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Book Review
T-34 vs StuG III
T-34 vs StuG III Finland 1944
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Iconic for Eastern Front armor clashes, the StuG III and T-34 are favorites of WW2 modelers. Modelers will find a wealth of photographs - color and B&W, interior and exterior, wartime and present day - certain to support detailing, or simply to inspire building one of these AFVs. Although this duel is set in Finland, the fortes and foibles of each AFV are the same whether they clashed on the expansive Russian steppe or in claustrophobic forests. T-34 vs StuG III Finland 1944 should be highly interesting to modelers and historians.

T-34 vs StuG III Finland 1944 is a new addition in the Osprey series Duel, the 96th title. Authored by acclaimed historian and modeler Steven J. Zaloga, and illustrated by equally popular artist Richard Chasemore, the book is catalogued with the Osprey Short code DUE 96 and as IBSN 9781472832351. This review is of the softcover format and the book is available in PDF and ePUB.

This subject stoked my interest when I first saw it in the Osprey 2019 catalogue. I admit that while I recognize the T-34's place in history that I am not excited by it, but the Panzer III/StuG III is my favorite family of Wehrmacht AFVs.

Osprey introduces this book thusly:
    In the summer of 1944, the Red Army staged a massive armoured assault up the Karelian Isthmus with the intent of eliminating any remaining German and Finnish forces facing the Leningrad region.

    Most of the Soviet units sent into Finland were new to the region, moving mainly from the fighting in the Leningrad area. As a result, some had the latest types of Soviet equipment including the new T-34-85 tank, fielded alongside the older T-34-76. Germany refused to sell the Finns new tanks without a reinforced military alliance, but in 1943 began selling them a few dozen StuG III assault guns. This made the StuG III battalion the most modern and powerful element of the Finnish armoured division, and it saw very extensive combat in the June-July summer battles.

    Featuring specially commissioned artwork and an array of archive photographs, this is the absorbing story of the parts played by Soviet and Finnish armour in the epic battles in Finland during June and July 1944.

Thus, piqued by other books referencing the StuG III's important as a tank killer on the Ostfront, I could hardly wait to read Mr. Zaloga's presentation about this match-up. I was not disappointed.

T-34 vs StuG III Finland 1944 is brought to us through 10 chapters and sections in 80 pages:
    Design and Development
    The Strategic Situation
    Technical Specifications
    The Combatants
    Further Reading

Mr. Zaloga presents the material in an organized and easy manner for the reader. I think he strikes a harmony with specialized technical description in layman presentation, without "dumbing it down." He spices the text up with terminology and clarifications for those of us who appreciate detail trivia. To emphasize ideas or to highlight information, tables and text boxes are used to condense text.

Two warriors are profiled in detail, Senior Lieutenant Vasily T. Vasiliev, and Captain Mauri Sartio.

The first four pages of the book provide a brief Introduction and Chronology for the combatants. Technical Specifications of each vehicle are discussed through 21 pages, including full-page images. We learn about the Gaika turret, crew and commander hatches and copulas, sights, armor, suspension, and many other aspects of armored vehicle design. It addresses reliability and quality control. Several tables (listed below) support the text; two that are particularly interesting present a Soviet post-war computer analysis comparing the relative combat effectiveness of Nazi and Soviet tanks, and a related study of the probability of destroying an enemy by crew quality. StuG availability and kill rates compared to Panzers are discussed including the relative "force multiplier" effect compared to other AFVs. Finish reports of inspection and assessment of captured T-34s give a fascinating wartime analysis of the T-34 and T-34/85.

Technical Specifications delivers eight pages of comparable firepower, armor protection, mobility, and other characteristics. Armor piercing shot types verses enemy armor is detailed, as well as the average number of rounds fired per kill. Gun sights are described with technical details. Command and control is also recounted, which flows into the 15 pages of The Combatants. This chapter explores the training and roles and responsibilities of each crewmen in the subject armored vehicles. Composition of a unit Table of Organization and Equipment (TOE) and changes are revealed, as well as vehicle tactical marking systems.

Those chapters detail the what. The Strategic Situation introduces us to the why through seven pages.

Now the part I was waiting for, the 15 pages of Combat. The inherent interest of this chapter is magnified by the relatively small number of Finnish StuGs deployed against the relatively small number of Soviet forces, and the detailed after-action reports maintained by Finland. While the combat in the forests of Finland was not representative of the StuG vs T-34 war across the Steppe, it does demonstrate the strengths and handicaps of the two combatants in a far more personal encounter. Finally, Analysis explores the similarities and differences of the Finnish success or failure of StuGs compared to the Germans. It is an interesting story.

Photographs, Artwork, and Graphics
Supporting the text is a remarkable gallery of photographs, supported with custom artwork, and tables of information. They are accompanied by useful captions or narratives.

An remarkable gallery of photos supports the text. I did not count them but I estimate around a dozen color photos cover interior views of a StuG III restored and preserved at Finland's armor museum, and Mr. Zaloga also balances those with color shots inside T-34s.

Finland's StuGs were few and several units entered combat at the same time, sent off with great public relations fanfare, including photographers. Many of the photos are outstanding as they were taken with portrait quality exposures. Even while the fighting raged there were excellent photographers covering the StuGs, and even vanquished T-34s. Thus, this book affords modelers exceptional source material for detailing their models, or inspiring a diorama.

Finland also focused their cameras (pardon the pun) on detail shots for crew training and intelligence concerning the T-34. If one seeks detailed photos for reference to detail your model, this book should please you.

Artist Richard Chasemore created nearly a dozen color illustrations to enhance the visual element of the book.

1. T-34 Model 1943, 185th Separate Tank Reg.:three-view, with dimensional and other data
2. StuG III Ausf G. Finnish Assault Gun Battalion:three-view, with dimensional and other data
3. T-34 and StuG III Ammunition: comparative gun performance (10 attributes) of six rounds for the T-34's 76mm F-34; 85mm ZIS-S-53; 7.5cm KwK 40
4. T-34 Turret: 3-quarter view cut-away keyed to 15 components
5. T-34 Crew: 3-quarter view cut-away showing the positions of the crew
6. StuG III Crew: 3-quarter view cut-away showing the positions of the crew
7. StuG III Fighting Compartment: 3-quarter view cut-away keyed to 13 components
8. Map: The Red Army's Vyborg Offensive, 10 June 1944
9. Map: The battle of Kuuterselkä, 14-15 June 1944: keyed to five actions and detailed with colored graphics
10. Two-page combat centerfold, Duel at Kuuterselkä, 14 June 1944: StuG III attacking T-34s in broken terrain under a midnight sun
11. Gun sight-views of combat explained:
    a. TMFD-7 Telescopic Sight
    b. Sfl.ZF1a Periscopic Sight


1. Dynamics of Soviet medium-tank strength, by year, 1942-45:
    Tank strength on 1 January
    Total losses
    Tank production
    Lend-Lease medium-tank deliveries

2. Man-hours per T-34 tank 1942-45: by factory, for 1 January 1942-45, and 1 July 1945.
3. Percentage of T-34 tanks teaching 300km during factory trials: by month, April 1943-Feb. 1944.
4. T-34 production by factory: both the T-34 and T-34/85, 1941-45, from seven factories.
5. Comparative combat value 1943-45: Red Army computer assessment, by ratio, of combat effectiveness of a:
    PzKpfw III (5cm L/60 gun)
    PzKpfw IV

6. German AFV production by type 1941-45: by year per:

7. StuG III/IV and StuH 42 manufacture 1940-45:
    StuG III L/24
    StuG III L/43
    StuG III L/48
    StuG IV
    StuH 42

8. Sturmgeschütz strength/losses 1941-45: by month.
9. German kill claims against Soviet tanks and AFVs January-April 1944: by tanks; SPG; ATG; etc.
10. Comparable technical details: the T-34 Model 1942; T-34/85; StuG III Ausf G by:
    Dimensions (LxWxH}
    Loaded weight
    Main gun
    Main gun ammunition
    Maximum speed
    Ground pressure

11. Comparative armor protection for the the T-34 Model 1942, T-34/85 and StuG III Ausf G by:
    Turret front
    Turret side
    Upper hull front
    Upper hull side
    Lower hull front

12. The Finnish Assault Gun Battalion at Kuuterselkä, 14 June 1944, by unit, commander, and vehicle number/name.
13. Finnish StuG III kill claims by type of Russian tank.
14. Highest-scoring Finnish StuG III crews by:

15. Probability of destroying an enemy tank based on crew quality compares the quality of both the friendly and enemy crew, by skill rated as high, medium, and low.

Those tables are very useful to present data and concepts.

With T-34 vs StuG III Finland 1944, Osprey offers us a well researched and presented comparison of the StuG III in a tank killing role against the T-34. It is full of excellent text and a remarkable gallery of photographs, custom artwork, and informational tables. The text identifies and clarifies technical jargon and interesting background information. I found a minor typo but nothing that detracts from the content.

Modelers and historians of the StuG III, T-34, Finnish-Soviet war, and Eastern Front should be eager to have this book in their library. Highly recommended.

Please remember to mention to Osprey and retailers that you saw this book here - on ARMORAMA.
Highs: Excellent text and a remarkable gallery of photographs, custom artwork, and informational tables. Many color photos.
Lows: Nothing that detracts from the content.
Verdict: A well researched and presented comparison of the StuG III in a tank killing role against the T-34. Modelers and historians of the StuG III, T-34, Finnish-Soviet war, and Eastern Front should be eager to have this book in their library.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: DUE 96, 9781472832351
  PUBLISHED: Nov 02, 2019

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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.


Regardless of how you see the value of each AFV these books offer considerable insight and invaluable detail into each vehicle and while I have yet to see the actual comparisons listed I'm sure that it will make good, if contentious, reading.
NOV 03, 2019 - 01:18 PM
It is a typical Zaloga Osprey Duel series book in that it is informative and draws appropriate conclusions, namely that it is not just technological advantages that decide the outcome, but also the tactical situation as well as the training of crews etc. What does make this one different is that it features a campaign about which I knew nothing. There was a lack of information about the Eastern front in the West until the 1990's, in that we knew about Kursk, and then "jumped" to Berlin, with a brief interlude for Warsaw, and it is only now that information about the offensives in between is becoming more readily accessible
NOV 03, 2019 - 01:34 PM

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