The German Wehrmacht remains a source of fascination to many history buffs, especially the array of interesting and imposing armored fighting vehicles.
Yet Germany’s most produced AFV was the comparatively small StuG III. Let’s look at the most produced variant of this most produced vehicle.
Even before Germany began retasking obsolete fighting platforms as tank destroyers (jagdpanzers) or support vehicles they modified the ubiquitous Panzer III into armored mobile artillery. This was primarily to provide motorized and protected artillery support that could accompany infantry formations from right behind the front.
There was some debate over what branch of the army would operate the vehicles; although it superficially resembles a Panzer (tank) that arm was not interested in something being built to support the Infantry. So it came to be Artillery.
The first StuG IIIs, with 75mm howitzers saw service in the Battle of France. Like most weapons with a long service history the StuG III was modified and updated throughout the War. Fighting in Russia exposed a desperate need, anti-tank support for the Infantry. So the StuG was fitted with a 75mm high velocity anti-tank gun. This meant, practically speaking, the artillery piece had become a tank destroyer.
The Ausf G, the tank destroyer variant, was the most produced sort of StuG and remained in production to the end of the War. It provided good stopping power against all but the heaviest tanks. In fact, it claimed more tank kills than any other German AFV of the entire War. Its low profile and heavy frontal armor made for an excellent ambush hunter.
This example is of a StuG III that fought in Russia, 1943. It is from the Tamiya kit.