Beutepanzers, captured foreign tank designs in service with the Wehrmacht, played a much more influential role in German Panzer deployment and tactics than previously thought. While the bulk of Beute tanks were relegated to hinterland policing and anti-partisan duties, it was the hundreds of Soviet-built T-34s in German hands that were supporting Panzers in the medium tank and tank destroyer roles in combat everywhere along the frontlines in the East.
For the first time, this book sheds comprehensive light on the German Panzerkampfwagen T 34 - 747 (r), and underlines this detailed research with hundreds of photographs of the German T 34 in action. Unlike other publications so far released on the topic of Beutepanzers, this monograph focuses on the hardware rather than on the organisational paperwork of unit designations, readiness reports and unit deployment histories. It is consequently highly pictorial, showing tanks in service, their Soviet technology and production batches, as well as their German modifications and markings and it looks at the life of their crews. Furthermore, it outlines the T-34's development in the Soviet Union based on the most recent discoveries. As it is crucial to understanding the astonishing extent to which the T 34 was used in German service, and what an immense and important impact it had, the background of the German Beute principle is highlighted in an extended introduction.
Another major chapter in this book is devoted to T 34 Panzerattrappen dummy tanks that, to a hitherto unknown degree, were most influential in tactical anti-tank training and tactical doctrine for the Wehrmacht. The extent to which these T 34 dummies were used strongly underscores the thundering impact this Soviet medium tank had on the German side. The Panzerattrappen require a similarly extensive introduction in this book. Dating back to Kaiser and Reichswehr days, it allows readers to fully understand why ‘wooden T 34s' played such a decisive role in German land warfare training.
Consequently, there is much more to the story of T 34 Beutepanzers than to merely paint a Balkenkreuz marking on a T-34 and use it against its former makers. And there is much more to T 34 Panzerattrappen than being just an oversized wooden toy. Twenty years of research and collecting have been invested in this project to allow this monograph to tell the full story for the first time!