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German Armored Train vs Partisans!

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This probably isn't directly pertinent to Op Bagration, but it's too cool not to share. My brother George is on a WW 2 aircraft forum, where someone's taken it upon himself to translate various Italian and German newsreels, providing them with English subtitles. AFV grogs will love the conversion of a Panhard armored car to railroad use, and the train's armament, to include a Flakvierling firing vs ground targets, is most impressive. the footage is crisp and clear.


Here's his list of related newsreel goodies.



John Kettler

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I've always been surprised at how much emphasis has been placed on the tactical influence of armored trains. Now, I've never fought against one, but you know it will only appear if the railroad tracks are present and uncut. However, Stalin and Hitler thought allocating one to a certain area would bring about instant results. There must've been some reason to have such belief in them.



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c3k - armored trains were used heavily in the Russian civil war and proved useful and effective under the conditions of that conflict. That may be behind the Soviet leadership's faith in them under WW II conditions, where they proved basically useless against main body enemy forces.

The civil war was fought between very poorly equipped forces, especially poor in artillery. They lacked both the guns and secure logistics to supply them if they had them - a byproduct of the economic chaos of the collapse that occurred along with the civil war and helped drive it. The basic armament of the contending armies was the bolt action rifle, with even crew served machineguns relatively rare. The only functional logistic links in the country were the rail lines and to a lesser extent the rivers. Cavalry armies were useful for the same reasons.

In that environment, armored trains were the only "tanks" there were. They were restricted to a few avenues of course, but those avenues were the most important places for operations. They could move artillery pieces in range of an enemy held town with impunity, hauling their ammo support with them. They could resist direct attack with belt fed MGs behind armor plating proof against rifle bullets and machinegun bullets, and few enemies had another heavier.

By WW II, there are tanks everywhere capable of off road movement, road networks for trucks become as important as rail lines tactically (though larger scale, only rail and river moved enough, still). Above all, artillery density and its reliable supply made it easy to hit the trains; widespread use of tanks meant widespread antitank capabilities as well, etc.

The Germans may have expected them to prove useful vs. partisans for many of the same reasons the Soviets found them useful in their civil war - underarmed opponents who could not handle armor. Even so, in that role the partisans generally specialized in line cutting, to avoid direct confrontation with security forces, and that must have limited their usefulness. The security forces did have as a primary mission securing and repairing the rail network, and an armored train might protect a repair party as it moved between two cities, fixing the cuts the partisans had made, and the like. But that is a lesser role than they played in the Russian civil war.


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