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  #31  
Old 01-06-2011, 04:55 AM
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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.

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).
Lee,

I can see the use of captured armour in recognition and training roles. Regarding the conversion of Panthers to allied tanks, several were made to look like M10 tank destroyers with wood applique and allies paint schemes.

As an anecdote, the Germans used captured Shermans as reccee tanks on the East Front (captured from the Russians who were supplied them via lend-lease). I saw a picture of a captured M5 Stuart, clearly painted to show the Austrian cross.

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Old 01-06-2011, 06:28 AM
Abbott Shaull Abbott Shaull is offline
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Ah the lend-lease program was sure source of many of Germans capture vehicles on the Eastern Front. If there a country more stubborn about if-it-not-invented-here attitude it would be the Russians/Soviets.
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Old 01-06-2011, 09:33 AM
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Lee,

I can see the use of captured armour in recognition and training roles. Regarding the conversion of Panthers to allied tanks, several were made to look like M10 tank destroyers with wood applique and allies paint schemes.

As an anecdote, the Germans used captured Shermans as reccee tanks on the East Front (captured from the Russians who were supplied them via lend-lease). I saw a picture of a captured M5 Stuart, clearly painted to show the Austrian cross.

Tony
The photos of Panthers made to look like M-10 tank destroyers are photos of the attempt by Panzer Brigade 150 to infiltrate the American lines. As Skorzeny said about the attempt, "it would have confused green American soldiers in the night, from a distance...."

The original question was about Allied use of captured German vehicles. The Germans used anything and everything they captured, there are numerous pics of captured Allied equipment, as well as mentions of German battalions equippede with captured T-34s. Like all captured equipment, it was used until it broke down and then was abandoned.
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Old 01-06-2011, 08:19 PM
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Ah the lend-lease program was sure source of many of Germans capture vehicles on the Eastern Front. If there a country more stubborn about if-it-not-invented-here attitude it would be the Russians/Soviets.
Abbott,

I would tend to disagree, the Soviets were desperate for any equipment and pretty much used it all if they could. Including M4 Shermans, M3A1 scout cars, M5 halftracks, Cromwells, Valentines, Bren/Universal carriers, M10 TDs, Aircobras, many, many trucks, etc.

Perhaps if they had better industrial production they would have been more picky, but the Soviets used pretty much anything they could get their hands on! Maybe they didn't like a lot of non-Russian equipment at least partly due to Chauvinism, but they used it all. They were so needy, units of the Karelian front salvaged 12x lend-lease M3 Stuarts from the deck of a sunken cargo ship and pushed them into service.

http://rkkaww2.armchairgeneral.com/w...ral1.htm#Start

The Germans then captured some of these vehicles and used them for the same reason. Not specifically because the Russians didn't like lend-lease equipment and therefore abandoned or otherwise gave them to the Germans!

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  #35  
Old 01-06-2011, 08:26 PM
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The photos of Panthers made to look like M-10 tank destroyers are photos of the attempt by Panzer Brigade 150 to infiltrate the American lines. As Skorzeny said about the attempt, "it would have confused green American soldiers in the night, from a distance...."
Lee,

I guess that's not that unrealistic for the situation, considering they could well encounter green American troops in less-than perfect visibility. While Skorzeny was of course an impressive soldier in his own right, I wonder how regular American soldiers would have done?

Tony
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Old 01-07-2011, 04:19 AM
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Lee,

I guess that's not that unrealistic for the situation, considering they could well encounter green American troops in less-than perfect visibility. While Skorzeny was of course an impressive soldier in his own right, I wonder how regular American soldiers would have done?

Tony
If memory serves correctly, Panzer Brigade 150 was committed into the fighting on the northern shoulder and ran into elements of 1st Infantry and 3rd Armored Divisions and was promptly shot to pieces by bazooka teams and the most formidable weapon on the Western Front, US Artillery. These was part of the attack on Eisenborn Ridge that you hear descriptions of "artillery pieces standing virtually hub to hub." A lot of people don't realize just how much effect regular artillery had played in stopping the German advance.
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Old 01-07-2011, 09:11 AM
Abbott Shaull Abbott Shaull is offline
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A lot of people don't realize just how much effect regular artillery had played in stopping the German advance.

The Soviets/Russians have understood this. It one of the points they seemed to love making that no matter if it is at Division level on up. That there seemed to be way more 'Batteries' of various type of field artillery, multi-missile, and heavy mortars than there were Rifle Companies in MRD or Tank Companies in Tank Division. This before you add the various other Batteries that would populate a Division such as Air Defense and Anti-Tank and so on...
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Old 01-07-2011, 12:32 PM
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The Soviets/Russians have understood this. It one of the points they seemed to love making that no matter if it is at Division level on up. That there seemed to be way more 'Batteries' of various type of field artillery, multi-missile, and heavy mortars than there were Rifle Companies in MRD or Tank Companies in Tank Division. This before you add the various other Batteries that would populate a Division such as Air Defense and Anti-Tank and so on...
There was a sorta-joke running around about how the Soviets had replaced "Love of God" with "Love of Artillery"...needless to say, the Russians have always enjoyed damned-capable guns...but German officers who had experience on both fronts, always claimed that as bad as it was to be shot at by the Soviets, being under American artillery was much worse because we had so much of it and we used so much ammunition.

During the post-war interviews, when asked what stopped the Germans at Eisenborn Ridge, the opinion of several German officers was the assembly of so much American artillery...
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  #39  
Old 01-07-2011, 02:24 PM
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There was a sorta-joke running around about how the Soviets had replaced "Love of God" with "Love of Artillery"...needless to say, the Russians have always enjoyed damned-capable guns...but German officers who had experience on both fronts, always claimed that as bad as it was to be shot at by the Soviets, being under American artillery was much worse because we had so much of it and we used so much ammunition.

During the post-war interviews, when asked what stopped the Germans at Eisenborn Ridge, the opinion of several German officers was the assembly of so much American artillery...
US Artillery wasn't always plentiful so much as well used, the communications abilities added to the Time on Target technique for simultaneous arrival of shells made it deadly. another forgotten aspect is the cartography service resulting in a better ability to use predictive fire.
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Old 01-07-2011, 05:30 PM
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That and in the US Army any unit could call for Fire. While in the Soviet Army the use of the artillery is more or less planned out.
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Old 01-08-2011, 12:18 AM
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If memory serves correctly, Panzer Brigade 150 was committed into the fighting on the northern shoulder and ran into elements of 1st Infantry and 3rd Armored Divisions and was promptly shot to pieces by bazooka teams and the most formidable weapon on the Western Front, US Artillery. These was part of the attack on Eisenborn Ridge that you hear descriptions of "artillery pieces standing virtually hub to hub." A lot of people don't realize just how much effect regular artillery had played in stopping the German advance.
Bear in mind the Brigade was committed to fight as "normal" armour after the failure of Operation Greif. How it would have fared if used as plans is open to conjecture.

My belief is that used correctly they may well have achieved at least a partial success. If you are in a US position and stragglers are coming through you will not take the time to check the next batch of clearly US marked vehicles. Even if you do and they look odd are they just a variation on a vehicle you haven't seen before? Even if you have doubts you will be unlikely to fire until they are MUCH closer than normal.
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  #42  
Old 01-08-2011, 07:21 AM
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Bear in mind the Brigade was committed to fight as "normal" armour after the failure of Operation Greif. How it would have fared if used as plans is open to conjecture.

My belief is that used correctly they may well have achieved at least a partial success. If you are in a US position and stragglers are coming through you will not take the time to check the next batch of clearly US marked vehicles. Even if you do and they look odd are they just a variation on a vehicle you haven't seen before? Even if you have doubts you will be unlikely to fire until they are MUCH closer than normal.
But the rub is that PzBde150 was never committed as intended

Operation Grief, for all of the writing up in post-war histories and the Hollywood treatment of it the few movies on the Bulge, was a failure. While it did cause disruption in the American rear, most of this was caused by GIs ignoring the proper passwords and making up thier own tests to "verify" other GIs. This was the only true success of Grief. They didn't manage to blow any key bridges, they were unable to misdirect the flow of reinforcements, most of the jeep teams were either killed or captured and later shot, only a handful ever made it back to German lines. For the number of personal it lost vs. the successes it gained, Grief was an utter failure.
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  #43  
Old 01-08-2011, 08:14 AM
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There was a sorta-joke running around about how the Soviets had replaced "Love of God" with "Love of Artillery"...needless to say, the Russians have always enjoyed damned-capable guns...but German officers who had experience on both fronts, always claimed that as bad as it was to be shot at by the Soviets, being under American artillery was much worse because we had so much of it and we used so much ammunition.

During the post-war interviews, when asked what stopped the Germans at Eisenborn Ridge, the opinion of several German officers was the assembly of so much American artillery...
I recall something from an Ambrose book (Citizen Soldiers, IIRC) about the Battle of the Bulge that a former German officer related. He said (and this is not verbatim, mind you, but essentially) that they'd overrun an American supply depot and as they drove through it in his (captured) Jeep they started passing pallet after pallet of 105mm shells. Just 105s. He realized that this hastily abandoned dump of shells was bigger than the village he'd grown up in, and at that point he realized that the war was utterly lost.
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Old 01-08-2011, 09:31 AM
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I'm still looking for the exact reference but there was an American infantry division that used all kinds of captured German vehicles to increase its mobility and give it a competetive edge during the race into German territory during the last couple of months of the war. It earned a nickname like "travelling circus" or something like that. IIRC, they even used a captured BF-109 to scout ahead of the vehicle column. I'll post more detailed info as soon as I can track it down.
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  #45  
Old 01-08-2011, 01:15 PM
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I'm still looking for the exact reference but there was an American infantry division that used all kinds of captured German vehicles to increase its mobility and give it a competetive edge during the race into German territory during the last couple of months of the war. It earned a nickname like "travelling circus" or something like that. IIRC, they even used a captured BF-109 to scout ahead of the vehicle column. I'll post more detailed info as soon as I can track it down.
There are a lot of references to the use of captured trucks (kubelwagens were a special favorite). GIs were also known to be fond of jackboots, MP-40s and Panzerfausts! Its references to the use of captured German tanks that are short.

Another favorite target of the front line divisons were the Army Air Force bases, especially since the airdales always seemed to have large numbers of jeeps. Any static unit, such as an antiaircraft battalion, could count on light-fingered GIs helping themselves to jeeps, trucks, the occasional quad .50 mount.

And if the target unit was a Quartermaster Battalion......well, let's just say that when the woke up, the would often find their motor pool stripped bare.
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Old 01-08-2011, 04:21 PM
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I recall something from an Ambrose book (Citizen Soldiers, IIRC) about the Battle of the Bulge that a former German officer related. He said (and this is not verbatim, mind you, but essentially) that they'd overrun an American supply depot and as they drove through it in his (captured) Jeep they started passing pallet after pallet of 105mm shells. Just 105s. He realized that this hastily abandoned dump of shells was bigger than the village he'd grown up in, and at that point he realized that the war was utterly lost.
RakJpz,

Man, if he was only figuring it out then, he was a slow learner! And/or hadn't been to the Eastern front, where the Russians used far more artillery in general, if not as well as the Americans/western allied forces.

Personally, I'm a believer when it comes to US (or other) artillery when it comes to wargames. My miniature wargame buddies and I did a few Bulge scenarios, and a couple of nail-biters were decided in the US's favour by a Foo in a jeep directing a well-supplied battery of 105mms.

As for Rae's point of a "circus" unit making use of captured German equipment, I've heard of wide-spread of small arms/side arms, not to mention some Kubelwagens and half-tracks (popular as armoured ambulances) but anything else would be difficult to maintain and supply, especially considering the mountains of your own supply. A captured Storch for observation, I could see, but an Me109 has pretty poor ground visibility and it would be almost suicide considering Allied air superiority. All possible in theory, however. This also may have also been a "training" unit of some kind.

Tony
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Old 01-08-2011, 06:20 PM
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Personally, I'm a believer when it comes to US (or other) artillery when it comes to wargames. My miniature wargame buddies and I did a few Bulge scenarios, and a couple of nail-biters were decided in the US's favour by a Foo in a jeep directing a well-supplied battery of 105mms.
Indeed; the German attacks on Bastogne were almost entirely piecemeal after the siege was laid in. The US result was to use it's tiny handful of 105s and throw concentrations at the German spearheads, helping to drive them back. POW interviews and postwar document combing showed that the Germans thought they were facing units reinforced by a battalion strength artillery unit, rather than two or three guns that were being shuffled around by very adroit cannon-cockers.

Had the Nazis pushed hard from multiple directions, it'd have been much different.
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Old 01-08-2011, 07:51 PM
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RakJpz,
As for Rae's point of a "circus" unit making use of captured German equipment, I've heard of wide-spread of small arms/side arms, not to mention some Kubelwagens and half-tracks (popular as armoured ambulances) but anything else would be difficult to maintain and supply, especially considering the mountains of your own supply. A captured Storch for observation, I could see, but an Me109 has pretty poor ground visibility and it would be almost suicide considering Allied air superiority. All possible in theory, however. This also may have also been a "training" unit of some kind.
I'm still looking for the reference (no luck so far). I think I read it in Max Hastings' Armageddon but I'm not seeing it. I posted about it before here (a couple of years ago) but I have no idea in which thread.
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Old 01-08-2011, 08:19 PM
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Indeed; the German attacks on Bastogne were almost entirely piecemeal after the siege was laid in. The US result was to use it's tiny handful of 105s and throw concentrations at the German spearheads, helping to drive them back. POW interviews and postwar document combing showed that the Germans thought they were facing units reinforced by a battalion strength artillery unit, rather than two or three guns that were being shuffled around by very adroit cannon-cockers.

Had the Nazis pushed hard from multiple directions, it'd have been much different.
Bastogne had a bit more than a handful of guns...CCR, 9th Armored and CCB, 10th Armored would field a battalion of M-7 HMC apiece, 101st Airborne would have three battalions of 75mm pack howitzers and a battalion of M-3 105mm howitzers, there were also three battalions of corps artillery (two battalions of 155mm howitzers and one of 4.5-inch guns)....so supporting two tank, two armored infantry, one tank destroyer, three glider infantry and nine parachute infantry battalions (17 combat battalions) are a total of nine battalions of artillery. This would be one of the largest concretrations of artillery on the southern shoulder of the Bulge until Third Army made its swing north.
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Old 01-08-2011, 09:55 PM
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Bastogne had a bit more than a handful of guns...CCR, 9th Armored and CCB, 10th Armored would field a battalion of M-7 HMC apiece, 101st Airborne would have three battalions of 75mm pack howitzers and a battalion of M-3 105mm howitzers, there were also three battalions of corps artillery (two battalions of 155mm howitzers and one of 4.5-inch guns)....so supporting two tank, two armored infantry, one tank destroyer, three glider infantry and nine parachute infantry battalions (17 combat battalions) are a total of nine battalions of artillery. This would be one of the largest concretrations of artillery on the southern shoulder of the Bulge until Third Army made its swing north.
The only trouble is that most of the time ammo for these batteries was/were an issue after the battle started. There were times when they were down to two or three round per tube....
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Old 01-09-2011, 07:17 AM
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The only trouble is that most of the time ammo for these batteries was/were an issue after the battle started. There were times when they were down to two or three round per tube....
Bastogne was a corps headquarters location so they had several supply dumps to draw from, the initial fighting as the perimeter developed saw the use of a lot of artillery to blunt German attacks. After these inital attacks were stopped the decision was made to ration the artillery rounds as relief was uncertain. While supplies certainly ran short, whenever there was a major attack, there was still plenty of artillery to stop it.

When the aerial resupply drops started, about the only artillery ammunition that was dropped was 75mm pack howitzer, the heavy guns had barely adequate supplies to last until the breakthrough.
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Old 01-10-2011, 09:38 PM
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Getting back to the original post, I don't think it's too plausible as depicted. The Soviets are on the defensive for the beginning of the war, and so acquiring shot up or abandoned NATO armor wouldn't be a really common turn of events. By the time they're back on the offensive, nukes are flying and everything is getting very ragged in terms of higher organization being able to divert the resources necessary to pull in a regimental sized group of captured armor, spare parts to get it running again and keep it running, ammunition for main guns, etc.

With all the talk about precedents from WW2, it should be born in mind that there's a lot less US armor on the ground in the Twilight War than there was back then, and the Soviets in WW3 aren't the Germans in WW2 (or the Soviets in WW2 for that matter) and desperate for working kit in the same way.

Even with modern Soviet armor (T-72+) to generate a sustainable force you'd probably need to be capturing depots, not isolated battlefield mobility kills and abandoned hulls, and you'd need to capture the spares to go with them. The Israelis pulled this off by developing ties to spare parts supplies or replacing stuff with in house equipment during peace time. I don't recall any cases where they were stuffing their crews in captured tanks on the fly, even in '73 when everything was spiralling the drain pretty hard.
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Old 01-10-2011, 11:36 PM
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Getting back to the original post, I don't think it's too plausible as depicted. The Soviets are on the defensive for the beginning of the war, and so acquiring shot up or abandoned NATO armor wouldn't be a really common turn of events. By the time they're back on the offensive, nukes are flying and everything is getting very ragged in terms of higher organization being able to divert the resources necessary to pull in a regimental sized group of captured armor, spare parts to get it running again and keep it running, ammunition for main guns, etc.
HS,

When the nukes (and chemicals) start flying during the Soviets counter-attack, these weapons themselves may allow for the capture of hundreds of intact tanks and even supply depots as they drive west. We can debate how ragged things are for the Soviets but they keep it together long enough to push NATO back past their start lines in many circumstances.

I think the Soviets would see the need by mid-war, and given favourable circumstances they may well attempt something like this. It wouldn't be done on the fly; as in WWII there would be a conventional system of support units trained to recover, salvage and repair the necessary components. Getting new spare parts would be a problem, so I think there would be serious attrition in the long term even if they could make do in some fashion.

Tony
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Old 01-11-2011, 01:56 AM
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I'm pretty skeptical that with all the training NATO devoted to chemical warfare, and how veteran crews on both sides would be by that stage in the war, that chemical weapons would contribute anything to helping account for hundreds of captured AFVs.

Nukes could result in abandoned equipment -- but it would be irradiated and more trouble than its worth, even in a casaulties don't matter sort of classically Soviet mindset. Not to mention that nukes would also be likely to destroy fire control, radios and assorted other essential components.
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Old 01-11-2011, 05:05 AM
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I'm with HorseSoldier on this. While a few scattered AFVs are likely to have been captured and put to work, it seems EXTREMELY unlikely a unit of such vehicles could be put together.
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Old 01-11-2011, 05:53 AM
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Just a thought, which I don't think has come up on this so far (apologies if it has - this is a quick post from work, so I've only had a quick skim read just now).

There's been a fair amount of discussion about the Sovs capturing western AFV's from NATO forces, but what about the AFV's being captured from the Chinese?

There's been several threads on this board and its predeccessors about possible western military sales to the PRC, particularly in the period 1995 / 96. Whilst it's unlikely that the Chinese would be offered brand new M1A1's or Chally 2's, what if they bought quantities of M60's, M1's, Leopard I's, Chieftains, etc? Perhaps it's feasable that the Sovs managed to capture some of these tanks in China and shipped them west, where it was felt there was a greater need for them? I suppose they could even have got some Scimitars and Foxes from the 6th UK Division.

Just a thought...
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Old 01-11-2011, 06:07 AM
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I'm pretty skeptical that with all the training NATO devoted to chemical warfare, and how veteran crews on both sides would be by that stage in the war, that chemical weapons would contribute anything to helping account for hundreds of captured AFVs.

Nukes could result in abandoned equipment -- but it would be irradiated and more trouble than its worth, even in a casaulties don't matter sort of classically Soviet mindset. Not to mention that nukes would also be likely to destroy fire control, radios and assorted other essential components.
HS,

Regarding chemicals, I can't find where the BYB specifies when (or if) they are first used against NATO. Assuming this doesn't happen until theatre nuclear weapons are deployed, this happens months after NATO attacks. While US forces in the 1st US Gulf War did routinely wear chemical protection suits, this was for a period of weeks and not several months. I wonder how "sharp" that edge could be maintained under far heavier fighting for far longer.

Under the best of circumstances training reduces but doesn't eliminate casualties from chemical weapons. Some of the unluckier crews could be caught with their pants down, literally and figuratively speaking. Vehicles are not permanently irradiated by fallout except if they've been used to clean up Chernobyl.

More to the point, NATO was in pell-mell retreat. Equipment and especially supplies awaiting decontamination might well be abandoned in the retreat. The Soviets would easily be able to capture enough vehicles and stocks of parts and ammunition to equip at least a Battalion, if not an entire Tank Regiment.

James:

Why not make this a Motor Rifle Regiment? I think the Soviets could scrape together a tank battalion for an MRR.

Tony

Last edited by helbent4; 01-11-2011 at 06:18 AM.
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Old 01-11-2011, 08:01 AM
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During my time in Saudi Arabia, around 2000 I got chatting to the guys training the Saudi Army equipped with M1's and M2's. The price of oil was very low, this caused a shortage of cash with the Saudi military. They were reduced to 2 serviceable M1's and 3 M2's from a complete battalion. These guys had all of the manuals and tools with some ability to actually do the job as well, admittedly not a lot of ability.

I would have thought that even if the Soviets had captured some NATO kit they would struggle to keep it operational, Cheiftans, M60's, Leopard 1's maybe useable, but M1's, Chally1 or 2's and Leopard 2's would just be static pill boxes with greatly reduced aiming abilities. Probably using the coax as a ranging machine gun on the M1, the 7.62 machine guns on the Leopard 2 and Chally's could be used, but it wouldn't have been as good as the .50 on the M1.
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Old 01-11-2011, 03:40 PM
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I can't see even M60's etc being given to the Chinese - older M48's, 105mm armed Centurions and the like yes, but nothing much newer.
Why? Because of the obvious risk of the relatively unskilled Chinese (with western tanks) loosing them to the Soviets.
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Old 01-11-2011, 03:54 PM
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As NATO forces pushed through Poland and moved closer to the Soviet border, I think that they would have been especially ready for a Soviet NBC attack. The Soviets are going to pull out all the stops to keep NATO off of its territory and NATO will be expecting that. Once a few chem attacks have been launched, and word gets out about how they affect the unprepared (or underprepared), vigilance and preparedness are both going to be extremely high from then on out.
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