the A7V?

First World War 1914-1918 from the German perspective.

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Paulus II
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Post by Paulus II » Mon Dec 24, 2007 1:01 am

About Sniper’s question of how many British tanks were captured to warrant setting up a workshop to rebuild them. Sadly my one book about the German Panzerwaffe in WWI is somewhat muddled here and there. The first time the capture of British tanks is mentioned is for 29 november 1917 after the counterattack at Cambrai where “about 100” British tanks were captured. A few paragraphs further on they say that “over 50” were captured.
After Cambrai, Armee Kraftwagen Park 2 (AKP2) was assigned to create the Tankbergungsstelle Cambrai and to recover as many tanks as possible. The recovered tanks were sent by rail to Charleroi to be rebuilt by Bayerische Armee Kraftwagen Park 20 (BAKP20). 28 tanks are said to have been shipped to BAKP20 and by the end of March 1918 10 tanks were restored to working condition.
A few pages later: “with the steady flow of newly captured tanks becoming available from Charleroi, the captured-tank units were refurbished with new tanks for the 3rd Army attack near Souain on 15 july 1918”.
After the spring and early summer fighting some 300 British tanks were left behind German lines. 85 of those were sent to BAKP20 at Charleroi and 48 were canniblised in the field for spares. An estimate of early August 1918 states that some 170 British tanks were available for rebuilding. That number was beyond the capabilities of BAKP20 and civilian firms were contracted for rebuilding work.
The book in question is an Osprey book of their New Vanguard series. Though informative it is sadly lacking in consistency and details.
All in all it looks like a few hundred were captured but how many were rebuilt? At least thirty for the 6 Abteilungen that were armed with 5 tanks each and some replacements. My guess would be that no more than 60 were actually rebuilt but I can’t be sure of that. A quick internet search revealed nothing more exact or explicit either.

Here’s one more picture of the A7V as it was intended to be used. Together with troops of a Sturmabteilung racing over relatively flat terrain. The British tanks were too slow for this job but the A7V could manage almost 15 km/h (9 mph) until it reached a trench.

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Post by phylo_roadking » Mon Dec 24, 2007 6:28 am

Here’s one more picture of the A7V as it was intended to be used. Together with troops of a Sturmabteilung racing over relatively flat terrain. The British tanks were too slow for this job but the A7V could manage almost 15 km/h (9 mph) until it reached a trench.


...and that's the exact point; Britsh tanks were designed as trench- and stalemate-busters - it was the cavalry that was intended as the exploiters, by the end of the war augmented by faster designs like the FT17 and the British Whippet. You COULD say therefore that the A7V was an "exploitation" weapon designed for more open, unbroken terrain behind the trenchline.

The only problem was - the French for example built three THOUSAND FT17s...

Seems like at the end of WWI the Germans hadn't learned it was industrial capacity that settled modern total WARS, weapons now only settled battles...
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Post by Paulus II » Mon Dec 24, 2007 1:33 pm

Seems like at the end of WWI the Germans hadn't learned it was industrial capacity that settled modern total WARS, weapons now only settled battles...
Oh but they had learned that industrial capacity was what won wars, they just didn't have the industrial capacity to do anything about it :wink:

There were plans to field 400 heavy and 4.000 light tanks in 1919. In june 1918 the first 580 LK II (very similar to the Whippet) were ordered as a start for that plan and materials and men were to be made available to increase the tankproducing capacity. They didn't have the means to increase their overall industrial capacity so other projects were brought to a virtual standstill but the lesson was learned. Too late though.

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Post by sniper1shot » Mon Dec 24, 2007 4:06 pm

The Germans actually captured that many????? :shock: WoW, learned something new today.

Apparently they did learn something....enter WWII.
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Post by phylo_roadking » Mon Dec 24, 2007 4:29 pm

Yes, but look at the numbers captured against the numbers re-used :wink: They tended to be more than a little "beat up" if it had taken anything other than mechanical breakdown to have them fall into german hands. Usually they were well...perforated.

Does anyone know - did the Germans treat British tank crews the way each side treated machinegunners?
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Post by Doktor Krollspell » Mon Dec 24, 2007 5:36 pm

Hello Gentlemen!

I just want to contribute with a splendid close-up photograph of a A7V covered in grafitti! This tank was captured at Villers-Bretonneux, France, during World War I.


Captured A7V
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http://www.corbis.com


Regards,

Krollspell
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Post by Paulus II » Tue Dec 25, 2007 12:56 am

Haven't found anything about 'special' treatment of prisoners from the Tank Corps by the Germans. If they did treat them worse than others it may not have been glaringly obvious.
Am tempted to say that very few tankers were captured (not sure though!) since riflebullets would perforate the armour, the cramped interiors prevented quick bail-outs and artillery shredded the things like they were made of cardboard.
Found this picture on the internet of German Stormtroopers stalking a British tank with no infantry to protect it. After the use of that flamethrower there probably wouldn't be anyone left in the tank to capture, if they would take prisoners at all!

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Post by sniper1shot » Tue Dec 25, 2007 7:12 pm

Are we sure they are stalking the tank and not using it in trg or on an assault of their own with a captured British tank??
I am reading a book on the 50th Cdn Battalion and they used infantry with the tanks and could keep up fairly well as the tanks didn't travel that fast.
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Post by Paulus II » Wed Dec 26, 2007 3:05 am

Nope, not sure.
It is odd to see just one tank moving away (at an angle) from the position held by the German infantry, unsupported by infantry or other tanks. That does indeed suggest that this may be training or German infantry supporting one of their own Beutepanzer.
But there are examples where something like this may have happened.
During the spring of 1918 the Allies expected the German to go on the offensive after they moved their troops from the Russian front to the West. Thinking that the tanks would not be effective in the foreseen defensive battles the majority of tanks were held in reserve with many of their crews sent to the frontline as machinegunners. Some tanks were however kept at the front line. These small groups of tanks (usually about 3 of them it seems and described as ‘Savage Rabbits’ by Brigadier Hugh Elles, commander of the Tank Corps) would throw of their camouflage and dash forward to attack the advancing German troops. Of course the tanks weren’t designed to ‘dash’ anywhere and, as the German infantry was ordered to veer off their assigned line of advance when stiff resistance was met, this is claimed to have led to many British tanks ending up cut off from their units behind the German lines and attacked and taken out piecemeal.

If nothing else the photo can be seen to illustrate one of those encounters. But if it really does show that? :? .

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Re: the A7V?

Post by xt828 » Tue Jan 13, 2009 2:31 pm

I have a photobucket account with some images of Mephisto, the surviving A7V in the Queensland Museum.

http://s25.photobucket.com/albums/c78/x ... 0Mephisto/

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