Image size: 1600 x 817 pixel. 451 KB
Date: Wednesday, 1 March 1944
Place: Nettuno, Lazio, Italy
Sturmpanzer IV Series 2 of Sturmpanzerabteilung (Asault Tank Battalion) 216 pauses in an Italian road to let Free French colonial prisoners of war taken by the Germans pass by. The Sturmpanzer IV was also known as Sturmpanzer 43, Sonderkraftfahrzeug Sdkfz 166 (Special Purpose Ordinance Vehicle 166) and nicknamed "Brummbar" (Grizzly Bear) or "stupa" in the field. Mounting a 150mm (5.9-inch) Sturmhaubitze (StuH) 43 L/12 infantry assault gun on a Panzer IV ausf G chassis, the Brummbar was developed in response to the inability of 75mm (3-inch) guns to reduce Soviet bunker positions during the Battle of Stalingrad. The first fifty Brummbar equipped Sturmpanzerabteilung 216 at the Battle of Kursk; seventeen were lost in combat. While it was an effective infantry support weapon, the shift from offensive to defensive operations in 1944 limited its original purpose. Still, it was a powerful weapon that could provide effective defense, especially in urban areas. The first version suffered from being overweight for the Panzer IV chassis and had transmission problems. Later versions corrected these problems and added a bow-mounted MG34 machine gun for anti-infantry defense. In December 1943, Sturmpanzerabteilung 216 was pulled out of the Eastern Front and set to Italy to confront the allied landings in the Anzio-Nettuno area. They were part of the failed offensive in February 1944 to push the Allies into the sea. Sturmpanzerabteilung 216 remained in combat in Italy until April 1945, when the unit destroyed its remaining vehicles to prevent their capture.