The massive bombing raids of November let Krupp devise a substitute based on their Panzer IV chassis, which was presented and accepted by Hitler in December. No less than were delivered by Zavod 37 at Sverdlovsk, including 20 commander variants. Delivery started in the autumn of , but, in the fall of , they were withdrawn and used for training. In , a variant of the Ausf.
German Sturmgeschutz III Ausf. G Early Version (Plastic model)
F received a 4. The howitzer was derived from a In , ten early versions, stored in depots, were chosen to be modified, the main gun being replaced by a Schwade flamethrower. Their operational use however is dubious, as no report stated their use in combat and in they were returned to the depot. Development took time however, and in the end, twenty-four vehicles were so converted and all delivered in October Twelve of them were diverted to the battle of Stalingrad with the StuG Abteilung , and arrived on 8 November , in order to offer an efficient way to to deal with this urban environment.
It was already too little too late. All were lost in combat or captured, while the other half was sent to the 23rd Panzer Division. Thirty rounds were carried in two parts, shells and cartridges, partly stored inside the large bins installed behind the casemate, over the engine deck.
Sturmgeschütz III Ausf. G
The casemate itself was 10 mm 0. The manual Instruction of the employment of Sturmartillerie was first published in May and updated and re-printed in April By that time, limited war experience permeated the document in a few tactical re-adjustments, whereas advances in technology were more present. Both documents were combined for the second edition, with the contradictions duly noted. It was also dependent on infantry in close combat due to its own vulnerabilities: Weak sides, roof and rear armor, lack of visibility, weak arc of fire and, moreover, no close defense system.
It is stated that it can be used on the battlefield in the same way as the Panzer IV , and could deal even more successfully with AT guns due to its low profile and thick frontal armor. It could be attached, however, to theses organic units for special tasks requiring its mobility. It is recalled that it is not to be used for anti-tank tasks, only in case of self-defense. The Sturmartillerie Abteilung, or StuG battalion, comprised a headquarter and three Sturmbatteries, each with six vehicles three platoons of two StuGs.
Revised in , this is raised to seven vehicles, the extra StuG being given to the battalion commander. The Sturmartillerie Abteilungs were independent and only under the High Command authority, but, in some cases, a provisional organic inclusion in Divisions was allowed for special tasks. However, these units were rarely put under the command of an artillery commander. Efficient communication had to be ensured to allow a rapid redeployment of the Abteilung in support of various units inside the Division.
The manual states that the firing positions must be chosen with care, and well camouflaged to hide them from ground, but also air observation. A warning is issued not to split any platoons into smaller units in order to keep some amount of firepower, and only reserve this practice for exceptional short-duration support missions. Security missions, urban combat or night missions were also disapproved.
Due to their lack of vision, close infantry cooperation was required to prevent any encounter with obstacles and mines. The manual also strongly recommended surprise at any level of the engagement to ensure maximal lethality.
Sturmgeschuetz III Ausf.G Fujimi
Careful pre-positioning, camouflage, sufficient frontal arc of vision and firing without warning were all considered essential. Planning a safe retreat path, without obstacles to safely withdraw for refuelling and rearm is also noted. Smoke ammunition was to be used in this case and to blind the enemy flanking attacks. As breakthrough operations went, the Sturmartillerie Abteilungs only intervened after the breakthrough was done, but right after the first wave of battle tanks, and way before the arrival of tracked artillery and infantry.
They were to secure the flanks, like the Panzer IV , of any anti-tank positions, and to prepare the terrain for infantry to follow, destroying fortified positions, especially concrete bunkers. Close cooperation with flame-thrower carrying assault engineers ensured maximal efficiency. It was recalled that only in the case of very close and very strong infantry support should these tanks be used in urban or forested areas. In any case, fording was preferable whenever possible. When operating with an infantry division, the division commander retained the unit as long as possible under his own direct control.
They were to be used in the interval between the advanced spearhead and the main body, and only in rare cases on the first line.
On the march, they were placed under the column commander authority. With armored divisions they could also find themselves in the advanced guard.
In attack, Sturm. The manual made it clear that it is questionable to use StuGs for battery tasks on fixed targets, that could be instead disposed of by divisional artillery. The StuGs were best employed to deal with previously unknown enemy positions and nests of resistance, assisting the infantry to carve its way through deep enemy defensive lines, but with a backup of heavy infantry weapons or divisional artillery.
In all cases, detailing attack procedures stated that the StuGs had to be ready to intervene after the infantry started the attack, or held in reserve after enemy positions were duly identified. In both cases, never spearheading an assault. The platoon commander was encouraged to constantly cooperate with the most advanced infantry platoons and never be put in control of an artillery commander.
When attacking, their chief targets were enemy AT guns, then fortifications. The initial formation helped make observation easier and favored rapid reaction against any spotted AT position. In case of a defensive action, StuGs were only to be used as a secondary resource, after the AT guns had been decimated or overrun. In that case, the StuGs were to advance to the shortest distance of fire, helped by their low stature.
In pursuit, StuGs had to be kept close to their infantry support at all times, in order to be aware of unseen enemy positions and deal with any resistance. In fighting withdrawal, StuGs were allotted to infantry units and could be used in rear guard actions in support of tanks. Organisational structure: A Sturmbatterie originally comprised six StuGs -three platoons of two-, five Sd. Due to initial production delays, Panzer I , Sd. The StuGs were the unsung heroes of the German defense from to , with more kills than the Panthers and Tigers altogether 20, claimed just in Their career as support tanks spanned for longer, but they were found efficient against lightly armored vehicles even with HE rounds.
The first Sturmbatterie, , was created on 1st November , followed by the , , and in April and May The first action came for the 16th Sturmbatterie, with the Grossdeutschland division under Gen. This unit attacked Villiers and met heavy resistance from an entrenched French cavalry unit. It attacked the following day towards Mellier, and nullified an enemy infantry unit in the direction of Suxy.
A French reconnaissance battalion was destroyed in the process of taking several fortified buildings. After other engagements near the Belgian border, the StuG Abteilungs secured a strong foothold on the other side of the Meuse at Sedan. The first reports of these engagements written by infantry officers were dithyrambic and the StuG secured its place into the Wehrmacht arsenal. These were the first to have a seventh StuG per battery for the commander, and to have extra radio sets for one in two vehicles for the platoon commander.
By April , these units were supplemented with sidecars for dismounted platoon leaders, and trucks replaced the Sd. This was extended to all units on 18 April This new disposition was operational for the start of Operation Barbarossa for all but a few Sturmbatteries. After a first engagement at Bialystock, the StuG Abt. Reorganization of the platoons occurred due to the lack of vehicles only one StuG per platoon towards the end of the year.
The command vehicle was now a Sd. It was usual of the StuGs to identify the targets far away first, due to better optical instruments, the infantry providing side and rear close visual cover. Due to the harsh conditions during the fall of that year, many breakdowns occurred even before the first snow fell, because of the soaked muddy terrain that took its toll in over-stressing the transmission. After that, with the cold sitting down, problems started appearing with the starters, broken torsion bars and broken or torn tracks.
The culprit was the snow that, mixed with mud and gravels, froze up each night.
(Sd.Kfz.142/1) Frühe version
Crowbars were used frantically by an exhausted crew each evening and each morning to keep the tank in running order, trying to eliminate the frozen dirt that clogged everything. In this regard, the StuGs did not fare better than the other Panzers, sharing the same mechanical parts on the chassis and narrow tracks more suited for the moderate climate of the west. With such a regime, the Abteilung was left with only ten StuGs operational on 10 December, the situation being even worse for other units.
By the 31, the Abteilung lost 6 StuGs in exchange for silencing or capturing artillery pieces, 39 infantry guns, 34 mortars, 79 AT guns, 45 AA guns, MGs, 91 tanks. The unit also spent nearly 60, rounds of 75 mm 2. These claims only concerned irreversible losses, like hulls left burning or blatantly destroyed and not lightly damaged tanks that barely lost a track or had a damaged drivetrain.
Despite having the short barrel, the early StuG Ausf. A to E succeeded in destroying more Ts than taking losses themselves. But a revolution was brewing, as the new F series was intended to carry the long barrel Stu. Krupp already started worked on the s. It was then shown to Hitler and an optimistic spring target was set for production. At first, Rheinmetall considered truncating the towed 7. It had to be adapted to be fitted in the StuG casemate, posed recoil problems 90 cm were required and the rounds were too long mm long. The loading chamber was remodeled and shortened, while the rifled barrel chamber was kept intact.
This resulted in the Kanone 40 7.
Related Sturmgeschuetz III Ausf. G
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