Panzer IV Tanks did take part in the Ardennes Offensive in December 1944. This particular surviving German Panzer IV Tank did not take part in the WW2 Battle of the Bulge in the Belgium. Panzer IV Tanks did take part in the Ardennes Offensive in December 1944. It is a Panzerbefehlswagen a tank command vehicle based on a Panzer IV. When captured it was sent to the US Army Ordnance Museum in Aberdeen, USA. As part of an exchange for some WW1 artillery gun it went to Germany and then to Belgium. It is currently on display at the Bastogne Barracks in Belgium.
German Panzerbefehlswagen IV Tank Ausf. J tank on display in the Bastogne Barracks.
The Bastogne Barracks can be found at 40 Rue de la Roche (N834) in Bastogne just north west of the city centre. They open at 10am and close at 4pm. You really need to get there by 2pm as there is a lot to see. It is an operational military camp with a tank restoration centre attached. You have to wait to go on a guided tour. You cannot wander around on your own. The only day it is closed is Monday. Many of the tanks have been restored to running condition. Have a look at their Facebook page for information about new events.
German Panzer IV Tank Ausf. J Command tank is exhibited at the Bastogne Barracks
The Panzer IV Ausf. J tank was powered by a Maybach 12-cylinder HL 120 TRM V12 engine that produced 296 hp. It had a top road speed of 42 km/h (26 mph) and an operational range of around 320 km (200 miles) before the tank needed to be refueled. It needed a five man crew: commander, gunner, loader, driver and radio operator/hull machine gunner. Its armour thickness ranged from 20mm to 80mm.
The main weapon installed in the Panzer IV Ausf. J was the 75mm KwK 40 L/48 high velocity long barralled gun. It could knock out most Allied tanks. It was also fitted with two 7.92 mm MG 34 Machine guns. One in the hull and another in the turret next to the main gun. It is believed that 260 were used in the Ardennes Offensive.
They were a down graded version of the Ausf H to make the tank easier to produce. The auxiliary electrical engine that powered the turret travers was removed in this model. The tank crew had to manually rotate the tank turret. The pistol and vision ports in the turret were removed, and the engine's radiator housing was simplified by changing the slanted sides to straight sides. The rear cylindrical exhaust muffler was replaced by two flame-suppressing mufflers. The number of track return rollers was reduced from four to three to further speed-up production. An extra fuel tank was added to increase the tanks range.
German Panzerbefehlswagen IV Tank Ausf. J tank on display in the Bastogne Barracks
Sepp Dietrch assessment
'All Hitler wants me to do is to cross a river, capture Brussels, and then go on and take Antwerp!” he exclaimed. “And all this in the worst time of the year through the Ardennes, where the snow is waist deep and there isn’t room to deploy four tanks abreast, let alone panzer divisions! Where it doesn’t get light until eight and its dark again at four and with reformed divisions made up chiefly of kids and sick old men—and at Christmas! - Sepp Dietrich Commander 6th Panzer Army during the Battle of the Bulge.