5 cm Pak 38 Anti Tank Gun

Accession Number RELAWM36890
Collection type Technology
Object type Artillery
Physical description Metal, Rubber
Place made Germany
Date made 1941
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

German Anti-tank gun. The gun has a barrel of monobloc construction with a double baffle muzzle brake. The barrel is a twenty groove, right hand twist type. The breech is of the horizontal sliding block type. The recoil recuperator system is hydro-pneumatic. The carriage is constructed of welded steel tube and is mounted on pressed metal disc wheels with solid rubber tyres and is of a split trail configuration. Torsion springs support the barrel in the travelling position and are locked out when the trails are spread. The shield consists of two 4mm sheets of armour plate spaced 25 millimetres apart and there is also an apron to protect the crew. The left side of the shield has a sighting port. The elevating and traversing gear are both on the left of the breech, as is the sighting gear (no telescopic sight with the weapon). Firing is accomplished by a push knob in the centre of the elevating handwheel.

The gun retains its original paint finish. The paint finish a light 'eggshell' sheen. The colour of the paint is a dark yellow-brown, between Munsell 5Y 5/4 and Munsell 5Y 4/4.Oil and grease nipples are marked with red paint. The shield has been extensively marked with the service numbers and names of Australian soldiers. One of the clearest is scratched onto the upper right side of the gunshield, and shows the service number NX2760. This is the number of James Frederick Faulkner, born 10 June 1905. A black ink isometric sketch of a German tank being opened with a can opener can be seen on the right side of the shield, and the faint outlines of a German eagle and swastika have be seen on the left side of the shield.

History / Summary

The 5 cm PaK 38 was introduced during 1941 by the German Army to combat the more heavily armed vehicles of the Allies. It replaced the 3.7cm PaK 35/36 Anti-tank gun. This type of gun was encountered by Australian forces fighting the German 'Afrika Korps' in North Africa from mid 1941 to late 1942.

The exact circumstances of the capture of this particular example are not yet known. However, the war diaries of the 2/24th battalion AIF note that the battalion captured a number of examples of this type of weapon in late October 1942. See AWM 52 8/3/24/25 folio 81 and 84, and AWM 52 8/3/24/26. The Battalion referred to the guns as '50 mm Braun anti tank guns.' The use of the word 'Braun' refers to the same word painted in large cream letters on the right side of the recuperator. The context of this word (which means 'brown' in English,) is not presently understood, but it seems from the war dieries, that each of the four examples captured, bore the same markings.

The gun was taken over by Captain Jones Military History Section from MGO branch and delivered to 1st Australian Port Detachment for movement to Sydney via SS Merkur, ex Melbourne.