Panzer-Bergegerät (Panther I)/ Bergepanther

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The Bergepanther or Panzer-Bergegerät (Panther I) was a tank recovery vehicle based on the Panther medium tank, and produced to solve a problem caused by the ever-increasing weight of German tanks. While the Panzer III and Panzer IV could both be successfully retrieved by the half-tracked Zugkraftwagen 18t “Famo”, the Tiger I and Panther were simply too heavy – at least three of the half-tracks were needed to tow a Tiger or two for a Panther. The lack of a suitable towing vehicle became far more important once the German army was retreat, many otherwise repairable tanks being lost when the troops were forced to pull back.

The solution adopted was to produce a Panzer Recovery Vehicle (Panzer-Bergegerät) based on the Panther tank. The first ten vehicles were produced by MAN in the summer of 1943, and were simply standard Panthers with the turret replaced by a temporary superstructure.

Work on the dedicated Bergepanther took rather longer. The first problem was finding a winch with a capacity of 40 tons. A suitable winch was found to have been developed in 1940-41 for use on a special engineering vehicle designed to pull a plough length-ways along a road to destroy the surface. This winch was installed in the rear of most Bergepanthers, although production shortfalls meant that not every vehicle received one.

A heavy support spade was fixed to the back to the Bergepanther. This was used to hold the vehicle in place when it was attempting to tow equally heavy Panthers or heavier Tigers, and was lowered into the ground when in use. A two ton auxiliary crane was developed for use on recovery vehicles, but was probably not installed on many vehicles.

The Bergepanther was produced in two versions. The Ausf A was produced from the summer of 1943 until the autumn of either 1943 or 1944 (sources dramatically differ – see below), and was then replaced by the Ausf G, each based on the equivalent Panther. Total production was somewhere between 297 and 329 vehicles, most of them produced by Demag, who took over production at the start of 1944. The Bergepanther was used to equip the workshop and recovery company of the tank detachments, each of which was allocated 2-4 vehicles.

Stats
Number produced (Chamberlain/ Doyle/ Jentz): 
Man: Ausf A: 12 early conversions, summer 1943
Henschel: Ausf A: 70 full production, July-November 1943
Demag: Ausf A: 150, February-September 1944
Demag: Ausf G: 107, October 1944-end
Total: 329

Number produced (Spielberger)
Man: 10 early conversions
Henschel: contracted for 70, protested order, may not have completed
Demag: Took over January 1944, Ausf G only
Total: 297

Length: 8.82m
Hull Width: 3.27m
Height: 2.74,
Crew: 5
Weight: 43 tons
Engine: Maybach HL230P30
Max Speed: 46 km/hr
Max Range:  320km
Armament: Two 7.92mm MG 34 or MG42, some with 2cm KwK38

Armour

 

Front

Side

Rear

Top/ Bottom

Turret

8mm

8mm

8mm

 

Superstructure

80mm

40mm

40mm

16mm

Hull

60mm

40mm

40mm

16-30mm

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (10 September 2008), Panzer-Bergegerät (Panther I)/ Bergepanther , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_bergepanther.html

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