Germans reboot a Cold War Panzer battalion

The German Army has been steady in retiring armored units since the Cold War thawed in 1991, shrinking from some 4,000 Leopards holding the Fulda gap to just two active Panzerbrigades and a paltry 225 Leopard 2A4 and 2A6 tanks backed up by a similar number of Marder, Puma and Boxer armored vehicles by 2016. Since then, they have moved to increase those numbers to a planned 320 tanks and (slowly) update their big cats to the 2A7V standard.

Kampfpanzer Leopard!

With that, the Bundeswehr announced on 27 November that Panzerbataillon 363 will be stood up, equipped with 44 Leopards, and based at Hardheim, Baden-Württemberg. PzBtl 363 was a former West German Heer unit that was established at Böblingen in 1963 and disbanded 30 October 2006. Now, after 13 years with their colors furled, they will be reborn.

Notably, the WWII Wehrmacht fielded heavy tank battalions that all used a numbering sequence in the 500s (PzAbt 501 to 511), meaning the FGR’s PzBtl 363 had no Nazi-era lineage. However, there was a short-lived Panzerjäger-Abteilung 363 as part of the 363rd Volksgrenadier Division which was destroyed in the Ruhr Pocket in April 1945,  but of course, a panzerjäger battalion is not a panzer battalion proper.

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