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Axis Tanks and Combat Vehicles of World War II


A Sd.Kfz. 9/1 hoisting a Maybach HL 120 TRM engine into a Panzer III.

SdKfz 9/2 lifting a Tiger turret.

For the most part, the standard tank recovery vehicle remained the heavy-duty 18-ton prime-mover (Zugkraftwagen). The heaviest of the half-tracks, two at least were required for towing a Panther and three for a Tiger. About 2,500 were built by the firm of Famo at Breslau and Warsaw between 1938 and 1944.

A new upper body was used for the Sd.Kfz. 9/1 which mounted a 6 t (5.9 long tons; 6.6 short tons) capacity crane in lieu of the crew’s bench seat and the cargo compartment. It was issued to tank maintenance units beginning in September 1941. A larger, gasoline-electric, 10 t (9.8 long tons; 11 short tons) crane was fitted on the later Sd.Kfz. 9/2, but this required outriggers to stabilize the vehicle before operations could begin. There was also a tank recovery version with a giant spade-like metal plate connected to the rear of the frame. The spade holding frame could be lifted straight up for transport. It was meant to stabilize the vehicle while winching a heavy object on soft ground.

The Kfz. 100 Büssing NAG 4500 A was produced for the German armed forces from 1942 to the end of the war. Over 13.800 vehicles were produced, and they were converted into different versions. One of these versions was fitted with a turntable crane, the Bilstein Drehkran, which had a maximum lifting capacity of 3 Ton. These vehicles were used in field repair units, where they were used for lifting engines, gun barrels and also for towing assignments.

Nominally, provision was made in a 1944 tank regiment for two Bergepanzer III recovery tanks and four 35-ton Bergeschlepper towing tanks (probably an early designation for the Bergepanthers). The Bergepanzer III, based on the PzKpfw III Ausf M, N and J, was nevertheless something of a rarity – only to be found in Panzer Regiments 3, 16 and 130 and SS-Panzer Regiment 9 in Normandy.

Altogether 271 were built by Alkett of Berlin who were responsible for more than half the production of the PzKpfw III.

The heavy tank battalions, with their Tigers, normally had Bergepanthers, which were rarer still. There were two in schwere Panzer Abteilung 503 and one in schwere SS-Panzer Abteilung 101 but none in schwere SS-Panzer Abteilung 102. The Bergepanther (SdKfz 179) was produced by Demag to meet the Armaments Ministry’s requirement for a heavy-duty recovery vehicle able to cope with the Tiger and Panther. Between 1943 and 1944, 347 were built by Demag and MNH. The vehicle was a conversion of the Panther Ausf D and G, with the turret removed and housing a winch and its motor in a square open-top compartment with mild steel sides which could be extended upwards with wood flaps and had a tarpaulin cover. At the rear was a massive spade anchor, operated by the winch, to hold the vehicle down during the actual recovery operation. For lifting work there was a jib that could be fixed on either side of the hull roof and on the front plate mount. The fuel capacity of the Bergepanther was increased to 1075 litres.


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