The myth of the BergeTiger being a demolition charge placement vehicle still persists and the same old arguments keep being reprinted over and over. The turret crane on the Bergetiger was never intended for recovery but was used for the same tasks as other light cranes on maintenance vehicles. These duties included lifting drive sprockets, engines and other heavy sundry parts of the vehicles they serviced. Based on its size it probably had a 2 or 3 ton capacity like the later jib cranes.
These vehicles were built on mid production Tiger I chassis before pilzen was added to the turrets for the use of jib cranes.
Schwerer Zugkraftwagen 18t / Sd.Kfz.9 Late Model Type F3 REAR VIEW
A picture recently surfaced showing the front of the Bergetiger captured in Italy. The frontal view shows a massive tow coupling fitted to the front plate along with large tow bars exactly like the ones carried by the 18 ton prime mover (Famo) for heavy tank recovery mounted on the glacis. This is definitive proof that these vehicles were indeed Bergetigers and not a silly demo charge placement vehicle as put forth by so many others.
Up until recently it was believed that only 3 of the Bergetigers were built but now it seems there were at least 4 produced. Schwere Panzer Abteilung 509 had three in service in Russia in 1944 and turned them as well as there existing Tiger I’s over to Schwere Panzer Abteilung 424/502 in September of that year. SchPzAbtl 509 had to return to Germany to retrain on Tiger II’s. Unfortunately no photos have yet surfaced of these vehicles but they are mentioned in several of the period reports from these units.
It is unknown which unit the Bergetiger in Italy belonged to, but it is almost a certainty it was SchPzAbtl 508 or 504. If it belonged to the 508th then it may have eventually served with the 504th anyway as the 508th turned over their remaining 15 Tigers to the 504th before leaving Italy in February 1945.