Kugelpanzer (German ball-tank)

Ex. Tank Museum in Kubinka, pavilion N6 (Auto and armored vehicles of Third Reich)
German ball-tank, self-propelled observation post, 1938, (self-propelled armored observation post), the only sample.

Kugelpanzer WW2 German ball-tank, Kubinka museum

Kugelpanzer (German ball-tank), Kubinka museum 2003 archive

It is still unknown where the Red Army captured this balloon tank, since all documentation from the Kubinka test site collection was destroyed during declassification in the early 90s. The armored vehicles are experimental, so it is most likely that they were captured at the Kummersdorf training ground in the Battle of Berlin at the end of World War II. The design of the armored object resembles a children’s tricycle. A static central section with a seat for an observer, two large wheels on the sides and a small wheel at the rear. According to the conclusion of military experts at the Kubinka training ground, this ball-tank is an armored observation post for correcting artillery fire. Observation points are an important element of artillery fire, especially from indirect positions. The idea was a good one, since battle sites may not have houses or churches that were used as fire control observation posts. In reality, at the battlefields, this ball tank will roll uncontrollably on a small hill or get stuck in the mud of Russian roads. This was a bad idea by the German designers and a waste of money. But now it is a landmark of the Kubinka Tank Museum. To prevent this three-wheeled heavy armored bicycle from rolling spontaneously and crushing the visitor’s foot, the museum staff easily welded the central part and wheels. Museum visitors are now safe. In a rare old photo, this ball tank is modestly located at the end of Pavilion 6 (German armored vehicles of the Third Reich). This unique exhibit was located at this location from 1972 to 2016, before the formation of Patriot Park and a major reorganization.

Kugelpanzer WW2 German ball-tank, Kubinka museum

Kugelpanzer (German ball-tank) rear wheel, Kubinka museum 2006 archive

Museum visitors do not cross the fence and do not see the small rear wheel of the ball tank. If you consider the weight of the armored bike and the wheel dimensions, it is clear that it is not suitable for the Eastern Front of World War II battlefields. The Kolkhoz (collective soviet farm) field is too soft for this tail, and the holes on the roads after rain reach 40-60 cm. See also our virtual tour of the Eastern Front battlefields: Battle of Kursk, Battle of Moscow.

Legends and versions about  Kugelpanzer (ball-tank)

There is a legend that this observation post was made in Germany for the Japanese army in Manchuria, but there is no evidence.

Kugelpanzer WW2 German ball-tank, Kubinka museum

Military tour guide Elena S explains to visitors how a ball tank works (Kubinka museum 2003 archive)

In Soviet times, Elena S. was the head of the secret archive (library) of the Kubinka test site. After the museum was declassified, Elena became an excellent military tour guide for visitors, both adults and children. Mikhail B. served as a military translator for her tours for foreign citizens.