Military Review

Repair and recovery vehicle Bergepanzer Tiger (P), Germany

In November 1942, experimental armored vehicles of the VK 4501 type from Henschel and Porsche firms underwent additional comparative tests, as a result of which the German army finally decided on its choice of a promising heavy tank. The VK 4501 (H) tank created by Henschel was to develop and put into serial production. The competing development from the Porsche was no longer of interest to the troops. However, by this time a number of such machines had already been built, which should have been used. The bulk of this equipment later became the basis for Elefant / Ferdinand self-propelled guns, and several other samples were used to create an armored recovery vehicle called Bergepanzer Tiger (P).

By the time of the official cessation of work on the project of the heavy tank VK 4501 (P) / Tiger (P), Porsche, together with related companies, managed to assemble only five full-fledged tanks with a full set of equipment and weapons. There were also prepared three experienced chassis without a tower and two shells for shelling tests. At several enterprises involved in the project, they managed to create a serious foundation for assembling a significant number of tanks in the form of separate units and ready-made chassis. By the beginning of autumn 1942, it became clear that the Porsche tank could not be defeated in the current competition, but a certain hope remained until mid-autumn. In November, additional tests took place, according to the results of which the VK project 4501 (P) was officially closed.

The assembled prototypes and unfinished equipment did not have to stand idle for a long time without work. Back in September, 1942, it was decided to use the not too successful VK 4501 (P) chassis when creating a new self-propelled artillery unit with an 88-mm gun and 200-mm frontal armor. In early February, 43 received an order for the early construction of 90 of such combat vehicles, designated as Elefant / Ferdinand. All the required equipment was collected and transferred to the customer during April and May of the same year.

Repair and recovery vehicle Bergepanzer Tiger (P), Germany
General view of the Bergepanzer Tiger BRAM (P). Photo of Chamberlain P., Doyle H. "Complete reference book of German tanks and self-propelled guns of the Second World War"

Thus, the overwhelming majority of equipment assembled in the interests of the pre-production construction of a heavy Tiger (P) tank found application and went to the troops. At the disposal of the enterprise-developer, however, there remained several copies of armored vehicles, which also planned to be used. The question of the future fate of this technology was resolved by September 1943. Existing tanks should be rebuilt in repair and evacuation vehicles. Despite the existing problems, the authors of such a proposal considered that there would be a lot more sense from such a technique than from idle idle prototypes that were idle.

The project of the new BREM was named Bergepanzer Tiger (P). In addition, due to "kinship" with another serial combat vehicle, this technique is sometimes called the Berge-Ferdinand. Both designations are equivalent and can be used without any problems. In this case, the name Bergepanzer Tiger (P) in some cases can lead to confusion. In 1944, the same designation was given to BREM on the basis of the Tigr serial heavy tank, but its full name looked like Bergepanzer Tiger Ausf.E. Despite the similarity of the names, the two projects of repair and evacuation machines had almost nothing in common and were in no way related to each other.

When creating the Bergepanzer Tiger (P) / Berge-Ferdinand project, it was decided to use certain developments in the newly created SAU. In particular, it was proposed to change the layout of the case in order to optimize balancing and more convenient placement of habitable compartments. As a result, the design of the base heavy tank has undergone significant changes, making the machine somewhat similar to the existing self-propelled gun. Naturally, a different purpose of technology has led to the emergence of a mass of serious differences.

Scheme of the car. Drawing

To speed up the development of a new project and reduce the cost of reworking existing equipment, it was decided to abandon a significant change in the design of armor units. At the same time, some of the housing parts were changed, and some new ones also appeared. The frontal part of the hull, which had armor up to 100 mm thick, remained the same. She retained the box construction of several sheets installed at different angles to the vertical. The upper frontal sheet had an opening for the installation of the viewing device, and on its sides were small zygomatic parts with similar equipment.

The 80-mm boards have survived, but their design has been modified. The stern of the sides has lost a bevel, connected with a sloping roof sheet. Now the feed of the car had to have a different shape while maintaining a circular reservation with a thickness of 80 mm. From the use of new armor plates required form refused. Instead, the sides were boosted with the help of triangular parts of the desired size, which are clearly visible in the preserved photographs.

The shape of the aft hull was changed for several reasons. One of them is the creation of a new cabin for accommodating part of the crew and some equipment. The wheelhouse was a truncated pyramid with a roof. The level of protection of the cabin corresponded to the body. The design of this unit was provided with a set of viewing devices, hatches and installation for a machine gun.

Bergepanzer Tiger (P), side view. Photo of Chamberlain P., Doyle H. "Complete reference book of German tanks and self-propelled guns of the Second World War"

The main idea borrowed from the Elefant / Ferdinand project was a redesign of the case. To improve some characteristics, it was proposed to transfer the power plant from the stern to its central part with the release of volumes to accommodate the crew, tools, spare parts, etc. After such processing the layout of the body looked as follows. Directly behind them was the department of management, behind which was placed the engine compartment, which occupied the entire place of the former combat compartment. The second habitable volume was located in the stern, in the hull and wheelhouse. Under the habitable compartment were traction motors and auxiliary transmission.

Exact information about the type of used power plant is unknown. The first prototypes of the heavy tank Tiger (P) were completed with two Porsche Typ 101 carburetor engines with 310 hp power, connected to two Siemens sGV 275 / 24 electric generators with 375 kW each. In the later stages of the project, it was decided to replace two unreliable engines with proven and tested Maybach HL 120TRM motors with HP 265 power. The generators did not change. What kind of engines were available on the three repair and recovery vehicles - is unknown.

An electric transmission was retained, which simplified traffic control, but seriously hampered the construction of machinery. The electricity from the generators passed through the control systems and was fed to two Siemens D230a 1495-kilowatt engines. Their torque through the planetary gears arrived at the driving wheels. It was proposed to control the machine by monitoring the operation of the traction motors. The controls of the main gasoline engines played a supporting role.

BREM Bergepanzer Tiger (P) / Berge-Ferdinand had to keep the existing undercarriage. On each side should be mounted on six dual track rollers of large diameter. The rollers were blocked in pairs on carts with torsion bar suspension. For a number of reasons, the elastic suspension elements were placed outside the body, parallel to it. In front of the hull were placed the guide wheels, in the feed - leading. A caterpillar with a width of 640 mm was used, which is able to bring the specific pressure on the ground to acceptable values.

Modern model BREM, crane deployed in working position. Photo

The armament of the Berge-Ferdinand repair and recovery vehicle was supposed to consist of one MG 34 or MG 42 machine gun of the 7,92 mm caliber. The machine gun was located in the installation on the front sheet of the hull aft house. Also, according to some information, the machine gun could be transferred to the pivot installation located on the roof hatch. Some sources also mention the additional installation in the aft part of the deckhouse roof. In this case, the BREM had to carry two machine guns.

The crew of the car was proposed to be placed separately in two habitable compartments. In front of the hull, in the department of management, there had to be a driver and radio operator. In the frontal and zygomatic sheets of the body there were three viewing devices. The frontal machine-gun installation was dismantled, and the opening for it received a plug, because of which the radio operator could observe the situation only through the flap in the cheekbone of the hull. In the roof of the office there were two hatches.

The rest of the crew was housed in the aft manned compartment under the protection of the armored cabin. The latter had several inspection slots and a machine gun installation in the front plate. It was suggested to get inside through a round hatch in the roof. In the general compartment were supposed to be the commander of the car and several crew members responsible for the operation of special equipment.

The task of the project Bergepanzer Tiger (P) was to create a machine capable of evacuating damaged equipment from the battlefield, as well as perform some repair operations. In this regard, on the existing chassis should install a set of special equipment for various purposes. Some of these devices were always ready for use, while others had to be assembled and brought to a working position.

Coloring option BREM. Figure

Pulling stuck armored offered with towing hooks on the front and stern sheets of the hull and cables of appropriate strength. Also in some cases for this purpose it was possible to use a winch located in the feed bay with a pulling force up to 10 ton-force. Winch cable was issued through the hatch in the rear hull aft sheet. An additional means for pulling machinery was one or two logs transported on the chassis roof. According to others, the winch was not used - for the evacuation of technology should be used only cables and logs.

BREM could participate in some repair work using the existing mast crane. It was proposed to transport four rods of different lengths with a set of special fasteners, as well as blocks, chains, etc., on various housing mounts. If necessary, a crane of relatively simple construction was mounted on the anchorage of the aft part of the hull (before chopping and to the left of it), which allowed lifting and carrying loads within a certain sector near the machine. According to various sources, the crane could not be used together with the machine's winch. It was necessary to lift and move loads with a set of blocks, chains, hooks, etc. After completion of the work, the crane was disassembled and placed on the fixings of the case.

Due to the absence of serious changes in the chassis, all dimensions of the repair and recovery vehicle, with the exception of height, corresponded to the parameters of the basic equipment. The length of the Berge-Ferdinand was 7 m, width - 3,2 m, height - about 2,5 m. Due to the dismantling of a number of large and heavy units, the combat weight decreased by several tons and did not exceed 55-60 t. maximum speed relative to the original 20-25 km / h on the highway. The power reserve could remain at the level of 150 km.

The development of a BREM project based on a heavy tank and a self-propelled artillery installation did not take long. The design documentation was prepared for September 1943 of the year, after which the conversion of the existing equipment on a new project began. For the modernization and class change, three experimental tanks VK 4501 (P) were allocated, which had been idle for several months. The towers were removed from the vehicles, the engines were moved, the hull structure was improved, the wheelhouse and the necessary equipment were installed. All necessary work was completed before the end of September.

BREM with additional equipment on the roof. Photo

Issue BREM Begrepanzer Tiger (P) / Berge-Ferdinand limited to only three cars. By the beginning of autumn 1943, only a few VK 4501 (P) samples remained in stock, which could be used as the basis for a new technology. After the decision to close the Tiger (P) project, the construction of new chassis of the required type turned out to be impossible. Using the existing stocks of waste equipment, Porsche was able to build only three units of new equipment.

Information about the operation of BREM on the basis of an unsuccessful heavy tank is missing. Any information about testing or sending such machines to the front is also not preserved. It can be assumed that repair-evacuation vehicles based on a not very successful chassis did not interest the customer in the face of the German army, because of which three samples remained at the factory. Perhaps the company used them for their own purposes, as tractors or other auxiliary equipment.

Over time, the chassis of the repair and recovery vehicles, which had already taken part in the test program of the heavy tank VK 4501 (P), finally exhausted their service life, after which their operation became impossible. As far as is known, by the end of the war in Europe, all the Bergepanzer Tiger (P) BREM samples were written off and dismantled.

The project Bergepanzer Tiger (P) / Berge-Ferdinand was the last attempt to find the use of not very successful equipment, which previously could not interest the customer in the face of the army. For a number of objective reasons, the developers managed to assemble only three such machines that did not get to the front and could not show themselves in real conditions. In addition, from the middle of 1943 onwards, the German army began to receive similar Bergepanther equipment. These machines, built on the basis of the tank Pz.Kpfw.V, were produced until the very end of the war and were actively used on all fronts. BREM on the basis of the tank VK 4501 (P) could not count on such success.

Based on:
Chamberlain P., Doyle H. Complete reference book of German tanks and self-propelled guns of the Second World War. - M .: AST: Astrel, 2008.
Dear reader, to leave comments on the publication, you must sign in.
  1. igordok
    igordok 14 July 2016 07: 28
    Bergepanzer - literal translation, mountain tanks. Why mountain?
    1. Stas57
      Stas57 14 July 2016 09: 27
      since when did Bergen become a mountain? although yes, google translator he is)) translates the root)
      1) hide, cover (in a safe place)
      2) save
  2. kugelblitz
    kugelblitz 14 July 2016 09: 29
    There are sources who say that these machines nevertheless got to the front as part of the 653rd heavy anti-tank battalion, along with the Tiger (P) tank with a Voith hydraulic transmission. So they used this ARV in Italy and later in Ukraine.
  3. fa2998
    fa2998 14 July 2016 14: 47
    Of course, for a heavy "Tiger" you need a special car. But to make it on the basis of the serial "Tiger" from Henschel, and not on the basis of the competitor of the "Tiger" Porsche. "Ferdinands" and similar cars - Porsche's attempts to attach a rejected car. hi