Friday, July 17, 2015

Sturmgeschütz IV Final Production

Sturmgeschütz IV (7.5cm StuK40 L/48) (SdKfz 167) was an armored vehicle (assault gun, AFV or armoured fighting vehicle) in combat use during the Second World War (World War II or WWII) in the European theater. The Sturmgeschütz IV was a fully tracked all-terrain vehicle designed for military operations. Sturmgeschütz IV, abbreviated as the StuG. IV, was produced and deployed by the German Army (Heers) of Nazi Germany (the Third Reich). The technical drawing (plan, layout or profile) shows the general appearance characteristics of the specified model (version) of the Sturmgeschütz IV tank for purposes of identification and reference.

Sturmgeschütz IV Main Production

In November 1943, Alkett, the manufacturer of the StuG III, suffered damage in a bombing raid. Alkett produced 255 StuG III in October 1943, but in December production fell to just 24 vehicles. A conference held December 6–7, 1943, addressed possible solutions to this problem. Hitler welcomed the suggestion of taking the StuG III superstructure and mounting it on a Panzer IV chassis. The StuG IV could be more quickly manufactured than the Jagdpanzer IV at the time. This restarted the Sturmgeschütz IV project. This time, the superstructure of the StuG III Ausf. G was mounted on a Panzer IV chassis 7, with a box compartment for the driver added. Combat weight was 23000 kg, lighter than the 23900 kg for the StuG III Ausf. G. On Dec. 16-17, 1943, Hitler was shown the StuG IV and approved it. To make up for the large deficit in StuG III production StuG IV production was now given full support.

From December 1943 to May 1945, Krupp built 1,108 StuG IVs and converted an additional 31 from battle-damaged Panzer IV hulls. While the number is smaller than the 10,000+ StuG III, the StuG IV supplemented and fought along with StuG III during 1944-45, when they were most needed.

Sturmgeschütz IV First Production

The Pz.Kpfw.IV was also converted to an assault gun (Sd.Kfz.167) after a bombing raid severely damaged the ALKETT plant producing the StuG III. The turret and superstructure from the Pz.Kpfw.IV was replaced by a modified StuG III Ausf.G superstructure. Since the Pz.Kpfw.IV hull was longer than that of the Pz.Kpfw.III, it was necessary to create a new driver's position by extending the left side of the superstructure front forward. This new driver's position was topped by a pair of periscopes and an access hatch. The cast gun mantlet was introduced in February 1944. Later production vehicles were also fitted with the naehverteidigunswaffe close-in defense weapon, and starting in December 1944 some StuG IV were only fitted with three track return rollers per side. Other modifications to the Pz.Kpfw.IV and StuG III Ausf.G were also grafted onto StuG IV, like the Pz.Kpfw.IV's flash suppressing mufflers and the remote-control external machine gun mount.

Sturmpanzer IV Series 1

Production of the first series of 60 vehicles began in April 1943. Fifty-two of these were built using new Panzer IV Ausf. G chassis and the remaining 8 from rebuilt Ausf. E and F chassis. Survivors, about half, were rebuilt beginning in December 1943; they were mostly rebuilt to 2nd series standards.

Sturmpanzer IV Series 2

Production restarted in December 1943 of another 60 vehicles, using only new Ausf. H chassis, and continued until March 1944. The Sturmpanzer's baptism in combat at the Battle of Kursk proved that the driver's compartment was too lightly armored and it was reinforced. The gunner's hatch was removed and a ventilator fan was fitted, much to the relief of the crew. Internally sprung, steel-rimmed road wheels replaced the front two rubber-rimmed road wheels in an effort to reduce the stress on the forward suspension that was only partially successful.

Sturmpanzer IV Series 3

Production of the 3rd series ran from March to June 1944 with few changes from the second series. The Fahrersehklappe 80 was replaced by periscopes and the lighter StuH 43/1 was used.

Sturmpanzer IV Series 4

The superstructure was redesigned in early 1944 for the fourth series, which used the chassis and HL120TRM112 engine of the Ausf. J, and was in production between June 1944 and March 1945. It featured a redesigned gun collar, as well as a general reduction in height of the superstructure. This redesign also introduced a ball mount in the front superstructure for a MG 34 machine gun with 600 rounds. The vehicle commander's position was modified to use the cupola of the Sturmgeschütz III Ausf. G, which could mount a machine gun for anti-aircraft defense.