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Allied use of captured Axis AFVs and Tanks


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#1 JCFalkenbergIII

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Posted 23 February 2008 - 07:44 AM

In conjuntion with my thread about the Polish use of German AFVs in the Warsaw Uprising in 44,I have another question. What use did the Allies make of Axis AFVs that they captured? I know That the French used German armor like the Panther after the war. The Austrailians used captured Italian M13/40s at Tobruk. And IIRC The Soviets used Stug IIIs. What others were there?? I found this also on the "Achtung Panzer" site. Any other sources??

"It is suggested to the Red Army to use such German tanks as StuG III and Pz IV due to their relability and availability of spare parts. The new German Panther and Tiger can be used until they broken down without trying to repair them. They have bad engines, transmission and suspension." - Department of Weaponry of the Red Army, late 1944.
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#2 JCFalkenbergIII

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Posted 23 February 2008 - 08:08 AM

Under new command,

“Cuckoo”, a Panther G in British service

By T.J.M. Schers, The Netherlands

Published originally in “De Tank” Issue 103, August 1993.

Translated by Rob Plas, notes in text by the author

All trough the history of warfare, soldiers always knew how to make good use of captured equipment. Clothing, food, and inevitably, weapons. The latter were especially attractive if they were easier to obtain and of better quality then the ones issued to troops originally. Using the enemy’s weapons did mean on the other hand that ammunition and spare parts were sometimes hard to get, and in the case of vehicles, one had to be careful not to be shot by friendly forces.

During World War II the German forces made extensive use of captured equipment. (1) This started directly after invading Czechoslovakia and it also took place in France, Belgium and The Netherlands. I am referring to vehicles like the LT vz.38 Skoda, later used by the German 7th and 8th armoured divisions, the French Char B1bis, the Somua S-35 and the Renault R-35. [The Germans made good use of some DAF M38 armoured cars, captured in The Netherlands during the Blitzkrieg in 1940, and transported to the USSR, and deployed in the fights against the soviet partisans {RP}]
The Russian T-34 tank was used a lot by the German forces, usually with very large white Balkenkreuz markings to prevent being shot by their own comrades. In North Africa also, British and American equipment and vehicles were used by the German forces, often to compensate for the huge shortages of material.

Also in the ETO, German forces made good use of captured vehicles, a very well known example being the use of American vehicles by Otto Skorzeny’s 150th armoured brigade during the Ardennes offensive. (2)
Although not as often as their counterparts, the allied forces also used captured vehicles. First they had good, reliable resources and resupply, and more than enough armoured vehicles of their own. Second the almost impossible to get spare parts and ammunition played a role in this. Last but not least, the bigger chance to get shot by the own troops was also not an encouraging thought.
Some of the vehicles that did see action under allied flag were Sdkfz 250 and 251’s, as well as a battery of 3 - 88mm Flak 18 Anti-Tank guns, in the southern county of Limburg, The Netherlands. (3)
There was very little deployment of tanks and tank destroyers. Known is the use of a Stug III by American soldiers from the 104th Infantry Div. (4) It is therefore worth noticing that the extended use of a Pzkpfw V Panther Ausf G must be considered as a rare event. This Panther was captured and used by the British 6th Guards Tank Brigade, and often photographed. This Panther can be a very interesting subject in scale. (5)

Cuckoo with his new owners.

History

In the aftermath of the failed Arnhem offensive the British 6th Guards Tank Brigade was engaged in heavy fighting to gain control of the small Dutch village called Overloon. It was during these fierce battles that tankers of the 4th Armoured Battalion - Coldstream Guards, one of the 2 tank battalions in the brigade, entered a large barn, only to find a Panther tank of the PanzerAbteiling 2, Panzer Brigade 107. This Panther was in running order and quickly put to work in the staff units of the brigade. The use of this captured vehicle was a unique event, so it appears more than once in the official history of the brigade. (6)

After some adjustments were made to the appearance of the vehicle (more about that later) this Panther was used to help the artillery barrage on the Geijsteren castle, just north of Venlo, on the Meuse River. The tank was christened “Cuckoo”, which seems to be an appropriate name for such a strange “bird”


Cuckoo is in the back of this column of Churchill tanks, normally a sight like this would cause panic amongst the british crews.

In the artillery bombardment on the castle, Cuckoo proved to be a worthy newcomer. After an infantry attack at the castle failed, the decision was made to bombard the castle with artillery. This barrage proved to be not very successful, as the relatively small target was hard to hit with artillery. The 75mm tank guns and 6-pounders were more accurate, but too light to do real impressive damage to the thick walls of the castle.
The Panther tank on the other hand did an outstanding job: “ The 95mms were a great success, but “Cuckoo”, [………], did best of all, hurling its shells through selected windows with unfailing precision.”
Later, during operation “Blackcock” (In an area to the south of Venlo) Cuckoo was deployed again, now to join in on an attack on the German town called Waldenrath. Cuckoo preformed very well again, it’s mobility was especially noticeable.

The historian wrote; “The road conditions were abominable all day, but whereas the Churchill’s and the Crocodiles, with no ice bars, slid into ditches at every possible opportunity, “Cuckoo” the Panther, eight tons heavier, trundled merrily along with no difficulty at all.”

The next theatre of operations for the 6th Guards Tank Brigade,and the Panther was during operation "Veritable", better known as the battles for the Reichswald. Here Cuckoo's career ended in a sorry way. When heading towards the east of Kleve in Germany the fuel pump broke down, and due to lack of a spare pump the tank had to be abandoned.


A colour impression made by Øyvind Leonsen after reading the original version of this document.

Cuckoo originally belonged to the German Panzerbrigade 107, a unit that only saw action in the Dutch county of Limburg, and the eastern part of Noord Brabant. (Roughly the area between Eindhoven, Venlo and Roermond, in the south east of The Netherlands. [RP])
After retreating behind the River Meuse (Maas) the remains of this brigade became the base where around the new 25th Panzergenadier Div. was formed.
For references about the appearance and deployment of the Panther tanks in this unit I would like to recommend the articles I wrote on the subject, and that were published in the MIP, the magazine of the Dutch chapter of the IPMS (7)
This unit mainly consisted of Panther Ausf G tanks, the earliest version. These tanks (and this includes Cuckoo) were not yet supplied with the so-called “chin” on the gunmantlet (Geänderter Walzenblende in verstärkter Abweisserleiste) nor the raised air inlet fan cover on the left hand site of the engine deck. Pictures of the tanks in this unit show them in an overall sand yellow base coat, or in a “cloud shaped” 3-colour scheme. The photographs also depict a 3-digit number on all (?) tanks, combined with a black cross.


The left hand side turret, also by Øyvind Leonsen

Camouflage and markings

It is not clear if, and how this Panther in British service was camouflaged, but from the original pictures it is clear that Cuckoo was painted in a single colour. Which colour is not absolutely sure. The original dark yellow (Dunkelgelb) was acceptable, presuming that nobody bothered to completely repaint the vehicle, but as there are no signs of digits and/or crosses on the tank, nor visible proof of any local shade variations, which would most certain be visible if these were covered with fresh paint, it can be assumed that Cuckoo was repainted overall in the same shade (Khaki Drab) as the Churchill’s in the unit. This would explain the lack of German markings, and a paint job like that wouldn’t be a problem at all for the brigade’s workshop units. When comparing the shades of grey on the original black and white prints I can’t see any significant differences in tone. I therefore support the idea of Cuckoo being repainted, before put to work for it’s new owners. (8) (Repainting captured vehicles was a common practice in World War II; even civilian cars got that treatment [RP])

If we let the subject of repainting rest, the first thing that was changed in the appearance of Cuckoo was applying a large white 5-pointed star in a white circle, the allied (air)recognition sign. (Often this sign was not used, or hidden, because enemy gunners used the star as a bulls-eye for easy aiming) The star was applied to both sides of the turret. The remaining markings related to the vehicles position in the British organisation: unit number, vehicle number and the name Cuckoo. The Unit serial number used by the Coldstream Guards was 153. This number was applied to the toolbox on the right hand side at the rear of the tank in white paint. Normally this number was painted on a background that consisted of a green field with a horizontal white band below it. This to show that the brigade was part of the second British Army corps.
I didn’t find any proof of these markings on Cuckoo. The tank was named Cuckoo, and this name was painted on both lower sides of the turret, in white or another light colour. On the picture the tone looks a little darker than the white star. (9)
“Cuckoo” wasn’t just made up; all vehicles in the staff unit had bird names. The CO’s tank was named Eagle, his warrant officer’s tank named Seagull. The ACV (Armoured Command Vehicle of 2nd I/C (second in Command) was called Vulture, while the troop commander drove Owl. (10)
Cuckoo was deployed to the bombardment of Geijsteren castle looking like described above. During operation "Blackcock" in January 1945, the roads and fields were covered with a thick blanket of fresh snow, so the unit’s vehicles were camouflaged to cope with that.


Cuckoo in a hastily applied snow camouflage scheme

Some of the units Churchill tanks were covered with white sheets; Cuckoo received a rough coat of white chalk. On the picture you can see this, the hull seems to have got a even coat of white, whilst the turret received some broad white bands on the forward half it. Clearly visible on the original print is the side of the gun mantled, which was still in its original colour. On it’s next battles during operation "Veritable", Cuckoo is back in green again, only the serial numbers on the back seems to have disappeared totally.

http://www.twenot.nl/cuckoo.htm
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#3 Von Poop

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Posted 23 February 2008 - 11:46 AM

A favourite picture:
Posted Image

Cheers,
Adam.
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#4 GPRegt

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Posted 23 February 2008 - 01:13 PM

Here's a favourite of mine:

Posted Image

These guys are from 6th Airborne's Armoured Recce Regt. They claimed two German aircraft with this captured 20mm!

On Op Varsity, members of 6th Airborne's 8th Parachute Battalion's Anti-Tank Platoon captured a 3-ton truck that was put to use on collecting supplies.

Steve W.
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#5 Von Poop

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Posted 23 February 2008 - 04:54 PM

Here's a favourite of mine:

Posted Image

These guys are from 6th Airborne's Armoured Recce Regt. They claimed two German aircraft with this captured 20mm!

Excellent shot Steve, though I am a bit peculiar about D7's ever since I worked out one would just fit in my garage.
Something rather racy about that 1930's muscle car front with tracks behind, all further enhanced in that shot by Tommy Atkins having taken over. :D

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#6 JCFalkenbergIII

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Posted 23 February 2008 - 05:45 PM

I know that the "Rag Tag Circus" of the 83rd Infantry division used alot of German vehicles both military and civilian in 1945. Even Fire engines LOL.
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#7 JCFalkenbergIII

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Posted 23 February 2008 - 06:10 PM

The use of German tanks in Soviet army


"During the war, the Soviets captured large numbers of enemy armoured vehicles, mostly PzKpfwIII, PzKpfwIV (Russian designation T-3 and T-4), PzKpfw38(t) and different self-propelled guns. Some of them were pressed into temporary service because of their small caliber armament and lack of ammunition and spare parts, some were used for training. Sometimes captured tanks there were used in a different temporary units or as a separate tanks. Diversion raids and recon operations were usual - in such cases the tanks carried original German insignias. But for a regular service the Soviet simbols or the red flag were applied to prevent friendly fire (note - the Soviet made tanks usually carried only unit/vehicle numbers only, and no any stars and so on, ecxept the Guard's sign in the Guard's units).
The Soviets liked to use T-3 as a command vehicle, because of their great comfort and an instruments (optic and radio). Pz.V Panther (T-5 Pantera) tanks were mostly used for anti-tank purposes. Also the Soviets used different halftracks and armoured cars. In USSR even worked some factories which repaired the broken captured tanks. Sometimes these tanks were reequiped with the Soviet engines or armament. Vehicles which were unuseful for Soviet army (for example PzBfwg and French tanks) were rebuld and/or rearmed."

Axis panzers in Red Army
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#8 JCFalkenbergIII

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Posted 23 February 2008 - 06:21 PM

US Tiger II :).

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#9 JCFalkenbergIII

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Posted 24 February 2008 - 06:42 PM

Does anyone else have any information on the captured Tiger II?
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#10 Von Poop

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Posted 24 February 2008 - 07:13 PM

This:
German King Tiger tank - Photo Gallery of the Tiger 2 tank
has this:

From the 2.Kompanie/schwere Panzer Abteilung 506 captured by American troops. 15 December 1944.


More here:
Tiger Tank Battalions during WWII - Page 2

This Tiger II from the 2.Kompanie/schwere Panzer Abteilung 506 was captured by American troops and restored to running condition by Company B, 129th Ordnance Battalion by 15 December 1944.


Captured at Gereonsweiler (?) and numbered 211 according to here:
Tigers in Combat I

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Adam.
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#11 JCFalkenbergIII

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Posted 24 February 2008 - 08:10 PM

This:
German King Tiger tank - Photo Gallery of the Tiger 2 tank
has this:


More here:
Tiger Tank Battalions during WWII - Page 2


Captured at Gereonsweiler (?) and numbered 211 according to here:
Tigers in Combat I

Cheers,
Adam.


Thanks Adam!! :)
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#12 Von Poop

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 11:27 AM

From Lone Sentry:
Posted Image

Posted Image

Lone Sentry: Tankers in Tunisia

Cheers,
Adam.
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#13 Vince Noir

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 12:43 PM

The REME also repaired lots of German softskins in northern Europe at the end of '44. I also have a nice pic of a Nebelwerfer being used on its former owners...
"The Americans will always do the right thing ... After they've exhausted all the alternatives."

Winston Churchill

#14 Tomcat

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 12:58 PM

well here is a Tiger I

Posted Image
For want of a nail the shoe was lost, for the want of a shoe the horse was lost, for the want of a horse the rider was lost, for the want of a rider the battle was lost, For want of a battle the kingdom was lost, and all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

Robert,


#15 Tomcat

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 08:13 PM

Just found this website by accident about soviets using german tanks.

Axis panzers in Red Army
For want of a nail the shoe was lost, for the want of a shoe the horse was lost, for the want of a horse the rider was lost, for the want of a rider the battle was lost, For want of a battle the kingdom was lost, and all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

Robert,


#16 JCFalkenbergIII

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 08:33 PM

Just found this website by accident about soviets using german tanks.

Axis panzers in Red Army


I saw that one too. I quoted it in my response # 7 in this thread :).
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#17 JCFalkenbergIII

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Posted 26 February 2008 - 05:18 AM

Captured PZ II

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#18 Tomcat

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Posted 26 February 2008 - 09:22 AM

oh ok my bad, I missed that one, I read all your post through and still didn't see it:)
For want of a nail the shoe was lost, for the want of a shoe the horse was lost, for the want of a horse the rider was lost, for the want of a rider the battle was lost, For want of a battle the kingdom was lost, and all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

Robert,


#19 JCFalkenbergIII

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Posted 27 February 2008 - 06:12 AM

Np. It happens LOL.
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#20 JCFalkenbergIII

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 02:54 AM

I just read that the Soviets had a unit made up of Panthers. Now Ill have to see what I can find.
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#21 JCFalkenbergIII

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 03:00 AM

The US 83rd Infantry Division IIRC also used a captured ME-109 with the words 83rd Inf Division on the underside of the wings to try and prevent being accidently shot down by our own troops.
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#22 JCFalkenbergIII

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 03:13 AM

Since 1943, Soviets captured some number of various variants of Panther, which equipped some of their tank units such as Lieutenant Sotnikov's Guard Company. This unit used captured Panthers as late as spring of 1945, when they had 3 Ausf As, while operating in Prague (Praga) - district of Warsaw. Soviets held Panthers in high regard and considered captured Panther to be a prize. Captured Panthers were then given to successful crews as a kind of reward. In order to keep them running captured German mechanics were pressed into service and in 1944, Panther's manual was printed in Russian for distribution among tank crews. Captured vehicles temporarily remained in their original colors but with markings of their new owners. Later, some were repainted in dark green and were marked with large tactical markings and white stars for indentification purposes.

"It is suggested to the Red Army to use such German tanks as StuG III and Pz IV due to their relability and availability of spare parts. The new German Panther and Tiger can be used until they broken down without trying to repair them. They have bad engines, transmission and suspension." - Department of Weaponry of the Red Army, late 1944.

Posted ImageCaptured Panther being inspected by Soviet soldiers and officers.
Soviet soldiers painted the name TIGER on the front armor plate and first three letters TIG (in Russian) are visible. In 1943/44, to the ordinary Soviet troops all German Panzers were known as "Tigers" and all assault guns as "Ferdinands", while all German soldiers as "Fritz" or "Gans".
Photo and information provided by Dmitry Pyatakhin.

Small number of captured Panthers was also pressed into service by British (e.g. Ausf G "Cuckoo" from 4th Battalion of 6th Coldstream Guards Tank Brigade, North-West Europe, 1944/45), Canadian, French and American units and three were used by the Polish Home Army during the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, against its former owners. Also small number was captured and operated by the French resistance in mid 1944. They took part in fighting in the Rouen area, where two of them were destroyed on August 30th of 1944 by Tigers from sSSPzAbt 102. This was probably the most interesting combat situation involving Panthers.

Posted ImageBritish PzKpfw V Panther Ausf G "Cuckoo"
from 4th Battalion of 6th Coldstream Guards Tank Brigade, North-West Europe, 1944/45.


Achtung Panzer! - Panther
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#23 T. A. Gardner

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 03:16 AM

I know the Australians used alot of captured M11/39 and M13/40 Italian tanks early on in the Western Desert in their divisional cavalry squadrons. I have pictures somewhere of some of these vehicles with big white kangaroos painted on the hull and turret.

#24 JCFalkenbergIII

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 03:22 AM

Yep. I remember building a model kit of that version of it. IIRC they were captured and Used at Tobruk.

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#25 JCFalkenbergIII

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 03:36 AM

Although technically not captured from the Axis but the Australians also used Renault R-35 captured from Vichy troops and used in Syria.
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