7.5cm PaK40/1 auf Geschutzwagen Lorraine Schlepper(f), SdKfz.135
In May 1942, the Germans decided to convert a number of captured French Tracteur Blinde 37L (Lorraine) personnel carriers/artillery tractors to self-propelled anti-tank guns. They had captured some 315 new and used vehicles after the fall of France. The new vehicle was armed with the 75mm PaK 40/1 L/46 anti-tank gun. This new panzerjäger was designated 7.5cm PaK40/1 auf Geschutzwagen Lorraine Schlepper(f), SdKfz.135. It was also known as the Marder I. The conversion replaced the original transport crew compartment with a new superstructure with a large gun shield to protect the gun. The lightly-armored superstructure offered little protection for the five-man crew. The main armament could be traversed 32 degrees to the left and right. In addition to the main armament, a 7.92mm MG 34 was carried inside the fighting compartment. Forty rounds of ammunition were carried for the main gun. Armor protection ranged from 5mm to 12mm.
One hundred seventy 37Ls were converted by Captain Alfred Becker’s Baukommando in Paris, and at Krefeld (in cooperation with Alkett in Berlin) in July and August 1942. The 7.5cm PaK40/1 auf Geschutzwagen Lorraine Schlepper(f) was first issued to Panzerjäger units of Infantry Divisions on the Eastern Front, but they eventually returned to serve in France with the occupation forces. In 1943, 12th SS Panzer Division “Hitlerjugend”, then forming in France, received some three Marder I tank destroyers for training purposes. Also, 21st Panzer Division’s Sturmgeschütz Abteilung 200, commanded by now Major Alfred Becker, fielded some 24 Marder Is in the Normandy battles. They proved very effective, and Allied troops often reported them as self-propelled 88mm anti-tank guns. In spring 1944, 17th SS Panzer-Grenadier Division “Götz von Berlichingen” received a company of 12 Marder Is. These were all lost during the fighting in Normandy. In early 1944, there were still some 131 in service, and six were still in use in mid-March 1945.