Image size: 1600 x 936 pixel. 421 KB
Date: Thursday, 1 January 1948
Place: Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland, USA
Photographer: Armin Sohns
Captured Panzerjäger (tank destroyer) Tiger (P) - Ferdinand Elephant (SdKfz 184) also known as Tiger-Sturmgeschütz mit 8.8cm PaK 43/2 seen postwar at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland. Note the open hatch, which let water into the vehicle. Hull number 150071 was built at the Porsche Nibelungenwerke factory in St. Valentin, Austria in 1942 as a Porsche version of the Tiger Pzkpfw IV tank. When the Henschel Tiger design won the competition and was approved for mass production, Porsche AG had 90 tank hulls completed. Since the stopgap Marder and Nashorn tank destroyer designs were not satisfactory, these 90 Porsche Tigers were converted between April-May 1943 into Ferdinand (after Ferdinand Porsche) tank destroyers. Hull number 150071 was assigned to the Schwere Panzerjager Abteilung 654 for Operation Zitadelle (Citadel) during the Battle of Kursk in July 1943, identified as number 633. Some forty Ferdinands were lost, mostly when they suffered mechanical problems and had to be abandoned. The lack of a machine gun meant they were vulnerable when they were separated from supporting infantry. Still, some 600 Soviet tanks and guns were destroyed by the Ferdinands. The best use (not always possible) was for the Ferdinands to attack at long range; the Ferdinand's gun could hit targets at two miles (4 kilometers). After Kursk, the fifty remaining Ferdinands, including 150071, were sent back to Nibelungenwerke for modifications. Additional armor was added; the front of the tank had almost eight inches (200mm) with two armor plates bolted together. A hull mounted 7.92mm (.31 caliber) machine gun, StuG III commander's cupola, wider tracks, and additional rear crew stowage were added. While the Elefants were upgraded, 1.Kompanie of 653 with eleven Elefants was ordered via rail to attack the beachhead at Anzio/Nettuno on February 1, 1944. All the remaining Ferdinands, (designated Elefants in May 1944), were given to Schwere Panzerjager Abteilung 653 on February 15. Another veteran unit of the Kursk battles, 1.Kompanie/653 was commanded by Oberleutnant Helmut Ulbricht; a "U" decorated every 1.Kompanie vehicle. Two Elefants were lost on March 1. Hull 150071, now number 102 in 1.Kompanie/653, fought in battles around Anzio throughout March and April 1944, mostly based around Cisterna. On May 22-30, 1944, the Allied breakout at Anzio caused a general flight among many surviving German units, including 1.Kompanie, who fought hard rearguard actions all the way to Rome. By May 28, only five Elefants were operational. Along the way, 150071 and another Elefant were abandoned; the Elefants lacked spare parts and the constant operations had worn out their treads. Leaving the Elefant mined and grenaded near a broken down self-propelled howitzer, 653 moved on, arriving in Vienna, Austria on August 6, with only three remaining Elefants, including one modified as a Bergepanzer (armored recovery vehicle). American soldiers, finding 150071 abandoned by the side of the road, marked it "STAY AWAY BOOBY TRAP" until it could be disarmed and sent to a collection yard for captured vehicles. 150071 was shipped to Aberdeen after the war, where it sat and rusted in the Maryland weather for sixty years, eventually growing a tree. 150071 was repainted in April 2008 and will probably be moved to the new Army Museum after 2010; its insides are quite rusted out from years in open air.
Charles Kliment photo collection