21st Panzer Division – KStN List 1943
The 21st Panzer Division never left the African continent, it surrendered in Tunisia in May of 1943. In my research to find the standard composition of a 1943 Panzer Division I ran across a set of interesting documents. These orders were regarding the expansion of the Schnelle Brigade West into the 21st Panzer Division. The Schnelle Brigade West was formed in the spring of 1943 using mostly captured French equipment. It was only a short time later, in the summer of 1943, that the Schnelle Brigade West would be used as the foundation to form the new 21st Panzer Division.
Orders to form the new 21st Panzer Division
On June of 1943 the Army High Command (OKH) issued orders numbered OKH/GenStdH/Org.Abt. I/2540/43 g.Kdo. v. 27.6.43. The documents we provide here, OKH/Chef H Rüst u. BdE/AHA Ia(I) Nr.3515/43 g.Kdos., references two other set of orders. The June 1943 orders and and rather interestingly orders OKH/Chef H Rüst u. BdE/AHA Ia(I) Nr.1270/43 g.Kdos. v. 12.3.43, which formed the Schnelle Brigade West.
The documents provided include attachments that provide details regarding the provisioning of men and equipment. There are also attachments for the organizational diagram and a list of applicable K.St.N. Overall a very interesting composition that I don’t believe can be considered to represent a “Standard” or even typical 1943 Panzer Division. I will try to locate some additional 1943 Panzer Division organizational diagrams and possibly an OKH standard diagram and KStN list.
21st Panzer Division Organization
After a quick glance at the organizational diagram here are my initial impressions. The “F” under each panzer company in the panzer regiment I presume to mean French. Such that the vehicles are of French origin. We know that by the time of the Normandy invasion the 21st Panzer Division had a Panzerkampfwagen IV battalion yet it seems that at this time in 1943 they were all French. For the grenadier regiments there are two armored panzer grenadier battalions as opposed to the typical one.
An unimpressive reconnaissance battalion for a panzer division having only two motorcycle companies.
The most unusual unit is the panzer artillery regiment, all self-propelled artillery. That seems rather odd but I guess it’s a result of the available French equipment. In addition the army flak battalion also seems to be 100% self-propelled. The engineer battalion seems to be 100% half-track (armored), also unusual.
Also interesting are the rocket launchers vehicles, 4 in the Sturmgeschütze Battalion and one in each of the infantry battalions. These are indicated to be half-tracked based launchers with 16 launchers. Nothing with 16 launchers comes to mind however it’s probably French or French hybrid of some time. We will have to see if we can get additional info on these.
With regards to the KStN list you will note there are many KStNs dating back to 1941, especially in the panzer regiment. Interestingly the KStN for the Army Flak Battalion are indicated as towed-motorized (mot Z) and not self-propelled as the organization diagram seems to suggest. There are 57 numbered KStNs listed with a few just having descriptions.
As a side note on the T.E. (subunit) KStNs: These can be considered as add-ons. Most KStN are for company size units but these generally were about the size of a platoon. Typically used to add heavy equipment, like anti-tank guns, to infantry battalions. It was a way to tweak a unit without completely changing a KStN. Therefore multiple T.E. KStNs could be combined to form a specialized company.
edit: 12.27.2015 – image of Gliederung for 1943 Panzer Division
Feedback or comments are welcome.
- US National Archives & Records Administration
Here is the KStN for Panzerkampfwagen Kompanie c 1.4.41, verifying the French composition. http://www.wwiidaybyday.com/kstn/kstn1171c1apr41.htm
If I understand the organization chart correctly it is saying that there are 4 F.H.16 and 6 PaK 40 which are all motorized and armored. I do not think the launchers are covered in the annotation in the chart, only that the StuG Abt. has 4 of them in the Stabskompmanie and each Pz.Gren.Btl. has one in 4. Kompanie. I think these are the “Reihenwerfer nach Vorschlag der Division” in the KStN, these could be test vehicles or possibly 8cm S307(f) Raketen-Vielfachwerfer.
Sorry for the third rapid post, but I just noticed that in section b of the Materielle Bestimmungen it says all equipment and vehicles will be exclusively captured French or sourced from Ob.West.
Hey John, thanks for the feedback and link to the KStN.
I agree with you that it is likely the Somua S307. I did a little more digging afterwards and found this site with a good set of photos: http://itinerantdispatches.tumblr.com/post/114600109660/mavitpzv-reihenwerfer-somua-s307f-s303f
It would be interesting to see how they transition from French to German equipment as we know by June 1944 they do have German equipment. i found some information on the “upgrading” of the reconnaissance battalion that i will post once i have pulled it all together.
I do have to correct myself, I did not see the little note at the top of the organizational chart about the Reifenwerfer and its reference to the 16 launchers per.
The OKH Kriegsgliederung for a Panzer-Division 43 is in T78 roll 409 (H1/103.2), image 6377876. I think I got the PDF from your site. The difference in structure between the standard composition and the 21.Pz.Div. composition is quite noted.
I agree that the 21st Panzer Division is far from a “typical” 1943 Panzer Division. I have edited the post to include the gliederung you mentioned for the 1943 Panzer Division so others can see the difference. Don’t plan much more work on the 21st Panzer Division as my interest lies in studying what a more typical 1943 Panzer Division looked like.
Hi Richard. The 5. (Reihenwerfer)/StuG.Abt. 200 was later transferred to Pz.Art.Abt. 155 as the 10. Battery. There is some evidence that StuG.Abt. 200 was in the process of creating a new Reihenwerfer Kompanie (or Zug) and it is possible that there were some. The evidence is inconclusive however. I posted some of my findings on this here if you are interested, including the citation of the move of 5./StuG.Abt. 200
Hey Sam. thanks for posting this info and the link. That is a great post by the way, well researched and very detailed.