The SdKfz 179 Bergepanther was an armoured recovery vehicle that was used by Germany during World War II. It was based upon the chassis of the Panzer V Panther with the first production model was the Ausf. A version.
The Bergepanther had a crew of five men and a Maybach HL230 P30 engine, which, just like the standard Panther medium tank, propelled the vehicle to speeds of up to 46 km/h.
For a defensive armament, the Bergepanther mounted a 20 mm KwK 38 cannon and an additional MG 42. The main and obvious difference between the Bergepanther and the original Panther was that the Bergepanther had a 40,000 kg winch and cable system that replaced the turret. Another commonly added feature was a rear-mounted spade which acted as a counterbalance when recovering a vehicle. The very first production models however did not receive the KwK 38. Furthermore, these first models only had wooden coverings over the hatch that opened to let engineers take out tools from inside the vehicle. The Bergepanther also had a 7 speed forward, 1 speed reverse transmission system with a maximum range of about 200 kilometers.
It is quite difficult to describe the variants of the Bergepanther series because most models had several modifications from each other and numerous other sub-modifications based on factory requirements or field needs. The main variants however, were the first production model, the Ausf. A, based on the Panther Ausf. A frame and the Ausf. G which similarly based on the Panther Ausf. G frame. In between, models as mentioned above had varying equipment loads such as the implementation of a counterbalance spade or the defensive 20 mm KwK 38.
The Bergepanther first began its development between 1942 to 1943 because of the need for a heavy duty tank recovery vehicle. This need came about with the introduction of German heavy armor such as the Panther medium tank or Tiger I heavy tank, which generally required up to three SdKfz 9 Famo half-tracks compared to the single half-track needed to tow a Panzer III or Panzer IV. Tigers at the time were also valued higher than Panthers considering their smaller production numbers, leaving the Panther as the preferred base for the new armored recovery vehicle. These vehicles produced by MAN were subsequently shipped off to serve during the Battle of Kursk and in various other battles until the end of the war. Around two to four Bergepanthers were allocated to each tank unit making up for a total of around 330 vehicles produced during the war, largely by the company Demag.
- ↑ http://www.panther1944.de/en/pzrbergewagen-bergepanther/bergepanther-geschichte.html
- ↑ http://www.wwiivehicles.com/germany/tanks-medium/pzkpfw-v-bergepanther.asp
- ↑ http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_bergepanther.html