Building of the "MGS" - Military History Collection PzBrig21 - Augustdorf
Building of the "MGS" - Military History Collection PzBrig21 - Augustdorf

Our M48 Patton II - transport and restoration

In the exhibition of combat vehicles, which were used here in the more than 65-year history of Panzerbrigade 21, only three vehicles were missing until 2019: the M48 main battle tank and the M74 and M88 armored recovery vehicles. The M48 main battle tank was the brigade's main weapon system from 1959 to 1966.

By chance, at the beginning of 2020, the soldiers of the MGS Augustdorf found out about the existence of a satellite camp of the German Tank Museum in Munster. This was then in the Theodor Körner barracks in Lüneburg. Several discarded military vehicles, including some M48s, were said to be waiting here for recycling. After consultation with the responsible departments of the tank museum, a first inspection of the subcamp took place on March 6th, 2020, which no longer exists today after the disposal of all the vehicles standing there. In a former aircraft hangar (image 1) there were actually several old, discarded vehicles, including four M48s (image 2). A decision was quickly made in favor of one of the four tanks. He once belonged to the 3rd company of the 84th Panzer Battalion (Fig. 3), which has since been dissolved.

After the formalities had been clarified, the planning of the transport from Lüneburg to Augustdorf began quickly. However, it quickly turned out that none of the soldiers involved from Augustdorf had been trained on the M48. Through a long-term cooperation of one of the members of the MGS, Oberstabsfeldwebel Günter Schlueter, with the former head of the district liaison command in Detmold, Colonel d. R. Bernd Ehlebracht, it was known that he had once received training on the M48. From July 1976 to September 1977, Colonel Ehlebracht carried out his basic and full training in various battalions of the 6th Panzergrenadier Division in the Hamburg area and received his training here on the M48 A2C main battle tank with the 90 mm cannon. During his subsequent military exercises in his "old" company, the 2nd company of tank battalion 174 in Hamburg-Rahlstedt, he received training on the upgraded M48 A2GA2 with the 105 mm cannon. From 1981 he also served on this type of battle tank as a platoon commander in the 2nd company of the 633rd tank battalion. The A2GA2 had a more powerful on-board cannon and a more powerful fire control system, but the "hull" was the same. His technical expertise was therefore absolutely required. He was happy to comply with a request for support and so the two moved to Lüneburg on April 29, 2020. Here, Oberstabsfeldwebel Schlüter received appropriate instruction in the technology of the M48 from Colonel Ehlebracht, so that he could then prepare it for loading (Figs. 4 - 6).

On May 13, 2020, a small work detachment moved to Lüneburg and prepared the M48 for transport to Augustdorf (pictures 7 - 9). After a busy day, the final activities for the next day were discussed (Fig. 10). After the final preparations were completed on May 14 (Fig. 11), the loading onto a heavy-duty transporter (SLT) "Mammut" by the 2nd company of Supply Battalion 7 from Augustdorf began at 11:55 p.m. (Figs. 12 - 15). At 12:30 a.m. on May 15, the SLT and its escort vehicle left Lüneburg (film) and reached its destination, the Field Marshal Rommel barracks in Augustdorf, at 4:45 a.m. (film), where they were then unloaded in relocated the technical area of Panzer Battalion 203 (Pictures 16 – 18, film).

For restoration work, the tank was now pushed into the old, empty repair hall of the 214th tank battalion, which was decommissioned in 2002 (Fig. 19).

On July 21, the tank was washed in the on-site armored car wash (Pictures 20-23) before finally being painted in repair hall 214 (Pictures 24 and 25).

But before the tank moved to its final location, it had to leave the old Hall 214 and was pulled under the canopy of Tank Battalion 203 (film). Here he received his identification, the tactical signs, the tower numbers and the Iron Crosses (Figs. 26 and 27).

On April 29, 2021, almost a year after his arrival at the GFM-Rommel barracks in Augustdorf, he was pushed by a Büffel armored recovery vehicle to his pedestal at the north gate, still with masking tape on the tower (film). From 09:30 a.m. it was lifted onto its final stand, its base, by a 100 t crane (image 28, image 29, image 30 and film).

The turret number 922 (Fig. 31) shows that this M48 battle tank is the tank of the battalion commander of the 214th tank battalion, the so-called mobile command post. The tactical sign (Fig. 32) shows that this tank belonged to the 1st company of the 214th tank battalion. According to an order from the Federal Ministry of Defense dated August 17, 1959, this type of tactical sign was to be attached to all service vehicles (Figs. 33 and 34). The signs consisted of circles and rhombuses of different colors. In addition, colored triangles and semicircles were added. These differed not only from division to division. Even the brigades and even their battalions had different signs in shape and color. This system was so confusing that the then Federal President Theodor Heuss, who had to approve this order, noted on his first page "Who only thought that up".

To get an enlarged view, please simply click on the desired image. A "slide show" is then also possible. More detailed information on the M48 Patton II medium battle tank can be found here.

A short video about the transport to the GFM Rommel barracks

The transport of the old M48 Patton II was a tour de force for everyone involved and was also accomplished with the help of an armored recovery vehicle. As far as the restoration of the M48 is concerned, special thanks go to the volunteer soldiers who dedicated themselves to and accepted this mammoth task with great dedication and full commitment!

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