15 cm sIG 33 indirect fire question

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Reigo2
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15 cm sIG 33 indirect fire question

Post by Reigo2 » 24 Feb 2018 08:45

Can it be estimated how much was the 15 cm sIG 33 used in indirect fire role? Was it usual or rather exceptional?

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Sheldrake
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Re: 15 cm sIG 33 indirect fire question

Post by Sheldrake » 24 Feb 2018 11:01

When you ask about the SiG33 you are really asking how the Infantry Gun companies of Panzer Grenadier Regiments were used - across different theatres in six years of war.

All variants of the SIG 33 mounted a 150mm howitzer on a small thinly armoured tracked chassis. It was about the biggest gun you could fit on a light tank chassis. The crew had some protection from bullets and shell splinters but had no overhead cover or protection from AP shot. There was little space for ammunition and a separate tracked carrier acted as an ammunition limber. It was not an assault gun,lacking crew protection or anti personal weapons. However, did allow a medium artillery piece to cross a battlefield with less risk than soft skinned vehicles or animal transport which would suffer casualties from random bullets or splinters. It meant that Panzer Grenadiers could be accompanied by their integral support artillery pieces.

Its logical deployment would be tucked into some dead ground where its crew and that of the limber could operate unmolested by return fire. It was German practice to deploy close support artillery in both direct as well as indirect roles. When necessary I am sure SiG could be used in the direct role against bunkers, anti tank guns etc as long as someone was suppressing any return fire.

The nearest allied equivalents were the British Sexton and the US M7 Priest and M12 - the latter mounting a 155mm Howitzer. When the M7 Priest was first introduced there was a debate about whether it should be used exclusively as close support for armour or as mobile field artillery. Both were occasionally used in the direct fire role. There is a plaque on a bunker on Gold Beach suppressed by Sgt Palmer's sexton from 147 Field Regiment at 300 yds range. The M12 was a US Army secret weapon against Siegfried line bunkers and in street fighting.
Last edited by Sheldrake on 24 Feb 2018 18:55, edited 2 times in total.

yantaylor
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Re: 15 cm sIG 33 indirect fire question

Post by yantaylor » 24 Feb 2018 12:24

Hi Reigo, Sheldrake is right on the money with his post. I wonder if the British Bishop could have come into this class of Vehicles.

The Germans tried a number of ways to get their 15cm sIG 33s on armoured chassis, and the first was on the Panzer I Ausf B chassis. They then tried the Panzer II and came up with what some call the “Bison” or sIG33 Auf Fahrgestell Panzerkampfwagen II. Then they tried using the chassis from Czech Skoda tanks and came up with two versions, both called Grille, they both had different layouts and one used the Panzer 38(t) Ausf H chassis and the other Panzer 38(t) Ausf M.

But out of the lot of them, my favorite was Sturminfanteriegeschütz 33B, which unlike the other ones, had a fully enclosed fighting compartment.

Regards
Yan.

Reigo2
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Re: 15 cm sIG 33 indirect fire question

Post by Reigo2 » 25 Feb 2018 08:51

Thank you for the explanations! I'm also interested about the use of unmounted 15 cm sIG 33. The reason I'm asking is that in the context of my research I would like to classify guns as direct fire and indirect fire guns taking into account their usual role. I think it is safe to put the 7,5 cm leIG 18 under direct fire guns but wasn't sure about the 15 cm IG. Currently I'm inclined to put the 15cm under indirect fire guns.

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Re: 15 cm sIG 33 indirect fire question

Post by yantaylor » 25 Feb 2018 13:00

Any time Reigo.
The problem with the 15cm IG is its weight, apparently it was a beast to move by hand over rough ground, but I am sure that if the conditions were right and the situation called for it, that these Infantry Guns where used in direct fire mode.
Regards
Yan.

na4222
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Re: 15 cm sIG 33 indirect fire question

Post by na4222 » 25 Feb 2018 14:29

Hi Reigo2,

I think it depends on what precisely you mean by "direct fire" as opposed to "indirect fire". If you mean by "direct fire" that a gun is pointed straight at the target and fired (as, for example would be the case with an anti-tank gun) then perhaps neither the 7.5cm leIG 18 nor the 15cm sIG 33 were primarily "direct fire" guns. Photographic evidence of these being used from prepared positions similar to those used by the artillery, and where the angle of fire would suggest their use as an indirect fire weapons) would suggest that they were most often used for indirect fire. This would be especially the case for the 15 sIG 33. The 7.5cm le IG18, being lighter and with shorter range than the 15cm sIG 33, would probably be used more often as a direct support weapon for the infantry, directly accompanying them in an attack, but was I am sure often used as indirect support as opposed to being used to take-out individual targets, like you would have with an anti-tank gun and a tank, for example. An anti-tank gun would generally engage its target from a range of less than 1km while the 7.5cm leIG 18 and 15cm sIG 33 could engage targets at between 3.5 and 4.5 kms (approximately) and would therefore be well suited to being used an "indirect fire" weapons, especially the 15cm sIG 33, given the difficulties associated with moving it.

Just my thoughts, for what they are worth.

Cheers.
Nezar

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Re: 15 cm sIG 33 indirect fire question

Post by yantaylor » 25 Feb 2018 16:10

Your thoughts are as good as anybody's Nezar.

I would suppose that if an Infantry company had a couple of 15cm IGs in support and these were firing indirectly, that the German troops would make sure that firing had ceased before they moved forward as the HE rounds for this gun were very powerful indeed, so timing their attack would be crucial.

I don't know if the gun sight for the 15cm IG, allowed it engage moving targets, but I would suppose that it would allow the weapon to be used at a target it could see, rather like a anti-tank gun. A target like a block house for example, would be a prime target for this weapon, but the problem would be getting it in position and close enough without the crew being killed or wounded, as this weapon would attract a lot of attention.
I suppose the round of choice for this mode of fire would be either the I Gr 33 or the Stielgranate 42.

Regards
Yan.

Reigo2
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Re: 15 cm sIG 33 indirect fire question

Post by Reigo2 » 26 Feb 2018 20:05

Thank you for the comments!

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Grzesio
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Re: 15 cm sIG 33 indirect fire question

Post by Grzesio » 27 Feb 2018 14:34

Just one small notice.
These infantry guns were actually designated as the le J G 18 and s J G 33 - without the calibres.

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Sheldrake
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Re: 15 cm sIG 33 indirect fire question

Post by Sheldrake » 27 Feb 2018 16:34

yantaylor wrote:Hi Reigo, Sheldrake is right on the money with his post. I wonder if the British Bishop could have come into this class of Vehicles.
You are right, the Bishop was also a gun howitzer with limited range mounted on a small tank chassis. If the British had wanted a close support IG
the Bishopmighyt have fitted the bill. However, the M7 and Sexton offered far superior in range and performance as a howitzer. The IG concpet of penny packets of field guns was far more popular with German infantrymen than British gunners - or infantrymen for that matter.

British Artillery doctrine was about concentrating artillery at the highest level of command while decentralising control to the level best able to exercise it. Yes, the short ranged IG gave the Regimental commander his own six guns, but he doesn't get the support of the neighbouring twelve from the Regiments not uinder as heavy attack. Eighteen fH or 25 Pounders could be switched to whatever point needed support with the great cry of Mike target!mike target!

British infantry did not adopt the German and American practice of including an IG or artillery comp[any in the Brigade sized regiment. Pre Ww2 the Infantry had a big debate about the number of different weapons that equipped the post WW1 infantry battalion. It was enough to add light mortars machine guns anti tank rifles mechanical transport and tracked carriers. Medium machine guns and mortars were hived off into specialist support battalions and initially the Gunners manned all the anti-tank guns. During WW2 infantry picked up anti tank guns. There was no appetite to dilute further infantry manpower taking on artillery pieces.They were happy to take the Gunners at their word to provide support, softened by promises of an FPF covered by "their " DS battery.

yantaylor
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Re: 15 cm sIG 33 indirect fire question

Post by yantaylor » 27 Feb 2018 20:52

Thanks Sheldrake.

I have a few American friends who say that no other nation or army in WW2 could concentrate their artillery firepower like the US Army could do during the war. It was possible for a company commander to order every mortar, gun or howitzer in the immediate range of his area, to bring down one hell of a barrage on his enemy.
If this is true then my thoughts on how good the Royal Artillery was [and my Father served in the RA during WW2] and even the Russians, just pale into comparison.

Regards
Yan.

Clive Mortimore
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Re: 15 cm sIG 33 indirect fire question

Post by Clive Mortimore » 28 Feb 2018 14:18

yantaylor wrote:Thanks Sheldrake.

I have a few American friends who say that no other nation or army in WW2 could concentrate their artillery firepower like the US Army could do during the war. It was possible for a company commander to order every mortar, gun or howitzer in the immediate range of his area, to bring down one hell of a barrage on his enemy.
If this is true then my thoughts on how good the Royal Artillery was [and my Father served in the RA during WW2] and even the Russians, just pale into comparison.

Regards
Yan.
Yan

The British artillery was the fastest in getting multiple batteries firing on impromptu targets see http://nigelef.tripod.com/maindoc.htm#E ... %20TARGETS It was the only army where authorization to call in other guns could be given to a lower ranking observation office. As Shelldrake says , "Mike Target, Mike Target" from a 2nd Lt would call in all the guns of the regiment under his fire orders. In most other armies he would have to request additional guns though the chain of command.
Clive

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Re: 15 cm sIG 33 indirect fire question

Post by yantaylor » 01 Mar 2018 11:53

Wow Clive, I must advise my American friends that they have this wrong, especially a colonel who told me that the British got everything wrong up till 1944, from their organization [mainly armoured divisions] and tactics.

Yan.

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Sheldrake
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Re: 15 cm sIG 33 indirect fire question

Post by Sheldrake » 01 Mar 2018 17:49

yantaylor wrote:Wow Clive, I must advise my American friends that they have this wrong, especially a colonel who told me that the British got everything wrong up till 1944, from their organization [mainly armoured divisions] and tactics.

Yan.
There was a lot wrong with British combined arms and armour doctrine, but the Gunners got their act together fairly early on.

It wasn't that "any 2Lt could call for the guns." For obvious reasons the British Army was reluctant to delegate authority to deliver death and destruction to the untrustworthy or inexperienced. The policy was to deploy the most experienced officers - Major Battery commanders and Captain Troop Commanders forwards as FOOs while the battery captain (2ic) and junior offciers ran the gun position. This was only possible because of botched reorganisations which left batteries of eight guns commanded by Majors comprised of two troops commanded by Captains. The BC would act as the LO with the infantry battalion or armoured regiment they had the rank and authority to be trusted with 24 or 72 or 240 guns -if they were at the key point.

If you want to read more about this subject there is a really well written and informative memoir by a Canadian veteran Captain George Blackburn. "The Guns of Normandy." It is one of the best books about the Normandy battle and covers lots of interesting stuff including what were the most feared incoming German rounds, how spotter aircraft could make allied troops dive into a latrine and what it was like to serve on the guns.

Here is an extract
“In an OP in normal circumstances, when the rumble of neighbouring artillery or local enemy activity is not interfering with your hearing, there’s a familiar sequence of sounds through which you follow your shells onto target. First comes a distant, faint thumping somewhere back behind you, then nothing for a few seconds. Suddenly overhead there’s a sinister sizzling and crackling, followed by an abrupt, split—second silence, then a fury of cataclysmic flashes erupting in the target area amidst violent black puffs of smoke and dirt. This rapidly builds without pause into a hellish cauldron that gives off the reverberating roar of the wicked, over-lapping thunderclaps that only 25—pounder shells pelting a Mike target can create. Horrifying enough when viewed from a distance of three or four hundred yards, but until you have lived through the terrible screams of 25—pounder shells arriving on target, and experienced the distinctive, jolting whacks of their explosions around you, it is impossible to conceive of the full horror of a Mike Target to which attacking Germans are subjected again and again on a regular basis.

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Re: 15 cm sIG 33 indirect fire question

Post by Yoozername » 01 Mar 2018 20:07

Some quick thoughts...the "15 cm sIG 33" is normally referring to the field mounted heavy sIG 33 (schweres Infanterie Geschütz 33). Normally a lower case 's'.

SP versions
15 cm sIG 33 (Sf) auf Panzerkampfwagen I Ausf B Panzer I Ausf. B sIG 33
15 cm sIG 33 auf Fahrgestell Panzerkampfwagen II (Sf) Panzer II (modified) sIG 33
Sturm-Infanteriegeschütz 33B Sturmgeschütz III Ausf. B, C, D and E sIG 33/1
15 cm sIG 33 (Sf) auf Panzerkampfwagen 38(t) Panzer 38(t) sIG 33/1

I suppose the thread OP should specify if he means whether attacking or defending...but it doesn't matter...the weapon was used predominately in an indirect fire mode. In fact, so were the 7,5 cm leichtes Infanteriegeschütz 18 (7,5 cm le.IG 18). Wargamers imagine them being pushed into firefights. They really were too valuable.

A good read, if you can find it, is:

'At Leningrad's Gates',

https://www.amazon.com/At-Leningrads-Ga ... 1935149377

Some good video of the weapon firing.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JpFFAcr9_po


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