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The German tank destroyer Sd.Kfz.251/9

Description

The m.Schütz.Pz.Wg. (Sd.Kfz.251/9), nicknamed “Stummel”, was an infantry support vehicle developed by Nazi Germany during WW2 in 1942. Learning from the lessons in the Eastern Front and with a surplus of 7.5 cm howitzers due to the Panzer IV and StuG III being refitted with more capable anti-tank weapons, the Wehrmacht decided to use the already proven Sd.Kfz.251 platform to mount this gun and use it as an infantry support weapon. Initially armed with just the cannon and a narrow range of fire, the vehicle proved unsatisfactory, but after being refitted with a new gun mount and a coaxial machine gun it was deployed in large numbers in the Eastern Front. It mostly served in Armored Recon Units and was used in areas were tanks couldn’t support infantry due to poor terrain or weak infrastructure (like roads or bridges) that the Sd.Kfz.251/9 had no problem crossing, as a direct fire platform it proved very good, reliable, cheap to produce and maintain and it filled the need of a “bunker buster” vehicle in the Eastern Front.

The “Stummel” was introduced in Update “Fire and Ice” and is considered a competent vehicle against its foes. While the armour is not good enough to stop even 12.7 mm shots, its gun and mobility compensate this lack of protection. The HEAT rounds are the best to deal with most enemies, it can be used effectively against armoured and open top vehicles, the 870 g of explosive mass would make sure most enemies are dealt with, however post penetration damage may feel lacking. The APCBC can be used specially in flanking manoeuvres, but it has less penetration and velocity than the HEAT rounds and thus, hitting enemies would be even harder, the mobility is decent enough, to the point that you can rush for capture points and then hide in favourable positions to ambush passing tanks.

Usage in battles

The Sd.Kfz.251/9 is a lightly armoured vehicle that can be penetrated by nearly anything, including heavy machine guns, and destroyed by overpressure. This means you want to avoid rushing points and areas of high traffic, and instead flank the enemy team with your decent mobility. The 75 mm gun on the 251/9 is excellent at its BR, coming with an APCBC shell with moderate penetration and an excellent HEAT shell with good explosive filler and 100 mm of penetration at all angles. However, sniping with this tank is not recommended, as its gun and shells have low muzzle velocity and high drop, making it difficult to hit your targets at range. A better way to use this tank is in an ambush role. If you can find a good spot that protects your sides and flanks from enemy tanks, you can surprise and quickly destroy almost enemy tank that come your way with your excellent reload speed and HEAT shells. It also has excellent depression, allowing you to engage enemy targets over ridges and give you more combat flexibility.

The biggest threats to this tank are aircraft and flankers. It is an open-topped vehicle, leaving it vulnerable to strafing and bombing from enemy aircraft. Because it lacks a turret, the 251/9 also struggles against flanking manoeuvres and is doomed if an enemy tanker flanks and gets a good firing profile on the side of your tank. To counteract this, stick with teammates and/or relocate after a few shots, to prevent players whose tanks you destroyed from coming back and revenge-bombing you. It may also be beneficial to pair with a friendly SPAA, as they can help provide some measure of defence against CAS.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Highly mobile for the BR, will get to one’s destination quickly.
  • Potent gun with a fast reload that allows for versatile engagement of enemies
  • Gun depression makes hull-down positions possible
  • Smoke shells available, useful for covering allied movements, specially good thanks to a low reload time

Cons:

  • Open-topped, vulnerable to HE rounds, artillery strikes and strafing aircraft
  • A single shot can knock out the driver, gunner and loader at once, leaving you vulnerable
  • Weak mobility in harsh terrain compared to tanks because of it’s design without full tracks
  • Relatively poor shell velocity for it’s main gun

History

Mittlerer Schützenpanzer (Sd.Kfz 251/9) Ausf. D “Stummel”

The m.Schütz.Pz.Wg. (Sd.Kfz.251/9) was developed over the Sd. Kfz. 251 platform, which was already proven alongside infantry as an APC and in other roles. This variant was made with infantry support in mind, thanks to the lessons learned in the Eastern Front and the need of a cheaper assault gun against soviet fortifications and entrenched infantry.

The gun chosen was the 7.5 cm K. 37 L/24 that was available in large numbers after the Panzer IV and StuG III were refitted with more capable anti tank cannons. Early versions of this mount proved unsatisfactory, with 10 to 12 degrees of horizontal traverse and only -5 degrees of gun depression, still the vehicle was sent to the Eastern front and a first batch of 150 units was ordered.

The improved version entered service in 1944 with a revision of the 7.5cm Howitzer, a new gun mount, a coaxial MG-42 machine gun and a simpler construction that allowed better maintenance and more ammo capacity thanks to more internal space (many rounds were carried in bags and rifle racks). The new design proved much more efficient, the horizontal traverse was increased to 20 degrees and gun depression went from -5 to -10 degrees.

The “mittlerer Schützenpanzerwagen Stummel” entered service in 1942 with the SS-Panzerregiment 4 „Der Führer“, 2nd SS Armored Division in the Eastern front, it should be noted that most units served in that theatre, and not against the Allied forces. Later in the war the vehicle would be deployed in all armoured reconnaissance units to provide heavy fire support and also in the paratrooper division “Hermann Göring”, this was made considering that the “Stummel” could be carried inside the Me 323

The vehicle had a many uses for the Wehrmacht, for instance, it was much cheaper to produce and maintain than the Panzer IV or Stug III, and when those tanks went from infantry support to anti tank duties, it was far cheaper and easier modifying an existing platform like the Sd.Kfz.250 to fulfil this new role. Not only that, but the “kanonenwagen” as it was called, was also lighter, and was able to cross weak bridges alongside infantry and APCs to provide direct fire support and even help in anti tank duties when shooting from favourable positions.

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