Unterwasser-Tauchfahrzeug (UT-Kampfwagen) submersible tank

Wurger

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Michael Sawodny states in his "Deutsch Panzer-Raritäten" some interesting designs. One of them is the submersible medium tank, "Unterwasser-Tauchfahrzeug" or "UT-Kampfwagen", intended to be part of the "Operation Sealion", the planned invasion of Britain. It was to cruise 2 to 6 meters below surface, with lateral floating(trimm) tanks.
Not to be confused with the well-known Tauchpanzers based on Pz. III and IV.

Is there someone who knows more on this?
 

Grey Havoc

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Came across this old entry on a Czech site today. It states that the submerged tank project was first proposed in 1940 by Paul Pantena, who was at the time company director of Alkett (Altmärkische Kettenwerk GmbH). Initially at least, it was based on the Pz.Kpfw.III (probably the Ausf. F). Another thing mentioned is that it would have had a fully rotatable periscope made specially for it by Zeiss which would protrude 1.2-1.5 m above the ocean surface when fully deployed at the tank's minimum submerged depth of approximately 2 meters. Navigation while submerged was to be by gyro compass and 'air navigation' (radio navigation?).

I may be misreading the google translation here, but it seems the tank's engine (apparently a Maybach HL 120 TRM) was modified so that it could use compressed air from a tank to function while submerged, with a modified drive train able to easily switch from powering the tracks to powering twin fixed-pitch propellers and vice versa. Incidentally, Pantena proposed that the general concept could also be used on other vehicles needed for the invasion of Great Britain.

The major advantage of this approach, in theory at least, was that the Unterwasser-Tauchfahrzeug and other similarly modified or purpose built vehicles could enter the water at the French Channel Ports closest to England through slipways and the like, and travel in relative safety from most enemy attacks (sea mines would have to be cleared or else be well mapped, and coastal torpedo batteries might have been another potential problem) until they reached suitable landing beaches on the British coast.

From the sound of things, the Unterwasser-Tauchfahrzeug likely reached at least the mock-up stage. I strongly suspect that the Kriegsmarine was quietly sponsoring the project, primarily in order to provide some organic armor support for it's Marine-Infanterie.
 

Foo Fighter

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I would hope the Kriegsmarine would have a better understanding of the topology of the sea bed and navigation of such terrain. Not something suited to underwater tank navigation.

http://www.sussex.ac.uk/geography/researchprojects/coastview/Offshore/offshore.htm
 

Grey Havoc

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It wasn't designed to travel along the seabed, unless I've missed something?
 

Foo Fighter

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A submarine tank adept in both water and land travel would seem to be a complete waste of time, just connecting the dots from a wading to a submersible tank
 

Wurger

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Hi Grey Havoc,

thanks for bringing this precious information to our forum. The next step is to find out an original Alkett drawing B)!
 

Foo Fighter

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The item on that site seems to suggest a swimming tank rather than an underwater tank. Floats and props make it similar to the Sherman DD tanks used for D-Day.
 

Jemiba

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With the use of trimmable floats it could be made to swim just below the surface. I think, and
I would expect those floats and their associated equipment to be detachable, with the exceptions
probably of the mentioned periscope. Wouldn't interfere with the tanks tasks after beaching then.
A kind of propelled floating dock, maybe.
 

dan_inbox

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FWIW, in my files I have photos of 2 versions of Pzkfw III as Tauchpanzer:
The floating one (Tauchpanzer) and the submersible one (Unterwasser-Tauchpanzer), fitted with snorkel tubes.

Supposedly the Unterwasser version was trialled for Unternehmen Seelöwe, the planned invasion of Britain.
I have no idea whether either of those pics are related to Altmärkische Kettenwerk GmbH.
 

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Grey Havoc

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Unlike the Pzkfw II "Schwimmpanzer", the Tauchpanzer III was not primarily intended to float. From your first image however, it seems clear that they experimented with fitting floatation devices to it (for easier delivery of reinforcement tanks to secured beachheads perhaps, or maybe even follow-up riverine attacks), presumably crude inwater propulsion was provided by the tracks. The second image I believe actually shows the Tauchpanzer in it's intended main operational mode, with air intake hose and engine exhaust valve. The Tauchpanzer would be dropped by landing craft or other vessels in shallow water off an invasion beach. All going well, it would then drive from the seabed (insular shelf) on to the beach, and from there up on to dry land, beach terrain & defences permitting of course.
 

Foo Fighter

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It (Tauchpanzer III) seems a bit overly complicated for driving on the submarine surface and using track drive to do so. Why have prop drive too? Only sensible if you intend to swim the vehicle on the surface, especially when taking the floats into consideration.
 
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