Sorry for the delay with this article. First Rita was here, then I had one hell of a week and then I was sick (still am).
Author: Yuri Pasholok
Part 1: http://ftr.wot-news.com/2016/07/06/renault-r35-variants-in-german-service-part-1/
Continued from Part 1.
Apart from artillery tractors and ARVs, other vehicles based on the Panzerkampfwagen 35R 731(f) chassis appeared on the Eastern front. This time it wasn’t just some auxilliary vehicles, but a war machine that could potentially improve the tank-killing capabilities of Army Group “Center”. Its history starts in the end of 1940 when the Germans had a critical look at their captured vehicle stock and came to the conclusion that the Renault R35 wasn’t exactly the best thing on the battlefield. The chassis could however be used to build a self-propelled gun.
At that point the Germans already had the experience with such conversions of Panzer I chassis by creating a vehicle called 4.7 cm Pak(t) (Sfl) auf Pz.Kpfw.I (Sd.Kfz.101) ohne Turm, commonly known as the Panzerjäger I tank destroyer. The Panzerjäger I was buit by removing the turret of Panzer I Ausf.B and installing a superstructure with a Czechoslovak 47mm anti-tank gun (P.Ú.V. vzor 36). Panzerjäger I was a relatively successful vehicle and it first appeared in combat in the spring of 1940. Last of these vehicles were used in combat by the end of 1942.
4,7 cm Pak(t) (Sfl) auf Fgst.Pz.Kpfw.35 R 731(f) during training, 1941
Following this success, an approval was given on 23.12.1940 to creat such a conversion based on Renault R35 chassis. This vehicle would be designated 4.7 cm Pak(t) (Sfl) auf Fgst.Pz.Kpfw.35 R 731(f). The Altmärkische Kettenfabrik (Alkett) company was selected as the producer of these vehicles – at that point it was the leading German SPG manufacturer. The task was however not easy for the tank designers from Spandau – the chassis was even smaller than the one of Panzer I Ausf.B – a vehicle originally designed for two Frenchmen (unless they suffered from claustrophobia) was supposed to carry three German crewmembers, a rather large 47mm gun and enough ammunition for it.