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  • Get Inside the Tanks

  • Richard "The Challenger" Cutland

  • The Sturmtiger

  • Welcome to the Deutsches Panzermuseum...

  • ...for another in the series...

  • ...Inside the Tanks.

  • Today, one of the vehicles...

  • ...we are going to take...

  • ...a closer look at is this...

  • ...the Sturmpanzer VI...

  • ...often referred to...

  • ...as the Sturmtiger or Assault Tiger.

  • Concept

  • The first thing to say is...

  • ...that it is not a tank.

  • It's a self-propelled artillery piece...

  • ...specifically a very large...

  • ...calibre mortar designed to be used...

  • ...to smash strong fortifications.

  • But before we get on...

  • ...to this particular beast...

  • ...it is worth exploring...

  • ...where the whole idea came from.

  • Providing close support...

  • ...to attacking infantry was something...

  • ...that had always been a tank’s role...

  • ...right from the start.

  • But as tanks evolved to fight tanks...

  • ...this job was gradually taken over...

  • ...by specialist armoured...

  • ...artillery pieces or assault guns.

  • The German army was certainly...

  • ...the earliest serious promoter...

  • ...of the idea, although...

  • ...it was taken up by others over time.

  • The classic assault gun...

  • ...was the Sturmgeschütz...

  • ...armed with the short 75mm howitzer.

  • But when StuGs were re-armed...

  • ...with the long 75mm gun...

  • ...to turn them into anti-tank weapons...

  • ...it left the infantry...

  • ...without the close support it needed.

  • Developments using...

  • ...existing tank chassis were...

  • ...obvious moves, and the first was...

  • ...the Sturmpanzer IV or "Brummbär"...

  • ...mounting a 150mm gun...

  • ...on a modified Mk IV chassis.

  • But the real Daddy was this...

  • ...the Sturmtiger.

  • First proposed in 1943...

  • ...it got into more serious production...

  • ...in late 1944.

  • Only about 18 were really built...

  • ...mounted on chassis...

  • ...from the late model Tiger I.

  • These were both available...

  • ...and felt to be superfluous...

  • ...since the Tiger II was taking over.

  • Tiger II with 'Porsche' turret

  • Let’s take a closer look at this beast.

  • And what a beast it is!

  • Weighing in at about 65 tonnes...

  • ...over 7 tonnes heavier...

  • ...than a Tiger I, and only 3 tonnes...

  • ...short of a Tiger II.

  • Gun

  • The most notable thing...

  • ...about the Sturmtiger was, of course...

  • ...this gun: the 380mm Sturmrser RW61.

  • It had been developed...

  • ...from a naval depth charge thrower...

  • ...and used a two-stage rocket...

  • ...propellant system.

  • The first, smaller charge...

  • ...simply blew the projectile clear...

  • ...of the short barrel.

  • Then a second...

  • ...solid fuel stage ignited...

  • ...blasting the projectile onward.

  • And it could throw this...

  • ...1.5 metre long, 350 kilo shell...

  • ...between 4,000 and 6,000 metres!

  • Depending on the exact type of shell...

  • ...it could penetrate up to 8 feet...

  • ...of reinforced concrete.

  • Not surprisingly, there weren’t...

  • ...many fortifications...

  • ...that could resist it.

  • This ring of smaller holes...

  • ...around the muzzle is...

  • ...to allow the escape of the gases...

  • ...from the first charge.

  • Clearly they could not be vented back...

  • ...into the crew compartment...

  • ...and the pressure was too great...

  • ...for them to be contained in the gun...

  • ...so they were turned...

  • ...through 180 degrees...

  • ...and vented forwards.

  • This, plus the large flash...

  • ...from the secondary propellant...

  • ...made it easy to spot the location...

  • ...of a Sturmtiger when it fired...

  • ...so it was unadvisable...

  • ...to stick around too long afterwards!

  • The sheer size of the ammunition meant...

  • ...meant that only 14 rounds...

  • ...could be carried, maximum.

  • And even this was only possible...

  • ...if there was a round in the breech...

  • ...and another on the loading tray.

  • So more often than not...

  • ...the vehicle went into action...

  • ...with only 13 rounds.

  • Getting the rounds into the tank...

  • ...was a job-and-a-half...

  • ...for all four crew members...

  • ...and a crane, set up on the rear deck.

  • Outside

  • As was also becoming common practice...

  • ...in the design of tank hunters...

  • ...the new superstructure...

  • ...was a ‘casematestyle...

  • ...with a sloping glacis plate.

  • The frontal armour was 150mm...

  • ...compared to 100mm on the standard Tiger.

  • Elsewhere on the hull...

  • ...it varied between 60 and 100mm.

  • So it was a pretty tough nut.

  • As far as the chassis was concerned...

  • ...it is pure late model Tiger I...

  • ...with the overlapping...

  • ...metal roadwheels and other alterations.

  • Overall dimensions are...

  • ...about the same as the Tiger I...

  • ...except the Sturmtiger is...

  • ...slightly lower and shorter.

  • The engine was also the same...

  • ...the Maybach HL 230.

  • Access was straightforward...

  • ...two hatches on the top and...

  • ...one at the rear of the superstructure.

  • The long rectangular hatch...

  • ...above the loader and gun...

  • ...was for loading the ammunition.

  • Inside

  • Here Inside, the crew of four...

  • ...basically had similar positions...

  • ...to those in the tank.

  • The driver was at the front...

  • ...on the left, but higher up...

  • ...than in the tank. This necessitated...

  • ...the mounting of the gun...

  • ...in an offset position to the right.

  • The gunner sat to the left of the gun...

  • ...with the commander at the back.

  • The loader was to the right.

  • For close in defence against infantry...

  • ...there was a standard MG34...

  • ...mounted at the front...

  • ...and operated by the loader...

  • ...who was also the radio man...

  • ...in his spare time!

  • Look at the amount of room...

  • ...in the fighting compartment!

  • However, taking into consideration...

  • ...those massive projectiles...

  • ...that we saw outside...

  • ...which would also be stowed...

  • ...left and right in these cradles.

  • Just to my left shoulder we can see...

  • ...the elevation handwheel...

  • ...and just to the right, of course,...

  • ...is the breech of this humongous gun.

  • Also an interesting thing to know...

  • ...if you look underneath the breech...

  • ...you can see something...

  • ...you don't see very often...

  • ...the torsion bar suspension.

  • In action

  • The Sturmtiger first saw action...

  • ...during the Warsaw uprising...

  • ...in August 1944...

  • ...when a couple of prototypes...

  • ...were rushed there.

  • So its first outing was...

  • ...in its designed role...

  • ...infantry support in built-up areas.

  • After that...

  • ...3 companies of Assault Mortars...

  • ...were formed and saw action...

  • ...on the Western Front...

  • ...in the final months of the war.

  • Not much is known of their performance...

  • ...one unconfirmed report...

  • ...speaks of a Sturmtiger...

  • ...taking out 3 M4 Shermans!

  • Of course, they suffered...

  • ...from the same issues that affected...

  • ...Tigers as a wholelack of power...

  • ...and mechanical unreliability.

  • As a result, some were just abandoned...

  • ...when they broke down...

  • ...or when they ran out of ammunition...

  • ...and couldn’t be resupplied.

  • In the end, the Sturmtiger was...

  • ...a formidable idea and no doubt...

  • ...formidable in its designed role.

  • However, by the time...

  • ...it got into production the war was...

  • ...very much already more mobile...

  • ...and Germany was on the defensive...

  • ...meaning that the opportunity...

  • ...to assault enemy fortifications...

  • ...was never going to happen.

Get Inside the Tanks

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B2 UK tiger gun tank mm assault infantry

Inside The Tanks: The Sturmtiger - World of Tanks

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    Andy posted on 2015/07/04
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