|Panzer-Abteilung (z.b.V.) 40|
|IN NORTHERN FINLAND 1941 - 1942
Panzer-Kompanie 40 (1943)
|PzKw III Ausf. H (332) of 3./Pz.Abt.40 is assisting counter-attack of the Finnish Infantry Regiment 14 (JR 14) in May 1942 at Jelettijärvi near Kiestinki. Photo was scanned from the Finnish Civil Guard magazine Hakkapeliitta No. 22 / 1942. The vertical white line is a gap between pages. (Photo: Harri Anttonen)|
40 was formed on 8 March 1940 with three Panzer-Kompanien
6./Pz.Rgt.6 [3.Pz.D], 1./Pz.Rgt.35 [4.Pz.D]
and 5./Pz.Rgt.15 [5.Pz.D] for the attack against
Denmark and Norway.
Battalion had so called Neubaufahrzeuge
heavy tanks in Norway but these were not in Finland. Pz.Abt.40
was mainly equipped with light tanks but its second and
third company had about 20 PzKw III medium tanks
in four tank platoons.
Organization of Pz.Abt.(z.b.V.)
40 (July 1941)
Operations in Finland 1941 - 1942
1.Pz.Kp. was at first subordinated to Gebirgs-Armee-Korps Norwegen for the attack to Murmansk. Terrain was althought too difficult to tanks and company was moved to Oulu, Finland, for rest where it was later attached back to the battalion.
2.Pz.Kp. and Stab/Pz.Abt.40 in Salla area belonged to German XXXVI AK. Company was subordinated to SS-Division Nord for the attack to Alakurtti - Kantalaksa [Kantalahti] direction. In August and September 1941 battalion was gradually moved southwards and subordinated to Finnish Group J (Ryhmä J), later Division J of the Finnish III Army Corps (III Armeijakunta, III AK) in Kiestinki region.
3.Pz.Kp. was initially subordinated
to Finnish Group F (Ryhmä F) of the reinforced
Finnish 3.D in Raatevaara for the attack to Uhtua
- Vuokkiniemi direction where it formed a fast Detachment
Fossi (Osasto Fossi) with Finnish Light Detachment.
December 1941 most of Pz.Abt.40 was moved to Oulu
for rest and refit. For the first time battalion was now
together but it had only seven PzKw I, one PzKw
II and eight PzKw III tanks in working order.
During May 1942 battalion involved in heavy counter-attacks
near Kiestinki acting only with up to platoon sized
groups (see photos on this page).
8 new PzKw III Ausf. J or L tanks and one PzBefWg III Ausf. H command tank arrived in Finland during the spring and late summer of 1942.
Pz.Abt.40 was in Finland between the
summer of 1941 and December of 1942. It was then
transferred with 520 men, 22 tanks and 215 other vehicles
to Oslo, Norway, where it became II Panzer-Abteilung /
Painting and Markings
All vehicles of Pz.Abt.40 were painted in plain panzer grau. From the photos we know that there were also white winter camouflages with wide stripes but these were not widely used.
Battalion emblem in Norway was a yellow encircled character V next to company number. "V" stands for Battalion Commander Volkheim. No unit signs were visible in Finland. Tanks of 3.Pz.Kp. belonging to Finnish Detachment Fossi * in July 1941 may have used white F. (F dot) or W (indicating Oblt. Walter) marking on the front fender but it was supposedly not painted on all vehicles.
Battalion used normal solid white three digit numbers on the rear (not on PzKw Is and all PzKw IIs) and sides of the turret. The size of the numbers varied from half to one third of the turret height depending on the tank model. Later in the summer of 1941 numbers have been partly overpainted (with mud or dirt?) on most vehicles.
[ * "Fossi"
was the nickname of Finnish Major Alfons Järvi,
the Commander of the detachment.]
Tank models of Pz.Abt.40 identified from photos are:
SdKfz 265 (kl.PzBefWg I Ausf. B) (7.92 mm MG34), vehicle No. 301
When Pz.Abt.40 departed Finland it left all of its remaining 16 old PzKw I Ausf. B light tanks and 3 PzKw III Ausf. D tanks as well as about 10% of its personnel in Finland. A new light tank unit Panzer-Sicherungskompanie z.b.V. (later known as Panzer-Kompanie 40) was formed by Gebirgs-Armee-Oberkommando 20 (Geb.-AOK 20) and subordinated to XVIII Gebirgs-AK for securing and patrolling duties in rear areas.
had one PzKw I Ausf. B as command vehicle and
three platoons of one PzKw III Ausf. D and five PzKw
I Ausf. Bs each. Pz.Kp.40 was disbanded on 10
June 1943 and its PzKw IIIs were sent to Germany. PzKw
Is were given to other units or dug in.
© 2000 Harri Anttonen