Sturmtiger

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.

Sturmtiger
Class Vehicle
Type Armoured Fighting Vehicle
Manufacturer Alkett
Production Period 1944 - 1944
Origin Germany
Country Name Origin Year
Germany 1944
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Germany 1944 1945 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Alkett 1944 1944 18 View

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 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, the situation for Germany had changed for the worse, 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 engagement, some reports suggest that one round from one of the howitzers managed to land between or nearby a group of Sherman tanks, obliterating them. However, given the inaccuracy of the Sturmtiger's gun, as well as the involvement of dive bombers, and a railway gun in the battle; this story has never been confirmed. After the fall of the bridge 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.

GENERAL DATA
Formal Designation38cm RW61 auf Sturmmorser Tiger, Tiger-Mörser
Manufacturer(s)Alkett
Production Quantity18 converted from Tiger IProduction PeriodAug.-Dec.1944
TypeSP Rocket MortarCrew5
Length /hull (m)6.28Barrel Overhang (m)0
Width (m)3.57Height (m)2.85
Combat Weight (kg)65000Radio EquipmentFuG5
FIREPOWER
Primary Armament380mm StuM RW61 L/5.4Ammunition Carried14
Traverse (degrees)Manual (10° L - 10° R)Elevation (degrees)-0° to 85°
Traverse speed (360°)-SightPaK ZF3x8
Secondary Armament1 x 7.92mm MG34 (bow)Ammunition Carried600

MOBILITY CHARACTERISTICS
Engine Make & ModelMaybach HL230P45Track Links96/track
Type & DisplacementV12, 23.1 litersTrack Width72 cm
Horsepower (max.)700hp@3000rpmTrack Ground Contact381 cm
Power/Weight Ratio10.8 hp/tGround Pressure17.6 psi
Gearbox8 forward, 4 reverseGround Clearance (m)0.47
FuelGasoline (Petrol)Turning Radius (m)7.0
Range on/off road (km)120/85Gradient (degrees)35°
Mileage (liters/100km)450 on roadVertical Obstacle (m)0.79
Fuel Capacity (liters)540Fording (m)1.20
Speed on/off road40 km/hTrench Crossing (m)2.30
ARMOR PROTECTION
Armor DetailFrontSideRearTop/Bottom
Hull100mm@65°60mm@80°80mm@81°25mm@0°
Superstructure150mm@45°80mm@60°&90°80mm@90°25-40mm@0°
Mantletn.a.---

End notes