The Sturmpanzer (also known as Sturmpanzer 43 or Sd.Kfz. 166) was a German armoured infantry support gun based on the Panzer IV chassis used in the Second World War. It was used at the Battles of Kursk, Anzio, Normandy, and helped to put down the Warsaw Uprising. It was known by the nickname Brummbär by Allied intelligence, a name which was not used by the Germans. Just over 300 vehicles were built and they were assigned to four independent battalions.

Class Vehicle
Type Armoured Fighting Vehicle
Manufacturer Deutsche Eisenwerke
Production Period 1943 - 1945
Origin Germany
Country Name Origin Year
Germany 1943
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Germany View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Deutsche Eisenwerke 1943 1945 298 View

The Sturmpanzer was a development of the Panzer IV tank designed to provide direct infantry fire support, especially in urban areas. The result was the Sturmpanzer, which used a Panzer IV chassis with the upper hull and turret replaced by a new casemate-style armored superstructure housing a new gun, the 15 centimetres (5.9 in) Sturmhaubitze (StuH) 43 L/12 developed by Skoda. It fired the same shells as the 15 cm sIG 33 heavy infantry gun. Thirty-eight rounds, with separate propellant cartridges, could be carried. It used the Sfl.Zf. 1a sight. The combined weight of the shell and cartridge (38 kilograms (84 lb) for an HE shell and 8 kilograms (18 lb) for a propellant cartridge) made the work of the loader arduous, especially if the gun was elevated to a high angle.

An MG 34 machine gun was carried that could be fastened to the open gunner's hatch, much like the arrangement on the Sturmgeschütz III Ausf. G. Early vehicles carried a MP 40 sub-machine gun inside, which could be fired through firing ports in the side of the superstructure.

The driver's station projected forward from the casemate's sloped frontal armor plate and used the Tiger I's Fahrersehklappe 80 driver's sight. The fighting compartment was (badly) ventilated by natural convection, exiting out the rear of the superstructure through two armored covers. Sideskirts were fitted on all vehicles.

Early vehicles were too heavy for the chassis, which lead to frequent breakdowns of the suspension and transmission. Efforts were made to ameliorate this from the second series onwards, with some success.

In October 1943 it was decided that the StuH 43 gun needed to be redesigned to reduce its weight. A new version, some 800 kilograms (1,800 lb) lighter than the StuH 43, was built as the StuH 43/1. Some of the weight was saved by reducing the armor on the gun mount itself. This gun was used from the third production series onwards.

Zimmerit coating was applied to all vehicles until September 1944.

Sturmpanzer-Abteilung 216

The first unit to take the Sturmpanzer into battle was Sturmpanzer-Abteilung 216. It was formed at the end of April 1943 and transferred in early May to Amiens to train on its new assault guns. It was organized into 3 line companies, each with 14 vehicles, and a battalion headquarters with 3 vehicles. It arrived in Central Russia on 10 June 1943 to prepare for Unternehmen Zitadelle (Operation Citadel), the German attack on the Kursk salient. For this action it was temporarily assigned as the third battalion of schweres Panzerjäger Regiment 656 ("Heavy Anti-tank Regiment 656") under the command of the 9th Army of Army Group Center.

It remained in the Orel-Bryansk area until its transfer to the Dnepropetrovsk-Zaporozhe area at the end of August. Its vehicles were refitted there and it remained there until the Zaporozhe Bridgehead was abandoned on 15 October. The battalion retreated to Nikopol where it helped to defend the German salient there until it was withdrawn back to the Reich at the end of December.

The Allied landing at Anzio on 22 January 1944 caused the battalion, fully independent once more, to be transferred there in early February with 28 vehicles to participate in the planned counterattack against the Allied beachhead, Unternehmen Fischfang. This failed in its objective, but the battalion remained in Italy for the rest of the war. The battalion still had 42 vehicles on hand when the Allies launched their Po Valley offensive in April 1945, but all were blown up to prevent capture or lost during the retreat before the war ended in May.

Sturmpanzer-Abteilung 217

Sturmpanzer-Abteilung 217 was formed on 20 April 1944 at the Grafenwöhr Training Area from cadres provided by Panzer-Kompanie 40 and Panzer-Ersatz Abteilung 18, although it did not have any armoured fighting vehicles until 19 Sturmpanzers were delivered at the end of May It departed 1/2 July for the Normandy Front. Here it had to detrain in Condé sur Noireau, some 170 kilometres (110 mi) behind the front lines, because the Allies had heavily damaged the French rail network. Many of the battalion's vehicles broke down during the road march to the front lines. The first mention of Sturmpanzers in combat is on 7 August near Caen. On 19 August, the battalion had 17 Sturmpanzers operational and another 14 in maintenance. Most of the battalion was not trapped in the Falaise Pocket and managed to retreat to the northeast. It had only 22 vehicles in October, which were divided between the 1st and 2nd Companies; the surplus crews were sent to Panzer-Ersatz Abteilung 18. It participated in the Battle of the Bulge, only advancing as far as St. Vith. It was continually on the retreat for the rest of the war and was captured in the Ruhr Pocket in April 1945.[8]

Sturmpanzer-Kompanie z.b.V. 218

Sturmpanzer-Kompanie z.b.V. 218 was raised in August 1944. It was sent to Warsaw where it was attached to Panzer Abteilung (Fkl) 302. It remained on the Eastern Front after the Warsaw Uprising was suppressed and was eventually wiped out in East Prussia in April 1945. It was supposed to have been the cadre for Sturmpanzer Abteilung 218 in January 1945, but it was never pulled out of the front lines to do so.

Sturmpanzer-Kompanie z.b.V. 2./218 was raised simultaneously with Sturmpanzer Kompanie z.b.V. 218, but was transferred to the Paris area on 20 August. Nothing is known of its service in France, but company personnel were sent to Panzer-Ersatz Abteilung 18 at the end of the year and were supposed to have been used in the formation of Sturmpanzer Abteilung 218.

Sturmpanzer-Abteilung 218 was ordered formed on 6 January 1945 with three companies with a total of 45 Sturmpanzers, but it received Sturmgeschütz III assault guns during February instead.

Sturmpanzer-Abteilung 219

Sturmpanzer-Abteilung 219 was originally to be formed from Sturmgeschütz-Brigade 914, but this was changed to Sturmgeschütz-Brigade 237 in September 1944. In mid-September 1944 the brigade transferred to the Döllersheim Training Area to reorganize and re-equip. Only ten Sturmpanzers had been received when the battalion was alerted on 15 October to participate in 'Unternehmen Eisenfaust', the German coup to forestall Hungary's attempt to surrender to the Allies. All the vehicles were given to the First Company and it departed for Budapest on the following day. Bomb damage to the rails delayed its arrival until 19 October, by which time it was no longer needed as a pro-German government had been installed. It was railed to St. Martin, Slovakia for more training. The battalion was transferred to the vicinity of Stuhlweißenburg to relieve trapped German forces in Budapest. It remained in the vicinity of Budapest until forced to retreat by advancing Soviet forces.

Formal DesignationSturmpanzer IV (SdKfz 166), Brummbär, StuG IV mit 15cm StuH43
Manufacturer(s)Deutsche Eisenwerke
Production Quantity298 + 8 converted from PzKpfw IVProduction PeriodApr.1943-Mar.1945
TypeHeavy Assault GunCrew5
Length /hull (m)5.93Barrel Overhang (m)0
Width (m)2.88Height (m)2.52
Combat Weight (kg)28200Radio EquipmentFuG5 + FuG2
Primary Armament150mm StuH43 L/12Ammunition Carried38
Traverse (degrees)Manual (10° L - 10° R)Elevation (degrees)-5° to +30°
Traverse speed (360°)-SightSflZF
Secondary Armament1 or 2 x 7.92 MG34 (loose, hull mounted)*Ammunition Carried600

Engine Make & ModelMaybach HL120TRM or HL120TRM112No. of Links/Track98
Type & DisplacementV12, 11.9 litersTrack Width40 cm
Horsepower (max.)300hp@3000rpm or 272hp@2800rpmTrack Ground Contact352 cm
Power/Weight Ratio10.6 or 9.6 hp/tGround Pressure13.9 psi
Gearbox6 forward, 1 reverseGround Clearance (m)0.40
FuelGasoline (Petrol)Turning Radius (m)5.92
Range on/off road (km)210/130Gradient (degrees)30°
Mileage (liters/100km)224 on roadVertical Obstacle (m)0.60
Fuel Capacity (liters)470Fording (m)0.95
Speed on/off road38/15 km/hTrench Crossing (m)2.02
Armor DetailFrontSideRearTop/Bottom
Superstructure100mm@50°50mm@75°30mm@65°&90°20mm@7°, 10@0°
*Late production version only

End notes