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Old 12-26-2008, 02:50 PM
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Default Using Captured Vehicles

For some reason, I'm really interested in the widespread practice of armies employing the captured equipment of their enemies against its makers, especially big-ticket items like tanks and IFVs.

I just got Cornelius Ryan's The Last Battle for Christmas and read, for the first time (that I can remember, at least), about the 83rd ID's breakneck race for the Elbe, during which it was dubbed the "Ragtag Circus" due to the large number of captured and commandeered German military and civilian vehicles (from Panthers to fire engines) they used to keep pace with allied armored divisions driving on the same objective. Apparently, anything that could move on its own was painted OD and added to the procession. They even had their own captured BF-109 with 83rd Infantry Division painted on the underside of its wings.

I've read a lot about the IDF and they are certainly not too proud to use captured enemy material, even to this day. Their Achzarit heavy APCs (currently in service) are built on the chasis of the hundreds of Egyptian and Syrian T-54 and T-55 MBTs captured during the Six Day War and the Yom Kippur War.

There are plenty of RW examples. I'm curious about T2K examples. I'm sure that the practice would be even more widespread in T2K due to the breakdown in manufacturing. I know that there are a couple in the U.S. and Soviet Vehicle guides. Have you, as a T2K GM or player, ever made use of captured vehicles? Were they modified at all (I'm thinking of paint/national markings, switching a PKM for an M240, etc.)? Were the mods something done by the PCs in the field or were they completed by a maintainance unit in cantonment (or earlier in the war)?

Please, do tell.
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Old 12-26-2008, 06:38 PM
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We've had a few captured vehicles in our group: a T-72M1 and a MTLB, along with two Ural 375 trucks (one rigged up as a gun truck with a ZU-23 on the back). Very nice to play "Trojan Horse" on occasion....Only when we got back to friendly lines did the vehicles get an appropriate paint job to show their new ownership. And they made the trip to Iran on the hijacked Frosch-class LSTs.
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Old 12-27-2008, 09:22 PM
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The 111th Brigade (of Thunder Empire/SAMAD) uses a number of captured Mexican AFV, along with a fair amount of other captured materiel. Here is the pertinent material:

367th Battalion (Motorized Infantry) received its guidon and appointment on 3-17-99. The battalion took over pre-existing units serving with the 111th MI Brigade, 1012th MP Battalion, and 3rd Brigade (AZSTAG). 367th Bn took control of a variety of armored vehicles and troops, including LAV-75 light tanks, Lynx armored cars, M577 and M113 armored personnel carriers, VAB armored personnel carriers, Peacekeeper armored cars, a variety of up-armored HMMWV squad carriers, and several civilian armored cars. The battalion was further reinforced by a troop of horse cavalry, motorcycle scouts, and footmobile scouts. Mortars carried in the bed of pickup trucks and towed MRL added to the battalion’s indirect firepower.

The battalion is organized into company teams.

As of March 2001, there are five operational Stingrays, eight operational Lynxes, fourteen operational M113s, three operational M577s, eleven operational VABs, seven operational Peacekeepers, twenty-seven operational HMMWVs, and nine operational civilian armored cars.

A/367
4 LAV-75
4 M113
4 M113
6 HMMWV

B/367
4 Lynx
4 M113
6 HMMWV
6 HMMWV

C/367
4 Lynx
4 VAB
4 VAB
3 Peacekeepers/1 HMMWV


HHC/367
4 pickup-mounted 82mm mortars
2 towed 82mm MRL
2 M577
1 LAV-75
2 M113
2 HMMWV
1 civilian armored car
Various trucks
E/367
4 Peacekeepers
6 HMMWV
4 civilian armored cars
4 civilian armored cars

F/367
3 platoons of horse cavalry



A/322 (ENGR)
4 platoons of combat engineers in unarmored trucks and other vehicles
1 platoon of heavy equipment with organic transport and supply


Mexican vehicles were captured during the fighting in the 1998 and 1999 campaign season. A number of AFVs (and other equipment) were recovered after the failed attempts by Brigada Nogales to force the main border crossings at Douglas and Nogales at the beginning of the conflict. More were recovered at Yuma, and still more were recovered after the disastrous retreat of Brigada Nogalas from Tucson. The park of fighting vehicles available to Fort Huachuca increased further during the 1999 campaign season, when the 111th Brigade mauled a major Mexican Army incursion advancing west along I-10.


The 367th can be used as a complete force or broken down into separate company teams to support the light infantry battalions. As a motorized task force, it is used for deep penetration, followed by envelopment of enemy forces. The motorized infantry essentially form the anvil while other units act as the hammer.
Alternatively, units of the 367th can be detached to act as mobile gun platforms. When faced with heavy resistance, the light infantry of the 111th typically bypass enemy strong points. Armor then can be brought up to reduce these strong points, once they are isolated.
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Old 12-28-2008, 02:34 AM
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Web what is the total man power? Assuming you replaced the Stingrays mentioned with the LAV-75s.

Really love this type of stuff. Keep it coming.
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Old 12-28-2008, 10:44 AM
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Kato,

Thanks much. Yes, I did replace Stingrays with LAV-75. The US Army Vehicle Guide mentions the LAV-75 playing a significant role in the fighting in the American Southwest. I figured that since I break with canon so much in Thunder Empire I ought to make an effort to conform. Also, it would be easier to send LAV-75 experts to Huachuca than Stingray experts. By October 1997, there will be a fair number of crewmen and mechanics who have some experience with the system and who are either recovering from injuries or who are simply out of the fight due to their injuries. Naturally, I missed one of the Stingray references during the pre-post edit. ("Attention to detail, candidate!")

End strength is about 700. Also, F Troop doesn't belong in the line-up. Each company in the battalion has about 160 per battalion. Huachuca, having the luxury of a VERY substantial population base from which to draw soldiers, has opted for the "bigger battalion" model. Bigger battalions come from bigger companies. Bigger companies come from bigger platoons. TO&E platoon strength is between 40 and 45 in the 367th.

(Oddly enough, most of my organizations feature large platoons--even without the substantial population base. Could it be bias on the part of the creator? Perhaps.)

As a side note, the sheer size of the platoons puts a premium on the company-level leadership. Although a lot of the platoon leaders in early 1998 are virgins, by 2001 all of the platoon leaders are salty dogs. No one gets a commission without merit. The enlisted ranks of MI are full of troops who have associate's degrees and bachelor's degrees. By 2001, it's not too hard to find a team or squad leader who merits promotion.


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Old 12-29-2008, 09:51 AM
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Have had this happen a few times in games that I've been involved in...one campaign in Poland involved a group of Bundeswher characters who had a BTR 70 that they named Kleine Olga. As we were behind Soviet lines we didn't modify it in any way to reflect its new ownership. Stealing trucks and UAZ469's was also a pretty commonplace occurrence.

More recently, I've been considering the possibility of the British Army using small numbers of ex Warsaw Pact vehicles in the UK. My thinking behind this is that early in the War some intact vehicles may have been shipped back to bases in the UK for testing / evaluation (in particular former East German army vehicles that came in to NATO's possession (version 1 timeline)). What I have so far along these lines is a mechanised infantry company based in Yorkshire operating a BTR 70 and a Shilka AA platform. They have zero rounds of 23mm for the shilka, but the local marauders don't know that...

To avoid potential incidents, when they arrived in the UK rear area technicians would have given these vehicles make overs (new paint job, national markings, probably large Union flags on the sides) to make their new ownership quite clear.
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Old 12-29-2008, 10:28 AM
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In a story I've been playing around with based on the aftermath of the Escape from Kasliz, the battle group that the story is based around have made use of what they call, "Frankentanks", usually erstatz APCs and IFVs cobbled together somehow, often by marrying a turretless vehicle with a donor turret, one of the favourites is an M113 with a BMP 3 turret, similar, I suppose to the ASLAV.
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Old 12-29-2008, 11:38 AM
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Our first gloriuos action as survivors of the 5th ID, in the first roleplaying sessions after purchasing the game, was the capture of a polish pack mule. The mule was named Yirinovski, like the ultra nationalist russian leader. Yirinoski, though exploited without mercy, served us with loyalty and devotion.
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Old 12-29-2008, 06:44 PM
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The 2nd SS "Das Reich" Panzer Division at Kursk had a battalion of captured T-34s, and used them against their former owners. They once ambushed a battalion of Soviet T-34s, and the Russians were wiped out before they had a chance to realize that they were being engaged by German-crewed T-34s.
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Old 12-29-2008, 08:52 PM
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I'm thinking of the 1st edition timeline in which East German forces entered combat against former allies before they could be re-equiped with West German gear, and the Nato forces trained to fight alongside former enemy (and recognise them as allies).

I can imagine those units equipped with "enemy" gear would attract a lot of unwanted attention from both sides (even those aware of friendly Pact equipment in the area). Airstrikes, helicopter gunships, artillery, etc would be a constant hazard, even if markings were painted on the tanks, etc. A T-72 still looks like a T-72 in the dark regardless whats been scribbled on it.

I would imagine that most of the Pact support vehicles not absolutely required in the front areas would be very quickly withdraw to rear area security, reserved for raids, and the like and as Rainbow Six mentioned, withdrawn out of the theatre completely.

The danger of firendly fire would be a constant problem. It only takes one man armed with a rocket launcher and itchy trigger on a dark night and....
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Old 12-29-2008, 11:53 PM
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The East Germans never did get rid of their WarPac gear, especially the heavy stuff like tanks, IFVs/APCs, SP Arty, etc. I'm sure that extensive measures were taken to prevent or minimize such friendly-fire incidents.
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Old 12-30-2008, 01:41 AM
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In my campaign the PCs captured a Shershen-class torpedo boat near Warsaw and cruised down the Vistula for a while in that.
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Old 12-30-2008, 02:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Wiser
The East Germans never did get rid of their WarPac gear, especially the heavy stuff like tanks, IFVs/APCs, SP Arty, etc. I'm sure that extensive measures were taken to prevent or minimize such friendly-fire incidents.
Yes. I bet that the Reunified German Army would be a de-facto clearing house for captured, big-ticket Soviet-Bloc items. East German maintainance units would have experience in their repair and upkeep, and East German-trained tank crews would have no problem hopping into a former Soviet T-72 or BMP-1 and getting on with it. I imagine that ammo manufacture for captured weapons could also be taken care of fairly easily in the former DDR.

Friendly fire incidents would be a concern when employing captured vehicles but, as has been noted, it's been done before (Israel since '48, Germany in WWII) and necessity would certainly lead to the widespread use of captured enemy material, especially after '97. Beggars can't be choosers, after all.
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Old 12-31-2008, 01:14 AM
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Especially after '97. You can bet that standing orders were issued on both sides to make use of captured or abandoned enemy equipment, stores, etc. And no doubt there was a lot of cannibalization of wrecks to get parts so that, for example, in 3rd Armored, the company's worth of T-80s you've got running stays running. The same for the BMP-2s 5th ID has, or the platoon's worth of BRDMs that 11th ACR has "acquired".
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Old 12-31-2008, 07:49 AM
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During the pre-tactical nuclear phase of the war I would imagine battlefield recovery teams would follow advancing NATO troops to scavenge useable parts, vehicles, weapons, equipment and ammo left by retreating Pact forces to keep the NVA (former East german Army) going. Given the situation, a large-scale reequipment of the NVA would be impossible for a number of reasons - there wasn't enough spare equipment to do so (and all industrial capacity was devoted to replacing combat losses) and the troops couldn't be spared from the front for re-equipment and retraining (which would have been an extensive process, trying to rebuild "muscle memory", and in the case of T-72s, adding new members to an existing organization).

Also keep in mind that NATO countries and their allies had some Pact-standard manufacturing ability. Israel used captured Pact geat for years and must have had some way of obtaining or manufacturing spares and ammunition for the systems that they didn't replace/upgrade, and Egypt had a quite active defense industry that turned out D-30s and ZU-23-2s and a wide variety of Pact-caliber ammo. I'd imagine that this production went into high gear in 1996 in an attempt to resupply the Chinese Army.

Post-nuclear exchange things change a bit. Coordination between NATO units, such as the coordinated battlefield salvage efforts, would break down (possibly only to a level of barter, possibly entirely), as units hoarded whatever useable weapons and vehicles they could get. Until that time, I wouldn't imagine much Pact equipment and gear possessed by NATO forces due to the need to keep the NVA in the field - only small quantities of captured gear for technical evaluation purposes. Small lots of foreign equipment deep in the NATO rear (in the UK or USA, for example) I would imagine would quickly be abandoned due to lack of spares and ammo, especially for the more exotic items.
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Old 12-31-2008, 10:16 AM
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Does anyone know if it would be possible for an experienced technician to change the main weaponry on a BTR? Like for example swapping the KPV for an M2 machine gun (or similar)? Or is this something that would simply not be possible mechanically?

Just thinking that if it was possible it could solve the problem of trying to source War Pac ammunition, especially in the rear areas.
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Old 12-31-2008, 12:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rainbow Six
Does anyone know if it would be possible for an experienced technician to change the main weaponry on a BTR? Like for example swapping the KPV for an M2 machine gun (or similar)? Or is this something that would simply not be possible mechanically?

Just thinking that if it was possible it could solve the problem of trying to source War Pac ammunition, especially in the rear areas.
I'm sure it would. However, the technician would need access to adequate facilities- at the very least a well equiped machine shop, I reckon. I asked my father-in-law, who works in a machine shop, what kind of T2K-related gear he could conceivably make with the machines at his shop and he said he could make just about anything "mechanical" as long as he was provided with the blueprints.
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Old 12-31-2008, 03:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rainbow Six
Does anyone know if it would be possible for an experienced technician to change the main weaponry on a BTR? Like for example swapping the KPV for an M2 machine gun (or similar)? Or is this something that would simply not be possible mechanically?

Just thinking that if it was possible it could solve the problem of trying to source War Pac ammunition, especially in the rear areas.
I would think many things to be possible. When needs arrise, people can achieve surprising things with whatever is at hand. Of course, that would be more difficult with the most modern equipments but still, I'm sure that some people would find ways. If you check on the wiki alone you'll find modifications including tank turrets, mortars...

Israel is still doing surprising things and always did. Germany did striking modification of captured equipments all war long. However, coming back to the BTR (in that case, a BTR-60), here is the most striking modification I ever saw. It's a well known picture of a BTR-60 mounting an AML-90 turret. That modification was done somewhere in Djibouti or Somalia I think. Africa has always been the most impressive place when it comes to field modifications (both military and civilians).
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Old 01-01-2009, 02:25 PM
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Nice find, Moh. What a bizzare vehicle. I wonder what that turret does to its performance. Seems to me that it would be a bit top-heavy and guzzle a lot more gas.

I may need to start another thread for modified vehicles.
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Old 01-02-2009, 10:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raellus
Nice find, Moh. What a bizzare vehicle. I wonder what that turret does to its performance. Seems to me that it would be a bit top-heavy and guzzle a lot more gas.

I may need to start another thread for modified vehicles.
I have no clue about its performance. However, from what I read it was stated that the modification was made in order to use a spare turret taken from a destroyed AML-90.
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Old 07-22-2009, 10:19 AM
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I was looking at the EESB, specifically the TOE (such as it is) for the U.S. 6th ID, and came across the following:

"On the other hand, the 6th has a large supply of 5.45mm Bloc and 7.62mm L (they captured a supply cache last year), so one soldier in three is equipped with an AK-74 in place of the M-16A3 and the FAVs usually mount PK machine guns."

It strikes me as a bit silly to equip one soldier in three- in each unit- with a captured weapon. This would make supplying each small unit a bit trickier. It makes more sense to me to equip one platoon per company or one company per battalion with captured weapons. I can see this practice as becoming quite common by 2000. It would ease the logistics burden at the divisional level if they could just say "we'll supply you with 2/3 of your needed ammo" (i.e. the NATO stuff) and you take care of the rest on your own (captured PACT stuff).

It kind of strikes me that that would become the logistical philosophy in general come 2000- "Corps/Division/Brigade/Regimental HQ" will give you just so much (fuel, ammo, replacements, etc.) and you'll need to come up with the balance."
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Old 07-22-2009, 11:03 AM
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I suspect "one soldier in three" is one of those misleading uses of numbers TV ads employ. "Every seven seconds, an identity is stolen!" This isn't a timed event with identity thieves patiently waiting for the seven-second alarm to chime. Seven seconds is an average derived by dividing a period of time (day, week, month) by the number of identity thefts occurring in that time. By the same token, "one soldier in three" probably is intended to mean one third of the force. It's poor writing on the part of the author.


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Old 07-22-2009, 03:26 PM
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I figured as much but you can never quite tell with some of the GDW writers.

Still, I think it would be cool to see a U.S. army company equipped with AKs instead of '16s, PKMs instead of M240s and/or M-60s, and RPGs instead of LAWs.
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Old 07-22-2009, 06:47 PM
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This might raise the ugly spectre of enemy/friendly identification in the heat of battle.
A US soldier for example might see the sillouette of an AK and automatically think "enemy" when in reality it's just a soldier from a different unit.
Great care would obviously have to be taken to train and brief soldiers to first correctly identify friendly troops in all conditions before opening fire - not a easy thing to do when the bullets are flying...
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Old 07-23-2009, 02:32 AM
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Quote:
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This might raise the ugly spectre of enemy/friendly identification in the heat of battle.
A US soldier for example might see the sillouette of an AK and automatically think "enemy" when in reality it's just a soldier from a different unit.
Great care would obviously have to be taken to train and brief soldiers to first correctly identify friendly troops in all conditions before opening fire - not a easy thing to do when the bullets are flying...
Well in T2K when the West and East German armies were merged the Germans apparently managed to deal with this problem.
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Old 07-23-2009, 02:52 AM
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I don't know how this is delt with in T2K but during WW2, all armies used oversize markings. Moreover, the Nazi used the same method than the German in T2K: when time allowed, they modified most foreign armored vehicle to fit their own weapon system onto them. In T2K German T-72s are fitted with 120mm gun and probably with MG-3 instead of the russian SMGs.
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Old 07-23-2009, 12:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mohoender View Post
I don't know how this is delt with in T2K but during WW2, all armies used oversize markings. Moreover, the Nazi used the same method than the German in T2K: when time allowed, they modified most foreign armored vehicle to fit their own weapon system onto them. In T2K German T-72s are fitted with 120mm gun and probably with MG-3 instead of the russian SMGs.
I think it would be a lot easier and more efficient to just keep the T-72's original 125mm gun and manufacture the ammo for it (I'm sure the former E. German munitions industry could handle it) than to pull all of the former E. German T-72s off the line to refit them with 120mm guns.

As for the confusion, and potential blue on blue, that using captured infantry weapons could cause, it would be a consideration but I'm sure it wouldn't prove prohibitive. Just train your troops not to use weapon type alone for enemy recognition. Use it as part of a matrix including helmet shape, cammo pattern, etc.

As Mo stated, the Germans in WWII used loads of captured Soviet PPsHs and the like on the Eastern front and I don't remember ever reading about misidentification of friendly troops issue (not to say it never happened, though).
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Old 07-23-2009, 12:31 PM
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Raellus what you said about the ammo is very true and, as I recall, the German were manufeacturing 76mm and 85mm russian rounds. May be several others. Nevertheless, they were transforming a fair number of captured vehicle as well. They had two units who were performing only that. One was located in the East and issued a number of prototypes. The other was located in France (where it had less pressure) and came up with an amazing number of modified vehicles (using allied vehicles): tank hunters, flame throwers, sp artillery, sp rocket launchers, armored transports...

By the way what is less known is that both the allied and the soviets used a large number of captured vehicles as well.

Russia modified captured Pz-III to make tank hunter and they were glad to use Tigers and captured Panthers. They also used Pz-IV.
American troops used a number of transport vehicle while the british used the Pz.III in northern Africa (Polish armour).

In all these cases, the problem never came from ammo but from spare parts.

About, changing the gun, I think I red that somewhere in one of the cannon books where german T-72 tanks are called T-72-120. I think, however, that it comes out of v2.2 where they had more time to do that. However, the replacement of SMGs has more chance to take place as this is not as difficult.

About captured vehicles, Israel remain a very interesting exemple as they have been using and are still using captured vehicles. They indeed use them with the original weapon but always replace it as soon as they can. They also perform extensive modifications.
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Old 07-23-2009, 02:44 PM
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Standardizing ammunition types is one of the most critical aspects of modern war. It might seem easier to set up a factory for 125mm ammunition as opposed to swapping out the 125mm gun, but the real trick is getting the right ammunition to the right units at the right time. The above-mentioned Israelis regunned captured T-55s partially because the 105mm main gun is superior to the 100mm gun but principally because the fewer types of main gun ammo in the supply system the better. If everyone uses 105mm or 120mm, then in a pinch (the only time that matters in war) a given tank unit can be given a neighbor's supplies. Not so if the neighbor fires different ammunition.

It's no coincidence that NATO settled on standard calibers for some of the most important items: 155mm and 105mm for artillery, 120mm and 105mm for MBT guns, 7.62x51mm for general purpose machine guns, and so on. Equally, it's no coincidence that the Warsaw Pact uses identical calibers, even if their hardware isn't as uniform as Moscow would like.

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Old 07-23-2009, 03:03 PM
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Creating and maintaining ammo commonality is a really good point, Web.

I was thinking, though, that the reunified German army would stay segregated for a while, with former E. German army units keeping their Soviet-Bloc weapons and vehicles. It wouldn't be too hard to keep such homogenous units supplied. Such and such a division gets 125mm tank shells, 7.62mm S ammo, 122mm arty rounds, etc. while the other ones get standard NATO.

I don't see the Germans scrapping all of the former E. German army's Soviet made artillery tubes, rocket launchers, trucks, etc. for the sake of creating ammo commonality as it would take time and money to replace it all with standard NATO gear. It just seems that the war moves too fast (up to '98 or so) for that to happen. Those T-72s would be needed at the front.

Later in the war, as attrition mandates blending of W. and former E. German units, supply would become more of an issue. Perhaps there would be time and the facilities needed to retrofit NATO guns to Soviet-made tanks shortly before the TDM. After that, it would probably be too late to manage such a large scale refitting.

The Israelis are a good model/exemplar but it should be kept in mind that they had months if not years to upgun and re-engine their captured Soviet-made tanks before having to use them operationally.

Also, many Israeli commando units (Sayeret Golani, for example) used AKs captured during the '67 war during the '73 war. Israeli rifle squads customarily included an RPG gunner as late as the '82 war in Lebanon. This, of course, in addition to their western and locally made weapons. If the Israelis could handle the supply and identification issues, I'm sure the Bundeswher could too.
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