The name Sturmtiger (Assault Tiger) was not an official name. The Panzersturmmörser (Armoured Assault Mortar), like all German vehicles, went through several name changes, also including Sturmmörser-Tiger (Assault Mortar-Tiger) and Tiger-Mörser (Tiger Mortar). In this article, Panzersturmmörser will be used throughout the text.
During the fighting in Russia, it became apparent that a self propelled armoured mortar was needed to destroy buildings and fortifications that proved impossible to destroy for normal tanks. For this, the Sturmpanzer (based on the Pz Kpfw IV chassis) was developed. This vehicle served the purpose well, but a vehicle with a larger and more powerful weapon was wanted.
On a meeting on 1943-05-27, the Waffenkommisionen mentioned the possibility of a self propelled 380 mm mortar. The Tiger chassis was chosen, and specially designed hulls were to be delivered from Krupp. The weapon mounted was to be the 38 cm Mörser - a weapon originaly developed by the Kriegmarine for use against submarines, and re-named 38 cm Sturmmörser for the purpose. A trial version (in soft steel, with a 50 mm metal plate bolted to the hull) was shown to Hitler on 1943-10-20, and the first hulls were intended to be ready by December, and the first vehicles by 1944-02.
Prior to this, a conceptual design for a Pz Kpfw VII "Bär" had been made, using a 305 mm mortar. This was, however, dropped, as the Panzersturmmörser would fill its role.
The hulls were originally to mount the engine in the front and the superstructure in the rear - much like the Ferdinand. It was decided, however, that the Tiger hull would serve the purpose fine as it was, and the superstructure was developed according to this by Alkett. This superstructure mounted the 38 cm StuM in a cast ball mount on the center of the front plate, along with a M.G.34 operated by the radio operator. Unlike the Tiger, the superstructure had sloped armour, which gave added protection. (The sloped 150 mm armour, same thickness as the Tiger II's frontal armour, was inpenetratable by any Allied weapons). There were also 2 vision ports in the front plate, as both the drivers vision slot and gunners aiming device was located here.
In a report dated 1948-08-05, by Dipl.Ing. Bühler and Ing. Sörensen, on the German rocket launchers, the following details of the weapon are mentiond:
|Nomenclature||38 cm Sturm-Mörser|
|Service in which used||Heer|
|Responsible for design||OKH, Wa.Prüf.|
|Reasons for development||Mortar
38 cm. assault mortar for rocket ammunition with great mobility for destruction of fortified positions with powerfull defensive weapons.
|Particulars that aid identifications||
The 38 cm StuM used fin-stabilized 345 kg rockets. This meant that the Panzersturmmörser was the most powerfull armour vehicle of the war in terms of firepower, if the mobile heavy mortars are not included. These rockets were not only very usefull for buildings; they were also capable of immense destruction among tanks. There is one stry stating that three M4s were destroyed by a single rocket. The price for this was a very large cloud of dust - about 2-3 times the size in height and width as the vehicle - and an easy-to-spot projectile (from the flame of the rocket). This gave away the position of the vehicle immidiately. The size of the projectile only allowed for 14 rockets to be stored, and an additional one of which was located in the barrel. The weight also called for a crane to be mounted for loading. The heavy weight would still have made the loading cumbersome inside the vehicle, though.
The tip of the barrel mounted various counter-weights to stabilize the barrel - either 4 small weights or a complete circle was mounted. There were also a number of pipes in the barrel, varying from vehicle to vehicle, which helped the gasses from the blast get away. It was, as stated above, originally intended that the hulls should be made specifically for the vehicle. Delays in the production occurred, and halted the production to such an extent that Hitler decided on 1944-04-19 that hulls with damage to the turret were to mount the superstructure. At the same time, he ordered 12 superstructures to be prepared.
During 1944-08, 3 Panzersturmmörsers were completed, with a further 7 on the way in September. This goal was surpassed, and 10 were produced, with another 5 in December, giving a total of 18. Hitler ordered 300 rounds to be produced each month for the Panzersturmmörser in late 1944-08.
On 1944-08-13, the first Panzersturmmörser unit was created - the Sturm-Mörser-Kompanie 1000. It was equipped with only 2 Panzersturmmörsers, and sent to Warsaw to fight down the uprising on 1944-08-19. Here, they were quite success in destroying houses and roadblocks.
In 1944-09, Sturm-Mörser-Kompagnie 1001 was formed, followed by Sturm-Mörser-Kompagnie 1002 in October. By medio 1944-12, the three units now in existance were equipped with 4 Panzersturmmörsers each. After this, Sturm-Mörser-Kompagnie 1000 and 1001 were sent to the western front to participate in Wacht am Rhein. Following the failure of this operation, they were employed randomly, as there were no real offensives leftto support.
The vehicle had great psycological effect, even when operating alone. One US soldier remembered, during an encounter with a Panzersturmmörser, that it destroyed the accompanying M4s, and made holes in the ground the size of the vehicle itself. This soldier also remembers the crew as being Waffen-SS, however this is more doubtful, and the soldier might have confused the skulls on the uniforms of the Panzer crews with Waffen-SS uniforms.
Although the Panzersturmmörser didn't have any realy effect on the war as a whole, it was a vehicle that served its role very well. The metal used to make the superstructures cannot be said to have been wasted, as it was so small a quantity. On the other hand, the administrative costs and efforts to make the vehicle could very well have been devoted to making other vehicles. The largest waste must be said to be the 300 rounds produced a month - for all of the rounds to have been fired, each vehicle would have had to fire about 4 rounds every day, from 1944-08 to 1945-04, which was highly unlikely to ever happen, all things considered.
|Firing height||2 m.|
|Engine||Maybach HL 230 P45 12-cylinder water cooled 23.1 l. gasoline|
|Horse powers||650 @ 2,500 rpm.|
|Main gun||38 cm StuM|
|Maximum speed||37.5 km./h.|
|Road speed||30 km./h.|
|Cross country speed||20-25 km./h.|
|Range (on road)||120 km.|
|Range (cross country)||85 km.|
|Fuel capacity||540 l.|
|Fuel usage (on road)||4.5 l./km.|
|Fuel usage (cross-country)||6.35 l./km.|
|Step climbing||0.79 m.|
|Trench crossing||2.3 m.|
|Ground pressure||1.24 kg./cm2|