Schwere Panzer Abteilung 503
- sPzAbt 503
The second unit promised to Rommel,
the 503rd, was to receive Porsche-Tigers, but the cancellation
of production resulted in the 503rd being outfitted with
20 Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf.E and 25 Pz.Kpfw.III Ausf.N in November and December
1942, and first saw action in southern Russia, during the Don campaign
and the withdrawal from Stalingrad.
The 503rd was upgraded and received 24 new Tigers in
April 1943, completing their complement of 45 Tigers. Having lost
only four Tigers during the Kursk offensive and a further four during
the withdrawal, the unit received 12 replacements in August 1943.
In late 1943, sPzAbt 503 was made part of Panzer Regiment "Bake",
a special battle group which fought in several fierce engagements
in the Dnieper sector near Cherkassy. The sPzAbt 503 remained assigned
to PzRgt."Bake": until April 1944, then was withdrawn
and sent to the West for refitting.
| Tiger I, number 300
of the 3.Kompanie, sPzAbt.503, reversing under a smoke screen,
The 503rd was rested and
outfitted with 45 new Tigers and re-entered combat on 25 January
1944. It received a further 35 new Tigers in February and March
1944, before being withdrawn form combat in late April 1944. Transferred
back to the West, the 503rd received a further 33 Tiger
Is and 12 Tiger IIs and was sent to Normandy. The battalion staff
and 1st company had been re-equipped with the new Pz.Kpfw.Tiger Ausf.B,
but the 2nd and 3rd companies retained the
Tiger I E. The 3rd company was caught in a bombing attack
in July 1944, and all of its Tigers were destroyed or damaged. On
9 September 1944, sPzAbt 503 was completely equipped with 45 new Panzerkampfwagen
Tiger Ausf.B (Tiger II).
| Loaded on trains
on 12 October, 1944, the 503rd was unloaded in
Budapest, Hungary on 14 October, 1944. This Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf.B of
sPzAbt 503 is seen in Budapest, October, 1944.
It was then transferred to Hungary
and committed to the defense of Budapest. By an order dated December
21, 1944, sPzAbt 503 was renamed sPzAbt Feldherrnhalle and attached
to PzGren. Div. FHH.
Schwere Panzer Abteilung 504
- sPzAbt 504
| Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Aus..E, sPzAbt.504
- North Africa, 1943.
The 504th was the second
Tiger unit to be sent to Tunisia. It was issued 25 PzKpfw III plus
two Panzerbefehlswagen Tiger Ausf.E in January, and 18 Tigers, comprising
the battalion staff, workshop company, and 1st tank company
arrived in Tunisia on 12 March 1943. The 2nd company
remained in Sicily. The tank company had four platoons, each with
two Tiger I tanks and two Pzkpw III support tanks. All of the sPzAbt
504 Tigers were destroyed or captured. The surviving elements surrendered
on 12 May 1943.
On 13 April 1943, the OKH ordered
that six Tigers were to be stationed on Sicily and that until transferred
to Tunisia, the 2.Kompanie/ schwere Panzer Abteilung 504 was to
be attached to PzAbt 215 with a reinforced platoon of six Tigers
being immediately shipped to Sicily. Altogether 17 Tigers gathered
on Sicily: the original nine from 2.Kompanie of the 504th,
two Tigers that had been used as replacements for the 501st in February, and the six Tigers issued in April 1943 for the 215th.
Tiger of s.Pz.Abt.504 was captured by the British in North
Africa. It doesn't use turret numbers, and this distinguishes
it from the Tigers of s.Pz.Abt.501.
Attached to Panzer Division Herrmann
Goering, the 17 Tigers under the 2.Kompanie of the 504th attacked the American landing zone on 11 July 1943, but were neutralized
by naval gunfire. Within the first three days ten out of the 17
Tigers were destroyed to prevent capture and a further six Tigers
were destroyed later for the same reason. The last Tiger was shipped
back across the straits of Messina to Italy.
sPzAbt 504 spent the rest of the
war in Italy. The battalion was rebuilt with a full three company
organization, with additional personnel from PzAbt. 18. The unit
trained in Germany, and then returned to Italy.
Its first action in Italy was in support of the 362nd Inf. Div. in the containment of the Allied advance up the Italian
coast following the Anzio landing. sPzAbt 504 saw a great deal of
action in the Italian campaign, including the Arno river campaign
and the defense of northern Italy.
On 14 August 1944,
sPzAbt 504 personnel were sent to the Vienna area, for familiarization training
with the Tiger II Ausf B. The battalion was never issued Tiger II, but on 12
February 1945 it received 15 Tiger I from sPzAbt 508. On 15 March 1945, sPzAbt.
504 had 32 Tigers operational, but between 15 - 28 April 1945, 19 Tigers were
lost during the retreats around Argenta, Italy. The remaining Tigers were destroyed,
mostly by their crews, to avoid the capture of the Tigers by the enemy. The
battalion surrendered at the end of the war, along with other German units
Schwere Panzer Abteilung 505
- sPzAbt 505
| One of the sPzAbt.505 Tigers has taken up position behind an isba. This particular Tiger is a veteran of the Kursk battles.
The 505th was the
last independent battalion created with the old organization of
20 Tigers and 25 Pz.Kpfw.III. Formed in February 1943, the 505th received several Tigers and the rest in March with 25 Pzkpfw IIIs.
The unit was loaded on rail cars on 29/30 April 1943 and sent to
Heeres Gruppe Mitte on the Eastern Front, where it was ordered to
upgrade to the new organization, and received 11 Tigers that were
shipped from the ordnance depot between 8 and 10 June 1943. It took
part in OPERATION CITADEL as part of Feldmarschall Model's 9th Armee. At the start of the Kursk offensive on 5 July 1943, the unit
had 31 Tigers and was joined on 9 July 1943 by 3.Kompanie which
was formed in April and received Tigers in June. The 505th lost only four Tigers during the Kursk offensive but lost a further
six by the end of July 1943.
| Panzerkampfwagen TigerAusf.E, late production,
sPzAbt.505, Russia, February 1944.
Artwork © Copyright of Mr.
Jean Restayn, who kindly gave us permission to use
| The sPzAbt.505 had
one of the most spectacular markings: a knight on a charger.
After the Kursk offensive, sPzAbt
505 was moved to the Smolensk area. During the fall of 1944, sPzAbt
505 was equipped with new version Tiger Is, which had cast cupolas,
zimmerit, and the new steel-rimmed wheels developed for the Panzerkampfwagen Tiger
Ausf.B. The 505th was ordered out of
the Eastern Front on 7 July 1944, to rest and refit at the troop
grounds at Ohrduf. By early September, 1944, sPzAbt 505 had been
equipped with new Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf.B. sPzAbt 505 was used with 24th and 25th Panzer Divisions, initially against the Narev
bridgeheads in the 1944 Russian offensive into East Prussia. The
battalion fought in East Prussia until the end of the conflict.
| By early September,
1944, schwere Panzer Abteilung 505 had been equipped with new
Schwere Panzer Abteilung 506
- sPzAbt 506
The 506th was formed in July
1943, primarily from personnel of III Abt./Pz. Rgt. 33 of 9th.
Pz. Div.. In August, the battalion received forty-five new Tiger
I tanks. The unit was engaged in the Dnieper battles in 1943. On
New Year's Day, 1944, sPzAbt 506 went to the area south of Korovograd,
and fought in Krivoi-Rog. In 1944, sPzAbt 506 was withdrawn to Germany
for refitting and preparation for action in the West. Their Tiger
Is were distributed as replacement vehicles to other units. sPzAbt
506 received the new Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf.B in August 1944. The full battalion
establishment of 45 tanks was retained. In late September, the battalion
was sent to the area around Oosterbeck, west of Arnhem. It took
part in the German defense against the combined Allied thrust to
the Rhine during OPERATION MARKET GARDEN.
| This Pz.Kpfw.Tiger Ausf.B, from the 2.Kompanie/schwere Panzer Abteilung 506 was
captured by American troops and restored to running condition by
Company B, 129th Ordnance Battalion by 15 December 1944.
The following month, sPzAbt 506 Took
part in the defense of Aachen. In November 1944, the battalion was
strengthened by the addition of a 4th company. This new
company had been organized originally as a heavy assault support
unit, used wherever necessary - a Feuerwehr (fire brigade). Its
first commander was named Hummel, and this was the name given to
the company. sPzKp. "Hummel" (now 4th company,
sPzAbt 506) was equipped with Tiger Is. This new company was fully
integrated by early December 1944.
The only Heer Tiger battalion to take part in the Ardennes offensive
was sPzAbt 506. It took part in the defense of Germany and finally
surrendered to US forces in the Ruhr pocket on April of 1945.
Schwere Panzer Abteilung 507
- sPzAbt 507
The 507th was formed
on 23 September 1943, from personnel taken from I Abt./Pz.Rgt. 4
of 13th Pz. Div.. It was organized in the usual fashion: a battalion
HQ staff company, 3 tank companies, and a workshop company, plus
supply and support detachments, and equipped with 45 Tigers between
23 December 1943 and 25 February 1943. Transferred to the Eastern
Front in March 1944, the 507th received seven replacement
Tigers before the end of the month and a further 12 in April, eight
in July, six in August, ten in November and one final tiger in December
1944. Overstrenght at 55, the 507th met the Russian winter
offensive on the Tarnapol river above Vitebk and around Narev, on
14 January 1945, and by 1 February 1945 had only seven tigers left,
none of which operational.
Tigers of sPzAbt.507 in an assembly area preparing for an attack
on Tarnopol in April 1944.
On 6 February 1945, the 507th was
ordered to return to Senneläger, to refit with the Tiger II.
The unit received 21 Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf.B: four on 9 March 1945, 11
on 22 March 1945, and the last six on 31 March. The front came to
the sPzAbt 507, deployed in the defense of the local area.
Schwere Panzer Abteilung 508
- sPzAbt 508
| Tiger I, sPzAbt.508,
sPzAbt 508 was formed in August of
1943, from personnel from PzRgt. 8, and later, more men from PzAbt
190. Issued with 45 Tigers between December 1943 and January 1944,
the 508th was ordered to Italy to attack the Allied bridgehead
at Anzio. Unloaded at a railhead 200 km from the bridgehead, about
60 per cent of the Tigers suffered mechanical failures negotiating
the narrow, sharply curved mountain roads.
The 508th, along with other units outfitted with Panthers
and Ferdinands, were repulsed mainly by the threat of naval gunfire.
Five replacement Tigers were shipped from the ordnance depot on
23 March followed by six on 25 April 1944. Following the losses
to the Allied drive in May and early June, the 508th received a
further 27 replacement Tigers that were shipped from the ordnance
depot on 3 and 5 June 1944. On February 1945, the 508th gave their remaining 15 Tigers to the 504th and returned
to Germany for outfitting with the Tiger II.
Schwere Panzer Abteilung 509
- sPzAbt 509
Tiger I, sPzAbt.509, Russia, late 1943.
sPzAbt 509 was formed on 9 September
1943, from elements of Pz. Rgt. 204 of 22nd Pz. Div.
The battalion was issued 45 Tiger Is, and fought on the Eastern
Front. From late 1943 to the early spring of 1944, sPzAbt 509 was
engaged near Kirovograd, Kirivoi-Rog, Kiev, and Pavlova, in southern
Russia. In November of 1943, the 3rd company of sPzAbt 509 was detached
and assigned to support 2 SS Pz. Div. Das Reich. A major reinforcement
occurred between 20 May and 1 June 1944, when the unit received
30 Tiger Is. The 1st and 2nd companies fought
at Novosselki, Shitomir, Chmelnik, and Kiev. During September of
1944, sPzAbt 509 was in Senneläger, the training ground, for
re-equipping with new Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf.B. It was issued 11 Tiger IIs
in September that were turned over to the SS 501st.After
experiencing further delays in outfitting due to severe interruptions
in production at Henschel, the 509th was sent 45 Tiger
IIs from the ordnance depot between 5 December 1944 and 1 January
In January of 1945, the battalion was sent
to Hungary, and assigned to IV SS PzKorps. It arrived on 15 January 1945, just
in time to take part in the third offensive toward Budapest. The German offensive
started on January 18th, and this attack is a rare example of an
entire, fully-equipped heavy tank battalion, operating under its own commander,
and attacking to accomplish the mission for which it was doctrinally intended.
In other operations, elements of other battalions were used to create breakthroughs,
but were only deployed piecemeal, with separate companies being attached to
different divisions. Still, other battalions were employed in a breakthrough
role, but were not at, or usually anywhere near, their authorized combat strength
of 45 Tigers. It must have been an impressive sight as 45 King Tigers started
the mission (WILBECK, Christopher W., op cit).
The battalion successfully penetrated the first echelons of
the Soviet defenses during this day's operations. There was no intact bridge
capable of holding the Pz.Kpfw.Tiger Ausf.B, however, so the German attack continued without
sPzAbt.509 for the next few days. During the attack on 18 January 1945, the
battalion lost seven King Tigers and destroyed at least 20 Soviet tanks and
numerous other antitank guns.
After that, the battalion was engaged in a number of battles in Hungary, supporting the third German offensive toward Budapest and then went to
Austria. sPzAbt 509 surrendered to American troops on May 9, 1945, near Linz.
The battalion had no tanks - its motorized component was one Schwimmwagen,
one radio car, and one truck.
Schwere Panzer Abteilung 510
- sPzAbt 510
| Tiger I, number 233,
sPzAbt.510, Kurland sector, 1944.
sPzAbt 510 was formed in June, 1944,
and was the last of the ten independent heavy tank battalions. It
received 45 Tiger Is between 20 June and 7 July 1944, and, from
August 1944, fought against the Russians in East Prussia. On 3 August,
six replacements were shipped to the 510th. Part of the
battalion was detached to 14th Pz. Div. , for an assault
on the Russian forces in November 1944. The other company was attached
to the 30th Inf. Div. sPzAbt 510 was heavily engaged
during the Kurland campaign, operating with 14th Pz.
Div., in early 1945. In March, two companies of the battalion were
withdrawn to the Kassel area in Germany. The remainder of sPzAbt
510, with 13 Tiger Is, was assigned to 14th Pz Div. The
last Tiger was lost on 8 May, and the battalion surrendered with
other survivors of the fierce Kurland fighting. The 510th have never
been issued a single Tiger II.
Schwere Panzer Abteilung (Funklenk)
301 - sPzAbt (FKL) 301
Panzer Abteilung 301 returned
from the Eastern Front to rest and refit with Tigers to use as control
vehicles for the BIV Sprengladungsträger and was organized
with a headquarters and three companies each with 10 Tigers. A total
of 21 more Tigers were shipped from the ordnance depot between 25
August and 15 September 1944 and an additional ten were taken over
from the s.SS.PzAbt.103.
The 301st was first reported
on the Western Front by the LXXXI Armee Korps on November 1944 as
having 31 Tigers (27 operational) and 66 BIV (61 operational). Four
Tigers were lost before the 301st was engaged in the
Ardennes Offensive and at the beginning of the attack on 16 December
1944, the 301st reported 27 Tigers available of which
12 were operational. It still had 27 Tigers of which 21 were operational
on the Western Front on 30 December 1944. The 301st remained
on the Western Front until the end of the War.
Schwere Panzer Abteilung (Funklenk)
316 - sPzKp (FKL) 316
sPzKp (FKL) 316 was issued 10
Tiger Is in September 1943 and five Tiger IIs in March 1944, which
they did not use in combat. Attached to Panzer Lehr Division and
engaged in Normandy, the 316th had six out of eight Tigers
undergoing repair on 1 July 1944. By 1 August 1944, the 316th was no longer with the Panzer Lehr Division.
13.Kompanie/Panzer Regiment Großdeutschland
| A Tiger I of 13. Kompanie - Panzer
Regiment Großdeitschland, speeding up despite the snow,
Kharkov, winter 1943.
A schwere Kompanie was formed for
Panzer Regiment Großdeutschland on 13 January 1943 and received
a total of nine Tiger I and ten Pz.Kpfw.III. The company was sent
to the Eastern Front in February 1943 and in May received six additional
Tigers to upgrade it to the new organization.
On 1 July 1943 the unit was renamed
as the 9.Kompanie/Panzer Regiment Großdeutschland and at the
start of the Kursk offensive on 5 July, the company had 14 out of
15 Tigers operational. None of those were lost during the battle.
| A Tiger I (tactical number B12) of the 11th company of
the III Abteilung of the "Großdeutschland" Division
during August and September 1943 in the region of Achtyrka-Kharkov-Poltava.
| Tiger I, from III.Abteilung
(Tiger) - Panzer Regiment Großdeutschland.
An entire heavy tank battalion of
three companies with 45 Tigers was created for Panzer Grenadier
Division Großdeutschland as the III.Abteilung/Panzer Regiment
Its first company (9.Kompanie) was
provided by the old 13.Kompanie, the second and third companies
(10 and 11 Kompanien) were the former 3.Kompanie/sPzAbt.501; and
3.Kompanie/sPzAbt.504 respectively. The Stab, 10 and 11 Kompanien
joined the 9.Kompanie at the front on 14 August 1943 by which time
they had received 31 Tigers.
Großdeutschalnd schwere Panzer Abteilung marking.
The first six replacements arrived
at the front on 26 August. Further replacements followed in 1944
with 10 in February, six in March, six in April, 14 in May, 6 in
June, 12 in July, 6 in October, and a final 4 in December. The battalion
remained on the Eastern Front without being relieved or refitted
until the final surrender.
The Großdeutschland Tiger unit, from
its beginnings as the 13.Kompanie/Panzer Regiment Großdeutschland,
through its expansion to battalion status and to its eventual
destruction in March 1945, had the highest number of confirmed enemy kills
for any Heer Tiger unit, a total of 1,036 tanks and armored fighting vehicles,
and over 300 enemy guns.
Schwere Panzer Kompanie Hummel
The Allied drive out of Normandy
decimated the units trapped in the 'Falaise Gap' and the remnants
trying to cross the Seine river. With open space all the way to
Berlin, the schwere Panzer Kompanie Einzats Dunkirchen was hastily
formed by the schwere Panzer Erzats und Ausbildungs Abteilung 500
at the training grounds near Paderborn. This unit with 14 Tigers
was sent west on 19 September to stop the British spearhead at Arnhem
in Holland. It was renamed the next day, sPzKp Hummel and continued
to fight on the Western Front after it was incorporated into sPzAbt.506
as the 4.Kompanie on 8.December 1944.
Training and research/development
units had originally received a total of 49 Tiger Is for training
and 10 Tiger Is for testing. As Germany's position continued to
deteriorate, additional units were thrown together and given these
worn out tigers in a last ditch effort.
Amongst these units were: sPzKp.Paderborn
with 15 Tigers on 21 October 1944; Panzer Kompanie Panther with three Tigers
(30 January 1945), Erzats Brigade Großdeutschland with two
Tigers (31 January 1945), and PzAbt.500 Paderborn with 17 Tigers
(both Is and IIs - 2 April 1945).
Panzer Abteilung Kummersdorf
Having received the last five
Tiger Is to be issued on 23 February 1945, this unit joined the
makeshift Panzer Division Muncheberg in an attempt to halt the Russian
advance. Absorbing remnants from other units it reported having
13 Tigers of which ten were operational on 15 April 1945.
Before the loss of Sicily, eight
Tigers were shipped from the ordnance depot on 28 July 1943, to
outfit an independent unit destined for Italy. Known as Tigergruppe
Meyer, this small unit with its eight Tigers was attached to PzJgAbt.46
between August and November 1943, and by 4 February 1944 was renamed
Tigergruppe Schwebbach and attached to the LXXVI Panzer Korps to
attack the bridgehead created by the Allied landing at Anzio.
None of the Tigers remained operational on 12 February, but seven
or eight were available by 15 February for the planned attacks.
On March 1944, the surviving crews and Tigers of Tigergruppe Schwebbach
were incorporated into sPzAbt.508.
Jagdtiger Abteilung 512
Jagdtiger Abteilung 512 was
formed in the late fall of 1944 and was equipped with twenty Jagdtiger
heavy tank destroyers, mounting 128mm KwK 44 L/55 guns on modified
Tiger II Ausf B chassis.
There were two companies, each with
10 vehicles. Two Jagdtigers were in each company HQ section, and
four Jagdtigers were in in each of the two platoons. The two companies,
named "Company Carius" and "Company Ernst",
fought as separate units. "Company Ernst" was reinforced
with a platoon of Stug III, one PzKpfw IV, and a platoon of self-propelled
37mm flak guns. Both components fought in Germany's last battles,
and surrendered to US forces in the Ruhr.