The Waffentrager concept was conceived to combine German artillery tractors and Self-Propelled Guns into one vehicle type that would salvage precious resources, like field guns, from the battlefield in the later stages of the war.
Work on the Waffentrager project started in early 1944, being part of the E-series of standardized, next-generation German tanks. Waffentragers (eng; weapon carriers) were intended to merge two types of vehicles used by the German army into one – artillery tractors and self-propelled guns. This new vehicle type would be a mobile, lightly-armored tank destroyer that could both use its cannon itself or, depending on the circumstances, unequip it and hand it over to other units to be used as field artillery. This concept was seen as highly practical by the Germans, given how it not only gave the German army one vehicle for the price of two, but was also saving on vital resources of which Germany suffered a great shortage of in the late stages of the war. Nearly all renown German companies that produced military equipment or vehicles took up the task, resulting in 4 different Waffentrager designs.
The Krupp-Steyr Waffentrager was first drawn up in early 1944. Development was split into two parts; chassis and turret. Steyr developed the chassis, whilst Krupp focused on the turret and cannon development. To keep the costs and required resources to a minimum, Speyr decided to base the chassis of their Waffentrager around their existing RSO artillery tractor and reuse as many parts from it as possible. Krupp on the other hand, reused the same 8,8cm KwK 43 L/71 cannon with which the Tiger II was outfitted, but had to come up with a new turret rotation mechanism to rotate the compact, open-topped turret. The re-usage of existing parts and equipment was put at the forefront during development of the Waffentrager, with the goal to build the most cost-efficient and resource-saving tank.
Nevertheless, Steyr was tasked with building four vehicles for testing and a wooden mockup of the vehicle. After several delays, the Krupp-Steyr Waffentrager was, along two other designs from other companies, tested in late 1944. The fate of the Krupp-Steyr Waffentrager after the testing remains to be determined, but what is clear is that this vehicle never left prototype stage, with a single testing vehicle and one wooden mock-up built.
Modelcollect has a quartet of Waffentrager scheduled to arrive in late January (AS72078, AS72079, AS72082, AS72085), provided they can salvage enough field guns from the diecast battlefield. <g>