Strabokran – German Mobile Gantry Crane


Strabokran 16 ton with Panzerkampfwagen V – Panther ausf. A – photo 2014
Strabokran 16 ton – photo 2014
Strabokran 16 ton with Panzerkampfwagen V – Panther ausf. A – photo 2014
Strabokran manufacturer plate
Strabokran 16t manufacturer plate – photo 2014

During the war Germany developed bigger tanks and more heavy equipment. The Panther, Tiger and King Tiger tanks, the Elefant and other heavy Panzer variants needed heavier maintenance equipment. Before the war the J.S. Fries Sohn company developed a mobile Gantry Crane in three variants, some were built under license by the Stratenwerth company in Duisburg. There was a 15, 16 and 20 tons lift capacity on these cranes. In German they were called Straßenbockkran, or Strabokran. The mobile cranes were used to lift the Maybach engines out of the tanks or totally lift out the gun turret from the tank itself.

Strabokran 16 ton – photo 2014
Strabokran 16 ton – photo 2014
Strabokran 16 ton with Panzerkampfwagen V – Panther ausf. A – photo 2014
Strabokran 16 ton - photo 2014
Strabokran 16 ton – photo 2014
Strabokran 16 ton – photo 2014

The cranes could be folded for transport and converted into a trailer. At first the cranes were used by the engineers of the panzer units but during 1944 when the Division zur Vergeltung was formed the Strabokran was used to lift V2 Rockets from their Vidalwagen transport trailers on to the Meilerwagen. The Meilerwagen was used to transport and erect the V2 Rocket on its launch pad.

Artilleriezielfeld Blizna Poland 1943 – V2 Rocket on Vidalwagen under Strabokran – Wikipedia
V2 Rocket with Meilerwagen, Vidalwagen and 15 ton Strabokran – courtesy www.v2rocket.com
V2 Rocket on Meilerwagen next to a Vidalwagen and 15 ton Strabo Portable Gantry Crane – www.v2rocket.com

The Division zur Vergeltun – Division for vengeance – was a mixed division of Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS soldiers working with civilian technicians. They were responsible for the V2 Launch sites and later on the V1’s as well. Beside the V1 Flying Bombs and the V2 Rockets they also were in control of the V3 Canon – Hochdrukpumpe and the V4 Rocket Rheinbote. The Division came to live after the assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler in the Operation Valkyrie. The V weapons came under Heinrich Himmlers control who appointed Hans Kammler as Divisional Commander.

Strabokran in trailer / transport mode – courtesy of bundesarchive
Setting up the Strabokran – courtesy of bundesarchive
Strabokran – courtesy of bundesarchive
Strabokran 16t with Panzerkampfwagen VI – Tiger 1944 – bundesarchive

The Strabokran was 14,6 meters long, 2,25 meters wide, 6,9 meters high and weighted almost 8000 kilograms. It had a 10 PK electrical engine but could be used without electricity due to the use of chains. In the field it was towed by the bigger German halftracks like the Sd.Kfz. 8 or the Sd.Kfz. 9. After reaching its designation a team of 10 men could set the crane up in one hour. Some 100 pieces of the Strabokrans were constructed during the war.

Strabokran 16 ton with Panzerkampfwagen V – Panther ausf. A – photo 2014

Our newest WW2 articles in your inbox every month? Join other subscribers and sign up here!



Share your thoughts on this article