Formed on 5 May 42 as independent Heerestruppen with two s.Kp. 2./s.Pz.Abt.502 attached from 24 Dec 42. Transferring to the East Front from 29 Dec 42 to 6 Jan 43. Assigned to H.Gr.Sud. With LVII.Pz.K. in early Jan 43. 3.Kp. formed from renamed 2./s.Pz.Abt.502 on 10 Feb 43. Listed with III.Pz.K. on 1 Jul 43. On 4 Jul 43 one Kp. each was attached to 6., 7., and 9.Pz.Div. On 11 Jul 43 s.Pz.Abt.503 was attached to 6.Pz.Div. Listed with XI.A.K. in Aug 43. Recieved a rest and refit at the end of 1944 and was assigned to Pz.Rgt.Bake from Jan to Apr 44. Ordered to return from the Eastern Front on 25 May 44, for rest and refit. Ordered to Normandy on 27 Jun 44. Arrived in the West on 11 Jul 44 and was attached to Pz.Rgt.21. 3.Kp. was withdrawn to Germany to convert to Tiger II in late Jul 44 and was returned to the West in early Aug 44. On 9 Sep 44 ordered out of the West to rest and refit at Sennelager near Paderborn. There the unit was equipped with the Tiger II. Transferred to Budapest between 12 and 14 Oct 44. Renamed s.Pz.Abt.FHH on 21 Dec 44.
The 503rd Heavy Panzer Battalion (German: schwere Panzerabteilung 503; abbreviated: "s.Pz.Abt. 503") was a German heavy Panzer Abteilung (independent battalion-sized unit) equipped with Tiger I and Panzer III tanks.
The unit was created on May 4, 1942 and consisted of 45 Tiger Is on May 10, 1943. In the aftermath of the Battle of Stalingrad, the battalion was deployed to Army Group Don and arrived at the front on January 1, 1943. The battalion, along with several divisions of the 4th Panzer Army, was tasked with securing the withdrawal of Army Group A; it then retreated to Rostov. On February 11, 1943, the unit was transferred to Kharkiv. It took part in the Third Battle of Kharkov and the Operation Citadel in 1943. Four days before the start of Citadel, the battalion reported that 42 of their 45 Tiger tanks were operational. The unit lost three Tigers during the operation and five more during the subsequent retreat.
In 1944, it was re-equipped with the new Tiger II. The battalion saw action on the Eastern and Western Fronts during World War II. As with other German heavy tank battalions, it was normally not assigned to a single corps, but shuffled around according to war circumstances. Later the battalion became part of the newly formed Panzer Corps Feldherrnhalle as the Feldherrnhalle Heavy Tank Battalion.
Panzer Regiment Bäke
In January 1944, the battalion, together with a panzer regiment and infantry units, formed Panzer Regiment Bäke. The regiment was part of the relief force, which tried to unsuccessfully break through to encircled forces in the Battle of the Korsun–Cherkassy Pocket. The battalion was then trapped in the Kamenets-Podolsky pocket. In late April 1944, the regiment was dissolved and sent West for refitting and equipped with 45 new Tiger IIs.
In Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, the unit was transferred to the command of 5th Panzer Army. On the launch of Operation Goodwood, the 3rd company, which was based in Cagny, Calvados, was destroyed in the preliminary Allied bombing, with impacts powerful enough to turn a 56-ton Tiger upside down. Only one Tiger was operational at the end of the day. During the first day of Goodwood, the unit reported the loss of thirteen tanks. At the end of July, the 3rd company received new Tiger II tanks, which were subsequently destroyed in the Allied aerial attacks, with only two brought back to Germany.
In October 1944, the refitted 503rd took part in the Battle of Debrecen. In early-November, the battalion provided a mobile reserve for the 6th Army (Wehrmacht), re-designated as Army Group Hermann Balck. By mid-December, the German forces had been pushed back to Budapest. In January 1945, the unit took part in several failed attempts to relieve Budapest, code-named Operation Konrad. Though the 17-24 of February, the 503rd took part in one of the last successful German offensives of the war, Operation Südwind (G:Southwind).