Forces of Valor 81020 German Sturmgeschutz III Ausf. B Assault Gun - "White 25", Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front, 1941 (1:32 Scale)
"We must do everything we can to promote anti-tank defense, and work just as hard to guarantee successful counter-attacks through the instrument of powerful tank forces of our own."
- Major-General Heinz Guderian, "Achtung Panzer!"
Five prototype assault guns were built in 1937, mounting the same short-barreled 75mm L/24 howitzer fitted to the PzKpfw IV in a limited traverse mounting on the modified chassis of the PzKpfw III Ausf. B. Constructed of soft steel, these vehicles of the "O" series were unsuitable for combat but helped towards the development of the initial production version, the StuG III Ausf. A. The nomenclature adopted was a blend of the parent tank and the gun which was mounted (e.g. StuG III mit 7.5cm Kanone, implying a modified PzKpfw III chassis with a 75mm gun). The chassis nose plates, gun mantlet and frontal armor of the superstructure were 50mm thick, which was sufficient protection against the antitank guns of that time. The gunner's sight required a small opening in the front plate, and the fan-shaped cutout in front of the opening had bullet deflectors to deflect bullets and fragments. Production started in 1940 and 30 vehicles were made before the campaign in the west in 1940. They performed successfully in Holland and France, destroying pill-boxes, machinegun nests and antitank guns.
In the autumn of 1940, an improved chassis with replaced transmission and engine resulted in the Ausf. B. During production of the Ausf. B the 36cm wide track was replaced by a 40cm wide track, making it necessary to fit new drive sprockets and rear idlers. Early 1941 the Ausf. C was introduced, later followed by the Ausf. D which had some internal changes. The Ausf. C and D had an altered superstructure with a single or binocular gunner's sight now mounted in the roof, eliminating the weak point in the frontal armor. The front, side and driver's roof plates were improved to a more effective shape.
This particular 1:32 scale Sturmgeschutz III Ausf. B assault gun is painted in an early war
fedlgrau (field grey) scheme which was employed on the Eastern Front during 1941.
Release Date: September 2014
Historical Account: "Sturmgeschutz Vor" - The Sturmgeschutz (assault gun) units of the Wehrmacht were, contrary to popular opinion, manned by men of, and controlled by, the artillery branch, not the panzerwaffe. This is not to say that StuGs weren't used by the panzerwaffe, as they were in Panzer-Sturmgeschutz units, usually assigned to the panzergrenadier divisions, falling under the control of the artillery. This had a number of effects on their structure and employment.
Initially StuG batteries had only six vehicles, roughly comparable in manpower to an artillery battery. By comparison, panzer companies had up to 22 tanks. At war's end the battery size had increased to 14 StuGs and the panzer company had decreased to around the same number, depending on the unit.
Much like an artillery battalion, a
Sturmgeschutz Abteilung (assault gun battalion) had 3 batteries. Late in the war, a fourth (Begleit or escort) battery of infantry was added to some units. This was intended to consist of a company-sized element of panzergrenadiers on halftracks, but shortages prevented the halftracks from being assigned and many units were lucky to get trucks. Some units had to ride on the StuGs themselves.
There seems to be a rough correlation between the redesignation of some Sturmgeschutz units as
Sturmartillerie (assault artillery) and the addition of a Begleit Batterie. Parallel to this was the redesignation of most all the Abteilungen to brigades in early 1944. This reflected the expansion of the Batterie to 10, and later 14 vehicles. Including headquarters vehicles, a late-war brigade would consist of 31 or 45 StuGs.