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Was it common to use captured tanks?

Originally published under Ask Mr. History. Published Online: April 04, 2013 
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Mr. Guttman,

In an article about the battle of Kursk from the Spring 2013 issue of MHQ, the author mentions a German attack lead by a captured T-34. How common was it for WWII armies to use opponents hardware? Also, since the Soviets retained the field after the battle, did they capture and press into service any of the disabled Panther or Tiger tanks?

Dave Damron

? ? ?

Dear Mr. Damron,  

The Allies seldom used captured enemy weaponry in Europe and North Africa, but the Germans certainly did. As galling as it might have been for the Master Race to to admit it, the T-34 had its virtues and outnumbered as they were, the Germans were not that far above pressing captured T-34s into service. Likewise they used PPSh-41 submachine guns because of their reliability and high rate of fire. Erwin Rommel made liberal use of captured British armor and trucks to supplement his shaky supply lines, including a British command vehicle he called Der Mammut ("mammoth"). In the Pacific, I've seen photos, like the one below, of Marines occasionally using captured Japanese items, such as the 70mm light field howitzer and Type 89 grenade projector, against their former owners.

U.S. Marines using a captured Japanese gun in the Pacific during World War II. Photographed either on Kwajalein or Enewetok in the Marshall Islands by Paul D. Guttman.
U.S. Marines using a captured Japanese gun in the Pacific during World War II. Photographed either on Kwajalein or Enewetok in the Marshall Islands by Paul D. Guttman.




Jon Guttman
Research Director
Weider History Group
More Questions at Ask Mr. History


2 Responses to “Was it common to use captured tanks?”

  1. 1
    Mike Halvorsen says:

    IIRC, the U.S Army's 83rd Infantry Division made liberal use of captured Greman vehicles, including tanks, that they had captured intact (usually out of fuel), gassed up, painted over the German markings, added American markings, and drove them to the Rhine.

  2. 2
    SCOTT says:


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