Monday, March 23, 2015

12.8cm Sf L/61 Sturer Emil

The 12.8 cm Selbstfahrlafette auf VK3001(H) "Sturer Emil" was an experimental World War II German self-propelled anti-tank gun. It was based on the Henschel VK3001 chassis and armed with a Rheinmetall 12.8 cm K L/61 gun (based on the 12.8 cm FlaK 40). This gun could traverse 7° to each side, elevate 10° and depress 15°. It carried 18 rounds for the main gun.

The chassis was left over from Henschel's submission for the cancelled VK3001 heavy tank program, but the hull was stretched and an extra road wheel added to accommodate the large gun, which was mounted on a pedestal ahead of the engine. A large, open-topped, fighting compartment was built where the turret was intended to go in the original design.

Two vehicles (named Max and Moritz) were built, both of which served on the Eastern Front. One vehicle was destroyed, the other captured at Stalingrad in January 1943, with 22 kill marks painted on the barrel. This captured vehicle is now displayed in the collection on the Kubinka Tank Museum.

12.8cm Sf L/61 Sturer Emil with Pz.Jg.Abt.521

The Heeres Panzerjaeger Abteilung 521 was activated on Aug.25.1939 for the 3.Armee, in East Prussia, were it took part in the invasion of Poland. In the Spring 1940, it was re-equipped with the 4,7cm Pak(t) auf Pz.I, and was assigned to von Kleist's Gruppe, and assisted both the 3.Pz and 4.Pz Divisions in their drive deep into France in June 1940. The H.Pz.Jg.Abt.521 initially formed part of K.Gr.Linnarz, within the 3.Pz.Division, during the initial rounds of Barbarossa, and it stayed alongside the Division until about the Spring 1942.

The "Sturer Emil" idea apparently sprung from Hitler's discussion on May 26 1941, when he wanted a 'Selbstafahrlafette' with the 12.8cm Kan., to serve alongside the already completed 10.5cm Kan Slf auf Pz.IVa "Dicker Max", in which 1 was demonstrated to him on March 31 1941. The shelved VK-3001 chassis was used as the basis of this vehicle, and it is believed that, the 2 completed vehicles were newly built using the components of the VK-3001 series, as opposed to using 2 of the completed prototypes. Photos of a completed "Sturer Emil" are dated March 9 1942.

Apparently, the 2 "Sturer Emil" were initially assigned to a Lehr unit, as later photos show it with an "L" marking on the front plate. By the summer 1942, it was assigned to the H.Pz.Jg.Abt.521, which had become reorganized with the 1.Kp. with the remaining 4,7cm Pak(t) auf Pz.I, the 2.Kp. later received 7,62cm Pak (r) auf Pz.38(t), and the 2 Sturer Emil were apparently assigned to the 3.Kp. I haven't found any K.St.N. for this unit yet.

The 3.Kp./H.Pz.Jg.Abt.521 activities are unknown, but by mid-November 1942 it was assigned, along with the rest of the Abt.521, with the XI Armee Korps, which became trapped with the rest of the 6.Armee in Stalingrad. The XI Armee Korps formed the northern pocket of the "Kessel", and was destroyed separately from the rest of the troops of the 6.Armee.

There are photos of the "Sturer Emil" just after it capture in the field, where it was surrounded by a number of 4,7cm Pak(t) auf Pz.I, all of which are buried in snow, so the date of the photos are probably from mid-Dec 1942 or so, but this is just a guess on my part. By the looks of the condition of the vehicles, it looks like they were abandoned.

The Abteilung Kommandeur for the H.Pz.Jg.Abt.521 was Major Frank until early 1942, and was taken over by Hptm. Streger. The 3.Kp. was led by Oblt. Lingk.

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