- For the Steel Division: Normandy 44 unit see SD:Hummel
Hummel is a German Artillery unit in Steel Division II.
The workhorse of the Nazi war machine, Panzer IV started its long service in 1936 as a fire support tank, equipped with a short-barreled 7.5 cm KwK 37 L/24 howitzer. In this role, Panzer IV would focus on taking out enemy fortifications, anti-tank emplacements, and infantry from a long range, protecting the lighter, faster Panzer III tanks focusing on taking out enemy armor. However, following Fall Barbarossa and the shock of fighting against superior Soviet tanks, it quickly displaced Panzer III as the primary battle tank. Krupp's design was larger, sturdier, and could readily accept significant armor upgrades and long-barreled guns capable of defeating Soviet armor. The Panzer IV chassis was used as the base for many other fighting vehicles. 8,553 Panzer IVs of all versions were built during World War II, a production run in Axis forces only exceeded by the StuG III assault gun with 10,086 vehicles. A significant number of these tanks was also transferred to Axis allies and continued to used in various militaries worldwide after the War ended.
Designed in 1942, to provide mobile artillery support for German divisions operating in the Soviet Union, the Hummel was a purpose-built vehicle. After the initial proposal of mounting a 105mm howitzer on a Panzer III chassis fell through, Alkett designed Geschützwagen III/IV bearing the 15 cm sFH 18 L/30 howitzer. The vehicle combined the driving and steering system of a Panzer III with the suspension and engine of a Panzer IV, creating a rugged, reliable chassis that would later be used in the Nashorn tank destroyer.
The Hummel entered service in 1943, during Operation Zitadelle and remained in use until the end of the war, providing the Reich with much-needed mobile artillery support, capable of keeping pace with Panzer IV and heavier tanks. A total of 714 Hummels were produced (sources also cite a number of 930), together with 157 Munitionsträger Hummel, which used the exact same chassis and superstructure as the Hummel, except with a 10mm steel plate bolted where the gun would be. These carried ammunition to supplement the Hummel's incredibly limited own supply (just 18 rounds). The shared chassis also meant that a munitions carrier could be converted to a fully functional self-propelled gun in short order.
Of note is the fact that Hitler apparently did not share Alkett's sense of humor. On February 27, 1944, he ordered the Hummel designation to be dropped. Apparently, Bumblebees were not vicious enough for the Fuhrer's liking.
Most Panzer Divisions was planned to have a battery of six Hummels in the Self propelled Abteilung of the Panzer Artillerie regiment with usually two more batteries of Wespe.