|Achtung Panzer! - Norwegian Panzers
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by Thorleif Olsson
Norwegian PzKpfw III tanks at Trandum, 1949.
In 1948, Norwegians planned to form special military units - Flypasstropp
- to protect airfields. The Cold War had begun and Soviet military coup in
Norway was expected. Airfields, which were regarded as most vital were to
Gardermoen, Main airfield for the military, near the capitol,
Sola, Natural if help are to be received from the west,
Værnes, Transit from North to South (Norway).
It was decided that at least one tank squadron with following infantry was
needed. By the time for the creation of these units there were only 17
light M24 Chaffee tanks available in the Norwegian cavalry, provided by
the Americans in 1945. In addition, at least 8 tanks were needed for
training at the Armored Troops School at Trandum. With the remaining 9
only three troops could be formed. Plans were made on doing this and
placing two troops at Gardermoen and one troop at Sola. However, the HQ
had Værnes and Bardufoss also in their minds and discussions followed. As
it was planned to form tank squadrons within the army, the M24s were kept
for these purpose. As a result, men and equipment were not available in
sufficient numbers and some 32 ex-German PzKpfw IIIs and StuG IIIs - in
Norway referred to as Stridsvogn/Stormkanon KW-III - were collected and
repaired at Trandum. Most vehicles had previously belonged to the 15th
Panzer Division and many still wore their desert camoflauge. These
"interim solution" vehicles had been sabotaged by the British in 1945, as
their gun barrels were more or less put out of action. The Stridsvogn
KW-IIIs were equipped with 5cm (L/42 and L/60) and 7.5cm (L/24) guns. The
StuG IIIs were probably all armed with 7.5cm L/48 guns. Norwegians
considered that the 50cm gun didn't meet the demands and it was decided
that a 7.5cm AT gun was to be issued to each unit. The troops were
organized in November/December of 1948 and from October 1st of 1949
onwards the Dragoon Regiments in Norway were responsible for these troops,
DR1 Tank troop at Sola, Fornebu, DR2 Tank troop at Eggemoen, DR3 Tank
troop at Værnes, Bardufoss. The unit at Sola was the first unit to receive
a tank troop, a troop which consisted of 3 PzKpfw IIIs, 1 StuG III and
another StuG III in reserve. With the American aid, the old KW-IIIs were
replaced in 1951, but were still in use simultaineously with the new
"Tobruk Panzerstellung" at Lista in Norway. It is situated right next to
Lista Lighthouse, at Lista, Vest-Agder, the southernmost part of Norway.
Photos and info provided by Snorre W Steen.
For example in 1958, one or more PzKpfw III tanks were used up in firing
trials with SS-11 rockets. Another example is one or more PzKpfw IIIs used
as targets for engineer exercises at Eggemoen around 1960.
Single PzKpfw I Ausf A is preserved at the Defence Museum at Åkershus
outside Oslo. Also several turrets from PzKpfw 38(t)s and Flammpanzer II
Flamingo are preserved as bunkers and pillboxes at Lista.