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Bergepanther mit Pz Kpfw IV (H) turm als Befehlspanzer - case report.

   I built this tank in december, 2007 and I will show to you guys all the steps of assembly of this unique command vehicle, which fought with the famous Schwere Panzerjäger Abteilung 653, in Ukraine, 1944.
      The Bergepanther mit PzKpfw IV Ausf. H turm was a field adaptation built in single copy in the Schwere Panzerjäger Abteilung 653.
Bergepanther mit aufgesetztem Pzkpfw.IV(H) turm als Befehlspanzer (red arrow)
Notice the Tiger (P) VK 4501 in the front railcar
Bergepanther with Pzkpfw.IV(H) turret Command tank
      The vehicle was a combination of SdKfz 179 Bergepanther with early chassis (belonging to the first 12 units in this unit, built from June, 1943)...
SdKfz 179 Bergepanther ARV (Armored Recovery Vehicle) with crane installed
Notice the absence of MG bulge from the later versions
SdKfz 179 Bergepanther ARV with crane disassembled
Notice the little hatch partially open for MG in the front glacis
... with an adapted turret (screwed permanently) from a cannibalized PzKpfw lV Ausf H in the Bergepanther hull.
Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf H of 12. SS-Panzer-Division. Caen, 1944
      The purpose of the transformation was "close" the open hull of Bergepanther with a armored turret, in order to better protect of his crew. With the hull closed by a turret, one of these rescue vehicles was converted into Command Car.
Bergepanther with Pzkpfw.IV(H) turret Command tank
      The gun was just a dummy and the absence of of the gun breech allowed a larger space on the tower for extraradio and map tables. The result was a command tank with a fixed turret, plus a name that was absolutely mind numbing: Bergepanther mit aufgesetztem Pzkpfw IV(H) turm als Befehlspanzer. The work was done as a field conversion, and only one vehicle is known to have been converted. It served with the Schwere Panzerjäger Abteilung 653 (equipped with Ferdinand and, later, Jagdtiger vehicles) on the Eastern Front in 1944.

A brief operational history about Schwere Panzerjägerabteilung 653
                                                                                                                          By  Dr. Michael L. McSwiney, Ph.D.
April – August 1944
      In December 1943, the Soviets began operations that would ultimately drive a wedge between Army Groups South and Centre. By late March 1944, Soviet forces had surrounded the important road junction of Tarnopol with the goal of securing the junction and the rail line from Odessa to Lemberg, which was vital to the German war effort. During this time, the Schwere Panzerjägerabteilung 653 was undergoing refit with the overhauled SdKfz 184 Ferdinands (soon to be renamed “Elefant”). 

SdKfz 184 Ferdinand (notice the abscence of MG in the front hull)
SdKfz 184 Elefant (the Ferdinand upgraded- notice the MG in the hull)
      The 1st company was re-equipped and sent into service in Italy (along with the 1st Maintenance Platoon). This left the Stab (headquarters) company and the 2nd and 3rd companies to await completion of their overhaul and assignment. 
Company markings of Schwere Panzerjägerabteilung 653
      This effort was completed in on 31 March 1944 and the three companies embarked for the eastern front on 2 April arriving in Brzezany (Ukayne) on 6 April. By 8 April, the Schwere Panzerjägerabteilung 653 was attached to the 9th SS-Panzerdivision in an effort to relieve Tarnopol. This effort ultimately failed, and the operation was called off. At the end of April the abteilung began a reasonably quiet time of rebuilding and retraining of replacements in Brzezany.
      It was during the time in Brzezany that the Schwere Panzerjägerabteilung 653 received and converted various “special vehicles” that make the unit distinct (apart from the fact that it was one of the only two battalions to receive the Ferdinand/Elefant tank-hunter). Among the special vehicles was:

  • Tiger (P) VK 4501 which had been upgraded with radios and zimmerit to create a command vehicle. 
Tiger (P) VK 4501 "red 003" command tank
notice the zimmerit in the hull and turret
Tiger (P) VK 4501 "red 003" command tank - front view
notice the badge
Tiger (P) VK 4501 "red 003" command tank - rear view
notice the badge
  • Bergepanther mit aufgesetztem Pzkpfw.IV(H) turm als Befehlspanzer, adding a stationary Panzer IV Ausf H turret.
Two oddballs; Bergepanther mit aufgesetztem Pzkpfw.IV(H) (red arrow)
Notice the Tiger (P) VK 4501 in front
  •  Bergepanther with a quad 2cm anti-aircraft gun: Flakpanzer T-34 747(r). The anti-aircraft turret were built by the battalion’s maintenance unit from half-track armoured plate.

The Flakpanzer T-34 747(r) without ammo in the sides of the hull
Flakpanzer T-34 747(r) - rear view
Flakpanzer T-34 747(r)
  • T-34 ammunition carriers. T-34 were captured with turrets removed and adapted interior with racks for carrying ammo.
T-34 turretless. Notice the number: "red 305"
      The battalion also received four further Elefant tank destroyers with a modified rear hatch  to better facilitate the installation and removal of the main armament.
Elefant with new rear hatch.
      On 13 July 1944, the 1st and 4th Ukrainian Fronts attacked Army Group North Ukraine quickly splitting the 1st and 4th German Panzer Armies. 
      The Schwere Panzerjägerabteilung 653 came under assault from several Soviet divisions at Pomeryany and Rohatyn on 14 August 1944. The battalion fought an incessant rearguard action through Lemberg, Kurowice, and Yeziezanka. Unfortunately during this fighting withdrawal, the battalion lost over 60% of its heavy vehicles. Most were not lost to direct enemy action, but rather to the inherent weaknesses of the Elefant design. Its technical complexity resulted in several break downs and other technical failures. The speed of the advance meant that any breakdown often resulted in the vehicle being left behind. 
      Many bridges could not support the weight of the immense tank destroyer, and the fuel situation also meant many simply ran out of gasoline and had to be destroyed by their crews.
The Elefants, September to the end:
      The few remaining Elefant tank-hunters of  Schwere Panzerjägerabteilung 653 initially remained with the 17th Army. The Elefants were concentrated into the 2nd company, which was later renamed the 614. Schwere Panzerjägerkompanie. The company later joined the XXXXVIII Panzerkorps under 4th Army command on the eastern front. 
      The rest of the 653. Schwere Panzerjägerabteilung returned to Germany where they were refitted with the new Jagdtiger tank-hunters. The Elefants continued to serve on the eastern front. They fought against the Soviet Vistula-Oder Offensive in January 1945. 
Jagdtiger of Schwere Panzerjager Abteilung 653 - Steinweiler Pfalz 1945
      The Elefant saw its last battles in Berlin, with the last two remaining vehicles fighting until captured in May 1945.
One of the last Elefants, in Berlin - May, 1945

Bergepanther mit PzKpfw IV(H) turm als Befehlspanzer
Place or origin                           The Third Reich
Manufacturerfield adaptation
Type of vehicleCommand tank
TractionTracks, 8 wheel bearing
Crewfrom 3 to 5 
EngineMaybach HL 230 P 30
12 cyl. in V - 23.000 cc 600hp @ 2500 rpm
Capacity fuel1075 liters
Weight46300 kg
Speed46 km / h (road)
i20 km / h (off- road)
Rangeroad - 310 km
off-road - 160 Km
Operational data
Armament              MG 34  caliber 7.92 mm
                                hull hatch
The kit:
      To built this project I chose for the chassis the kit ICM Bergepanther (early version) #35341 and for the turret, an old Academy kit Panzer IV Ausf H with armour #1327

      The building progressed quickly and smoothly...
The bag with parts of the Bergepanther ICM kit...
The tracks LBL, with injections flaws...No big deal...
Closing the hull...The kit ICM is Ok !!!

Aligning the suspension arms...
rear deck
crew deck...minor flaws in this sector ...

adding grilles in the kit (scratch)
ICM kit shows the characteristic  tow hook of Bergepanthers
little scratch
Turret time !!!  The hull will be saved for a future project ...
Panzer IV turret "bolted" in the Bergepanther hull, like in the original vehicle...

Command tank almost ready for painting...
Dark-yellow with shadows...

Cammo brindled with green and red-brown
Next step: decals...
    And the girl was ready: Bergepanther mit aufgesetztem Pzkpfw.IV(H) turm als Befehlspanzer from Schwere Panzerjägerabteilung 653, Ukrayne, 1944.
Bergepanther mit aufgesetztem Pzkpfw.IV(H) turm
from Schwere Panzerjägerabteilung 653 - Head Quarters Section - Ukrayne, 1944.

Bergepanther mit aufgesetztem Pzkpfw.IV(H) turm - left side

Bergepanther mit aufgesetztem Pzkpfw.IV(H) turm - rear view
Bergepanther mit aufgesetztem Pzkpfw.IV(H) turm - right side

Bergepanther mit aufgesetztem Pzkpfw.IV(H) turm - notice the badge from
Schwere Panzerjägerabteilung 653 - Head Quarters Section in the front glacis

Bergepanther mit aufgesetztem Pzkpfw.IV(H) turm
with Kojak and Rover, the dog.

Bergepanther mit aufgesetztem Pzkpfw.IV(H) turm
from Schwere Panzerjägerabteilung 653 - Head Quarters Section - Ukrayne, 1944.
See you soon !!! Be alert !! 

7 comentários:

  1. Incredible convertion, I have already seen this tank one time but I have learn more about this by reading your post.
    I tought the turret was functionnal. Your historical notices are always a source of knowledge for me and it's always a pleasure to read. I like your model, it have a so particular looking with this low profile panther, great !

  2. Hmmm...maybe, Alain, but I think they wanted a roomier vehicle.
    The turret function was just be an "armored lid ". Senior officers needed space in the interior of the tank and the breech of the gun would occupy too much space.
    And remember: a 75mm would be little help in firepower compared to 88mm of Ferdinands / Elefants.

    Big hug and take care, my Belgian friend.

  3. Thanks so much Marcos, I learn always so intresting things with all the informations you shares with your posts.
    Nice painting for your "special" Pz. IV

  4. Hello.
    The tower is an important area, they need for space wagon leader, gunner and loader. Needs also behind to cannon
    Not so, like such as the French Schneider tanks towers.
    This was a problem for the French tanks in 1939, the Schneider turret was very cramped, special behind the turret cannon
    All tanks, always the same tower.
    Only one man, wagon leader who also served as a recharger and a gunner. French tanks were good and strong armor.
    Just too little space men inside a vehicle.
    In addition, de Gaulle did not receive own teaching systems there before it was too late
    Ironic, but true
    The German Guderian used and applied De Gaulle opettaamaa information
    with great success throughout the war period, against De Gaulle tanks.

  5. Indeed, Maximex. Now imagine a turret of Panzer IV without the breech, trunions and coaxial MG. And without the turret basket, without the ammo shells and rotation mechanism. The tank (and Panther is a very large tank ...) will be very spacious ...

    Big hug, my friend !!!

  6. Hi Marco

    Another stunning project which I've browsed that night. I think there's any combination of Panther Ausf D and PzKpfw IV Ausf H ... could come to similar result, when using your hints in that thread. I've got a built, but unpainted Panther D which I've built in '99 ... but sorry I've invested mucht time doing Zimmerit and lots of self-built gadgets ... but it looks like Zimmerit did'nt fit for that project ...

    With the very best regards

    1. Good Morning, Roland!!! Exactly ... this vehicle did not have zimmerit and as it is a unique vehicle, it might be complicated to use this model that you already have ... But, who knows?? Maybe you can get an economical kit to make this interesting vehicle ?? Good luck and thank you very much for your words of encouragement !!