Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Panzerkampfwagen B2(f) (Flamm)

The captured French tank Char B1bis was used by the Germans calling it Char B2(f). Hitler wanted 24 of these tanks to be converted to Flammpanzer until the latest of 20th June 1941 to have them ready for Operation 'Barbarossa'. In March 1941, an order was placed for a series of 25 flame-thrower assault tanks to be built on the basis of the captured Char B-1 bis. Production rate was supposed to be five in November and ten in December and January, depending upon the availability of serviceable tanks. The total order was increased to include a second series of 35. The flame-thrower was supplied by Koebe and was powered by a two-stroke motorcycle engine.

For the conversion the 75mm cannon was replaced by a flame spray tube. All 24 Flammpanzer were issued to Panzerabteilung (F) 102, which supported successfully the attacks on the Russian border fortress 'Wieki Dzial'. On 27th July 1941 the Panzerabteilung (F) 102 was disbanded. 

The tanks converted to Flammwagen' had the 7.5 cm hull gun removed and replaced by the flame-thrower mounted in a special ball mount. A new housing, with a Fahrersehklappe 50 driver's visor, was provided for the operator above the flame weapon. The 2 metre rod aerial was mounted to the right of the flame weapon. Some vehicles had the commander's cupola removed.

The tanks received a new flamethrower which achieved ranges of 40-45 meter, by propelling the flame-fuel by a pump which was driven by a J10-engine. This new series of Flammpanzer could be recognized by the flame-fuel-tank on the rear, which was 30mm armoured.

In the turret remained the 47mm KwK35(f) L/34 and a 7.5mm MG(f). There were 50 rounds carried for the 47mm cannon. This tank weighted 32 tons and the armour protection consisted of 55mm plates at the turret front and 45mm at turret sides and rear. The Chassis had 60mm in front and at the sides and 45mm at the rear. The length of this Flammpanzer was 6.52m, the width 2.52m and the height 2.88m. The ground pressure was 0.85kg/cm2, and it had a fording depth of 72cm. The 16.94 litre Renault engine gave 300 hp at 1900rpm, so a maximum speed of 28km/h was achievable. 

All in all 60 Panzer B2(Flamm) got the new flamethrower system and were issued to following units: 12 to Panzerkompanie 223 at Eastern Front, 24 to Panzer-Brigade 100 in the west, 10 to Panzer Abteilung 213 in the west and an unknown number to the 7. SS Freiwilligen Gebirgs Divison "Prinz Eugen" in Yugoslavia.

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