StuG III Ausf A

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The Sturmgeschütz Ausf.A was the first production version of the StuG III assault gun, designed to provide the German infantry with a fully armoured mobile artillery gun. Develop of the StuG began in 15 June 1936, when Daimler-Benz was given a contract to develop an armoured vehicle capable of carrying a 7.5cm calibre short barrelled gun, capable of being elevated to 25 degrees above horizontal, fully armoured (although the original design called for an open roof), in a vehicle no higher than a standing man.

The 0-series of 5 vehicles, based on the Panzer III Ausf B chassis, was built in 1937-38. These experiment vehicles had a soft-steel superstructure and a fixed gun. They were used to carry out a program of tests, before being used as training vehicles.

StuG III Ausf A - side plan
StuG III Ausf A - side plan

When it was originally produced, this vehicle was known as the StuG. Only after the appearance of the Sturmpanzer IV, also known as the StuG IV and based on the Panzer IV, early in 1943, did the earlier weapon become known as the StuG III.

The production version of the StuG III Ausf A was based on the chassis of the Panzer III Ausf F, and shared the same suspension and basic hull and a very slightly modified transmission (to make room for the low slung gun). The turret and original superstructure was replaced by a rectangular fighting compartment, with its front in the same position as that of the normal superstructure. On the Ausf A the sides of the new superstructure were level with the sides of the hull, leaving the track guards clear. An armoured pannier was carried on the left track guard. The square sides of the superstructure were hidden beneath 8mm thick armour plates sloped at 30 degrees. 

The gun was carried on a rectangular frame which carried the trunnions, mantlet and cradle. The maximum elevation of the gun was only 20 degrees, 5 below the original target. The gun itself was very similar to the 75mm L/24 gun carried on the early models of the Panzer IV.

The StuG Ausf A had thicker front and rear armour than the standard Panzer III Ausf F, which had 30mm front armour and 21mm rear armour on the superstructure and hull. In contrast the StuG was given 50mm armour on the front and 30mm at the rear, with the same 30mm side armour as the Panzer.

The fighting compartment carried the same three crew members as the Panzer III turret: commander, loader and gunner. Each of these crewmen had an escape hatch above their position, while the driver in the front had to use a hatch in the glacis plate.

Visibility was poor. The driver had a fixed vision slit to his left, but nothing to the right. His main view came from a visor in the front wall of the superstructure, but if the vehicle was under fire then this had to be closed up, and the driver’s only forward view would come from a twin periscope.

The commander had a scissor’s periscope that could only be used if his hatch was open, while the gunner had to rely on a periscopic gun sight. In addition the commander’s seat was spring loaded, and could be raised to allow his head to poke out above the superstructure roof.

Power was provided by the Maybach HL 120 TRM 12-cylinder petrol engine, at the rear of the StuG, with the drive wheels at the front.

The first StuG was issued in February 1940, and twenty four were in service by the end of May. They were used to equip Sturmartillerie Batteries 640, 659, 660 and 665, and took part in the fighting in France in May and June 1940.
 
Names
Gepanzerter Selbstfahrlafette für Sturmgeschütz 7.5cm Kanone Ausf A
StuG Ausf A, 1Serie
Sd Kfz 142

Stats
Number produced:
5 prototypes 1937,
30 1 Serie, January-May 1940
Length: 5.38m
Hull Width: 2.92m
Height: 1.95m
Crew: 4
Weight: 19.6 tons  
Engine: 320hp Maybach HL120TR
Max Speed: 40km/hr
Max Range:  160km/
Main Armament: One 7.5cm StuK37 L/24

Armour

Armour

Front

Side

Rear

Top/ Bottom

Superstructure

50mm

30mm

30mm

11mm below
17mm above

Hull

50mm

30mm

30mm

16mm

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (29 July 2008), StuG III Ausf A, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_StuG_III_Ausf_A.html

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