In 1946 when a train load of vehicles arrived at Fort Knox from Aberdeen Proving Grounds (APG) for the Armored School Museum, among them were three Sturmgeschutz III Gs (StuG40) and one Sturmhaubitze (StuH42). All four vehicles came from the same unit and all were painted in the same factory camouflage pattern. Built at Alkett in Berlin, the StuG40s were the latest model of the ausf. G series. They all had cast topfblende mantlets (pot mantlet often mistakenly referred to as a saukopf mantlet), remote controlled MG stations on the hull roof, loader's hatches that opened to the side and a coax machine gun with a firing port in the mantlet. The StuH still had the older block mantlet but had a coax port.
Besides these factory-produced details, all three had field modifications for stowage and spare wheel mounts. Thin steel strips were welded to form a fence-like structure around the circumference of the engine deck. Flat, square steel plates were welded to the strips to which the spare road wheel mounts were welded so that the wheels were no longer stored on the rear engine air intakes as was normal. These field modifications were not unique to these vehicles as war-time photos show. While the StuH had similar fencing around its engine deck, it had its spare road wheel mounts welded to the right superstructure side. While all four vehicles had the remote roof-top machine gun, only one StuG40 actually had the mount, on the other three it was missing.
All four vehicles were on display inside what became the Patton Museum of Cavalry and Armor on Old Ironsides Ave. Some time in the 1950s, one of the StuG40s, the one that still had its roof-top machine gun mount, was removed from the collection along with an SdKfz 251D/9. It was presumed they were considered excess and sent to the gunnery ranges on post. Another StuG40 was put on display on a concrete pad outside the museum painted in a non-authentic camouflage pattern. One interesting detail of this StuG is that it had an Ostketten spare track section mounted on the right upper hull. Ostketten was a wider track designed for use during the Winter and muddy Springs on the Eastern Front.
When the first phase of the new Patton Museum was built in Keyes Park in 1972, many of the vehicles in the collection were repainted and placed on concrete pads while others were kept in storage. The StuG40 that had been painted previously was repainted in a Panzer Gray color and placed in the park. Sometime in the following years, this StuG was repatriated back to West Germany, restored and put on display in Panzermuseum Munster. This left only two of the four original vehicles in the collection - one StuG 40 and the StuH42.
After additional wings of the Patton Museum were built, the remaining StuG40 was put on display inside. Because it still retained traces of its original war-time camouflage, it would remain untouched so that it became the sole physical example of an Alkett factory applied camo scheme. The StuH42 had, however, been repainted in a yellow, green and brown camouflage scheme before it was put on display outside the museum in 1972. In 2003, the StuH was repainted by Patton Museum volunteer Robert Decker in a dunkelgelb and olivgruen camouflage with appropriate unit symbol and placed on display inside the museum.
The unit crest, consisting of a wolf-like head inside a shield, has not been positively identified, but it may be the 261 StuG Brigade since they used a wolf's head as their unit symbol. Not all StuG units have been identified since StuGs served in not only independent battalions, but within panzer, panzergrenadier and volksgrenadier divisions. The StuGs and StuH all belonged to the same unit and were captured in the Third Army area of operations either in southern Germany, Austria or Czechoslovakia. Unless photographic evidence along with a date and specific location surface, this is one mystery that may never be solved.
The StuG40 and Stuh42 were moved to Fort Benning in 2010 and are now stored undercover.
Click on the links below to see period photos of the StuG40 while at Fort Knox. Use your back button to return to this page to see each gallery. Hover your cursor over each photo to see captions.