Sunday, 31 July 2011

3.7cm Flakzwilling 43, France 1944

The 3.7cm Flugabwehrkanone 43 was introduced in early 1944 as a heavier-calibre replacement for the 2cm Flakvierling 38. It could engage aircraft flying at an altitude of up to 4200 meters, and was frequently used to engage ground targets at a range of up to 6585 metres. In service, it proved to be very successful, but due to it's late introduction there were only 928 (and 185 Flakzwilling) units produced before the war ended.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Panzer IV of the Hitlerjugend Division, Belgium 1943

The 12th SS-Panzer Division Hitlerjugend was formed in mid 1943 from members of the Hitler Youth born in 1926. The leaders of this Division of 17 year old boys were sourced from senior NCOs and Officers of the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler (LSSAH). Many of the soldiers in the unit were so young that they received sweets instead of the standard ration of tobacco and alcohol.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Know Your Enemy - 1943 Training Video on Captured German Firearms

The video below was produced by the US Office of Strategic Services in 1943, and was designed to instruct American troops on the proper use of captured German firearms. It covers the most common weapons that were encountered in the field:
  • K98 rifle
  • MP40 submachine gun
  • Luger P08 pistol
  • Stielhandgranate 24 or 39 grenade
  • MG34 and MG42 machine guns
  • 8cm Granatwerfer 34 mortar

Monday, 18 July 2011

Wilhelm 'Willi' Hübner - One of the Youngest Recipients of the Iron Cross

As casualties mounted during the Second World War, Germany was forced to call up ever younger conscripts to fill the ranks of the Wehrmacht. So dire was the situation at the end of 1944, that boys born in 1928 were called up to serve the Führer. They were 15 or 16 years old and had grown up in the shadow of Nazism. Each would have spent their teenage years in the Hitlerjugend (Hitler Youth) preparing them for military service.

The net result of this was a cadre of youths that grew up surrounded by Nazi propaganda and were called up to serve the Vaterland they had been raised and trained to defend. In many cases they fought bravely against overwhelming odds, but the lives of thousands of these youths were wasted by throwing them senselessly into battle with the Allies when the war was already lost.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

US Infantry Weapons and their Effects - 1943 Training Video

Today's post is a departure from the usual in that it is not in colour, though it should be interesting nonetheless. It is a US Army training film from 1943 entitled 'Infantry Weapons and Their Effects' (T.F. 7 1266). It depicts the use of many types of ammunition being fired from most of the standard US infantry weapons of the period. Films like this have always fascinated me as they show live ammunition in use, with the associated recoil and realistic damage to targets.

Of note is the penetration power of the .30-06 round fired by the M1 Garand, and the effect of the M1 Bazooka on a pillbox and sandbagged emplacement. The potential penetration from rifle rounds is always something Hollywood and TV studios seem to disregard. That and the recoil produced by such weapons, though I can understand it is difficult to grasp the true recoil of a weapon when it is only firing blanks.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Walter Krüger and 'Tiki'

For today's update we have a rather famous Tiger I by the name of 'Tiki', from 8./SS-Pz.Rgt. 2 (8th Company, SS-Panzer Regiment 2). The image was taken by SS-Kriegsberichter Friedrich Zschäckel in Russia on 20th April 1943.

SS-Obergruppenführer Walter Krüger can be seen here giving a speech to the troops from the front of Tiki, shortly before he presented a series of awards to men of the Das Reich division for their actions in the Third Battle of Kharkov. The officer in the stahlhelm to the left of Tiki is believed to be Otto Kumm, who was promoted to SS-Standartenführer later that day.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Panzerbefehlswagen Panther in Italy

For your viewing pleasure today we have Panzerbefehlswagen Panther tactical number I02 from I/Pz.Rgt.4, and her driver. The image is part of a series taken by Kriegsberichter Bayer of this vehicle and others from Pz.Rgt.4 near Florence in Italy in the summer of 1944.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Panzer rollen in Afrika vor

Today's image is a Panzer IV Ausf. E, taken in March or April 1941 in Libya. These dates match the first offensive against Tobruk so it is quite likely this vehicle was knocked out during one of these assaults.

It has taken hits to the muzzle  mantlet and turret front, and although none of the rounds seem to have penetrated, the crew would have been subjected to extensive spalling from the rounds striking the turret.