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Tactical and Technical Trends #38

The U.S. military intelligence articles from Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 38, November 1943 have been added to the main website:

Panzer III of sPzAbt. 501 in Tunisia

Photographs of Pz.Kpfw. III Ausf. N of sPzAbt. 501 in Tunisia:


No. 03 Panzer III Ausf. N of sPzAbt. 501 in Tunisia 03
04
 
N/A
 
 
05
Picture of 05 does exist in private collection.
 
07
No. 113 Panzer III Ausf. N of sPzAbt. 501 in Tunisia 113
124
133
134
143
 
N/A
 
 
222
Picture of 222 does exist. To be added.
 
 
242
Knocked out by the British in January 1943.
 
832
Knocked out near Beja during Operation Ochsenkopf.
 
844
Knocked out, probably during Operation Ochsenkopf.

sPzAbt. 501 Organization

The following table shows the organization of sPzAbt. 501 in Tunisia. This organization is consistent with existing photographs, however, considerable disagreement remains among researchers on the tactical numbering of the panzers in the command Trupp of each Kompanie.

[Updated with discovery of a photo of Tiger #02 and #213.]

In the chart below:

  • Black icons = photographic evidence.
  • Grey icons = no photographic evidence.
Stabskompanie
Tiger
01
Tiger
02
Pz III
03
Pz III
04
Pz III
05
Pz III
06
Pz III
07
1st Kompanie
Tiger
11
Pz III
12 (?)
Pz III
13 (?)
Tiger
111
Tiger
112
Pz III
113
Pz III
114
Tiger
121
Tiger
122
Pz III
123
Pz III
124
Tiger
131
Tiger
132
Pz III
133
Pz III
134
Tiger
141
Tiger
142
Pz III
143
Pz III
144
2nd Kompanie
Tiger
21
Pz III
22 (?)
Pz III
23 (?)
Tiger
211
Pz III
212
Tiger
213
Pz III
214
Tiger
221
Pz III
222
Tiger
223
Pz III
224
Tiger
231
Pz III
232
Tiger
233
Pz III
234
Tiger
241
Pz III
242
Tiger
243
Pz III
244

An original German report lists the tactical numbers of all nine Tigers in 1. Ko. including Tiger #11.

Thomas Anderson in “Des Tiger dans les Djebels” identifies the following panzers as confirmed (“Numéros confirmés par photographies ou rapports originaux”): 01, 02, 03, 04, 07, 111, 112, 113, 114, 121, 122, 123, 124, 131, 132, 133, 134, 141, 142, 143, 144, 213, 222, 223, 231, 232, 233, and 242.

References:

Misc. Comments on the Tigers of sPzAbt. 501 in Tunisia

sPzAbt. 501 received 20 Tigers—2 Tigers in September 1942, 8 Tigers in October, and 10 Tigers in November. The Tigers of the 501st were transferred to Tunisia between November 1942 and January 1943. Two Tigers served in the Stab [01 and 02], 9 Tigers in the 1st Ko. [11 (source: Jentz), 111, 112, 121, 122, 131, 132, 141, 142] and 9 Tigers in the 2nd Ko. [21, 211, 213, 221, 223, 231, 233, 241, 243). The Tigers of the 1st Ko. and 2nd Ko. were extensively modified and are easily distinguished from other units.

For a good selection of sPzAbt. 501 Tiger photographs, see Tiger im Focus – sPzAbt. 501.

Photographic Record:

  • Only one confirmed photograph of a Stab Tiger exists (01), so the exact features of the Stab Tigers are unknown. [Note: a photograph of Tiger 02 has been discovered.]
  • Identifiable photographs exist of all the 1st Ko. Tigers except Tiger 11. Tiger 121 is unique among the 1st Ko. Tigers in having the shovel mounts on the front glacis plate.
  • Identifiable photographs exist of 2nd Ko. Tigers 231, 241, and 243. Tiger 231 and 243 carried spare track links on the lower front plate, while Tiger 241 did not.
  • In February 1943, the 501st was redesignated as the 7th Ko. and 8th Ko. of 10th Panzer Division. Presumably the 1st Ko. Tigers were also renumbered at this time, although no photographic proof exists that the Tigers were renumbered before the additional reorganization described below. For example, a photograph exists of Tiger 142 during Operation Ochsenkopf alongside photographs of renumbered 8th Ko. Tigers.
  • The Tigers of 2nd Ko. were renumbered as 8th Ko. and identifiable photographs exist of 813, 823, and 833. 823 is noteworthy in having the reinforced mantlet. 833 is noteworthy in having the new hinged front mudguards.
  • After the heavy losses in Operation Ochsenkopf, the Tigers were consolidated into a single company and renumbered as 7th Ko. Identifiable photographs show Tigers 712 [formerly 2 Ko.], 724 [formerly 112 as recognizable from battle damage], 731 [formerly?], and 732 [formerly 1 Ko.].

Tiger Characteristics:

The following characteristics are visible in photographs of Tigers of the unit:


No. Cross Size New Mud Guards Reinf. Mantlet Front Shovel Notes
01 small ? N ?
02
111 large ? ? ?
112 large N N N
121 large N N Y
122 large N N N
131 large N N N
132 large N N N
141 large N N N
142 large N N N Destroyed near Beja.
UNK1 large N N Y Destroyed near Beja.
UNK2 small N N Y “Heidi” on front plate.
UNK3 small N N ? Tiger painted behind headlight.
21
22? ? N Y ?
231 ? N ? ?
241 ? N ? ?
243 ? N ? ?
811 ? ? ? ? Destroyed turret photographed near Beja.
813 small ? ? ?
82? small N Y Y Photographed on road near Sidi Nsir. May be same as 823.
823 small N Y ? Destroyed near Beja.
833 small Y N ? Destroyed near Beja.
843 Turret shell destroyed near Beja.
71  
712 small Y N Y Aberdeen Tiger. Formerly 2 Ko.
724 large N N N Formerly 1 Ko. Tiger 112 (from battle damage).
731 large N ? N Norbert? Characteristics of both formerly 1 Ko. and 2 Ko.
732 large N ? ? Formerly 1 Ko.

 

Battle of Sidi Nsir

In an effort to extend the Tunis bridgehead, the Germans launched Operation Ochsenkopf in February 1943. Kampfgruppe Lang, containing sPzAbt. 501 and elements of 10th Panzer Division, struck at British forces at Sidi Nsir. After a hard battle, the German forces overran the British infantry and artillery and captured Sidi Nsir. The British resistance gained time to establish defenses at Hunt’s Gap which halted Kampfgruppe Lang’s advance toward Beja.

The Bundesarchiv archive contains several photos of the aftermath of the Battle of Sidi Nsir.

Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-557-1020-05A, Appe. (Creative Commons License.)

Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-557-1020-05A, Appe. (Creative Commons License.)

 
101I-557-1020-05A
German soldiers and wounded British soldiers at the northeast end of the Sidi Nsir station.
Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-557-1020-18A, Appe.  (Creative Commons License.)

Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-557-1020-18A, Appe. (Creative Commons License.)

 
101I-557-1020-18A
Another view of the British wounded and German soldiers at the northeast end of the station. A Kubelwagen ambulance has arrived and one stretcher has been loaded. The name of the station, Sidi Nsir, is visible on the station sign.
Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-557-1020-20A, Appe. (Creative Commons License.)

Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-557-1020-20A, Appe. (Creative Commons License.)

 
101I-557-1020-20A
A German halftrack tows an antitank gun through a gap in the British wire. The halftrack has just passed through the intersection and is moving toward the Sidi Nsir station. The road to the left goes to Tebourba while the road to Beja is barely visible in the background behind the halftrack.
Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-557-1020-26A, Appe. (Creative Commons License.)

Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-557-1020-26A, Appe. (Creative Commons License.)

 
101I-557-1020-26A
Another view of the group of German soldiers shown beside the halftrack. The rocky hills behind the soldiers are also shown in photograph 05A.
Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-557-1020-27A, Appe. (Creative Commons License.)

Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-557-1020-27A, Appe. (Creative Commons License.)

 
101I-557-1020-27A
A photograph showing the southwest end of the train station along with motorcycles, halftrack, Kubelwagen, and a captured U.S. halftack in German service. In the background are the sheds and boxcar visible in other photographs.
Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-557-1020-33A, Appe. (Creative Commons License.)

Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-557-1020-33A, Appe. (Creative Commons License.)

 
101I-557-1020-33A
A column of German troops and British prisoners leaves Sidi Nsir heading along the railroad tracks in the direction of Mateur. The Sidi Nsir station is visible in the background.
Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-557-1023-27A, Appe. (Creative Commons License.)

Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-557-1023-27A, Appe. (Creative Commons License.)

101I-557-1023-27A
German light flak setup in the road intersection. On the left, behind the 20-mm flak, is the road to Tebourba. The road and railroad to Beja is visible in the background with traffic moving in both directions.

101I-557-1023-26A is a nearly identical photograph of the same scene.

Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-788-0032-19, Dullin. (Creative Commons License.)

Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-788-0032-19, Dullin. (Creative Commons License.)

 
101I-788-0032-19: A photograph from a second photographer showing a PzKpfw. III Ausf. N belonging to sPzAbt. 501 parked at the southwest end of the Sidi Nsir station.

Beja Tiger Turret

Photo P30 (see “Tiger Grave at Beja” and “Video of sPzAbt. 501 Tigers in Tunisia“) shows a slightly better view of the detached Tiger turret in the ditch at the front of the column.

Tiger Grave at Beja [Updated]

The kernel of the following map originated with discussions started on several Internet forums related to WWII German armor, especially the lengthy discussions in the Missing Lynx Axis WWII Discussion Group.

Tiger Grave at Beja
Photos:


P1

P2

P3

P4

P5

P6

P7

P8

P9

P10

P11

P12

P13

P14

P15

P16

P17

P18

P19

P20

P21

P22

P23

P24

P25

P26

P27

P28

P29

P30

P31

P32

P33

P34

P35

P36

P37

P38
Photograph Sources:
P1 – P24: LIFE Images.
P25: Missing Lynx Axis WWII Discussion Group.
P26: Missing Lynx Axis WWII Discussion Group.
P27 – P28: Wehrmacht-Awards.com Militaria Forums
P29: Online auction.
P30: Missing Lynx Axis WWII Discussion Group.
P31: Missing Lynx Axis WWII Discussion Group.
P32: Online auction.
P33: Missing Lynx Axis WWII Discussion Group.
P34: “The Red Bulletin,” Vol. I, No. 5, April 14, 1945. [Link]
P35 – P38: Online auction.