[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department Technical Manual, TM-E 30-451: Handbook on German Military Forces published in March 1945. — Figures and illustrations are not reproduced, see source details. — As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. — Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]
CHAPTER VII. WEAPONS
Section V. SELF-PROPELLED ARTILLERY
a. DEVELOPMENT. German self-propelled artillery has now developed to a point where there
is scarcely any artillery piece up to and including
b. PRODUCTION METHODS. Self-propelled artillery has been produced in three different
ways. First, there are the gun-chassis combinations which have been designed and engineered
carefully to fill a particular role. These were produced in quantity by major armament
factories in Germany and exist in large numbers. The
c. TACTICAL USES. German self-propelled artillery may be divided into four types from a tactical point of view, but the line of demarcation often is not clear, as many self-propelled artillery pieces have dual missions. These types are: close-support artillery, including assault guns; field and medium artillery; tank destroyers; and antiaircraft artillery.
(1) Close-support and assault guns. The development of close-support and assault guns was begun about 1940. Assault guns are designed for the close support of infantry, and normally consist of a gun of limited traverse on an armored self-propelled chassis carrying heavy frontal armor. They are inclined to be slower and less maneuverable than tanks but are suited particularly well for attacks on enemy infantry heavy weapons and main point of resistance.
(2) Field and medium self-propelled artillery. Field and medium self-propelled artillery was introduced first about the middle of 1942. Both types of howitzers (10.5 cm le F. H. 18 and 15 cm s. F. H. 18) in the division artillery now may be found on self-propelled chassis.
(3) Self-propelled antitank guns. The first self-propelled antitank gun was the 4.7 cm Pak. (t) mounted on the then (1941) obsolescent chassis of the Pz. Kpfw. Ib. Antitank guns now form the numerically largest class of self-propelled artillery weapons.
(4) Self propelled antiaircraft artillery. Self-propelled antiaircraft
artillery actually was developed before any attempt was made to apply this
principle to other types of weapons, but so far no serious effort has been
made to mount antiaircraft guns larger than
d. GUN AND CHASSIS MODIFICATIONS. Guns with the exception of assault guns, are mounted normally on their self-propelled carriages without any major alteration. Assault guns usually are fitted with electric firing devices and modified recoil systems. The chassis, however, particularly in cases where they are those of existing tanks, have undergone considerable modification. Not only have the superstructures been altered, but in some cases the engine has been moved from the rear to a central position, to enable the gun crew to stand on the floor of the hull to serve the gun.
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