we definitely need a 128mm vehicle here. There was a Rheinmetall-Borsig 128mm PaK 44 Waffenträger project too (but stayed only on the paper). Here's how it looked:


Another version:


Game-wise, it would be very light, maneuverable, with fully revolving 128mm PaK 44 (L/55, L/61 variants) mount - the ROF would be boosted compared to the Jagdtiger, the camo factor would be excellent but of course the armor would be non-existent.

And as for tier 10? Well, there are again basically two options: either a 128mm Flak 45 (or rather PaK 45), or a 150mm gun. The first option could use the same carrier as tier 9 (or a modified chassis of Rheinmetall Borsig, which I really like visually):



The second option had a special Waffenträger designed by Krupp:



The FlaK 45 is generally an interesting weapon. It was designed to succeed the 128mm FlaK 40 (PaK 44). It had a bigger breech and used higher load of explosives. The original FlaK could propel the 27kg round at 880 m/s,  FlaK 45 could shoot the same shells at 1500 m/s. Combined with an APCR shell... well, you can imagine.

Epilogue

From a pre-war lighttank to the mighty Waffenträger project, the 38t/d suspension proved its worth time and time again. Very few designs survived the war like that. Post-war fate of the 38t suspension was not that bright however. Several light tanks and tank destroyer/SPG designs were proposed in Czechoslovakia and for a while, it was even manufactured with the Hetzer copies for Czechoslovakia and Switzerland, but ultimately, it disappeared in late 50's.

23 comments:

  1. Did you get my Email frank im VIPER262, to add on to your comprehensive list there, a Representative of War Gaming told me they have enough vehicles for 4 separate TD branches for the Germans whether they are actually real designs or just things made up by modelers such as the Crocodile we don't know what we do know.

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  2. They already stated Germany would get more gigantic vehicles. O fully expect an E-100 based vehicle with no turret armor, a gun with maybe 200 more DPM than the 17 cm, zero camo.

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    Replies
    1. a big joke, it truly is.

      Ive also heared of GW Panther with a 128 /150mm PaK with a 360° turnable turret.

      Could easily fit T10 with proper camo, speed and turnings.

      But germany NEEDS to be the suffering nation here.. how the hell do you cover a WT-e100 with no camo, no speed and no armor from arty.. esp when you need to outmanuever artyshots.


      Your proposal beats WGs ideas by factor 10 so far.

      Delete
  3. I really want a proper StuG IV, it was always my fave tank in Company of Heroes (besides the Sherman M4A3 which I also would like to see in WoT, can never have enough Shermans :) )

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    Replies
    1. Actually, the Shermans in CoH were M4A3s... note the fact that they have straight edges versus the M4's curved edges... I am of the personal opinion that they are actually Jumbos, since they were never really maneuverable enough to be E8s

      Delete
  4. Why not just have the Waffenträgers you mentioned go after the Sturer Emil in the planned German TD line? They look a hell of a lot more competitive than artillery with TD guns.

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    Replies
    1. Because this is more elegant. Plus, Nashorn and Sturer Emil have nothing in common with Waffentragers.

      Delete
  5. Thor Hammerschlag wrote:



    What is your source for the last 4 pictures?
    I know all the others but i didnt see thoese yet.

    Anyways great work. And good idea regarding the Flak45..
    but seriously, 1500 m/s muzzle velo?!
    Where did you find that?

    I made an estimation for you!
    (source is the british bios report from 1946)

    It gives 12,8cm shell penetration at up to roughly 1100m/s velocity.
    The report indicates rougly 300mm penetartion at 1100m/s against a 30° plate.

    thats about 360mm against a vertical plate ... lol

    at 1500m/s (ap shells usually splatter at those velos), this value goes sky diving.
    with linear progression the pen value exeeds 500mm for sure ..
    trolol...

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    Replies
    1. The pictures are from one edition of Panzer Tracts I think. Found them on the internet though - not sure. They aren't in any of my PT's, but I have far from everything.

      As for the shell penetration:

      "Also, the only 128 mm FlaK 45 gun built (as prototype, with bigger chamber and extended barrel to 75 calibres) was allocated in firing trials with two barrels; one of them was rifled, and the other smoothbore gun (1500 m/s with APFSDS shots)."

      http://www.ww2aircraft.net/forum/ww2-general/german-128mm-any-good-24128-3.html#post663184

      However, even the 1100 m/s would be enough either way

      Delete
    2. Hammerschlag wrote:

      holy moly.. a 12,8cm kwk L/75 o.O
      still that velo is god damn high..

      but nice find.

      need to recheck my panzertracts, but yet i dunno them..!

      Delete
    3. Nice blog SS I really like the historical plans, blueprints, proposals etc stuff you bring up.

      I'm interested in the 81mm L/105 gun can you give me any links or book(s) where I can read some info on it.

      And of course about the massive "128mm FlaK 45" can you pls tell me which Panzer Track book have can I find more info about it?

      Delete
    4. The 81mm L/105 is from the book Panzerabwehrkanonen 1916-1977 by F.Kosar (the book is in German, as the name suggests). FlaK 128 - the abovementioned post, plus a few other books (Thor Hammerschlag is much better in this than I am though). As for the Panzer Tracts - I used 20-1 (Paper Panzers), 20-2 (Scout vehicles) and 7-3 (Panzerjäger), then the books Obrněná technika by I.Pejčoch (Czech)

      Delete
  6. An excellent article, nice work!

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  7. LOL nice, that would make the German tanks worth playing again. Would love to see more German tanks in clan wars

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  8. I've pushed for some of these before and some of these changes as well.
    I'm in agreement with this.

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  9. The tier 10 would never work, it would be on par with the Russians for manuverability and completely outclass the jpze100. We should expect an open topped e100 variant for the tier 10 with kt levels of manuverability and mabye 360 traverse, if we are lucky.

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  10. Nice, nice, but 1 thing bothers me:
    Stug IV with 75L70 would not be JP IV.
    Stug IV was Stug superstructure on top of Pz IV suspension.
    JP IV had a different superstructure so there would be no problems with getting the Stug IV in-game.

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    Replies
    1. Well, this is a bit complicated. The Jagdpanzer IV in game is just one of different Jagdpanzers based on the IV hull. Jagdpanzer IV is not one actual vehicle, more like a class designation, there were multiple models. The KwK 42 is primarily an anti-tank gun. Installing it on a StuG would technically mean its redesignation as a Jagdpanzer.

      Delete
    2. Well, "technically", but it would still be a different vehicle with a different looks than any of the historical Jp IV and I guess that's what counts :)

      Delete
  11. The later ones sound like higher tier Hellcats. This is the best German TD suggestion I've seen.

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  12. I'd love to see 38d based Waffenträger up to tier 10... any WT based on a bigger vehicle would be PURE fiction. KTZV_D86

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  13. The tech tree you proposed above is tuly great, mostly because it's based on historical (or at least "semi historical") facts, but I have some doubts about he efficiency of the tier 6 Jadgpanzer 38d; the reason of this lays on the info you posted: as you wrote, germans improved the original suspension by widening it in 60mm so that it'd be able to fit bigger and better guns, but it wouldn't be enough to tolerate much more armor (indeed it could increase both sides armor to let the hull cover the tracks from avobe, but frontal and rear armor would stay the same), so it would be basically a slower, non-turreted, german version of the Hellcat (which also has "cardboard-like" armor); it would be a very hard tank to play, as the frontal armor, even if the tank is on hull down position, is easily penetrated whith tier 5 guns like the 76mm M1A1. In my opinion the jadgpz 38d could be deplaced to tier 5 whithout the possibility of adding the PAW600 to the tank (if not this tank would be taken to the OP section), while the jadgpz 38t "Hetzer" Kruppvorschlag would be taken to tier 6. Another suggestion (maybe more acceptable) would be turning the jdgpz 38d into a tier 6 premium tank only with the PAW600 while the place left by it is occuped by either a stronger version of the jadgpz 38t Kruppvorschlag (if existed) or another variant of the already in-game jadgpz IV. Hope you liked any of my suggestions (if not there's no problem, I don't know too much about this stuff) and make any comment aboout them if possible

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  14. Concerning the Tier5 and 6 tanks - how about moving the 38d to Tier5 and add the "Raupenschlepper Ost / PaK40" ("Caterpillar Tractor East / PaK40") - the first version of the RSO/PaK40 was to use the 75mm PaK 40 L/45, later it was planned to mount the 88mm PaK 43 L/71.
    It was then renamed to "PzJag K43". There were actually three different "PzJag" Versions, PzJag K43/1, PzJag K43/2 and PzJag K43/3, all mounting 88s, they probably differed in width of the chassis and h.p. and noise the engine caused. Stock Engine would be a 5.5l Deutz Diesel creating 66 h.p., afterwards a Steyr V8 3.5l creating 85 h.p. - now that seems very low, but considering the vehicle overall only weighted about 5,600kg, it's mobility shouldn't be a problem.
    Another engine proposed was a V8 Petrol Engine of no further designation, creating 120 h.p.
    The armour was to be 10-5mm.

    Concerning how this thing would fit into the Waffenträger-Line - the Waffenträgers and the PzJag K43 both were built because of the same problem - inadequate amount of towing vehicles.

    So basically, the PzJag K43 would have got the following characteristics:
    Armament: 7.5cm L/48, 7.5cm L/70 (whoever is able to fit a long88, will also fit a long 7.5cm gun), 8.8cm L/56, 8.8cm L/71.
    Armour: 10mm Front, 5mm Side, 5mm Rear.
    Engines: 66 h.p. Deutz Diesel, 85 h.p. Steyr V-8, 120 h.p. Undesignated V-8 petrol engine
    Dimensions: approx. 4.5m Length, 2.0m Width, 2.53m Heigth

    Basically, since it was based on the RSO Caterpillar Tractor East, it only featured 3-men - driver, assistant driver, commander, since it was never meant to do anything other than transporting the PaKs and FlaKs of the Wehrmacht. But after Hitler got hands on the project and wanted it converted as actual fighting vehicle, it is most likely a gunner/loader commander/radio-op. aswell as inner-stored ammunition was preferred/added.

    Historical Background: The PzJag43 K43 actually fought with the Panzerjäger Abteilungen 743 and 744 and the 18th Panzergrenadier Division on the Eastern Front (Army Group South considered the vehicle useful). At least 1 vehicle survived and is now shown at the "Deutsches Panzermuseum Munster" in Germany.

    Pictures:
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/7/7d/Rso_pak.jpg

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e9/Steyr_RSO_w-Pak_40.jpg/800px-Steyr_RSO_w-Pak_40.jpg

    I also found a picture of the 88mm version (?) - at least I believe its a 88 - deep down in the internet on some russian website:
    http://www.tehnikapobedy.ru/materials/rsoph4.jpg

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