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Bergepanther Armoured Recovery Vehicle

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Up until 1944 the standard Wehrmacht vehicles for recovering tanks were the Famo F2 and F3 18-tonne half-tracks. With the advent of the heavier Panther and Tiger tanks the shortcomings of these vehicles became clear. Typically, two were required to recover a Panther and three for a Tiger. In 1944 the Heereswaffenamt requested a special recovery version of the Panther to be developed by Demag of Berlin-Falkensee. The vehicle developed was known as the Bergepanther (Recovery Panther).
Panthers returned to factories for re-manufacture were converted into Bergepanthers by removing the turret and cutting away the top of the superstructure. A powerful winch, driven by the main engine, was fitted into the fighting compartment and a metal box was fixed across the width of the hull, with wooden extensions on all sides. In most cases the transmission access panel in the front superstructure roof was removed entirely and a canvas top was erected to cover the open driver’s position.
A heavy hinged spade was fitted at the rear of most vehicles. This gave extra purchase when winching and was itself raised and lowered by use of the winch. Early vehicles had a relatively small, simple spade that was distinguished by its straight top edge. Later ones had a larger, deeper spade of a more complex design. This larger spade required longer exhaust pipes to be fitted with their outlets raised well above the level of the back decks in order to clear the spade when stowed.
A 2cm dismountable gun was provided for local defence. It was fitted on a pedestal welded to the top front of the glacis plate. A Fliegergerät anti-aircraft mount was sometimes welded onto this pedestal to take a 7.92mm MG 34 or 42 instead. A 1½ ton capacity jib was provided for lifting engines of disabled vehicles and could be fitted to either of two mountings at the rear of the superstructure. Vehicles could be towed using a three-piece tow bar assembly. Also, a large wood beam was carried on the left side of the superstructure and used for pushing vehicles. It was supported in use by two square plates welded to the vehicle nose.
In total 297 Bergepanthers were converted. Most vehicles were based on the Ausf D and A but a small number of Ausf G chassis were also used. They all had increased fuel capacity. Bergepanthers without spades were used as towing vehicles while some, not fitted with winches, were used as ammunition and stores carriers and were designated Munitionspanzer Panther.
It is of interest to note that one Bergepanther hull was converted back into a tank by the fitting of a Panzer IV turret, and was used by sPzJgAbt 653 on the Eastern Front in 1944. It operated alongside a Befehlstiger (P) Porsche Tiger recovery vehicle and a T-34 fitted with a 2cm Flakvierling anti-aircraft mount, although the rest of the unit was equipped with Elefants. (Source: L. Archer).

Model Id:280
Manufacture:Deutsche Maschinenfabrik AG (Demag), Staaken, Berlin, Germany (Primary Bergepanther A-G manufacturer)
Henschel und Sohn, Kassel, Nordhessen, Germany (Secondary Bergepanther A manufacturer)

1) Museé Des Blindés, Saumur, France

Number of Photos: 6
Sample Photo from Album Number 69

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Unique ID: 69
Serial Number:
Other Identification:

This Bergepanther is unusual in being based on an Ausf G hull. It is missing its exhausts, spade, and various other fittings. (Rear view shown, before restoration, see also heading photograph). [Preserved Tanks in France: Number 177].

2) Auto und Technik Museum, Sinsheim, Germany

Number of Photos: 0
Sample Photo from Album Number 70

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Unique ID: 70
Serial Number:
Other Identification:

This incomplete Bergepanther was recovered from Czechoslovakia in about 1990. Its current status is not known. (Source: R. Fleming).