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"Operations of the German Tank Recovery Platoon" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following U.S. military report on German tank recovery during WWII was originally published in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 12, November 19, 1942.

[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.]


British sources give recent information on the methods employed by the recovery platoon of (tank) workshop companies. This information was obtained from prisoners of war.

The towing vehicles and trailers of the platoon are sent forward to regimental headquarters and operate under its direction.

The principle now used is to have two or three recovery vehicles forward with the fighting units. These vehicles advance in the line of attack and cruise across the width of the battle front. The Germans believe that hostile forces will be preoccupied with the German tanks and will not bother with the recovery vehicles, no matter how close they are.

If a member of a tank crew orders the driver of a recovery vehicle to tow his tank to the rear, the former assumes responsibility for the action--in case it later proves that the damage is negligible and could have been fixed on the spot by the repair sections. However, asking that a damaged vehicle be towed away is always permissible if it is in danger of being shot up.

The towing vehicle usually goes forward alone and tows a disabled tank away by tow ropes. Towing is used in preference to loading on the trailer, as this latter operation may take 20 minutes (regarded by a prisoner as good time under battle conditions).

The recovered tanks are towed to an assembly point behind the combat area, where they are lined up so as to protect themselves as far as possible. Trailers may be used to take back the disabled tanks from this point to the workshop company.

According to this report, however, trailers are being used less and less, and their use is confined mainly to roads. On roads, they enable a higher speed to be maintained, do not weave as much as a towed tank, and do not cut up the road surface. On the desert, trailers would be used on bad ground rather than where there is good going.

The PW's reported that drivers of recovery vehicles did front-line duty for about 8 days at a time; then they worked at the rear, between assembly point and workshop.


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