Hetzer Starr in action

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The Axis WWII discussion group is hosted by Tom Cockle and is dedicated to Axis armour of the Second World War.

Hetzer Starr in action

TomᚠJakl
TomᚠJakl

November 28th, 2000, 4:13 pm #1

James Blackwell asked me via e-mail whether does exist some pictures of Hetzer Starr in combat action. They does exist. Hetzers Starrs were used in May 1945 by both encircled Prague German garrison and Kampfgruppe Milowitz.

Kampfgruppe Milowitz was one of five Kgrs. which unsuccessfull attempted to open Prague for retreat of HGr. Mitte. It fouhgt against Czech uprisers/patriots/home army soldiers (whatever you want) in Prague from 5th till 8th May. After the cease of hostility it retreated to american lines in western Bohemia in the night from 8th to 9th May 1945. It was probably involved in one of the last armed action against soviet forces in the night from 11th to 12th May 1945 in Milin, near the town Pribram, south of Prague, too.
In the night from 8th to 9th May 1945 some Hetzers Starrs were used as transport vehicles by soldiers of Prague garrison too.

This picture was taken at 5 May 1945 in Prague - Dejvice, in times of negotiations between German garrison around Vitezne namesti and Czech uprisers in Podbaba.
The main distinguish detail that this Hetzer is a Starr variant are two "inverted U shape" hooks on the top of gun shield and gun.
Note: white crosses are on jerrycans.



Next picture was taken in the evening of 8th May 1945, just before Prague German garrison came to its way to American surrender in Pilsen. The narrow gun shield is clearly visible.



The last photo is from post-war czech use of an captured Starr. "Inverted U shape" hooks on gun mount and gun shield are clearly visible. Three digit number on it´s side is probably black 143. Camouflage is hard edged BMM three clor stripe scheme, the same as on all known Starrs.



There are four pictures, which depicts Hetzer Starr of Kgr. Milowitz during fights in the Old Town and one which depicts even unique Tatra Engine equipped prototype, left behind after German retreat from Prague, but they are from private collections and decreased scan will be possible even after prepared article on this topic will be out of print.

Regards

T. Jakl
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Joined: November 28th, 2000, 4:47 pm

November 28th, 2000, 4:47 pm #2

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James Blackwell
James Blackwell

November 28th, 2000, 6:08 pm #3

James Blackwell asked me via e-mail whether does exist some pictures of Hetzer Starr in combat action. They does exist. Hetzers Starrs were used in May 1945 by both encircled Prague German garrison and Kampfgruppe Milowitz.

Kampfgruppe Milowitz was one of five Kgrs. which unsuccessfull attempted to open Prague for retreat of HGr. Mitte. It fouhgt against Czech uprisers/patriots/home army soldiers (whatever you want) in Prague from 5th till 8th May. After the cease of hostility it retreated to american lines in western Bohemia in the night from 8th to 9th May 1945. It was probably involved in one of the last armed action against soviet forces in the night from 11th to 12th May 1945 in Milin, near the town Pribram, south of Prague, too.
In the night from 8th to 9th May 1945 some Hetzers Starrs were used as transport vehicles by soldiers of Prague garrison too.

This picture was taken at 5 May 1945 in Prague - Dejvice, in times of negotiations between German garrison around Vitezne namesti and Czech uprisers in Podbaba.
The main distinguish detail that this Hetzer is a Starr variant are two "inverted U shape" hooks on the top of gun shield and gun.
Note: white crosses are on jerrycans.



Next picture was taken in the evening of 8th May 1945, just before Prague German garrison came to its way to American surrender in Pilsen. The narrow gun shield is clearly visible.



The last photo is from post-war czech use of an captured Starr. "Inverted U shape" hooks on gun mount and gun shield are clearly visible. Three digit number on it´s side is probably black 143. Camouflage is hard edged BMM three clor stripe scheme, the same as on all known Starrs.



There are four pictures, which depicts Hetzer Starr of Kgr. Milowitz during fights in the Old Town and one which depicts even unique Tatra Engine equipped prototype, left behind after German retreat from Prague, but they are from private collections and decreased scan will be possible even after prepared article on this topic will be out of print.

Regards

T. Jakl
To the unfamiliar this post and these pics are absolutely groundbreaking stuff - being probably the first shots ever seen on a wide scale of these almost mythical vehicles actually in use during the war.

As a brief background to this amazing post, Tomᚠposted about 7 pages in now under the Nov.14th 507 thread with a post on the 20th which mentioned almost as a throw-away line, the use of the Hetzer "Starr" in Prague in the closing days of the war. My ears pricked up bigtime on reading this as from what little I'd seen on them to date, they apparently were never fielded so this sounded a claim worthy of a follow-up off-line.

Tomᚠthen very gratefully let me in on a bit of the story, as he is working on an article about them, and kindly sent me the top picture with the white crossed jerrycans to show he was genuine. But still being oblivious to what constituted a 'wartime' Starr I still couldn't quite tell from this shot if what I was looking at was simply a standard Hetzer or indeed a Starr, as my understanding of this vehicle was based solely off the 4 or so shots seen of the BMM Tatra-engined prototype which incorporated vastly different features to a normal Hetzer (eg. new rear deck layout with repositioned intake grill, revised exhaust angle and rear plate access hatch placement, new idler, hatch configuration changes and a rotating scope for CO etc.).

I had no idea until I saw this very generous post above that Tomᚠhas kindly shared with us as a sneak preview to his upcoming article, that a version was fielded on the normal Hetzer body that just incorporated the main "Starr" feature (Starr = rigid mount - ie. recoilless gun) that gives the vehicle its name. It is distinguishable by the narrow bullet-shaped mantlet with the 2 prominent "U"-shaped hooks. Now I look at that top photo this lifting hook is obvious and the low shots really give it away clearly.

Even the usually infallible Mr. Jentz doesn't acknowledge the existence of this version in operational service in his 1997 Panzertracts title on "Jagdpanzer", saying basically that they were never advanced past the experimental stage with only 14 in total built - 3 test bed normal Jg.Pz.38(t)s converted, plus 10 "0" series "Starrs" (Fgst. No.321679-321683 & 322370-322374) produced by BMM in Dec '44/Jan 45 with one extra one built with a Tatra 8 cylinder diesel from March 22-mid April '45 to be displayed to Hitler which is the one seen with the modified features in this book. The big bugbear during testing was that parts of the gun sights apparently kept breaking during the test firing by Wa.Pruef.4 due to the lack of recoil cylinders shock absorption in this rigid gunmount transmitting excessive forces through them.

On 31 March '45 Hitler ordered that the one at Berka be destroyed to prevent capture and on April 29 orders were issued that the sights and traversing gear be removed from 8 "Starrs" at the Milowitz training centre because "these vehicles were not Frontbrauchbar (employable in combat)."

So obviously to actually see them used before cessation of hostilities clearly with the Starr mantlet is indeed a rare discovery and one wonders whether the recoil problems leading to optics failures was ever ironed out completely before they were released after obviously not being destroyed, or these vehicles were more battlefield taxis with these flaws still present and/or the sights and traversing gear actually removed as ordered prior to them being commandeered??

I'm sure Tomᚠmay be able to shed more light on this in the full article. So on behalf of the ML Team and readers, many thanks once again to Tomᚠfor letting us in on these great shots before he was really ready (for which I am half sorry for pushing him but then again not because we have these 3 sooner rather than later as a teaser for the full 10 shots), and I'm sure we all very much look forward to seeing the full on-line article done in English once the Czech one is completed. As I mentioned off line too Tomáš, I'm sure Andrew would be very happy indeed to host it in the 'Think Tank' on ML if you need an on-line home for it when its done.

Gratefully,

James




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Detlev Terlisten
Detlev Terlisten

November 28th, 2000, 8:32 pm #4

These photos are absolutly great. The first time I've ever seen a Starr in action. So it's not just one of those prototypes which let to nothing in the end. I really look forward to your article.

Concerning your last e-mail offline, I have to sort it out with the others. Give me some days for the answer.

Again thank you very much.

Detlev
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Lee Archer
Lee Archer

November 28th, 2000, 9:07 pm #5

Excellent stuff Tomas.

Congratulations on finding these photos. I look forward to seeing the article.

Lee
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Donald Campbell
Donald Campbell

November 28th, 2000, 9:26 pm #6

James Blackwell asked me via e-mail whether does exist some pictures of Hetzer Starr in combat action. They does exist. Hetzers Starrs were used in May 1945 by both encircled Prague German garrison and Kampfgruppe Milowitz.

Kampfgruppe Milowitz was one of five Kgrs. which unsuccessfull attempted to open Prague for retreat of HGr. Mitte. It fouhgt against Czech uprisers/patriots/home army soldiers (whatever you want) in Prague from 5th till 8th May. After the cease of hostility it retreated to american lines in western Bohemia in the night from 8th to 9th May 1945. It was probably involved in one of the last armed action against soviet forces in the night from 11th to 12th May 1945 in Milin, near the town Pribram, south of Prague, too.
In the night from 8th to 9th May 1945 some Hetzers Starrs were used as transport vehicles by soldiers of Prague garrison too.

This picture was taken at 5 May 1945 in Prague - Dejvice, in times of negotiations between German garrison around Vitezne namesti and Czech uprisers in Podbaba.
The main distinguish detail that this Hetzer is a Starr variant are two "inverted U shape" hooks on the top of gun shield and gun.
Note: white crosses are on jerrycans.



Next picture was taken in the evening of 8th May 1945, just before Prague German garrison came to its way to American surrender in Pilsen. The narrow gun shield is clearly visible.



The last photo is from post-war czech use of an captured Starr. "Inverted U shape" hooks on gun mount and gun shield are clearly visible. Three digit number on it´s side is probably black 143. Camouflage is hard edged BMM three clor stripe scheme, the same as on all known Starrs.



There are four pictures, which depicts Hetzer Starr of Kgr. Milowitz during fights in the Old Town and one which depicts even unique Tatra Engine equipped prototype, left behind after German retreat from Prague, but they are from private collections and decreased scan will be possible even after prepared article on this topic will be out of print.

Regards

T. Jakl
Thanks Tomas

As a footnote, I think this illustrates very well the benefits of deleting flame wars and trying to maintain a 'high' level of discourse. I can't imagine Tomas would feel that comfortable posting this above a thread by 'panzerboy' or 'pantherdude'

Don
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Gene Forsythe
Gene Forsythe

November 28th, 2000, 10:35 pm #7

James Blackwell asked me via e-mail whether does exist some pictures of Hetzer Starr in combat action. They does exist. Hetzers Starrs were used in May 1945 by both encircled Prague German garrison and Kampfgruppe Milowitz.

Kampfgruppe Milowitz was one of five Kgrs. which unsuccessfull attempted to open Prague for retreat of HGr. Mitte. It fouhgt against Czech uprisers/patriots/home army soldiers (whatever you want) in Prague from 5th till 8th May. After the cease of hostility it retreated to american lines in western Bohemia in the night from 8th to 9th May 1945. It was probably involved in one of the last armed action against soviet forces in the night from 11th to 12th May 1945 in Milin, near the town Pribram, south of Prague, too.
In the night from 8th to 9th May 1945 some Hetzers Starrs were used as transport vehicles by soldiers of Prague garrison too.

This picture was taken at 5 May 1945 in Prague - Dejvice, in times of negotiations between German garrison around Vitezne namesti and Czech uprisers in Podbaba.
The main distinguish detail that this Hetzer is a Starr variant are two "inverted U shape" hooks on the top of gun shield and gun.
Note: white crosses are on jerrycans.



Next picture was taken in the evening of 8th May 1945, just before Prague German garrison came to its way to American surrender in Pilsen. The narrow gun shield is clearly visible.



The last photo is from post-war czech use of an captured Starr. "Inverted U shape" hooks on gun mount and gun shield are clearly visible. Three digit number on it´s side is probably black 143. Camouflage is hard edged BMM three clor stripe scheme, the same as on all known Starrs.



There are four pictures, which depicts Hetzer Starr of Kgr. Milowitz during fights in the Old Town and one which depicts even unique Tatra Engine equipped prototype, left behind after German retreat from Prague, but they are from private collections and decreased scan will be possible even after prepared article on this topic will be out of print.

Regards

T. Jakl
Super stuff..........thanks for doing the research and posting the pictures.

Nice to know we have another variant to build.

Gene
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Neville Lord
Neville Lord

November 28th, 2000, 11:37 pm #8

To the unfamiliar this post and these pics are absolutely groundbreaking stuff - being probably the first shots ever seen on a wide scale of these almost mythical vehicles actually in use during the war.

As a brief background to this amazing post, Tomᚠposted about 7 pages in now under the Nov.14th 507 thread with a post on the 20th which mentioned almost as a throw-away line, the use of the Hetzer "Starr" in Prague in the closing days of the war. My ears pricked up bigtime on reading this as from what little I'd seen on them to date, they apparently were never fielded so this sounded a claim worthy of a follow-up off-line.

Tomᚠthen very gratefully let me in on a bit of the story, as he is working on an article about them, and kindly sent me the top picture with the white crossed jerrycans to show he was genuine. But still being oblivious to what constituted a 'wartime' Starr I still couldn't quite tell from this shot if what I was looking at was simply a standard Hetzer or indeed a Starr, as my understanding of this vehicle was based solely off the 4 or so shots seen of the BMM Tatra-engined prototype which incorporated vastly different features to a normal Hetzer (eg. new rear deck layout with repositioned intake grill, revised exhaust angle and rear plate access hatch placement, new idler, hatch configuration changes and a rotating scope for CO etc.).

I had no idea until I saw this very generous post above that Tomᚠhas kindly shared with us as a sneak preview to his upcoming article, that a version was fielded on the normal Hetzer body that just incorporated the main "Starr" feature (Starr = rigid mount - ie. recoilless gun) that gives the vehicle its name. It is distinguishable by the narrow bullet-shaped mantlet with the 2 prominent "U"-shaped hooks. Now I look at that top photo this lifting hook is obvious and the low shots really give it away clearly.

Even the usually infallible Mr. Jentz doesn't acknowledge the existence of this version in operational service in his 1997 Panzertracts title on "Jagdpanzer", saying basically that they were never advanced past the experimental stage with only 14 in total built - 3 test bed normal Jg.Pz.38(t)s converted, plus 10 "0" series "Starrs" (Fgst. No.321679-321683 & 322370-322374) produced by BMM in Dec '44/Jan 45 with one extra one built with a Tatra 8 cylinder diesel from March 22-mid April '45 to be displayed to Hitler which is the one seen with the modified features in this book. The big bugbear during testing was that parts of the gun sights apparently kept breaking during the test firing by Wa.Pruef.4 due to the lack of recoil cylinders shock absorption in this rigid gunmount transmitting excessive forces through them.

On 31 March '45 Hitler ordered that the one at Berka be destroyed to prevent capture and on April 29 orders were issued that the sights and traversing gear be removed from 8 "Starrs" at the Milowitz training centre because "these vehicles were not Frontbrauchbar (employable in combat)."

So obviously to actually see them used before cessation of hostilities clearly with the Starr mantlet is indeed a rare discovery and one wonders whether the recoil problems leading to optics failures was ever ironed out completely before they were released after obviously not being destroyed, or these vehicles were more battlefield taxis with these flaws still present and/or the sights and traversing gear actually removed as ordered prior to them being commandeered??

I'm sure Tomᚠmay be able to shed more light on this in the full article. So on behalf of the ML Team and readers, many thanks once again to Tomᚠfor letting us in on these great shots before he was really ready (for which I am half sorry for pushing him but then again not because we have these 3 sooner rather than later as a teaser for the full 10 shots), and I'm sure we all very much look forward to seeing the full on-line article done in English once the Czech one is completed. As I mentioned off line too Tomáš, I'm sure Andrew would be very happy indeed to host it in the 'Think Tank' on ML if you need an on-line home for it when its done.

Gratefully,

James



I too am very pleased to see these photos, particularly the one which shows the Starr with the early style exhaust system. They fill a very useful gap. Now when will Dragon release the Starr Hetzer.


In one of Kliment's books he states that the Czech's converted some 9 Starr Hetzers into ST-1. This may suggest that the Czech's were not entirely satisfied with its performance. Hopefully some one will find a postwar Czech assessment.

Cheers

Neville
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Scott D
Scott D

November 30th, 2000, 1:52 pm #9

James Blackwell asked me via e-mail whether does exist some pictures of Hetzer Starr in combat action. They does exist. Hetzers Starrs were used in May 1945 by both encircled Prague German garrison and Kampfgruppe Milowitz.

Kampfgruppe Milowitz was one of five Kgrs. which unsuccessfull attempted to open Prague for retreat of HGr. Mitte. It fouhgt against Czech uprisers/patriots/home army soldiers (whatever you want) in Prague from 5th till 8th May. After the cease of hostility it retreated to american lines in western Bohemia in the night from 8th to 9th May 1945. It was probably involved in one of the last armed action against soviet forces in the night from 11th to 12th May 1945 in Milin, near the town Pribram, south of Prague, too.
In the night from 8th to 9th May 1945 some Hetzers Starrs were used as transport vehicles by soldiers of Prague garrison too.

This picture was taken at 5 May 1945 in Prague - Dejvice, in times of negotiations between German garrison around Vitezne namesti and Czech uprisers in Podbaba.
The main distinguish detail that this Hetzer is a Starr variant are two "inverted U shape" hooks on the top of gun shield and gun.
Note: white crosses are on jerrycans.



Next picture was taken in the evening of 8th May 1945, just before Prague German garrison came to its way to American surrender in Pilsen. The narrow gun shield is clearly visible.



The last photo is from post-war czech use of an captured Starr. "Inverted U shape" hooks on gun mount and gun shield are clearly visible. Three digit number on it´s side is probably black 143. Camouflage is hard edged BMM three clor stripe scheme, the same as on all known Starrs.



There are four pictures, which depicts Hetzer Starr of Kgr. Milowitz during fights in the Old Town and one which depicts even unique Tatra Engine equipped prototype, left behind after German retreat from Prague, but they are from private collections and decreased scan will be possible even after prepared article on this topic will be out of print.

Regards

T. Jakl
I tried from home and at work and so far no luck. Could Someone email me with a copy of the photos?

Scott
gt98@exit109.com
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Mike Peters
Mike Peters

November 30th, 2000, 4:12 pm #10

They are a very slow download but should appear after a minute or so - try hitting refresh if it stops loading.

Mike
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