As reports came in on the development of new Soviet tanks, Germany looked to improve their late-1930s era 50 mm anti-tank gun. The result was the 75 mm PaK 40 (PanzerAbwehrKanone), not only bigger but also significantly heavier. The new gun was built in only small numbers until the months after the invasion of Russia and actions in North Africa, when the need for such a weapon increased dramatically among German army units.
The powerful PaK 40 was an effective weapon against most types of Allied tanks, including the Soviet T-34 and American Sherman. The weapon, along with the famous 88 mm, was considered one of the best anti-tank guns of the war.
Because light and strong metal alloys were needed elsewhere in German war production, the PaK 40 was produced primarily from steel. Gun crews had difficulty repositioning the weighty weapon quickly and long moves always required a vehicle. Some of the guns, mired and snow and mud, were abandoned by retreating German units on the Eastern Front, captured, and used by the Soviets. Other PaK 40-type guns were mounted to highly mobile tracked chassis as German Marder tank destroyers.
In a pinch, the PaK 40 could be operated by one soldier. Normal gun crews consisted of five or more men working to service the cannon behind its angled gun shield and fold-down skirt. More than 20,000 PaK 40s were produced and German military units used the PaK 40 through the last days of World War II.