|An American B-17F "Wulf Hound" in Luftwaffe markings.|
The Germans captured all sorts of weapons, for instance, even as the Wehrmacht was in full retreat. Allied planes would make belly landings after developing one sort of issue or another, or bases would be overrun. An underlying theme of World War II is how often an advancing army captured huge stockpiles of enemy weapons and supplies.
|Another view of the Wehrmacht's collection of captured tanks at Kummersdorf. Pictured are maybe an IS-2, an I-70, a Sherman. One thing is for certain, they are not standard panzers. I like the German staff car in the background.|
|A captured He-111H at an airfield in England sometime in 1945 (colorized).|
|A captured P-51 being used at Rechlin.|
|Australian troops watching Tobruk burn, 22 January 1941. Note the captured Italian M13 tank they are using, so indicated by the white kangaroos painted on the side.|
|Recognize this one? It's one of the most iconic fighters of the war, but it usually isn't seen in Luftwaffe markings.|
|A German soldier in a trench with a captured Soviet PPSH-41 submachine gun on the Eastern Front. Taking small arms off of dead opponents is an extremely common occurrence.|
|A two-man Scharfschütze (sniper) team. The shooter is using a captured Russian Mosin-Nagant PU rifle. October 1941.|
|Another German using a Soviet submachine gun with the distinctive drum.|
|Polish 7TP light tank, captured by the German Wehrmacht in the battle for Poland in 1939. The local Panzerwaffe used it for their needs and then sent it west for the defense of France. It was captured by Allied forces in 1944 when this was taken.|
The first Flying Fortress captured by the Germans was B-17F-27-BO "Wulf Hound" (41-24585) from 360BS 303BG "Hell's Angels". It was damaged by German fighters during a bombing run on 12th of December 1942 and then suffered more hits during its return flight through the Kammhuber Line by a Bf 110 night fighter from NJG 1. The B-17 pilot, Lieutenant Flickinger, elected to land at Leeuwarden airfield in The Netherlands. The bomber was quickly repaired and two days later (after adding German markings) was escorted by two Bf 110s to Rechlin. The evaluation there revealed the strengths and vulnerabilities of the bomber and gave the Luftwaffe engineers ideas for their own designs. Wulf Hound then became the centerpiece at a June 12, 1943, exhibition of captured planes at Lärz airfield. Together with the B-17F, the exhibition included a B-24, P-47D, P-51, P-38, Avro Lancaster, DH Mosquito, Typhoon, and a Spitfire, among other equipment. "Wulf Hound" then returned to Rechlin in July 1943 and was used in trials towing a DFS 230 glider, remaining under evaluation. The bomber ultimately was transferred to KG 200 in September 1943 and coded A3+AE. It was used in some late-war clandestine missions.
|A British Firefly in German service. Note that markings on captured equipment that was re-purposed often were crude, done in the field by men who were not artists. the British soldier is pointing at the shell hole that destroyed the tank.|
|A better view of a German captured M4 Firefly. The Sherman Firefly was a better tank than the standard Sherman due to its 17 pounder main gun, though nobody considers it the equal of a Panther or Tiger.|
|Captured Spitfires in the Luftwaffe. Adolf Galland famously told Hermann Goering in August 1940 that what he needed was a Squadron of Spitfires. Well, eventually he got one.|
Use of American equipment extended far beyond Wulf Hound, of course. The commonly known story of the Battle of the Bulge is that the Germans infiltrated behind US lines using equipment the Germans had captured. This was Operation Greif, organized by SS boss Heinrich Himmler. It did not come to much.
|Captured Shermans impressed into Wehrmacht service.|
|Certainly, you recognized this one. Hover over the picture if you don't recognize it.|
|US troops drive a King Tiger German tank that has already obtained its US Army star.|
|T-34 in German service. The markings on the hatch would be to keep any Panzerknackers like Hans-Ulrich Rudel from bombing them.|
|Russian soldiers with a captured German Nebelwerfer 41 rocket launcher.|
|German soldiers clean and services captured Russian sub-machine guns highly sought after for their ruggedness and setting to fire single shots, 1942.|
|KV Tank in the Wehrmacht.|
|A column of KV-1Es Soviet tanks captured by German and reused in the Wehrmacht.|
|T-34s used in the Wehrmacht.|
|This is a Russian T-34 with German markings. The Germans used many enemy tanks during the war. A common captured weapon was the British Bren gun carrier, to which the Germans attached rocket launchers and used in dedicated squads against the Soviets.|
|SdKfz 138-139 Marder III incorporating a Russian 7.62cm anti-tank gun abandoned in North Africa, 1943.|
|A Sherman in Wehrmacht markings on the Russian Front.|
|German soldiers smoke captured American cigarettes in front of a U.S. Army armored car on December 17, 1944.|
|Wehrmacht soldiers posing with captured American weapons, 1944.|
|Balikpapan, Borneo. July 1945. Australian Jack Keanne of Stanthorpe, Qld, studies the hills surrounding Balikpapan, through captured giant field glasses which are resting on a Japanese wooden crate.|
The use of captured weapons was much reduced in the Pacific Theater of Operations because of the nature of the island-hopping campaigns. If you were going to invade an island, you wouldn't need to bring along any captured equipment, and most of the island battles didn't last too long (with some notable exceptions). Japanese tanks were obsolete and few and far between, but now and then more mundane enemy equipment came in handy.
Things are not Always What They Seem
|A Dornier Do-17 in British service in Egypt.|
Between 14 and 15 April 1941, seven Yugoslav Do 17Ks flew to Nikšić airport and took part in the evacuation of King Petar II and members of the Yugoslav government to Greece as well as of the Yugoslav gold reserves. The planes, together with the S.79K used for the King’s escape, landed at Paramythia, a Greek airfield not far from the border with Albania which at this time was still the base of RAF No 211 Squadron. Five of the Dorniers were soon destroyed by an Italian Air Force raid. The two survivors escaped to Egypt, just before the fall of the base into Axis hands, together with the S.79K with the young King (18 years) on board. In Egypt, both of the German-built planes, previously in the Royal Yugoslav Air Force’s 209 Eskadrila, were absorbed by the RAF and allocated codes AX707 and AX706. Their life in the RAF ranks was extremely brief: both were destroyed by an enemy air raid on 27 August 1941, an unusual instance of the Luftwaffe being happy to destroy German-built aircraft.
|Partisans all across Europe wound up using captured German weapons. Here, Polish resistance fighter Roman Marchel posing with a captured MP 40 submachine gun during the Warsaw Uprising, Ciepla Street, Warsaw, Poland, 20 Aug 1944.|
|Another partisan in Warsaw using German equipment.|
|Germans using a KV tank. They were slow, but heavily armed and with a huge gun.|
|The Japanese captured this B-17D in the Philippines and put it in their markings. They flew it to Japan for evaluation.|