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Posted on Jan 20, 2008 in Front Page Features, War College

Panzers Found in Norway

By Tor Helge

Post World War II the Norwegian Army took advantage of the huge piles of German material and supplies, including PzIIIs and StuGIIIs.

In 1947 the army established what was then known as “Army Light Troops.” These were intended for air-base defense, and their order of battle was to include three PzIIIs and one StuGIII, along with an additional spare of either type. The left-over German PzIIIs were refurbished by Norwegian army depots and the majority of them were Ausf N. How exactly this was implemented is hard to say. I’ve seen pics of PzIIIs in these units with the 5 cm KWK, and some units had only 1 spare StuG, no spare Panzers. Some of the PzIIIs even had the Schurzen while in army service. Four of these light units were established at different air-bases in Norway, but very soon the Marshall aid plan started to come into effect. By approximately 1951-52 the army took delivery of M-24 Chaffees, which replaced the German tanks in service.

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Back in 1953 the army built a defensive fort at a hill very close to the airport of Bardufoss. The purpose was to have close range heavy weapons with the range to cover all entrances to the airfield and the airfield itself in case of enemy forces trying to take over the place. So these PzIIIs were half buried in defensive positions, using wooden covers for the turret as protection for weather only. All of the interior parts of the panzers are gone including the engine, transmission and almost everything in the hull. A hole was also cut into the bottom for use with a tunnel that would allow ammo to be hoisted straight up into the tank.

At a later stage in the 1960s these guns were rendered obsolete due to their limited range. New fortified positions in concrete were also built next to the PzIIs. Another opening was taken into the left rear side of the panzers so the ammo-tunnel could be used to bring ammo to the new guns. In this process the whole of the PzIIIs were totally buried These tanks were almost forgotten about until a few years ago. The whole fort was disbanded sometime probably in the 1970s or 1980s so therefore it wasn’t a problem getting the permits to release these PzIIIs.

We have now established with a 100 percent certainty that “our” panzers were indeed used by the norwegian army post World War II. We have interviews with crews of these tanks, and even one man who was part of the team digging them into the ground. We think that these were dug down around 1953.

The area I searched was inside the Air-Force perimeter at Bardufoss, and Bardufoss was one of the 4 places the army’s light troops were at.

I believe very strongly that these PzIIIs belonged to Pz Abt 211, that came from Finland to our area of Norway in the autumn of 1944. On the order of battles they are listed as of May 45 with a 4 PzIIIs with 7,5cm gun. PzAbt211 took delivery of 5 PZIII Ausf N in April-May 1944. This timeframe ties in with pz.gren.div. GD re-arming with heavier panzers post-Kursk, handing in their PZIIIs to overhaul by factory and upgrade to 7.5 cm infantry-support gun.

We have no records of the chassis-numbers with any units after the battle of Kursk. Only the last two we uncovered have the chassis-numbers intact, so we have no history at all on the first tank we uncovered.

panzers_001.jpg panzers_002.jpg
panzers_003.jpg panzers_004.jpg

Excavation was executed by the Heavy Engineering Bn of the Norwegian Army. The tanks were located inside a military area, on the Bardufoss Air Force Base. anks were stripped internally and dug down in 1953 (probably), for use as close defense at the AFB. ater these were replaced with 40mm Bofors guns, and fully covered with gravel (and concrete on the sides). The concrete is very visible on the last 2 tanks uncovered by the same crew of the same engineering Bn on 9th August 2007.

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10 Comments

  1. Excellent set of Picture’s….Good to see the mk3 Panzer being Recycled after ww2..

  2. Excellent set of Picture’s of the Panzer mk3…Good to see the Norwegian’s Recycle Them..

  3. That’s great to know that they are being dug up and saved, it would be a shame to lose them. Though being encased in concrete may have thwarted any attempt to refurbish. Great article, I had heard that they also employed German Panzer 38(t) Hetzers but that’s not really a solid piece to bet on.

  4. excellent pictures however I believe that the photos are of SdKfz 161
    Mk iv

    • Pete, check the number of road wheels. There are only six on each side, making it clear beyond any doubt that they are Pz III’s and not Pz IV’s (which had eight (smaller) road wheels) on each side.

  5. Hello. Nice photos and cool story. Amasing they really fought at Kursk. As a kid i lived at Gardermoen AFB. There they had one panzer III dug down and converted to a bunker. Only the top part of the chassis and the turret remained. The gun however was removed. And truly a lot more that i cant tell about because i could not know it should be there. It was quite blank inside exept for the manual turret travers wheel with two gear. (Slow and fast) I saw this tank hull several times in the 70`s and untill the late 80`s. Later the AFB at Gardermoen has been converted to the main civilian airport at Oslo. What happened to the tank Chassis i dont know. It was anyway incompleet. More interesting to know is what happened to the State of the art Panzer III with 50 mm type 1942 gun! (Kwk 60?) I saw this tank in a store building at Gardermoen around 1990. There was also a French tank, Renault or Hotchiss type there. The latter was probably used by the whermacht 25 Pz.div. as a school tank during the units initial education at Trandum training feldt to the east of Gardermoen. The whole area has been heavely garissoned before, during and after ww II and still is.

  6. русские тогда надрали фашистам зад!!!!

    YAHOO! BABEL FISH TRANSLATION FROM RUSSIAN:
    Russians then tore to fascists back!!!!

  7. last month lifted from the water remains in the Nassau-based m-3. and 75-mm cannon.

  8. Is there any graphic info on how the bunker(s) were looking alike pre destruction?
    Thanks

  9. Lord you’re wrong This tank it is necessary to rescue and restore your As a reminder of what was How One Man was able to conquer all of Europe right Now, people seem to have forgotten it Even 50 years and who will not remember about it..If you honestly Hitler arouses admiration in that he could do But not that he made with the people.

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  1. 2008: Panzers Found in Norway — War History Online - [...] have the chassis-numbers intact, so we have no history at all on the first tank we uncovered.Read more on …
  2. ACG Magazine March 2008 Links | Armchair General | Armchair General Magazine - We Put YOU in Command! - […] Panzers found in Norway […]
  3. ACG Magazine March 2008 Links | Armchair General | Armchair General Magazine - We Put YOU in Command! - […] Panzers found in Norway […]

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