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News: Tankfest 2017 - Guest Vehicles

Published 30 January 2017, 17:16

A later example of a StuG III, with long-barrel 7.5cm gun, in Finnish Army service during the Second World War.

The Tank Museum have announced two rare guest vehicles joining this summer's fantastic showcase of historic armour.

Two rare German armoured vehicles from the Second World War will join the growing showcase of armour being assembled for this year's Tankfest event, at The Tank Museum.


The Weald Collection Jadgpanther appearing at Tankfest this year. (Courtesy of The Tank Museum)
With only 415 ever produced, the potent Jagdpanther was a rare beast even during in 1944, the year of its introduction. The vehicle combined the powerful main armament of the Tiger II heavy tank with the chassis of the mobile Panther. Encased within a well armoured casemate, the 45 tonne tank destroyer was capable of destroying all but the heaviest Allied tanks at mid to long ranges.

With production of the powerful type allocated to three factories, waves of Jagdpanthers had the potential to further slow the Allied advance on both the Eastern and Western Fronts. However, thankfully, the planned production rate of 150 vehicles a month was never achieved on account of material shortages, production problems, and the effect of allied bombing raids. Poorly-trained crews and shortages of fuel and spare parts further hampered an otherwise powerful tank hunter.

Today, only three Jagdpanthers exist in running condition, and The Tank Museum has been lent one example by the Weald Foundation and Mike Gibb as a substitute for the Museum's legendary Tiger 131, which forms the centre of the museum's new exhibition (opening in April 2017) and therefore will not be appearing in the arena except on the two Tiger Days. This Jadgpanther vehicle last appeared at Bovington in 2010, and is sure to be a popular attraction.


A US Army photograph showing a Jadgpanther knocked out by American tanks in March 1945, near Hargarten. It has taken at least three hits, with one piercing through the right track, likely damaging the running gear and immobilising the vehicle. A second shot has bounced shot off the left (drivers perspective) of the hull, and a third shot has penetrated to the centre of the hull. This probably just missed the transmission, deep set in the front of the hull, but possibly passed through the vehicle and into the engine at the rear. The driver and/or radio operator, both sat in the lower hull, were almost certainly injured or killed.


The second guest vehicle is a Sturmgeschutz assault gun, lent by Steve Lamonby.


Steve Lamoney's Stug III, which will make its dbut at this year's Tankfest. (Courtesy of The Tank Museum)
In stark contrast to the Jadgpanther, the StuG family of vehicles were extremely common. Based on the Panzer III and Panzer IV chassis, the various types of StuG vehicles became the most produced German armoured fighting vehicle of the war, with some 13,000 manufactured or converted by the Alkett and MIAG factories - just over 1100 of which based on the Panzer IV chassis built by Krupp. Cheaper and more cost-effective than tanks such as the Panzer III, let alone Tiger or Panther, the StuG assault guns became increasingly prevalent as the war progressed against Germany's favour.

Continuously modified and armed with a variety of weapons, typically short or long-barrel 7.5cm guns but also, much less commonly, 105mm howitzers, (StuH 42 - ~1200 built ), the Schwade flamethrower (StuG III Flamm - 10 built), and the 15cm infantry gun (Sturm-Infanteriegeschtz 33B -24 built). The low-velocity short-barrel 7.5cm guns denoted the original infantry support purpose of the vehicle family, while the higher velocity 7.5cm gun was installed in reaction to the T-34 and KV-1 tanks, and of the StuG's developing role.


A German Army photograph from July 1941, showing early version StuG IIIs in northern Russia. Note the unusual tracked vehicle obscured by the first StuG, likely an ammunition carrier.


Allied bombing and material shortages affected production, led to drops in production, hence the Krupp designed StuG IV, but the assault gun family was the most common type of German armour in service, and was frequently pressed into tank hunter roles in addition to the infantry support role it was originally conceived for. With armour protection on the lighter side when compared to the Jadgpanther, it was not uncommon to see many field modifications intended to enhance protection.

The Stug III debuting at Tankfest this is newly restored, one of just a handful of surviving examples of the type.

These two vehicles are just the first guest vehicles announced, with The Tank Museum expected to confirm more in due course.

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