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"German Mobile Shops" from Tactical and Technical Trends

A report on German mobile repair shops in WWII panzer divisions, from Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 37, November 4, 1943.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


The vast mechanical equipment of the panzer division requires a great amount of repair and maintenance work; therefore, every unit of the division -- as well as the division itself -- has its own repair organization. The success of an attack, or the fate of the troops, often depends on the adequate repair facilities available at the right time. Frequently, the repair of some minor damage which cannot wait until the repair unit of the division arrives, might mean the success or failure of an engagement.

The following article taken from the October 1943 issue of the Ordnance Digest, published monthly by the Ordnance Department of the U.S. Army, describes the German mobile shop trucks and how certain features of these units compare with similar ones in use by our Army.

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Field Service maintenance officers have made an examination of captured German mobile shop trucks at Aberdeen Proving Ground. These mobile shops are mounted on 4 1/2-ton Diesel-powered chassis, with dual rear wheels, and with front and rear drive.

The spare truck is mounted on a cargo-type body. The parts were stored in six steel cabinets, with various-sized drawers to accommodate the large and small parts. The drawers were made of steel, and have wooden dividers, with felt linings. The parts in the truck were for automotive equipment, and an item of great interest was noted -- the number of spare parts that were stamped "Made in U.S.A." Another outstanding surprise was the absence of rust preventatives and grease, yet the parts were in fair condition, with only a slight amount of rust on them.

This particular spare-parts truck had been assembled in Germany early in 1943 and had been driven approximately 450 miles. The presence of the spare parts that had been made in the United States indicated that Germany had not only accumulated tremendous reserves but, despite 4 years of war, still has available some material from stock piles.

The German spare-parts truck compared favorably, in many respects, to our spare-parts truck. Both have cargo-type bodies and similar steel cabinets.

The German electrical mobile shop truck was equipped with a special van-type body which resembles our own van-type trucks. This body was equipped with a collapsible top similar to our new ST-6 body. The collapsible top construction was apparently made to conserve shipping space, as the top of the van body can be lowered to the same level of the truck cab. Another outstanding feature was the light construction of the van body. It was made of press-board or masonite. However, it appeared to be in fair condition notwithstanding the hard usage received.

Most of the tools in the electric repair truck were lost. There was some welding equipment, Diesel injection pump testers, oil and fuel analyzers, electrical testing equipment, a sewing machine, and a bench drill press. The benches, which were of steel cabinet type construction, had wooden drawers containing mortised recesses in which to fit the hand tools.

In the mobile machine shop truck, the hand tools were stored in recessed wooden drawers, similar to those in the electric repair truck. These hand tools included such types as pullers, valve refacers, body repair tools, punches, and wrenches. While the hand tools did not consist of a large variety of different classes of tools, they did include a large assortment within certain categories. As an example, expansion reamers covered sizes from 4 mm to 52 mm. In some cases extra sets of taps and dies were calibrated in inches rather than in millimeters. This apparently was to take care of equipment the Nazis expected to capture from our forces. All micrometers were missing from this truck.

An extract from a report from the North African Theater of Operations states ". . . of particular note are the quantities of precision instruments (gages, star gages, micrometers, etc.) which are made available as standard equipment (in German mobile shops), and the arrangement of all tools and parts drawers to provide fitting compartments for each type and kind of item. Also highly worthy of note are the chests provided for each type of weapon, containing special tools and small spare parts. Another thing that caught attention is the locked compartment for tools for the maintenance of the vehicle itself, providing fitted drawers for the tools and including spare spark plugs, fuzes, and other small emergency items . . ."

Lists of equipment and maintenance manuals were found in the electric repair truck and also in the machine shop truck. These lists are now being translated for further study.

In general, the pattern of the German mobile shop trucks follows that of the United States Army mobile shops.


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