Sunday, March 29, 2015

Pz. Kw. IIIs in Tiger Kompanies

It is a common misconception that the Panzer IIIs issued to the Tiger battalions were, as a rule, Ausf. Ns. The corresponding TO&E, KStN 1176d simply called for Panzer IIIs, version not specified. The organisation was changed in March 1943.

In this period, the type of Panzer IIIs issued (or in operation) were:
s.PzAbt 501 - 25 PzIII 75mm
s.PzAbt 504 - 19 PzIII 50mm
s.PzAbt 503 - 25 PzIII 75mm
s.PzAbt 505 - 25 PzIII 50mm
s.PzAbt 502 - 9 PzIII 50mm, 17 PzIII 75mm
s.PzKp GD - 10 PzIII 50mm
s.SS-PzKp - each 10 PzIII 50mm

I am a bit puzzled by the question in regards to PzIII befehlspanzer in the Tiger battalion. The Stabskompanie was organized according to KStN 1150b with a Nachtrichten Zug of 2 Tiger Befehlswagen and one Panzer III and a 1. Zug with 5 Panzer III. So the additional radio equipment (and the crows-foot antenna) would be in the Tigers, not the Panzer IIIs.

I was under the impression, that the use of Panzer IIIs in the Tiger kompanies/battalions was because not enough Tigers were available, but it appears that it was indeed a tactical experiment. One that apparently failed.

A combat report from the Grossdeutchland division suggests that a single Tiger Kompanie is not enough to ensure that Tigers will be available when needed as they require a lot of maintenance. The Panzer IIIs could not stand the same punishment as the Tigers, and were singled out by the enemy and destroyed. Also, the maintenance units was overburdoned by having to deal both with the Tigers and the Panzer IIIs.

As could be expected, the Generalinspekteur der Panzertruppen suggested that Tigers should be concentrated in independant, 3 company battalions, Panzer IIIs should be removed from the organisation and reconnaisance duties should be made by a reconnaisance platoon equipped with SPWs.

Source: "Jentz: "Panzertruppen" vol. II

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