It should be noted that armored repair and evacuation vehicles on the basis of Tiger tanks were created and assembled by army workshops. Approved projects of "proprietary" development, approved by the creators of the basic technology, were not used. These circumstances, among other things, led to the formation of a complex situation with information about such a technique. There are several options for descriptions of repair and recovery vehicles, as well as a number of photographs. In this case, the text and images may not correspond, and sometimes contradict each other. Let's try to figure it out and restore history interesting informal projects.
According to reports, the first BREM project based on a heavy tank Tiger appeared at the beginning of 1944, and to a certain extent was the result of the Anzio-Nettun offensive of the anti-Hitler coalition. During the battles that lasted from January to June, German and Italian troops lost a significant number of different equipment, which required urgent measures. One of the answers to the existing challenges was the restructuring of the available tank.
One of the Tiger tanks owned by the German troops received heavy damage during the January-February battles, but was nevertheless evacuated and sent for repairs. Further operation of the armored vehicle in the role of a heavy tank was not possible. However, it could still be used in a different role. Not wanting to lose the working chassis, deprived of weapons, the German troops decided to build on its base a new-purpose vehicle.
An improvised modernization project for a serial tank was developed and implemented by technicians of the 508 heavy tank battalion. Repairmen independently created a set of special tools for reworking the tank, and then installed it on the existing chassis and tower. Soon after the work was completed, the armored vehicle was transferred to one of the units that continued to fight in Italy. According to various sources, the finished repair and recovery vehicle was given the designation Ladungsliger Tiger.
The basis for the "artisanal" BREM was the serial tank Pz.Kpfw.VI Tiger, released in 1943 year. During the construction of a special auxiliary machine, it was decided to abandon significant changes in the basic design. From the existing tank it was proposed to remove the elements that were no longer needed, instead of which it was necessary to mount the required special equipment. This allowed us to speed up the necessary work, as well as to simplify the implementation of the project by the forces of an ordinary army workshop. As a result of this approach, the BREM chassis did not differ in any way from the units of the base tank, while the turret underwent certain changes.
The serial tank retained the existing hull of powerful chrome-molybdenum armor with surface hardening. The front part of the machine consisted of sheets of thickness up to 100 mm. Boards were protected by 63 and 80 mm thick parts. Feed had similar protection. The roof and the bottom were made of sheets of thickness 26-28 mm. On the roof of the hull there was an armored tower with a level of protection similar to the chassis. The front of the turret had a thickness of 100 mm, and the sides and stern were made in the form of a curved 80-mm part. On top of the fighting compartment was covered 28-mm roof. According to some information, it was decided to keep the mask of a gun of variable thickness on the tower.
The layout of the hull remained the same, although the change in the role of technology should have affected the use of individual available volumes. The front of the car was given under the transmission and management department. In the center there was a fighting compartment with a tower, in which it was planned to transport part of the special equipment. The feed was given under the engine, fuel tanks, etc.
Unfortunately, the exact date and serial number of the rebuilt tank Pz.Kpfw.VI Tiger remained unknown. For this reason, it is not possible to say exactly what type of power plant was used on it. The fact is that in the middle of 1943, it was decided to change the original design of the heavy tank and introduce a new gasoline engine. Thus, the 508 BREM of the heavy tank battalion could be equipped with a Maybach engine of the type HL 210P30 or HL 230P45 with power up to 650 hp. Through the drive shaft, passing through the center of the case, the engine was connected to a mechanical transmission based on an eight-speed gearbox. Transmission transmitted torque to the drive wheels of the front location.
On each side of the chassis there were eight large-diameter rollers arranged in a checkerboard pattern. The rollers received an individual torsion bar suspension. In front of the hull were placed the driving wheels, in the stern - guides. The ability to use 520 mm and 725-mm transport tracks was still possible. However, as far as is known, the only Ladungsliger Tiger BRAM was used only with combat tracks.
The chassis of the armored vehicle was decided to leave without any significant changes. The repairmen of the 508 heavy tank battalion repaired the damage, after which the corps and its units could be used again. At the same time, it was decided to rework the tower, changing its purpose. Now she had to turn from the main element of the fighting compartment into the main part of the crane.
The turret of the serial tank lost its 88-mm gun, sight and gun installation systems. The front embrasure of the turret was closed with an armor sheet of suitable thickness. At the same time in the center of the new armor appeared a machine-gun for self-defense. Some sources mention that during the construction of a recovery vehicle, the authors of a non-standard project decided to deploy the tower on 180 ° and fix it in that position. Nevertheless, there is every reason to believe that the modified tank retained the possibility of horizontal guidance, which should now be used to control the crane.
In the central part of the tower roof, a support for the crane arm was welded. An arrow of the required length was hinged on it. There was the possibility of changing the boom angle with the help of a support hinge and an adjustable stand fixed to the front of the tower. Due to this, the crew of the BREM could change the parameters of the crane in accordance with the existing tasks. At the front end of the boom there was a block for using a cable with a hook. To maintain the correct position of the cable when working in the central part of the boom there was a curved guide.
The crane of the original design was to be used in conjunction with a winch placed on the stern of the tower. At the stern of the armored unit were installed two triangular metal sheets connected by a set of axes and rods. On one of the axles, a small width drum was attached to which the cable was wound. With the help of a set of gears, which was a gearbox, the axis of the drum was connected to the winch control handle. The cable from the drum passed along the upper guide, then entered the boom block and, forming the simplest polyspast, was attached to the lower part of the boom. According to some reports, a crane with a hand winch could lift a weight of up to 10 t and move it within a certain sector near the machine.
The crane on the tower could be used in the implementation of repair equipment, involving the movement of relatively large and heavy blocks. To evacuate damaged equipment, it was necessary to use regular base chassis means. The tank "Tiger" in the basic configuration received a set of towing hooks on the front and stern sheets of the hull. With their help and with the use of cables, the repair and recovery vehicle could take the damaged equipment in tow. Power 650-strong engine enough to transport heavy armored vehicles at low speeds, both on the highway and on rough terrain.
Winch on the stern of the tower. Photo of Chamberlain P., Doyle H. "Complete reference book of German tanks and self-propelled guns of the Second World War"
If necessary, Ladungsliger Tiger BRAM could use two MG 34 or MG 42 machine guns of 7,92 mm caliber for self-defense. One of them was located in the frontal installation of the tower, on the site of the gun, and could be induced within a small sector. The second machine gun was in the frontal installation of the body, which nominally completed all heavy tanks Pz.Kpfw.VI.
Repair of a heavy tank with its subsequent conversion into an armored repair and recovery vehicle did not take much time. Around the beginning of the spring of the 1944, the 508 heavy tank battalion received a new technique, which should be used for evacuation and subsequent repair of wrecked tanks. The characteristics of the machine Ladungsliger Tiger made it possible to serve in this way almost all the samples in service with Germany.
However, the operation of the only Ladungsliger Tiger AREM did not last long. In late April or early May (according to other sources, in May-June) 1944, this machine received serious damage that prevented its continued operation. The crew was forced to drop their armored car right on the highway and evacuate with other equipment. Judging by the damage visible in the surviving photographs, the ARV could become a victim of a raid aviation enemy, which caused damage to the chassis and special equipment.
Abandoned repair and recovery vehicle in the future was found by British troops. Due to the deplorable state, the sample was not delivered to any test sites for testing and verification. In the future, it was disposed of as unnecessary. The operation of the original model of armored vehicles with non-standard origin lasted extremely long, after which the only representative of its type was destroyed.
The extreme shortage of surviving information about the project Ladungsliger Tiger sometimes becomes a cause of controversy. For example, there is an opinion according to which the rebuilt car did not belong to the repair-evacuation class. In this case, it could be used as a self-propelled crane, required by the field workshop, or it could be created for the transportation and laying of demolition charges. However, all these versions have certain disadvantages that do not allow to consider them as major. Thus, Ladungsliger Tiger has to be recognized as an armored repair and recovery vehicle.
Bergepanzer Tiger Ausf.E
There is evidence of the existence of several other repair and recovery vehicles based on heavy tanks such as Pz.Kpfw.VI. As is the case with the Ladungsliger Tiger machine, we are talking about the development of military units that needed special equipment and, without being able to get the required amount of industrial products, they provided themselves with the required samples.
The second version of the Tiger-based BREM is known as Bergepanzer Tiger or Bergepanzer Tiger Ausf.E. The second designation can be used to avoid confusion with another similar project. In 1943, Porsche built three Bergepanzer Tiger (P) vehicles. Thus, the additional designations in the name allow us to distinguish two variants of auxiliary equipment created by different authors on the basis of various models of armored vehicles.
BREM Bergepanzer Tiger was built by technicians of one of the military workshops in the interests of the 501 heavy tank battalion. Three heavy tanks from the 509 Battalion in the early autumn of 1944 were sent for repair. For one reason or another, it was decided not to restore the tanks in the original configuration, but to give them a new function. The existing machines after the repair were to become an auxiliary equipment capable of evacuating and restoring tanks of various types.
Unfortunately, the detailed information on the alteration of tanks under the unofficial draft of Bergepanzer Tiger has not been preserved. Moreover, even the main design features of the new BREM remained unknown. According to some data, in contrast to the previous sample of Ladungsliger Tiger, this technique was not equipped with cranes, but there are no other details.
Broken Ladungsliger Tiger BRAM, abandoned by the crew in May-June 1944. Photo Waralbum.ru
It can be assumed that during the alteration in the Bergepanzer Tiger, the tanks of the basic model were deprived of weapons and, probably, even the towers. Target equipment could consist of a set of tow cables, hauling logs, a winch, a set of tools and spare parts, etc. All the necessary devices and tools had to be transported or installed both inside the case and on its outer surface. At the same time, the crew could solve a wide range of tasks for evacuating damaged equipment and its subsequent repair.
In November 1944, three Bergepanzer Tiger Ausf.E BREMs were transferred to the 501 heavy tank battalion. Details of operation are unknown. Probably, the cars remained in the ranks for some time, after which they were written off to develop a resource or destroyed during the battles. Anyway, none of the Bergepanzer Tiger cars survived to the end of the war.
For various reasons, the exact appearance of the Bergepanzer Tiger repair and recovery vehicle remains unknown. Moreover, not a single image of such a technique has been preserved. There are several photographs of the Ladungsliger Tiger machine, which can sometimes be issued as Bergepanzer Tiger images as a result of confusion. Nevertheless, these were different types of equipment, which, despite the similar purpose, had a lot of differences.
From the middle of 1943, the German troops used the BREM type Bergepanther for the evacuation of heavy heavy armored vehicles. This technique was built in fairly large quantities - until the end of the war, the troops transferred about 350 machines of this type. Attempts to create a similar technique based on the tank Pz.Kpfw.VI Tiger, as we see, did not lead to special success. Both projects were created informally and by forces of the army workshops, based on the desire of the front-line units to have the required equipment. However, in total, only four BREMs were built on the basis of the Tiger tank, which were exploited for some time and did not leave a noticeable trace in the history of hostilities.
Nevertheless, despite the absence of any major results, the Ladungsliger / Bergepanzer Tiger projects are of some interest from a historical point of view. They show how German troops tried to solve pressing problems in accessible ways and got curious results. In addition, these projects can be an excellent reason to discuss the hypothetical appearance of armored repair and recovery vehicles based on Pz.Kpfw.VI, which could be developed by industrial enterprises on the basis of the corresponding order of the army.
Chamberlain P., Doyle H. Complete reference book of German tanks and self-propelled guns of the Second World War. - M .: AST: Astrel, 2008.
Ford R. Tank "Tiger". - M .: Eksmo, 2008.