Stug III, Enthusiasts’ Manual
Sturmgeschutz III, Ausfuhrung A to G (SdKfz 142)
Mark Healy, Haynes, ISBN 978 1 78521 213 0, 172PP, A4, Hardcover, RRP: £25.00
The popular Haynes Manual series of books have come a long way from the original technical guides for car enthusiasts, and know cover such diverse subjects as space ships, battleships and even teenagers! More in our interest range is the expanding group of books on military vehicles.
In this latest edition the author describes the theory and development of the Sturmartillerie using the chassis of the medium tank (PzKpfw III) with a fixed armoured superstructure housing a 75mm gun. The purpose was to provide artillery support for the infantry that could keep up with rapid advances, and be ‘on tap’ when and where required. The traditional artillery was still horse drawn and could not be moved quickly, as required by the envisaged ‘Blitzkrieg’.
With large format photographs to support, the formation of the training regiment at Juterborg using the O series prototypes is described, as is the setting up of the Sturmgeschutz-Batterien in 1939. Initially deployed during the invasion of France, their success signalled the need for the weapon system along with specialist fire control and ammunition half-tracks (SdKfz 252 and 253).
The vehicle was progressively developed through the Ausfuhrung, with Ausf. A – E carrying the short-barrelled 75mm. In 1942 the weapon was changed to the long barrelled 75mm L/43 & L/48 models which made the Stug a potent anti-tank weapon upon which was based it’s fearsome reputation. Another development was to fit the heavier 105mm howitzer, which were built mainly on Ausf. G hulls.
We then have more detailed descriptions of the Stugs in their various models supported by technical illustrations and photographs from the British School of Tank Technology report of 1943. Some of these drawings have been seen in previous publications, but being ‘originals’ they belong in a book like this. The changes in the design through the different Ausfuhrung are described in detail, including both internal arrangements and external appearance.
Chapter six is a walk-around photo essay of the Stug III G on display at Bovington. This is one that was built by Alkett in 1944 and supplied to Finland. Both overall and detailed images are included, illustrating the Saukopf mantlet and waffle pattern Zimmerit typical of the time.
The chapter on the combat history of the Stug is profusely illustrated with some very interesting images, many of which I do not recall seeing before. Included in this section are production figures and allocation of Stugs to formations. Mention is also made of the Stug IV and Jagdpanzer IV, conceptually the same as the Stug III on the PzKpfw hull.
Included through the book are three-view drawings of Ausf. A, C, E, F, F/8 and G models unfortunately not scaled, but very useful as a guide. There is also a cutaway view of an Ausf. G, all drawn by Mark Rolfe.
An excellent book whether for the armchair historian, military vehicle enthusiast or model-maker, although the model-maker may wish to seek more detailed drawings.
Paul Middleton 1528