512th Heavy Panzerjäger Battalion
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The 512th Heavy Panzerjäger Battalion (Schwere Panzerjäger-Abteilung 512.) was a tank destroyer unit of the Wehrmacht active during the closing months of World War II. It was one of only two units to be equipped with heavy Jagdtiger tank destroyers, and served on the Western Front.
The battalion was formed at Döllersheim on 11 February 1945 from elements of the veteran 424th Heavy Panzer Battalion. The 424th, previously numbered the 501st, had been one of the first German heavy tank battalions to be formed, and had fought in Africa and on the Eastern Front. It received its first Jagdtigers on 16 February; by 13 March, it had been brought up to a strength of 20 vehicles in two companies, with the 3rd Company made up of personnel transferred from the 511th Heavy Panzer Battalion. The Jagdtiger was the heaviest armoured fighting vehicle produced during the war, mounting a 128 mm main gun inside a 72-tonne chassis. However, it was severely underpowered, mounting an engine originally designed for the 57-tonne Tiger I, and which had already been found inadequate even for that vehicle. It was only produced in very small numbers - around 80 were built - and would only be issued to two units; the 512th and the 653rd Heavy Panzerjäger Battalion.
Battle of Remagen
On 21 March, the battalion was assigned to LIII Corps and committed to the Battle of Remagen. Illustrating the difficulties German forces faced in getting their armor to the front, it took ten days to bring the first five Jagdtigers of the 2nd company 512th Heavy Panzerjäger Battalion to the front due to communications breakdowns and the threat from fighter-bombers. The 1st Company lost four Jagdtigers in rearguard actions, three due to mechanical breakdowns. When they finally engaged the American armor around Herborn, Jagdtigers were able to attack U.S. tanks at up to 3 kilometers (1.9 mi) and reported destroying 30. By the end of the month it was reduced to a strength of 13 Jagdtigers. During April, the 1st and 2nd companies were destroyed in the Ruhr Pocket, while the 3rd Company was lost during fighting in the Harz mountains.
The commander of the 2nd Company was Oberleutnant Otto Carius, one of the most successful tank commanders of the war.