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BIV DEMOLITION UNITS
by Mike Reese
The German Army, after Poland, realized a need to clear gaps in minefields by a method other than by hand. They looked at using a remote control vehicle. One was developed by the time of the Battle for France in May 1940. This was the Sd Kfz 300 "Minenraumwagen" which weighed 1.5 tons, was radio controlled, and which towed mine detonating rollers. Fifty were made. This was the early version. A "B2" version at 2.3 tons was made and issued to the Minenraum Abteilung 1 (Mine Clearing Battalion would be a rough translation). However, it apparently wasn't deployed in either France in 1940, nor Russia in 1941.
A third vehicle was developed. This was the Sprengladungstrager (Sd Kfz 301) B IV which weighed 3.5 tons and was powered by a 49 horsepower engine. It carried a crew of one and a 500 kg (that's 1100 pounds!) explosive charge. The crewman drove the vehicle to its assembly position for the attack, then dismounted and closed the hatches. The vehicle could then be controlled by radio for a distance of approximately 800-1000 meters. This was half the design range of 2000 meters. The 500 kg charge was on the sloped glacis plate of the vehicle, and could be released by remote control, and the vehicle pulled back before the charge exploded. The main use of the vehicle was against minefields. A B IV would be driven into a minefield and exploded, the over pressure of the explosion setting off all the mines in the immediate area. A second or third or as many B IV as was needed would be moved one at a time past the cleared area to the next part of the minefield, and set-off. This would clear a path through the field. The vehicle could also be used against fixed fortifications and against stationary enemy units.
Use in the game. The B IV may operate as a normal AFV during movement, which assumes it is manned. It may not drop or fire its charge while manned. When "attacking" with the B IV the following rules are followed.
Control Vehicles: There were three different control vehicles used in Funklenk units (Fkl). They were the Mark III, both 50/L60 and 75/L24 versions (Pz IIIJ-M and Pz IIIN); the StuG IIIG, and the Tiger I. Organizations and deployment is given below in Spearhead statistics.
Pz Abt (battalion)(Fkl) 300, May 42, was assigned to Heeres Gruppe (H-G) Sud. It had three companies. Total strength was: 7 Pz III/L60, and 15 B IV (each company had 2 Pz III, and 5 B IV). BN HQ has 1 Pz III/L60. In Sep 42 Pz Abt (Fkl) 300 was renumbered Pz Abt (Fkl) 301 and transferred to H-G Nord. It was withdrawn in Dec 42.
Pz Abt (Fkl) 300 was withdrawn to refit in late 1943.
Pz Abt (Fkl) 301 was assigned to H-G Mitte with three new companies, 312, 313, and 314. These units were first employed in July at Kursk. Instead of Pz III they had StuG III, and were short StuG so they had only 1 StuG III model and 5 B IV models per company.
In Aug 43 two new companies (Fkl) were formed, 315 and 316, with StuG III.
By Dec 31 1943 the following units were training in Germany (number
of vehicles are models.)
In Dec/43 sPz Abt 508 was assigned 313 Company (Fkl). sPz Abt 504 received the 314th Company (Fkl) and Panzer Lehr Division received the 316th Pz Company (Fkl). All three of these Fkl companies were converted to Tiger I control vehicles, prior to transfer (and became the 3rd Tiger Company in the case of the two Tiger battalions).
Each Schwerer Panzer Company "Tiger" (Fkl) had 2 Tiger, 5 B IV (HQ: 2 Tiger, 2 platoons each 4 Tiger and 9 B IV, plus 9 B IV in reserve). Tigers could be either Tiger I or II, although the two companies assigned to the Tiger Abteilung used Tiger I.
sPz Abt 508 was deployed to Anzio, Italy in Feb 44 while sPz Abt 504 went to Italy in June 44. They were pulled out in October 44.
The Panzer Lehr Regiment had its company with it on D-day. It had 1 Tiger I and 2 StuG III as control units. They were pulled out in July to form Pz Abt (Fkl) 302. Panzer Lehr's Fkl company also had 5 Tiger II as control vehicles, these being from the first production batch with the Porsche turrets. They were mechanically unsound and were destroyed when they couldn't be moved back to Germany (but a nice, "what if...game possibility").
Pz Abt (Fkl) 301 had four companies. Pz Company (Fkl) 312 was added to it and the entire battalion assigned to 2nd Panzer Division in Normandy. Organization of the companies was 2 StuG III and 2 B IV each. There were an additional 3 B IV in reserve. (Actual: 2 StuG III in HQ, 2 platoons each 4 StuG III, 1 251/1, and 12 B IV. 12 B IV in reserve.) Battalion strength would have been: 1 Pz III, 1 251/1 in BN HQ; 8 StuG III and 29 B IV.
Pz Abt (Fkl)301 was withdrawn from France and reorganized in Aug/44. It re-equipped with 2 Tiger I in the Abteilung HQ, and three companies each with 10 Tiger I and 36 B IV. SH strength would be 6 Tiger I and 21 B IV's. It was deployed in the Ardennes with H-G B.
Pz Abt (Fkl) 302 was formed in June 44. It had 4 companies formed from the Pz Companies (Fkl) 311, 315, 316, and 317. It went to H-G Mitte on the Eastern Front in Aug 44 with 3 Pz IV, 40 StuG III, and 144 B IV (or SH 1 Pz IV, 8 StuG III, and 29 B IV). It surrendered in East Prussia in 1945.
Pz Company (Fkl) 319 was formed September 44 with 10 StuG III and 36 B IV (SH would be 2 StuG III and 7 B IV). It was in the Ardennes with H-G B.
Late in the war Pz Abt (Fkl) 303 was organized using the 301, 302, and 319 Fkl Pz Companies. On Feb 17 1945 it was issued 31 Pz IV/L48, named Pz Abt "Schlesien" and deployed on the eastern front as a regular tank battalion.
The last Fkl unit formed was Pz Platoon (Fkl) 303 with 4 StuG III and 12 B1V (SH 1 StuG III and 2 B IV). It was attached to the 35th PzGr Div with H-G Mitte.
Sources: The source for all this information is the excellent
article in AFV NEWS, Sept-Dec. 1986, Volume 21, No. 3 titled FUNKLENK PANZERTRUPPEN
by Thomas L. Jentz. Mr. Jentz' books on German armor are also recommended.
These are "PANZERTRUPPEN Volume 1. 1933-42 and Volume 2 1943-1945; Germany's
Panther Tank; and Volume 1 through 3 of Tiger I and II.
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