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Old 12-30-2010, 04:30 AM
James Langham James Langham is offline
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Default Soviet 746th Tank Regiment

As the war progressed, large numbers of captured vehicles became available to both sides. The Soviets took advantage of this and created a number of units using captured equipment. The best documented unit is the 746th Tank Regiment formed in early 1998. This unit was made up as follows:

* Regimental headquarters in 2 M1A1 plus 2 M577

* 1st tank battalion with 41 M1A1

* 2nd tank battalion with 41 Leopard 2

* 3rd tank battalion with 41 M1/IMP M1

* Motor rifle battalion with 31 M113s (mortars were towed behind trucks) – one source states that one company was in British FV432s and that the mortars were US M106s.

* Anti-aircraft battery with 4 M163 PIVAD


* A combined artillery/ howitzer battery with 8 (as opposed to the normal 6) M109 (assorted models). Sources indicate MLRS was considered as an alternative but not enough ammunition was available.

* A recce company with 6 M2/M3 Bradleys, 3 M1A1 and 2 BRDM2 Rkhs.

* No anti-tank battery was included.

* Logistic vehicles were a mix of NATO types.

This unit was thrown into the front along the Baltic Coast in where it performed well. Gradually however the lack of spares started to show and one by one the NATO vehicles were abandoned until the few survivors were incorporated into the 20th Tank Division when it was withdrawn to the Ukraine in 1999.

Despite common misconceptions, the unit was never used as a deception unit only as a front line combat unit. Vehicles were usually repainted in standard Soviet colours with larger than usual red stars added.
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Old 12-30-2010, 06:09 AM
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How were such large numbers of serviceable armoured vehicles captured? APC's (as a rule) tend to get destroyed pretty much outright when hit by anything substantial and tanks don't fare too well either when knocked out.
Also, to my knowledge, tank crews are supposed to destroy their vehicles by utilising a number of methods if knocked out and likely to be captured before the engineers can recover them.
It is more likely that only a single battalion could be outfitted with NATO vehicles, many of which would sport battle damage and/or be cobbled together from a number of other damaged and stripped vehicles. I'd also be inclined to raise the percentage of British vehicles as they were heavily involved in the fighting and I believe penetrated the furthest into the USSR in 1997 prior to the PACT counter offensive.
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Old 12-30-2010, 06:38 AM
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Kind of makes you wonder how many chimera vehicles are out there -- hulls from here, turrets from there, tracks from here, engines from there, etc.
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Old 12-30-2010, 07:14 AM
James Langham James Langham is offline
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Default Capturing vehicles

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How were such large numbers of serviceable armoured vehicles captured? APC's (as a rule) tend to get destroyed pretty much outright when hit by anything substantial and tanks don't fare too well either when knocked out.
Also, to my knowledge, tank crews are supposed to destroy their vehicles by utilising a number of methods if knocked out and likely to be captured before the engineers can recover them.
It is more likely that only a single battalion could be outfitted with NATO vehicles, many of which would sport battle damage and/or be cobbled together from a number of other damaged and stripped vehicles. I'd also be inclined to raise the percentage of British vehicles as they were heavily involved in the fighting and I believe penetrated the furthest into the USSR in 1997 prior to the PACT counter offensive.
My gut feeling is that numbers captured would be higher than we expect. Consider the Arab-Israeli wars and the numbers of vehicles captured there. What crews are supposed to do when they abandon their vehicles and what really happens is often different, especially with the poorer trained replacements. Consider that the Russians had REGIMENTS of Panthers in WW2.

APCs do suffer badly when hit but there are plenty of ways that they can be lost.

Good point with the British kit, I'll use that for another regiment. I envision about three or four such regiments using foreign equipment. On the NATO side I imagine the Germans will inherit the bulk as they already have reservists trained on it!
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Old 12-30-2010, 10:06 AM
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I'm very pessimistic that the Soviets would be able to restore and operate that many NATO vehicles. Panthers weren't that far technically from T-34's, M1A1 and Leopards are something else. All the high-tech goodies would seem to be irreplaceable.

The Soviets have been very good historically at reverse-engineering captured stuff, but in 1997-98, when this might happen (using stuff captured during the drive back across Poland), that seems a waste of time & effort to try and rebuild the computer elements.

IMO, anyway.

On second thought, I think my objection is more that there would not be enough operating to fill a TO&E like you have. I can definitely see some running vehicles here and there, and perhaps more turned into static defenses.
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Old 12-30-2010, 10:11 AM
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I like the idea of an entire unit equipped with captured enemy vehicles but I too think that the numbers are too high.

That's a lot of bogged-down, out of gas, or broken down M1s. Killing one is tough and I don't see too many dead M1s being brought back to life by Soviet maintainance crews, especially after the TDM. I agree with you that not all crews are going follow SOPs and destroy their disabled tanks, but enough will and there are other ways besides crew-initiated scuttling to destroy a tank.

In the book Thunder Run, an M1 from an RCT from the U.S. 3rd Mech ID on its way into Baghdad, is hit in the engine by at least one RPG or ATGM and disabled. The crew tries desperately to restart it but the column to which they're attached needs to move on and they can't slow down to tow it. So, the crew dutifully sets a few thermite grenades inside the turret and bails out for good. Another M1 in the column then puts a couple of 120mm APFDS rounds into it (from behind) for good measure. This was SOP and was executed under enemy small arms, RPG, and mortar fire.

I just don't see 90 M1s being captured in less than two years in good enough shape to be used against their previous owners.

Perhaps, you could replace one of your M1 battalions with Brit Challengers and/or Chieftains or throw in a few M60s and Leopard Is to lessen the numbers of M1s and Leopard IIs. Reserve units would be more likely equipped with older tanks and reservist crews would be a little more likely to panic and bail out without first assuring their tank would not fall into the wrong hands.
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Old 12-30-2010, 04:08 PM
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I like the idea of an entire unit equipped with captured enemy vehicles but I too think that the numbers are too high.
Rae,

I mostly agree with you, the numbers do seem high.

After all, unlike the Iraq war there was a liberal use of nuclear and chemical weapons. A tank company could have been wiped out by a nerve agent, leaving their tanks intact, more captured tanks might be on the, ah, "hot" side, and so on.

It's hard to prove a negative, and I agree that some crews would be able to render their tanks ineffective while abandoning them as ordered. If the incoming mail is upgraded from small arms, RPGs and mortars to wire-guided ATGMs/autocannons, enemy tank fire, 155mm howitzers or Katyushas, etc, then I could see things being a bit different. That is, a unit reeling under the determined attack of a Guards Tank regiment might well be too busy bugging out to fully TCB.

Technically, I think that at least in the broader sense that if a tank can be fixed, the Russians would be capable of fixing them. Maybe not to the same standards and not with the same replacement parts.

Overall, I do think the numbers are high, and think there would be other tanks mixed in for a real "grab bag" effect.

Tony
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Old 12-30-2010, 05:12 PM
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Those are some good points, Tony. I hadn't considered factoring in the use of NBC weapons. Their use could help explain larger numbers of intact, captured armor in WWIII. I think we agree that James' numbers seem a little high though.

I suppose as long as the crews were caught outside of their vehicles by a sudden, unexpected NBC attack, they could be killed or driven off while the vehicles are left intact to be captured by follow up enemy forces. On the other hand, one would think that WWIII tank crews would be ready for this sort of NBC attack and, once buttoned up inside their tracks, safer than most from its effects.

I wonder how long it would take to make an irradiated/radiologically contaminated tank safe to operate again. I'm sure it could be done and the WWII Red Army wasn't averse to "asking" its soldiers to take great risks in defense of the Motherland.

As for scuttling, your point about the threat environment is well taken. WWIII Europe is bound to be a lot deadlier than 2003 Iraq and that might chase off or kill greater proportions of imobilized tanks' crews. One of the points that I was trying to make is that other, operational tanks can be used to destroy damaged or crewless tanks that need to be abandoned. A couple of APFDS or HEAT rounds from behind will likely render an Abrams dead or too badly damaged to repair.
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Old 12-30-2010, 06:07 PM
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I wonder how long it would take to make an irradiated/radiologically contaminated tank safe to operate again. I'm sure it could be done and the WWII Red Army wasn't averse to "asking" its soldiers to take great risks in defense of the Motherland.
Rae,

An American robot is on the roof [cleaning up Chernobyl reactor debris] for five minutes, and then it breaks down. The Japanese robot is on the roof for five minutes, and then breaks down.The Russian robot is up there two hours! Then a command comes in over the loudspeaker: "Private Ivanov! In two hours, you're welcome to come down and have a cigarette break."

I think after the use of "Green Robotniki" (named after their uniforms) in the cleanup of Chernobyl, we can guess what they Soviets would think of as a "safe" level. Of course, conscript labour is a little different than trained and experienced tank crews.

To a large degree, I think tank crews will be contaminated by surface fallout while outside the tank or due to not using the CBW system for whatever reason, not actually irradiated (giving off secondary particles). For the most part the scenario I envision is a tank crew that unexpectedly succumbs to contamination or abandons their tank in a panic, leaving a vehicle that can be decontaminated (mostly).

Likewise, you can't live in bunny suits all the time, and nerve agents are a lot quicker acting than the chemical agents in the Great War. Not to mention in a mobile battlefield where used of chemical agents and nuclear weapons are released to low-level commands, things would be very unpredictable. A chemical attack in support of a local effort could come in completely out of the blue. Some nerve agents can persist for hours or days, making simple travel from one area to another very hazardous.

I agree that other tanks will take out disable tanks, when they can. From the example you posted, those tankers weren't really facing opposition by enemy armour and had an abundant supply chain to replace munitions. Hypothetically, if you have a situation where you had a precious APFSDS round loaded with the choice between a disabled friendly tank and an enemy T-64 in sight, which would you prioritise? Even using HEAT wouldn't be an easy choice, if you thought there was a chance of running into some BMPs in the near future.

That's not to say tanks would never deliberately destroy abandoned vehicles when they could, just that it doesn't always seem clear-cut. Much of the time I imagine they will have the time and munitions to do a proper job, just not all the time.

Tony
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Old 12-30-2010, 07:48 PM
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I agree that other tanks will take out disable tanks, when they can. From the example you posted, those tankers weren't really facing opposition by enemy armour and had an abundant supply chain to replace munitions. Hypothetically, if you have a situation where you had a precious APFSDS round loaded with the choice between a disabled friendly tank and an enemy T-64 in sight, which would you prioritise? Even using HEAT wouldn't be an easy choice, if you thought there was a chance of running into some BMPs in the near future.

That's not to say tanks would never deliberately destroy abandoned vehicles when they could, just that it doesn't always seem clear-cut. Much of the time I imagine they will have the time and munitions to do a proper job, just not all the time.
That's a very good point, Tony. I think that we agree that both sides are going to capture working (or repairable) enemy MBTs and use them against their former owners. My point- and I think you're more or less on the same page- is that it wouldn't be a common enough occurance for one side (or the other) to equip an entire armored regiment exclusively with first-line [former] enemy MBTs.

The WWIII battlefield is going to be very hostile to armor and I think attrition is going to be high, even before the stream of new and remanufactured tanks and spare parts dries up in early '98. In the v1.0 Soviet Vehicle Guide there's a plate (E4) of ex-Finish, Romanian-made M-81 (RW TR-85) in the service of the U.S. 6th ID in Germany c.'97. If the Americans are going to go to the trouble of shipping what's basically a glorified T-55 from Norway to Germany (and refitting it with a 120mm gun) before the TDM, you know that armored forces are losing a hell of a lot of vehicles.
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Old 12-30-2010, 09:07 PM
Abbott Shaull Abbott Shaull is offline
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That's a very good point, Tony. I think that we agree that both sides are going to capture working (or repairable) enemy MBTs and use them against their former owners. My point- and I think you're more or less on the same page- is that it wouldn't be a common enough occurance for one side (or the other) to equip an entire armored regiment exclusively with first-line [former] enemy MBTs.

The WWIII battlefield is going to be very hostile to armor and I think attrition is going to be high, even before the stream of new and remanufactured tanks and spare parts dries up in early '98. In the v1.0 Soviet Vehicle Guide there's a plate (E4) of ex-Finish, Romanian-made M-81 (RW TR-85) in the service of the U.S. 6th ID in Germany c.'97. If the Americans are going to go to the trouble of shipping what's basically a glorified T-55 from Norway to Germany (and refitting it with a 120mm gun) before the TDM, you know that armored forces are losing a hell of a lot of vehicles.
Um...As I recall several Mechanized and Armored Divisions were outfitted their Armor units with LAV-75s a vehicle that didn't make it out of the blocks and Stingrays which are nice light tanks. So yeah I think both side wouldn't take time to outfit who units.... They would want to place anything that could be considered a tank back to the front as soon as possible..
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Old 12-31-2010, 08:05 AM
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I agree that other tanks will take out disable tanks, when they can. From the example you posted, those tankers weren't really facing opposition by enemy armour and had an abundant supply chain to replace munitions. Hypothetically, if you have a situation where you had a precious APFSDS round loaded with the choice between a disabled friendly tank and an enemy T-64 in sight, which would you prioritise? Even using HEAT wouldn't be an easy choice, if you thought there was a chance of running into some BMPs in the near future.

That's not to say tanks would never deliberately destroy abandoned vehicles when they could, just that it doesn't always seem clear-cut. Much of the time I imagine they will have the time and munitions to do a proper job, just not all the time.

Tony
That's something that has been bothering me about the stories out of Desert Storm/Iraq and combat loss M1s...

SOP for the 2nd ACR was that each tank would carry certain additional ordnance; 4 anti-tank mines, 4 claymore mines and 12 hand grenades, 4 of which are thermite grenades according to my old journal.

If we were required to abandon a tank, you manually opened the turret ammo rack, and pulled several rounds out and left them on the turret floor, you then pulled the AT mines out and dropped one in the driver's compartment, one in the gunner's seat, one on top of the radio and one in the engine compartment. Last thing the tank commander did as he left the vehicle was to arm and drop a thermite grenade into the driver's compartment, the turret and the engine compartment...between the thermite, the AT mines and the main gun rounds, there would have been very little left to salvage.

And then you hear stories of crews just leaving the tank...WTF, over!?!?!
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Old 12-31-2010, 09:03 AM
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That's something that has been bothering me about the stories out of Desert Storm/Iraq and combat loss M1s...

SOP for the 2nd ACR was that each tank would carry certain additional ordnance; 4 anti-tank mines, 4 claymore mines and 12 hand grenades, 4 of which are thermite grenades according to my old journal.

If we were required to abandon a tank, you manually opened the turret ammo rack, and pulled several rounds out and left them on the turret floor, you then pulled the AT mines out and dropped one in the driver's compartment, one in the gunner's seat, one on top of the radio and one in the engine compartment. Last thing the tank commander did as he left the vehicle was to arm and drop a thermite grenade into the driver's compartment, the turret and the engine compartment...between the thermite, the AT mines and the main gun rounds, there would have been very little left to salvage.

And then you hear stories of crews just leaving the tank...WTF, over!?!?!
Yeah I was wondering the same thing too. What was more shocking were some of the photos of M1s that had been 'disabled' then 'stripped'. You could still see it was M1. Being a former paratrooper, I even knew that there use to be SOP in place that would leave just a hulk of worthless scrap once everything was said and done. I total agree WTF.

Now with that said and realizing that some of these vehicle if not most were later recovered and dispose of properly. It was still one hell of gamble since our supplies lines were at best paper thin.

I think it was just another thing where priorities went askew. Remember the price tag of said M1. Why make it unrecoverable, there was a high likely hood that we would recover it and then send it to the depot to be resurrected. Then they wonder why when something has to be done it isn't done properly....
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Old 12-31-2010, 09:19 AM
Abbott Shaull Abbott Shaull is offline
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Yeah I would agree the number of M1 recovered to outfit the Regiment seem awful hi... Then again even what I said with my previous post, I can see things going to hell for both sides as they fought across Poland. I can see us recovering several Soviet and Pact AFVs on trip across because things were moving that fast. On the flip side when the Soviets and Pact counter attack and push back into Germany that NATO tank crew not having the time to properly dispose of their tanks due to panic. (Unlike in Iraq where the crews in many cases had time to do the proper job on their old tank)

I would have to agree with having everything brought to one Regiment a stretch. I can see Platoons and some Companies...
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Old 12-31-2010, 10:02 AM
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Yeah I was wondering the same thing too. What was more shocking were some of the photos of M1s that had been 'disabled' then 'stripped'. You could still see it was M1. Being a former paratrooper, I even knew that there use to be SOP in place that would leave just a hulk of worthless scrap once everything was said and done. I total agree WTF.

Now with that said and realizing that some of these vehicle if not most were later recovered and dispose of properly. It was still one hell of gamble since our supplies lines were at best paper thin.

I think it was just another thing where priorities went askew. Remember the price tag of said M1. Why make it unrecoverable, there was a high likely hood that we would recover it and then send it to the depot to be resurrected. Then they wonder why when something has to be done it isn't done properly....
There is a major world of difference between leaving a damaged tank with a security section or for a following unit to recover, and leaving a tank loaded with ammo and with its fire control/radios intact so that some gomer could salvage it and use it aginst US forces.

When I was active duty, we trained for dismounted action, how to disable the vehicle, what equipment had to be stripped and taken with you , etc. Yet here are reports of a M-1 being left in the street, and some Iraqis trying to use it against other M-1s...makes no sense what so ever.
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Old 12-31-2010, 06:34 PM
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There is a major world of difference between leaving a damaged tank with a security section or for a following unit to recover...
I hadn't considered that, either. This sort of goes against my original argument but I suppose there could be instances when a commander orders his men not to scuttle disabled/immobile tanks because he believes that a counterattack can get them back. When the counterattack fails, the enemy has gained some trophy tanks to use against their former owners.
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Old 12-31-2010, 08:04 PM
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There is a major world of difference between leaving a damaged tank with a security section or for a following unit to recover, and leaving a tank loaded with ammo and with its fire control/radios intact so that some gomer could salvage it and use it aginst US forces.

When I was active duty, we trained for dismounted action, how to disable the vehicle, what equipment had to be stripped and taken with you , etc. Yet here are reports of a M-1 being left in the street, and some Iraqis trying to use it against other M-1s...makes no sense what so ever.
Yeah I would think some officer would of grew a brain and realize it could be used against anyone else coming along later.
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Old 01-01-2011, 11:37 AM
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Yeah I would think some officer would of grew a brain and realize it could be used against anyone else coming along later.
When you disable a tank, there are certain items that are taken...the firing pin for the main cannon, the back plates and recoil springs for the machineguns. Items that you couldn't take, like radios, you zeroed the voice security system (cleared it), took the radios off the operational freqs, common sense stuff.

There was even a drill for a "quicky" disable, you simply dumped thermite grenades in the turret and let it do its thing.

So I kinda doubt that 40+ M-1 would have been left in fighting condition...at the very least I would expect the radios to be burned, the gunner's primary sights to be damaged if not outright destroyed. There may be a chance of the gunner's secondary sight remaining operational...but with the computer and primary sight being knocked out...
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Old 01-01-2011, 06:52 PM
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When you disable a tank, there are certain items that are taken...the firing pin for the main cannon, the back plates and recoil springs for the machineguns. Items that you couldn't take, like radios, you zeroed the voice security system (cleared it), took the radios off the operational freqs, common sense stuff.

There was even a drill for a "quicky" disable, you simply dumped thermite grenades in the turret and let it do its thing.

So I kinda doubt that 40+ M-1 would have been left in fighting condition...at the very least I would expect the radios to be burned, the gunner's primary sights to be damaged if not outright destroyed. There may be a chance of the gunner's secondary sight remaining operational...but with the computer and primary sight being knocked out...
Yeah that would be the Soviets hurdle they would have to overcome with most US systems and lot of NATO systems is to get the computer up and going if everything else is relatively intact.
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Old 01-02-2011, 03:07 AM
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Yeah that would be the Soviets hurdle they would have to overcome with most US systems and lot of NATO systems is to get the computer up and going if everything else is relatively intact.
Abbott,

It's possible there could be turncoats or others aiding this, although most likely the Russians would do without advanced systems. The usual view is that western systems are overly complicated, if only out of sour grapes. ("We can't do it ourselves, therefore it must suck!")

Particularly germane about the possibility of the Soviets using advanced equipment is the revelation that Iraqi insurgents hacked the video feed of Predator drones. One can certainly dismiss this as being something only relevant to the modern age. The truth is the Russians were perfectly capable of figuring out anything left behind by, say, M1A1 or Challenger II tanks abandoned by sick and dying crews after a nuclear or chemical attack.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009...-drones-hacked

Tony

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Old 01-02-2011, 11:15 AM
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I like the idea. There was a single battalion of the East German Army that was equipped with American armor and gear (bought from Vietnam), and I've used the concept before in my games.

I do think the numbers are way too high though.
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Old 01-03-2011, 05:55 AM
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I vaguely recall there was an American unit in WWII using captured Tigers....
Anyone know anything about it?
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Old 01-03-2011, 06:23 AM
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I vaguely recall there was an American unit in WWII using captured Tigers....
Anyone know anything about it?
Examples of captured equipment was shipped back to Aberdeen Proving Grounds for testing, there is quite an extensive collection of equipment on public display if you happen to be in the area.

The only reference to any organized unit using captured equipment are five field artillery battalions that used former German 105mm howitzers due to shipping problems. The combat records for these units indicate that this was a short-term use only and by 1945, they had been re-equipped with US artillery pieces.

There are references to several companies using a captured Panther or Tiger but again, this was during a period when there were no replacement Shermans and as soon as Shermans arrived, the German tank was disabled.

What a lot of people forget is that the Panther/Tiger/King Tiger had a very poor maintenance record. Part of this was due to sabotage by the slave labor, but even more of it was caused by the over-engineering by the design staff.

For example, the Panther was designed to ford rivers via a snorkel, due to the large weight of the vehicle, and that most bridges in Eastern Europe were not designed to support the weight. Not a bad idea, right?

The Panther engine was carefully designed to be water-tight. When the first Panthers went into service in Russia, they were found to have two major problems. The engines overheated rapidly, in the drive to be water-tight, the designers failed to allow room for air-circulation around the radiator. The other problem lay at the other end of the engine-cooling system, the intake fan. On the back deck of the Panther is something that looks like a overturned bucket, this is the cover for the intake fan. When the Panthers moved through forest, the vibrations caused by their movement would cause leaves to fall and soon blanket the vehicle. The leaves would actually cover the intake fan and eventually jam it. The Panther crews resorted to punching holes in buckets and tieing them to the intake vent and eventually welding them in place. You may see pictures of Panthers on the march with the rear escape hatch open and a crewman sitting in it, usually with a caption about getting fresh air in the turret. What was actually happening is that the crewman was sitting on the rim of the hatch, getting fresh air and watching over the intake filter to make sure that it wasn't covered in debris!

When you look on the back deck, on either side of the "overturned bucket" are two large fans, these are the exhaust fans for the radiators.
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Old 01-04-2011, 01:51 AM
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helbent4 helbent4 is offline
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There are references to several companies using a captured Panther or Tiger but again, this was during a period when there were no replacement Shermans and as soon as Shermans arrived, the German tank was disabled.
Lee,

Do you have something more to go on? I'd like to follow up on. Using captured artillery wasn't all that uncommon for the western allies, but I'm unable to find reference anywhere captured tanks were used. (Motorcycles, trucks, even half-tracks, but not tanks.) In a way, it wasn't worth it. The western allies were never short of equipment and vehicles could be replaced within days or a week at most.

Unlike the Russians, who trained crews and support personnel on German equipment and organised a logistical chain, Americans/Commonwealth/etc. crews climbing into a Panther would be confronted by a completely unfamiliar and overly complicated machine with no spares and little chance of repair or resupply. Tactically it would seem like only in the most dire situation would a crew bother to man a captured German tank, but not out of the question.

There's also the danger of attack from the "American Luftwaffe". That is, the USAAF. Fratricide from ground-attack aircraft against marked Shermans were common enough, I can just imagine how a captured tank would fare!

At any rate, doing some research I see that that the British did use captured Italian tanks in North Africa and the Australians used both German and Italian tanks, but can't find any references in Europe after Normandy of the western allies or specifically Americans using captured German tanks.

Unrelated but fascinating: the "German Tank Problem". How statistical analysis of the serial numbers on captured tanks allowed for really accurate estimates of German tank production in WWII.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_tank_problem

Tony
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Old 01-04-2011, 02:02 AM
James Langham James Langham is offline
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Lee,

Do you have something more to go on? I'd like to follow up on. Using captured artillery wasn't all that uncommon for the western allies, but I'm unable to find reference anywhere captured tanks were used. (Motorcycles, trucks, even half-tracks, but not tanks.) In a way, it wasn't worth it. The western allies were never short of equipment and vehicles could be replaced within days or a week at most.

Unlike the Russians, who trained crews and support personnel on German equipment and organised a logistical chain, Americans/Commonwealth/etc. crews climbing into a Panther would be confronted by a completely unfamiliar and overly complicated machine with no spares and little chance of repair or resupply. Tactically it would seem like only in the most dire situation would a crew bother to man a captured German tank, but not out of the question.

There's also the danger of attack from the "American Luftwaffe". That is, the USAAF. Fratricide from ground-attack aircraft against marked Shermans were common enough, I can just imagine how a captured tank would fare!

At any rate, doing some research I see that that the British did use captured Italian tanks in North Africa and the Australians used both German and Italian tanks, but can't find any references in Europe after Normandy of the western allies or specifically Americans using captured German tanks.

Unrelated but fascinating: the "German Tank Problem". How statistical analysis of the serial numbers on captured tanks allowed for really accurate estimates of German tank production in WWII.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_tank_problem

Tony
Somewhere I have a photo of a British Panther crew in the winter of 44/45 in Europe. I seem to remember the vehicle was abandoned when it broke down.

Statistics can however be misleading, I seem to remember different factories were allocated different runs of numbers which weren't always used leaving gaps in the series.
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Old 01-04-2011, 02:14 AM
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Somewhere I have a photo of a British Panther crew in the winter of 44/45 in Europe. I seem to remember the vehicle was abandoned when it broke down.

Statistics can however be misleading, I seem to remember different factories were allocated different runs of numbers which weren't always used leaving gaps in the series.
James,

That would be a cool photo! I'll keep looking.

Quote:
Using the above formula on the serial numbers of captured German tanks, (both serviceable and destroyed) the number was calculated to be 256 a month. After the war captured German production figures from the ministry of Albert Speer show the actual number to be 255.
Only 1 off in a run of 255... not too shabby.

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Shortly before D-Day, following rumors of large Panther tank production collected by conventional intelligence, analysis of road wheels from two tanks (consisting of 48 wheels each, for 96 wheels total) yielded an estimate of 270 Panthers produced in February 1944, substantially more than had previously been suspected; German records after the war showed production for that month was 276.[9] Specifically, analysis of the wheels yielded an estimate for the number of wheel molds; discussion with British road wheel makers then estimated the number of wheels that could be produced from this many molds.
Off by 6 out of an estimated 276. That's, like a 1% error? Still pretty good!

Reading further in the article, I see it depended on where they got the serial. Some are more reliable than others.

Tony
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Old 01-04-2011, 03:14 AM
James Langham James Langham is offline
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James,

That would be a cool photo! I'll keep looking.



Only 1 off in a run of 255... not too shabby.



Off by 6 out of an estimated 276. That's, like a 1% error? Still pretty good!

Reading further in the article, I see it depended on where they got the serial. Some are more reliable than others.

Tony
Have a look at this link it shows a photo of a 6th Coldstream Guards Panther. Not the pic I'm thinking of but some useful bits. The detail on Soviet use is interesting and may provide some trivia for TW2000.

http://www.achtungpanzer.com/panzerk...sd-kfz-171.htm

I'm impressed at the accuracy of the statistics. Shame that pre-D Day we didn't even know that the Panther wasn't just being used in smaller heavy tank battalions like the Tiger.
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Old 01-04-2011, 03:28 AM
dragoon500ly dragoon500ly is offline
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Lee,

Do you have something more to go on? I'd like to follow up on. Using captured artillery wasn't all that uncommon for the western allies, but I'm unable to find reference anywhere captured tanks were used. (Motorcycles, trucks, even half-tracks, but not tanks.) In a way, it wasn't worth it. The western allies were never short of equipment and vehicles could be replaced within days or a week at most.
Official records are really skimpy on this, the best source would be the Signal Corps photo collection, where there are several photos of Panthers with the Allied star painted on. There is a pitfall to watch for, Panzer Brigade 150, the outfit that tried to pass itself off as American armor during the Battle of the Bulge. This is sort of an ongoing research for me, if only because the SC collection is impressive to look over; I've only found three photos that show allied tankers using Panthers, the captions on the photos, however, indicate that this was being done as a training aid for inbound personnel, "know your enemy" sort of thing. The second source is the oral records of the Eisenhower Collection at the National D-Day Museum in New Orleans. There are two soldiers who talk about manning a captured German tank in Italy. Those are the only "official" records that I have seen.

Quote:
Unlike the Russians, who trained crews and support personnel on German equipment and organised a logistical chain, Americans/Commonwealth/etc. crews climbing into a Panther would be confronted by a completely unfamiliar and overly complicated machine with no spares and little chance of repair or resupply. Tactically it would seem like only in the most dire situation would a crew bother to man a captured German tank, but not out of the question.
That's the problem in a nut shell.

Quote:
There's also the danger of attack from the "American Luftwaffe". That is, the USAAF. Fratricide from ground-attack aircraft against marked Shermans were common enough, I can just imagine how a captured tank would fare!

At any rate, doing some research I see that that the British did use captured Italian tanks in North Africa and the Australians used both German and Italian tanks, but can't find any references in Europe after Normandy of the western allies or specifically Americans using captured German tanks.
The only references that I can find are for the late 1940/early 1941 fighting, as things moved into the Crusader battles, the Commonwealth use of captured armor seems to have ended. Records for the Germans do show the use of captured Crusaders (turrets removed and used to move fuel/ammo to front line units) and Stuarts (Rommel's HQ escort unit appears to have used over a dozen).
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Old 01-05-2011, 07:41 PM
Abbott Shaull Abbott Shaull is offline
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I think during WWII especially 1944 on, things moved too fast for pilots to know where there front was on the western front. Especially since both sides various vehicles that looked similar. One of the things that you think the guy on the ground has hard time telling various vehicles with night vision devices.

Think about someone flying at tree top or higher where they have less time to debate what they have seen on the ground...
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Old 01-06-2011, 04:42 AM
dragoon500ly dragoon500ly is offline
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I think during WWII especially 1944 on, things moved too fast for pilots to know where there front was on the western front. Especially since both sides various vehicles that looked similar. One of the things that you think the guy on the ground has hard time telling various vehicles with night vision devices.

Think about someone flying at tree top or higher where they have less time to debate what they have seen on the ground...
Don't forget that the Air Forces training at that time was concerned with aircraft ID NOT vehicle ID.

This was often taken advantage of, especially in the Western Desert. The British Long Range Desert Group used a specialized item of equipment to fool enemy aircraft, taking advantage of the lack of knowledge about ground vehicles that the average airdale had, they issued a plywood "roundal" that would be strapped in place on the hoods of their vehicles when they entered enemy territory. One side had the Italian facist insignia, the other the nazi twisteed cross insignia. If they saw an aircraft heading toward and could ID as italian, then the nazi emblem was flipped upwards and every body waved at the "friendly" aircraft. How effective was it? Not a lot of hard data behind oral/written accounts of the troopers who believed that it worked most of the time. And taking into account the tendency of people to "see" what they want to see....
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