Has Own Video WW2 German Light Tanks

Kreuzer Panzerkampfwagen Mk IV 744(e)

German Reich (1940-1941)
Cruiser Tank – 9 Operated

“To the victor, goes the spoils”. The old proverb is often true of modern warfare as well. During the Second World War, the German Wehrmacht made very intensive and extensive use of captured armor to fulfill a wide array of roles, from security vehicles to hulls used to create tank destroyers and self-propelled guns. These vehicles are known as Beutepanzers. Prior to 1941, the vehicles captured in the greatest numbers and used most intensively were French tanks, due to the fall of the country and its large tank force to Germany in May-June 1940. However, it is often swept under the rug that Germany captured and reused some British equipment too. A considerable number of armored vehicles was left behind by the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) as it evacuated France in June 1940. Of these, a number of Mark IV Cruiser tanks are notable as these were, for a short time, actually employed by the Wehrmacht during Operation Barbarossa, albeit with poor results.

A Kreuzer-Panzerkampfwagen Mk IV 744(e) beside a German truck during Operation Barbarossa. Despite being captured in small numbers only, the Mark IV would have the dubious honor of participating in the German invasion of the Soviet Union in a flamethrower tank battalion’s ranks. Source:

The Cruiser Tank Mark IV (A.13 Mk II)

As its name indicates, the Cruiser Mark IV was the fourth adopted model of the series of British Cruiser tanks, designed around high mobility at the cost of armor protection. The vehicle shared the A.13 designation with the fairly similar Cruiser Tank Mark III (A.13 Mk I), of which it was an improved version of.

The main features of the design were a front armor increased to 30 mm from 14 mm on the Mk III, a three-man turret armed with the 40 mm 2-Pounder anti-tank gun, a Christie suspension, and a powerful 340 hp engine that allowed for a high maximum speed of 48 km/h (even higher in trials). Overall, the design could be said to be fairly solid for the early war. A three-man turret was a feature not too common outside of German medium tanks, the 2-Pounder had good performances against early German tanks, the design was fairly mobile and 30 mm of armor, though it would not protect against 37 mm anti-tank guns, was still not particularly on the lower end of highly mobile tanks in the same weight class and role as the Mark IV, such as the Soviet BT-7, for example.

A German soldier stands inside a yet-to-be repainted Cruiser Mark IV during the campaign of France, 1940. It appears at least one Mark IV was immediately turned back against its original users during the campaign of France, before it was even repainted. Source:

A number of Cruiser Mark IVs were deployed within the 1st British Armoured Division sent to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force to fight against German troops. Though the Germans claimed the British lost 65 Mark IV in France, only about 40 appear to actually have been deployed there, with the overestimation perhaps due to confusion with the very similar Cruiser Tank Mk III (A.13 Mk I) and simple overestimation. With the campaign of France quickly turning disastrous after the German breakthrough at Sedan on 13th May 1940, the encircled British Expeditionary Force barely made it out during the famous Dunkerque episode – in which it left all of its heavy equipment, including whichever Mark IV had not been lost in combat, behind.

British tanks in German hands

The fall of France in 1940 had left the Germans with a tremendous quantity of captured tanks, or tanks abandoned with various degrees of potentially repairable damage, in their hands. The majority of these were French, and the German quickly set up infrastructure to recover these tanks and send them back to the French factories they captured for potential repair. A non-negligible amount of British tanks were also left behind. However, the issue was that, unlike for French tanks, the Germans had not captured the factories that were producing these tanks or their spare parts alongside the fleet, which made repairing and re-using British armor a much harder affair. This meant that, in general, British tanks were used in much smaller numbers and were much more discreet than their French counterparts in German hands.

Among the vehicles that were recovered were at least nine Cruiser Mark IV tanks, the most modern Cruiser type available to the British army at the time. These were given the German designation of Kreuzer Panzerkampfwagen Mk IV 744(e). Kreuzer Panzerkampfwagen was a mere German translation of their British designation as Cruiser tanks. The number in the 700s indicated a tank; the (e) indicated the vehicle’s country of origin, in this case, the United Kingdom (Englisch).

These nine Cruiser Mark IV tanks were assigned to a rather curious armored unit. In October 1940, they were delivered to Panzer-Abteilung (f) 100. The (f) stood for Flammpanzer. This was a unit centered around the Panzer II (f) Flamingo flamethrower tanks, with the Kreuzer-Panzer added alongside some Panzer IIs to provide more general-purpose supporting fire for these more specialized vehicles. It appears that, outside of these nine Cruiser tanks, some others, perhaps up to six, were sent to the German trials center at Kummersdorf to be evaluated, and a small number of others may have been used by security units, though this is not documented.

A Kreuzer-Panzer, originally a British Mark IVA, recognizable by the new mantlet, in German service in the Netherlands. The vehicle appears to still be identical to its original British specifications outside of the new paint job. Source:

Panzer-Abteilung (f) 100 was stationed in the Dutch city of Terneuzen and village of Zaamslag, located in the southernmost part of the Dutch province of Zeeland, just north of the Belgian border. It stayed there from October 1940 to May 1941. During this time, the unit appears to have taken part in exercises in preparation for the hypothetical invasion of Great Britain, Operation Seelöwe (Sealion). It appears that at least one of the vehicles was loaded into some sort of landing barge during an exercise. As such, in the pretty much materially impossible scenario in which Seelöwe could have occurred, one would likely have seen a small number of Kreuzer-Panzer used by the Germans against their original manufacturers. Though details on the nature of the tanks’ stay in the Netherlands is unclear, they may, more pragmatically, have been used to familiarize German tankers with the vehicles they would have faced fighting against the British, a role in which they could have proved a useful tool.

A Kreuzer-Panzer used during landing exercises. Though the very small German fleets of Cruiser tanks likely would not have achieved much if an invasion of Great Britain ever took place, the vehicle was likely a good platform to familiarize German military men with British tanks. Source:

Into Barbarossa

In May 1941, Panzer-Abteilung (f) 100 moved from its location in Zeeland to the Polish town of Murowana Goślina, North of Pozen/Poznan, and later near the Soviet border at Sielce. The unit was attached to 18. Panzer-Division and was to support its advance into the Soviet Union.

A Kreuzer-Panzer and Panzer II (f) Flamingos, one towing a trailer from the Renault UE, likely either in Poland prior to the start of Barbarossa or during the first days of the campaign. The British Beutepanzer could theoretically have defended the flamethrower tanks against enemy armor, but if the Soviets fielded T-34s or KVs, the Kreuzer-Panzer would prove mostly toothless. Source:
Panzer II (f)s in front of a Kreuzer-Panzer. Interestingly enough, the Beutepanzer had its original British tracks replaced with those of the Panzer II Ausf.D, shared with the Panzer II (f), likely due to lack of spares of British tracks and to ease logistical burdens. Source:

Panzer-Abteilung (f) 100 comprised three companies. On 22nd June 1941, it appeared to have at its disposal, outside of the 9 Kreuzer-Panzer, 5 Panzer IIIs, 25 Panzer IIs, and its main force, 42 Flammpanzer II Flamingos.

A column of Panzer-Abteilung (f) 100, including a Panzer III, a Kreuzer-Panzer and Panzer II (f)s. Source:

By this point, the Cruisers had been in German service for several months and had received a number of changes to integrate them into German units. Their original tracks had been replaced with tracks from the Panzer II Ausf.D1. The reasons behind this are unclear, but may very well be logistical, particularly as the Panzer II (f) also operated by the unit were typically converted Ausf.D chassis. The vehicles had also received Notek lights and shelves to hold jerrycans. One was given a tow hook to tow the French trailer originally designed for the Renault UE, which was widely used by the unit.

A Kreuzer-Panzer which received all sorts of German refits. The Panzer II tracks lack the spiky guide horns present on the original British tracks. One may observe the large stowage boxes added to each side of the turret. Source:

Kreuzer-Panzers numbered N°141 to 144, 243 and two with numbers starting with 24 but with the last number unidentified have been found. As the first number in German tank numbering system indicates the company the vehicles served in, it appears the Kreuzer-Panzer served in at least two of the unit’s three companies, and with three numbers missing, the third company may very well have had their British Beutepanzer as well. Within the fairly diverse fleet of armored vehicles operated by such a small unit, the Kreuzer-Panzer were, alongside the five Panzer IIIs, the tanks with the best anti-tank capacities, far exceeding the 20 mm autocannons of the Panzer II, let alone the flamethrowers of the Flamingos. As such, the tanks being distributed in the unit’s companies may have been undertaken in order to provide protection to the flamethrower and autocannon-armed Panzers against Soviet tanks. The 2-Pounder was a very decent anti-tank gun by 1940. By 1941, it would still easily dispose of most Soviet tanks, the likes of the T-26, BT-5, BT-7 or T-28, however, it would largely struggle against T-34s and could realistically only penetrate them from the sides and at fairly short ranges. Against KVs, the gun was fairly hopeless to do anything outside of potentially damaging the tracks.

Kreuzer Panzerkampfwagen Mk IV 744(e) n°141, stopped, perhaps due to a breakdown, in a village likely somewhere in Eastern Poland or Belarus. Source:

Conclusion – A swift end to the Kreuzer-Panzers

As Panzer-Abteilung (f) 100 headed into the Soviet Union alongside 18. Panzer-Division, it was heavily engaged in a number of battles, including the battle for Brest fortress, and less than ten days into the operation, was already past Minsk. However, the service of the British tanks in Operation Barbarossa would be very short. While there are no details on the precise performances of the tanks, the Kreuzer-Panzers would likely have proven very vulnerable to any form of Soviet anti-tank opposition. More than their thin armor protection though, the final blow to the vehicle’s service within the Wehrmacht appears to have been a question of reliability. With few spare parts, most tanks swiftly suffered breakdowns that could not easily be solved. It is known that by 11th July 1941, not even a month into Barbarossa, no Kreuzer-Panzers were left operational, and this appears to have been unchanged all the way to Panzer-Abteilung (f) 100 being retired from the front in November 1941. Though it is possible that some Beutepanzer Mark IVs were still serving in some security units in other parts of German-controlled Europe, there does not appear to be any evidence confirming this, and as such, German use of the Kreuzer Panzerkampfwagen Mk IV 744(e) may very well have ended within the first weeks of Barbarossa.

A Kreuzer-Panzer leads a column of Panzer-Abteilung (f) 100 during Operation Barbarossa. Though originally meant to cross long distances and exploit breakthroughs, the Mark IV could not hope to perform such duties for long if it lacked spare parts. Source:

Despite its short life in the German Army, the Kreuzer-Panzer Mk IV 744(e) remains an interesting example of the large variety of uses Germany made for its Beutepanzers during the war – and has the dubious honor of being one of the few Beutepanzer types used on the frontlines during Operation Barbarossa, albeit only for a short period of time.

Kreuzer Panzerkampfwafen Mk IV 744(e) 243 during Operation Barbarossa, illustration by Tank Encyclopedia’s own David Bocquelet


Panzerkampfwagen T 34- 747 (r) , The Soviet T-34 Tank as Beutepanzer and Panzerattrappe in German Wehrmacht Service 1941-1945, Jochen Vollert, Tankograd publishing

WW2 German Light Tanks

Panzerkampfwagen 35(t)

German Reich (1940)
Light Tank – 244 Operated

One year after the Anschluss (the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany) in March 1938, Adolf Hitler implemented the occupation of the Sudetenland (Bohemia-Moravia) and the seizure of Czechoslovakia.
As a result, the Germans took over the Czechoslovak industry, including the Skoda factory, which produced the Lehký tank vzor 35 (Light Tank Model 35), locally known as the LT vz. 35, or LT-35. By the time of the German occupation, Czechoslovakia had built 434 LT vz. 35 light tanks. The Germans immediately took over 244 of them in order to equip their emerging armored forces.

These light tanks fought in the German Panzer Divisions from 1939 until 1942, when they were removed from active service. During this three-year period, they actively participated in the Invasion of Poland, the Battle of France and the initial stages of Operation Barbarossa (the ill-fated and costly invasion of the Soviet Union).
The tanks were highly praised by their crews, especially their robustness (except the pneumatic system, which was very susceptible to extreme cold) and versatility. They were used until the exhaustion of the spare parts available for this model. When in use with the Germans, it was known as Panzerkampfwagen 35(t) or Pz.Kpfw.35(t). The letter “t” indicated the term ‘Tschechisch’ (meaning ‘Czech’ in German), following the rule of using a letter designating the name of the country of origin for the material captured by the Germans.

Pz 35(t) and Panzer IVs in France, 1940. Photo: Bundesarchiv

LT vz. 35, the Original

The Lehký tank vzor 35 (Light Tank Model 35, LT vz. 35) was the frontline tank of Czech armored forces at the time of the German invasion. The 10.5-ton tank entered service in 1939. It had a 3-man crew and was armed with a 37mm Škoda ÚV vz.34 gun, with two 7.92 mm (0.31 in) Zbrojovka Brno vz.37 machineguns. The tank had armor of up to 35 mm (1.4in) thick.
The vehice ran on a leaf-spring suspension, and propulsion was provided by a 120hp Škoda Typ 11/0 4-cylinder gasoline engine. This would provide a top speed of 21 mph (34 km/h).
A full article on the LT vz. 35 can be found HERE.

Pz.Kpfw.35(t), German Service

At the beginning of WWII, the Germans had shocked the world with their combined arms tactics. Armored forces were essential in the practical application of this doctrine, with armored vehicles paving the way for the infantry. There was a pressing need for quick, well-armed armored vehicles. In April 1939, the Germans had in their inventory about 230 Panzer III tanks. The LT vz.35 was classed similarly in the German army and with the confiscation of these 244 Czech tanks, their medium-light armored forces more than doubled.
The Germans used everything available to them, from new vehicles coming out of assembly plants to old veterans of the Czech conflicts in the Sudetenland. Most of these vehicles were sent to the 11th Panzer Regiment in Paderborn and the 65th Panzer Abteilung in Sennelagen. They used the Pz.Kpfw.35(t) to the limit of its useful life, as production had already been completed by the Czech factories. The Germans did not think to resume their manufacture because the pneumatic system of these tanks was problematic for maintenance.


Many of the elements of the basic design of the Czech vehicle remained the same. In the name of the standardization, the Germans made many modifications in the Czech LT vz. 35. The most evident was the painting of all vehicles in the standard German-Gray color, with a large white cross, preceding the infamous Balkenkreuz, applied to the side of the turrets. Some tanks had stripes of brown or green on the German-gray, but this was not common.
The big white crosses were gradually removed shortly after the first stages of the Invasion of France, as the enemy gunners used them as excellent aiming points. Many vehicles were penetrated in this way in Poland and France. At the time of the Invasion of Russia, the great majority of Pz.Kpfw.35(t) tanks had much smaller and discrete Balkenkreuz on the sides of the hulls.
In mechanical terms, the main modifications were the installation of German radios and intercoms, the installation of Notek lights on the left front mudguards and German lights on the rear of the tanks. Another important modification was the replacement of Czech magnets with Bosch ones, made in Germany. To increase the range of the vehicles, extra fuel was carried in jerry-cans installed in racks at the rear of the hull.
But the most important of all modifications were based on tactical studies of the use of the armored vehicles: the incorporation of a fourth crewmember. This fourth crewmember was a loader and his addition was meant to reduce the commander’s workload and to increase the efficiency of the vehicle and of its crew. With the presence of the loader, the commander could concentrate on observing the tactical situation of the battle in which he was involved, increasing his effectiveness and greatly increasing the ability of the tank to accomplish its tasks and survive.

Operation Barbarossa 1941: North sector, 1941, German Infantry supported by a Panzer 35(t) – Bundesarchiv
The effectiveness of this decision was well proven in the brief but intense Battle of France when the German Panzers (with their 3 turret members: gunner, loader, and the commander) faced the French tanks, whose turrets were only crewed by the commander. The French commanders had to load, aim, shoot and even discern the whole tactical environment of the battle. The cost of this modification was a decrease in the number of projectiles stored in the tank turret.
The Germans also modified some of the Pz.Kpfw.35(t)s into the Panzerbefehlswagen 35(t), or command tanks. The transformation was intended to increase the internal space of the tank to facilitate the control tasks. This was achieved by eliminating the front hull machine gun and installing an additional Fu 8 radio and a gyrocompass. The major external differential factor of these command vehicles was the presence of a large frame antenna on the rear deck just behind the turret.

Panzer 35(t) of the 11th Tank Regiment, 1st Light Division of the Wehrmacht. Poland, September 1939.

Panzer 35(t) of the 65th Panzer battalion, 11th Panzer Regiment, 6th Panzer Division. Eastern Front, Summer 1941.

The original LT vz. 35 in Czech service.
Illustrations by Tank Encyclopedia’s own David Bocquelet

Operational Use

With tensions in Europe growing and the possibility of war increasingly close, the German crews trained intensively with their new tanks alongside the maintenance and logistics personnel. The planned invasion of Poland was imminent.
By the end of August, the 11th Panzer Regiment had its companies fully equipped with the light Pz.Kpfw.35(t), with additional tanks in reserve. The 11th Panzer Regiment formed a part of the 1st Leichte Division. For the Fall Weiss Operation (the invasion of Poland), 106 Pz.Kpfw.35(t) and eight Panzerbefehlswagen 35(t) were ready for combat.
Proving its robustness and reliability, many Panzer 35(t) tanks covered more than 600 km on their own tracks, on very rough roads or in open field, with no major breakdowns (the fragility of the pneumatic system only manifested itself in very low temperatures). They participated in the hard battles at Wielun on September 3 and at Widawa, Radom and Demblin, on September 9. The Pz.Kpfw 35(t)’s ended their participation in the Polish Campaign between the 17th and the 24th of September in the north of Warsaw at Mandlin.
The armor of the Pz.Kpfw 35(t) could easily manage artillery shrapnel, machine gun bullets and infantry anti-tank rifle rounds. It could also withstand 20mm cannon fire, but the 37mm anti-tank shells of the wz.36 AT gun and 7TP light tanks could penetrate the 25mm armor. At the end of the Polish Campaign, 11 tanks were heavily damaged, but almost all were refurbished by Skoda to return to the front line. Only one was considered a total loss.
It was observed that the tanks moved by their own means for far greater distances than expected, thanks mainly to the reliability of the machines. With the lull coming after the fall of Poland, the armored forces installed reserve track links and supplementary rubber tires for their suspension wheels. Another measure was the installation of a rack for jerry-cans with extra fuel.
After the end of their first combat action came a period of tension and reorganization for the German Armored Forces. The 1st Leichte Division was renamed as the 6th Panzer Division, with its 118 Pz.Kpfw.35(t) restored survivors and its 10 Pz.Bef 35(t), serving with the 11th Panzer Regiment.
During the ensuing invasion of France, the 6th Panzer Division reported 45 casualties among its Pz.Kpfw.35(t), but only 11 were considered total losses. The other 34 returned to active service after being retrieved from the battlefield and repaired by the workshops in Germany and Czechoslovakia. Many of these casualties were due to the exhaustive use.
The Pz.Kpfw.35(t)s remained as first-line vehicles until the beginning of 1941. The 6th Panzer Division still listed in its inventory 149 Pz.Kpfw.35(t) gun tanks and 11 Pz.Bef.35(t) command tanks at the end of June 1941, being used for Operation Barbarossa. Because of the long distances in this theater of operations, the Pz.Kpfw.35(t) carried up to 8 jerry-cans in additional fuel racks on the rear portion of their hulls, in addition to a greater load of spare parts.
In battle, the Pz.Kpfw.35(t)’s were still effective against the Soviet light tanks, but when meeting the T-34, KV-1 and KV-2, it became painfully clear that the small and reliable 37mm main guns could do nothing against the armor of these tanks. But even so, the Germans continued to use these tanks. It can be said that the removal of the Pz.Kpfw 35(t) from the front lines of combat was due more to the mechanical wear (these vehicles had covered enormous distances in Poland, France and Russia) and the climatic conditions (The Russian winter was too much for the fragile hydraulic and pneumatic lines of the tank). On the 30th of November 1941, all Pz.Kpfw. 35(t)s were reported as “non-operational” on the Russian front.
All surviving vehicles were sent back to Germany and Czechoslovakia, where some less worn out were remanufactured for other uses. Forty-nine of these vehicles had their turrets and armament removed. A tow- bar with a capacity of 12 tonnes was installed in the back of the hull, along with more jerry-cans for extra fuel. These vehicles, converted by Skoda, once again served Germany as artillery tractors and ammunition carriers: Morserzug-Mittel 35(t). Rather than waste the turrets, these were reused as fortified bunkers and fixed fortifications on the shores of Denmark and Corsica.

Panzer 35(t) specifications

Dimensions 4.90×2.06×2.37 m (16.1×6.8ftx7.84 ft)
Total weight, battle ready up to 10.5 tons
Crew 4 (commander, driver, gunner, loader/radio)
Propulsion Škoda Typ 11/0 4-cylinder gasoline, 120 bhp (89 kW)
Speed (on/off road) 34 km/h (21 mph)
Suspension Leaf spring type
Armament Main: Škoda ÚV vz.34 37 mm (1.46 in), 72 rounds
Secondary: 2 x 7.92 mm (0.31 in) Zbrojovka Brno vz.37 machineguns, 1800 rounds
Armor 8 to 35 mm (0.3-1.4in)
Maximum range on/off road 120/190 km (75/120 mi)
Total production 434

Links, Resources & Further Reading

Skoda LT vz.35 – Vladimir Francev and Charles k. Kliment – MBI Publishing House; Praha – Czech Republik
Panzerserra Bunker

WW2 German Light Tanks

Panzerkampfwagen 17R/18R 730(f)

German Reich (1940)
Light Tank – Approximately 1,700 Captured

 The German captured tank policy

During World War Two, the German Army was using a large number of captured equipment, including thousands of tanks. The German army captured as many vehicles as possible, and these vehicles were gathered in special collection points where they were examined and deemed to be of any use to their new owners. Useful tanks would then be repaired, modified, and painted in German colors and markings.
Panzerkampfwagen 17R 730c(f).
Panzerkampfwagen 17R 730c(f).
Captured tanks (Beute Panzerkampfwagen) were put in active service with special captured tank units (formed in May of 1940) of Panzer or Infantry Divisions in various roles such as reconnaissance. Other vehicles were converted into weapon carriers and artillery tractors, while some were used for training purposes, policing duties, and sometimes target practice.

About the Name

A numerical block system was used to classify captured equipment. Known as the Kennblatter Fremdengerat, this listing used number categories to label foreign vehicles. Vehicle listings were divided into the following basic categories:
200 – Armored cars
300 – Halftracked vehicles
400 – Armored halftracked vehicles
600 – Fully-tracked artillery tractors
630 – Armored artillery tractors
700 – Tanks
800 – Gun Carriers / Self-Propelled Guns
In addition to the number system, letters were also used. Letters were used to recognize the previous user, not specifically the producer, of a certain piece of the equipment. The letter system was as follows:
(b) – Belgien – Belgium
(f) – Frankreich – France
(t) – Tschechoslowakei – Czechoslovakia
(e) – England / Kanada – Great Britain / Canada
(u) – Ungarn – Hungary
(j) – Jugoslawisch – Yugoslavia
(i) – Italien – Italy
(h) – Holland – Netherlands
(p) – Polen – Poland
(r) – Russland – Soviet Union
(a) – Amerika – United States of America
In the Renault FT‘s case, the standard FT was renamed to Panzerkampfwagen 17R 730(f) and the FT Modifié 31 was renamed to Panzerkampfwagen 18R 730(f). The “17R” and “18R” were used to differentiate the two variants from each other. The designation number 730 is a subcategory of tanks, its precise meaning being Light Tank. Additionally, the PzKpfw 17R 730(f) also had two subcategories that distinguished between cannon and machine gun variants. 730c was the cannon variant and 730m mounted the machine gun.
Inspecting a captured FT.
Inspecting a captured FT.

The FT in German Service

After the fall of France, the Wehrmacht captured a total of 1,704 standard and Modifie 31 Renault FT tanks. They were redesignated and painted in feldgrau (field-grey). The Balkenkreuz (Iron Cross) was also painted on the side of the turret or sides and rear of the hull. Some later units in France were painted with dark green stripes. In 1941, the Luftwaffe received 100 FTs for safety and protection duties at aerodromes and facilities. FTs given to the Luftwaffe were given WL license plates on the nose or the left side of the hull near the rear.
PanzerKampfwagen 18R 730(f) belonging to the Luftwaffe
PanzerKampfwagen 18R 730(f) belonging to the Luftwaffe.
All captured FT Modifié 31 tanks which were not allocated to the Vichy police forces were taken over by the Wehrmacht. Some served as training machines. Others, often rearmed with a more potent machine gun, served as airfield guarding vehicles, snow ploughs, deployed in counter-insurgency forces, armored trains and for police duties in all of Europe and some even fought during the Paris uprising in August 1944.

Other Captured FT’s

Apart from France, FTs were captured from Belgium, whose FTs were still in storage depots during the 1940s campaign, and Poland, which had about 100 FTs still in inventory. Germany even captured Polish FTs that were heavily modified, like some that were mounted on rails to serve as armored draisines. Other FTs were captured from Yugoslavia, which had 56 unmodified FTs during the German invasion in 1941. Some Yugoslav FTs captured by the Germans were recaptured (3rd hand) by Allied forces and used against the Germans.
Two captured Yugoslavian FT's with a German soldier posing in the picture
Two captured Yugoslavian FT’s with a German soldier posing in the picture.
It appears that the numerical block system was not used as strictly as intended, because so far no captured Belgium, Yugoslav, or Polish Renault FTs have surfaced with (b), (j), or (p) suffixes. If the Germans were consistent in their nomenclature, they would have still maintained issuing suffixes relating to the country of manufacturing origin, not where the equipment was captured. This is true for many other captured weapons and vehicles.


Axis History
The PIBWL military site
El gran capitán – Historical military website
Operation Priority, a database on the Renault FT and its variants


American soldier poses next to a recaptured FTGerman soldier looking under the hood of a PanzerKampfwagen 18R 730(f).Polish Renault FT originally belonging to armored train Nr.11 or Nr.14., captured in Łowicz area. The inscriptions are in German. Note the Hotchkiss HMG tripod on top of the engine compartment.Polish Renault FT originally belonging to armored train. Note the turret bulges on the sides of the gun mount, an identifying piece of Polish FT's.Various captured Polish armored draisines.Various captured Polish armored draisines.Various captured Polish armored draisines.PanzerKampfwagen 18R 730(f) recaptured by Allied forces in France.Various captured Polish armored draisines.Captured FT at a German training camp.PzKpfw 17R 730c(f)

PanzerKampfwagen 17R 730(f), from a driver’s training unit in France, 1943
PanzerKampfwagen 17R 730(f), from a driver’s training unit in France, 1943.

PanzerKampfwagen 730(f), France, winter 1944
PanzerKampfwagen 730(f), France, winter 1944.

Sicherungsfahrzeug FT 731(f) used for police operations, now preserved in a museum
Sicherungsfahrzeug FT 731(f) used for police operations, now preserved in a museum

PzKpfw. 18R 730(f) Patrol tank of the Luftwaffe, France, 1940
PzKpfw. 18R 730(f) Patrol tank of the Luftwaffe, France, 1940

Captured FT Armament and Usage

Most PzKpfw 17R 730(f)s kept their original French armament. FTs captured from other nations than France still maintained the French armament given to them. The PzKpfw 17R 730c(f) kept the Puteaux SA 1918 37 mm gun, which had no modifications and remained unchanged throughout its use in German hands. Most PzKpfw 17R 730m(f) kept their 8 mm Hotchkiss machine gun, but some did mount the MG 08/15, a lighter and portable version of the MG 08. The machine gun housing was adjusted to mount this weapon, in both the PzKpfw 17R 730m(f) and PzKpfw 18R 730(f).
In total, the many uses for the Panzerkampfwagen 17R/18R 730(f) were reconnaissance, command, policing, training, train escorts, airfield protection, or mobile posts for artillery. None were used for frontline combat as the Renault FT was already fading into obsolescence by the 1920s, however FTs were used in the Paris and Serbian uprising in the 1940s.
Destroyed German FT at the Luxembourg Palace
Destroyed German FT at the Luxembourg Palace.
The Luftwaffe deployed their 100 FTs throughout Europe as follows:
– 45 in western France
– 30 between northern France and Belgium
– 25 in the Netherlands
Captured FT abandoned at an aerodrome in Antwerp (Belgium) in 1944
Captured FT abandoned at an aerodrome in Antwerp (Belgium) in 1944.
In April 1941, another 100 Renault FTs were distributed by the German units defending the French coast in the Channel area and eight of these vehicles were distributed in July to the British Channel Islands, which were occupied by the Germans since 1940. These tanks provided a weak armored core to the units defending the coast, in addition to performing surveillance and defense work of facilities or aerodromes. Due to the slowness of the vehicle and above all its vulnerability, the remaining 100 FTs were used as fortifications, being buried in numerous points of the coastal defense.

FT serving as a coastal defense bunker.
A small batch of FTs were sent to occupied Norway. Similar to the FTs in France, the tanks were placed into units to provide a weak armored core and were later used to fortify points on the Norwegian coast.
A pair of PzKpfw 17R 730c(f) in Norway.
A pair of PzKpfw 17R 730c(f) in Norway.
After the surrender of France, 64 FTs were sent to Italy. The cars were deposited in the 1st Automotive Center of Turin. The Italians already had a tank based on the FT, the FIAT 3000, but did not distribute them among their units. Instead, they were used as targets for testing anti-tank munitions at the Cirié Artillery Experiment Center in Turin. In May 1941, the Germans prepared 20 FTs to be sent to Crete. However, these tanks never arrived on the island.
30 German FTs attached to Panzer-Kompanie Z.b.V 12 were sent to Yugoslavia to fight against the partisans. The FTs deployed in Yugoslavia were decommissioned at the end of 1942, but were reused as parts for armored trains. Precisely at the end of the war, on May 8, 1945 in Prague, the SS Kampfverband Wallenstein used an improvised armored train with three tanks in which at least one FT was used against the Czech insurgents. The Czech rebels managed to disable the FT, being one of the last vehicles destroyed in combat during World War II in Europe.
A pair of PzKpfw 17R 730c(f) in Norway.
German FT serving on an armored train in Prague.
An unknown number of FTs from France and Poland were employed by the Germans in the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 and some survived to 1943.
PanzerKampfwagen 18R 730(f) used for rear area defence. Luzk town, Wolhynien area, Ukraine, Soviet Union, 1943.
PanzerKampfwagen 18R 730(f) used for rear area defence. Luzk town, Wolhynien area, Ukraine, Soviet Union, 1943.

German Modifications

Apart from armament modification, Germany added some minor improvements to the exterior of the vehicle. Upon capture, the Renault FT did not have headlights for maneuvering in dark environments, and the Germans noted that the vehicles had trouble traveling at dusk without a light source, so Germany produced field modifications to fix this issue. Some FTs were mounted with carbide lamps on the front of the nose in an armored housing. Other FTs in Yugoslavia had a single headlight mounted to the left of the nose.
PzKpfw 18R 730(f) with lamp modification
PzKpfw 18R 730(f) with lamp modification.
Germans Tanks of ww2
Germans Tanks of ww2