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Armour At The Last Stand-Community Contribution


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The_Challenger #1 Posted 31 October 2012 - 04:57 PM

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Last stand Armour (Submitted By "Listy")


During the last year of World war II, as the allies were knocking on the door of the Reich the Germans became more and more desperate for forces to use against the allies. During this period some oddities started showing up in the German forces, as they tried to halt the allies with anything they had. Interestingly these included some of the last combat uses for many tanks that had gone out of service years before.  In this article I'll talk about some of them I have encountered. The list is of course not exhaustive as new photos and documents are being discovered all the time. Equally I've not had time to research all the occasions an oddball vehicle crops up. For example there are photographs of FT-17's appearing in the Vienna vehicle collection point, or the Photograph of the  early war British Cruiser tank, in German Markings, knocked out on the side of the road to Berlin.

        

The Ruhr Pocket

First up we'll look at a tank you can play with right now, the KV-2. In 1941 this particular KV-2 was captured from the Russians, where exactly is not recorded. It was sent to the Krupp works at Essen for tests. Looking at the one surviving photograph it appears that it was used for resistance tests for Anti-tank guns. You can spot the large number of hits on its flank. It is a testament to the solid armour and robust engineering that the tank was still considered operational to any degree.

        

It’s at this point details get a bit sketchy.
We know it was used against the US forces attacking the Ruhr pocket in 1945. But by whom and where appears to be lost in the chaos at the end of the war.
I have my suspicions based upon evidence from other sources, which is about as good as it gets. Around Essen there were three units involved in defending the north side of the Ruhr pocket. In Essen was infantry division Hamburg, to the East of Essen was a Fallschirmjager division. On the German maps from the time the west of Essen is marked simply "Volkssturm".
Of those three, Infantry division Hamburg can be discounted, as it appears to have had almost no part in the combat. The recce element of the 507 Parachute infantry regiment in jeeps drove right into the Krupp works, with no resistance, on the first day of the 17th Airborne’s attack.
I have nothing to support or deny the Fallschirmjager used it. I do however believe the Volkssturm deployed the KV-2. My reasoning is because of the unique way the Volkssturm was formed they'd have the knowledge that the Tank existed and the people who knew how to operate it. Considering some of the other oddities that have turned up in the Volkssturm, often from local factories or similar I believe that it is most likely they deployed the tank against the US army.

Defending Zossen

Zossen is a training ground to the south of Berlin. The soviet 6th guards’ tank corps and the 1st polish corps were attacking this area in April 1945.
Not too far from Zossen is the famous Kummersdorf tank centre. The proximity of Kummersdorf probably accounts for the large number of odd vehicles that appear in the fighting.

The 614th Schwere panzerjager company consisted of the last 4 remaining Elephant tank destroyers in the German inventory. Along with infantry it formed a kampfgruppe. The 614th was issued a T-35 tank as a command vehicle. It was knocked out of action almost instantly the unit made contact with the Soviets.
The history of this T-35 I've had more success with. We know it was tank #28 of the 64th tank regiment. Which was which got stuck in a bog near Lvov in 1941. There are pictures from Lvov of a T-35 that broke down by the side of the road, it not clear if this is actually the tank in question, or the combat records about the bog are correct.

        

Either way it was later recovered and sent to Kummersdorf, where it was tided up and used for photographs for a German tank recognition manual. She also appeared as a display visit for several visiting staff members. The T-35 remained there, being maintained and in working order until 1945 when issued to the 614th.

        


        

The other unit in the Area which I wish to mention is the famous Kummersdorf Panzer Company. In this company there were assorted German tanks of varying types, a Italian P-40, 2 captured American Sherman’s and a Hummel with its gun removed and a MG-151 Drilling mounted. The main reason for Panzer company Kummersdorf fame was the fact it also included the two Maus prototypes. Despite claims abounding on the web, neither saw action. Both broke down and were destroyed before the unit made contact with the soviet 6th guards Tank corps.

        

        


Berlin

The fighting for berlin is interesting from an armoured stand point. All roads lead to Berlin, and a great many German units were pushed back into the city, leading to a profusion of armoured vehicles in the city.
I've chosen to look at one of the oddities used there, called the Borgward IV Wanze. While the name suggests that it’s based upon the Panzer IV, this isn't the case. Instead it was a entirely separate vehicle. Originally designed as a remote control demolition carrier it was a small lightly armoured chassis. The original design had a driver’s seat, but this was only for transport. During combat the driver would dismount and the vehicle would be driven by radio control to the target, where a large demolition charge would be dropped off and the Borgward could retire.

        

        
Several of these vehicles were fitted with a position for a second crewman to act as a gunner, and 8 anti-tank rocket launchers. This conversion was called the Panzerjager Wanze.
The idea behind it was the Wanze would lurk round a corner or in a hide. When a soviet tank approached all 8 of the rockets would be fired at once. Followed quickly by the vehicle’s smoke dischargers. Those smoke grenades and the firing signature from the rockets would give enough cover for the Wanze to reverse out of danger and reload in cover. Then once re-loaded the operation could be repeated. It is reported that the Wanze had some success against invading soviet armour in Berlin.

Another source of weirdness in Berlin is a pair of armoured cars photographed in the Reichstag court yard. They are a Model Benz VP21 Schuposonderwagen and a Dutch Wilton-Fijenoord armoured car.



As A final note, no matter what anyone says no British world war one tanks were operational in Berlin on the German side. The two that can be seen in photographs of Berlin were dragged out of a museum and used as bomb shelters.

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The_Challenger #2 Posted 31 October 2012 - 05:00 PM

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A great contribution by "Listy" regarding the German oddities,  :Smile_Default:

Listy #3 Posted 31 October 2012 - 05:09 PM

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For more information on the Borgward, edfrancis001 wrote this post only last week.

View PostThe_Challenger, on 31 October 2012 - 05:00 PM, said:

A great contribution by "Listy" regarding the German oddities,  :Smile_Default:

Thanks.

Edited by Listy, 31 October 2012 - 05:13 PM.


Tigger3 #4 Posted 01 November 2012 - 12:58 AM

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Renault D2 from Zossen area, April 1945

http://beute.narod.r...st_fight_01.jpg

Kummersdorf tanks
Posted ImagePosted Image

HarryStotle #5 Posted 01 November 2012 - 11:52 AM

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Cool,

Love reading this sort of stuff. My Grandfather once told me how much captured Japanese equipment they had to use when fighting in Burma due to the fact that us Brits were so poorly supplied over there.
Not tank related but, One weapon the infantry loved to get hold of was the MP18 which ironically was a WW1 sub machine gun. Due to its rate of fire and excellent close combat abilities, perhaps it was the first 9 Milli Drilly Killy machine.

        



Cartridge9×19mm Parabellum
7.63×25mm MauserAction open bolt blowback Rate of fire ~500 round/min Muzzle velocity 380 m/s (1,247 ft/s) Feed system 32 detachable drum magazine TM 08 (World War I); 20, 30 and 50 round detachable box (post-World War I)

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Atomic_Winter #6 Posted 01 November 2012 - 02:19 PM

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Other "nice" sub machine guns not heard of that often is the Suomi machine gun which I had the privelige to try out in my army days (mid 90's). Really nice weapon with a very high rate of fire

http://en.wikipedia....ki/Suomi_KP/-31

The_Challenger #7 Posted 01 November 2012 - 02:29 PM

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View Postbbjorgo, on 01 November 2012 - 02:19 PM, said:

Other "nice" sub machine guns not heard of that often is the Suomi machine gun which I had the privelige to try out in my army days (mid 90's). Really nice weapon with a very high rate of fire

http://en.wikipedia....ki/Suomi_KP/-31

Nice thanks, certainly not one I had heard of  :Smile_Default:

Atomic_Winter #8 Posted 01 November 2012 - 03:58 PM

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View PostThe_Challenger, on 01 November 2012 - 02:29 PM, said:



Nice thanks, certainly not one I had heard of  :Smile_Default:
Its like shooting with a firehose :)

The_Challenger #9 Posted 01 November 2012 - 05:37 PM

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View Postbbjorgo, on 01 November 2012 - 03:58 PM, said:

Its like shooting with a firehose :)

Lol, for me the strangest small arm I have ever fired was the Mac 10 , I think I emptied the Magazine in a nano second  :Smile_Default:

        

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Edited by The_Challenger, 01 November 2012 - 05:39 PM.


ProxyCentauri #10 Posted 05 November 2012 - 01:15 PM

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View Postbbjorgo, on 01 November 2012 - 03:58 PM, said:

Its like shooting with a firehose :)

I can add that this is probably one of the most underestmated and less known infantry weapons of WW2,
apart from Russia and the nordic countries, surprisingly few ppl seem to have heard of it.

Allready on the battle scene in the Russian/Finnish war of '39/'40 although in very limited numbers,
in the continuation war from summer '41 onwards, the Finnish army used them in large numbers.

It was mainly distributed in much the same way as the MP-40/Schmeisser sub-machine gun in German Wehrmacht/Waffen SS-
it would typically be the service weapon of a half-platoon/platoon NCO leader, and a lot of officers
would use it too to complement the standard officer side-arm.

Due to its simplicity, great rate of fire and a surprisingly good balance(it must have been the UZI of its day)
my country Norway used them extensively after WW2, removed from the Norwegian National Guard as
late as the late 70's/ early 80's

The_Challenger #11 Posted 05 November 2012 - 01:50 PM

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View PostProxyCentauri, on 05 November 2012 - 01:15 PM, said:

I can add that this is probably one of the most underestmated and less known infantry weapons of WW2,
apart from Russia and the nordic countries, surprisingly few ppl seem to have heard of it.

Allready on the battle scene in the Russian/Finnish war of '39/'40 although in very limited numbers,
in the continuation war from summer '41 onwards, the Finnish army used them in large numbers.

It was mainly distributed in much the same way as the MP-40/Schmeisser sub-machine gun in German Wehrmacht/Waffen SS-
it would typically be the service weapon of a half-platoon/platoon NCO leader, and a lot of officers
would use it too to complement the standard officer side-arm.

Due to its simplicity, great rate of fire and a surprisingly good balance(it must have been the UZI of its day)
my country Norway used them extensively after WW2, removed from the Norwegian National Guard as
late as the late 70's/ early 80's

Thanks Proxy  :Smile_Default:

ProxyCentauri #12 Posted 05 November 2012 - 02:11 PM

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View PostThe_Challenger, on 05 November 2012 - 01:50 PM, said:

Thanks Proxy  :Smile_Default:

YW Sir :) keep up Your great work in here

ProxyC

sheep21 #13 Posted 20 November 2012 - 04:54 PM

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many thanks for the article, bot to listy for writing and challenger for publishing, top work.

Listy #14 Posted 20 November 2012 - 06:53 PM

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View Postsheep21, on 20 November 2012 - 04:54 PM, said:

many thanks for the article, bot to listy for writing and challenger for publishing, top work.

Thanks.

Maximillian #15 Posted 26 November 2012 - 12:50 PM

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Very nice article :Smile_Default:  My grandfather fought in the defense of berlin(Nordland), but something I heard little about. As a kid I was more interested in hearing about him fighting enemy tanks, so articles like this has always made me think..

Few things about the Suomi in Norwegian service. It was never a "common" weapon, the mp40(called schmeisser here)was much more widespread and was around until we got the mp5. Mp40 was actually the first gun I fired at age 8, a perk of being a military brat :Smile_veryhappy: And when the suomi was being replaced with the mp5, the mp40 was still being used by norwegian homeguard.

Ppsh is pretty much "inspired" by the Suomi, but having fired both, suomi is by far the better gun of the two.




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