Was the Stug.III the most successful German armoured vehicle of WWII?

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Sid Guttridge
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Was the Stug.III the most successful German armoured vehicle of WWII?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 13 Apr 2021 08:37

I have seen this proposition advanced in a couple of places.

I ask this because, if so, the irony would be that the most successful German armoured vehicle would have be part of the artillery, not the panzer arm.

Cheers,

Sid.

AKahl
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Re: Was the Stug.III the most successful German armoured vehicle of WWII?

Post by AKahl » 13 Apr 2021 23:42

I think so. Cost effective, cheaper than all the proper tanks, including the turreted Panzer III. It came at the right time, when the Germans needed something capable of easily taking out T-34's and KV-1's, and continued to be produced throughout the war, in significant numbers. They are said to have had some of the best kill to loss ratios, at least during defensive use. Good operational readiness too, especially when compared to some of the "Rockstar" vehicles like Tigers, Panthers and Jagdpanthers. Albert Speer certainly liked the vehicle, since it offered the most bang for the buck. I think the l/48 version of the Jagdpanzer IV would be a slightly better vehicle, with a similar production cost, but the Stug III was the one that got there first.
Remain yourself, in spite of all the mighty do.

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alessandro bray
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Re: Was the Stug.III the most successful German armoured vehicle of WWII?

Post by alessandro bray » 14 Apr 2021 11:40

Hallo,

some more considerations
yes the StuG came at the right time when german lacked adeguate afv to counter the heavy russian tanks, but Stug Abt/Brigade continue to engage successfully enemy tanks in late war period too, when better allied tank entered in service and even compared to german tank with better protection and fire power.
The outstanding successes of the StuG have more to do with the training and quality of the crew, voluntary (at least by 1943) artillerists and with the method of employment.
Employment of the assault guns as tanks gives indeed different results, for example a study on the performance of the III/PzRgt36 equipped with 2 Kompanie StuG and 2 PzIV/L48 in late 1943 underlined better results for the tank units vs the assault gun units, with 136 tank kills vs 75 kills and better ratio 6,8:1 and 4,7:1 respectively, ascribing the difference to the not optimally employment of the assault gun.
An interesting tecnical reason for the Stug's better results reported in the Schiessverfahren bei PzBekaempfung on 22.09.1943 is the scissor telescope with 10:1 magnification versus 2,5/3 :1 of the aiming sights of the tanks, so the assault guns have better precision and less ammunition wastage to destroy an enemy tank.

regard

Alessandro

Alanmccoubrey
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Re: Was the Stug.III the most successful German armoured vehicle of WWII?

Post by Alanmccoubrey » 15 Apr 2021 20:32

Sid, you are comparing vehicles which don't really bare comparison. The Artillery Arm being equipped with such things as Hummel, Wespe and StuG's the former have a different role to the later and neither would succeed in the other's role .
Alan

Sean Oliver
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Re: Was the Stug.III the most successful German armoured vehicle of WWII?

Post by Sean Oliver » 16 Apr 2021 21:23

I was examining the 'Panzerlage' lists compiled by the Ge.Insp.d.Panzertruppen (NARA T-78 roll 619 and after) which indicate he numbers of AFVs ready for action and under short-term and long-term repair at 10-day intervals for each Panzer Division as well as the various independent AFV units including SP and Stug battalions.
I noticede the Stug battalion and brigades usually reported a majority of its AFVs as 'einsatzbereit (ready for action). It was generally 50% or more.
The Panzer Divisions and Tiger Battalions on the other hand reported the opposite; Most of the Pz.III, Pz.IV, Panthers and Tigers were always out-of-action and under repair, sometimes as many as 60-80% of their AFV inventory.
This difference appeared even with units engaged at the same area of the front at the same time and under the same corps or army commands.
This lopsided difference seemed greater than what could be explained by the Stugs physical characteristics of lower weight and lack of turret.
I have not attempted to analyze these numbers thoroughly, but the difference above was readily apparent just from a casual glance at the pages covering 1943 and into 1944.
Why? Did the Stug's artillery branch crews employ better care and maintenance than the Panzerwaffe? Were the implications of these figures realized and and admitted by Guderian as Gen.Insp.d.Pz.Tr. who had firmly dismissed the anti-tank abilities of turretless armored vehicles like the Stug and only reluctantly admitted later he was probably wrong?
IIRC the NARA rolls are 620, and thereabouts. Later I'll do a more thorough look through my hard drives to find them.

Michael Kenny
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Re: Was the Stug.III the most successful German armoured vehicle of WWII?

Post by Michael Kenny » 16 Apr 2021 22:06

Perhaps a comparison to those tank Units who got Stugs instead of tanks might be revealing? A 50% readiness rate only looks good in comparison to 40% rates. They are both very poor rates.

Sean Oliver
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Re: Was the Stug.III the most successful German armoured vehicle of WWII?

Post by Sean Oliver » 17 Apr 2021 00:25

P.S. I would say that the Stug and Pz.IV may indeed be the most successful German AFVs in general terms, largely by default, because of the serious shortcomings of the other "great" Panzers: the Tiger and Panther.

As everyone knows, the Panther and Tiger were brilliantly designed and engineered in most respects, and their main armament was second-to-none.

But it was their great weight rather than technically complicated design which created most of the problems in the field.

Their weight required special RR transport, and caused very high fuel consumption.
Terrain caused the greatest problems and these tanks required a considerable amount of reconnaissance and examination of the terrain features especially to determine if bridging assistance was necessary, which it inevitably was.
Mud was probably the worst headache for heavy tanks, especially Russian mud, which could instantly paralyze an entire squadron of Panzers for almost a week or more, and if Russian troops buried Russian mines in the Russian mud, the almighty Panthers and Tigers were doomed without immediate assistance from infantry, pioneers, and if available, some of the lighter Panzers and Stugs with better floatation to protect the heavy tanks while they were extracted and evacuated.
The irony here is that the Panther was a good and nimble design in most respects, but impaired by its extremely thick and heavy frontal armor, whose weight more or less maxed out the power plant and chassis. This meant the rear and side armor couldn't be thicker without more added weight and loss of mobility, or by thinning the front armor.
Panther's hull design also exposed much of the running gear along its flanks to enemy fire, so that light AT guns, infantry guns, and even AT rifles could seriously damage or immobilize Panthers from side shots at relatively safe distances.
Nevertheless, the decision was made to totally protect the front - but provide little protection elsewhere - train the crew to accordingly, and accept the risks. Heaven help the squadron of Panthers caught in the flank by heavier AT weapons, as several well-known accounts testify.

Sean Oliver
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Re: Was the Stug.III the most successful German armoured vehicle of WWII?

Post by Sean Oliver » 17 Apr 2021 01:06

Michael Kenny wrote:
16 Apr 2021 22:06
A 50% readiness rate only looks good in comparison to 40% rates. They are both very poor rates.
40% or 50% only look poor in comparison with what, exactly? 60%? 100%? How have you determined this?
I've always believed that statistics alone seldom allow us to reach conclusions. They are the first step in research, not the last.
Have you discovered some irrefutable method of evaluating these rates so that 50% warrants the description of 'poor'? If so please enlighten us.

Michael Kenny
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Re: Was the Stug.III the most successful German armoured vehicle of WWII?

Post by Michael Kenny » 17 Apr 2021 01:41

Sean Oliver wrote:
17 Apr 2021 01:06

40% or 50% only look poor in comparison with what, exactly? 60%? 100%?
I think is is blindingly obvious that 60% is better than 40% or 50%. I am surprised you needed this explaining.

Sean Oliver
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Re: Was the Stug.III the most successful German armoured vehicle of WWII?

Post by Sean Oliver » 17 Apr 2021 01:54

Michael Kenny wrote:
16 Apr 2021 22:06
Perhaps a comparison to those tank Units who got Stugs instead of tanks might be revealing?
I don't have the complete 10-day reports at the moment. I will re download the rolls later today and eventually I ought to crunch the numbers with certainty and do more researching.
I briefly studied the charts about a year ago, which is when I noticed the higher rates with Stugs, and at that time I checked the 24th 16th and 14th Pz.Divs which had at least a couple of Squadrons of Stugs along with Pz.IVs. IIRC their available for combat Stug rates were not as high as the independent Stug units were achieving, but I'll have to double check.

It seems some factor was helping the Stugs battalions perform maintenance and repair faster than the Panzers. Maybe Army-level repair/maintenance units?

Sean Oliver
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Re: Was the Stug.III the most successful German armoured vehicle of WWII?

Post by Sean Oliver » 17 Apr 2021 02:21

I'm surprised you didn't understand me. I'll try again.
What exactly do you mean by 'poor'? How did you arrive at this description?

Michael Kenny
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Re: Was the Stug.III the most successful German armoured vehicle of WWII?

Post by Michael Kenny » 17 Apr 2021 02:40

Sean Oliver wrote:
17 Apr 2021 02:21
I'm surprised you didn't understand me. I'll try again.
What exactly do you mean by 'poor'? How did you arrive at this description?
By comparing it to its allied counterpart.
In the same way some would compare a Panther tank to a Sherman.
Note that keeping the numbers up is a combination of many factors and that there should always be a system in place that ensures front-line availability is reasonably high. In my opinion a 50% rate that exist for more than a few days is sub-par performance.

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Re: Was the Stug.III the most successful German armoured vehicle of WWII?

Post by Yoozername » 17 Apr 2021 07:24

Michael Kenny wrote:
16 Apr 2021 22:06
Perhaps a comparison to those tank Units who got Stugs instead of tanks might be revealing? A 50% readiness rate only looks good in comparison to 40% rates. They are both very poor rates.
I think I finally have grasp of your argument....you are either saying that that the StuG III is either the most successful German armoured vehicle of WWII? Or maybe not?

Or you have another argument?

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Was the Stug.III the most successful German armoured vehicle of WWII?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 17 Apr 2021 08:20

Hi Sean Oliver,

An interesting approach.

Clearly vehicle availability has a bearing on how successful a vehicle could be. It can have no influence on operations if it can't take part in them.

The extra technical complexity of the turret was very likely to add to maintenance and serviceability problems.

I am less convinced by differential maintenance capacities of the artillery versus panzer arm. I would imagine that Stug. units, being largely tied to static or slow moving infantry divisions, saw much less wear and tear on their chassis, engines and suspensions than tank units, which were probably required to be more mobile.

Anyway, I shall be very interested to know what you turn up.

I also think Michael Kenny's suggestion that a comparison of tank units equipped with Stugs. and artillery arm units equipped with Stugs. might prove productive in disentangling arm of service maintenance and serviceability differences, if any.

Cheers,

Sid

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Re: Was the Stug.III the most successful German armoured vehicle of WWII?

Post by Yoozername » 17 Apr 2021 17:46

'Readiness' rates is probably a internet made up idea. Generally, a unit is operational, or not. In fact, it isn't just the 'readiness rate' but the condition of the equipment, and more importantly; The personnel. Post Kursk and fighting Northern Front:

Perhaps a snapshot report, while not conclusive, can give a general idea of what I mean. A primary source none the less.

Document written by Obkdo. Heeresgruppe Mitte at the beginning of August 1943 where the situation of tanks of the units subordinate to this Army Group after the operation 'Zitadelle' is collected.
Oberkommando der Heeresgruppe Mitte

Ia Nr. 8567/43 gKdos

Subject :
Obkdo.H.Gr.Mitte, Ia / Oqu / V (Pz)
Az.76 Nr.2139 / 43 g.Kdos. from 07.31.1943

Addressed to :
OKH Gen St d H / Op. Abt.
OKH Gen St d H / Org. Abt.
Gen.Insp.d.Pz-Truppen


Development of the battle
tank situation in the Heeresgruppe Mitte in the period between 05.07 and 01.08.1943

Armored divisions :


In operation 'Zitadelle' as well as in the subsequent defensive battle in the Orel area, 8 armored divisions of the Army Group participated with the battle tanks listed in the annex.

Until 01.08. 239 total losses of battle tanks have been suffered, as well as 11 command vehicles (annex). Additionally, a total of 92 battle tanks have been temporarily absent (more than 14 days) and whose repair, due to the overload of the repair and maintenance services, could take months.

The number of new assignments in this period has been 30 battle tanks by OKH as well as 16 battle tanks from the Army Group repair centers.

Heavy and tank destroyer battalions :

The s.Pz.Abt.505 at the start of 'Zitadelle' had 31 Tigers and four days after the start of the operation it received 14 new Tigers.

Total losses: 5 Tiger.

1 Tiger has been sent to the homeland to be repaired there, 15 Tigers have been evacuated to backward areas of the area of ​​operations to undergo a long period of repair.

Currently 4 Tigers are operational, 20 Tigers are in a short repair period.


The Sturm-Pz.Abt.216 had 45 vehicles at the beginning of operation, on 18.07 10 new vehicles were assigned to it.

Total losses: 17 Sturmpanzer.

21 Sturmpanzer are in a long / short period of repair.

Currently the battalion has 17 operational Sturmpanzer.


The s.Pz.Jg.Abt.653 and 654 had at the beginning of 'Zitadelle' of 89 Ferdinand.

Total losses: 39 Ferdinand.

24 Ferdinand are in a long / short period of repair.

Currently 26 Ferdinand operational.

The operational Ferdinands and those in repair have been concentrated in a battalion. The second battalion has been withdrawn from operations and is ready to be transported to the homeland.


Assault gun battalions :

7 assault gun battalions have participated in the 'Zitadelle' offensive, each with an allocation of 31 assault guns. During the defensive battle in the Orel area, 3 battalions of assault guns (600, 190 and 270) were assigned as well as 36 assault guns as material reserve.

Total sum of assault guns: 333.

So far 60 total losses have been suffered.

At the arch of Orel on 03.08. and after the withdrawal of the Stumgesch.Abt.185 to the 4. Armee there are still 154 operational assault guns.

Of the temporary casualties of assault guns, only 20% are in a long period of repair, which is why all assault gun battalions can still be considered operational. Especially weakened are Stumgesch.Abt.245 (13 total losses) and Stumgesch.Abt.270 (since the Karagaschinka arc operation 14 total losses).

Tank supply :

The current combat situation demands the accelerated allocation of battle tanks.

Without the assignment of new crews, 137 tanks can be taken over immediately (see annex).

Use of the Panzer III k :

There are currently 50 Panzer III ks in the Army Group sector. Of these, 10 are in a long period, 8 in a short period of repair.

These tanks, despite the fact that due to their weak armament they can no longer be used at the front, they cannot be withdrawn from it as long as the armored divisions are not fully equipped.

A minimum of 10 Panzer IIIk must be kept in the 9th weapons school to train assigned replacement drivers whose training is partially insufficient. These tanks can be incorporated into the armored training company requested by the Army Group.


The evaluation of 168 destroyed tanks and assault guns has yielded the following results:

69% destroyed by impacts
3% destroyed by mines
13% destroyed by terrain (swamps, ravines, etc.)
4% destroyed by unknown reasons
11% destroyed for technical reasons and damage to chains


On behalf of the Army Group Command,
the Chief of the General Staff
See annex in link

http://www.panzer-elmito.org/panzertrup ... 943_E.html

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