The Hummel was designed in 1942 out of a need for mobile artillery support for the tank forces, the lack of which had first been felt during the invasion of the USSR. There were some self-propelled artillery vehicles already in service with the Wehrmacht at the time, but most were of limited value.
The Hummel had an open-topped lightly armoured fighting compartment at the back of the vehicle which housed both the howitzer and the crew. The engine was moved to the centre of the vehicle to make room for this compartment. Late model Hummels had a slightly redesigned driver compartment and front superstructure, to offer more room to the radio operator and driver.
The Hummel first participated in large scale combat at the Battle of Kursk, when some 100 Hummels were in service. They served in armored artillery battalions of the Panzer divisions, forming separate heavy self-propelled artillery batteries, each with 6 Hummels and one ammunition carrier.