Full Review with Dai Williams
Before we get started, here’s a look at how it all turned out…
The tried and tested chassis of the Pz.Kpfw. IV tank was used by the German Army as the basis for numerous types of armoured vehicle during the course of the Second World War.
One of these conversions was known as the Sd.Kfz. 166 or Sturmpanzer IV which was intended as an infantry support vehicle for combat in urban areas. These vehicles are often referred to by the nickname ‘Brummbär’, though this was apparently a term used by the allies rather than by German troops who referred to them as ‘Stupa’ (a shortening of the word Sturmpanzer).
The turret and fighting compartment of the Pz.Kpfw. IV were removed and were replaced with an armoured casemate. The main weapon was the 15cm Sturmhaubitze (StuH) 43 L/12 developed by Skoda.
The Sturmpanzer IV appeared on the battlefield in April 1943 and was developed throughout the rest of war appearing in several forms.
The early models were built around the Pz.Kpfw. IV Ausf G and Ausf H chassis. These vehicles had an armoured vision block for the driver similar to that fitted to Tiger tanks. These vehicles were not without their problems. The gun and armour were too heavy for the chassis leading to mechanical breakdowns and insufficient ventilation meant that the fighting compartment filled with noxious fumes whenever the gun was fired.
To fix these problems there were several design changes. The first two rubber rimmed road wheels on each side were replaced steel rimmed wheels. The driver’s vision block was replaced with an armoured box equipped with a periscope. A lighter version of the gun was developed to reduce the weight of the vehicle and an extractor fan was also added to remove the cordite fumes, no doubt to the great relief of the crews.
The final version of the vehicle had a redesigned superstructure with a heavy machine gun added to improve the vehicle’s self-defence capabilities. A cupola was also added for the commander.
In all, over 300 of these vehicles were built and they saw action right up until the end of the war in May 1945. A number have survived the war and there are preserved examples in various states of repair in the tank museums at Samur, Munster, Kubinka and in the Fort Sill Museum in the U.S.A.