How to use a Sturmtiger

How to use a Sturmtiger


In this video, you will learn how to use a
Battery of 4 Sturmtiger or more correctly “Sturmmörser” (Assault Mortar), this
video is based on a document from February 1945 with the title: „Guidelines for the
Usage of the Assault Mortar Battery 38 cm RW 61”
Something I stumbled across while visiting the German Military Archive, which was made
possible by my supporters, on Patreon, subscribestar and YouTube. Thank you, guys! So, let’s look at the interesting parts
and add some additional context.But the basics first:
“The assault mortar is a self-propelled artillery vehicle on the chassis of the Tiger
I with a 38 cm rocket launcher 61 (38 cm RW 61).” Note that it is called “Sturmmörser”
“Assault Mortar”, this continues throughout the document, the term “Sturmtiger” is
never used. Now, if you look at the Sturmtiger next to
the Königstiger, you might actually think it was based on the King Tiger chassis due
to the similarity in the track wheels, but the Sturmtiger was converted from late-war
Tiger I’s that were sent back from the front for repairs and had different track wheels
than early variants. Basically, the turret was removed, and a casemate
added. As you can see the frontal armor plate is
now sloped, additionally it had a thickness of 150 mm instead of the 100 mm of the regular
Tiger I. Furthermore, the top armor on the casemate
was quite strong with up to 40mm compared to a maximum of 26mm in the Tiger I. This means the armor values for the Sturmtiger
casemate were the same as for the Königstiger’s superstructure. As such, the document contains an error, since
it notes: “Armor: like Tiger” Let’s hope this is the only error. Technically it is correct for the chassis
except the front, and clearly not for the casemate. Now, due to the increased armor and ammunition
load out the total weight had increased to 65 tons, according to the document, which
is about 8 tons heavier than the Tiger I and just 3 tons short to the weight of Königstiger. It is noted:
„The gun [self-propelled artillery vehicle] is more sluggish than a ‘Tiger’ due to
its size and heavy weight of the ammunition.” Next is the maximum firing range, this is
information is far more precise than anything I have found somewhere else so far:
“Maximum range: 5500 m [3.4 miles] at + 10° C [50° F].” This is interesting, because depending on
the source the range is usually given between 4.6 to 6 km (2.6 to 3.7 miles) and without
any temperature. Furthermore, it is noted how much dispersion
a shot had at a range of 5000 m (3.1 miles): “Dispersions: 50-percent length dispersion
at 5000 m [3.1 miles] – 167 m [548 ft] 50-percent width dispersion at 5000 m [3.1
miles] – 59 m [194 ft]” Now, this means that 50 % of all shots land
in an area of 167 m times 59 m. According to the document this is rather high. Sadly, I could not find any information on
the dispersion of German artillery pieces in my books or primary sources. The rate of fire is also given and let’s
say it takes a while til the kitty roars, which is not so unsurprising if you look at
these shells, which weighed almost 350 kg [772 lbs]. “Rate of fire [literally ‘fire sequence’]:
about 4 shots per hour” To put this in context, a draft for the Army
Regulation on the “Command of the Artillery” (“Die Führung der Artillerie (H. Dv. 200/5)”
from 1937 gives the maximum rate of fire for several weapons. The light field howitzer 105 mm with 180-220
shots per hour. The heavy field howitzer 150 mm with 100-120
shots per hour. Yet, the numbers are preceded by this note:
“The following maximum fire rate per gun must not be exceeded in order to protect the
equipment:” So, in other words, they likely could have
fired faster, whereas the Sturmtiger was severely limited by the cumbersome reloading procedure
due to shell weight. Similar to regular artillery, the Sturmtiger
could be used in direct and indirect fire: “For indirect fire the scissors telescope
is used, for direct fire the navy anti-tank gun sight C/42.” Now, you probably going to ask. Why is the Sturmtiger equipped with an Anti-tank
gun sight from the Kriegsmarine? Well, the reason is rather simple and still
odd. Originally, the 38 cm rocket launcher on the
Sturmtiger was developed by the Kriegsmarine as a coastal anti-submarine weapon, from what
we know it had little to no operational success. Yet, at one point the weapon was chosen for
the Sturmtiger due to its large warhead. Speaking of warhead, the document notes about
the ammunition: “38 cm R Sprgr. 4581 with propellant drive
Shell weight: 345 kg [761 lbs].” Now, the total weight of the warhead was 125
kg [276 lbs], which is quite substantial for an artillery piece in comparison a 15 cm-
Nebelwerfer 41 had a warhead of 2.4 kg [5.3 lbs] or the 21-cm Nebelwerfer 42 had 10.2
kg [22.4 lbs]. Whereas the standard heavy artillery of the
German infantry divisions, namely the schwere Feldhaubitze 18, had a warhead of 5.1 kg [11.2
lbs]. As you can see, the Sturmtiger packed quite
a lot of punch. Although, the number of punches was quite
low. “1. Ammunition loadout: 22 rounds per barrel,
12 rounds in the gun[;] fragmentation (over 500 m [1640 ft]) and moral effect by detonation
and air pressure are large.” Now, some of you might know that the Sturmtiger
was mainly used on the Western Front, this might be related to the following line:
“Firing at temperatures below -15°C [5°F] doesn’t promise a worthwhile effect, as the
dispersion becomes too large.” Still, the Sturmtiger saw action during the
Battle of the Bulge which lasted from December 1944 to January 1945, yet, since the document
was written in February 1945. It might be that this information was deducted
from the operation. It should be added here that some books note
that in 1945 hollow charge ammunition was introduced as well, yet that it likely never
saw action: “In 1945 a hollow charge shell was introduced
under No. 4592, which was available as KM-10 for Kriegsmarine launchers – it could penetrate
2.5 m [8.2 ft] of reinforced concrete. Of the normal R.Sprgr. 4581 1400 were ordered, the Weapons Office
accepted 397 pieces, the troops received 317.” The guidelines only refer to the “38 cm
R Sprgr. 4581“ and make no mention of a hollow-charge
rocket. Additionally, considering that only 317 shots
of original ammunition were issued to the troops in total, which means on average only
17.6 shots per kitty, so less than a full ammo load out according to the document. We can assume that if any hollow charge ammo
was issued to the troops it was very likely in extremely low quantities. Now in terms of organization, a Sturmmörser
battery consisted of 4 Sturmtiger. 1 half-track in an artillery observation variant,
namely the namely a Sonderkraftfahrzeug 251/18. 11 Trucks
4 Cars and 5 motorcycles. This equipment was handled by a total of 78
men, namely 4 officers, 31 NCOs and 43 enlisted men. Which were equipped with 33 rifles, 28 pistols,
17 submachine guns and 5 light machine guns. Finally, it is important to note that originally
the Sturmtigers were organized in companies. Why you ask? Well, initially they were part of the Panzer
Arm and only in January 1945 they were transferred to the Artillery Arm, which names its companies
batteries. Something that can be a bit confusing since
sometimes you here of companies and other times of batteries. Now, since have the basics covered, we can
move on to the “Employment” part of the guidelines. “a) The assault mortar batteries are a distinct
center of gravity weapon of the higher command. The employment takes place on suggestion of
the Higher Artillery Commander. Assault mortar batteries are to be used as
a whole against decisive and worthwhile targets. Combining several batteries in centers of
gravity leads to the complete smashing of even resistant targets. Surprising operation increases the effect.” Now, Schwerpunkt is often translated as “center
of gravity” or “decision point”, in a way both might be correct since Zabecki
and Condell point out in their translation of key document on German doctrine Truppenführung
– Troop Command that the book uses “Schwerpunkt” for both concepts interchangeably. If you wonder what “higher command” refers
to, this should be an Army or Corps Command according to an army regulation of 1937. An Army could contain up to 250 000 men and
a Corps at least 40 000 men, although by 1945 these numbers might quite a bit lower. I guess, it is not particularly surprising
that these kitties were only available to the higher ups, since in total only 18 Sturmtiger
were converted from Tiger I. Now to be a bit more specific with some data
on the concentration of fire, point e) later notes:
“The fire of all barrels must thereupon be held together in a confined space. Spreading the battery over more than 600 m
front width fragments the effect and has to be omitted.” Point b talks about using the Sturmtiger in
combination with artillery: “b) Assault mortar batteries are excellent
for reinforcing the fire effect of combined artillery. Due to the large dispersion, assault mortars
should only be used for extended area targets. (Deployments, assemblies, cities, larger bases
of operations). The small rate of fire is to be balanced by
combining numerous assault mortars on one target.” Remember a Sturmtiger could fire only around
4 shots per hour. The next point is about concealment. “c) Assault mortar batteries are generally
used far forward because of their limited fire range. In spite of their strong armor, they go into
concealed firing positions as far as the characteristics of the target and the ballistic performance
allow. In addition, they are able to engage in attacks
with tanks or assault guns in the second wave and under the protection of these, engage
decisive targets with direct fire.” You can clearly tell that an artillery man
wrote this, since he refers to 5500 m [3.4 miles] as limited range. Concealing the position of the Sturmtiger
was crucial, since it had one major issue. Namely, that the propellant gas was blown
out at the front of the barrel, this is the reasons for the small holes in the barrel. This was done to reduce the recoil. Yet, the side effect was that there was a
lot of smoke generated, which means it could be easily spotted. “d) The use of single self-propelled artillery
vehicles as assault guns may be an exception in special situations, e.g. in urban or fortress
combat. In this case, tanks or assault guns as well
as escorting infantry [note this late in the war nearly every infantry was called a Grenadier]
must be provided. This employment is the exception and may only
be used for limited combat tasks. Monitoring/Overwatch by heavy weapons and
artillery is necessary to protect the valuable equipment.” Not much to add here, besides the general
note that throughout German doctrine it is always noted to not use tanks or assault guns
alone. See for instance my Panzer Tactics video. The next part is about the various preparations
that are necessary. “h) Every use of an assault mortar battery
must be thoroughly prepared. The use of these valuable vehicles [literally
‘devices’] and ammunition can only be justified if the target is worth the effort. […] The appearance of fire and smoke requires
full visual cover and a concealed fire position. The camouflage against air reconnaissance
and noise camouflage when going into position is of particular importance. The weight of the assault mortar forces to
scout the approach route and to reinforce bridges in time. In the firing position, all preparations must
be made in such a way that the fire can be opened immediately when the gun has moved
into position. To protect the vehicles against air attacks
anti-aircraft guns [‘Flakschutz’ literally would be ‘anti-aircraft gun protection’]
shall be used. ”
Unsurprisingly, the Sturmtiger was a rather clumsy weapon that required a lot of preparation
to use properly. There was also a short section on special
aspects, which are quite interesting: “a) As far as the combat situation permits,
the ammunition shall be brought to the firing position. [The practice of] returning like done with
assault guns shall be avoided because of the high fuel consumption.” As mentioned, a Sturmtiger was issued with
22 shots, but could only carry around 12 to 14 shots at a time. Now, considering that reloading took a lot
of time and that due to the smoke and sound the firing positions were rather well exposed,
I assume that rearming was done outside of the firing position. The next one, won’t surprise my regular
viewers: “b) Maintaining the operational readiness
of the valuable vehicles is decisively dependent on the existence of a Tiger workshop. When in use, the assault mortar battery is
dependent on such a workshop.” As always, the dreaded L-Word, namely logistics. And speaking of maintenance, just last week
I released a video on Soviet Tank Repair in World War 2 on my second channel, which comes
with some nice footage from 3 different museums, you might want to check that out. Of course, the other typical Tiger problems
are mentioned as well. Namely that:
“(c) Towing of an assault mortar require the use of at least one 18-ton tow-halftrack.” And
“d) Special wagons (Ssyms) and loading tracks are required for rail transport.” Note that Ssyms were special flatcars. Well, my friend, the next time when you command
a German Army or Corps and you stumble across a battery of Sturmtigers, you know how to
use them properly. And if you learn anything new, remember:
“Experience and suggestions for employment, organization and equipment shall be submitted
at short notice after each operation, with a copy directly to the General of the Artillery
in the Army High Command, [and] a copy via the chain of command.” Big thank you to the Panzermuseum Munster
for inviting me in 2018 and 2019. Also, thanks to Jack for pointing out important
errors in the early access version and Roman Töppel for helping out with some Wehrmacht
abbreviations. If you want to see more content from Archives
& Museums, consider supporting me on patreon, subscribestar or alternatives linked in the
description. Sources are in the description. Thank you for watching and see you next time!

85 thoughts on “How to use a Sturmtiger

  • Interested in German Panzer Company Manual from 1941? You can pledge here: https://igg.me/at/hdv

    The H.Dv. 470/7 – Die mittlere Panzerkompanie from May 1941 is a key Army regulation for the German Panzer force following the successful campaigns in Poland, the Low Countries and France. It encompasses topics such as tank crew specialization, training, formations, how to engage enemy positions and tanks, as well as a complete breakdown of the tank company’s force strength.

  • Very good. Sorry that I was wearing my blue t-shirt whilst watching this. The 'I am a cat person' shirt is still drying after a wash. It has survived numerous wearings and washes, and is still super comfortable.

  • You could use a Sturmtiger to displace a bunch of German and Soviet tanks from a top of a hill. Or you could use a Karl-Gerat Mortar if you have one.

  • Fascinating insight. Do you have any reports concerning the effects on targets and the relative efficiency of the weapon?

  • AH yes, quality content right here !
    Now all i need is to take a trip to Germany and order a custom-made Sturmtiger and it's also the hardest part 🙁

  • Considering 6 rounds a minute is the "intense" rate of fire for a 105mm howitzer , I'll take a battery of 105mm howitzers as my fire support . 4 rounds an hour at the dispersion listed is a joke , as good as completely random .

  • What I would really like to know: how do you handle a 350kg shell with 5 men in less space of that half of of my kitchen? While under enemy fire.

  • One quick question. Dose the 5 light machine guns in the company/battery include or exclude the ones mounted on the vehicles?

  • HI there. I was wondering about how the manual you referenced in the passage about the "50% Zone" is worded?… Do German manuals reference "Probable Errors"? Are there any other details surrounding the beaten zone and how it might be broken down to measure these percentages?… Asking for a friend…. 🙂

  • Wait, you mean you're NOT supposed to load a person into the gun?
    Well, damn, my neighbor really would've appreciated it if you uploaded this earlier, MHV.

  • Step 1: Wait for the enemy to get cold feet, halt their offensive, and hole up in bunkers. Hey, it worked in 1939.

  • Kriegsmariner 1: "This 38 cm mortar is useless for hitting submarines. What can we do with it."
    Kriegsmariner 2: "The Heer seems to like big, heavy, useless things."

  • Jeeez, 125kg warhead. Four-gun battery = 500kg throw weight. For reference, that's more than a 1000LB JDAM: https://youtu.be/ij8yKLR3boI

    These things may sound impractical compared to normal self-propelled guns, but think of them as a lighter, more efficient alternative to railway guns: strategic artillery that targets heavy enemy fortifications with overwhelming firepower. Compared to a Schwere Gustav a Sturmmorser Battery is a godsend to your logistics officers.

  • Well first you'll have to earn 20750 squad points,and hold B to call for it.And then you redeploy.
    Exception:in all-soon-done you can have 4*stormtigers with only 9850 points.

  • Why at 4.15 do you refer to the sight as an Kriegsmarine 'anti-tank' gun sight when it was used in anti-submarine warfare?

  • I see a new t-shirt coming. An image of four Sturmtigers, bow forward, on a field of a ghostly image of a Sabertooth Tiger (Säbelzahntiger).

  • @MHV
    Any idea why the spelling is so bad in this document? Seems like every other sentence has at least one error.
    Very untypical, especially for a manual.

  • I would think with the terribly enormous logistical problems involved in this they would have been better to do as the Americans did and make it simply a self-propelled artillery piece with a crew tub set up around the deck, the loading area, so that snipers could not pick them off.
    All these extra logistical people could be used to create a screen to defend the piece from ground assault.

    Having seen some video with a very wealthy man taking a tiger tank that was found in a Polish River and doing restoration on it… I have to wonder why they didn't just go to a simple bulldozer type of track system that they had back in the early days and just haul this crap around on it.

    I mean put a big old Maybach motor in the thing chug it around with a flat platform on top stick whatever you want on that platform and there you go.

    I know that sounds very third-world like the fancy tanks the Australians invented when they had nothing at the beginning of the war but… one has to think about expense, quantity, repair, and production problems…

  • This was issued to the WEST FRONT? I always thought they were deployed against the Red Army. I mean; uh, airpower. Wouldn't this siege artillery be MORE vulnerable to west-allied ground attack? Great info as always MHV. Danke Bitte!

  • Was aerial bombing accurate enough at this point to pose a serious threat to the Sturmtigers. It feels like they'd be pretty impervious to small arms fire from air support but that bombing might have posed a serious threat?

  • They should have converted that munition into some airdroppable thing and not make a complete new thing with new tactics etc

  • Were they deployed to destroy the Ludendorf Brücke at Remagen? Sounds like something they would've tried if any of them were available there then.

  • Now I know where the Space Marine Vindicator Tank got it's inspiration from

    https://warhammer40k.fandom.com/wiki/Vindicator

  • So would these be used in the opening salvo where we get all the sturmpanzers in range then have them all fire the first shot at the same time? I'm thinking that would maximize the damage, but not sure what the fusing is on those gigantic shells is.

  • That note that they should only be employed against extended area targets due to their large dispersion (deployments, assemblies, cities and larger bases of operations) seems to confirm their terrible accuracy.

  • Really was a crazy use of resources when all the world was exploding around them. Note the complete change of direction by German panzer designers after 1955. Away with the Tiger concept and in with speed and lighter armour (ie the Leopard I and the Schutzenpanzer Lang HS30). Reason: Hollow charge weapons.

  • I wonder what advantage this Sturmtiger had over ordinary self propelled artillery, given that it's so clumsy. Who thought this thing was a good idea? I mean if the artillery fired at long range, the trajectory would also become flatter, so maybe it had troubles to hit defilade areas?

    Then again the "boom" was much bigger than that of ordinary artillery. So you would expect its main role to be firing directly (hence the need for heavy armor protection; indirect fire was much too inaccurate, as the video points out) at fortified psoitions. A rather rare occurance on the western front, one might suspect.

  • When I finally get around to trying Eugen's Steel Division series I will bear this video in mind should the assault mortar be available in game

  • Hahaha 😂 Nice
    I see the exact Sturmtiger I was inside with a friend. This was in the Panzermuseum in Munster.
    I climbed on the back of the tank and there is an open hatch. We tried on the Königstiger too, but there was no chance to do it unseen, because of the turret…

  • It would be a nice idea for a follow up video talking about what the allies thought about the impact the Sturmtiger/ the 38 cm R Gr. 61 actually made. (beeing shot at with converted depth charges that is)

  • When you want to clear a room, use the Kalashnikov.
    When you want to clear a building, use the KV2.
    When you want to clear a city block, use the SturmTiger.

  • Just a note. The Sturmtiger in Munster is actually a captured examples shipped to the US. After examination, it was put on display at Aberdeen proving ground. When Aberdeen went through it’s revamp and reorganization, a lot of pieces were sent elsewhere. All of the tanks went to a new museum in Ft. Bennings. The Sturmtiger was sent to Munster on loan, where it is still displayed today.

  • Wonder how long it takes the weebs from world of tanks to try to argue that he got the video wrong and it's actually a tank destroyer.

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