Hello and welcome to what I hope will be the start to a series of posts (to be put up somewhere) on the tanks and battle tactics shown in the series of “Girls und panzer”. This will be done with two different series each split into several parts, these primer posts focusing on the tank teams in which I discuss what each tank was meant to do irl and how I felt they pulled them off in the series (expect a lot of angry opinions), and another series of posts to follow in which I will discuss the tactics they actually use in battle (to be released on a battle to battle basis, expect more angry opinions).
In this first post I will be discussing our main character’s team: the Ooarai team consisting of a StuG III, an M3 Lee, a Pz38(t), a type 89, a PzIV, and a bunch of girls who physically should not be able to drive these tanks.
Starting off with the reliable Sturmgeschutz III, or StuG III for short. This vehicle has the honor of being the most produced tracked vehicle by the Germans during WWII (being cheaper to build than a PzIII due to replacing the turret with a casemate), with roughly over 10,000 StuG III’s of all types having been built of the course of the war. Originally meant as a direct infantry support tank (and classified as self-propelled artillery), it was built in order to help infantry assault armored fortifications (such as pillboxes) in addition to simply helping them kill the enemy. Using the PzIII ausf F chassis, the StuG III was built with a specific order to give it a low profile (not to exceed the height of an average man).
During the war, StuG’s were known to be notoriously good at ambushes (their low profile makes them dead easy to camouflage), as well as, when engaging tanks, being hard to target properly due to them being so low to the ground. The tank shown in Girls und Panzer is specifically the StuG III ausf F, the product of current war doctrine changing from being mainly tanks supporting infantry vs. other infantry, to tank engaging and taking out other tanks. It was at this point that they started re-configuring the StuG III into the role of a tank destroyer, a tank which sacrifices a full turret in order to mount a bigger gun, thus making it good for ambushing and taking out surprised tanks with ease.
This ausf F sports a 75mm StuK 40 L/43 anti-tank gun, and 80mm (of slightly sloped) frontal armor. The 75mm gun is capable of penetrating 91mm of armor sloped 30 degrees at 500m, and 82mm of armor at 1000. This upgunning made this vehicle finally able to engage even soviet armor at normal combat ranges.
As a breakdown, the stug is meant to, using its accurate and powerful (for the time) gun, ambush and effectively eliminate enemy armor from a safe position, hopefully leaving the enemy disoriented terrorized and weakened.
The StuG III in Girls und Panzer, however, in addition to being crewed by an extremely thematically confused bunch, has also been painted into what I can only describe as a monstrous travesty to its original purpose. The gaudy paint job and flags make this all but impossible to hide in most circumstances (this quantifier to be explained in a later post), and its accurate gun is wasted on this inexperienced crew. Not to mention the show’s misrepresentation the actual power of most of the guns and armor shown so far in this show. Please expect a lot of rage in general when I talk about the StuG.
Next up is the American M3 Lee. This American medium tank was originally meant as a stopgap tank while the Americans transitioned into something better suited to engage enemy armor, but due to popularity with the British (who coincidentally named it the Lee. All American tanks were originally only given their number designations), has grown to be a very successful tank during its career.
Being a stopgap tank, you can see many small clues of how tank doctrine was changing. American tanks needed to go from an armored vehicle with too many turrets and so many machine guns sticking out of it even the driver had one (it caused havoc with teamwork when the driver was turning everywhere trying to aim his gun) to something that could mount a big enough gun so as to be able to hurt other tanks instead of just engaging infantry. As evidence of this, The M3 lee still has a grand total of two turrets equipped with small infantry support cannons, and an anti-tank 75mm gun mounted to the hull (because they didn’t have a turret big enough to mount it back then).
The M3 Lee, with its 51mm of frontal armor and a 75mm gun, is a decently mobile tank that is hampered in fighting ability by a combination of moderately thin armor and what essentially amounts to a lack of a working turret. These limitations prevent it from effectively using mobility to avoid fire when in many cases its armor would force it to. The affectionately called “scrub team’s” M3, especially, being the first variant (a Lee I), suffers from this due to an inexperienced (and cowardly) crew, as well as hull integrity that is slightly compromised by being riveted together.
The terrible pink color scheme aside (bad for camo, not worse than the StuG), I won’t rag on this tank too much and I actually have hope for growth.
The Student Council crew’s Pz38(t) is actually a Czech tank that the Germans acquired when they annexed Czechoslovakia because they needed tank designs for use in training and early war scenarios.
Equipped with a 37mm gun and a widely varying amount of armor depending on when it was made (the design was up-armored several times, and applique armor had also been applied), this light tank of pre-war design and intent was retired early on for insufficiencies in both armor and power. The rather brittle Czech steel and riveted design made spalling more dangerous than any rounds themselves, making this tank extremely unreliable in tank to tank engagements.
Flat yellow isn’t a terrible color scheme on its own, but the Student council managed to somehow shine up this tank about 10000%. I honestly want to commend them for managing this, but don’t expect your tank to last very long if you can be easily identified over a kilometer away, especially if your tank is commanded by someone as careless (if passionate) as the vice president.
Also: beware of the fact that this tank usually has a 4 man crew, while in the show it is crewed by 3. Vice president as the Commander/Gunner, 3rd girl as the driver, and I honestly cannot tell if the President is acting as the hull gunner (which would make the Vice president the loader as well) or if she’s the loader and they are just forgoing the position of hull gunner. This may impact their performance, but we’ll have to see.
The Type 89 Chi-Ro (Or I-Go) crewed by the volleyball team is a piece of Japanese armor that is classified as a medium tank, but only due to lighter Japanese standards (being restricted to a small series of islands has its demerits) as well as interwar limitations. By any WWII standard, the size weight and armor thickness of the type 89 would put it under the light tank category.
The volleyball team crews a type 89B “Otsu” type, which holds the distinction of being one of the first tanks to use a diesel engine, which has the advantage of being less susceptible to being lit on fire.
The type 89 features around 15mm of frontal hull armor, although in some places it was as thin as 6. Its armor was proof to most infantry fire, but was too thin to properly engage in tank to tank battles. It carries a 57mm gun, which was honestly quite big for its time, and is capable of penetrating most inter to early war tanks. However, the tank was rather slow, and due to its thin armor, is easily knocked out. Overall the type 89 was not a bad piece of early armor, if you knew how to avoid return fire.
The volleyball team’s customizations are one of the least objectionable of the bunch, sporting only emblems and phrases which were rather common even in the actual war. In addition to being the least objectionable, this tank is also the least remarkable, being as far as I can tell crewed by very spirited and at least slightly competent people. I honestly can’t find much to say about this facet of the Ooarai team, other than that I hope they are found useful.
Last, but not least, is the PzIV crewed by our beloved MC team. Being the only tank in the show to have a specified model number (ausf D), you can tell that these people are important.
Like the Stug III, the Pz IV was originally intended to support infantry and not engage armor, as that role was assumed by the Pz III. That soon changed, however, as the Pz III became increasingly obsolete in the face of heavier more modern armor.
The PzIV saw service from the beginning to the end of the war (although it is most famous for being a Mid-war tank, as it was an object of concern for American armor when they jumped in). The ausf D, with 30mm of frontal armor was rather thin, although this got increased to 80mm later on, making it proof to most Shermans. In addition, the ausf D. was fitted with a short barreled 75mm howitzer, which could only pen about 40mm of armor at a range of 700 meters, making it very lacking in anti-tank ability.
The PzIV has a long service record and an even longer list of modifications which ultimately made it a very formidable existence on the battlefield. However, the ausf D, as an early war version, is not nearly as effective at tank warfare. With altogether too thin armor and a gun that has to rely on lucky spalling to have effect on most tanks from the front, I can’t expect this tank to do too well without being modified. (I expect them to power up during the series)
I actually really like what they did with this tank. I dunno modifying the inside is a good idea, and cushions are nice haha. I really hope they learn to use this tank better. Making use of this powerful but inaccurate gun in close range combat in conjunction with its good mobility would be fun to watch. (I say powerful because the gun, although not capable of penetrating much, is still able to do a lot of damage otherwise)
This covers the Ooarai team of tanks! Hope you found this useful, and look forward to my next post to cover the St. Glorianna tanks: The Churchill and the Matilda mk. II! Also to be posted soon will be my thoughts on the first (kind of official) tank battle between Ooarai and St. Glorianna in episode 4.