Assault tank I
|Assault tank I|
Assault Tank I in Greece
|Armor and armament|
|Main armament||15 cm infantry gun 33|
|Top speed||35 km / h (road)|
|Power / weight|
Even before the attack on Poland in September 1939, it was clear that the Panzerkampfwagen I was not up to the demands that combat operations would place on it. The tank was developed as an "agricultural tractor" in 1934, when the Versailles Treaty almost completely restricted German tank production. Within four years it was completely out of date. Although the Panzer I could still hold its own against the very light Polish tankettes , it was foreseeable that it would be inferior to the much better armored and armed British and French tanks.
In order to put the Panzer I, of which the Wehrmacht still had around 2,000 units in service, into a new use, the conversion of a series of 240 vehicles began in the winter of 1939. 202 of these were converted to Panzerjäger I and 38 other vehicles to Sturmpanzer I. In contrast to the Sturmpanzer II , no major conversion work was carried out here. Only the tower and upper hull were removed. A complete heavy infantry gun 33 of caliber 15 cm was placed on the surface created in this way . The wheels were fixed in brackets, the spars were attached to the wheel brackets and to the vehicle itself with steel struts. However, the gun could still be dismantled, which was essential for repairs to the engine. The gun operation was secured by a box-shaped front and side armor, which gave the vehicle a very high and therefore unfavorable silhouette for combat. In addition, it offered no protection at all to the rear or above. Due to the weight of the sIG 33 and the four-man crew - the Panzer I was only designed for two men - the vehicle reached the limit of its capabilities. Only three rounds of ammunition were carried on board itself, the remaining ammunition was transported with other troop members on a half-track vehicle.
Nevertheless, the Sturmpanzer I proved itself during the western campaign in 1940, where it was used in six heavy infantry gun companies (Sf) (701st to 706th) with six vehicles each, each subordinate to a tank division . Its great advantage was that the howitzer was suitable for both direct and artillery fire. With the 15 cm caliber, most French and British tanks of the time could be fought effectively. Lighter bunker systems were no problem either. In close combat, however, the Sturmpanzer I was extremely vulnerable. Operating the self-propelled gun in combat was associated with a high level of risk, especially for the driver: the only exit was in the area between the howitzer and armor above the driver's head. If the tank was shot down, the driver had to squeeze through this space, while the other crew members could simply jump off. Later it was not uncommon for a tank driver to get hectic when he got out and to get trapped between the cannon and the armor.
Despite all the shortcomings, the Sturmpanzer I proved to be quite effective, especially in house-to-house combat, but also in infantry support. The last of these vehicles was taken out of service in Russia in 1943.
- Weight: 8.5 t
- Motor: Maybach 100 HP
- Speed: 35 km / h
- Armament: 15 cm sIG L / 12
- Armor: 15 mm at the front, 10 mm at the side
- Crew: 3 men
- Year of construction: 1939-1940
- Number of pieces: 38