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Author Topic: StuG III - StuH 42 : what is?  (Read 7209 times)
Koen
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« on: 6 November 2008, 16:54:51 »
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Sturmgeschütz is a German word for "assault gun", usually abbreviated StuG. This vehicle was the weapon of The "Sturmartillerie", which was an arm under the German artillery tasked with close fire support of infantry in Infantry, panzer and panzergrenadier units. The Stugs were hugely successful in their intended support role destroying bunkers, pillboxes and other defences. However, destruction of enemy tanks always took precedence and it is estimated the Stug battalions by 1944 had destroyed 20,000 enemy tanks. Most assault guns were mounted on Panzer III, which was obsolete as a tank, and Panzer IV chassis, producing the StuG III and StuG IV, respectively. The StuG was one of the most effective tracked vehicles of WW2 and was produced in great numbers.

The Sturmgeschütz III (StuG III) assault gun was Nazi Germany's most produced armoured fighting vehicle during World War II. It was built on the chassis of the 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.

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 and other minor changes.
StuG III Ausf. C
(Sd.Kfz 142; 1941, 50 produced) Minor improvements over the Ausf. B.
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.
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. 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) Another upgunning, the F/8 used 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 Saukopf (Ger. pig's head) gun mantlet, which was more effective than the original box metal structure at deflecting shots. Side hull skirts were added to G models for added armour protection on their sides.

Other StuG III based vehicles
Some 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 StuH42 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 entered production.

The Soviet SU-76i self-propelled gun was based on captured StuG III and Panzer III vehicles. 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.
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Earl Grey
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« Reply #1 on: 24 January 2011, 22:33:27 »
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Little correction: The "Saukopf" mantlet was a term invented in post-war literature. The official name was "Topfblende" (pot mantlet) or simply "cast mantlet" (in opposition to the boltet one).
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