Sturmgeschutz: were the Germans right?

German weapons, vehicles and equipment 1919-1945.

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dunadan63
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Sturmgeschutz: were the Germans right?

Post by dunadan63 » Sat Mar 06, 2004 5:29 pm

I personally think the Germans were right all along in creating the Stug weapons and that their success in actual combat was deliberately ignored by other militaries simply because of military culture.

Let's look at the historical reasons for the Stugs: In WWI, where lightning war or Blitzkrieg was created, the Strosstruppen were able to penetrate the enemy positions and move through each successive zone and into the enemy's rear. However, because the Strosstruppen were powered by human locomotion, the enemy always had the advantage of operational mobility: the enemy could move laterally by rail, bringing in reserves and establishing new defense lines, faster than the Strosstruppen could exploit any penetration. Many Germans quite rightly decided that infantry needed mechanization to exploit a penetration faster and, in addition, all supporting arms needed to be equally mobile. One of the problems with Blitzkrieg was than the Strosstruppen always outran not only their sources of supply, but also their supporting arms - not simply their field artillery, but also their direct-fire weapons indigenous to their own units.

The Stug was based on this WWI concept that soldiers at the point of the assault needed direct-fire weapons to help deal with enemy strongpoints that could not be bypassed or needed to be eliminated after being bypassed by the first assault elements. These direct-fire weapons needed to be mobile enough to follow and enter combat *with* the infantry they served.

I think the performance of the Stugs during WWII shows their effectiveness - even in situations for which they were not even intended, such as in the anti-tank role. Even with the low-velocity 75mm gun, the Stugs were able to engage and destroy enemy armor because of their inherent advantages of low-profile and crew-proficiency in gunnery. Instead of having to plead for supporting fire from some far-removed artillery battery (which may accidently kill his own troops as well as those of the enemy), an infantry commander could climb on to a Stug point his finger and say, "Right there. That's where I want the shot."

After WWII, tankers were hostile to the Stug concept because it stole part of their thunder and treaded on their "territory". The artillery hated it because it made them servants of infantry commanders. The infantry concentrated on creating their own weapons they could completely command and that couldn't be removed to shift to another unit.

No matter how much they play with commo technologies and IFF technologies, friendly fire incidents still happen. Given that there are better solutions, these incidents shouldn't happen.

The Stugs were cheaper and easier to produce than tanks. They were better protected than the tin-foil armored "Bradley" death-trap that is used by the US military not simply as an APC, but as a supporting weapon in the anti-tank role. They gave the infantry commander unparalled cooperation from the artillery to use at his discretion and at his command.

I think Von Manstein's Stug was - and is - an excellent weapons concept that should have been given more consideration after WWII - considering how effective they were during it. Isn't this just more proof that the German military 1918-1945 was more effective than their opponents because the Germans concentrated on military effectiveness more than their opponents did?

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Post by Matt L » Sun Mar 07, 2004 7:52 pm

A couple of things I think are superior about the Sturmgeschütz as compared to a tank are the fact that a much larger gun can be put into a smaller chassis, and as the entire vehicle must be rotated to aim, the most heavily-armored part- the front- is kept facing enemy forces.
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Post by wwiibuff » Mon Mar 08, 2004 6:10 am

There are some good points to assault guns, and they have been used in limited numbers by other nations after WWII. They also have disadvantages. The gun has a very limited traverse. Rotating the entire vehicle is not an advantage when you are in a concealed position. The position also has to be large enough to allow the vehicle, not just a turret to move. Making them requires using resources that could otherwise be devoted to tanks or other weapons.

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Post by Reb » Thu Mar 25, 2004 11:03 am

DunaDan

It may amuse you to know that in 1974 I sent a letter to the CIA suggestion they get with the War Dept on tactics and find a simpler, cheaper way, to resist that expected sea of Russian tanks through the Fulda Gap.

My idea was to take all those old Korean War and WW2 tanks and put a bigger gun on them and use them exactly as the Germans (and Russians) did in WW2. In a defensive situation I felt that it would have increased our ability to defend West Germany by a huge factor since it would have given us a very cheap and very mobile asset with which we could extend our defensive line and make it much deeper.

Suffice to say, they declined not only to implement my idea but to even answer <grin>. My father, who worked for the DOD, was amused by my 'cheek' but to me it was an obvious solution and why on earth wouldn't the big shots listen to me? (I was very young and naive).

Now days what? Bradley is not a good metaphor - Guderian would have sold his first born for a battalion of them despite their flaws, and since we have an APC with an anti-tank capability the need for assault guns is no longer obvious. God willing there will be no more big wars like WW2 but should that happen who knows? All our stuff is in the shop window now - our defense (and most first world countries as well) has no depth. Maybe we should all buy some good swords just in case!

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Post by Das Reich » Thu Mar 25, 2004 2:11 pm

Hello I am new, so this is my first post...

I have read books in which the use of the Stug assault guns yielded great success. The guns have a long range and a large caliber as well as quite a punch. Their lack of easy mobility is made up for by this, because if you take out tanks at a long range, there is no need to move around alot if they can't hit you. They are like the sniper rifles of vehicles.

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Post by Paul_9686 » Thu Apr 01, 2004 10:01 pm

I appreciate that assault guns and related vehicles, like Jagdpanzers, are cheaper, more heavily armed, and better-protected that turreted tanks, but I would prefer the greater tactical capabilities of turreted tanks.

It was kind of sad to see the post-war Germans convert their Jagdpanzer Kanone vehicles to SP AT missile vehicles, but I'm afraid that the day of the non-turreted gun-armed AFV is done and past. Sic transit gloria mundi.

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Re: Sturmgeschutz: were the Germans right?

Post by Martin Schenkel » Sat Apr 03, 2004 10:50 am

dunadan63 wrote:I think Von Manstein's Stug was - and is - an excellent weapons concept that should have been given more consideration after WWII - considering how effective they were during it. Isn't this just more proof that the German military 1918-1945 was more effective than their opponents because the Germans concentrated on military effectiveness more than their opponents did?
It was a really good idea, until they invented the Panzerfaust/Panzerschreck. A small hand-held/shoulder-launched weapon that can basically do the same thing, but can be given to every single soldier and mass-produced in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions. Today's modern hand-held AT weapons provide a negligable target size (compared to a vehicle), can go anywhere a human can go (and a vehicle can't), and can be cheaply mass-produced.
"Subjugating the enemy's army without fighting is the true pinnacle of excellence" - Sun Tzu

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Post by Davey B » Wed Jun 02, 2004 9:15 pm

If thats the case, then why have we still got tanks?

WWII German doctrine - not always followed admitetdly - proposed that tanks and SPG's should be always used supported by infantry. One protect the other, especially in built up areas.

Basically, turreted tanks are best for an assault, ie in PZ Regiments, but Stugs or similar are excellent for defence. What Das Reich said about them being 'sniper rifles' hit the mark. As long as they are protected by infantry.

After all, the object of a long range AT weapon like a WWII 75mm was to kill enemy armour at a distance well beyond the tactical infantry range, while the infantry protect the SPG from short range enemy AT weapons and their infantry. Its called all arms co-operation. A lesson that has still not been learned properly.

In a defensive engagement with supporting infantry, a SPG such as a Stug, is an armoured pill box with an AT capability that can fire and manouver!

Cheaper than a tank, and just as effective in the defence (especially as you HAVE to move position after your first few shots).

And Reb, you were correct in my opinion that in the Cold War in the event of an invasion from the East, 100 single individualy placed SPG's would of been better than a regiment an-masse of the same number of tanks. It negates the effect of air and artillery bombardment too.

THE crucial point is infantry support.

And remember, in the end of the 3rd Reich, Panzers were indeed used as individual 'snipers' to great effect. What a waste of excellent main battle tanks.

Why have we not got the equivelent of the Stug now? Because

"After WWII, tankers were hostile to the Stug concept because it stole part of their thunder and treaded on their "territory". The artillery hated it because it made them servants of infantry commanders. The infantry concentrated on creating their own weapons they could completely command and that couldn't be removed to shift to another unit. " DUNADAN63

Exactly.

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Post by file » Mon Jun 14, 2004 6:51 am

a while ago I read that aiming with a stug was faster than with a tank and the accuracy was greater. Can anyone elaborate on that?
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Post by Reb » Mon Jun 14, 2004 7:02 am

James Lucas claimed in War in The East that StuG shot out to the target while tanks bracketed the target and that somehow that made StuG more accurate.

I have no idea if there is any truth to that but can say that in my tank we simply aimed straight at the target and given the optics on German tanks I would assume they did too. Beyond that I'm speculating.

I wonder if anyone has stats on relative hits by Stug / Pz?

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Post by derGespenst » Mon Jun 14, 2004 11:38 am

No stats I'm afraid, but it would seem logical that, if stats were found, Stugs/Panzerjägers would get a higher score because they tended, in defensive situations, to fire from ambush, thus having time to carefully aim, often over known distances. Tanks on the offensive (or counteroffensive) don't have that luxury.

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Optics

Post by John W. Howard » Mon Jun 14, 2004 8:38 pm

From what I understand, assault guns had artillery-like range-finding and optics, something which the tanks did not have in their confined space. This apparently increased the accuracy of their shots.
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Post by Paul Lakowski » Tue Jun 15, 2004 12:11 am

People should remember the context of the information and thinking. German army of the 1920s and into the 1930s was supposed to be motorized using a 'high risk' panzer blitzkrieg doctrine with maybe 10 motorized divisions. However by the time Hitler reasserted the role of the Wehrmacht , they had added atleast 50 divisions that could only be horse drawn leg mobile infantry divisions. By the time war started this infantry force had ballooned to 100 infantry divisions and something like 15 motorized divisions.

Against this back drop the lessons of WW-I which were most salient were the superiority of the combined arms team of tanks infantry and arty. The tanks of WW-I were at best assault guns by WW-II standards and the rank and file redrafted WW-I commanders had no interest in such high tech gadgets. These army officers actively resisted upstarts like Guderian and Mainstein well into WW-II. Thus the biggest arm of the Wehrmacht was by far the least mature or supported when it came to modern combined arms tactics etc. Witness the fact that to deal with the threat of tanks, all these army generals felt was needed was one miserable motorised battalion of 37mm ATguns per infantry division.

Politics ensured that any tanks would go to the panzerwaffer and the meager handfull of assault guns that were developed were pushed on the Arty cause the infantry didn't want to be bothered with how to integrate them into the force structure...it would also be like admitting they were wrong.


Mainstein could have done the infantry a great service if he hadn't imposed the short height limit on the Stug. THis ensured that only a wide chassie would be sufficent.The only ones in production [Pz-III & IV] where despreratly needed for the Panzerwaffe and that fact all but doomed their fate to another example of too little to late. By the time the war had begun the germans had switched production from the smaller Pz-I & II over to the larger Pz-III & IVs, but these smaller production lines had to remained open for loss replacement production.

Had Mainstein the sence to adapt his thinking to either the Pz-II or Pz 38t chassie, then Stug production could have gone ahead in 1938 and the Heer could have gone into war with a thousand Stug-IIs and added a thousand per year after that. Given this production, each infantry division could have gone into france with a battalion of ~18 such weapons while each infantry division in Barbarossa could have had a battalion of ~31 Stugs.

Thus when the Pz-III gave way to Pz-IV and Panther, the production for Pz-IIIs as Stug-III would have be totally inadequate, forceing a more dramatic solution...IE developing the Pz-38t into a E-10 style Assault gun in 1942. That could then be produced in numbers like 10,000 per year . It was only with yearly productions in that quantity, could the germans hope to compete with the sovs on the eastern front.

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Post by Hans Weber » Wed Jun 16, 2004 1:49 pm

Hello Paul

Please allow me to put some of your thoughts into the context I think is relevant here.
People should remember the context of the information and thinking. German army of the 1920s and into the 1930s was supposed to be motorized using a 'high risk' panzer blitzkrieg doctrine with maybe 10 motorized divisions.
To my knowledge, the Reichswehr of this period was purely defensive in conception. It was limited to the size of 100'000 men.
However by the time Hitler reasserted the role of the Wehrmacht , they had added atleast 50 divisions that could only be horse drawn leg mobile infantry divisions.
As far as I know, they had 7 non-motorized Infantry divisions and 3 Kavallerie Divisions in 1933 (when Hitler took over). Thus 10 Verbände of which non was forseen to perform a Blitzkrieg role. The change from the defensive posture to a more aggressive doctrine occured in 1935/1936, still focusing on defense, put introducing the notion of attacking an agressor.
By the time war started this infantry force had ballooned to 100 infantry divisions and something like 15 motorized divisions.
Again, afaik they had 53 Verbände in 1939, among which the major part (35 Divisions) were not motorized.4 mot. Divisions and 6 Pz. Divisions (ie. 5 Pz. Div plus independant Pz. Brigades and SS-VT which equalled one Pz. Div.). 4 le Divs, 3 Geb. Div and 1 Kav Brigade. Motorization was a relative new concept. It developped the same time the change from defensive to more aggressive posture occured. They tried to get more quality, not more quantity and thought to obtain it by motorisation. The relativly moderate number of mobile units already strained the capacity of the German industry to its limits, there was no way they could have made a fully motorized force. One important problem with the Germans was - as always - the thread of a two front war, this implied at this time that you had to have an army of a certain strength, not only a mobile, small intervention force. The problem is I think the same today: Mobility costs a high price, needs a high training standard, but has the potential to do more with less. Balancing all this factors is necessary to get a good army.
Against this back drop the lessons of WW-I which were most salient were the superiority of the combined arms team of tanks infantry and arty. The tanks of WW-I were at best assault guns by WW-II standards and the rank and file redrafted WW-I commanders had no interest in such high tech gadgets.
And justly so. We shouldn't forget that the technical standard remaind low up to the mid thirties and that the road net was of mediocre quality throughout in Europe. There was a reason behind Hitler's highway programm. In Russia you could forget to speak of a road net anyway. This lead to the dissolving of the charateristic Kradschützen units by the impression the Russian mud made.
These army officers actively resisted upstarts like Guderian and Mainstein well into WW-II
At the time Beck was dismissed (1938) nobody seriously challenged the Panzerwaffe any more. There were however practical (industrial) limitations.
Thus the biggest arm of the Wehrmacht was by far the least mature or supported when it came to modern combined arms tactics etc. Witness the fact that to deal with the threat of tanks, all these army generals felt was needed was one miserable motorised battalion of 37mm ATguns per infantry division.
Including the organic AT-Co in each Regiment you forgot, you are speaking of a staggering 75 AT-guns per Infantery Division. The Germans had more than twice the number in AT guns than France and more than 20 times the number than the English in 1940.
At the time the decision to go for the 3,7cm fell (mid twenties), it was sufficent. However, the Germans chose to ignore the edge new armour was taking over the 3,7cm calibre. The Spanish and the Polish Campaign didn't gave them much reason to change their view. The effort on AT capability clearly was there and there is no fault in the interarms concept we can blame old generals for, however the gun chosen for this was not the right one.
Politics ensured that any tanks would go to the panzerwaffer and the meager handfull of assault guns that were developed were pushed on the Arty cause the infantry didn't want to be bothered with how to integrate them into the force structure...it would also be like admitting they were wrong.
Doctrine, not politics. The Panzerwaffe's role was aggressive attack, needing mobility and firepower, their role was apart from the rest of the Heer. Given resources both financial and industrial, there would have been more of it. Thus Germany still had to put the main effort into its infantry. Traditonally it was supported by the Artillery. So it was coming natural to Manstein that the heavy support should be a task of the artillery. The assault guns were not intended to fight against tanks, as can clearly be seen with the early models, but to support the infantry to get to their objective. The change to the AT-role occured with the change of the gun. It was a decision forced by the Russian armour.
Mainstein could have done the infantry a great service if he hadn't imposed the short height limit on the Stug. THis ensured that only a wide chassie would be sufficent.The only ones in production [Pz-III & IV] where despreratly needed for the Panzerwaffe and that fact all but doomed their fate to another example of too little to late. By the time the war had begun the germans had switched production from the smaller Pz-I & II over to the larger Pz-III & IVs, but these smaller production lines had to remained open for loss replacement production.
Manstein did the infantry the best service he possibly could by inventing the assault gun concept in 1935. He knew the infantry would not have the direct support of the Panzerwaffe in the new German concept of war. The short hight limit later proved vital to the success of the StuG against the tank.
Had Mainstein the sence to adapt his thinking to either the Pz-II or Pz 38t chassie, then Stug production could have gone ahead in 1938 and the Heer could have gone into war with a thousand Stug-IIs and added a thousand per year after that. Given this production, each infantry division could have gone into france with a battalion of ~18 such weapons while each infantry division in Barbarossa could have had a battalion of ~31 Stugs
Again, you ignore that the StuG III was not conceived as the tankhunter it later became. When it was developped, no 38t was around to make a Hetzer from it, nor was any need for that anticipated. What Manstein wanted in 1935 was a fully protected heavy gun for the infantry. It was technically not possible to do so on the Pz II chassis on a reasonable basis, the tank itself was a stop gap solution anyway. He didn't want the lightly armoured self propelled gun which stood behind concepts like the Panzerjäger I.
Thus when the Pz-III gave way to Pz-IV and Panther, the production for Pz-IIIs as Stug-III would have be totally inadequate, forceing a more dramatic solution...IE developing the Pz-38t into a E-10 style Assault gun in 1942. That could then be produced in numbers like 10,000 per year . It was only with yearly productions in that quantity, could the germans hope to compete with the sovs on the eastern front.
Thanks to the phasing out of the P3 the output of the StuG III could reach high numbers as there was no major retooling needed. The production rate of the StuG , StuH and JgPz 38t between Jan 44 to Feb 45 still totalled nearly 8'000. And it was not enough. The reaction in 1942 was of building ligthly armoured self propelled guns and upgunning the StuG III as fast emergency solutions and developping tankhunters like the PzJg IV which could make it to the front only since spring 1944. The first ones had so much problems, the Kdr of Panzer Lehr didn't want them at all. With hindsight you can blame the Germans for not anticipating the superiority of the Soviet armour. To get the armour you suggest in the timeframe you suggest they should have decided at the start of the War to change their concept radically and to develop the AT defense of their infantry into a fully armoured tankhunter branch by far surpassing the Panzerwaffe in size and importance (see the number of Infantry divisions compared to Panzer Divisions). In the same time they already had to exchange most of their early Panzer models to somewhat like real tanks (P III and PIV). This was beyond the scope of even the German industry.

Cheers
Hans

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Post by Paul Lakowski » Wed Jun 16, 2004 6:36 pm

Hans Weber wrote:Hello Paul

Please allow me to put some of your thoughts into the context I think is relevant here.
People should remember the context of the information and thinking. German army of the 1920s and into the 1930s was supposed to be motorized using a 'high risk' panzer blitzkrieg doctrine with maybe 10 motorized divisions.
To my knowledge, the Reichswehr of this period was purely defensive in conception. It was limited to the size of 100'000 men.

.
Yes but the doctrinal author [Seeckt] wrote "that the strongest defence lay in mobile attack a policy that cultivated offensive action at the tactical level fore even defensive purposes"..
However by the time Hitler reasserted the role of the Wehrmacht , they had added atleast 50 divisions that could only be horse drawn leg mobile infantry divisions.
As far as I know, they had 7 non-motorized Infantry divisions and 3 Kavallerie Divisions in 1933 (when Hitler took over). Thus 10 Verbände of which non was forseen to perform a Blitzkrieg role. The change from the defensive posture to a more aggressive doctrine occured in 1935/1936, still focusing on defense, put introducing the notion of attacking an agressor..
reasserted the role was my way of saying starting the war ;). Offensive defence was envisaged from the start [1921 doctrine?] but suspended when the trench generals took over in the mid 1930s. .


By the time war started this infantry force had ballooned to 100 infantry divisions and something like 15 motorized divisions.
Again, afaik they had 53 Verbände in 1939, among which the major part (35 Divisions) were not motorized.4 mot. Divisions and 6 Pz. Divisions (ie. 5 Pz. Div plus independant Pz. Brigades and SS-VT which equalled one Pz. Div.). 4 le Divs, 3 Geb. Div and 1 Kav Brigade.

.
Again your being too literal , i meant begining phase of the war up to France 1940..


Motorization was a relative new concept. .
Seekt writes about it in 1921 doctrine. .
It developped the same time the change from defensive to more aggressive posture occured. They tried to get more quality, not more quantity and thought to obtain it by motorisation. The relativly moderate number of mobile units already strained the capacity of the German industry to its limits, there was no way they could have made a fully motorized force. .
Well the problem is not one of couldn't but wouldn't...it was political. Germany produced enough wheeled vehicles in 1939-1940 to motorize the entire army...problem is they were all sold to the civilian economy and the cost of purchase based on the 1939 prices would have mariginal at best [ 150 million Rm out of 30BRm budget in each of 1939 and 1940 ?]. That was about 1/4 of what was spent on new surface ship production in those two years. MOtorising the Heer was not given the priority it deserved.

One important problem with the Germans was - as always - the thread of a two front war, this implied at this time that you had to have an army of a certain strength, not only a mobile, small intervention force. The problem is I think the same today: Mobility costs a high price, needs a high training standard, but has the potential to do more with less. Balancing all this factors is necessary to get a good army.


Against this back drop the lessons of WW-I which were most salient were the superiority of the combined arms team of tanks infantry and arty. The tanks of WW-I were at best assault guns by WW-II standards and the rank and file redrafted WW-I commanders had no interest in such high tech gadgets.
And justly so. We shouldn't forget that the technical standard remaind low up to the mid thirties and that the road net was of mediocre quality throughout in Europe. There was a reason behind Hitler's highway programm. In Russia you could forget to speak of a road net anyway. This lead to the dissolving of the charateristic Kradschützen units by the impression the Russian mud made.
These army officers actively resisted upstarts like Guderian and Mainstein well into WW-II
At the time Beck was dismissed (1938) nobody seriously challenged the Panzerwaffe any more. There were however practical (industrial) limitations.
Thus the biggest arm of the Wehrmacht was by far the least mature or supported when it came to modern combined arms tactics etc. Witness the fact that to deal with the threat of tanks, all these army generals felt was needed was one miserable motorised battalion of 37mm ATguns per infantry division.
Including the organic AT-Co in each Regiment you forgot, you are speaking of a staggering 75 AT-guns per Infantery Division. The Germans had more than twice the number in AT guns than France and more than 20 times the number than the English in 1940.

.

Didn't forget ,ignored due to there being organic to Rgt and not units division could employ in active defence. Besides atleast these allied divisions had their own Armor attached.

.
At the time the decision to go for the 3,7cm fell (mid twenties), it was sufficent. However, the Germans chose to ignore the edge new armour was taking over the 3,7cm calibre. The Spanish and the Polish Campaign didn't gave them much reason to change their view. The effort on AT capability clearly was there and there is no fault in the interarms concept we can blame old generals for, however the gun chosen for this was not the right one.
.
Guderian calls for a 75mm ATgun and similar mounts on tanks in Achtung Panzer. Again the rank and file German general was trench infantry and didn't see the tank as the threat that others did. The lack of a credible AT weapon and the lack of armor in the german infantry divisions goes along way to explaining their failures from late 1941 on. Both these problems could have been dealt with by diverting Pz-I & II production and later Pz38t towards infantry AFV production at the begining of the war. If nothing else the warbootie from france could have supplied 7000 x 75mm field guns and a stock of 1500 Buete pz [plus the thousands of existing Pz-I & IIs that were in service but not used]. This atleast could have provided the basis of addressing the problem by the end of 1941.


.

Politics ensured that any tanks would go to the panzerwaffer and the meager handfull of assault guns that were developed were pushed on the Arty cause the infantry didn't want to be bothered with how to integrate them into the force structure...it would also be like admitting they were wrong.
Doctrine, not politics. The Panzerwaffe's role was aggressive attack, needing mobility and firepower, their role was apart from the rest of the Heer. Given resources both financial and industrial, there would have been more of it.

.
I think you need to read this artical cause it points to a political decision that tanks were passe and not needed in the renewed positional defence doctine that reasserted control over german thinking of the time. That is why Pz-I & II only hand anti peronel weapons.

http://www-cgsc.mil/carl/resourses/csi/Wray/wray.asp


.

Thus Germany still had to put the main effort into its infantry. Traditonally it was supported by the Artillery. So it was coming natural to Manstein that the heavy support should be a task of the artillery. The assault guns were not intended to fight against tanks, as can clearly be seen with the early models, but to support the infantry to get to their objective. The change to the AT-role occured with the change of the gun. It was a decision forced by the Russian armour.

.

From what I read Army rejected assault guns as not needed so they were forced onto the Arty who weren't quite sure what to make of them either.
.

Manstein did the infantry the best service he possibly could by inventing the assault gun concept in 1935. He knew the infantry would not have the direct support of the Panzerwaffe in the new German concept of war. The short hight limit later proved vital to the success of the StuG against the tank.
.

The most salient lesson of Achtung Panzer is that any tank even a poor tank is a better than no tanks at all. In his study of WW-I battles Guderian clearly showed taht combined arms teams of Infantry tanks and Arty achieved orders of magnitude more fewer casulties and greater ground than straight infantry arty actions. THis lesson was lost of most german generals going into the war. When push came to shove the need for panzers was always going to be a much higher priority than the need for the same chassies to be diverted into Assault guns...which is why the assault guns were years behind the panzers. If the Pz divisions dominated the german army this would make sence but it makes no sence when you realise that 3/4 of there divisions were infantry.

Had Mainstein the sence to adapt his thinking to either the Pz-II or Pz 38t chassie, then Stug production could have gone ahead in 1938 and the Heer could have gone into war with a thousand Stug-IIs and added a thousand per year after that. Given this production, each infantry division could have gone into france with a battalion of ~18 such weapons while each infantry division in Barbarossa could have had a battalion of ~31 Stugs
Again, you ignore that the StuG III was not conceived as the tankhunter it later became. When it was developped, no 38t was around to make a Hetzer from it, nor was any need for that anticipated. What Manstein wanted in 1935 was a fully protected heavy gun for the infantry. It was technically not possible to do so on the Pz II chassis on a reasonable basis, the tank itself was a stop gap solution anyway. He didn't want the lightly armoured self propelled gun which stood behind concepts like the Panzerjäger I.

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Its irrelivant what Manstein wanted cause he was seen as an upstart and he was unlikely to get anywhere with such a design, especially since it competed with the Pz-III production and demand. Had they focused instead on Pz-I & IIs these could atleast taken over those production lines without having to effect panzer production.That mean't it was more likely to happen in the first place. After establishing such production they could have been converted into SPguns which would have solved the lack of mobile ATweapons for the german infantry on the eastern front. Failing that , while a 3 inch gun might not have worked as an assault gun a 37mm or 50mm gun would have worked at this period in the war . SO a 37/50mm Stug-II would have atleast equipped the infantry divisions with a battalion each.
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Thanks to the phasing out of the P3 the output of the StuG III could reach high numbers as there was no major retooling needed. The production rate of the StuG , StuH and JgPz 38t between Jan 44 to Feb 45 still totalled nearly 8'000. And it was not enough. The reaction in 1942 was of building ligthly armoured self propelled guns and upgunning the StuG III as fast emergency solutions and developping tankhunters like the PzJg IV which could make it to the front only since spring 1944. The first ones had so much problems, the Kdr of Panzer Lehr didn't want them at all. With hindsight you can blame the Germans for not anticipating the superiority of the Soviet armour. To get the armour you suggest in the timeframe you suggest they should have decided at the start of the War to change their concept radically and to develop the AT defense of their infantry into a fully armoured tankhunter branch by far surpassing the Panzerwaffe in size and importance (see the number of Infantry divisions compared to Panzer Divisions). In the same time they already had to exchange most of their early Panzer models to somewhat like real tanks (P III and PIV). This was beyond the scope of even the German industry.
Well this is exactly the problem 8000 assault guns in 1944 is not important. 8000 assault guns in 1941 or 1942 could have significanlty altered the battlefield. The bulk of the german army was infantry and historically they had no armor to speak of until the end of the war. The germans spent more on the war effort than the soviets and there economy was larger. Yet the germans devoted only 1/4 of their production to the war effort while the allies devoted about 1/2 of their production effort to the war effort.

There was no excuse for their lack of production compared to the soviet economy.It was not a question of industrial capacity by allocation. German scientist knew before the war that if it took 100% of the effort to make a weapon to 100% of specs, it takes only 30% of the same effort to produce the same weapon to 90% of specs.The germans went for quality over quantity and lost the war because of such decisions...cause the soviets went for quantity over quality.


Got to get back to Euro 2004 ;)

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