The Sdkfz 142 Sturmgeshutz III Assault Gun, was a German self propelled gun utilising the Pzkpfw III tank chassis and was produced in a number of variants from the Ausf A to Ausf G.
The “Stug III” as they were known were a simple conversion of a standard tank hull, whereby the turret was removed and replaced by an armoured superstructure mounting a large calibre gun with a limited traverse. These vehicles were cheaper to produce than standard tanks and used less resources. They were produced from 1940, until the wars end in 1945, based on a design from Daimler Benz, with MIAG and Alkett also producing large numbers.
The early versions were equipped with a short 75mm KwK 37 Howitzer and had armour protection of upto 50mm. Powered by the Maybach HL120 petrol engine they could achieve a maximum speed of approximately 25MPH. Later versions were rearmed with the longer barrelled 75mm L48 gun and had additional armour plate of upto 80mm. Steel sheets, 5mm thick, were often attached to the hull side to provide additional protection from Russian anti tank rifles.
A variant of the Stug III rearmed with a 10.5cm howitzer also saw service and was known as the Sturmhaubitze III.
The Stug III was an effective infantry support/tank destroyer but the tactical limitations of a vehicle without a turret were felt in the streets of Arnhem, during Operation Market Garden. However, the low silhouette of the vehicle did allow it to fight from inside buildings and it provided a small target.
The Stug III, however, was vulnerable to the Airborne Forces PIAT and 6 Pounder Anti Tank Gun. A Stug III was destroyed by Sgt Baskeyfield when he engaged it, at short range, with a 6 Pounder. Sgt Baskeyfield destroyed a number of German vehicles during the ensuing engagement and was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.
Weight 23.9 tonnes
Length 6.85 m
Width 2.95 m
Height 2.16 m
Armour 16 – 80 mm
Main armament 1x 7.5 cm L/48
Secondary armament 1x 7.92 mm MG 34