Early Grille 10 with 88mm Flak 37 gun. (VFW – Versuchsflakwagen fur 8.8cm Flak 37)
In 1942, German designers started the development of a new series, which would utilize chassis and components of various tanks and use them as mountings for various heavy weapons. Designs of the Grille Series incorporated many new technical modifications in order to mount heavy weapons. Some vehicles of the Grille Series were designed to be weapon carriers – Waffentrager.Some of those vehicles reached prototype stage but none of them entered production planned for mid 1945.
Late Grille 10 with 88mm Flak 41 gun. (VFW – Versuchsflakwagen fur 8.8cm Flak 41)
Originally, Grille 10 was build based on the order for heavy anti-tank vehicle armed with 88mm Flak L/56 gun to be usedagainst fortifications of the Maginot Line. In June of 1940, change of technical specifications occured, vehicle build by Krupp was modified to be a self-propelled anti-aircraft gun. It was based on Pz Sf IVc chassis. Original anti-tank vehicle designated as 8.8cm K(PzSfl) auf Sonderfahrgestell was to be armed with 88mm Pak 43 gun but only wooden modelwas made. In late 1942, three prototypes were made – Versuchsflakwagen fur 8.8cm Flak 37.In 1944, they were rearmed with 88mm Flak 41 guns and designated as – Versuchsflakwagen fur 8.8cm Flak 41. Single example rearmed again with 88mm Flak 37 was sent for tests to Italy, where served with Heeres Flakartillerie Abteilung (Sf.) 304 with was assigned to the26th Panzer Division.Grille 17/21/30/42Geschutzwagen "Tiger" fur 17cm K72, 21cm MRS 18/1 und 30,5cm GRW (Sf)
Geschutzwagen "Tiger" with Tiger II with Porsche Turret parked beside it. Haustenbeck, May of 1945.
In 1942, Krupp received order to design the vehicle (waffentrager) using Tiger II‘s components, which was to be part of Grille Series.It was to be able to mount 170mm K 72 L/50 gun – Grille 17. It was ordered that its weight should be 53 to 58 tons. It was also planned to convert Grille 17 into Grille 21 armed with 210mm Mortar 18/1 L/31. Next in the series was Grille 30. It would be armed with Skoda 305mm GrW L/16 mortar. Project of Grille 42 was under the development.It was to be armed with 420mm Grw mortar. In 1943/44, Krupp started production of the prototype, while full-scale production was to start in mid-1945, but the end of the war cancelled any further development.
Grille 17/21/30/42 had its armament mounted on the rail platform inside the hull allowing it to be dismounted anytime. Each variant was also armed with two 7.92mm machine guns.It would be operated by the crew of eight (driver, commander, gunner, radio operator and four loaders). Powered by Maybach HL230P30 or HL230P45, Grille would be able to travel at maximum speed of 45 km/h with range of 250km. Fuel capacity was to be 1000 liters. Grille was 13 meters long (with gun), 3.27 meters wide and 3.15 meters high. Its armor protection ranged from 16mm (side) to 30mm (front). Grille 17 weighted 58000kg but only carried 5 rounds of ammunition. Grille 21 weighted 52700kg and carried only 3 rounds of ammunition. One prototype with 170mm gun was almost completed in May of 1945 and was captured by British troops at Haustenbeck near Paderborn.
Rear View of Geschutzwagen "Tiger" with Jagdtiger parked behind it. Haustenbeck, May of 1945.