B2 High-Intermediate UK 1012 Folder Collection
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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 Sturm Mörser 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 ‘casemate’ style...
...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 whole – lack 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.
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Inside The Tanks: The Sturmtiger - World of Tanks

1012 Folder Collection
Andy published on July 4, 2015
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