Zur Besonderen Verwendung, in short z.b.V. means "for special purpose" in German. Though this title is most famous with the "Brandenburger" unit - z.b.V.800, we cannot forget interesting panzer units that carry this "collector-addicting" title.
This unit was established in March 1940 to be employed in Weserübung - invasion of Norway. Please consult Lexikon-der-Wehrmacht site for its brief history and table of organization. This unit used circle-V (after its commander Obstlt. Volkheim) as its insignia.
The most impressive tank in the invasion troops were three Neubaufahrzeuge, which were subordinated to Pz.Abt.z.b.V.40 but lacking circle-V insignia. Instead, they wore elephant marking on the hull front and a small roman letter ('R' and 'Z' are known) on the turret rear.
These large but lightly armored predecessor of Panzer IV were originally stationed in Panzerschießschule Putlos. This extremely rare photo from pre-Weserübung period reveals two facts:
The large turret number was erased when Neubaufahrzeuge were shipped to Norway as Panzer-Zug Horstman (part of 4.Kp, Pz.Abt.z.b.V.40). Published photos (say Ground Power special issue Sept.'03 W.W.II German Experimental Military Vehicles) indicate that "Z" was "9", and "R" was "10". I would appreciate it if a reader can inform me with the information on the marking of remaining one Neubaufahrzeug (turret number "8").
Here one Neubaufahrzeug went off road in mountain area.
In 1941, Pz.Abt.z.b.V.40 fought in Lappland. Photos from 3.Kp. are well known, but a photo from 2.Kompanie is rare. A triangle can be observed above the turret number, which may just be dirt, but possibly the unit marking for this unit.
This is the grave of Willi Leissler from Stabkompanie. He was killed in action in August 1941 and buried at a cemetery in Kestenga (see the map on the photo).
Invasion of Malta fortress, Unternehmen Herkules needed a special tank unit. A new tank company was formed with heavily armored light tanks (VK 16.01 and VK 18.01), Panzer IV Ausf.G and captured russian tanks (at least 10, including KVII with modified cupola). This company was called Panzer-Kompanie z.b.V.66, lead by Oblt. Bethke, a Ritterkreuzträger. Later the operation was cancelled, and the company was reorganized as a batallion with 2 companies, one of which (1.Kp.) went to Heeresgruppe Nord and the other was employed in rear area of Heeresgruppe Mitte. They switched from tropical uniforms to black panzer uniforms. Here are the (almost) entire company lined up for march.
Tanks from this unit were painted in yellow due to its intended usage in tropical area. They were in yellow at first in russia, but received camouflage color later. As for unit insignia, nothing has been confirmed. Turret numbers were "Bxx" ("Bethke") - photographic evidence show that 2.Zug had:
It appears that "B" and the other two digits are in a different color.
Oblt. Bethge was killed in action in September 1942, succeeded by Oblt. Mitto. In October, the company became 8./Panzer-Regiment 29 (12.Panzer-Division). It appears that the company kept Bxx turret number.