Neubaufahrzeug

The German Panzerkampfwagen Neubaufahrzeug ("new construction vehicle"—a cover name), abbreviated as PzKpfw Nb.Fz, series of tank prototypes were a first attempt to create a medium tank for the Wehrmacht after Adolf Hitler had come to power. Multi-turreted, heavy and slow, they were not considered successful, which led to only five being produced. These were primarily used for propaganda purposes and training, though three took part in the Battle of Norway in 1940. Pictures of the Neubaufahrzeuge were displayed with different turret models and orientations to fool allied spies; American and Soviet agents independently reported that the Germans had two new heavy tanks, the Panzer V and VI. In reality, these tanks were far from the Panzer V Panther and the Panzer VI Tiger.[1]

Neubaufahrzeug
Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-761-221N-06, Norwegen, Panzer "Neubaufahrzeug".jpg
A Neubaufahrzeug V in Norway in April 1940
TypeMedium tank
Place of originNazi Germany
Service history
In service1935-1940
Used byNazi Germany
WarsWorld War II
Production history
DesignerRheinmetall
Krupp
Designed1933–1934
ManufacturerRheinmetall
Produced1934–1936
No. built5
Specifications
Mass23.41 tonnes (23.04 long tons; 25.81 short tons)
Length6.65 m (21 ft 10 in)
Width2.90 m (9 ft 6 in)
Height2.90 m (9 ft 6 in)
Crew6

Armor10–20 mm (0.39–0.79 in)
Main
armament
7.5 cm KwK 37
Secondary
armament
3.7 cm KwK 36
3× 7.92 mm MG 34 machine gun
Engine290 hp BMW Va
TransmissionZF SSG 280
Suspensioncoil springs
Fuel capacity457 liters
Operational
range
road: 120 km (75 mi)
Maximum speed maximum: 30 km/h (19 mph)
road: 25 km/h (16 mph)

DevelopmentEdit

 
Neubaufahrzeug while being repaired

Development of the Neubaufahrzeug started in 1932 when Wa Prüf 6 established design specifications for a new 15 tonne tank to be known as the "mittlere Traktor". It had many connections to the previous Großtraktor, utilizing many of the same components including the engine and transmission. Initially both Krupp and Rheinmetall were asked to submit proposals, but after the end of trials of the Großtraktor prototypes, during which Rheinmetall's vehicle proved superior to others, Krupp would only be awarded a contract for a turret design while Rheinmetall was to design both a chassis and turret. Rheinmetall's turret design had a rounded shape and was armed with a 3.7 cm gun above the 7.5 cm gun, while Krupp's turret was more rectangular and had the 3.7 cm gun mounted beside the 7.5 cm gun. Both turrets were also armed with a co-axial MG-34 machine gun, along with the two sub-turrets at the front and rear of the tank.[2]

The Neubaufahrzeug went through a series of name changes, including "Groß Traktor Nachbau", "Mittlerer Traktor Neubau", and "Neubau Fahrzeug" in 1933, and "Neubau-Panzerkampfwagen IV" in April 1940. The Neubaufahrzeug was never officially named Panzerkampfwagen V or VI.[3]

Two mild steel trial tanks were built by Rheinmetall in 1934. The first prototype used Rheinmetall's own turret design, while the second prototype used Krupp's turret design, which was mounted in 1935. Three more tanks were built in 1936 with proper armor, all mounting Krupp's turret design. The sub-turrets were also redesigned by a third contractor.[4]

The Neubaufahrzeug was intended to fulfill the role of a medium tank in Germany's developing armored force, but it proved to have too many problems with its front drive and aero-engine for this role. But even with all its faults, the Neubaufahrzeug provided insight into tank designing that was valuable for the next German medium tank project, the Begleitwagen ("accompanying vehicle"), which would enter service as the Panzer IV.[5]

Service historyEdit

 
Three Neubaufahrzeuge arriving in Oslo Harbour, April 1940

Though these tanks were never placed in production, they provided a propaganda tool for Nazi Germany, for example being shown at the International Automobile Exposition in Berlin in 1939.

This propaganda role was extended with the German invasion of Norway, when Panzer Abteilung z.b.V. 40 (Tank battalion for special purpose 40") was formed for supporting the invasion of Norway, and the three Neubaufahrzeuge were assigned to that unit. One vehicle was assigned to Kampfgruppe Fischer advancing north through the Østerdalen Valley, while the other two were assigned to Kampfgruppe Pellengahr advancing up the Gudbrand Valley. The one assigned to Kampfgruppe Fischer was immobilized with mechanical problems on its way to Lillehammer, while one of the two assigned to Kampfgruppe Pellengahr also had mechanical problems just north of Lillehammer. Only one tank actually made it to the front; it was immediately put in action with the German force advancing up the Gudbrand Valley with other elements of Panzer Abteilung z.b.V. 40.[6]

The Neubaufahrzeuge first saw combat against British and Norwegian positions on April 22, near the hill Balberg at the far south end of the Gudbrand Valley, 7 km north of Lillehammer. The British Expeditionary Force was equipped with 0.55 inch calibre Boys anti-tank rifles that easily penetrated the Neubaufahrzeug. After dozens of hits, including one that killed a crew member, the tank retreated and the crew was hesitant to advance further. Other German units pushed further through, flanking the British forces and forcing them to retreat.[7]

It is unclear what happened to the tanks after the Norway campaign, but none of them survived the war. The surviving vehicles were ordered to be scrapped in 1941, and this took place in 1942 according to documents captured by the British in 1945. The dates when the vehicles were scrapped are unclear, but it is thought that the beginning of the construction of the Sturer Emil prototypes dates from the same time.

According to contemporary German sources, three NbFz were attached to the 1st Panzer Army and destroyed in battle with Soviet BT-7 tanks in present-day Ukraine in June 1941.

The last known surviving Neubaufahrzeug was used by a Lehr instruction unit in late 1944 as a target for training the Volkssturm in the use of the Panzerschreck (Raketenpanzerbüchse 54) and other anti-tank weapons.[citation needed]

All that survives of these tanks is a small number of running gear parts, preserved in the Gudbrandsdal Krigsminnesamling (Gudbrand Valley War Memorial collection), at Kvam in Norway.[8]

ReferencesEdit

Citations
  1. ^ Kavalerchik, Boris (2018). The Tanks of Operation Barbarossa; Soviet versus German Armour on the Eastern Front. Translated by Britton, Stuart. Pen & Sword Books. ISBN 978-1-4738-8682-7.[page needed]
  2. ^ Jentz. p. 4-6
  3. ^ Jentz. p. 4-6
  4. ^ Jentz. p. 4-6
  5. ^ Jentz. p. 4-1
  6. ^ Nilsen. p. 10
  7. ^ Hauge, page 302-305
  8. ^ "Surviving German WW2 Sonderfahrzeuge" (PDF). Surviving Panzers website. 22 October 2009. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
Bibliography
  • Chamberlain, Peter & Doyle, Hillary: Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War Two: The Complete Illustrated Directory of German Battle Tanks, Armoured Cars, Self-propelled guns and Semi-tracked Vehicles 1939-1945, Silverdale Books, 2004 ISBN 1-84509-012-8
  • Hauge, Andreas; Kampene i Norge 1940, Bind 1 [The Battles in Norway 1940, Volume 1]. Krigshistorisk Forlag 1995 (reprint of 1977 original) ISBN 82-993369-0-2 (In Norwegian)
  • Munthe-Kaas, O. ; Krigen i Norge 1940, Operasjonene gjennom Romerike - Hedemarken - Gudbrandsdalen - Romsdalen, Bind I-II. [The War in Norway, operations through Romerike-Hedmark-Gudbrandsdalen-Romsdalen, Vol 1-2]. Den Krigshistoriske Avdeling 1955 (in Norwegian)
  • Nilsen, Tom V.G. ; Tysk Panzer under felttoget i Norge Del 2: Panzerzug Horstmann & Neubaufahrzeuge [German Tanks in the Norwegian Campaign, Part 2]. Mud and Snow, Historiske Militære Kjøretøyers Forening 2007 (in Norwegian)
  • Spielberger, Walter J: Die Motorisierung der Deutschen Reichswehr 1920–1935, S. 332–347 Motorbuchverlag, Stuttgart 1979, ISBN 3-87943-612-6. (in German)
  • Jentz, Thomas L; Doyle, Hilary L: Panzer Tracts No. 4 Panzerkampfwagen IV, Darlington Productions 1997, ISBN 0-96487-934-4.

External linksEdit