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Ferdinand engineer platforms of 654 at Kursk

June 4 2002 at 10:42 PM
James Blackwell  (no login)
from IP address

Response to Ferdinands/Elephants at Kursk

Theunis, I think many other people would also dearly love to see photographic evidence of these rumoured platforms/seats too. But in both Karl-Heinz M√ľnch's mega albums on the I. & II. battalions in the s.Pz.Jg.Rgt.656 who employed the Ferdinands (namely "The Combat History of s.Pz.Jg.Abt.s 653" and "...654" respectively), which would just about have the vast bulk of all the known photos, theres just sadly no sign of these structures to be seen.

However there is about the only substantiated mention I've yet seen of these almost mythical seats actually being for real and used, and it seems by inference only by 654 (ie. II.656), in his one on them on p.67, where Hauptmann Henning the Bttn. CO, mentions them in passing his after action report on Kursk dated August 1st, 1943:

"Working with the combat engineers was also very difficult. The attempt to transport the battalion's own combat engineers on each of the company's vehicles - using seats mounted on the back of the tank destroyers - failed, as almost one third of the 44 attacking tank destroyers was disabled in our own minefield because of inadequate marking of the cleared lanes. They included all those carrying the engineers. The heavy artillery fire prevented unit engineers from being in place at the decisive moment..."

But as to their appearance or method of attachment - who knows? None of the rear few shots taken seem to show even the smallest clue as to what form they took or a possible hint of how they were carried.

Maybe it was as simple as just a plank suspended by a rope at each end from the lifting hooks, that sat against the rear hull with the engineers merely sitting on it with their backs against the rear plate ready to jump down?

Prior to this, this was as far as we had got which I summarised in a post here back on April 1, 2000 when it appeared they may actually have possibly been just sleds and not platforms, but no more proof surfaced either way:

Posted on Apr 01 2000, 08:59 AM

Hi Stephen,

Yeah I've also heard such claims but have sadly yet to find any photographic evidence to back it up.

There was a long thread on it on the old Tankers Forum in mid '98 where one guy - Chris Exner reckoned it was actually not a vehicle fixture as I'd envisioned (ie. a suspended platform hanging off the back), but rather a simple low profile wooden sleigh that was dragged along behind it and claimed to even have photos of it.

Apparently they were issued to Inf.Rgt.184 (Oberst Beiber), and was attached to the tanks by a cable to give troops close protection behind the Ferdies, though it was found to be very unsatisfactory and they frequently came loose.

He claimed that there were 17 troops in one and 12 in the other in the 2 pics he had. I've never seen these so can't confirm his claim one way or another nor give you any more info.

It'd be a rough ride over mine strewn ground to my mind - I think I'd rather have taken my chances on foot behind the tanks or just in the open...


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  1. Re: Ferdinand engineer platforms of 654 at Kursk - Theunis Vorster on Jun 5, 2002, 3:09 AM

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