Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Stug III inTali-Ihantala 1944

The story of the 'reborn' Panzer III ausf F that made its operational debut on 27/28 May 2007 at the Patton Museum.

Panzer III at Kursk

After 1943 Pz Kw III variants were equipped with 5 mm thick side plates, known as aprons or skirt armour to increase protection against hits from anti-tank rifles and hollow-charge ammunition. The aprons, which fitted on to longitudinal rails on both sides of the vehicle, were removable and could be fitted around the turret (Army Technical Pamphlet 1943, No 433). The width of the vehicle, which was first shown on 19th March 1943 in Rugenwalde, was 341 cm. For tank units on the Eastern Front a wider track was issued in 1944 (Army Technical Pamphlet 1944, No 256), the so-called "Ostkette" (literally Eastern track). This was intended to increase the cross-country capabilities of the Pz Kw III and its variants in snow and on soft going. This was simply a makeshift, for the track with its extension on one side could only be used with safety in flat country. The width with the Ostkette fitted was 326 cm.

Due to the introduction of the upgunned and uparmoured Panzer IV, the Panzer III was, after the Battle of Kursk, relegated to secondary roles, such as training, and it was replaced as the main German medium tank by the Panzer IV and the Panther. The Panzer III chassis was the basis for the turretless Sturmgeschütz III assault gun, one of the most successful self-propelled guns of the war, and the single most-produced German armored fighting vehicle design of World War II.

The Panzer III was used in the campaigns against Poland, France, the Soviet Union and in North Africa. A handful were still in use in Normandy, Anzio, Finland and in Operation Market Garden in 1944.

Panzerkampfwagen III mit Schachtellaufwerk

Prototype development of large interleaving road wheels, using a Pz Kpfw III Ausf H (7 ZW) as the basis of the conversion. The three prototypes were built late in 1940 was used for training purposes after testing had been completed. Further development was halted and in 1943/44, prototypes were fitted with dozers and were used to clean up the streets of bombed cities. This suspension was later adopted in Tiger and Panther.


Late-War StuGs

Stug III and Panzer III at Tankfest 2009

A compilation of 'Privilaged' Videos and stills of the Panzer III and Stug III taken at Tankfest 2009, Bovington . Contains interior shots of the Panzer 3 and views of Tiger 131 through the commanders periscope.

Stug III was recovered from the bottom of the Black Sea and restored . Panzer III belongs to the Museum.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

StuG Prototypes

On 15 June 1936, the order was given to develop an armoured vehicle for infantry support, mounting a gun of at least 7.5cm calibre. The gun was required to have a minimum of 25° traverse, and to be mounted in the hull, eliminating the requirement for a turret, which could result in a vehicle not exceeding the height of an average man. The experimental (0-serie) series consisted of five Pz Kpfw III Ausf B chassis (Chassis Nos 90216-90220), upon which were mounted the soft steel superstructures containing the fixed 7.5cm StuK. After the successful testing of these prototypes, the 1 Serie Ausf A went into production in January 1940.

Panzerkampfwagen III Ausf J (Sd Kfz 141/1)

Orders were given to get the 5cm KwK39 L/60 gun into a production series as quickly as possible which resulted in the Ausf J series being split between this gun and the 5cm KwK L/42. Originally, in August 1940, Hitler had ordered the L/60 gun, but the Ordnance Department did not implement the decision as the L/42 had recently been introduced and had proved successful. At his birthday demonstration in April 1941, Hitler saw the Pz Kpfw III Ausf J still without the long gun and insisted on its fitting as soon as possible. Events in Russia two months later proved the need for a more powerful armament.

The only differences between the Ausf J with the 5cm KwK L/42 and those with the 5cm KwK39 L/60, were the gun itself and the ammunition stowage which was reduced because of the increase in the shell length.

The Ausf J with the long-barrelled 5cm KwK39 L/60 were issued to the five tank detachments formed in early 1942 for the 3rd, 16th, 29th and 60th Motorized Infantry Divisions, and the 5th SS Motorized Infantry Division 'Wiking'. The remainder were used as replacements for the extremely high losses which had been sustained in Russia and North Africa. The long 5cm KwK was very useful in North Africa when engaging the Grant and Valentine tanks, but was of little value in a frontal engagement against a Russian T-34 or KV-1.

Panzerkampfwagen III Ausf F (Sd Kfz 141)

Basically, the Ausf F was the same vehicle as the Ausf E. In fact, it was the result of an order to mass-produce an effective battle tank. In January 1939, the order was reduced by 250, after production orders had been placed for the improved models, Ausf G and H.

The basic change was to the ignition system. Early in the production run, cast air-intakes were added to the upper hull plate to allow air circulation for brakes and final-drive cooling. The majority were produced mounting the 3.7cm KwK, but approximately 100 were equipped with the 5cm KwK L/42 and external mantlet as original equipment. From August 1940 until 1942, many of the remainder were converted from the 3.lcm KwK to the 5cm KwK L/42 and external gun mantlet. Orders were also issued to up-armour the hull and superstructure, by adding 30mm plates, at the same time as the upgunning took place.

In late 1939 and early 1940, the Ausf F were issued to the Panzer regiments as quickly as they could be produced. On 10 May 1940, 348 Pz Kpfw III, mostly Ausf E and F, but with a few Ausf G, were with seven Panzer divisions on the Western Front. At this time, there were two light tank companies with each tank detachment, but the actual strength varied greatly between the seven Panzer divisions, ranging from five to seventeen Pz Kpfw III in each light tank company. The last Ausf F known to have been in action were with the 116th Panzer Division in June 1944. They are now on display at the Patton Museum at Fort Knox, Kentucky.