GA-21 STUG III Ausf. G., Late 1943
The Sturmgeschütz III (Assault Gun) was one of the most deadly German armored fighting vehicles of the Second World War. Although originally designed as an infantry support weapon, by 1944 its primary role had shifted to tank destroyer. It proved a deadly opponent to Allied armor, especially on the Western Front against the British and Americans. Its powerful high velocity 75mm StuK40/L48 cannon was able to destroy British and American armor with ease while it’s 80mm armor protection proved difficult to defeat by the short barrel, low velocity 75mm cannon mounted on the majority of Allied Sherman tanks in France. Furthermore, its low silhouette made it difficult to spot, making it an ideal ambush weapon that blunted many Allied assaults.
The GA-21 model represents a STUG of the 1. SS-Panzer Division “Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler” during the Battle of Normandy. Nicknamed “Hitler’s Fire Brigade”, the soldiers of the LSSAH proved tenacious fighters and were routinely shuttled from one crisis point to another where they could always be found in the most critical fighting. When Operation OVERLORD occurred on June 6th, 1944, the LSSAH was still reconstituting in Belgium following horrendous casualties sustained in Russia during late 1943. Initially held as a German reserve, the LSSAH made its way to Normandy in early July and fought first against the British, where Hitler’s bodyguard unit was instrumental in stopping Montgomery’s Operation GOODWOOD offensive. Later, following the U.S. breakout of Operation COBRA, it fought against the Americans during Operation LÜTTICH, Hitler’s last panzer offensive in France. Although it fought tenaciously, LSSAH was unable to halt the Allies, and was eventually surrounded and virtually annihilated in the Falaise Pocket, where it suffered horrendous casualties and lost the majority of its armor and heavy weapons.
Stug #212 of 1st SS-Panzer Division LSSAH was produced by Alkett and possesses later design features of the production series. These include an “acorn” style cannon muzzle brake, shell deflector for the front of the commander’s cupola, and cast “Topfblende” gun mantlet (commonly referred to as a “Saukopf” mantlet because its shape resembled a pig’s head) that provided superior ballistic protection from the earlier rectangular version. Finally, it is painted in a messy field applied tri-camo camouflage scheme and shows five white kill rings on the barrel, representing a veteran “ace” of the LSSAH Stug Abteilung.
While Stug #212 is meant to serve as an LSSAH vehicle, the SS division insignia was intentionally left off the model in order to maximize its usability for collectors. As depicted, Stug #212 will also work for numerous other Waffen SS and regular Heer (German Army) units including Panzer Divisions, Panzergrenadier Divisions, and Independent Stug Brigades from late 1943 until the end of the war.