The German army, always short of equipment, was always more than happy to employ as much captured material as possible. Using captured or foreign produced equipment was a standard practise of the German Army since before the war. T-34s, T-70s, T-26s, KV-1s, KV-2s and SU-85 were not an exception.

Captured T-34 Model 1943 tanks pressed into service with the Wehrmacht (Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-277-0836-04)

Fighting on the Eastern Front saw large numbers of T-34s captured, though few were T-34-85s. These were designated by the Germans as Panzerkampfwagen T-34 747(r). 

From late 1941, captured T-34s were transported to a German workshop for repairs and modification to German requirements. In 1943 a local tank factory in Kharkov was used for this purpose. These were sometimes modified to German standards by the installation of a German commander’s cupola and radio equipment.

The first captured T-34s entered German service during the summer of 1941. In order to prevent recognition mistakes, large-dimension crosses or even swastikas were painted on the tanks, including on top of the turret, in order to prevent strikes from Axis aircraft.

Modified T-34s were also used as artillery tractors, recovery vehicles, and ammunition carriers. Badly damaged tanks were either dug in as pillboxes or were used for testing and training purposes.

Captured Russian T-34's in german service. Note their interesting field mods: they got commander cupola from PZ III/IV (Via)

T-34 SS Division "Das Reich" Converting a captured Russian tank to German use (Via)

T-34 (Via)

T-34 (Via)

Captured T-34 division “Great Germany” (Via)

Soviet T-34 tank in German Service (Via)

A T-34/85, formerly of the Soviet 25th Guards Tank Brigade, in service with German forces in Nemmersdorf (Via)

Captured T-34/76 with German cupola fitted (Via)

Soviet T-34 tank in German service winter camouflage (Via)

Captured SU-85s in German service, under designation Jagdpanzer SU-85(r) (JagdPz-85(r), were not uncommon in 1943-44, since many of them were disabled and evacuated, but towed and repaired by the Wehrmacht, which tried to replace depleted units. These kind of captured tank hunters were highly praised, and were given very large Balkankreuz for identification, as a custom camouflage. 

The SU-85 and T-34 in German service as the JgPz 85(r) and the PzKpfw T-34 747(r), respectively (Via)

Officers from the 23rd Panzer Division of the Wehrmacht examine an intact, captured Soviet self-propelled tank destroyer (SPG SU-85), already fitted with German markings (Via)

Captured Soviet self-propelled tank destroyer SPG SU-85 (Via)

The Soviet SU-85 as the German Jagdpanzer SU-85 (r) (Via)

The Soviet SU-85 as the German Jagdpanzer SU-85 (r) (Via)

The Soviet SU-85 as the German Jagdpanzer SU-85(r) (Via)

The German Wehrmacht used around 40 captured T-26 tanks of different models under the designation Panzerkampfwagen 737(r), 738(r), or 740(r), depending of the model. KhT-130 flame-throwing tanks had the German designation Flammenwerfer Panzerkampfwagen 739(r). Only a very small number of captured T-26 tanks were repaired by German army workshops by the end of 1941. 

In autumn 1943, ten German T-26 tanks were rearmed as self-propelled guns (the turrets were removed and ex-French 7.5 cm guns Pak 97/38(f) with shields were installed instead).

Captured T-26B light tank, on the background another soviet captured light tank T-70 (Via)

The German designation for the T-70M was "Pz.Kpfw. T-70 743(r)" and was used mainly for reconnaissance and 'Internal Police Duties'. Some T-70's had their turrets removed, and were used to tow Artillery.

A group of captured T-70s in German service (Via)

A T-70 in German service. Wehrmacht use of captured tanks was very common (Via)

A T-70 in German service. Wehrmacht use of captured tanks was very common (Via)

A German Soldier sits atop a Captured Soviet T-70 light tank (Via)

German prisoners Soviet T-70 captured repainted Germans (Via)

Panzerkampfwagen KV-IA 753(r) and Panzerkampfwagen KV-IB 755(r) were designations for captured KV-1 tanks in German service. Some were fitted with a high-velocity 75 mm L/43 KwK 40, the same gun used in a Panzer IV Ausf F2. Certain models were also fitted with extra armor protection.

A KV-1 fitted with what appears to be a German 7.5cm L/43 gun and commanders cupola (Via)

Soviet KV-1 captured by the Germans (Via)

Captured KV-1E heavy tanks in German service (Via)

Soviet KV-1 tank in german service left side (Via)

Soviet KV-1 model 1940 – tank in german service (Via)

Captured, Kliment Voroshilov KV-1, russian heavy tank (Via)

Soviet KV-1 tank named “Strolch” in german service (Via)

KV-2s captured and used by the German Army were known as (Sturm) Panzerkampfwagen KV-II 754(r) and they were often used for artillery observation due to its height.

German Pz.Kpfw KV-2 754 (r) tank (Via)

German Pz.Kpfw KV-2 754 (r) tank (Via)

Captured KV-2 with German cupola fitted (Via)

Captured KV-2 (Via)

German KV-2 PzKpfw 754 (r) of unknown Wehrmacht unit – provisional winter camouflage, rear (Via)

Captured Soviet tanks were modified to German standards by installation of commander’s cupola, radio equipment along with other non-standard field modifications made during service by the their new owners.

One of the basic problems with the use of captured Soviet tanks was the complexity of their identification by own forces, tanks differed from enemy technique only by painting and by symbolism were often destroyed in the fever of battle by the fire of their own artillery or tanks, which were being oriented in essence not on the signs, substituted to the armor and to painting, but on the silhouettes of machines.

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