Sturmgeschütz III


Sturmgeschütz III

Infobox Weapon
name=Sturmgeschütz III Ausf. G


caption=StuG III Ausf. F/8 (Sd.Kfz.142/1) at Belgrade Military Museum, Serbia
type=Assault gun
origin=Nazi Germany
is_vehicle=yes
service=1940 to 1945 (German service) StuG IIIs in Syria were in use until the Six-Day War (1967), possibly later
used_by=Germany
wars=World War II (Continuation War), Six-Day War
designer=
design_date=
manufacturer=
unit_cost=82,500 RM
production_date=
number=9,408 StuG III
1,211 StuH 42
variants=
length=6.85 m (22.47 ft)
width=2.95 m (9.67 ft)
height=2.16 m (7 ft)
weight=23.9 tonnes (52,690 lbs)
suspension=torsion bar
speed=40 km/h (25 mph)
vehicle_range=155 km (96 mi)
primary_armament=1x 7.5 cm StuK 40 L/48
54 rounds
secondary_armament=1x 7.92 mm Maschinengewehr 34
600 rounds
armour=16 - 80 mm (.62 - 3.14 in)
engine=Maybach HL120TRM V-12 gasoline engine
engine_power=300 PS (296 hp, 221 kW)
pw_ratio=13 hp/tonne
crew=4

The Sturmgeschütz III (StuG III) assault gun was Germany's most produced armoured fighting vehicle during World War II. It was built on the chassis of the proven Panzer III tank. Initially intended as a mobile, armoured light gun for infantry support, the StuG was continually modified and was widely employed as a tank destroyer.

The vehicles of the Sturmgeschütz series were cheaper to build than the contemporary German tanks; at 82,500 RM, a StuG III Ausf G was cheaper than a Panzer III Ausf. M which cost 103,163 RM to build. By the end of the war, 10,619 StuG III and StuH 42 had been built. [http://www.wwiivehicles.com/germany/self-propelled/sturmgeschutz.asp Sturmgeschütz] wwiivehicles.com]

History

The Sturmgeschütz III originated from German experiences in World War I when it was found that during the offensives on the western front the infantry lacked the means to effectively engage fortifications. The artillery of the time was heavy and not mobile enough to keep up with the infantry to destroy bunkers, pillboxes, and other obstacles, with direct-fire. Although the problem was well-known in the German army it was General Erich von Manstein who is considered the father of the "Sturmartillerie". This is because the initial proposal was from (then) Colonel Erich von Manstein and submitted to General Ludwig Beck in 1935, suggesting that "Sturmartillerie" ("assault artillery") units should be used in a direct-fire support role for infantry divisions. On June 15, 1936 Daimler-Benz AG received an order to develop an armoured infantry support vehicle capable of mounting a 75 mm (2.95 in) artillery piece. The gun was to have a limited traverse of a minimum of 25 degrees and be mounted in an enclosed superstructure that provided overhead protection for the crew. The height of the vehicle was not to exceed that of the average man.

Daimler-Benz AG used the chassis and running gear of its recently designed Panzer III medium tank as a basis for the new vehicle. Prototype manufacture was passed over to Alkett, which produced five examples in 1937 of the experimental 0-series StuG based upon the Panzer III Ausf. B. These prototypes featured a mild steel superstructure and Krupp’s short-barreled 75 mm Sturmkanone 37 L/24. This model was known as the Sturmgeschütz Ausführung A.

While the Stug was considered self-propelled artillery it was not initially clear which arm of the Wehrmacht would handle the new weapon. The Panzer arm, who was the natural user of tracked fighting vehicles, had no resources to spare for the formation of Stug units, and neither did the Infantry branch. It was therefore agreed, after a discusion, it would best be employed by becoming a part of the artillery arm.

The Stugs were organised in Battalions (later renamed "Brigades" for disinformation purposes) and followed their own specific doctrine. Infantry support using direct-fire was its intended role, and later there was also strong emphasis on destroying enemy tanks whenever encountered.

As the StuG III was intended to fill an infantry close support combat role, early models were fitted with a low-velocity 75 mm StuK 37 L/24 gun to destroy fortifications. After the Germans encountered the Soviet KV and T-34, the StuG III were armed with the high-velocity 75 mm StuK 40 L/43 (Spring 1942) or 75 mm StuK 40 L/48 (Autumn 1942) anti-tank gun. These versions were known as Sturmgeschütz 40 Ausführung F, F/8 and G.

When the StuG IV entered production in late 1943, early 1944, the "III" was added to the name to separate them from the Panzer IV based assault guns. All previous and following models were thereafter known as 'Sturmgeschütz III'.

Beginning with the StuG III Ausf. E a 7.92mm MG34 was mounted on the hull for added anti-infantry protection while some StuG III Ausf. G were equipped with an additional coaxial 7.92mm MG34.

Operational history

Overall, Sturmgeschütz series proved to be very successful and served on all fronts as assault guns and tank destroyers. Although Tigers and Panthers are more well known, assault guns destroyed many tanks. Because of their low silhouette, Sturmgeschütz IIIs were easy to camouflage and a difficult target. Sturmgeschütz crews were considered to be the elite of the artillery units. Sturmgeschütz units held a very impressive record of tank kills - some 20,000 enemy tanks by spring of 1944 [http://www.achtungpanzer.com/stug.htm Sturmgeschütz III/IV] achtungpanzer.com] . As of April 10 1945, there were 1,053 StuG IIIs and 277 StuH IIIs in service. Approximately 9,500 Sturmgeschütz IIIs of various types were produced until March 1945 by Alkett and a small number by MIAG. [http://www.achtungpanzer.com/stug.htm Sturmgeschütz III/IV] achtungpanzer.com] [http://www.wwiivehicles.com/germany/self-propelled/sturmgeschutz.asp World War II Tanks - Germany's SturmGeschütz Self Propelled Guns ] ]

In 1944 the Finnish Army received 59 StuG III Ausf. G from Germany (30 Stu 40 Ausf.G and 29 StuG III Ausf. G) and used them against the Soviet Union. These destroyed at least 87 enemy tanks for a loss of only 8 StuGs [http://www.achtungpanzer.com/stug.htm Achtung Panzer! - Sturmgeschütz III/IV ] ] (some of these were destroyed by their crews when they abandoned the vehicle to prevent capture). After the war they were the main combat vehicles of the Finnish Army until the early 1960s. These StuGs gained the nickname "Sturmi" which can be found in some plastic kit models.

Sturmgeschütz IIIs were also exported to other nations like Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, Romania, and Spain.

Many German Sturmgeschütz IIIs were captured by Yugoslav Partisans and after the war they were used by Yugoslav Peoples Army until the 1950s.

After the Second World War, the Soviet Union gave some of the captured German vehicles to Syria, which continued to use them at least until the Six Days War (1967).

Variants

;StuG III Ausf. A: (Sd.Kfz 142; 1940, 30 produced) First used in the Battle of France, the StuG III Ausf. A used the chassis of the Panzer III Ausf. F and the 7.5 cm StuK 37 L/24 gun.

;StuG III Ausf. B: (Sd.Kfz 142; 1940-41, 320 produced) Widened tracks (40 cm) and other improvements to the drivetrain.

;StuG III Ausf. C: (Sd.Kfz 142; 1941, 50 produced) Minor improvements over the Ausf. B with improved superstructure design.

;StuG III Ausf. D: (Sd.Kfz 142; 1941, 150 produced) Minor improvements over the Ausf. C.

;StuG III Ausf. E: (Sd.Kfz 142; 1941-42, 272 produced) A MG 34 is added to protect the vehicle from enemy infantry. Other minor improvements to the superstructure sides.

;StuG III Ausf. F: (Sd.Kfz 142/1; 1942, 359 produced) The first real upgunning of the StuG, this version uses the longer 7.5 cm StuK 40 L/43 gun. This change marked the StuG as being more of a tank destroyer than an infantry support vehicle. Additional frontal armor and side hull skirts were added to some Ausf. F models for protection from Soviet anti-tank rifles; although these skirts were far more common on the later Ausf. G.

;StuG III Ausf. F/8: (Sd.Kfz 142/1; 1942, 334 produced) Introduction of an improved hull design similar to that used for the Panzer III Ausf. J / L with increased rear armor. Another upgunning, the F/8 used the 7.5 cm StuK 40 L/48 gun.

;StuG III Ausf. G: (Sd.Kfz 142/1; 1942-45, 7,720 produced, 173 converted from Panzer III chassis) The final, and by far the most common, of the StuG series. The Ausf. G used the hull of the Panzer III Ausf. M. Later versions were fitted with the "Topfblende" (often erronously called "Saukopf") gun mantlet, which was more effective than the original box metal structure at deflecting shots. Addition of a cupola with periscopes was added for the commander. Side hull skirts were added to G models for added armour protection on their sides.

;Other StuG III based vehiclesSome StuG III were also made from a Panzer III chassis but fitted the bogie suspension system of the Panzer IV tank. Only about 20 were manufactured. The intention was to simplify field repairs but this did not work out well and the model was cancelled.

In 1942, a variant of the StuG III Ausf. F was designed with a 10.5 cm (105 mm) howitzer instead of the 7.5 cm StuK 40 L/43. These new vehicles, designated Sturmhaubitze 42 (10.5 cm StuH 42, Sd.Kfz 142/2), were designed to provide infantry support with the increased number of StuG III F/8 and Gs being used for anti-tank duties. The StuH 42 mounted a variant of the 10.5 cm leFH 18 howitzer, modified to be electrically fired and fitted with a muzzle brake. Later models were built from StuG III G chassis as well as StuG III F and F/8 chassis. The muzzle brake was often deleted as well because of the scarcity of resources. 1,211 StuH 42 were produced from October 1942 to 1945.

In 1943, 10 StuG IIIs were converted to StuG III (Flamm) configuration by replacing the main gun with a Schwade flamethrower. These chassis were all refurbished at the depot level and were a variety of Pre-Ausf. F models. There are no reports to indicate any of these were used in combat and all were returned to a Stug III G standard at depot level by 1944.

In late 1941 the StuG III chassis was selected for an attempt to mobilize the 15 cm sIG 33 heavy infantry gun. From December 1941 to October 1942 Ausf. E and F chassis (12 each) received a modified superstructure to accommodate the larger gun. These vehicles were known as Sturminfanteriegeschütz 33. At least twelve vehicles saw combat in the Battle of Stalingrad where they were destroyed or captured.

In January 1944, the StuG IV, based on the PzKpfw IV chassis and with a slightly modified StuG III superstructure entered production.

The Soviet SU-76i self-propelled gun was based on captured StuG III and Panzer III vehicles [http://www.achtungpanzer.com/stug.htm Achtung Panzer! - Sturmgeschütz III/IV ] ] . In total, Factory #37 in Sverdlovsk manufactured 181 SU-76i plus 20 commander SU-76i for Red Army service by adding an enclosed superstructure and the 76.2 mm S-1 tank gun.

Operators

*flagicon|Romania Romania
*flagicon|Bulgaria|1878 Bulgaria
*flag|Finland
*flagicon|Hungary|1940 Hungary
*flagicon|Italy|1861 Italy
*flagicon|Spain|1939 Spanish State
*flag|Syria|1932
*flag|Soviet Union|1923
*flag|Yugoslavia

References

*Peter Müller, Wolfgang Zimmermann: "German Book (English coming) Sturmgeschütz III - Rückgrat der Infanterie." Band 1, Geschichte: Entwicklung, Fertigung, Einsatz, [http://www.historyfacts.biz/en/04_Publikationen/11_SturmGeschuetzIII.htm History Facts]
*Peter Müller, Wolfgang Zimmermann: "German Book (English coming) Sturmgeschütz III - Rückgrat der Infanterie." Band 2, Erscheinungsbild: Fotoauswertung, Restauration, Modellbau, [http://www.historyfacts.biz/en/04_Publikationen/11_SturmGeschuetzIII_2.htm History Facts]

External links

* [http://www.panzerworld.net/stugiii.html Information about the Sturmgeschütz III at Panzerworld]
* [http://www.achtungpanzer.com/stug.htm Sturmgeschütz III / IV] at Achtung Panzer!
* [http://www.williammaloney.com/Aviation/CanadianWarMuseum/Sturmgeschutz/index.htm Sturmgeschutz III] Photos of the Sturmgeschutz III at the Canada War Museum in Ottawa, Canada
* [http://afvdb.50megs.com/germany/stug3.html AFV Database]
* [http://users.swing.be/tanks.tanks/complet/688.html LemaireSoft]
* OnWar model specifications: [http://www.onwar.com/tanks/germany/tfstug3a.htm A] [http://www.onwar.com/tanks/germany/tfstug3b.htm B] [http://www.onwar.com/tanks/germany/tfstug3d.htm D] [http://www.onwar.com/tanks/germany/tfstug3e.htm E] [http://www.onwar.com/tanks/germany/tfstug3f.htm F] [http://www.onwar.com/tanks/germany/tfstug3g.htm G]
* [http://www.wwiivehicles.com/germany/self-propelled/sturmgeschutz.asp Sturmgeschutz - WWII Vehicles]
* [http://www.wargamer.com/Hosted/Panzer/stug.htm WarGamer]
* [http://the.shadock.free.fr/Surviving_StuG_StuH.pdf Surviving Sturmgeschütz III and Sturmhaubitze 42 tanks] - A PDF file presenting the Sturmgeschütz III and Sturmhaubitze 42 tanks still existing in the world
* [http://www.StuGIII.com Sturmgeschütze vor!] Info on Sturmgeschütz and Panzerjaeger


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