Firefly Collection 02

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  • DENNIS OLIVERWRITTEN AND ILLUSTRATED BY

    STUGASSAULT GUN UNITS IN THE EAST

    STUGBAGRATION TO BERLIN. VOL I

    FIREFLY COLLECTION No.2

    ADH Publishing 2012

    SUPERBLY DETAILED COLOUR PROFILES, BLACK AND WHITE ARCHIVE PHOTOGRAPHS,

    COMPREHENSIVE ORGANISATIONAL AND EQUIPMENT CHARTS, UNIT HISTORIES AND MAPS

  • STUG

    Written and illustrated by Dennis OliverISBN 978-0-9806593-8-2

    FIREFLY COLLECTION

    ASSAULT GUN UNITS IN THE EASTBAGRATION TO BERLIN. VOL 1

    Acknowledgments. The author and publisher would like to thank the staff of the National Library of Australia, Canberra, the State Library of New South Wales, Sydney and the National Archive and Research Administration, Maryland for their invaluable assistance and advice. We would also like to thank all those who contribute to the Axis History Forum, the Feldgrau Forum, Panzer-Archiv.de, Die Deutsche Wehrmacht website, the Sturmartillerie website and Mr Brett Green at Missing Lynx. We also wish to thank Mr Bernard Cher of M Workshop, Singapore and Mr Dinesh Ned for their kind permission to reproduce the photograph of the scale model Sturmgeschtz III which appears on the back cover. Further work can be seen at www.themworkshop.com. In addition the author would also like to extend his thanks to Mr Phillip Oliver who assisted with the research of this work and the draft text.

    In addition to the websites mentioned above, the following printed works were also consulted: Die Kmpfe in Ostpreussen Schlesien und Pommern 1944/45. Haupt, W. Die Kampf um Schlesien 1944-45. Von Ahlfen, H. The Battle For Budapest. Ungvry. K. War On Two Fronts. Michulec, R. Die Deutsche Fernlenktruppe 1943-45. Jaugitz, M. Die Heeresgruppe Sd. Wagener, C. Die Truppenkennzeicen der Verbnde und Einheiten der deutschen Wehrmacht und Waffen-SS und ihre Einstze im Zweiten Weltkrieg 1939-1945. Schmitz, P and Theis K-J. Panzer Colors II. Culver, B. Panzerwrecks 1. Archer, L and Auerbach, W. Panzerwrecks 2. Archer, L and Auerbach, W. Panzerwrecks 3. Archer, L and Auerbach, W. Panzertruppen. Jentz, T. L. (Editor) Panzerwaffe Poland 1944. Wrblewski, R and Wrobel, A. Deutsche Kampfpanzer in Farbe 1939-45. Scheibert, H. Deutsche Fahrzeugraritten 1914-45. Hoppe, H. Panzer IV and its Variants. Spielberger, W J. Pz.Kpfw. IV Ausf G/H/J. Vol 2. Trojca, W. Panzerjger und Sturmgeschtze. Schiebert, H. Achtung Panzer No. 5. Sturmgeschtz III, Stug. IV & SIG.33. Bitoh, M. (Editor). German Sturmartillerie At War. Vol 2. De Sisto, F. V. Sturmartillerie. Spielberger, W.J and Feist, U. Sturmgeschtz III and IV 1942-45. Doyle, H and Jentz, T. Sturmgeschtz 40. Schiebert, H. D. Sdkfz 251. Ledwoch, J. Warszawa 1944. Ledwoch, J. Sturmgeschtz III. Culver, B. Battle On Two Fronts 1944-45. Cockle, T. To The Last Bullet. Germanys War on 3 Fronts. Part 1. The East. Oliver, D. Endkampf. Fritz,S. Der Zusammenbruch Der Heeresgruppe Mitte Im Osten 1944. Hinz, R. Deutsche Sturmgeschtze Im Einsatz. Fleischer, W. Hells Gate. Nash, D. E. Battleground Prussia. The Assault On Germanys Eastern Front. 1944 -45. Buttar, P.

    The illustrations in this book were all created using contemporary photographs as a reference and we have attempted to create as faithful a reproduction as possible - including the shape and position of any camouflage pattern, markings and the style of lettering used. In the few cases where we have been forced to speculate we have tried to make this clear. Where possible, we have reproduced the photograph or photographs so used, however copyright and budgetary restrictions and do not always allow this.

    Published by ADH Publishing,Doolittle MillDoolittle LaneTotternhoeBedfordshire LU6 1QXUnited Kingdom

    Produced in co-operation with The Oliver Publishing GroupCopyright ADH Publishing. All rights reserved. Apart from fair dealing for the purpose of private study, research, criticism or review as permitted under the Copyright, Design and Patent Act, 1988, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, electrical, chemical, mechanical, optical photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission of ADH Publishing. All enquiries should be addressed to the publisher.

    Picture Credits. National Archives and Record Administration: 8,31; Bundesarchiv: 19,24,27,31; J. Howard Parker: 1,7,9,11,25,32; Authors Collection: 3,7,10,27,28; V.I.Polokov: 3,4,7,8,12,13,30,31; Ullstein via K.Berne: 15,27,31; K.Berne: 7,10,14,28.

    Front cover: Sturmgeschtz III ausf G of Sturmgeschtz-Abteilung 1367. Ukraine, early 1944. This vehicle is shown in full and discussed further on page 14.Below: Leutnant Heinrich Khler - at far right - poses with his crew and what may be his battalion commander during the summer of 1944. At this time Khler was a platoon leader with Sturmgeschutz-Abteilung 322. On 20 April 1945, Khler was awarded the Knights Cross in recognition of his bravery and leadership while serving with 3.Kompanie, Heeres-Sturmgeschtz-Brigade 210. Also shown is an officers quality collar tab or Litzen - the red centres denoting an artillery unit.

  • This book is a companion volume to the Oliver Publishing Group's 2010 title To The Last Bullet which looked at the armoured vehicles used by the German Army and Waffen SS on the Eastern Front during the final months of World War 2 - from the spring of 1944 to the final battles for eastern Germany and Berlin in April and May 1945.

    Even given the limited time frame, no one book could hope to completely cover so vast and complex a subject and we were unfortunately forced to omit much of the material that had been accumulated during our research. In an attempt therefore to present a more comprehensive picture - and as a result of the many requests we have received from our readers - this book, STUG: Assault Gun Units In The East, will concentrate on the Sturmgeschtz III and Sturmgeschtz IV and their deployment during those last, critical weeks and months of the conflict. In the first volume, the assault gun units of the Army will be dealt with and in the subsequent volume we will detail the relevant formations of the Waffen SS and Luftwaffe, as well as some of the more obscure units that were equipped with the ubiquitous Sturmgeschtz. After much consideration it was decided that the many colour illustrations depicted in both volumes will be presented - for the most part - in chronological order without regard to branch of service. That is to say, those vehicles operated by all branches of the Wehrmacht and in service during 1944 will be shown in this volume and those deployed in 1945 will be displayed in the next.

    At their inception the Sturmgeschtz units of the Wehrmacht were controlled by the artillery - the armoured and infantry branches of the Army having insufficient manpower resources to spare for the new formations. Independent assault gun battalions were under the direction of the Generalinspekteur der Artillerie. Their companies were therefore referred to as batteries - as they are throughout this book - and in the early units comprised six vehicles which was roughly the manpower equivalent of a normal artillery battery. By 1945, the number of assault guns in a battery had increased to fourteen which was at that time, generally speaking, comparable to a tank company. It should be noted that assault gun battalions attached to Panzer and Panzergrenadier divisions and the assault gun companies of infantry division Panzerjger battalions were controlled by the Generalinspekteur der Panzertruppen.

    The first units to see combat operated as independent Sturmartillerie batteries during the French Campaign of 1940 and by August of the same year they had been expanded and reorganized into battalions referred to as Sturmartillerie-Abteilungen of three batteries each. In early 1941, the battalions were renamed Sturmgeschtz-Abteilung, although the basic organisation remained unaltered.

    Although the intended role of the Sturmgeschtz was to support attacks by infantry - clearing obstacles such as bunkers and pill-boxes - they were increasingly called upon to act as tank killers, a task which the crews performed admirably although ranges of less than 500 metres were essential for success. The campaign in Russia showed that if the assault gun units were to be able to counter the Red Army's tanks, a new, more powerful gun would be needed and in the spring of 1942 the long-barrelled 7.5cm L/48 gun made its

    appearance with the number of assault guns in a battalion being increased to twenty-eight at about the same time. In November 1942, the battalions were renamed Sturmgeschtz-Brigade and also underwent another organisational change with each battery commander receiving their own assault gun, bringing the total number to thirty-one. Many units retained this establishment until the end of the war. In June 1944, a number of battalions were reorganised and renamed Heeres- Sturmartillerie-Brigade with a total of forty-five combat vehicles, including thirty-three Sturmgeschtz III or Sturmgeschtz IV assault guns and twelve Sturmhaubitze 42, the latter armed with the 10.5cm L/28 assault howitzer. The reader should be aware however that these numbers were ideals and in practice were rarely maintained, particularly once a unit entered combat. Please note that the descriptions offered here, regarding the organisation and armament of the assault gun battalions, are of a very general nature and are discussed in detail in the tables on page 2.

    As the war dragged on, assault guns were increasingly issued as replacements for tank destroyers and even tanks. Their effectiveness, the relative ease with which they could be produced and their low cost to the German economy - a Sturmgeschtz III could be produced for less than 80% of the price of a late model Pzkw III tank - ensure