The use of captured German tanks and self-propelled guns in the Red Army at the final stage of the war and in the post-war period
At the end of World War II, the Red Army captured hundreds of serviceable German units tanks and self-propelled artillery units that could be used for their intended purpose.
Of all the captured tanks and self-propelled guns, the most valuable were considered to be those armed with guns with high ballistics, capable of penetrating ballistic tank armor at actual combat distances. Such vehicles captured from the enemy by the Red Army command were often considered as an anti-tank reserve in case of a breakthrough by enemy armored vehicles.
Captured German-made self-propelled artillery mounts
Most often, at the final stage of hostilities in the Red Army, self-propelled guns StuG.III, StuG.IV and Jagd.Pz.IV, captured from the Germans, armed with 75-mm guns with a barrel length of 48–70 calibers, were used. In official reports submitted to higher headquarters, no distinction was made between these vehicles, and they were referred to under the general name SU-75.
Trophy SPG StuG.III
The most widespread self-propelled artillery mount on the Pz.Kpfw.III chassis, produced until April 1945, was the StuG.III Ausf. G, armed with a StuK cannon. 40/L48 with a barrel length of 48 calibers.
This self-propelled gun could confidently hit Soviet medium tanks at a range of more than 1 m. To combat infantry, a remote-controlled machine gun was installed on the roof. In the frontal view of the StuG. III Ausf. G was covered with 000 mm armor, which Soviet 80 mm tank and divisional guns could penetrate at a distance of less than 76,2 m. The thickness of the side armor was 400 mm. Additional protection from 30 mm PTR bullets and 14,5 mm cumulative shells from regimental guns was provided by 76,2 mm armor screens that covered the chassis and sides of the vehicle. Combat weight StuG.III Ausf. G was 5 tons. Carburetor engine with 23,9 hp. With. provided a maximum speed of up to 300 km/h. Cruising range on the highway is up to 38 km.
Similar to StuG.III Ausf. G data was possessed by the StuG.IV self-propelled gun, created on the chassis of the Pz.Kpfw.IV medium tank. The reason for the appearance of this self-propelled gun was the insufficient number of well-proven StuG.III self-propelled guns.
Trophy SPG StuG.IV
In terms of protection and firepower, self-propelled guns built on the basis of the “troika” and “four” were equivalent. The StuG.IV self-propelled gun was armed with the same 75-mm StuK.40 L/48 cannon. A rifle-caliber machine gun was installed on the roof of the cabin. The thickness of the frontal armor is 80 mm, the side armor is 30 mm. A vehicle with a combat weight of about 24 tons could accelerate on the highway to 40 km/h. Cruising range on the highway is 210 km, on a dirt road – 130 km.
In the first half of 1944, Panzerwaffe began development of the Jagd.Pz.IV tank destroyer (Jagdpanzer IV), created on the chassis of the Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf tank. H.
One of the first serial self-propelled guns Jagd.Pz.IV IV/70 (V)
The tank destroyer of the first transitional modification was armed with a 75-mm cannon with a barrel length of 48 calibers. From August 1944 to March 1945, Panzer IV/70 self-propelled guns with a Panther gun were produced. A tank destroyer with such a powerful weapon was seen as an inexpensive alternative to the Panther.
Tank destroyer Jagd.Pz.IV, abandoned by the crew due to lack of fuel
Self-propelled guns produced at different factories had significant differences in the shape of the cabin and in security. The thickness of the frontal armor of a self-propelled gun with a 70-caliber gun was increased from 60 to 80 mm, and the weight increased from 24 to 26,4 tons and exceeded the maximum load on the front part of the chassis.
When driving over rough terrain, the driver of the Jagd.Pz.IV self-propelled gun, armed with a long-barreled “Panther” gun, had to be very careful, since there was a high risk of damaging the barrel on an obstacle when turning or scooping up soil with the muzzle.
But even taking into account the difficulties of operation, low reliability of the chassis and mediocre mobility on the battlefield, the Jagdpanzer IV tank destroyer was a very dangerous enemy. An armor-piercing projectile fired from a 7,5 cm Pak.42 L/70 gun could hit medium Soviet tanks at a distance of up to 2 km.
Captured tank destroyer Jagd.Pz.IV
Self-propelled guns with 75-mm guns captured from the enemy, along with other German and domestic self-propelled artillery units, were used in self-propelled artillery and tank regiments. They were also armed with separate battalions equipped with captured armored vehicles.
The chassis of the Pz.Kpfw.III tank was also used to produce the StuH.42 self-propelled gun, armed with a 10,5 cm StuH.42 gun with the ballistics of a light 105 mm leFH18/40 field howitzer. Production of the StuH.42 self-propelled gun was carried out from October 1942 to February 1945.
To combat tanks, the ammunition included cumulative shells with an armor penetration of 90–100 mm. To increase the rate of fire, a unitary shot was created with a cumulative projectile in a special elongated cartridge case. The firing range at visually observed targets with a high-explosive fragmentation projectile is up to 3 m, with a cumulative projectile - up to 000 mm. Combat rate of fire – 1 rounds/min.
In terms of mobility and protection, the vehicle weighing 23,9 tons was approximately equivalent to later modifications of the StuG.III.
The StuG.III, StuG.IV and StuH.42 captured from the enemy by the Red Army were also used as armored repair and recovery vehicles, tractors, armored vehicles for forward artillery observers, fuel and ammunition transporters. To do this, in field tank repair shops, artillery guns were dismantled from self-propelled guns and sometimes part of the wheelhouse was cut off. The freed up useful volume and reserve carrying capacity made it possible to install additional equipment on the machines: a winch, a crane boom, a welding machine or an external fuel tank.
In the first post-war years, tractors, engineering vehicles and technical pilots, created on the basis of captured demilitarized self-propelled guns, were used in the Soviet national economy.
At the final stage of the war, the Red Army captured several dozen serviceable and repairable Jagdpanzer 38 (t) self-propelled guns.
This self-propelled artillery unit was equipped with a 75-mm PaK.39/2 cannon with a barrel length of 48 calibers, produced since April 1944, and was designed on the basis of the obsolete Czechoslovak light tank LT vz. 38, which in the armed forces of Nazi Germany received the designation Pz.Kpfw 38(t).
The protection of the self-propelled guns was differentiated. Frontal armor 60 mm thick, installed at an angle of 60°, held 45–76,2 mm armor-piercing shells well. The 15–20 mm side armor protected against bullets and shrapnel. The relatively small size and low profile contributed to the reduction in vulnerability.
The Hetzer was equipped with a 150 hp carburetor engine. With. The highest speed is 40 km/h, the range on the highway is 175 km and 130 km over rough terrain. Since the vehicle’s mass was relatively small, the self-propelled gun’s cross-country ability in off-road conditions was higher than that of most German tanks and self-propelled guns.
Although the Jagdpanzer 38 (t) self-propelled gun is generally considered successful, there is no evidence of its use in the Red Army. This may be due to the fact that the Hetzer had cramped working conditions for the crew and poor visibility from the vehicle. Apparently, serviceable captured self-propelled guns produced by the Boehmisch-Mahrish-Maschinenfabrik and Skoda factories were transferred to Czechoslovakia in the post-war period.
Nashorn and Hummel self-propelled guns were considered valuable trophies in the Red Army. The first was armed with an 88 mm 8,8 cm Pak.43/1 L/71 gun, and the second with a 150 mm sFH 18 L/30 field howitzer. Both self-propelled guns were created on the universal Geschützwagen III/IV chassis, on which the road wheels, suspension, support rollers, idler wheels and tracks were borrowed from the Pz.IV Ausf tank. F, and the drive wheels, engine and gearbox are for the Pz.III Ausf. J. 265 hp carburetor engine. With. provided a vehicle weighing about 25 tons with a speed of up to 40 km/h. The hull and the open top deckhouse were covered with armor that protected against bullets and shrapnel.
Captured self-propelled guns Hummel
Soviet troops received at their disposal more than two dozen serviceable Nashorn and Hummel self-propelled guns, which were designated SU-88 and SU-150. Thus, as of March 366, 4, the 16th Guards Self-Propelled Artillery Regiment (1945th Guards Army) had: 7 SU-150, 2 SU-105 and 4 SU-75, as well as 2 Pz.Kpfw tanks .V and one Pz.Kpfw.IV. These German-made armored vehicles were used by the Red Army in the battles near Lake Balaton.
During the assault on Berlin, soldiers of the 3rd Army (1st Belorussian Front) captured two Waffentrager 8,8 cm PaK.43 L/71 tank destroyers.
This self-propelled gun was designed as part of a program to create an inexpensive single universal platform for 88-127 mm anti-tank guns and a 150 mm howitzer.
In February 1944, the final version based on the Jagdpanzer 38(t) Hetzer serial self-propelled gun was approved. However, due to the overload of design bureaus and factories with other orders, only the project of a tank destroyer with an 88-mm PaK.43 anti-tank gun was able to be brought to the stage of practical implementation.
The towed 8,8 cm Pak.43 anti-tank gun in the combat position weighed 4 kg, and it was almost impossible to roll it onto the battlefield by crew forces. To transport the Pak.400, a fairly powerful tractor was required. The maneuverability of the tractor-implement coupling on soft soils was unsatisfactory. At the same time, the 43-mm Pak.88 gun was very powerful and ensured reliable defeat of all Soviet tanks used in World War II.
When installed on a Waffentrager chassis (weapons carrier), the 8,8 cm PaK.43 L/71 gun was mounted on a pedestal mount and could fire in a circular sector. True, shooting on the move was not allowed. To protect the crew from light rifle bullets weapons and fragments, an armor shield 5 mm thick was installed. The body of the self-propelled gun had a welded structure and was assembled from rolled sheets of armor steel 8–20 mm thick.
100 hp carburetor engine from. was in the front of the case. The combat weight of the vehicle was 11,2 tons. The maximum speed on the highway was 36 km / h. The power reserve on the highway is 110 km, on the dirt road - 70 km.
In general, the self-propelled gun, armed with the 88-mm PaK.43 gun, turned out to be successful. It cost less than other German tank destroyers produced in 1944–1945, and its effectiveness when used from pre-selected positions could be very high. If mass production was established, the Waffentrager 8,8 cm PaK.43 L/71 had a chance to become one of the best light anti-tank self-propelled guns of World War II.
After the surrender of Germany, the captured self-propelled gun Waffentrager 8,8 cm PaK.43 L/71 was tested at a training ground in the USSR, where it received a positive assessment.
Captured German-made tanks
Until the very moment of the surrender of the Third Reich, the Red Army continued to operate seemingly hopelessly outdated Pz.Kpfw.II and Pz.Kpfw.III tanks.
Several captured light tanks Pz.Kpfw.II Ausf. C and Pz.Kpfw.II Ausf. F in the USSR, during factory repairs, they were re-equipped with 20-mm TNSh-20 automatic cannons and DT-29 machine guns. At the final stage of hostilities, the “twos” could not withstand the enemy’s medium and heavy tanks, but their weapons were capable of successfully operating against infantry, trucks and armored personnel carriers that were not hidden in the trenches, and the 30–14,5 mm thick armor reliably protected against bullets and fragments.
Pz.Kpfw.II tanks had no chance of surviving on the battlefield, and they were mainly used to guard objects in the rear, as well as to escort transport convoys. Captured light tanks could fight sabotage groups and enemy infantry breaking out of encirclement.
The Pz.Kpfw.III tanks were better protected than the Pz.Kpfw.II (frontal armor thickness 50 mm, side - 30 mm), and had more powerful weapons (50 mm KwK 39 gun with a high muzzle velocity or 75 mm short-barreled gun KwK 37). At the final stage of the war, the Troikas were considered obsolete, and self-propelled guns were produced at their base in Germany. However, in addition to security functions in the rear, captured Pz.Kpfw.IIIs sometimes operated on the front line.
Thanks to the presence of a commander's cupola, good optical instruments and a radio station, the Troikas were used as command tanks in Soviet self-propelled artillery units and as forward artillery observer vehicles.
Even after the surrender of Germany, a number of “twos” and “troikas” remained in the Red Army. Thus, in the units of the Trans-Baikal Front that participated in the hostilities against Japan in August 1945, there were Pz tanks. Kpfw.II and Pz.Kpfw.III.
The “workhorses” of the Panzerwaffe from the second half of the war were the Pz.Kpfw.IV medium tanks, armed with 75-mm guns with a barrel length of 43–48 calibers. Sufficiently thick frontal armor and high armor penetration of the gun, combined with good sights and observation devices, made the “four” a very serious adversary.
Medium tank modification Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf. H had a combat weight of 25,7 tons. The frontal armor of the hull was 80 mm, the sides and rear - 20-30 mm. Carburetor engine with a capacity of 300 hp. With. provided highway speeds of up to 38 km/h. Power reserve – up to 210 km.
Even after during the offensive operations of 1944–1945. Soviet troops began to often capture heavy German tanks and self-propelled guns with long-barreled 75-mm and 88-mm guns; Pz.Kpfw.IV tanks continued to be used in the Red Army.
This was largely due to the fact that the “four” were easier to repair than captured heavy tanks. Due to the high prevalence of the Pz.Kpfw.IV, it was easier to find spare parts and rounds for the 75 mm cannon for this tank.
To eliminate breakthroughs by enemy armored vehicles, the Red Army also used Pz.Kpfw.V tanks captured from the enemy.
What our tankers valued most about the Panther was its weapons and sights. The ballistic data of the 75-mm KwK.42 gun, coupled with high-quality optics, made it possible to effectively fight enemy tanks at distances inaccessible to any Soviet tank gun. The Panther's frontal protection was good. The thickness of the upper frontal sheet was 80 mm, the lower - 60 mm. Tilt angle – 55°. The thickness of the side and stern armor is 50–40 mm.
However, the Pz.Kpfw.V tank was in many ways a problematic vehicle. The driver mechanics of the captured Panthers had to choose their route very carefully.
Big problems also arose with overcoming water obstacles. Not all bridges could support a tank weighing 45 tons, and when crossing the river, difficulties almost always arose with reaching the steep bank. Maybach gasoline engines were voracious. At one gas station, the Panther could travel about 200 km along the highway, and the cruising range of the Soviet T-34-85 medium tank was 350 km. Due to the low reliability of the engine, transmission and chassis, breakdowns often occurred.
Although on the highway the maximum speed of the Panther could briefly approach 50 km/h, when moving in the same columns with the T-34-85, the German tank often could not maintain the set pace.
There is very little information regarding the use of captured Pz.Kpfw.VI heavy tanks, although it is reliably known that “Tigers” were captured by units of the Red Army and even introduced into combat units.
At a certain stage of the war, in terms of its overall combat qualities, the Tiger was the strongest tank in the world. The advantages of the vehicle include powerful armament (88-mm KwK 36 gun with a barrel length of 56 calibers) and strong armor (the thickness of the armor of the hull and sides and stern is 100–80 mm), well-thought-out ergonomics, and high-quality surveillance and communication devices.
At the same time, the overloaded chassis and low specific power did not allow one to feel confident on soft soils and in deep snow. The damaged tank, due to its large mass (57 tons), was difficult to evacuate from the battlefield. In addition, repairing the Tiger was not an easy task.
It is known that captured Tigers were in the 28th Guards Tank Brigade (39th Army, Belorussian Front), in the 713th Self-Propelled Artillery Regiment of the 48th Army of the 1st Belorussian Front and in the 5th Separate Guards Tank brigade of the 38th Army of the 4th Ukrainian Front.
Due to their small numbers and operational problems, captured heavy tanks had virtually no impact on the course of hostilities. This was largely due to poor maintainability. If on Soviet tanks many faults could be eliminated by the crew, then in most cases repairing the Tiger required the involvement of well-trained specialists and special equipment.
At the final stage of the war, the Red Army received sufficient quantities of medium and heavy tanks armed with 85–122 mm guns, and self-propelled guns with 100–152 mm guns, which at real combat distances could successfully hit any enemy armored vehicles. By 1944, the few captured Tigers in the role of tank destroyers had lost their importance.
Heavy tank Pz.Kpfw.VI Ausf. B (“Tiger II”) was armed with an unprecedentedly powerful 88-mm Kw.K.43 cannon with a barrel length of 71 calibers (the same gun was installed on the Ferdinand tank destroyer) and covered with very thick armor (hull front 150–120 mm) , placed at rational angles.
Although the security and power of the Royal Tiger's weapons have increased significantly, in terms of the balance of combat characteristics it was inferior to the previous model. Due to the excess weight (68 tons), the vehicle's cross-country ability and maneuverability were unsatisfactory. This greatly reduced the tactical capabilities of the heavy tank and made it vulnerable to more mobile Soviet tanks and self-propelled guns.
Overloading the undercarriage has a negative impact on reliability. For this reason, about a third of the vehicles broke down on the march. The gasoline engine and final drives, originally designed for a much lighter tank, could not withstand the loads when driving on soggy ground.
During the fighting on Polish territory, tank crews of the 53rd Guards Tank Brigade of the 6th Guards Tank Corps and the 1st Guards Tank Brigade of the 8th Guards Mechanized Corps captured several serviceable and repairable Tiger II tanks.
Heavy tank "Tiger II", captured by the Red Army
A number of sources say that Soviet crews were formed for at least three vehicles. However, details about their combat use could not be found.
After the surrender of Germany, the active units of the Red Army had several dozen captured tanks and self-propelled guns suitable for use in battle. Several hundred more damaged and faulty German-made tracked armored vehicles have accumulated in collection points for emergency equipment.
Thus, as of July 20, 1945, the Red Army had 146 Panther tanks, of which 63 were operational, and the rest required repairs.
In the summer of 1945, the Soviet command decided to use captured armored vehicles to organize the process of combat training and transfer most of the German tanks and self-propelled guns that were in good technical condition to tank armies and corps. Thus, captured tanks and self-propelled guns, used for training purposes, made it possible to save the life of Soviet tanks used by the troops.
In the first post-war years, the Group of Soviet Occupation Forces in Germany had many German-made tanks converted into tractors and technical support vehicles. The operation of this captured equipment was facilitated by the fact that there were plenty of spare parts for them, which could be dismantled from faulty tanks and self-propelled guns stored in assembly points.
A certain number of demilitarized captured armored vehicles were transferred to civilian departments. But, unlike cars and trucks, German tanks, converted into tractors and repair vehicles, in most cases did not last long. This was due to the complex design of German armored vehicles and the often low qualifications of driver mechanics who were unable to properly service them.
In addition, German carburetor engines required gasoline with a higher octane number and special oils that differed from those used in the USSR. Frequent breakdowns and difficulties with the supply of consumables, spare parts and fuels and lubricants led to the fact that by the end of the 1940s there were almost no vehicles based on German tanks left in civilian organizations.
Until the mid-1950s, captured tanks and self-propelled guns actively participated in various research and testing of new Soviet armored vehicles. German guns 7,5 cm Kw.K. 42, 8,8 cm Pak. 43 and 12,8 cm PaK. 44 were the standard for armor penetration. During the testing of promising Soviet tanks at the test site, their armor was tested by fire from German tank guns.
In turn, many German "panzers" ended their lives at artillery and tank ranges as targets. Cemeteries of broken armored vehicles became a source of raw materials for the Soviet metallurgical industry for many years. The last German tanks went to open-hearth furnaces in the early 1960s.
Продолжение следует ...
- Linnik Sergey
- Post-war use of pistols manufactured and developed in Nazi Germany
Post-war use of submachine guns produced in Nazi Germany
Service and combat use of the German repeating rifle Mauser 98k after the end of World War II
Post-war use of self-loading rifles and machine guns produced in Nazi Germany
Post-war use of German 37 mm automatic anti-aircraft guns
Post-war service of 88–128 mm anti-aircraft guns manufactured in Nazi Germany
Post-war use of captured German mortars
Post-war use of German 37–50 mm anti-tank guns
Post-war service and combat use of captured German 75–128 mm anti-tank guns
Post-war use of German 75 and 150 mm infantry guns
Post-war service and combat use of 105 mm howitzers manufactured in Nazi Germany
Service and combat use of captured German heavy field 105 mm guns and 150 mm heavy howitzers after the end of World War II
Post-war use of armored cars and armored personnel carriers created in Nazi Germany
Subscribe and stay up to date with the latest news and the most important events of the day.