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"Captured German Tanks?" Topic

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projectmayhem09 Nov 2011 6:21 a.m. PST

Ive seen quite a few references to the Germans using captured allied tanks, even using Matilda 1s for internal security work or the french tanks that attacked the US paras ar fiere.

I was mainly thinking of the western desert, never seen anything on Panzer 111s or 1Vs getting turned on their former owners, although didnt some New Zealanders use some italian tanks? Or was it uncommon because a) against British doctrine b) Germans always stayed in posession of the battlefield and recovered their vehicles c) British didnt suffer the same shortages of equipment d) captured tanks always sent back for evaluation – eg Tiger 131.

Personal logo Doms Decals Sponsoring Member of TMP Inactive Member09 Nov 2011 6:42 a.m. PST

Combination of all-sorts, but largely c and d, coupled with maintenance issues – German kit tended to be high maintenance, and not captured in big enough numbers to create a maintenance infrastructure for it.

The Aussies had a fair few M11/39 and M13/40s though, with big white kangaroo markings to make ownership obvious. In NW Europe captured vehicles were probably rarer still, but there's always the Coldstream Guards' famous Panther, "Cuckoo".

Barin109 Nov 2011 7:17 a.m. PST

Well, Red Army used quite a number of German tanks:

and more pictures here:


this site has a lot of information on the subject, but it is only in Russian:


there's three pages of interesting stuff…

Man of Few Words09 Nov 2011 7:47 a.m. PST

I have a book in my North Africa section that has a picture of PzIII's and I think also a PZIV, cleaned up and repaired and issued to a Polish formation in Eygpt. Probably for propaganda purposes. Will have to re-locate.

Martin Rapier09 Nov 2011 8:16 a.m. PST

As above, the Red Army made fairly heavy use of captured tanks and SPs, even organising them into separate battalions and regiments. Bob Mackenzies eastern front OB book (The Thin Red Line?) has detailed OBs for a number of units equipped with captured vehicles.

In NWE it was more a case of odd bits and pieces, many tank and armoured regiments liked to add the occasional German vehicle, usually of the big and scary variety. The risk of friendly fire meant these were rarely used in a combat role, even Cuckoo was just used as an OP tank. More usually they broke down and had to be abandoned. 9th RTR dragged 'its' Tiger as far as the Seine but couldn't find a bridge strong enough to take the weight in its crossing sector.

The desert is a bit odd, certainly captured Italian tanks were used in large-ish numbers in 1941 after most of the working British ones were withdrawn to be destroyed in Greece, but in the main, the Allies didn't use many/any captured tanks in that theatre. They had so many anyway most of the time that another load of maintenance headaches was the last thing they needed.

The Germans didn't use huge numbers of captured vehicles in the desert, just odd ones, presumably for similar reasons.

It is much easier to keep a battalion of R-35s running on occupation duties, than a platoon of beutepanzers with one Stuart, a Crusader II (with those dodgy oil filters), a Matilda II with 25 miles of clutch life left and a couple of Vickers lights.

Personal logo Doms Decals Sponsoring Member of TMP Inactive Member09 Nov 2011 8:20 a.m. PST

That last paragraph is the biggy – a captured vehicle is likely to be a headache, a matching battalion set an asset – you need enough for it to be worth sorting out how to maintain them, sourcing of spares, etc, etc….

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP09 Nov 2011 8:39 a.m. PST

I have seen the same picture as Man of Few Words – as I recall, the unit was equipped with Panzer IIIs for training purposes – they were not used in combat

thosmoss09 Nov 2011 9:03 a.m. PST

To quote about a recently captured (purchased) Tiger:

"It's a mother beautiful tank!"

Eclectic Wave09 Nov 2011 9:22 a.m. PST

"We were assaulted by Tiger tanks, do you know what I mean by assaulted? I MEAN ASSULTED!"

Martin Rapier09 Nov 2011 9:45 a.m. PST

"Its a piece of junk! The fuel system leaks all over the place!"

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP09 Nov 2011 10:32 a.m. PST

British tactical doctrine in the desert (falling back to a lager at night) usually left the Germans in control of the battlefield. This let the Germans salvage their damaged tanks so the British captured relatively few of them.

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member09 Nov 2011 12:09 p.m. PST

And of course there is all the info in this previous TMP thread on the subject too,
Allies Using Captured German/Italian Tanks
TMP link

And a thread I created years ago on another site about Allied use of captured AFVs and tanks,


BlackWidowPilot Fezian Inactive Member09 Nov 2011 6:59 p.m. PST

The Russians were no shrinking violets when it came to using former German machines "under new management." The Free French were also more than happy to turn perfectly good German panzers on their former owners, as well as employing French AFVs reclaimed from the German occupation forces.

Free French AFVs of this sort included Flammpanzer B2(f) (French Char B1bis modified by the Germans into flamethorwer tanks), Panzer IVs, and Panthers whenever the French could get them.

Hope this helps!

Leland R. Erickson

Personal logo Weasel Supporting Member of TMP09 Nov 2011 11:03 p.m. PST

Didn't the French have a fair share of Panthers in use just after WW2?

Etranger Inactive Member09 Nov 2011 11:34 p.m. PST

Just in passing, the Matilda I was just about the only British tank that the Germans didn't re-use, at least according to Jentz!

IIRC Cuckoo was used on one occasion to get rid of a troublesome sniper, as its gun & optics were felt to be better than those of the Chuchills in 6GTB.

The Russians also re-manufactured a number of PzIIIs to make the SP76i (if I have that name correct), a Russian 'StuG'.

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member09 Nov 2011 11:59 p.m. PST

"After the war, many French Army tank units were equipped with Panthers (eg. 503rd Tank Battalion in Mourmelon had 50 Panthers in 1947 and 501rd Tank Battalion used Panthers from 1946 to 1950). Other post-war users included Bulgaria (Bulgarian Panthers), Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania and Yugoslavia.
After the war, modified Panther's 75mm KwK 42 L/70 gun was produced by French as 75mm DEFA and CN75-50 gun. "


Panther Ausf. G (French Free Forces markings) – Saumur Tank Museum (France)
This tank served in the 112th Panzer Brigade and participated to the Battle of Dompaire in September 1944. Two Panthers were lost by the 112th, captured by the 2ème Division Blindée (French 2nd Armored Division) and sent to Paris to be exposed in front of the Invalides. In 1976, they were transferred to Saumur. The other Panther, an Ausf. A, is now exposed at Mourmelon."

World War II: Another 50 Panther picture's 12

"After 1945, fifty Panther tanks were used by French 503e Régiment de Chars de Combat stationed in Mourmelon le Grand. Before the end of 1950, the Panther tanks had been replaced by French-built ARL 44 heavy tanks. The Panther influenced the design of the French AMX 50, which was never produced. After the war, a modified 75mm KwK 42 L/70 gun was produced by the French as the 75mm DEFA and CN75-50 gun. This gun equipped the AMX 13 light tank and EBR armored car. The Israelis used the gun to upgrade their M50 Super Sherman."

From the links I cited above. Robert

Frontovik Inactive Member10 Nov 2011 3:54 a.m. PST

The Russians also re-manufactured a number of PzIIIs to make the SP76i (if I have that name correct), a Russian 'StuG'.

SU76i link

Etranger Inactive Member10 Nov 2011 5:19 a.m. PST

Thats the one!

number4 Inactive Member12 Nov 2011 7:47 p.m. PST

I've often wondered why those French owned Panthers were never hired out for movie work instead of the M47 "Tigers" (Spanish?) that we see so often. Maybe they were afraid they would break down/catch fire on the way to the set…

DBS30316 Nov 2011 7:55 a.m. PST

One unusual user of captured German AFVs was the RAF Armoured Car branch: they used several SdKfz 222s for police ops in Palestine / Trans-Jordan. (I have a number of photos.) But very deliberately kept well away from the front line to avoid confusion…

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