Unit History and Background
Panzerkampfwagen 35-S 739(f) from Panzerabteilung 205
Position of Panzerabteilung 206 on the Contentin Peninsula on D-Day and its movement to support Cherbourg
The Vehicles of Panzerabteilung 206
Panzerabteilung 206 was equipped three primary types of French tanks:
· The Char B-1 (bis), known as the Panzerkampfwagen B-2 740(f) in German service - both standard 7.5cm howitzer armed and flamethrower conversions were used.
· The SOMUA S-35, known as the Panzerkampfwagen 35-S 739(f) in German service
· The Hotchkiss H-35/H-39, known as the Panzerkampfwagen 38-H 735(f) in German service. Panzerabteilung 206 used both kurtz and lang models of this vehicle denoting the short-barreled 37mm SA 18 gun and the long-barreled L/35 37mm SA38 gun respectively.
Panzerkampfwagen B-2 740(f)
Vehicle: Panzerkampfwagen B-2 740(f)Crew: 4
Weight (tons): 34
Armor (front): 56-60 mm
Armor (side): 46-60 mm
Armor (rear): 46-55 mm
Speed: 28 km/h
Range: 150 km
Around 60 Char B-1 (bis) were converted into a flamethrower version with one or more of the flamethrower variants shown at right. Generally the cupola was also modified to a German split-hatch style as well, though the original French armament was otherwise retained.
Panzerkampfwagen 35-S 739(f)
Vehicle: Panzerkampfwagen 35-S 739(f)Crew: 3
Weight (tons): 20
Armament: One 4.7cm KwK35(f), one 7.5mm Reibel machine gun
Armor (front): 36-56 mm
Armor (side): 35-46 mm
Speed: 37 km/h
Range: 257 km
The SOMUA S-35 was one of the best French tanks available in 1940, but by 1944 it was hopelessly outclassed by newer tank designs. Panzerabteilung 206 had several of these tanks available, and they were generally used as command tanks for the various platoons. All of the SOMUA were converted to the German split type hatch. The view at right is a rare view of the top of a bogged down Beutepanzer, but it is interesting because the hatch is clearly visible.
Panzerkampfwagen 38-H 735(f)
Weight (tons): 12.1
Armament: One L/35 37mm SA38 or 37mm SA 18 gun + one 7.5 mm Reibel machine gun
Armor (front): 29-45 mm
Armor (side): 34-40 mm
Armor (rear): 22-40 mm
Speed: 36.5 km/h
Range: 150 km
The diminutive Hotchkiss tank served as the backbone of Panzerabteilung 206. Hopelessly outclassed by even more modern light tanks, it was a useful vehicle for training and in combat with partisans and other irregular forces lacking substantial armored assets. Unfortunately for the 206th, the Allied forces were not at the same disadvantage. All of the Hotchkiss tanks were also converted to a German-style split-hatch cupola design as shown above in a photo of another unfortunate bogged-down Beutepanzer.
Panzerabteilung 206 in Flames of War
Modified Char B-1 ready for priming
The picture at above right shows two of the Char B-1 tanks (one conventional and one flame tank) ready for priming and painting. The original kit cupola has been sanded down and a resin cast of a scratch-built master has been used to replace the existing cupola.
SOMUA with modified turret hatch
Modified H39 Turret
Markings for the unit were based on those seen on the tanks of Panzerabteilung 205 since no photos of Panzerabteilung 206 are available that show the markings clearly. Panzerabteilung 205 utilized a white number system with a black outline. The same effect was reproduced on the Beutepanzerkompanie using a two-layered decal system. First a solid white number was put down on the tanks, then a black outline number was added on top of the previous decal to complete the design.
Chamberlain, Peter, Hilary Doyle, Thomas L. Jentz Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War II (Revised Edition), Arms and Armour Press (London), 1993.
Jentz, Thomas L. and Werner Regenberg Panzer Trackts No.19-1 Beute-Panzerkampfwagen, Panzer Tracts (Boyds, MD), 2007.
Niklas Zetterling Normandy 1944: German Military Organization, Combat Power and Organizational Effectiveness, J. J. Fedorowicz Publishing (Toronto), 2000.