M10 vs StuG III
Series & No.: Duel 53
Author: Steven J. Zaloga
Illustrator: Richard Chasemore
Formats: Paperback, ePub eBook
Length: 80 pages
Released: August 2013
Osprey released M10 Tank Destroyer vs StuG III Assault Gun Germany 1944
as their 53rd title in their series Duel
. Illustrated by Richard Chasemore with original artwork and cutaways, maps, and useful photographs supporting content by the esteemed Steven J. Zaloga, this book should be useful to modelers, dioramaists, and historians.
Mr. Zaloga compares and contrasts the M10 and StuG III in action in NW Europe through 80 pages in 10 chapters and sections:
- Design and Development
- Technical Specifications
- The Combatants
- The Strategic Situation
- Statistics and Analysis
- Further Reading
Early in the book the author comments on the odd matching of the M10 & StuG III. He refines the premise that they are not directly compared, rather contrasts the evolving nature of the war and the change of employment of these weapon systems. The StuG was intended as an infantry support gun which turned into an essential antitank weapon, while the M10 morphed from a purpose-built tank destroyer into more of an infantry support tank, e.g., an "American StuG".
What is not in the field manuals on tank destroyer use is the effective support that they render to a fighting infantry at the time of actual combat. An infantryman has his fortitude well tested and the mere presence of self-propelled tank destroyers in his immediate vicinity gives a tremendous shot of courage to the committed infantryman. For example, at Chambois during the closing of the Falaise Gap in August 1944, an infantry battalion moved towards the town with utter fearlessness to enemy artillery, mortar, and small arms fire when accompanied by some M10s...
The text is enhanced by such excerpts from official reports. Regrettably there are only a few in this book and no direct quotes from crews.
To facilitate closer cooperation and faster employment, one company was put in close support of each of the assaulting infantry regiments. Contrary to normal Tank Destroyer tactics, the company was broken down and a platoon was placed in close support of each infantry battalion. This variance from normal doctrine is essential when TDs are employed in a tank mission. The infantry must have direct fire support. It is emphasized that the tank destroyer company when used in its proper role can contribute considerably toward destroying the numerous enemy counterattacks. It should never be used to seek out enemy tanks that are definitely located.
There is, however, the incredible 3rd person story of a company of M5A1 light tanks that charged into German lines, wreaked havoc and then engaging a group of King Tigers, putting them to flight before retreating back to the friendly side of FEBA!
The concept for each vehicle is explored and their development is examined. As are other attempts by each country to field similar combat systems. Staff officers of both Germany and America who supported or opposed each concept are discussed, including their supporting or contradicting doctrines for the respective vehicle.
Development and refinement of each vehicle is delved into with satisfying detail. As is the contrast between StuG crew training compared to Panzer crews and US Army Tank Destroyer crews. StuG crews were artillerymen, trained accordingly, and statistically shot straighter. M10 did not arrive in battle in its original configuration, its development well documented. As is the StuG III, which evolved through different guns and superstructures, including a howitzer type. Additionally, the Nazis needed more StuGs and this led to an outsourcing that created an entirely new vehicle based on a foreign design. Happily for seekers of technical minutia the author defines and uses terminology and abbreviations instead of common slang and post-war jargon. In fact, the back of the title page features Author's Notes defining conventions of unit terminology; weight and measurements; military symbols key; conversions between metric and standard. A footnote explains the "L/24" and other technical terms used when discribing gun size and caliber.
Organization and deployment of M10 and StuG units is examined, including a 1944 redesignation of Wehrmacht formations. Further, combat use of these two duelists from 1940 on is presented prior to the period this book covers, including action in Tunisia and Italy. This sets the stage for the October 1944 battle recounted herein.
America watched the massed panzers rampage across Europe in 1940 and scrambled to create a countermeasure. The text touches upon American senior officers such as Major General Chaffee, Lt. Gen. McNair and Maj.Gen. Bruce, and the different theories on America's antidote to the panzer plague. It is interesting how foibles and fortes of US R&D of today are similar to 70 years ago.
is examined in good detail, comparing the StuK 40 of the StuG III Ausf G with the M7 3in gun of the M10. Guns aren't accurate without sights and this subject is discussed.
Command and control
is informative with its discussion of different bands of radio frequencies and their place in the RF net.
examines the armor plating of the machines. The benefits and drawbacks of each vehicles' armor configuration is presented, with further development noted.
This book examines these AFVs in combat during the second battle for Aachen. It presents a good background to the strategic situation. German and US plans are briefly examined, including units assigned to realize them. The book centers around the US attacks on Übach-Palenberg to breech the West-Stellung, the so-called "Siegfried Line" and the commanders of both sides who were involved. Combat is described a mix of small unit actions and larger formations. A fascinating micro-story is The Reluctant Dragon of Alsdorf
which describes a solo StuG loose in a US-held town, with each side's attempts to vanquish their foe.
Finally, Mr. Zaloga wraps up the book with Statistics and Analysis
. Interestingly, some of his conclusions contradicts the conventional wisdom I have read for decades, including US Army after-action reports. Post-war AFV development influenced by both vehicles is presented.
Photographs, artwork, graphics
Mr. Zaloga's text is supported by a great selection of photographs, original artwork, and data tables. Dozens of black-and-white photographs bring these vehicles to life and reveal vehicle details. A single color photograph of a restored StuG interior offers excellent reference material. Most of the photos are clear although there are a few that obviously were shot by amateurs in less than ideal conditions. Many are battlefield shots. All are useful and modelers, historians, reenactors and vehicle restorers can glean a great deal from them.
can gain inspiration for subjects and dioramas from the photos even though M10s and StuGs are not in every photo: a US roadblock with a 3in anti-tank gun supported by an M2 .50-caliber heavy machine gun and a bazooka team; StuG III in company with a Pzr IV and Borgward B IV remote-controlled demolition vehicle. Two gems sure to annoy "that vehicle shouldn't be in this diorama" purists are photos showing obsolete StuG III Ausf C and Ausf D impressed to late-war frontline service due to the German crisis of supply!
Illustrator Richard Chasemore fortifies the book with original artwork. One disappointment is that there is only a single battle scene in the book; most Duel
books I have include the illustration(s) used on the cover. Neither is found inside this book. Regardless, the artwork is excellent:
1. StuG III AUSF G, StuG-BRIG 394, OCTOBER 1944
2. M10 3in GMC, 702nd TD BATTALION, OCTOBER 1944
3. ZF1A TELESCOPIC GUN SIGHT, 7.5cm StuK 40, StuG III
4. M70G TELESCOPIC GUN SIGHT, 3in M7 GUN, M10 GMC
5. StuG III FIGHTING COMPARTMENT
: keyed with 10 components.
6. StuG III AMMUNITION
a. PzGr 39 APCBC
B. SprGr 34 HE
7. StuG III G with crew positions.
8. M10 TURRET
: keyed with nine components.
9. M10 Ammunition
a. 3in M42A1 HE
b. 3in M62A1 APC
10. M10 with crew positions.
11. Two-page centerfold Assault toward Beggendorf, October 6, 1944
: 702nd TD Battalion M10s ambushed by StuG-Brig 394 StuG III.
The above illustrations of StuG III show the rounds as short and fat. I have tried to reconcile this with other sources yet can not determine if the StuK 40 had shorter cartridges as depicted. This should have been addressed in the text. I look forward to StuG experts clarifying this.
Additionally, detailed colored maps orient the reader to the tactical situation:
a. Encircling Aachen, September 12-October 8, 1944
b. Breakthrough at Übach-Palenberg, October 2-8, 1944
Furthermore, several tables impart written information into visually digestible displays:
i. StuG manufacture, 1940-45
: StuG III L/24, L/43, L/48; StuG IV; StuH 42.
ii. StuG strength and losses, 1941-45
: cumulative quarterly totals.
iii. Gun technical comparison
: StuK 40 vs M7 3in.
iv. Comparative armor data
v. German LXXXI. Armeekorps AFV strength, October 7, 1944
vi. German AFV losses in the West in 1944
: June-November 1944.
vii. Cerman AFV balance in the West, 1944-45
viii. US M10 tank destroyer strength and losses in the ETO
: June 1944-May 1945 for M10 and M36.
ix. 802nd TD Battalion records, October 2-9, 1944
: M10 operational and disabled; enemy target types knocked out; HE vs AP ammo expended.
I can't quite wrap my mind around this book as a duel between the M10 and StuG III except in a broad context of how they were used compared to each other. That does not detract from the educational value of this work for historians and modelers. I find the book extremely interesting and informative. While StuG history is plentiful the development and employment of the M10 is not something I am familiar with, let alone its overall war record. This book explains why all photos I have seen of the M10 in action has been in support of infantry.
Benefits of the book include excellent descriptions of the vehicles. I greatly appreciate the author defining contemporary terminology and abbreviations instead of common slang and post-war jargon. The combat narratives are also interesting.
Excellent illustrations, artwork, graphics and photographs support the text. They should inspire subjects and modelers and diorama makers.
My only real complaint is that illustrations of the StuK 40 ammunition could use explanation.
I find the book extremely interesting and informative. It should be an excellent reference for modelers, historians and restoration projects. I happily recommend M10 Tank Destroyer vs StuG III Assault Gun Germany 1944