#59 Subjugated Shermans: Shermans in Nazi hands

Subjugated Shermans:  Sherman tanks captured and used by the Nazis Updated 10/2/16

M4A1, and M3 Lee in Nazi hands
1. This early production M4A1 75 tank has DV ports, and the stubby mantlet. it was captured from the 1st Armored Regiment of the First Armored Division of the US army, in Tunisia in 1943 and is being tested in Germany at Kummersdorf. Note the armor thickness and angle stenciled on the tank, the Germans were giving it an extensive workout during their testing.The tank was named War Daddy II.

Sometimes a tank crew can get spooked and bail out of a functional tank. Or a tank can be left disabled on the battlefield and be repaired by the bad guys. The Germans were so desperate for tanks they happily used any Shermans they captured, and unlike the T-34 they didn’t feel the need to modify the tank in any way. The Germans managed to capture Shermans from the Russians, UK, and Americans. The Japanese never captured an intact Sherman. I don’t think the Italians managed to capture one either.

Depending on the crew quality, little things can cause them to abandon  the tank, and it seems to be a universal problem, since I’ve read of just about all of the warring nations having crews bail out from fright when the tank had sustained only minor, or cosmetic damage.  In other cases, the tank takes real damage, like a lost track, an engine problem or a hit that took out an internal fixture, but an experienced crew might stay in the tank.  The crew has a duty to destroy the tank before leaving it behind. There is a whole procedure covering how to do it, and what to destroy if you only have a short amount of time, including many methods.  The methods range from blowing the tank up with special grenades, to just destroying the machine guns, main gun and radios.  This is covered in FM17-67 Crew Drill and Service of the Piece Medium Tank M4 Series.

There are many reasons why a crew might not be able to destroy their tank. If the crew is killed as they bailed out or after, or captured, since if they are under fire while they get out, the tank falling into enemy hands isn’t going to be on a soldier’s mind in many cases. In some cases the green crews who panic and bail out, just don’t bother even checking the tank over before running.  I’ve read of many cases of German crews just leaving the tank, hatches all open, without booby traps and walking off when their Panther inevitably broke down or ran out of gas.

Even though the Sherman was an automotive masterpiece the Germans could only dream of producing, they were still capable of keeping them running. A German tank mechanic would find even the A57 a breath of fresh air in ease of troubleshooting and reliability. They also liked to use the captured Shermans as ARVs, often with the turrets removed. Having a very tough powertrain and a reliable and robust motor is a very nice thing in a Armored Recovery Vehicle, and the Shermans was just that. It must have been terribly frustrating for the Germans to get a Bergepather in place to try and tow a broken down Panther, only to have it break down too!

Now onto the photos, sorry, but the Germans seem to be as bad at photography, at least of captured Shermans, as they are at tank design, so many of the images are small and blurry. The captions have been updated in great extent to the efforts of Roy Chow, who sent in a very nice comment correcting my many mistakes.  Thanks again Roy!

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2. An M4A2 75 dry, large hatch Sherman, this was a very late production 75mm tank, near the end of the run. Note the armored patches on the hull, it has the large hatch hull but still had the dry ammo racks. The crew looks pretty pleased with their tank, it was more reliable, got better gas mileage and was more comfortable than than the Panzer III that were stuck in before. This tank even  has a loaders hatch.
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3. Germans looking at a captured Lee they got to crew and ‘probably’ wondering why their nation couldn’t produce a tank as reliable as this one. Though to tell the truth, the main tanks of Germany were still the PIII and IV at that time, and these tanks were decently reliable, though not on par with the M3/M4 series.
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4. This M3 Lee is the same one as pictured in image 3.  Note the lack of side door, meaning this was a later production Lee tank.
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5. An M3 Lee  being tested by the Germans at kummersdorf.  This tank has 147 painted on the side of the turret. The next six images are all of  M3 Lee 147.
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6. Another shot of 147, it appears to have an M3 gun.
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7. In this shot we can see it’s a fairly early Lee, it has the Machine gun port holes in the front hull, and the 37mm gun lacks the stabilizer counter weight. The main gun in an M3 not the earlier M2 though.
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8. Another blurry shot of  Lee 147
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9. Another blurry shot of 147, this time from the side, the Germans seem to be keeping it clean and well maintained.
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10. Maybe the best shot of 147, you can make out the lack of counterweight on the 37 ( it looks like another .30 barrel under the 37 when it’s there)
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11. Three shots of the same captured M3 Lee, lend lease tank, in Nazi hands.
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12. Cross shape and general layout say this is 147 again, but no way to tell for sure.
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13. Here is 147 again, with War Daddy II the M4A1 from the first image in this post, in the testing field at Kummersdorf,  the German Army Proving grounds.  I’d love to know what all that junk on the front of War Daddy II is.
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14. A Soviet M3 Lee lend lease tank in the hands of the Nazis, who were clearly more than willing to use a tank with a decent gun that was reliable. This tank has 135 on the turret, does this mean 147 could have been a captured Soviet Lee?
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15. Nazis marveling over the advanced M3 Lee tank. This was probably the first time they had seen a stabilized 37mm gun (note the machine gun barrel like thing under the 37mm gun). This tank also had a stabilized 75mm M2 gun. The Germans never managed to get a stabilizer in a tank during the war. The star and band on the turret lead me to believe this is a knocked out US tank.
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16. The Germans sure did like to take pictures of Shermans at just the right angle to make it really hard to tell what model it was. Thanks Nazis. Anyway, this tank was photographed a lot and is a Firefly Vc, its number 16 again.
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17. A M4 tank that the Nazis had been using, knocked out and back in American hands.
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18. A Firefly Vc in use by the Nazis,this is the same tank as in image 16. This is a pretty good image, and shows the box normally mounted on the rear hull, mounted to the front on this tank, that and the cross placement make spotting it easier. It does not appear to have received any of the add on armor over the ammo racks on thin spot in the turret cheek.
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19. Same tank as above, this time on the move, only the driver and commander unbuttoned.
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20. A Nazi tanker marveling at the superior design of the American periscope on this Firefly Vc. This is the same tank as above. Note the headlight guard has a bit of a dent in it.
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21. A Firefly Vc in Nazi hands. This one appears to be a different tank, from all the previous shots, the cross placement is different, the hull storage box is in the right place, and this one has the number six painted in several places the one from Pic 16 does not have.
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22. Captured M4A1 with writing on the side, the same tank is in the picture below. This tank is a mid production small hatch tank.
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23. An M4A1 in the hands of the Nazis, with a Nazi flag soiling its front plate, if tanks had souls, this one would be crying out in pain for being subjugated by the Nazis! note the shorty gun mantlet meaning this M4A1 still only had a parascopic main gun sight.
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24. An M4A3 76w tank captured by the Germans and then knocked out, this shot is actually the last in a series of three, the earlier ones can be found further down. (I plan on fixing this).
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25. A Firefly Vc, see the big bulge behind the turret for the radiator, in Nazi hands. It must have bewildered the Germans a tank with an engine so complicated could actually be reliable! Anyway, thanks to reader Roy Chow, we now know this tank probably belonged to 2cnd Canadian Amd Bde, and was one of three captured by the Nazis, painted Yellow, and put back in action before being recaptured by Commonwealth troops. One of the tanks still survives in the Dutch Cavalry Museum in Amersfoort
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26. A captured Firefly Vc, in use by the Nazis, note the large number of German crosses, they really didn’t want to get friendly fired. This really appears to be the same tank from Image 16.
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27. A captured Firefly Vc with a pair of Nazis in front of it. This appears to be another shot of the Firefly in image 16.
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28. The same old Vc from image 16, you can see the armored box is clearly missing from the rear hull in this shot.
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29. our old pal, the Vc Firefly from image 16.
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30. A captured M4A1 near a bunch of Nazi horse carts. Yeah, the Germans still depended on horses for much of their supply chain.
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31. A  shot of a knocked out captured Firefly Ic or Vc, probably a captured Canadian Vc in Holland.
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32. AM4A3 76 w tank captured by the Nazis, and then destroyed by the US Army, being inspected by US Army troops
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33. A captured Vc Firefly in Nazi hands. The seems to be the same tank as the one in image 21.
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34. A knocked out M4A2 large hatch tank, captured by the Nazis from the Soviets.
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35. A Vc Firefly in Nazi hands, this one looks like out old pal from image 16
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36. Nazi tankers look over the suspension of their Vc Firefly, this is another shot of the the Firefly from image 16
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37. A captured Vc Firefly with Nazis looking at it. Image 16 strikes again.
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38. An Ic Firefly being used as a movie prop
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39. The Germans sure seem to have a lot of captured Firefly tanks, well, as Roy pointed out, not really, they just took a lot of photos of the same firefly from Image 16.
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40. This image has been flipped, the you can see the armored plug and commanders hatches on the wrong side on this Vc Firefly. I’m betting it’s the same tank from image 16.
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41. This one is either an Ic or Vc Firefly in Nazi hands. I can’t tell on the wheel spacing at this angle. This seems to be the same tank as the one from images 21 and 33.
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42. A captured M4A1 75 tank. This is an interesting tank, an M4A1 with an updated hull with the DV ports removed, with three piece diff cover, and a turret with the short mantlet, but also later suspension.
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43. An M4 in Nazi use.

 

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44. A late production M4A3 75w  and three other Shermans in Nazi hands, the two furthest right appear to be M4A1 75s. Tanks captured during the Battle of the Bulge? (I was super wrong on this caption)
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45. An captured and knocked out M4A3 76w with a dead German on the front of the hull. This shot was taken shortly after it was knocked out, this is the same tank as the M4A3 76 in image 24. This tank belonged to the 4th AD before capture and was being used by the Germans in the defense of the town of Afschaffenberg. It was taken out by a US M36  TD.
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46. An M4 hull being, modified for use as an ARV, in Nazi use. The crew looks very pleased with itself, and this confidence clearly comes from having an awesome ARV at their disposal.
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47. A very bad shot of a captured small hatch M4A1, the same one from  pictures  22 and 23.

 

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.48 An M4 captured by the Germans, it looks like they cannibalized it for parts., since the final tranny and final drives are missing. The name of the hotel leads me to believe the was during the Battle of the Bulge.
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49. A pair of Nazi tankers on their captured Firefly Vc, this looks like out old friend #16 again.
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50. Vc Firefly with lots of extra track on the front, that was in in Nazi hands and was recaptured by the Brits. This is reputed to be from the same group discussed in image 25.
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51. Several captured Vc Firefly tanks, and a Sherman V also captured and in use by the fascists. I’m betting this are also the ones captured from the Canadians Holland like from image 25 and 50
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52. In these two shots, it looks like British Soldiers inspect a knocked out, captured M4A2, somewhere in Italy.
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53. In these two shots, it looks like British Soldiers inspect a knocked out, captured M4A2, somewhere in Italy.
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54. This looks like an M4A3 75w tank that fell into Nazi hands. This was probably another tank captured from Task Force Baum in late march of 45, this was the failed attempt by the 37TB of the 4th AD to get Patton’s son in law out of a POW camp.
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55. A knocked out large hatch M4A2 75 dry tank, the Nazis captured from the Soviets.
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56. A captured Firefly Vc, it looks like it was freshly knocked out probably in Holland, this being one of the lost Canadian Vc discussed in image 25.
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57. This image shows a Sherman that was in Nazi custody back in American hands. The Tank is an M4A3 76w. This is another  image of the M4A3 76 knocked out by an M36, just after the dead Nazi was removed and parts began being stripped off. Note the missing muzzle break. You can also see this tank in images 24 and 45

Most of the images for this post came from WorldWarPhotos.com and many others came from Waralbum.ru. Both excellent sources for high resolution images from the war.

 

 

 

 

9 thoughts on “#59 Subjugated Shermans: Shermans in Nazi hands

  1. Hi Jon: I never heard from you so here goes my knowledge of these pics. Feel free to use them or not. Don’t feel you need to post this comment. Use the info contained herein or not as you wish.

    Picture 1: This is ex-American M4A1 “War Daddy II” (not ex British). Captured from 1st Armored Regiment, 1st Armored Division, Tunisia 1943. Undergoing testing at Kummersdorf.
    Pictures 3 & 4: same M3 Lee
    Picture 5: M3 Lee undergoing testing at Kummersdorf. Same tank as “147” in later pictures 6-11 below it.
    Picture 13: M3 Lee “147” and M4A1 “War Daddy II” at Kummersdorf (the German armor proving grounds)
    Picture 16: Captured Firefly VC – this is the same tank as in pictures 18, 19, 20, 21, 26, 27, 28, 29, 35, 36, 37, 39, 40, 48.
    Pictures 22 & 23: same M4A1 as in picture 46.
    Picture 24: KO’d M4A3 76W – same tank as in pictures 44 & 56.
    Picture 25: ex Canadian Firefly VC (maybe 2nd Cdn Amd Bde), one of three captured by the Germans in Holland, repainted dark yellow. Re-captured by Commonwealth troops. One currently survives in the Dutch Cavalry museum in Amersfoort. Also see picture 49 & 50.
    Picture 30: Caption: “Stupid Nazis” using horses. Really? This editorializing is off-putting.
    Picture 33: Firefly VC captured in Normandy. Also in picture 41
    Picture 38: postwar mock up, used in a movie. Not a wartime picture.
    Picture 39 Caption: “The Germans sure seem to have a lot of captured Firefly tanks” Not really, just this one was photographed often.
    Picture 41: Same as in picture 33. Firefly VC: You can see the spacing between the bogie wheels of M4A4. Compare with spacing of an M4 or M4A1.
    Picture 43: Not M4A2s. The one on the left is M4A3 75W. 2nd from left, unknown. 3rd and 4th are M4A1s.
    Picture 44: Same tank as in pic 24 & 56. but taken shortly after it was KOd. Ex-4AD tank, used by troops defending German city of Afschaffenberg. KOd by US M36 GMC.
    Picture 46: same tank as 22 & 23.
    Picture 49. Firefly VC. See picture 25.
    Picture 50. See 25 and 49.
    Pictures 51 & 52. M4A2, from a series of pics taken in Italy, not North Africa.
    Picture 53: note Soviet troops have come captured this German captured American M4A3.
    Picture 54: “nazi scum” editorializing diminishes the authenticity of your narrative, IMHO.
    Picture 55: M4A3 not captured at Battle of the Bulge but from one of ten Shermans with Task Force Baum in late March ’45. 37 TB, 4th Armored Division. This picture is taken on April 3, 1945, the last day of the Battle of Afschaffenberg.

    1. Roy,
      Thanks for the info. Sorry about not getting back to you. When things went a little sideways for me I got off track, and forgot about your email and kind offer. Thank you again for offering your feedback. I’ll update the post ASAP.
      Thanks

  2. All but the one with number 279 on side applique armor are Sherman Vc Fireflies. They are easily recognizable by the three-piece bolted differential cover, which is the feature of M4A4. Sherman Firefly Ic used only one-piece differential cover AFAIK.

  3. Dear sir: Thanks for the many postings of the Sherman. I consider myself a Sherman aficionado myself. I’ve spotted some caption errors in your pages. Would you be interested in my comments?

    1. Roy,
      It’s always nice to find another Sherman enthusiast out there, and many of the pictures came with no captions so I would love any feedback you have there or just in general.

    1. Eron,
      I know right?! The poor M4 stolen and used by Nazis is just disgusting. Luckily, the Nazis seemed to have trouble keeping a tanks, even one as reliable as a Sherman, running.

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