Forces of Valor 81106 German Sturmgeschutz III Ausf. G Assault Gun with Skirts in Diorama - StuG Brigade 341, Battle at Anzio, Italy, 1944 (1:32 Scale)
"If the tank succeeds, then victory follows."
- Major-General Heinz Guderian, "Achtung Panzer!"
The German Sturmgeschutz was one of the most successful armored fighting vehicles of the Second World War. It arose from an original concept of the pre-war panzer divisions, whereby a special vehicle for infantry support work was planned. During the war years, the Sturmgeschutz was rapidly developed and upgunned, and was used both in its original role as an assault gun and also as a tank destroyer.
The final and by far the most common of the StuG series was the Ausf. G. The upper superstructure was widened: welded boxes on either sides were abandoned. This new superstructure design increased its height to 2160 mm. The back wall of the fighting compartment got straightened, and the ventilation fan on top of the superstructure was relocated to the back of the fighting compartment. From March 1943, the driver's periscope was abandoned. In February 1943, Alkett was joined by MIAG as a second manufacturer. From May 1943, side hull spaced armor plates (Schurzen) were fitted to G models for added armor protection, particularly against Russian anti-tank rifles, but were also useful against hollow-charge ammunition. Side plates were retro-fitted to some Ausf. F/8 models, as they were to be fitted to all front line StuGs and other tanks by June 1943 in preparation for the battle of Kursk. Mountings for the Schurzen proved inadequately strong, as many were lost in the field. From March 1944, an improved mounting was introduced; as a result, side skirts are seen more often with late model Ausf G. From May 1943, 80 mm thick plates were used for frontal armor instead of two plates of 50 mm + 30 mm. However, a backlog of StuGs with completed 50 mm armor existed. For those, a 30 mm additional armour plate still had to be welded or bolted on, until October 1943.
This 1:32 scale vignette -- Battle at Anzio, Italy, 1944 -- features a German StuG assault gun painted in a fabulous summer camouflage scheme and equipped with schurzen side armor skirts parked alongside a ruined piazza.
Dimensions of Diorama:
Length: 12.5 inches
Width: 8 inches
Height: 7.5 inches
Release Date: December 2003
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.