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  #61  
Old 01-11-2011, 04:28 PM
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I agree. Chemical weapons are unlikely to deliver large amounts of equipment into the hands of the Soviets (or Nato for that matter).
Most modern AFVs include some measure of NBC protection. This alone will assist in keeping most vehicles out of enemy hands. NBC decontamination would also be a high priority for commanders - decontaminating a vehicle should take less time than repairing a knocked out AFV. Of course there are a number of situational factors to take into account such as the availability of the necessary decon equipment.

I can see chemical weapons being fairly effective against infantry, but not so much against armoured formations.
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Old 01-11-2011, 04:37 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.
Rae,

We can certainly go into "dueling hypotheticals" here!

Hypothetically, a unit under the circumstances would be hyper-vigilant and not likely to be caught in the open by a chemical attack. Indeed during the Great War, after the first gas attacks any offensive advantage was offset by an upgrade in equipment coupled with constant preparation and well-motivated practice.

One thing that is radically different in this situation is the mobile nature of modern war and the persistence of chemicals and fallout (not permanent but dangerous until decontaminated). I can see vehicles, equipment and supplies awaiting decontamination being abandoned and captured. If there's a depot of some kind about to be overrun the priority would be to save the trained personnel if possible. Again the hypothetical is that all abandoned equipment and supplies would be destroyed or booby-trapped in an orderly fashion.

As we've recently seen, this doesn't always happen and in much less critical circumstances than a war that would be as "hot" as it gets. In other words, tank crews always destroy their vehicles when they abandon them... except when they don't.

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Old 01-11-2011, 04:55 PM
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One thing that is radically different in this situation is the mobile nature of modern war and the persistence of chemicals and fallout (not permanent but dangerous until decontaminated). I can see vehicles, equipment and supplies awaiting decontamination being abandoned and captured. If there's a depot of some kind about to be overrun the priority would be to save the trained personnel if possible.
Tony, to clarify, I think that this is a valid point and I agree. I just don't agree with the other part of your hypothetical where hundreds of MBT crews are gassed leaving pristine tanks behind for the enemy, that's all.
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  #64  
Old 01-11-2011, 05:23 PM
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Tony, to clarify, I think that this is a valid point and I agree. I just don't agree with the other part of your hypothetical where hundreds of MBT crews are gassed leaving pristine tanks behind for the enemy, that's all.
Rae,

Understood, and I'm with you on that. The premise is intriguing, but anything more than a battalion of captured armour would be seriously pushing creditability!

Tony
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  #65  
Old 01-11-2011, 05:29 PM
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Even a battalion is probably pushing it a bit unless there's been sufficient time between capture of individual units and supporting stores to transport it all into one place, train the new crews and deploy them (probably months I'd think if they were intended to survive very long).
Finding the crews themselves might be difficult. They'd probably need to read English (or German, or whatever language was in use). Yes, relabelling could be done, but something could be lost in the translation, or the translator may place a lower priority on some things than others leaving the crew in the lurch during maintenance for example.
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  #66  
Old 01-11-2011, 06:00 PM
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One thing that is radically different in this situation is the mobile nature of modern war and the persistence of chemicals and fallout (not permanent but dangerous until decontaminated). I can see vehicles, equipment and supplies awaiting decontamination being abandoned and captured. If there's a depot of some kind about to be overrun the priority would be to save the trained personnel if possible. Again the hypothetical is that all abandoned equipment and supplies would be destroyed or booby-trapped in an orderly fashion.

There was always a lot of debate about how the Soviet Union would use its rather extensive collection of chemicals. The best guessimates would have the Soviets nailing NATO airfields, the Pershing/Lance/Land Based Cruise Missile sites, the NATO SAM belt, the French IRBM site, the REFORGER storage areas and possible the major ports...there was always an expectation that they would use chem as a strategic weapon.

My own take on this is that there would be no regiment sized unit, and perhaps not even a battalion sized unit...on the other hand the Spetsnaz are equipped with NATO uniforms and weapons...a company sized unit would be a more logical approach.
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Old 01-11-2011, 08:35 PM
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The unit Rae's referring to is the 83rd ID. They became known as The Rag-Tag Circus because of their extensive use of any and all captured German equipment they "acquired." If it was on wheels or tracks, and could move and shoot, it got a coat of olive-drab paint, a white U.S. star, and was immediately put to use. They drove everything from trucks to half-tracks, tanks (Mark IVs and Panthers are mentioned), even two fire trucks, with GIs riding on the ladders. And yes, they did fly a captured Me-109. They are mentioned in Ryan's The Last Battle, Hastings' book, and Antony Beevor's book on the battle for Berlin.
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  #68  
Old 01-12-2011, 04:39 AM
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The unit Rae's referring to is the 83rd ID. They became known as The Rag-Tag Circus because of their extensive use of any and all captured German equipment they "acquired." If it was on wheels or tracks, and could move and shoot, it got a coat of olive-drab paint, a white U.S. star, and was immediately put to use. They drove everything from trucks to half-tracks, tanks (Mark IVs and Panthers are mentioned), even two fire trucks, with GIs riding on the ladders. And yes, they did fly a captured Me-109. They are mentioned in Ryan's The Last Battle, Hastings' book, and Antony Beevor's book on the battle for Berlin.
Matt,

Fascinating! I saw the reference in Last Battle. Hard to believe someone would risk flying an Me 109, but I guess they did.

At least in this case the approach of using captures vehicles makes some sense, because they were using them to capture towns in the collapsing Reich, outrunning their supply lines.

The cited reference was a little vague on what vehicles this unit used, I can't see any reference to tanks. Trucks, kubelwagens, armoured cars and halftracks (the latter used as ambulances) I was already aware of.

Tony
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  #69  
Old 01-12-2011, 05:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Wiser View Post
The unit Rae's referring to is the 83rd ID. They became known as The Rag-Tag Circus because of their extensive use of any and all captured German equipment they "acquired." If it was on wheels or tracks, and could move and shoot, it got a coat of olive-drab paint, a white U.S. star, and was immediately put to use. They drove everything from trucks to half-tracks, tanks (Mark IVs and Panthers are mentioned), even two fire trucks, with GIs riding on the ladders. And yes, they did fly a captured Me-109. They are mentioned in Ryan's The Last Battle, Hastings' book, and Antony Beevor's book on the battle for Berlin.
Thanks, Matt! It's good to know that I'm not completely senile yet.
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  #70  
Old 01-12-2011, 05:41 PM
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I'm guessing this is the unit I heard about that used the German tanks.
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Old 01-12-2011, 08:23 PM
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83rd ID had as many motor vehicles (captured and U.S.) as the 2nd Armored Division on their right flank. They had a race from the Rhine to the Elbe, and both wanted to be first into Berlin when the order to halt on the Elbe came.

The 83rd ID wasn't the only American unit to use captured German equipment: Third Army had several provisional artillery battalions using captured German guns against their former owners.
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  #72  
Old 01-16-2011, 06:04 PM
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Even a battalion is probably pushing it a bit unless there's been sufficient time between capture of individual units and supporting stores to transport it all into one place, train the new crews and deploy them (probably months I'd think if they were intended to survive very long).
The other problem then becomes some of the other ways mechanized warfare has changed since the WW2 era as well. If you've only got a battalion or so sized unit of NATO armor, putting those guys in the field for continuous, 24-hour operations under limited visibility conditions and such is just a screaming recipe for blue-on-blue (or red-on-red, I suppose, in this case) fratricide incidents.

That stuff was a major concern and consideration in Gulf War One given the Coalition warfare aspects of stuff, but I think it would be a nightmare in the more complex terrain of central Europe. There might be the plus side of being able to confuse guys on the NATO side, but then NATO optics and sensors are better, and I'm pretty sure if I was a Soviet or Polish AFV crewman catching glimpses of distant M1s behind my lines I'd expect the medal I'd get for opening up on them to be especially shiny and impressive . . .

If such a unit were formed I think the crewmen in it would be justifiably paranoid and just as terrified of their side as the enemy. About the only place I can see it being workable would be more of a SOF kind of scenario that's been discussed already -- if you could airlift in a couple company teams of mixed NATO armor to an airfield seized by desantniki or something, for instance, they could go tearing around the German countryside in the NATO rear area with relative impunity for a little while at least.

Did someone already talk about the idea of sending the AFVs and logistics for this sort of unit to the Chinese front? That would be a scenario where the fratricide angle would be reduced.
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Old 01-16-2011, 06:15 PM
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At the time of the Pact counteroffensive in 1997, China had been virtually destroyed and all effective resistance crushed (the units involved in the counteroffensive were mostly released from China and shipped west). There'd be little need for armour in China at that time, or certainly not enough to justify shipping a few individual vehicles across the continent and halfway around the world from potential supplies and support for them.
Some stores may have been captured in Korea, but it's extremely doubtful there'd be enough to justify shipping anywhere.
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  #74  
Old 01-17-2011, 08:11 AM
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Did someone already talk about the idea of sending the AFVs and logistics for this sort of unit to the Chinese front? That would be a scenario where the fratricide angle would be reduced.
My suggestion was that the Sovs might be able to capture sufficient numbers of western equipment from the Chinese to equip a unit such as the 746th Tank Regiment (the equipment itself having been sold to the Chinese during 1995/96 and being older vehicles such as M60's, Chieftains, or even, as has been suggested M48,s Centurions, etc).

However, whilst I agree with you 100% that the risk of fratricide would be much less for Sovs using western vehicles on the Chinese front, I also agree fully with Leg that by the time we get into the summer of 1997 the Sovs would see no value in shipping armour east...by then they were starting to move units from the Chinese theatre to the European theatre en masse...(hence my original suggestion)

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About the only place I can see it being workable would be more of a SOF kind of scenario that's been discussed already -- .
Another possibility would be to use them for rear area security (by rear area, I mean hundreds of kilometres behind the front line, for example as part of the force protecting what's left of the Central Government).
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  #75  
Old 01-18-2011, 09:27 PM
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83rd ID had as many motor vehicles (captured and U.S.) as the 2nd Armored Division on their right flank. They had a race from the Rhine to the Elbe, and both wanted to be first into Berlin when the order to halt on the Elbe came.

The 83rd ID wasn't the only American unit to use captured German equipment: Third Army had several provisional artillery battalions using captured German guns against their former owners.
Matt,

Seems plausible, and I can buy the use of German transports (trucks/Kubelwagens) and light armour. Despite anecdotes stating the Americans used German tanks, I still can't quite credit it. I'm not disagreeing with you in particular, just voicing some personal skepticism.

My logic is that at that stage of WWII units like the 83rd were struggling to keep up with the pace of advance into Germany. They were literally outrunning their own supply lines and therefore couldn't easily get replacement vehicles for their tank crews. Fair enough. Using captured armour would keep up the rapid pace of advance because it is available. Despite the far superior combat ability of German tanks they would be a nightmare to maintain and supply, thus slowing down the division overall and defeating the main reason for using captured armour in the first place.

Tony
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  #76  
Old 01-19-2011, 12:27 AM
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Matt,

Seems plausible, and I can buy the use of German transports (trucks/Kubelwagens) and light armour. Despite anecdotes stating the Americans used German tanks, I still can't quite credit it.
Seems like a book I may have of US and British troops using German armor...I'll have to check my library. I know the Germans did it with US, British, and Russian tanks. Back later.
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Old 01-19-2011, 02:41 AM
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Seems like a book I may have of US and British troops using German armor...I'll have to check my library. I know the Germans did it with US, British, and Russian tanks. Back later.
Paul,

That would be awesome!

There's no disputing Germans and Russians used each others' captured tanks.

Check out the following page, with pictures of German tanks captured in North Africa in allied service (British, US and Australian). There's no evidence they were used in combat, only maybe in training.

http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/weapons...service-3.html

Tony
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Old 04-24-2017, 05:04 AM
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An update taking a few of the points above into account (still a work in progress):

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 Independent Tank Regiment formed in early 1998.
The cadre for this unit was made up of staff from the Kubinka Tank Museum. These were familiar with a range of NATO vehicles that were held as exhibits (the museum was the official Soviet Army Tank Museum which was not open to the public and was manned entirely by military staff. These exhibits came from all over the world, known examples were captured and transferred by friendly Arab countries, China prior to the split, Cuba and North Vietnam. Some M113s were also believed to have come from Somalia after it changed allegiance to the Soviet Block.
This unit was made up as follows:

* Regimental headquarters in 2 M1 plus 2 M577

* 1st tank battalion with 21 M1A1 and 10 Leopard 2 (made up of vehicles captured and repaired during the fighting in 1997)

* 2nd tank battalion with 3 M60A3, 2 M60A4 and 6 M60A1, 3 M48A5 (at least one with Blazer armour), 6 Centurions (all 105mm 2 are believed to be South African Oliphants and the remaining 4 were probably ex-IDF although 1 might have been a British model), 7 Leopard 1 (third company only has two platoons) these vehicles were predominantly taken from museum exhibits

* 3rd tank battalion with 21 M1/IMP M1 (only two companies strong) made up primarily of captured vehicles

* Motor rifle battalion with 21 M113s and 10 M2 Bradleys (mortars were towed behind trucks) - one source states that one company was in British FV432s and that the mortars were US M106s. The M113s were a mix of captured and museum exhibits. The M113s include at least one with a German MG3 as the pintel mount.

* Anti-aircraft battery with 2 M163 PIVAD and 2 Gepard

* 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 3 Panhard AML, 1 South African Eland, 3 M1 and 2 BRDM2 Rkhs.

* No anti-tank battery was included.

* Logistic vehicles were a mix of NATO types.

It is interesting that no Chieftains or Challengers were included in the 746th (these were however seen in the 789th Independent Tank Regiment) it has been suggested that this was to reduce the number of main gun calibres in use as the British used a different (rifled) 120mm gun).

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. It is noticeable that tanks of the Regiment coped much better regarding reliability, probably due to the standards of maintenance taught by the original cadre.

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.

I plan to add:
* vehicle numbering
* a possible orbat for later war
* personalities
* quotes
* illustrations
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Old 04-24-2017, 05:45 AM
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An update taking a few of the points above into account (still a work in progress):

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 Independent Tank Regiment formed in early 1998.
The cadre for this unit was made up of staff from the Kubinka Tank Museum. These were familiar with a range of NATO vehicles that were held as exhibits (the museum was the official Soviet Army Tank Museum which was not open to the public and was manned entirely by military staff. These exhibits came from all over the world, known examples were captured and transferred by friendly Arab countries, China prior to the split, Cuba and North Vietnam. Some M113s were also believed to have come from Somalia after it changed allegiance to the Soviet Block.
This unit was made up as follows:

* Regimental headquarters in 2 M1 plus 2 M577

* 1st tank battalion with 21 M1A1 and 10 Leopard 2 (made up of vehicles captured and repaired during the fighting in 1997)

* 2nd tank battalion with 3 M60A3, 2 M60A4 and 6 M60A1, 3 M48A5 (at least one with Blazer armour), 6 Centurions (all 105mm 2 are believed to be South African Oliphants and the remaining 4 were probably ex-IDF although 1 might have been a British model), 7 Leopard 1 (third company only has two platoons) these vehicles were predominantly taken from museum exhibits

* 3rd tank battalion with 21 M1/IMP M1 (only two companies strong) made up primarily of captured vehicles

* Motor rifle battalion with 21 M113s and 10 M2 Bradleys (mortars were towed behind trucks) - one source states that one company was in British FV432s and that the mortars were US M106s. The M113s were a mix of captured and museum exhibits. The M113s include at least one with a German MG3 as the pintel mount.

* Anti-aircraft battery with 2 M163 PIVAD and 2 Gepard

* 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 3 Panhard AML, 1 South African Eland, 3 M1 and 2 BRDM2 Rkhs.

* No anti-tank battery was included.

* Logistic vehicles were a mix of NATO types.

It is interesting that no Chieftains or Challengers were included in the 746th (these were however seen in the 789th Independent Tank Regiment) it has been suggested that this was to reduce the number of main gun calibres in use as the British used a different (rifled) 120mm gun).

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. It is noticeable that tanks of the Regiment coped much better regarding reliability, probably due to the standards of maintenance taught by the original cadre.

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.

I plan to add:
* vehicle numbering
* a possible orbat for later war
* personalities
* quotes
* illustrations
How many Russian mechanics can maintain the Western turbines?
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Old 04-24-2017, 09:59 AM
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There is at least one Russian tank with one... one of the background quotes I have in mind is one where they have problems, not realising the fuel consumption is the same flat out as at idle.
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Old 04-24-2017, 11:27 AM
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There is at least one Russian tank with one... one of the background quotes I have in mind is one where they have problems, not realising the fuel consumption is the same flat out as at idle.
They'll be angry they can't get drunk from the brake fluid either.
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Old 04-24-2017, 11:29 AM
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the US units in Kenya took any useable equipment they could from Tanzania and Somalia - which I based on multiple earlier canon entries about Soviet equipment ending up in US units - you would figure as the war went on it was very common -
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Old 04-24-2017, 01:05 PM
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There is at least one Russian tank with one... one of the background quotes I have in mind is one where they have problems, not realising the fuel consumption is the same flat out as at idle.
The T-80 was the only Soviet turbine tank. About 5,000 were in service in the 90s, but some were the T-80UD diesel version. The fuel consumption issue was a problem even for soldiers assigned to the T-80; during the First Chechen War, T-80 tankers ran their fuel tanks dry while idling.
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Old 04-24-2017, 08:30 PM
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nice updates. I was watching the battle of 73 easting.... they talked about how a Silver bullet went threw a bmp, the crew ran. but some came back later and fired up a Brad. This made me think that you might have repairable APC/IFV's just look out for the 30mm hole in the side. just put you rucksack over it Ivan.
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Old 04-24-2017, 11:10 PM
James Langham2 James Langham2 is offline
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The T-80 was the only Soviet turbine tank. About 5,000 were in service in the 90s, but some were the T-80UD diesel version. The fuel consumption issue was a problem even for soldiers assigned to the T-80; during the First Chechen War, T-80 tankers ran their fuel tanks dry while idling.
I could remember reading that at the time, I just didn't have the material handy to check. That was going to be the basis of the quote.
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Old 05-02-2017, 03:59 AM
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Photoshoped image for the article - Leopard I with DShK added for the gunner. Note the Soviet vehicle number and the large number of clues that it is under Soviet control.
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Old 05-02-2017, 12:00 PM
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How many Russian mechanics can maintain the Western turbines?
They may not have practice, but I'll wager that by 1995, they have access to a translated maintenance manual.

IMHO, by late 1997, I would more expect vehicles to be retained for use by the unit that captured it (for either side), rather than turned back to a central authority.

Picture any unit commander - "While I'd rather have a magnificent vehicle (tank, APC, IFV, SPG) produced by my nation to match the others in my battalion, I cannot get any more (I have been told I will receive them later - much later). Meanwhile, this foreign beast is still working (mostly) and shoots, so while it works, it is better than the crews I have running around as leg infantry."

In the middle of a campaign season, I think few commanders would want to waste the troops (crew + escort) or fuel to send a captured vehicle back to some higher command to be accumulated with other captured vehicles.

And yes, this view seems to be carried in the various vehicle guides.

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Old 05-02-2017, 01:26 PM
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Nice image, James.

Earlier in the war, I think small units made up exclusively of captured vehicles (for relative ease of resupply) are plausible. Later in the war, I see local commanders making use of whatever is at hand- there'd be a lot more mixing than matching. There's historical precedent for this pattern in how the Germans made use of captured war material throughout the course of WWII.
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Old 05-02-2017, 02:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Raellus View Post
Nice image, James.

Earlier in the war, I think small units made up exclusively of captured vehicles (for relative ease of resupply) are plausible.
While I don't think it was ever confirmed one way or the other, I believe there were rumours that the East German NVA had a unit equipped with West German vehicles / uniforms etc whose mission in time of War was to operate behind NATO lines a la Otto Skorzeny.
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Old 05-02-2017, 03:06 PM
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IMHO, by late 1997, I would more expect vehicles to be retained for use by the unit that captured it (for either side), rather than turned back to a central authority.

Picture any unit commander - "While I'd rather have a magnificent vehicle (tank, APC, IFV, SPG) produced by my nation to match the others in my battalion, I cannot get any more (I have been told I will receive them later - much later). Meanwhile, this foreign beast is still working (mostly) and shoots, so while it works, it is better than the crews I have running around as leg infantry."

In the middle of a campaign season, I think few commanders would want to waste the troops (crew + escort) or fuel to send a captured vehicle back to some higher command to be accumulated with other captured vehicles.
IMO, in '97, it seems more likely that the command & logistical structures would be still be strong enough to push captured vehicles to a few units, rather than leave them with the captors. That is, before the nukes fly, captured equipment would just be removed & stored. By winter, they'd be forming units with that captured gear, probably at the army or front level.

It's in '98 and later that divisions & smaller would be hanging onto vehicles as described above.
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