This post is about the history of the Sturmtiger, a heavy assault self-propelled gun used by the German Army during the Second World War. Specifically designed to support infantry, it was capable of destroying enemy fortifications and buildings with a heavy caliber rocket projectile.
Its official designation was Sturmmörserwagen 606/4 mit 38 cm RW 61, that is "assault mortar 606/4 with 380 mm rocket launcher 61". It was based on the Tiger, whose turret was replaced by a casemate with inclined walls, which considerably improved its ballistic protection. The crew consisted of 5 members.
The main armament consisted in a 380 mm (14.96 in) rocket launcher, derived from a depth charge launcher used by the Kriegsmarine. It fired, to up to 6000 m (6560 yd), a 1.5 m long (4.92 ft) rocket , containing up to 125 kg (275 lb) of explosive. Around the barrel a series of ventilation shafts vented the exhaust gases forward, avoiding that the pressure buildup could blow the cannon apart.
To give an idea of its firepower, during combat a Sturmtiger fired against a group of Sherman tanks, destroying four of them with a single shot.
The vehicle could carry only 14 rockets onboard, due to their bulky size; moreover, a small crane behind the superstructure helped the ammo resupply process. For point-blank defense, the Sturmtiger had a 100 mm (3.94 in) mortar, firing from an opening in the loading hatch, and a 7.92 mm (0.312 in) MG 34 machine gun.
The Sturmtiger had been designed after the experience of the urban combat in Stalingrad. In fact, a heavily armored vehicle could approach and destroy an enemy stronghold with a single shot, thus giving a big advantage to the infantry.
However, when its production started in 1944, the war had become merely defensive for Germany, so it could not be used in its intended role. The only exception was during the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, where it contributed to demolish the buildings occupied by the insurgents.
Nineteen of these vehicles were built. They were used, apart from Warsaw, during the Battle of the Bulge and in various clashes on both fronts, until the end of the war. Only two of them survived today, one displayed at the Munster museum, in Germany, the other one at Kubinka, in Russia.
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