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|Sturmmörserwagen 606/4 mit 38 cm RW 61|
Captured Sturmtiger, April 1945
|Type||Heavy assault gun|
|Place of origin||Nazi Germany|
|In service||August 1944 - 1945|
|Wars||World War II|
|Produced||October 1943 – January 1945|
(1 prototype and 18 production)
|Weight||68 tonnes (75 short tons; 67 long tons)|
|Length||6.28 m (20 ft 7 in)|
|Width||3.57 m (11 ft 9 in)|
|Height||2.85 m (9 ft 4 in)|
machine gunner / radio operator
commander / gunner
|Armor||max. 150 mm (superstructure front, at 47° from vertical)
min. 62 mm
|380 mm RW 61 rocket launcher L/5.4
|100 mm grenade launcher
(using SMi 35 leaping mines)
7.92 mm (0.312 in) MG 34 machine gun
|Engine||V-12, water-cooled Maybach HL230P45 engine
700 PS (690 hp, 515 kW)
|120 km (75 mi)|
|Speed||40 km/h (25 mph)|
Sturmtiger (German: "Assault Tiger") was a World War II German assault gun built on the Tiger I chassis and armed with a large rocket launcher. The official German designation was Sturmmörserwagen 606/4 mit 38 cm RW 61. Its primary task was to provide heavy fire support for infantry units fighting in urban areas. The few vehicles produced fought in the Warsaw Uprising, the Battle of the Bulge and the Battle of the Reichswald. The fighting vehicle is also known under a large number of informal names, among which the Sturmtiger became the most popular.
The idea for a heavy infantry support vehicle capable of demolishing heavily defended buildings or fortified areas with a single shot came out of the experiences of the heavy urban fighting in the Battle of Stalingrad in 1942. At the time, the Wehrmacht had only the Sturm-Infanteriegeschütz 33B available for destroying buildings, a Sturmgeschütz III variant armed with a 15 cm sIG 33 heavy infantry gun. Twelve of them were lost in the fighting at Stalingrad. Its successor, the Sturmpanzer IV, also known as Brummbär, was in production from early 1943. This was essentially an improved version of the earlier design, mounting the same gun on the Panzer IV chassis with greatly improved armour protection.
While greatly improved compared to the earlier models, by this time infantry anti-tank weapons were improving dramatically, and the Wehrmacht still saw a need for a similar, but heavier armoured and armed vehicle. Therefore, a decision was made to create a new vehicle based on the Tiger tank and arm it with a 210 mm howitzer. However, this weapon turned out not to be available at the time and was therefore replaced by a 380 mm rocket launcher, which was adapted from a Kriegsmarine depth charge launcher.
In September 1943 plans were made for Krupp to fabricate new Tiger I armored hulls for the Sturmtiger. The Tiger I hulls were to be sent to Henschel for chassis assembly and then to Alkett where the superstructures would be mounted. The first prototype was ready and presented to Adolf Hitler in October 1943. Delivery of the first hulls would occur in December 1943, with the first three Sturmtigers completed by Alkett by 20 February 1944.
Due to delays, Hitler did not request production of the weapon until 19 April 1944; 12 superstructures and weapons for the Sturmtiger would be prepared and mounted on rebuilt Tiger I chassis. The first three production series Sturmtigers were completed by Alkett in August 1944. Plans to complete an additional seven 38 cm Sturmtigers from 15 to 21 September 1944 were presented to Hitler in a conference on 18–20 August 1944. Ten Sturmtigers were produced in September, along with an additional five in December 1944.
Hitler had laid great importance on the special employment of the Sturmtiger and believed it would be necessary to produce at least 300 rounds of ammunition per month.
The Sturmtiger was based on the late model Tiger I, keeping its hull and suspension. The front of the Tiger's superstructure was removed to make room for the new fixed casemate-style fighting compartment housing the rocket launcher. This was located directly at the front of the vehicle, giving it a boxy appearance.
Compared to the Tiger tank, the Sturmtiger was much shorter overall, only 6.28 m (20 ft 7 in) compared to the Tiger's 8.45 m (27 ft 9 in), due largely to the fact that it did not have the long main gun of the latter which protruded far in front of the hull. It also was slightly lower than the Tiger at 2.85 m (9 ft 4 in) compared to 3 m (9 ft 10 in).
Since the Sturmtiger was intended for use in urban areas in close range street fighting, it needed to be heavily armoured to survive. Its sloped (at 47° from vertical) frontal armor therefore was 150 mm (5.9 in) thick, while its superstructure side and rear plates were 82 mm (3.2 in) thick. The hull front was 100 millimetres (3.9 in) or 150 millimetres (5.9 in) if it had an additional armor plate fitted. This pushed the weight of the vehicle up from the 57 t (56 long tons; 63 short tons) of the Tiger I to 68 t (67 long tons; 75 short tons).
(angle from vertical)
|150 mm||superstructure front||47°|
( 100 mm)
(without the additional plate)
|82 mm||superstructure side and rear
upper hull side and rear
|70 mm||hull front top||80°|
|62 mm||lower hull front||65°|
|62 mm||lower hull side
lower hull rear
|28 mm||hull floor||-|
The main armament was the 380 mm Raketen-Werfer 61 L/5.4, a breech-loading rocket launcher, which fired short-range, rocket-propelled projectiles roughly 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in) long. There were a variety of rounds with a weight of up to 376 kg (829 lb), and a maximum range of up to 6,000 m (20,000 ft), which either contained a high explosive charge of 125 kg (276 lb) or a shaped charge for use against fortifications, which could penetrate up to 2.5 m (8 ft 2 in) of reinforced concrete. The stated range of the former was 5,650 m (6,180 yd). A normal charge first accelerated the projectile to 45 m/s (150 ft/s), the 40 kg (88 lb) rocket charge then boosted this to about 250 m/s (820 ft/s).
The design of the rocket launcher caused some problems. The hot rocket exhaust could not be vented into the fighting compartment nor could the barrel withstand the pressure if the gasses were not vented. Therefore, a ring of ventilation shafts were put around the barrel which channeled the exhaust and gave the weapon somewhat of a pepperbox appearance.
Due to the bulkiness of the ammunition, only 14 rounds could be carried, of which one was already loaded, with another in the loading tray. The rest were carried in two storage racks. To help with the loading of ammunition into the vehicle, a loading crane was fitted at the rear of the superstructure next to the loading hatch. Even then, the entire five man crew had to help with the loading.
It was intended that each Sturmtiger would be accompanied by an ammunition carrier built on the same Tiger I chassis, but only one carrier was completed.
At the loading hatch's rear was located a 100 millimetres (3.9 in) grenade launcher, using bouncing mines, which was used for close range defence against both armoured vehicles and infantry in a 360 degree circle around the vehicle.
The Sturmtiger was intended to serve as a heavy infantry support vehicle, rendering assistance with attacks on heavily fortified or built-up areas. By the time the first Sturmtigers were available, however, Germany had lost the initiative, with the Wehrmacht being almost exclusively on the defensive rather than the offensive.
Three new Panzer companies were raised to operate the Sturmtiger: Panzer Sturmmörser Kompanien (PzStuMrKp) ("Armored Assault Mortar Company") 1000, 1001 and 1002. These originally were supposed to be equipped with fourteen vehicles, but this figure was later reduced to four each, divided into two platoons.
PzStuMrKp 1000 was raised on 13 August 1944 and fought during the Warsaw Uprising with two vehicles, as did the prototype in a separate action, which may have been the only time the Sturmtiger was used in its intended role. PzStuMrKp 1001 (commanded by Captain von Gottberg) and 1002 (commanded by Lieutenant Zippel) followed in September and October. Both PzStuMrKp 1000 and 1001 served during the Ardennes Offensive, with a total of seven Sturmtigers.
After this offensive, the Sturmtigers were used in the defence of Germany, mainly on the Western Front.
During the battle for the bridge at Remagen, German forces mobilized Sturmmörserkompanie 1000 and 1001 (a total of 7 units), and attached them to the 6th SS-Panzer Armee to take part in the battle. The Sturmtigers were originally tasked with using their howitzers against the bridge itself, though it was discovered that they lacked the accuracy needed to effectively hit the bridge. During this action, one of the Sturmtigers in Sturmmörserkompanie 1001 near Duren and Euskirchen hit a group of stationary Shermans tanks in a village with a 380mm rocket, resulting in nearly all the Shermans being put out of action, and their crews killed or wounded. After the bridge fell to the Allies, Sturmmörserkompanie 1000 and 1001 were tasked with bombardment of allied forces to cover the German retreat, as opposed to the bunker busting for which they were originally designed.
- Sturmtiger number 250174 is on display at the Deutsches Panzermuseum at Munster. This vehicle is currently on loan from the Wehrtechnische Studiensammlung in Koblenz.
- A Sturmtiger is on display at the Kubinka Tank Museum in Russia. This vehicle is believed to have been captured by advancing Red Army units in the Elbe area in April 1945.
- A 380 mm Raketen-Werfer (rocket launcher) is in the collection of the Bovington Tank Museum.
- Livesey 2007, pp. 114–115.
- Jentz 1999[page needed]
- Kleine, E. and Kühn, V. "Tiger: the History of a Legendary Weapon", 1942-45. p.245
- Schnieder, Wolfgang, "Elefant Jagdtiger Sturmtiger: Rarities of the Tiger Family" Schiffler Military History September 1990, p45
- Chamberlain, Peter, and Hilary L. Doyle. Thomas L. Jentz (Technical Editor). Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War Two: A Complete Illustrated Directory of German Battle Tanks, Armoured Cars, Self-propelled Guns, and Semi-tracked Vehicles, 1933–1945. London: Arms and Armour Press, 1978 (revised edition 1993). ISBN 1-85409-214-6
- Jentz, Thomas L., Panzer Tracts No. 8 "Sturmgeschuetz - s.Pak to Sturmmoerser", Darlington Productions, Inc, 1999, ISBN 1-892848-04-X
- Livesey, Jack (2007). Armoured Fighting Vehicles of World Wars I and II. Southwater. ISBN 978-1-84476-370-2.
- Trojca, Waldemar and Jaugitz, Markus. Sturmtiger and Sturmpanzer in Combat. Katowice, Poland: Model Hobby, 2008 ISBN 978-83-60041-29-1
- "Frontline Illustration : Sturmtiger", 1999, Moscow, Russia
- Media related to Sturmtiger at Wikimedia Commons
- "Sturmmörser: 38 cm Rocket Projector on Tiger Chassis", U.S. Ordnance Report, 1945.
- Panzersturmmörser (Sturmtiger) Panzerworld.net
- Sturmtiger in Kubinka tank museum
- Sturmtiger Units of the Wehrmacht
- Sturmmörser Tiger at Achtung Panzer!
- Sturmtiger OnWar.com
- World War II Vehicles
- Surviving Tiger tanks - A file presenting photos of the Tiger tanks (Tiger I, Kingtiger, Jagdtiger and Sturmtiger) still existing in the world