Wednesday, February 13, 2013

It's StuG-tastic!

As I referenced in a previous post, I decided to join the "Simply StuGs" group build on the "Jenny's Tanks & Things" web forum. (If you've never checked it out, do yourself a favor and do so . . . some great builds and a friendly group of folks:  The build started on November 1 and runs through October 2013 so even I should be able to complete my models.

Yep, that was plural. I initially decided to build Tamiya's StuG III Ausf.G "Finnish Army" but after opening the box I discovered that no mesh was included for the various grills and that the main gun barrel was Tamiya's usual two-piece, split-down-the-middle, affair. So I went in search of another StuG and stumbled across Cyber-Hobby's StuG III (Fl), the unusual flame thrower version. Soon after, I found a vendor with the needed grills in stock for the Ausf.G and another with the appropriate metal barrel so I thought, "What the hell," I'll just build them both. I've been working on both of these models since November so my build logs will contain a lot of "catch-up."

StuG III (Fl)
Flammpanzer German Flamethrowers, 1941-45, Tom Jentz and Hilary Doyle, Osprey New Vanguard No. 15, 1995, pg. 24.
It was decided in late 1942 to outfit a series of ten StuG IIIs with flamethrowers. The initial decision was to convert ten new StuGs from the current production series, but this was scrubbed in favor of assembling them from rebuilt chassis from older StuGs that had been returned to the ordnance depot for major repairs and overhauls. The ten rebuilt Flamms were issued to Panzertruppenschule I and were shipped by rail to this unit on 29 June 1943. One of the ten subsequently caught fire and burned out in July 1943. It was repaired and resumed service with the unit in September 1943. No records have been found indicating that any of these ten Flamms were ever used in combat. All ten were returned to the ordnance depot in January 1944 and were eventually converted back to normal StuGs mounting the 7.5cm Sturmkanone 40 L/48.
The photo above is the only known photo of one of these vehicles. The lack of discernible information in this photo led to some decisions needing to be made regarding this build.
StuG III Ausf.G Finnish Army

The Finnish Army's armored division was formed in 1942 and included an Assault Gun Battalion. In the spring of 1943, they purchased thirty StuG IIIs to re-equip the battalion. The first units arrived at the unit's base at Petrozavodsk on September 2, 1943. It soon became apparent that no other Finnish AFVs could match the StuGs and twenty-nine more were ordered and delivered in mid-1944.

Finland's StuGs were the Ausf.G variant. Changes made by Finland in Spring 1944 included: removal of the Schurzen, addition of a wooden tool box, replacement of the MG34s with DT machine guns, and mounting the spare wheels on the vehicle sides. Beginning in July 1944, the Finns added: logs to the vehicle sides, concrete to the front of the superstructure, spare track links to the front of the hull, a visored driver's vision port, bolt-on armor to the hull sides, and a deflection plate to the mantlet.

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