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"Using Captured Enemy Weapons" Topic


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991 hits since 26 Mar 2018
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP26 Mar 2018 4:42 p.m. PST

I am reading about Operation Market Garden and several instances have come up with soldiers of one side or the other using captured enemy weapons or vehicles. Notably, SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Graebner led his reconnaissance battalion in a Humber scout car and, on the other side, Corporal Geoff Cockayne of the Red Devils used a German Schimsser to fire at the Germans as they tried to cross over Arnhem bridge. IIRC, George MacDonald Fraser used an American M1 carbine in Burma. How common was this practice? Was it a show-off kind of thing or was the enemy, or ally's equipment of better quality? I wonder about having sufficient ammunition and spare parts.

MadMat20 Inactive Member26 Mar 2018 5:26 p.m. PST

The Germans were using captured equipment a lot, for they couldn't produce enough to arm all their military & paramilitary units, as well as equipping some of their allies. They used anything, from tanks or artillery to guns to rifles and submachine guns.

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But those were weapons captured after defeating enemy armies and redistributed, not just taken "hot" on the battlefield (although that might have happened too). Best example are the Czech. Panzer 35(t) and Panzer 38(t).

In Arnhem, some Dutch SS training units were entirely equipped with British Sten, Bren & Lee Enfield captured at Dunkirk a few years back. The tanks the British fought in the streets of Arnhem & OOsterbeek weren't Tiger or Panther as depicted in "A Bridge too far", but mostly captured French B1 bis from Panzer-Abteilung 224 (or244?). The few available modern tanks weren't wasted fighting paratroopers but to delay the approaching XXX. Corps.

The Allies didn't make much use of captured weapons, for they have huge stockpiles ready to replace anything they lost, and it was better to use their own weapon than taking the rest of friendly fire by using enemy ones. But in some cases, as the paratroopers must have faced in Arhnem when running out of ammo, they grabbed what they found …
That's what happened to the US Army Rangers at the Pointe du Hoc, in the days following D-Day when they ran out of ammo: they used German MG-42s to fight off German attacks. But when the Shermans finally arrived (48H off-schedule) from Omaha Beach to relieve them, the first thing they did on approaching and hearing the unmistakable sound of the MG 42 was to fire at the Rangers, causing friendly casualties.

While the Germans had entire battalions equipped with Soviet T-34 or French Somua or B1 at some time of the war, only a few individual German tanks made famous as serving in Allied armies. The British Panther "Cuckoo" must be the most famous:

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mwindsorfw Supporting Member of TMP26 Mar 2018 5:55 p.m. PST

Andy Rooney from the old 60 Minutes told a story that in WWII, a new U.S. unit was using captured German weapons. His unit thought they were being flanked, and called in artillery until they quit hearing firing on their flank.

Vintage Wargaming26 Mar 2018 5:57 p.m. PST

Not sure George MacDonald Fraser's M1 carbine counts as a captured weapon.

And the Germans would have been doing really well to have captured stens at Dunkirk as they weren't in service before 1941.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP26 Mar 2018 6:05 p.m. PST

In fairness, the Stens used 9mm ammo, and were dropped to the resistance--and were used by paratroopers at least in part because of the ammunition. The Germans would have been hard-pressed to capture them at Dunkirk, but the story that captured ones were issued to Dutch SS may be true.

US Third Army at least made use of German artillery and ammunition in fall 1944 when Allied supply lines were stretched. I've seen photos of a battery of 88's in US service, but you might be a little hard-pressed to get away with using them in a game.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP26 Mar 2018 6:32 p.m. PST

There's a few pages lists and stats of 3rd Army using captured German artillery in the appropriate Flames of War V3 "codex".
So, they're "chapter approved". grin

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP26 Mar 2018 6:35 p.m. PST

The Czech tanks were mostly produced in the Czech factories taken over by the Dastardly Hun. I believe they used the original Czech workers too, but I might be wrong on that.
The Germans took over a lot of factories in occupied territories. No sense in shutting down perfectly good production lines.

Blutarski26 Mar 2018 7:23 p.m. PST

Captured Russian PPsH SMGs and Tokarev semi-auto rifles were put to use by Germany on the Eastern Front.

Captured opponent AFVs were employed by both sides on the Eastern Front.

Large numbers of captured Soviet 76.2mm field guns were adapted by Germany for use as AT weapons; some of these actually found their way to North Africa as early as 1942.

Soviets employed large numbers of captured German Panzerfausts against their previous owners toward the end of the war.

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goragrad26 Mar 2018 11:03 p.m. PST

Quite a few instances of soldiers unofficially using enemy weapons as well as their being issued when sufficient quantities were captured – the PPSH being a primes example.

Germany converted a number of them to fire 9x19mm and issued 7.65mm Mauser ammo for the others.

Submachine guns being one of the more common unofficial pickups.

MadMat20 Inactive Member27 Mar 2018 3:31 a.m. PST

>>And the Germans would have been doing really well to have captured stens at Dunkirk as they weren't in service before 1941.

Fair point indeed. :)
The Sten might have been provided by captured drops to the Resistance, with only the rifles & LMG from Dunkirk stocks.

I know the French collaborationist Milice was equipped with Sten from captured British drops in that fashion.

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP27 Mar 2018 4:15 a.m. PST

As mwindsorfw notes above, the German MG-42 made such a distinctive noise that Allied troops rarely would use captured ones because they drew friendly fire.

I read an account of American troops using a captured German 'pupchen' rocket launcher.

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP27 Mar 2018 6:15 a.m. PST

As far as ammunition the Germans re-chambered many of the captured 76.2 guns to use the Pak 40 cartridge. There were, of course, other modifications. The modified gun was listed as the 76.2 Pak 36(r).

Legion 427 Mar 2018 6:31 a.m. PST

It happened quite often as noted, and for various reasons. Even in the PTO, the US forces would sometimes use captured IJFs' MGs to add additional firepower. And a number were captured as in many cases the IJFs fought to the death and died in place.

The IJFs' ground equipment was generally considered "junk", especially their SA and AFVs. Albeit they "did get the job done" basically. But as I read, when the captured IJFs' MG jammed, etc., they were just discarded/thrown away/destroyed.

Fred Cartwright27 Mar 2018 7:09 a.m. PST

In fairness, the Stens used 9mm ammo, and were dropped to the resistance--and were used by paratroopers at least in part because of the ammunition.

The Sten used 9mm Parabellum because the British had a huge stockpile of the rounds in 1940 when the gun was being designed. It was an inspired choice as it enabled captured rounds to be used.

But as I read, when the captured IJFs' MG jammed, etc., they were just discarded/thrown away/destroyed.

There is a difference between capturing an enemy weapon and using it until it breaks or runs out of ammo and the collection, distribution and supply of captured enemy weapons on a large scale. Undoubtably the Germans were the leading exponents of this, even going as far as manufacturing ammo to keep them supplied.

FugazzaWithCheese27 Mar 2018 8:12 a.m. PST

Otto Carius tells of a poorly defended ammo dump in Tigers In The Mud. The Soviets were very quick to put those captured MG42s and PaK-40s to use against the Germans. It was 1942, so those weapons were just entering service, which came as quite a surprise for the Germans.

Lion in the Stars27 Mar 2018 8:43 a.m. PST

The biggest use of captured weapons I know of was definitely the Russian Faustniki teams. Captured panzerfausts were collected across the front and delivered to the Engineer-Sapper battalions for bunker-smashing.

One Panzerfaust fired at a bunker probably wouldn't do much. 10 or more in a single volley, however…

4th Cuirassier27 Mar 2018 9:33 a.m. PST

An Australian division used captured Italian M13s in the desert for a while, but as Fred observes there's a difference between using a captured weapon till it breaks and wholesale re-equipping with them.

catavar27 Mar 2018 10:10 a.m. PST

I believe it was pretty common on the eastern front. It's no secret that the Germans and Russians both employed captured enemy AFV's (some were intentionally rebuilt using just the hull to make a tank hunter from a tank) in company up to battalion size groups. There's quite a few books dedicated to this topic alone regarding the German Army.

MadMat20 Inactive Member27 Mar 2018 10:34 a.m. PST

>>An Australian division used captured Italian M13s in the desert for a while

It was the 6th Division's 6th Australian Divisional Cavalry at Tobruk. The tanks were M11 captured from Raggrupamento Malleti and a few M13 captured at Bardia.

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The 9th Australian Division's case is even more interesting IMO.
It was equipped Italian weapons captured during Operation Compass, mostly Breda 20mm AA guns, 47mm AT guns and (a lot of) trucks.
Unlike most of the cases mentioned above, those were not just battlefield trophies grabbed and thrown away when they didn't work, but their official dotation.
Later, it even organized a small armored squadron with some captured M11 & M13 tanks!

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That's the reason why I have chosen to model that division … :)

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP27 Mar 2018 11:27 a.m. PST

I found the choice of Brad Pitt using the stg 44 in fury stupid. It wasn't that common a weapon. And so I assume ammo would be very hard to come by.
A MP40 would make more sense. You'd be able to get plenty of ammo from Germans or in a pinch the British.

Legion 427 Mar 2018 2:22 p.m. PST

There is a difference between capturing an enemy weapon and using it until it breaks or runs out of ammo and the collection, distribution and supply of captured enemy weapons on a large scale.
Very true Fred, but it makes sense that on a small tactical level this happened at times. However, IIRC at least in some cases the USMC on Guadalcanal collected the IJFs' MG. And kept them in a reserve with troops who would rush forward in Amphtracs. And stop break thru attempts in the line.
Undoubtably the Germans were the leading exponents of this, even going as far as manufacturing ammo to keep them supplied.
And yes, they were the masters of this. More so than any other forces in WWII it appears.

deephorse27 Mar 2018 3:35 p.m. PST

It wasn't that common a weapon. And so I assume ammo would be very hard to come by.

Common enough, especially if you are comparing it to the MP40. Around 426,000 StG44 v 1.1 million MP40s produced. Plus the StG44 was produced over a shorter time period.

RudyNelson27 Mar 2018 3:46 p.m. PST

As I mentioned on a similar post, one of my filler articles in Time Portal Passages had went through official Army books and VFW photo books from the 1950s and cited a number of unusual photos from the books.

One of the most commonly used items in regards to weapons were captured artillery guns including 88s used to bombard the Germans.
A favorite item to convert was a German schwim or kubel wagon. They seem to real popular among scout elements.
By far the most unusual item was a German Stuka which had both Italian and British markings on the wing.

Bill N27 Mar 2018 4:57 p.m. PST

At least one unit in the 2nd British Armored Division was equipped with captured Italian tanks at the beginning of Rommel's offensive. Some of those tanks had been knocked out and then repaired by the British, further suggesting it was not simply a case of grabbing a captured item and using it until it broke. They either broke down or ran out of fuel in the retreat which may have discouraged the British from repeating the experiment.

Bunkermeister Supporting Member of TMP27 Mar 2018 6:06 p.m. PST

The Germans did it a lot. Any solders who have shortages of weapons will do that as the opportunity presents itself. I did a whole platoon of "George Washington Legion" troops equipped with a mixture of German and American equipment just for the amusement value. This fictional unit was composed of American POW's and Ex-pats living in Germany at the time of the invasion of Russia who wanted to fight Communism.

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Mike Bunkermeister Creek
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