Sturmgeschütz III from 1940. The Sturmgeschütz III (StuG III) assault gun was Germany’s most-produced fully tracked armoured fighting vehicle during World War II, and second-most produced German armored combat vehicle of any type after the Sd.Kfz. 251 half-track.
It was built on the chassis of the proven Panzer III tank, replacing the turret with an armored, fixed superstructure mounting a more powerful gun. Initially intended as a mobile assault gun for direct-fire support for infantry, the StuG III was continually modified, and much like the later Jagdpanzer, was 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 engage fortifications effectively. 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).
The initial proposal was from 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 7.5 cm (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° 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 recent 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 a Krupp short-barrelled, howitzer-like in appearance, 7.5 cm StuK 37 L/24 cannon. Production vehicles with this gun were known as Gepanzerte Selbstfahrlafette für Sturmgeschütz 7.5 cm Kanone Ausführung A bis D (Sd.Kfz.142).
Manufacturer: Alkett, MIAG