Panzer III Medium Tanks used in 1944/45

German weapons, vehicles and equipment 1919-1945.

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WMDGreen
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Panzer III Medium Tanks used in 1944/45

Post by WMDGreen » Sat Jul 26, 2003 8:44 am

Greetings all

I wonder if anyone has any definitive references as to the use of Panzer III tanks in the later war period, especially in the west.

My own research has come up with the use of a few Pzkpfw IIIM-Fl flammpanzer's in Italy during late 1943 to possibly early 1944. Mentioned in Osprey book 'Flammpanzer', by Tom Jentz and Hilary Doyle.

On newsreel footage, from the Thames TV's 'World At War' series DVD video, of a Pz IIIK command tank during the Italian Campaign. Because this version used the Pz IV turret I had previously mistaken this for a Pz IV. I paused / slowed the DVD and saw that it was actually a Pz III hull with the modified Pz IV turret.

There is also film of a wrecked Pz III, allegedly from the time of the Normandy breakout / Falaise gap, it could be a Pz IIIJ or L.

I recently bought Heimdal's book on the 21st Pz Div. and there is a vague reference to Pz Beob III's in use at the time of the Allied invasion.

Amongst colour film footage shot by a US Army Air Force special film unit, who accompanied the US ground forces in the ETO from 1944 to 1945, is a brief shot of an early model Pz III, ('E' 'G' or'H'?), near a small German town in February/March 1945.

Any further evidence, observations, or opinions, would be most appreciated.

Faithfully William D Green,
North East England UK
It's very confusing here, north of the Hadrian Line, are we under siege?, or are we to attack?! ...

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Laurens
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Pz III

Post by Laurens » Sat Jul 26, 2003 10:54 am

Hello William,

I have just looked into a photographic book from Concord Publ. entitled 'The Panzerkampfwagen III at war' ( by Michael Jerchel & Waldemar Trojca - ISBN 952-361-614-7 ). Below is a summary:

* Some photographs showing several Ausf. N and early Ausf. L during the invasion of Southern France in September 1943.

* One colour plate shows a Ausf. N from Panzerbrigade Norwegen, during the surrender to British forces on May 10th, 1945. Although based on the chassis of an Ausf. M, the gun mountlet was that of an Ausf. J. The vehicle had a full coat of Zimmerit, and was fitted with a complete set of armor skirts. There was no MG-mount at the commander's cupola.

* One colour plate also shows the Ausf. M (Flammpanzer) from 16. Panzer-division you mentioned. The turret number was 411 and according to this book, one of the seven Flammpanzer's from that particular division.

That's pretty much it, I'm afraid. Nearly all other parts are about Pz. III's in Russia. There is however one piece of text I would like to quote:
In the beginning of 1944, the Pz. III was slowly withdrawn from first line front units, and they were passed on to secondary units like 7. SS-Gebirgs-division Florian Geyer in the Balkans and to 27. SS-Panzer-division in France. The Pz. III fought to the last day of the Reich, though only small numbers were left available. For example, the Panzer-division Müncheberg had a sole Ausf. M in its rank, and there were two Ausf. N and one Ausf. M in service with the 23. SS-Panzergrenadier-division Nederland. Both divisions perished during the fight in and around Berlin. Finally, on May 10th, 1945, the last unit equipped with Pz. III, Panzerbrigade Norwegen, surrendered to the British forces in Norway.
I know it does not meet all of your expectations, but it might be useful somehow.

Kind regards,
Laurens

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Post by Dan Mouritzsen » Sat Jul 26, 2003 12:22 pm

Hi William

Take a look here:

http://www.missing-lynx.com/library/ger ... enmine.htm

Please note, that I will be leaving home for a week, so i will not be able to answer any questions before late friday night!

Regards

Dan Mouritzsen

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Pz III use during 1944/45

Post by jhalcli » Sat Aug 30, 2003 12:42 am

I've seen in various sources that there were 39 Pz III in use with units in France around June 44. In Panzertruppen by Jentz, a chart shows that 11 Pz Div had 26 Pz III and 116 Pz had the other 13 Pz III on 10 June 44. An earlier post said that there were photos of both Ausf N and L during the invasion of Southern France which I would assume belonged to 11 Pz. 21 Pz Div had 4 7.5cm armed Pz III around Jun 44 but these may have all been lost by 10 Jun in combat or due to mechanical breakdown. Panzers in Italy and Flammpanzers were covered in previous posts.

There were plenty of Pz III specialist vehicles. For instance, approximately 150 Pz III were converted into Bergepanzer III from Mar to Dec 44, and 262 Pz III were modified into Pz Beob Wagen from Feb 43 to April 44. These were used until the end of the war in combat support roles. The Pz Befehlswagen were used in assault gun units and battalions equipped with the Pz IV until they were phased out due to attrition. An example is 10 SS Pz Div had 3 PzBef III, 21 Pz Div had 2 Pz Bef, and 17 SS had 3 Pz Bef in June 44, and 3 Pz Gren Div had 2 PzBef with their StuG battalion in Aug 44 and 15 Pz Gren Div had 1 in Aug 44. Approximately, 185 L42 and 50 L60 5 cm armed Pz Bef Wagen were produced or modified as well as 250 MG armed variants in the Sd Kfz 266-268 series.

There were 271 (Sd Kfz 265-268 series, only MG armed and includes PzBef Wagen I Sd Kfz 265) in inventory until last reported in Oct 44 when they dropped off the inventory. There were still 534 Pz III (Sdfz 141 series) reported in inventory in Mar 45. The majority of those tanks were in training units or were armed (5cm L42 or L60) command tanks. Units like Panzerbrigade Norwegen and security units were equipped with them until the end of the war. I've seen a photo which showed 10 Pz III (including 1 5cm armed variant!) being surrenedered in Norway.

For sources, look at Panzertruppen Vol 2 by Jentz, Panzer III by Spielberger, and Encylopedia of German Tanks by Chamberlain/Doyle.

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Pz III on hand 15.1.1945

Post by Martin Block » Sat Aug 30, 2003 3:43 am

According to a compilation prepared by the Quartermaster General (Gen.Qu.) the following units had Pz III on hand on 15.1.1945:

1. Pz.Div.
Pz.Bef.Wg. III = 2
Pz.Beob.Wg. III = 3

2. Pz.Div.
Pz.Beob.Wg. III = 3

3. Pz.Div.
Pz.Beob.Wg. III = 5

4. Pz.Div.
Pz.Bef.Wg. III = 5
Pz.Beob.Wg. III = 3

5. Pz.Div.
Pz.Bef.Wg. III = 2
Pz.Beob.Wg. III = 4

7. Pz.Div.
Pz.Bef.Wg. III = 1
Pz.Beob.Wg. III = 3
Pz.Kpfw. III 5cm L/60 = 1

8. Pz.Div.
Pz.Bef.Wg. III = 2

9. Pz.Div.
Pz.Beob.Wg. III = 3

11. Pz.Div.
Pz.Bef.Wg. III = 2
Pz.Beob.Wg. III = 1
Pz.Kpfw. III 7,5cm L/24 = 3

12. Pz.Div.
Pz.Bef.Wg. III = 1
Pz.Kpfw. III 5cm L/60 = 5
Pz.Kpfw. III 7,5cm L/24 = 1

13. Pz.Div.
Pz.Bef.Wg. III = 1
Pz.Kpfw. III 5cm L/60 = 1

14. Pz.Div.
Pz.Bef.Wg. III = 3
Pz.Beob.Wg. III = 2
Pz.Kpfw. III 5cm L/60 = 2

16. Pz.Div. (30.12.1944)
Pz.Bef.Wg. III = 2
Pz.Beob.Wg. III = 7

17. Pz.Div. (30.12.1944)
Pz.Bef.Wg. III = 4
Pz.Beob.Wg. III = 1

20. Pz.Div.
Pz.Bef.Wg. III = 1

23. Pz.Div.
Pz.Bef.Wg. III = 1
Pz.Beob.Wg. III = 3

24. Pz.Div. (30.12.1944)
Pz.Bef.Wg. III = 2
Pz.Beob.Wg. III = 1
Pz.Kpfw. III 5cm L/60 = 1

25. Pz.Div. (30.12.1944)
Pz.Bef.Wg. III = 2

26. Pz.Div.
Pz.Bef.Wg. III = 2

116. Pz.Div.
Pz.Beob.Wg. III = 1

233. Res.Pz.Div.
Pz.Bef.Wg. III = 5
Pz.Kpfw. III 5cm L/60 = 5
Pz.Kpfw. III 7,5cm L/24 = 20

3. Pz.Gren.Div.
Pz.Bef.Wg. III = 1

15. Pz.Gren.Div.
Pz.Bef.Wg. III = 1

18. Pz.Gren.Div.
Pz.Bef.Wg. III = 2

90. Pz.Gren.Div.
Pz.Bef.Wg. III = 2
Pz.Beob.Wg. III = 2

Pz.Gren.Div. GD
Pz.Bef.Wg. III = 1
Pz.Beob.Wg. III = 3

Pz.Brig. Norwegen
Pz.Kpfw. III 5cm L/60 = 25
Pz.Kpfw. III 7,5cm L/24 = 36

Führer-Begleit-Brig.
Pz.Beob.Wg. III = 5

Führer-Grenadier-Brig.
Pz.Bef.Wg. III = 1
Pz.Beob.Wg. III = 5

Pz.Abt. 211
Pz.Kpfw. III 7,5cm L/24 = 2

Pz.Kp. 224
Pz.Kpfw. III 7,5cm L/24 = 11

Pz.Kp. Stavanger
Pz.Kpfw. III 5cm L/60 = 2
Pz.Kpfw. III 7,5cm L/24 = 3

159. Inf.Div.
Pz.Bef.Wg. III = 1 (possible confusion with Bergepz. III???)

542. VGD
Pz.Kpfw. III 5cm L/60 = 2 (possible confusion with Bergepz. III???)

H.Art.Abt. 1042
Pz.Beob.Wg. III = 5 (unit was equipped with 'Wespe' and 'Hummel')

Gen.Kdo. LXXXXVII. A.K. z.B.V.
Pz.Kpfw. III 7,5cm L/24 = 29 (AFAIR leftovers from Pz.Abt. 208)

Fallsch.Ers.u.Ausb.Abt.Rgt. HG
Pz.Kpfw. III 5cm L/60 = 1

3. SS-Pz.Div.
Pz.Beob.Wg. III = 1

4. SS-Pz.Gren.Div.
Pz.Bef.Wg. III = 2

5. SS-Pz.Div.
Pz.Beob.Wg. III = 3

10. SS-Pz.Div.
Pz.Beob.Wg. III = 1

22. SS-Kav.Div. (30.12.1944)
Pz.Kpfw. III 5cm L/60 = 2


From experience with similar Gen.Qu. files I have learned that this type of compilations must be taken with a certain amount of care. They usually do contain a certain amount of transmission/transcription errors and typos - not to mention those I just may have added :oops: In general however they are pretty much accurate, but to be 100% sure one has to cross-check the data with the actual unit reports.

Martin Block

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Addendum

Post by Martin Block » Sat Aug 30, 2003 3:46 am

Should add that the above quoted Gen.Qu. document does not contain any infos about Pz III with units of the Ersatzheer (replacement army)

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Post by jhalcli » Sat Aug 30, 2003 7:54 am

Martin,
Very good information. Do you have the data for 1.1.1944 for comparison? I'd like to see how many Pz III variants were in the combat units to see the decline in the use of the Pz III.

I should write a little about Pz III use in Italy. The total numbers of Pz III on 21 Jan 44 were 14 Flamm, 6 Pz Bef., 46 Pz III with 5cm, and 45 Pz III with 7.5cm guns. The breakout is as follows:

26 Pz Div 11 Flamm Pz III, 12 Pz III with 7.5cm guns
Pz Div Herm. Goering 21 Pz III with 5cm and 14 Pz III with 7.5cm guns
3 Pz Gren Div 4 Pz Bef.
15 and 29 Pz Gren Div 1 Pz Bef. each
90 Pz Gren Div 2 Pz III with 5cm and 14 Pz III with 7.5cm guns
2 Sich.Eins.Kp 3 Flamm and 6 Pz III with 7.5cm guns
31 I.D. 23 Pz III with 5cm

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Post by Paul_9686 » Tue Nov 25, 2003 9:37 am

Thank'ee kindly for all the fascinating info about the Panzer III, friends! But are you sure you mean the 31st Infantry Division, Jhalcli? Couldn't you be referring to the 71st?

Yours,
Paul

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Post by BobM » Fri Nov 28, 2003 11:15 am

H.Art.Abt. 1042
Pz.Beob.Wg. III = 5 (unit was equipped with 'Wespe' and 'Hummel')

Dear Martin

Does the file list the other AFVs used by this unit? Info on the H.Art.Abt equipped with SPGs is difficult to track down

Cheers

Bob

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H.Art.Abt. 1042

Post by Martin Block » Mon Dec 01, 2003 10:34 am

Yes Bob, according to that same document the H.Art.Abt. 1042 (H.Gr. A, AOK 17) also fielded 10 'Wespe', 6 'Hummel', 8 le.SPW (= 2 Beob.Pz.Wg. & 6 Mun.Pz.Wg.) and 13 m.SPW (4 Pion.Pz.Wg. & 9 'others' (not specified))

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Pz III use during 1944/45

Post by jhalcli » Sun Dec 14, 2003 5:19 am

Looks like Paul found an error. In Jentz's book Panzertruppen, he states 31 ID had the PzIII but this has to be a typo since 31 ID was on the Eastern front. I checked two sources to verify where the 31 and 71 ID were in early 44. As Paul states, it could be 71 ID which was in Italy. Good job for spotting the error.

Joe

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Post by Paul_9686 » Mon Dec 15, 2003 2:50 pm

Thank'ee kindly, Joe. I knew the 71st was in Italy; I've read a great deal about the Italian Campaign, especially the period from the invasion of Sicily to the taking of Rome.

Kind of interesting that the 71st had all those Panzer IIIs. I wonder how they were crewed, and how they were organized (as a company, or as a small battalion?). And how did they explain to the logistics personnel why an infantry division needed all that gasoline, oil, tank main-gun ammunition, etc.?

Yours,
Paul

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Pz III with 71. Inf.Div.

Post by Martin Block » Mon Dec 15, 2003 3:19 pm

Actually the tanks didn't belong directly to the 71. Inf.Div. but rather to the 3. Pz.Sicherungs-Kp. and Pz.Sicherungs-Kp. 35 which were both attached to the divisions Pz.Jg.Abt. 171 for some time in early 1944.
In fact the reported 23 Pz III lg were 15 Pz III 7,5 of the 3. Pz.Sich.Kp. plus 8 Pz III lg from the Pz.Sich.Kp. 35.
Jentz quoted the original document in which these two mistakes (31. Inf.Div. & 23 Pz III lg) do actually appear. But a look into the actual unit records and the excellent 'Panzer Units in the OZAK 1943 -1945' by Stefano di Giusto showed otherwise.

Martin Block

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Post by Paul_9686 » Mon Dec 15, 2003 8:49 pm

Martin, wasn't the 71st engaged at Anzio? Those tanks would be more useful resisting an invasion than chasing partisans, IMHO.

Your ob't servant,
Paul

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Re: H.Art.Abt. 1042

Post by BobM » Thu Jan 01, 2004 3:46 pm

Martin Block wrote:Yes Bob, according to that same document the H.Art.Abt. 1042 (H.Gr. A, AOK 17) also fielded 10 'Wespe', 6 'Hummel', 8 le.SPW (= 2 Beob.Pz.Wg. & 6 Mun.Pz.Wg.) and 13 m.SPW (4 Pion.Pz.Wg. & 9 'others' (not specified))

Martin Block
Dear Martin

Thanks - and sorry for taking over a month to say so

Cheers

Bob

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