Keep your Panzers close…

Today, Duncan looks at beutepanzer in Mid War and compiling your forces from Ghost Panzer and the Command Cards.

Firstly I’d like to thank the amazing website http://beutepanzer.ru for the information and images that they have collated – it’s an amazing repository and I heartily recommend having a look yourself if you have a moment.

Background

I think it is widely documented that the Germans reused and repurposed captured enemy equipment right from the very start, of WW2; the Czech 38t always jumps to mind for me that even as early as 1939.

A captured T-34 in the foreground and the gun tank Panzer IV behind it

By the time Barbarossa was in full swing the German fighting machine had more than 1,500 Soviet tanks of all shapes and sizes but there was an initial reluctance to put this ‘acquired’ armour straight back into the fray. The difference between the use of vehicles from France, the Low Countries and Czechoslovakia was access to the industry to support these machines.

Due to this lack of parts, expertise, and desire of commanders the use of captured Soviet armour in action remained sparse up to 1942; for example, the first instances of T-34s taken in action in 1941 were allocated to the 1st, 8th and 11th Panzer Divisions, the commanders of which decided not to put them back into use immediately.

Even partially destroyed, the Germans get Plant No. 183 back online

There were a number of factors that shifted this aversion to putting captured Soviet machinery back into use against its former operators between 1941 and 1942. Firstly the crippling losses on the Eastern Front began to mount up and outstrip the production of Germany industry to replace these valuable assets. German commanders found more and more that they had to push captured armour back into service as a necessity rather than a choice; trophies were returned to functional armour assets.
A number of German industrial facilities, namely Mercedes – Benz (Mrienfeld), Daimler – Benz (Berlin) and Wumag (Goerlitz), all begin to produce restored and refurbished Soviet armour for the front.

The high point came around 1942-1943 with the seizure of Kharkov.
The Germans now had access to Tractor Plant (KhTZ), also known as Kharkov Lokomotiv Plant (Plant No183. now Malyshev plant), and the manufacturing capacity to fully repair and refit the T-34. The area around Losevo was scoured for parts, tools and locals with any form of fabricating expertise and in 17 days 750 tons of material was gathered up. 15-20 specialists in tank production were also found and put to work restoring battle damaged and abandoned T-34s operating under the motto “of three, let us make one” and retrofitting some of these tanks with cupolas and optics from German Panzer III and Panzer IV tanks.

Between 1942 and 1943 some 25 T-34 tanks were transferred to 3 Pz.Jg.Abt. 2 Pz.Gr.Div. SS “Das Reich” and there may also have been an additional 22 tanks transferred to 3 Pz.Gr.Div SS “Totenkopf”.
To supplement these 76mm armed T-34s, a real mixed bag of nuts in terms of type and age, Panzer IV G tanks were added in a “Tank Destroyer” role.
During Operation Zitadelle Das Reich was involved in the bitter fighting around Prokhorovka.

In Flames of War

With the arrival of Ghost Panzers and the accompanying Captured T-34 Company and Captured T-34 Platoon Command Cards, I was over the moon to see that there was an option for the T-34 company – it was time to rekindle my love of the German Beutepanzer!

Fearless Trained is the new hotness!

The Command Cards allow you to either field an entire formation of T-34s or to add them in as a support option for, say an armoured Panzergrenadier Company. The great thing is as that you can mix an match in platoons that are comprised solely of T-34s or add in the Panzer IV G gun tanks which are a really nice option.

I’ve decided to go for a bit of variation to allow for some nice hobbying to occur so currently, my proposed 100pts force is as follows:

Mixed Panzer Company
(Ghost Panzers)

  1. Captured T-34 Company Card
  2. Mixed Panzer Company HQ
    • 1x Panzer III (late 5cm)
  3. Captured T-34 Platoon
    • 4 x T-34 (76mm)
  4. Captured T-34 Platoon
    • 3 x T-34 (76mm), 1 x Panzer IV (late)
  5. Wespe Artillery Battery
    • 3x Wespe (10.5cm)

This force has some issues but I think it will look very cool on the tabletop. It has some pros in terms of the Wespe barrage and the T-34s and Panzer IVs gives a reasonable amount of AT9/11. There are also some inherent weaknesses to the list; by 1943 FA6 is nothing to write home about and I have zero recce or high end AT.

Captured T-34 tank with German fitted cupola

This is definitely a list that will be a challenge to play but if I wanted V4 in easy mode I’d be looking at other options frankly. The modelling opportunity is too good to pass up on these beautiful beute’s so I’m hoping that the aesthetically results will trump the on table ones considerably.

If points were not an option I’d definitely look to add things like a Tiger, Stuka Dive Bomber and some recon to round things out and make the force feel even more of that moment in time on the 12th July 1943 when the call “Steel, steel, steel” went out over the German radios and the Battle of Prokhorovka commenced.

All the talk about Ghost Panzers that I have seen is around the Ferdinand and I think that there is a myriad of different, interesting options in the book that demands to be explored. This is my take on the Captured T-34 Company; there are some little gems of lists in Ghost Panzers so take a moment and look beyond the current meta.

My next for look some inspiration will, hopefully, be looking at some forces from the 5th Guards Tank Army to oppose the T-34s of Das Reich.

Until next time keep you Panzers close and your Panzerkampfwagen 747(r)s closer!

Category: Eastern FrontFlames of WarGermansList DiscussionRambling

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Article by: Duncan Gosling