Sd Kfz 142/1 7.5cm Sturmgeschütz 40 Ausf G (E1990.64)
The Sturmgeschutz performed best in a defensive role, often in conjunction with heavy tanks such as Tigers, and they came into their own during the Italian campaign which suited these ambush tactics very well. The gun, a 75mm StuK L/48, could penetrate 85mm of armour at 1,000 metres range, which effectively meant every Allied tank except the Churchill.
In 1943 thirty of these weapons were supplied by Germany to the Finnish Army to aid their struggle against the Russians. Our exhibit was supplied from Finland and includes certain features that are peculiar to the Finnish Army Sturmgeschutz. For a while it was displayed in German colours but in 2007 it was retored to its original (Finnish) condition and is now displayed as such.
This vehicle is not a Tank but an Assault Gun. The gun could only be traversed 12 degrees and required close co-operation between gunner and driver. The gun mantlet (Saukopf) shows it to have been manufactured late in 1943 when this improvement was instituted. This vehicle shows certain modifications made by the Finns including a bin on the right front, gun cradle on front and a second bin at the rear (possibly to contain a radio). In Finnish service they would also have carried a Russian 7.62mm DT machine gun in place of the German MG34.
Precise Name: 7.5cm Sturmgeschutz 40 Aus G
Other Name: SdKfz 142/1, StuG III Aus G
Conceived in 1935 the Sturmgeschutz (Assault Gun) was intended to provide mobile, armoured, close support artillery for the German infantry rather than the Panzer Troops.
The new weapon was based on the chassis of the Panzer III tank. (See E1951.28 Panzerkampfwagen III Aus L). A low armoured superstructure was built on the tank chassis. A short 7.5cm StuK37 gun was carried in a limited traverse mounting in the front of the superstructure. The gunner had an artillery type of periscopic sight that was used through a direct vision port to the left of the gun.
The Sturmgeschutz design has advantages:
- Lacking a turret it is cheaper, quicker and easier to build than a turreted tank
- The weight saved by not having a turret can be used to fit thicker armour and/or a heavier gun
- The vehicle is lower than a tank and is more easily concealed.
These advantages exact a price. The limited traverse of the gun (12 degrees each way) means that the whole vehicle has to be swivelled on its tracks to aim the gun laterally; this necessitates good co-ordination between the gunner and the driver and reduces tactical flexibility. The Sturmgeschutz is also vulnerable to attacks from the flanks.
The speed with which Sturmgeschutz could be produced was a great advantage to the Germans once they were forced onto the defensive in 1943. Many different chassis were used but the most produced were based on the Panzer III. Seven different versions were made, culminating in the Sturmgeschutz III Aus G.
Each version was an improvement on its predecessor. The most important change was introduced in the Aus F that mounted a high velocity 7.5cm gun that was 43 or 48 calibres long. The original short gun proved ineffective against the Soviet T34 and KV1 tanks. The 48 calibre gun could penetrate 85mm of steel armour at 1,000-metre range. Every Allied tank except the Churchill was vulnerable. A total of 9,408 StuG III was made between January 1940 and March 1945. A further 1,211 similar vehicles were built as the Sturmhaubitze 42 between October 1943 and March 1945. This mounted a 10.5cm light howitzer (the leFH18) in place of the 7.5cm gun. A further ten vehicles were converted into flame-throwers in May and June 1943.
The Tank Museum’s example is an Aus G, 7,893 of which were manufactured between December 1942 and March 1945. The Aus G was distinguished from the early versions by a modified superstructure with sloping front and side plates and by the fitting of a proper cupola for the commander. In addition a self-defence machine gun was installed in front of the loader’s hatch. The Aus G was improved during its’ long production run: changes included a new ‘sow’s head’ (saukopf) gun mantlet, a co-axial machine gun, a close-in defence weapon (a grenade thrower) mounted in the roof and a remote controlled machine gun for close defence, also carried on the roof.
The Germans supplied this particular vehicle to the Finnish Army in 1943. It has a number of modifications applied by the Finns. These include a storage bin on the right front, a second bin at the rear of the superstructure, (possibly for a radio), and a gun cradle on the front of the hull. It is currently painted to represent a vehicle that was used by the Germans in Italy in 1943.
The first Sturmgeschutz (Aus A) were issued to the artillery arm early in 1940 and were organised in batteries, like field guns. Four Sturmartillerie Batteries participated in the Battle of France in May and June 1940. As the war progressed the StuG III was issued to 28 Assault Gun detachments as well as to many Tank Destroyer Battalions, Panzer Divisions, Luftwaffe field units and Waffen SS units. The StuG III was used on the Eastern Front, in Italy and in the west. They often operated in conjunction with the Tiger heavy tank and were well suited to the essentially defensive fighting that the German forces were engaged in during the last two years of World War II.
Summary text by Mike Garth V1.0