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End of the Tigers - 501, 502/511

Discussion in 'Armor and Armored Fighting Vehicles' started by CrazyD, Sep 29, 2010.

  1. CrazyD

    CrazyD Ace

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    What a shock... Crazy's studying Tigers and the end of the war. Who coulda seen that coming, eh?

    The original idea for this was to just collate some info on the actions of Tiger I and II tanks during the last two months of the year. I chose the arbitrary starting date for this examination of March '45. Turns out, as I'd like to be as thorough as my sources allow, it's going to be more work than expected, so I'm going unit-by-unit. So, hopefully, this is the first of a series of posts.

    As the title suggests, this post covers two units- 501, and 502/511.
    Sources for this one:
    Tiger I Information Center - Unit Histories
    Tiger Tank Battalions during WWII - Page 1 (barely used)
    Tigers in Combat, I and II, Wolfgang Schneider
    Trail of the Tigers, Ron Klages
    Jentz, Tiger I and II, Combat Tactics

    501

    1st Battalion fully strengthed with Tiger IIs, Summer 44.

    Last tank delivery – 10/1/44, 18x Tiger I (from 509)
    2/11/45 – disbanded

    There's only one tidbit from this unit that occurs within my timeframe- and it is an interesting one that I can't find much more info on.
    Easter ’45 – Employment of 3rd Co. (Oberleutenant Busch) with driver’s instruction tanks (2x Tiger I, 1x Panther, 1x PzIV) from PzErsAusbAbt 500 around Paderborn. 1 Tiger knocked out @ Paderborn Railway station. Rest surrenders.


    502 (renamed 511, 5 Jan 45)

    1st unit to take Tiger I into combat. 1st Co., 16 Sept 42, near Lake Ladoga, Leningrad area.

    Last Tigers issued to 502/511:
    2/1/44: 17 Tiger Is, delivered to unit in Merekula, Russia
    2/12/44: 13 Tiger Is, delivered to unit in Merekula, Russia. Chassis #s 250712-250715, 250719, 250753, 250755-250757, 250759
    [edit, adding Jentz]
    Info from Jentz differs a bit here. On allocations of Tiger I tanks, Jentz lists:
    10 shipped to the 502nd on 21 January '44
    20 shipped to 502 between 8-13 Feb '44
    However, given that the total # of tanks is identical between Jentz and Klages, the specific dates aren't really an issue, especially given that I'm looking at unit actions post-March 45. Whichever the specific delivery date was, the fact apparently remains that the 502nd received it's last 30 Tiger I tanks in early 44.

    3/31/45: 8 Tiger IIs, picked up from factory, Kassel, Germany

    2/13/45 – 1st Co. equipped with Hetzer TDs (10)

    (3rd Co.)
    3/31/45 – 3rd Co. receives 8 Tiger IIs. (1 Waffenamt?). These Tiger IIs part of group of last Tiger IIs produced by Henschel. Picked up directly from factory (in Kassel?). 12 brand new production Tiger IIs, 3 older Tiger IIs from Waffenamt at Sennelager and 1 older Tiger II from Waffenamt at Northeim.
    4/19/45 – 8 Tiger IIs abandoned, 3rd Co. disbands near Thale

    4/1/45 – combat with 7 Tigers in Kassell, 3 Tiger IIs lost to bomb damage.
    (Only sourced via Fprado armor site. Questionable info.)

    (1st + 2nd Cos.)
    (2nd Co. all Tiger Is)

    from Klages, Tiger I inventory, start of month:
    Feb 45: 14
    March 45: 10
    April 45: 10 10 combat loss.

    Minor discrepancy- Jentz lists 11 Tigers operational as of March 15 '45.

    4/6/45 – Soviet offensive on Konigsberg
    4/8/45 – 4 Tiger Is counterattack. 1 lost.
    4/12/45 – 2nd Co. divided into small groups of 2-3 tanks and scattered over front.
    4/13/45 – Near Norgau, Kampfgruppe Kerscher destroys 20-35 enemy tanks. 1 Tiger I sustains gun damage. During evening, supply wagon brings ammo and fuel, plus one more Tiger I arrives in area. Later same night, infantry withdraws, forcing Tigers to also withdraw.
    4/13/45 – 1st Co. fighting in area of Palmnicken, suffers heavy casualties.
    4/14/45 – Kerscher’s Tiger I only able to drive in 3rd gear due to damage.
    4/16/45 – near Fischhausen, Kerscher, Hermann, and Baresch operating Tiger Is. Hermann and Baresch’s Tiger Is knocked out by Soviet forces. Kerscher’s Tiger I makes it back to repair shop in Neuhauser Forest area under cover from at least one repaired Tiger. 2 Tanks lost, 3rd Co. reports 7 Tiger Is left in inventory.
    4/16/45 – 1st Co. destroyed @ Palmnicken
    4/20/45 – 1 Tiger I relieves trapped infantry at Lochstadt castle.
    Since 4/13/45, battalion reports 102 enemy tanks destroyed
    4/21/45 – Kerscher’s repaired Tiger I plus two Hetzers secure Tiger (I or II?) from 505th on edge of Neuhauser Forest. 21 enemy tanks knocked out. Kerscher reaches 100 kills. Tiger(s?) withdraw.
    4/22/45 – near Konigsberg, Kerscher’s Tiger I damaged, petrol leaking into hull. Combat continues. During same engagement, 2 more Tiger Is lost, one mechanical failure, 1 destroyed by crew. 5 Tiger Is remaining in inventory.
    4/23/45 – further Soviet penetration into Neuhauser Forest.
    4/24/45 – further combat in forest area. Kerscher’s Tiger I plus one other knocked out. Crews (and other tanks?) withdraw to Pillau, East Prussia.
    Last Hetzer repels enemy tank attack at Pillau rail station.
    Most of battalion ferried to Frische Nehrung. 3 Tanks remain in inventory.
    4/26 – 2 Tiger Is available at Frische Nehrung, “near Nickelwalde (Klages)” 1 operational (#217, Kostler)
    4/27 - #217 in combat. From Schneider – “Probably from sabotage, the tank explodes after the crew dismount for a short break.” 1 Tiger I left in inventory, likely not operational. Different- Klages notes 3 Tiger Is abandoned on this date.

    Battalion disbanded, surrenders to Soviets on 5/9/45.

    3/28/45 – Knight’s Cross awarded to Unteroffizer Alfredo Carpaneto, 50+ kills
    4/17/45 – Knight’s Cross awarded to Oberleutenant Adolf Rinke

    (Clarification on the two KC awards noted above- there were plenty more members of the 502nd/511th that received the KC; these are just the members who received said medal post-March 44)

    Corrections? More info? Comments? Post'em!

    :cheers:
     
    tali-ihantala, Martin Bull and kerrd5 like this.
  2. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    After reading this post, I realise that my knowledge of those early-'45 actions is minimal. :eek:
     
  3. CrazyD

    CrazyD Ace

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    I'd say the last months of the war can be tricky across the board in terms of putting together good amounts of reliable info. Given the lack of source materials in many cases as the war wound down, the chaos in Germany, etc... an interesting challenge.

    Case in point, I find the most interesting bit about the 502/511 to be the bit with the least info- the Tiger IIs picked up by the 3rd Co. directly from the factory in Kassel. Would love to get more info on them- but I doubt it will be forthcoming. All Schneider has other than what I posted is a single photo- and even that looks like it might have been taken shortly after the war.

    I'm working on the 503rd next, and that one should be a bit more interesting and robust, as there is a Combat History for the 503rd which does provide a fair bit about the last couple months. Hopefully I'll have that one up by the end of the weekend.

    :cheers:
     
  4. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Is that Lochmann's book ? I'd noticed it was out in Stackpole and had been tempted....
     
  5. CrazyD

    CrazyD Ace

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    Yessir. I believe this is another one of the Stackpole reprints of a JJF title. Hence, I certainly would NOT buy it for the photos- the Stackpole photo reproductions leave a lot to be desired.

    But then again, I believe it was $30... which is a lot cheaper than the JJF book. And one would assume that the text is reproduced pretty close to accurately.

    :cheers:
     
  6. Takao

    Takao Ace

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  7. CrazyD

    CrazyD Ace

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    Nice, thanks Takao- I hadn't heard about that series.

    I'm actually starting to work on a similar post to this one regarding the 503rd... though I obviously won't have that book in time to incorporate it, that one has immediately jumped to the top of the "must buy" list!

    :cheers:
     
  8. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Just musing here.....I wonder when CrazyD's going to produce the definitive, step-by-step history of Tiger IIs during the Ardennes Offensive....? :)
     
  9. CrazyD

    CrazyD Ace

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    :D

    An idea, no doubt.

    I doubt I'm going to go through all the Tiger units for this "last couple months of the war" bit- a lot more involved there than I was thinking. Maybe a couple more representative units, and then who knows... on to the Bulge.

    Or, maybe, something that doesn't involve armor?
    Naaah.

    ;)
     

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