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M10 vs StuG III
M10 Tank Destroyer vs StuG III Assault Gun Germany 1944, Duel 53
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:

M10 vs StuG III
Series & No.: Duel 53
Author: Steven J. Zaloga
Illustrator: Richard Chasemore
Formats: Paperback, ePub eBook
Length: 80 pages
ISBN: 9781780960999
Released: August 2013

Osprey released M10 Tank Destroyer vs StuG III Assault Gun Germany 1944 as their 53rd title in their series Duel. Illustrated by Richard Chasemore with original artwork and cutaways, maps, and useful photographs supporting content by the esteemed Steven J. Zaloga, this book should be useful to modelers, dioramaists, and historians.

Mr. Zaloga compares and contrasts the M10 and StuG III in action in NW Europe through 80 pages in 10 chapters and sections:
    - Introduction
    - Chronology
    - Design and Development
    - Technical Specifications
    - The Combatants
    - The Strategic Situation
    - Combat
    - Statistics and Analysis
    - Further Reading
    - Index

Early in the book the author comments on the odd matching of the M10 & StuG III. He refines the premise that they are not directly compared, rather contrasts the evolving nature of the war and the change of employment of these weapon systems. The StuG was intended as an infantry support gun which turned into an essential antitank weapon, while the M10 morphed from a purpose-built tank destroyer into more of an infantry support tank, e.g., an "American StuG".
    What is not in the field manuals on tank destroyer use is the effective support that they render to a fighting infantry at the time of actual combat. An infantryman has his fortitude well tested and the mere presence of self-propelled tank destroyers in his immediate vicinity gives a tremendous shot of courage to the committed infantryman. For example, at Chambois during the closing of the Falaise Gap in August 1944, an infantry battalion moved towards the town with utter fearlessness to enemy artillery, mortar, and small arms fire when accompanied by some M10s...

The text is enhanced by such excerpts from official reports. Regrettably there are only a few in this book and no direct quotes from crews.
    To facilitate closer cooperation and faster employment, one company was put in close support of each of the assaulting infantry regiments. Contrary to normal Tank Destroyer tactics, the company was broken down and a platoon was placed in close support of each infantry battalion. This variance from normal doctrine is essential when TDs are employed in a tank mission. The infantry must have direct fire support. It is emphasized that the tank destroyer company when used in its proper role can contribute considerably toward destroying the numerous enemy counterattacks. It should never be used to seek out enemy tanks that are definitely located.

There is, however, the incredible 3rd person story of a company of M5A1 light tanks that charged into German lines, wreaked havoc and then engaging a group of King Tigers, putting them to flight before retreating back to the friendly side of FEBA!

The concept for each vehicle is explored and their development is examined. As are other attempts by each country to field similar combat systems. Staff officers of both Germany and America who supported or opposed each concept are discussed, including their supporting or contradicting doctrines for the respective vehicle.

Development and refinement of each vehicle is delved into with satisfying detail. As is the contrast between StuG crew training compared to Panzer crews and US Army Tank Destroyer crews. StuG crews were artillerymen, trained accordingly, and statistically shot straighter. M10 did not arrive in battle in its original configuration, its development well documented. As is the StuG III, which evolved through different guns and superstructures, including a howitzer type. Additionally, the Nazis needed more StuGs and this led to an outsourcing that created an entirely new vehicle based on a foreign design. Happily for seekers of technical minutia the author defines and uses terminology and abbreviations instead of common slang and post-war jargon. In fact, the back of the title page features Author's Notes defining conventions of unit terminology; weight and measurements; military symbols key; conversions between metric and standard. A footnote explains the "L/24" and other technical terms used when discribing gun size and caliber.

Organization and deployment of M10 and StuG units is examined, including a 1944 redesignation of Wehrmacht formations. Further, combat use of these two duelists from 1940 on is presented prior to the period this book covers, including action in Tunisia and Italy. This sets the stage for the October 1944 battle recounted herein.

America watched the massed panzers rampage across Europe in 1940 and scrambled to create a countermeasure. The text touches upon American senior officers such as Major General Chaffee, Lt. Gen. McNair and Maj.Gen. Bruce, and the different theories on America's antidote to the panzer plague. It is interesting how foibles and fortes of US R&D of today are similar to 70 years ago.

Firepower is examined in good detail, comparing the StuK 40 of the StuG III Ausf G with the M7 3in gun of the M10. Guns aren't accurate without sights and this subject is discussed.

Command and control is informative with its discussion of different bands of radio frequencies and their place in the RF net.

Protection examines the armor plating of the machines. The benefits and drawbacks of each vehicles' armor configuration is presented, with further development noted.

This book examines these AFVs in combat during the second battle for Aachen. It presents a good background to the strategic situation. German and US plans are briefly examined, including units assigned to realize them. The book centers around the US attacks on Übach-Palenberg to breech the West-Stellung, the so-called "Siegfried Line" and the commanders of both sides who were involved. Combat is described a mix of small unit actions and larger formations. A fascinating micro-story is The Reluctant Dragon of Alsdorf which describes a solo StuG loose in a US-held town, with each side's attempts to vanquish their foe.

Finally, Mr. Zaloga wraps up the book with Statistics and Analysis. Interestingly, some of his conclusions contradicts the conventional wisdom I have read for decades, including US Army after-action reports. Post-war AFV development influenced by both vehicles is presented.

Photographs, artwork, graphics
Mr. Zaloga's text is supported by a great selection of photographs, original artwork, and data tables. Dozens of black-and-white photographs bring these vehicles to life and reveal vehicle details. A single color photograph of a restored StuG interior offers excellent reference material. Most of the photos are clear although there are a few that obviously were shot by amateurs in less than ideal conditions. Many are battlefield shots. All are useful and modelers, historians, reenactors and vehicle restorers can glean a great deal from them.

Modelers can gain inspiration for subjects and dioramas from the photos even though M10s and StuGs are not in every photo: a US roadblock with a 3in anti-tank gun supported by an M2 .50-caliber heavy machine gun and a bazooka team; StuG III in company with a Pzr IV and Borgward B IV remote-controlled demolition vehicle. Two gems sure to annoy "that vehicle shouldn't be in this diorama" purists are photos showing obsolete StuG III Ausf C and Ausf D impressed to late-war frontline service due to the German crisis of supply!

Illustrator Richard Chasemore fortifies the book with original artwork. One disappointment is that there is only a single battle scene in the book; most Duel books I have include the illustration(s) used on the cover. Neither is found inside this book. Regardless, the artwork is excellent:
1. StuG III AUSF G, StuG-BRIG 394, OCTOBER 1944
2. M10 3in GMC, 702nd TD BATTALION, OCTOBER 1944
5. StuG III FIGHTING COMPARTMENT: keyed with 10 components.
    a. PzGr 39 APCBC
    B. SprGr 34 HE

7. StuG III G with crew positions.
8. M10 TURRET: keyed with nine components.
9. M10 Ammunition
    a. 3in M42A1 HE
    b. 3in M62A1 APC

10. M10 with crew positions.
11. Two-page centerfold Assault toward Beggendorf, October 6, 1944: 702nd TD Battalion M10s ambushed by StuG-Brig 394 StuG III.

The above illustrations of StuG III show the rounds as short and fat. I have tried to reconcile this with other sources yet can not determine if the StuK 40 had shorter cartridges as depicted. This should have been addressed in the text. I look forward to StuG experts clarifying this.

Additionally, detailed colored maps orient the reader to the tactical situation:
a. Encircling Aachen, September 12-October 8, 1944
b. Breakthrough at Übach-Palenberg, October 2-8, 1944

Furthermore, several tables impart written information into visually digestible displays:
i. StuG manufacture, 1940-45: StuG III L/24, L/43, L/48; StuG IV; StuH 42.
ii. StuG strength and losses, 1941-45: cumulative quarterly totals.
iii. Gun technical comparison: StuK 40 vs M7 3in.
iv. Comparative armor data
v. German LXXXI. Armeekorps AFV strength, October 7, 1944
vi. German AFV losses in the West in 1944: June-November 1944.
vii. Cerman AFV balance in the West, 1944-45
viii. US M10 tank destroyer strength and losses in the ETO: June 1944-May 1945 for M10 and M36.
ix. 802nd TD Battalion records, October 2-9, 1944: M10 operational and disabled; enemy target types knocked out; HE vs AP ammo expended.

I can't quite wrap my mind around this book as a duel between the M10 and StuG III except in a broad context of how they were used compared to each other. That does not detract from the educational value of this work for historians and modelers. I find the book extremely interesting and informative. While StuG history is plentiful the development and employment of the M10 is not something I am familiar with, let alone its overall war record. This book explains why all photos I have seen of the M10 in action has been in support of infantry.

Benefits of the book include excellent descriptions of the vehicles. I greatly appreciate the author defining contemporary terminology and abbreviations instead of common slang and post-war jargon. The combat narratives are also interesting.

Excellent illustrations, artwork, graphics and photographs support the text. They should inspire subjects and modelers and diorama makers.

My only real complaint is that illustrations of the StuK 40 ammunition could use explanation.

I find the book extremely interesting and informative. It should be an excellent reference for modelers, historians and restoration projects. I happily recommend M10 Tank Destroyer vs StuG III Assault Gun Germany 1944.
Highs: Excellent descriptions of the vehicles. Excellent illustrations and artwork.
Lows: StuK 40 ammunition shown shorter and fatter than PaK 40 rounds; attempts to verify this ambiguous. This should have been addressed in the text.
Verdict: I find the book extremely interesting and informative. It should be an excellent reference for modelers, historians and restoration projects.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 9781780960999
  Suggested Retail: $18.95 £12.99
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Oct 12, 2013

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. All rights reserved.


Well. no. That's not what I mean. I'm aware of Achilles, but that was a tank destroyer. I'm talking about an MBT with the enclosed Sherman/Firefly turret on an M10/M36 chassis. If the same chassis (I'm aware of the engine difference between M10 and M36) could handle the weight of the 90mm gun and large turret of the M36, it could also handle a Firefly turret. The M36B1 was the M36 turret on a Sherman tank chassis, so the turret rings were compatible. The Sherman lll and M10 shared the same engine, drive train, and suspension, so I don't see where weight would be a problem.
OCT 15, 2013 - 04:26 AM
Fair enough, in that case, I don't know. Maybe the fact that they already had the Firefly, negated the need for another variant in the field, which would essentially be very similar to the Firefly. I understand that they could not make enough Fireflies as it was, so perhaps it was simply a logistic decision?
OCT 15, 2013 - 04:54 AM
To take my argument further, 17lb in the T23 turret (because it's roomier), M10 (or M36) chassis, whichever one is more efficient, on the E8 suspension (to reduce ground/weight ratio). All made with available parts with little to no modifications. Sort of like throwing something together from a 1:1 spares box. It could have been in service from Fall '44. My 'what-if' fantasy tank!
OCT 15, 2013 - 07:51 AM
I like it. I don't know why they did not put that winning packet together. Why didn't the Brits use the 3.7 inch anti aircraft gun in the same manner as the Germans used the 88mm? They had a potential tank killer right there, all along. Would ave blown holes in Panthers, and probably Tigers too.
OCT 15, 2013 - 08:03 AM
Nice review, Fred. I really wish now there was an updated release of the M10 to accompany the almost monthly releases of new variants of the StuG. The M10, if I have this right, had thinner armor than the M4 in an attempt to make a faster, lighter vehicle meeting the tank destroyer doctrine. As such it was much more vulnerable than the M4, even with the sloped armor. A better choice could/would have been the M27 hull with either the 17 pounder or 90mm gun. The M27 was ready in 1943, but rejected as untried, unproved, and probably unprofitable.
OCT 15, 2013 - 08:25 AM
Did I just see Henk posting?!?! Hey Henk... welcome back! Cheers, Jim
OCT 15, 2013 - 10:06 AM
The M27 could have been a better choice, but was not in production and therefore no hulls or chassis lying around for the conversions. The M10 hulls, on the other hand, were available, and although thinner armored than Shermans, did come with the bolts that were meant for applique armor plates, which were, apparently, never used. The plates could have been easily and quickly manufactured and installed. I was purposely limiting my choice of vehicle parts to those available between June and December '44.
OCT 16, 2013 - 03:08 AM
On the box art of Dragon's up-coming Jagdpanther G2, there's a line drawing of an M10 in the background. So if that's any indication... I would also like to see a newly tooled M10. I have the Academy one, and although nice, I am not 100% satisfied with it.
OCT 16, 2013 - 03:15 AM
Thanks Jim
OCT 16, 2013 - 03:16 AM

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