- "The gun won't turn right?"
- ―Hippo Team
A bit of history
Already in the Great War, the problem had arisen on how the artillery tended to lag behind the advances of infantry; to solve this problem, then-Colonel Erich Von Manstein suggested in 1935 to create an armoured self-propelled mount that would serve as a close infantry support vehicle. It was decided to use the chassis and running gear of the recent PzKpfw III, on which a fixed casemate would house the low-velocity 75 mm gun. This vehicles were usually attached to the artillery arm, therefore they were not part of the Panzerwaffe.
They first saw service during the German invasion of France or "Fall Gelb", serving in six vehicle batteries, four batteries participated in the invasion. They were Sturmbatteries 640, 659, 660 and 665. They were found to be the perfect for dealing with light bunkers and pillboxes. They saw again action during the German invasion of the Balkans, Greece and later that year Russia. As the Germans advanced eastwards, they eventaully came up to a line of defensive bunkers called the Stalin line. it was a network of concrete artillery and machinegun emplacements. The StuG lll had very thick frontal armor for the time and so one tactic the german infantry used was to have the SPG roll straight at the Pilbox and fire its 75mm into the firing slot of the pillbox. This was safe enough to do as the 45mm K-54 AT guns the Russians had emplaced in these pillboxes weren't powerful enough to penetrate the StuGs frontal armor.
The first vehicles were ready to participate in the Battle of France, but its first real service came during Operation Barbarossa. The StuG proved inferior, as every other German tank of the time, to the most modern Soviet designs like the T-34 and the KVs, therefore, as part of the general upgrading of the armoured vehicles in the Wehrmacht, it was selected to receive a long-barreled 75 mm gun in 1942.
With the armament upgrade, the StuG III saw its role shift from assault gun to tank destroyer (although it could still perform successfully in the former task), and, since it was cheaper and easier to produce than a conventional tank (due to its not having a revolving turret), it was produced in the tens of thousands; thus, it was the most common German AFV on the battlefield, especially as the war progressed and the Wehrmacht deployed large numbers of StuGs in an attempt to quickly replace their massive losses on the Eastern front.
Its low silhouette and the powerful gun meant that, up to the end of the war, it was a match for any Allied or Soviet tanks, except the heaviest and best-protected ones (like the IS-2). Used in the defensive role, it proved to be a deadly weapon; in 1944 Sturmgeschütz units claimed some 20,000 tank kills, more than those claimed by the more famous and glamorous Panzers (like the Panther or the Tiger).
It was also supplied to Germany's allies during the war, especially Romania, Hungary and Finland, and it met with similar success. It also served as inspiration for many vehicles fielded by many belligerents, such as the Soviet SU-122 and SU-85, and the Italian Semovente da 75/18.
In Girls und PanzerA StuG III Ausf. F was found in the bottom of a lake during the search of Ooarai's long-lost tanks, and was assigned to Hippo Team.
From the beginning, it affirmed itself as one of Ooarai's "heavy-hitters", and one of the most successful tanks in their arsenal. During the training match against St. Gloriana it was the only tank (besides Miho's own Panzer IV) to defeat a heavily-protected Matilda, albeit soon after that it got disabled due to its crew's ill-thought flamboyancy (which negated the advantage given by its low silhouette with easily spotted flags). After returning to a more conventional paint scheme, it followed on on its favourable record; against Saunders it was arguably the author of the early knocking out of an M4 Sherman (in an ambush for which was ideally suited).In the battle against Anzio, as depicted in the manga, it served as the flag tank, and was part of the central force that held through Anzio's trap to give time to the rest of Ooarai's tanks to flank and take down the opponents. In the OVA it engaged in a one-on-one duel against Carpaccio's Semovente; despite being more powerful and protected than its Italian opponent, the StuG found a match in the Semovente, to the point that when both teams went for a killing shot, it ended with both of them defeating each other (the only instances, other than the training match against St. Gloriana and the finals against Kuromorimine, in which the StuG was taken down).
In the semi-finals match against Pravda it proved yet again critical to victory, surviving a potentially fatal hit in its tracks and then dealing the killing shot against Pravda's flag T-34 tank after hiding in the snow. In the finals, it performed well against Kuromorimine's tanks in the first part of the match, but it was effortlessly taken out by the massive super-heavy Maus tank.
A StuG III is owned by the Nishizumi Family, and is used in the battle between Maho and Miho.