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Ferdinands/Elephants at Kursk

May 26 2002 at 10:47 PM
Theunis Vorster  (no login)
from IP address

I'm currently remodeling the first model i build, a italeri elephant, to a ferdinand at kursk. In the panzer colours book and on several websites i found a reference to wooden shelves being build on the superstructure of the tank to accomadate two pz-grens for close in protection from russian tank killer sqauds.

Now i need two things. I would much appreciate it if anyone has pictures of these shelves and some advice of the best way to show these of in a diorama. I was thinking of using it either in a scene where the grenadiers are jumping from the platform to fight against advancing russians or a rear area scene where a couple of mechanics are field modifying the vehicle

Theunis Vorster, Potchefstroom, South Africa

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May 30 2002, 2:05 AM 


I think you'll get more responce in the Axis discussion group on the elephant/ferdinand question, as a lot of specialists can be found mainly overthere.

Maybe a good idea to perform a google search first, as I believe that the topic of these plates has been treated in the past. If I remember correctly though, the result of the discussion was that there is no pictorial evidence whatsoever on these plates...

On the topic of the diorama, maybe we can do something more here! I personally like both idea's, but the "in action" diorama can maybe show of their function in a better way. You can put the ferdinant with its back oblique to the viewer, so that the viewer gets a good view on the plates and panzergrenadiers on it, and gets the feeling that he is taking cover behind the AFV himself while advancing towards the russians...



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James Blackwell
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Ferdinand engineer platforms of 654 at Kursk

June 4 2002, 10:42 PM 

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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Theunis Vorster
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Re: Ferdinand engineer platforms of 654 at Kursk

June 5 2002, 3:09 AM 

Hi James

Thanks for the info. Maybe my budding engineering knowledge may be of help in this case. As soon as i have time I am going to do a few design calculations ,taking in acount that these where field mods added rather hastely, and design such a shelve. The sled idea sounds a bit far fetched and as the guy who said he had references never posted those pics I'm ruling that idea out.

I will keep you posted on what I find.

Theunis Vorster (Cold South Africa)

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