Did Germany merge the classes of assault guns and tank destroyers?

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Did Germany merge the classes of assault guns and tank destroyers?

Post by tracks031 » 15 Oct 2020 18:29

In my understanding, an assault gun is meant to work with infantry in an attack to give fire support, and need heavy armor as they operate exposed like a breakthrough tank, but do not need the ability that a turret offers to quickly respond to new targets as the infantry plays a major role in locating its targets. They're also operated by the artillery part of the military, which are trained differently in how they use their vehicles.

And in my understanding, a German tank destroyer is meant to destroy enemy armor in a defensive or concealed ambush position. They're used by the tank destroyer part, which again are trained differently.

I've read that the US tank destroyers were meant to be used in the same way and they saw no reason to give them heavy armor (though the way the US tank destroyer force was intended to be a highly strategically mobile force might've had a lot to do with this). German tank destroyers like Ferdinand, Jagdpanther and Jagdtiger had extremely heavy armor and seemed to have been used (at least Ferdinand) as essentially assault guns or breakthrough tanks, rather than designated tank destroyers.

My questions are:
1. if German tank destroyers are meant to destroy armor in a concealed defensive position, was the heavy armor still necessary?
2. did the Germans begin to merge the two classes togheter, as reflected by their design choices and the way they (Ferdinand at least) were used in combat?

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Re: Did Germany merge the classes of assault guns and tank destroyers?

Post by Thumpalumpacus » 15 Oct 2020 21:01

I don't think it was so much "merging" as it was ad-hoc solutions to the need to fight large numbers of W.Allied tanks with what was at hand. Your differentiation of mission and role between the two types comports with what I've read, but in the field, expediency often takes over.

I think the heavier armor (and armament!) of German TDs and StuGs later in the war was a matter of the trying to replace quantity with quality.

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