|On April 9th of 1940,
Germany invaded Denmark as part of the Operation "Weserubung" directed
towards the invasion of Norway. The invasion of Norway was to secure
the supply of raw materials from Scandinavia as well as to provide strategic
air and naval bases. The invasion force was composed of air, ground and
naval forces. Following heavy fighting (e.g. Narvik) along with the
German invasion of the Low Countries and France on May 10th, Allied forces
were evacuated in early June. On June 7th, Norwegian King Haakon
VII and his government left for England, where government in exile was
Panzer Abteilung zur besonderer Vervendung
was formed in order to support
infantry operations in southern Norway.
of armored fighting vehicles in the Norwegian Campaign is often ignored,
since only very limited panzer force was present. In addition, Norway
had no tanks as of April of 1940 and only tanks to oppose the German invasion
were those of the Allies. In preparations for the invasion, panzer unit
for special purpose deployment - Panzer Abteilung zur besonderer Vervendung
40 (Pz. Abt. z. B. v. 40)
Pz I and II lined up somewhere
in Norway. In front of the PzKpfw's there are several lorries carrying
small 37 mm antitank guns, Pak 37. According to the photo album this picture
was found in, the Pz unit was supported by an army unit on its way to Haugesund.
The unit was formed on March 8th of 1940, at the army base at Putloss in
Schleswig-Holstein. This battalion size unit was composed of three
light companies assigned from 3rd (probably 5th Panzer Regiment), 4th (36th
Panzer Regiment) and 5th Panzer Divisions (15th Panzer Regiment).
The first company was commanded by Captain von Burstin, second by Captain
Toelke and third by Captain Niedreck. Battalion HQ had three PzKpfw
I tanks and three Kleiner Panzer Befehlswagen I command tanks. Each
company had its own company HQ and four platoons. Company HQ had
PzKpfw I, two PzKpfw II tanks and single Kleiner Panzer Befehlswagen I
command tank. The first, second and third platoon had four PzKpfw
I tanks each, while fourth platoon had five PzKpfw II tanks. The
majority of PzKpfw I were the model A (Ausf A), while PzKpfw II were mainly
the model c (Ausf c not to be confused with Ausf C).
The unit saw action
in central Norway, in the area of Lake Mjøsa and Randsfjord, supporting
infantry. Following the fall of Norway, Pz. Abt. z. B. v. 40
was stationed at Akershus Fortress in Oslo until it was transferred to
Finland in the winter of 1941/42.
Pz. Abt. z. B. v. 40 and Neubaufahrzeuge
On April 9th, first and
second companies were sent to Denmark, while third company was sent to
Norway aboard ships "Urundi" and "Antaris H". On April 17th, only
single Panzerkampfwagen I and Panzerkampfwagen II arrived in Oslo aboard
"Urundi". The rest of the company (single Kleiner Panzer Befehlswagen
I command tank, twelve PzKpfw I and six PzKpfw II tanks) went down with
"Antaris H" (and other transports), which was sunk in the North Sea by
a British submarine.
In order to recompensate for the loss, platoon size unit equipped with
three Neubaufahrzeug Panzerkampfwagen VI (Krupp turret) heavy tanks commanded
by Lieutenant Hans Horstmann was sent to Norway. This unit was also
known as Panzerzug Horstmann or Zug Putloss. It arrived in Oslo on
April 19th, where its tanks were displayed for propaganda purposes.
The focus was on three Neubaufahrzeug Panzerkampfwagen VI (Krupp turret)
heavy tanks, which were to show the Allies that the German Panzertruppe
was equipped with heavy tanks. The unit was then assigned to Pz.
Abt. z. B. v. 40 and 196th Infantry Division and on April 20th moved to
Two of heavy tanks saw service with Pz. Abt. z. B. v. 40, while the third
with Gruppe Pellangahr. The Gruppe Pellangahr was composed of elements
of Pz. Abt. z. B. v. 40 and 196th Infantry Division. On April 25th,
the one assigned to the Gruppe Pellangahr was immobilized by the British
25mm (French Hotchkiss) anti-tank gun position in the village of Kvam.
One of two tanks from Pz. Abt. z. B. v. 40, drove and was stuck in the
at Åndalsnes and was eventually blown up by the German engineers.
It was then replaced on May 16th of 1940, with a mild steel prototype giving
the Pz. Abt. z. B. v. 40 once again the strength of three heavy tanks.
Overall, Neubaufahrzeug Panzer- kampfwagen VI (Krupp turret) heavy tanks
proved to be unsuited for combat but in many cases provided infantry with
the only available support.
NbFz PzKpfw VI heavy tank
Official propaganda picture.
Armored Fighting Vehicles of Pz. Abt.
z. B. v. 40
As of April 9th, Pz. Abt.
z. B. v. 40 was to have some 69, including:
- 42 PzKpfw
I light tanks (12 lost at sea),
- 21 PzKpfw
II light tanks (6 lost at sea),
6 Kleiner Panzer Befehlswagen I command tanks (1 lost at sea),
|On April 20th,
the first and second company arrived in Oslo. Both companies had
thirteen PzKpfw I, seven PzKpfw II tanks and one Kleiner Panzer Befehlswagen
I command tank each. The third company had also originally 21 light tanks
but was reduced to single PzKpfw I and II light tank and three NbFz PzKpfw
VI heavy tanks.It was then probably refitted with limited (7 to 10) number
of Panzerkampfwagen III (mainly Ausf D and few Ausf F) medium tanks.
PZKpfw I, number 634 being transported
Out of original 69 tanks
only 50 reached Norway, this included:
PzKpfw I light tanks,
PzKpfw II light tanks,
5 Kleiner Panzer Befehlswagen I command tanks,
3 NbFz PzKpfw VI heavy tanks.
After the arrival of
three NbFz PzKpfw VI heavy tanks on April 19th, the strength grew to 53
tanks along with additional 7 to 10 PzKpfw III medium tanks, which probably
assigned to the first company. At its peak, Pz. Abt. z. B. v. 40
had some 60 to 63 tanks. In addition, there were probably also Sd.Kfz.251
armored personnel carriers as part of Pz. Abt. z. B. v. 40 or 196th Infantry
Division. The combat losses are unknown to me but it is unlikely that they
exceeded 25% (15 out of 63)
As stated before, Norway
was not seen as the "tank country" and only limited tank force, equipped
with either obsolete or pre-production tanks was formed. The lack
of opposing tank force made the main task of Pz. Abt. z. B. v. 40 to support
the infantry operations, while being supported by the airforce itself.
In many cases tanks proved to be very effective providing infantry with
support and cover. The experience of using tanks in mountainous and
deeply wooded areas proved valuable in Russia and the Balkans, where similar
conditions were encountered. After its combat experience in Norway, Pz.Abt.
z.b.V. 40 was transferred to Finland in the winter of 1941/42 and was incorporated
into 25th Panzer Division in 1943.*
Following info added by webmaster:
Panzer in action in Norway.
Armour 1939 to 1945
things on german armour
PzKpfw I :
Weight: 5,4 tons
Speed: 40 km/h
Crew: 2Armour: 13 mm
Armament: 2x7.92 mm MG
PzKpfw II :
Weight: 9,5 tons
Speed: 40 km/h
Armour: 30 mm max.
Armament: 20 mm cannon,
1x7.92 mm MG
PzKpfw III :
Weight: 15 tons
Speed: 40 km/h
Armour: 30 mm max.
Armament: 37 mm gun,
2x7,92 mm MG
"Panzerkampfwagen I & II
- German light tanks 1935-45" by Eric Grove.
"Leichte Panzers in Action"
by Uwe Feist and Mike Dario.
"Encyclopedia of German
Tanks of World War - Revised Edition" by Peter Chamberlain, Hilary Doyle
and Thomas L. Jentz.
"German Panzerwaffe 1939-1945"
by Dariusz Jedrzejewski and Zbigniew Lalak.
"Neubaufahrzeuge" by Militaria
"Panzerwaffe" by Militaria
"The Panzer Divisions" by
"Panzerkampfwagen I &
II at war" by Michael Jerchel and Waldemar Trojca.
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