Sturmgeschütz III

Sturmgeschütz III

StuG III Ausf. F/8 (Sd.Kfz.142/1) at Belgrade Military Museum, Serbia
Type Assault gun
Place of origin Nazi Germany
Service history
In service 1940–1945 (German service)
Syrian StuG IIIs were in use until the Six-Day War (1967), possibly later
Used by See Operators
Wars World War II (Continuation War)
Six-Day War
Production history
Unit cost 82,500 RM
Number built
  • c. 10,086 StuG III
  • c. 1,299 StuH 42[1]
Weight 23.9 tonnes (52,690 lbs)
Length 6.85 m (22 ft 6 in)
Width 2.95 m (9 ft 8 in)
Height 2.16 m (7 ft 1 in)
Crew 4

Armour 16 – 80 mm (.62 - 3.15 in)
Engine Maybach HL 120 TRM V-12 gasoline engine driving six-speed transmission[3]
300 PS (296 hp, 221 kW)
Power/weight 12 PS (9.2 kW) / tonne
Suspension torsion bar
155 km (96 mi) (.9 mpg-US (1.1 mpg-imp; 260 L/100 km) at 22 mph (35 km/h), 71 US gal (59 imp gal; 270 l) fuel)[3]
Speed 40 km/h (25 mph)

The Sturmgeschütz III (StuG III) assault gun was Germany's most produced armoured fighting vehicle during World War II. It was built on the chassis of the proven Panzer III tank, replacing the turret with a fixed superstructure mounting a more powerful gun. Initially intended as a mobile, armoured light gun for direct-fire support for infantry, the StuG III was continually modified, and much like the later Jagdpanzer, was widely employed as a tank destroyer.


The Sturmgeschütz originated from German experiences in World War I when it was discovered that, during the offensives on the western front, the infantry lacked the means to effectively engage fortifications. The artillery of the time was heavy and not mobile enough to keep up with the advancing infantry to destroy bunkers, pillboxes, and other minor fortifications with direct fire. Although the problem was well known in the German army, it was General Erich von Manstein who is considered the father of the Sturmartillerie ("assault artillery"). This is because the initial proposal was from (then) Colonel Erich von Manstein and submitted to General Ludwig Beck in 1935, suggesting that Sturmartillerie units should be used in a direct-fire support role for infantry divisions. On 15 June 1936, Daimler-Benz AG received an order to develop an armoured infantry support vehicle capable of mounting a 75 mm (2.95 in) calibre artillery piece. The gun mount's fixed, fully integrated casemate superstructure was to allow a limited traverse of a minimum of 25°[4] and provide overhead protection for the crew. The height of the vehicle was not to exceed that of the average soldier.

Daimler-Benz AG used the chassis and running gear of its recently designed Panzer III medium tank as a basis for the new vehicle. Prototype manufacture was passed over to Alkett, which produced five prototypes in 1937 on Panzer III Ausf. B chassis. These prototypes featured a mild steel superstructure and Krupp’s short-barrelled, howitzer-like in appearance, 7.5 cm StuK 37 L/24 cannon. Production vehicles with this gun were known as Gepanzerter Selbstfahrlafette für Sturmgeschütz 7.5cm Kanone Ausführung A to D (Sd.Kfz.142).

While the StuG was considered self-propelled artillery, it was not initially clear which land combat arm of the Wehrmacht Heer would handle the new weapon. The Panzer arm, the natural user of tracked fighting vehicles, had no resources to spare for the formation of StuG units, and neither did the infantry branch. It was agreed, after a discussion, it would best be employed as part of the artillery arm.

The StuGs were organized into battalions (later renamed "brigades" for disinformation purposes) and followed their own specific doctrine. Infantry support using direct-fire was its intended role. Later there was also a strong emphasis on destroying enemy armour whenever encountered.

As the StuG was designed to fill an infantry close support combat role, early models were fitted with a low-velocity 7.5 cm StuK 37 L/24 gun. Low-velocity shells are lightly built of thin steel and carry a large charge of explosive to destroy soft-skin targets and blast fortifications. Such shells do not penetrate armour well. After the Germans encountered the Soviet KV-1 and T-34 tanks, the StuG was first equipped with a high-velocity 7.5 cm StuK 40 L/43 main gun (Spring 1942) and in Autumn 1942 with the slightly longer 7.5 cm StuK 40 L/48 gun. These high-velocity guns were the same guns that were mounted on the Panzer IV for anti-tank use; however the heavy steel wall high-velocity shells carried much less explosive and had a lower blast effect for use against infantry or field fortification. These versions were known as the 7.5 cm Sturmgeschütz 40 Ausf.F, Ausf. F/8 and Ausf. G (Sd.Kfz.142/1).

When the StuG IV entered production in late 1943 and early 1944, the "III" was added colloquially to the name to separate it from the Panzer IV-based assault guns.

Beginning with the StuG III Ausf. G from December 1942, a 7.92 mm MG34 machine gun could be mounted on a shield on top of the superstructure for added anti-infantry protection. Some of the F/8 models were retrofitted with a shield as well. Many of the later StuG III Ausf. G models were equipped with an additional coaxial 7.92 mm MG34.

The vehicles of the Sturmgeschütz series were cheaper and faster to build than 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. This was due to the omission of the turret, which greatly simplified manufacture and allowed the chassis to carry a larger gun than it could otherwise. By the end of the war, ~11,300 StuG IIIs and StuH 42s had been built.[5]

Performance against enemy vehicles

Estimated effective range against targets, assuming a 30-degree sideward angle. Taken from a Wa Prüf 1 report dated 5 October 1944.[6]

Gun 7.5 cm StuK 40 75 mm M3 7.5 cm StuK 40 76 mm M1A1
Target M4A2 Stug III M4A4 Stug III
Turret 1000 m 1000 m
Mantlet 100 m 100 m 100 m 1500 m
DFP or Glacis 0 m 100 m 0 m 1700 m
Nose 1300 m 100 m 1300 m 1600 m
Turret 3000 m 3000 m
Super 3500 m + 3000 m 3500 m + 3500 m +
Hull 3500 m + 3000 m 3500 m + 3500 m +
Turret 3000 m 3000 m
Hull 3500 m + 3500 m + 3500 m + 3500 m +
Gun 7.5 cm StuK 40 85 mm S-53 7.5 cm StuK 40 122 mm A-19
Target T-34-85 Stug III IS-122 Stug III
Turret 700 m 100 m
Mantlet 100 m 1100 m 0 m 2100 m
DFP or Glacis 0 m 1500 m 0 m 2700 m
Nose 0 m 1400 m 100 m 2700 m
Turret 1300 m 300 m
Super 1400 m 3500 m + 200 m 3500 m +
Hull 3200 m 3500 m + 500 m 3500 m +
Turret 1800 m 0 m
Hull 1000 m 3500 m + 100 m 3500 m +

Operational history

Overall, the Sturmgeschütz III series assault guns proved very successful and served on all fronts as assault guns and tank destroyers. Because of their low silhouette, StuG IIIs were easy to camouflage and a difficult target. As of April 10, 1945, there were 1,053 StuG IIIs and 277 StuH 42s in service.

The StuG assault guns were cost-effective compared to the heavier German tanks, though in the anti-tank role they were best used defensively, as the lack of a traversable turret was a severe disadvantage in the assault role. As the German military situation deteriorated later in the war, more StuG guns were built compared to tanks, to replace losses and bolster defences against the Allied forces.

In 1943 and 1944, the Finnish Army received 59 StuG III Ausf. Gs from Germany and used them against the Soviet Union. Thirty of the vehicles were received in 1943 and twenty nine in 1944. The 1943 batch destroyed at least 87 enemy tanks for a loss of only 8 StuGs[7] (some of which were destroyed by their crews to avoid capture). The 1944 batch saw no real action. After the war, the StuGs were the main combat vehicles of the Finnish Army until the early 1960s. These StuGs gained the nickname "Sturmi", which can be found in some plastic kit models.

100 StuG III Ausf. G were delivered to Romania in the autumn of 1943. They were officially known as TAs (or TAs T3 to avoid confusion with TAs T4) in the army inventory. By February 1945, 13 units were still in use with the 2nd Armoured Regiment. None of this initial batch survived the end of the war.[8] 31 TAs were on the army inventory in November 1947. Most of them were probably StuG III Ausf. G and a small number of Panzer IV/70 (V), known as TAs T4. These TAs were supplied by the Red Army or were damaged units repaired by the Romanian Army.[9] All German equipment was scrapped in 1954 due to the Army's decision to use only Soviet armour.

StuG IIIs were also exported to other nations, such as Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, and Spain.

Many German StuG IIIs were captured in Yugoslavia by Yugoslav partisans. These were used by the Yugoslav People's Army until the 1950s.

After the Second World War, the Soviet Union donated some of their captured German vehicles to Syria, which continued to use them along with other war surplus armoured fighting vehicles (like long-barrelled Panzer IVs and T-34-85s) during the 1950s and up until the War over Water against Israel in the mid-1960s. By the time of the Six Days War, all of them had been either destroyed, stripped for spare parts, or emplaced on the Golan Heights as static pillboxes.


Production numbers from Panzer Tracts 23[1]

StuG III, Ausf. A

A rotating cupola with periscopes was added for the commander for Ausf G. However, from September 1943, the lack of ball bearings (resulting from USAAF bombing of Schweinfurt) forced cupolas to be welded on. Ball bearings were once again installed from August 1944. Shot deflectors for the cupolas were first installed from October 1943 from one factory, to be installed on all StuGs from February 1944. Some vehicles without shot deflectors carried several track pieces wired around the cupola for added protection.

From December 1942, a square machine gun shield for the loader was installed, allowing an MG 34 to be factory installed on a StuG for the first time. F/8 models had machine gun shields retro-fitted from early 1943. The loader's machine gun shield was later replaced by rotating machine gun mount that could be operated by the loader inside the vehicle sighting through a periscope. In April 1944, 27 of them were being field tested on the Eastern front. Favourable reports led to installation of these "remote" machine gun mounts from the summer of 1944.

From November 1943, G versions were fitted with the Topfblende pot mantlet (often called Saukopf "Pig's head") gun mantlet without a coaxial mount. This cast mantlet, which had a sloped and rounded shape, was more effective at deflecting shots than the original boxy mantlet that had armour varying in thickness from 45 mm to 50 mm. The lack of large castings meant that the trapezoid-shape mantlet was also produced until the very end. A coaxial machine gun was first added to boxy mantlets, from June 1944, and then to cast Topfblende, from October 1944, in the middle of "Topfblende" mantlet production. With the addition of this coaxial machine gun, all StuGs carried two MG 34 machine guns from fall of 1944. Some previously completed StuGs with a boxy mantlet had a coaxial machine gun hole drilled to retrofit a coaxial machine gun; however, Topfblende produced from Nov. 1943 - Oct. 1944 without a machine gun opening could not be tampered with. Also from Nov.1943, all-metal return rollers of a few different types were used due to lack of rubber supply. Zimmerit anti-magnetic coating to protect vehicles from magnetic mines was used only from September 1943-September 1944.

Further variants

In 1942, a variant of the StuG Ausf. F was designed with a 105 mm (4.1 in) true howitzer instead of the 7.5 cm StuK 40 L/43 cannon. These new vehicles, designated StuH 42 (Sturmhaubitze 42, Sd.Kfz 142/2), were designed to provide infantry support with the increased number of StuG III Ausf. F/8 and Ausf. Gs being used in the anti-tank role. 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. Production models were built on StuG III Ausf. G chassis. The muzzle brake was often omitted due to the scarcity of resources later in the war. Alkett produced 1,299 StuH 42 from March 1943 to 1945, the initial 12 vehicles were built on repaired StuG III Ausf. F and F/8 from autumn 1942 to January 1943.

In 1943, 10 StuG IIIs were converted to the 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 that any of these were used in combat and all were returned to Ausf. G standard at depot level by 1944.

In late 1941, the StuG chassis was selected to carry the 15 cm sIG 33 heavy infantry gun. These vehicles were known as Sturm-Infanteriegeschütz 33B. Twenty-four were rebuilt on older StuG III chassis of which twelve vehicles saw combat in the Battle of Stalingrad, where they were destroyed or captured. The remaining 12 vehicles were assigned to 23rd Panzer Division.

Due to the dwindling supply of rubber, rubber-saving road wheels were tested during 8–14 November 1942, but did not see production.

Bombing raids on the Alkett factory resulted in significant drops in StuG III production in November 1943. To make up for this loss of production, Krupp displayed a substitution StuG on a Panzer IV chassis to Hitler on 16–17 December 1943. From January 1944, the StuG IV, based on the Panzer IV chassis and with a slightly modified StuG III superstructure, entered production.

Field modifications were made to increase the vehicle's survivability, resulting in diversity to already numerous variants: cement plastered on front superstructure, older Ausf.C/D retrofitted with a KwK 40 L/48 gun, Ausf.G mounting Panzer IV cupola, a coaxial MG34 through a hole drilled on a boxy mantlet.

The Soviet SU-76i self-propelled gun was based on captured StuG III and Panzer III vehicles.[7] 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.

Approximately 10,000 StuG IIIs of various types were produced from 1940 to 1945 by Alkett (~7,500) and from 1943 to 1945 by MIAG (2586). From April to July 173 older Panzer III were converted to StuG III Ausf. G standard. The ?,1299 StuH 42 and the 12 conversions from StuG III were solely built by Alkett.[1]


Surviving vehicles

In working order[13]

Jon Phillips privately owned Stug III Ausf D

More or less intact, but not in working order[13]



  1. 1 2 3 Thomas L.Jentz, Hillary Louis Doyle: Panzer Tracts No.23 - Panzer Production from 1933 to 1945
  2. Military Intelligence Service, Artillery in the Desert (Department of War, 25 November 1942), p.19, says boxes for 44 rounds plus 40 "stacked on the floor at the loader's station".
  3. 1 2 Military Intelligence Service, Artillery in the Desert, p.19.
  4. Military Intelligence Service, Artillery in the Desert (Department of War, 25 November 1942), p.19, says depression 5°, elevation 20°, traverse only 20° on a captured sample.
  5. Sturmgeschütz
  6. Jentz, Thomas; Doyle, Jentz (2001). Sturmgeschutz III and IV 1942-45. Osprey Publishing. p. 21. ISBN 1841761826.
  7. 1 2 Achtung Panzer! - Sturmgeschütz III/IV
  8. Scafes and Serbanescu 2005, p.77
  9. Scafes and Serbanescu 2005, p.47
  10. "".
  11. "Panzers Found in Norway". Armchair General Magazine - We Put YOU in Command!.
  12. Sturmgeschütz III Ausf D. Pansarmuseet i Axvall
  13. 1 2 "Surviving Panthers". Surviving Panzers website.
  14. StuG III Ausf. D Restoration Facebook Group


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