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Cold War Tanks and Vehicles: West Germany / Bundeswehr

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This was originally a thread on all NATO Cold War vehicles, but we are getting enough content that we can split this out by individual countries.

Feel free to add any period photos that you might have of these vehicles in use.  A limited number of museum photos are okay, but the thread is really intended to be images from the time period.  

First up is West Germany and the Bundeswehr.  

You will recognize that some of these have features similar to their World War II vehicles.  Others have innovations based on experience.

A friend of mine was on an observer mission in Germany in the early 1980's.  He asked one of his German counterparts why the tires were so tall on their Hanomag light trucks.  Without missing a beat, the officer replied "Because the snows get very deep near Moscow in the winter time."

 


Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

“But I don’t want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can’t help that," said the Cat: "we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad."
"How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn’t have come here.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

 

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These two shots were taken along the tank trail at Baumholder from my point and shoot pocket camera.

 

These are German Leopard tanks (pronounced "Lee O pard") returning from range firing.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leopard_1

 

It looks like they have a NATO square searchlight mounted above the main gun.

 

The Leopards were just very heavy for the amount of vibration they sent through the road and everything around them.

 

I was sleeping in temporary quarters when I first arrived at Baumholder for a three year assignment. About 3am a German Panzer regiment rolled out for training below my window for what seemed like hours. Being a light sleeper, that is when I decided to find quarters as far from Baumholder as I could.

FF 2.jpg

FF 3.jpg


Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

“But I don’t want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can’t help that," said the Cat: "we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad."
"How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn’t have come here.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

 

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Bundeswehr vehicle, Baumholder, about 1981. I think this is an updated VW Kubelwagen but I am not sure.

 

The interesting thing was you saw these being serviced at local VW dealerships rather than in a maintenance shop.

BB 1.jpg


Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

“But I don’t want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can’t help that," said the Cat: "we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad."
"How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn’t have come here.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

 

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A very relaxed squad of Bundeswehr soldiers, most likely returning from a field exercise. They all have that weary "we're headed home" look.

 

Unlike American tactical trucks, many European had the seats facing outwards. This made a lot more sense if you thought you might be moving through a hostile area. Notice the way the canvas rolls away while still providing a windscreen from the front.

BB 2.jpg


Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

“But I don’t want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can’t help that," said the Cat: "we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad."
"How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn’t have come here.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

 

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Some really nice shots Gil. You are correct in post #3. This was an updated Bundeswehr VW version of the WWII Kubelwagen.

These were also sold commercially here in the states as the VW "THING". These were painted in bright colors and I remember the rein actors

would buy them and repaint them in desert yellow or three color camo.

Thanks for sharing!

Mike

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These two shots were also taken at Baumholder, and are a little shakier.

 

These are German Leopard tanks (pronounced "Lee O pard") returning from range firing.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leopard_1

 

It looks like they have a NATO square searchlight mounted above the main gun.

 

While the French drove fast, the Leopards were just heavy for the amount of vibration they sent through the road and everything around them.

 

I was sleeping in temporary quarters when I first arrived at Baumholder for a three year assignment. About 3am a German Panzer regiment rolled out for training below my window for what seemed like hours. Being a light sleeper, that is when I decided to find quarters as far from Baumholder as I could.

 

Great pictures, Gil! This Leo 1 is obviously on the march back to the facilities from a live firing or exercise. The crew is wearing blue coveralls, the so called "Blaumann" which was worn while technical services (don't know the exact term now).

Edited by Proud Kraut

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Bundeswehr vehicle, Baumholder, about 1981. I think this is an updated VW Kubelwagen but I am not sure.

 

The interesting thing was you saw these being serviced at local VW dealerships rather than in a maintenance shop.

 

What we see is the German staff car Volkswagen Type 181. Also sold commercially as Mike said. Behind the VW 181 I think I recognize a DKW Munga, another early cold war "Jeep".

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A very relaxed squad of Bundeswehr soldiers, most likely returning from a field exercise. They all have that weary "we're headed home" look.

 

Unlike American tactical trucks, many European had the seats facing outwards. This made a lot more sense if you thought you might be moving through a hostile area. Notice the way the canvas rolls away while still providing a windscreen from the front.

 

A so called "Sprudel-Laster" (soda truck) Mercedes truck from Heimatschutzkompanie 4212 (Home Defence Company 4212), a reserve infantry unit formerly garrisoned in the Eifel. Looks indeed that these guys are looking forward to their "after exercise party".

Edited by Proud Kraut

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Thank you Lars! Feel free to add any photos you may have to this thread.


Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

“But I don’t want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can’t help that," said the Cat: "we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad."
"How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn’t have come here.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

 

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Gun platoons of 4th and 5th Battery of my Battalion ready to move to training area Munster in 1989

 

1989 b.jpg

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Rail loading. M 110 A2 G on the right. Forward Observer Tanks/Beobachtungspanzer (former Kanonenjagdpanzer 90 mm KaJaPa) in the center.

 

1989.jpg

Edited by Proud Kraut

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A few more from the tank trail at Baumholder.  Note the US M-113's in the background.  More correctly the canvas coverings suggest they are ITV (Improved Tow Vehicles).

The top one is looks to be a tank recovery vehicle based on a Leopard chassis.  (I can still feel the ground shaking as it rumbled past.)

The bottom two are a pair of Spähpanzer Luchs (Lynx) reconnaissance vehicles. 

These could move along at a fairly rapid clip.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spähpanzer_Luchs

 

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Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

“But I don’t want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can’t help that," said the Cat: "we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad."
"How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn’t have come here.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

 

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Here is a sight no one liked to see.  Our German friends would do everything they could to get past a convoy column, and the Americans were about the same (which explains the lane we were in when I shot this photo).  As you can see these vehicles are keeping a safe interval.  This is what we were supposed to do, but often it turned into an invitation for civilian cars to insert themselves in between.  It was very easy for a convoy to get strung out because of this.

BB 255.jpg


Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

“But I don’t want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can’t help that," said the Cat: "we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad."
"How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn’t have come here.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

 

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These photos came from some manner of ceremony that was held on the main parade field at Baumholder sometime in the early 1980's.  (The same field served as the football field and athletic fields for the Americans).

Note the blast shields below the windows on the rocket launcher.

We have two versions of VW tactical vehicles.  The large bag on the hood of the first jeep probably contains camouflage netting.  Note the pennant above the left front wheel that has a subdued covering.  The tactical markings indicate an artillery unit. (And yes, this is the same Kubelwagen that was posted earlier in the thread. )

The BH 63 truck in the background would have been for the post engineers who were always about the place fixing things up.

And then we have an M-109.  The young lady in front of it talking to the American soldiers with the Armor branch insignia on her jacket is probably a teenage dependent.  It's kind of interesting how at ease she is surrounded by all of this military equipment... par for the course for military kids.

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Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

“But I don’t want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can’t help that," said the Cat: "we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad."
"How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn’t have come here.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

 

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Posted (edited)

These are some very nice pictures you have posted, Gil! Some thoughts.

The recovery tank on the first picture of this sequence is a "Bergepanzer Standard" and in fact a Leopard variant with a similar chassis.

I have a very special relationship to the Spaehpanzer LUCHS you have posted since I served as a gunner on such a vehicle in the 1980´s. An excellent recce vehicle with a 20 mm automatic cannon and a crew of 4 .It had two drivers seats, the usual one and the one for the "backward driver" on the back. It was a huge vehicle but very fast and extremly quiet when driving. Great memories!

I could write books about "Marsch in Kolonne" in Germany, lol...

The rocket launcher is a LARS (Leichtes Artillerie Raketen System) that was introduced in the late 1960´s. It was able to fire 36 110 mm rockets within 30 seconds. The Magirus chassis was replaced by a MAN one in the early 1980´s. The rockets are still in use today (with MLRS) for training purpose.

The "Jeep" with covered pennant is a  VW ILTIS (fitch). The triangular pennant tells us that this is the vehicle of a battery or battalion commander. The pennant is shown uncovered when the CO is in the vehicle. And yes the bag on the hood is for the window cammo covers of the vehicle. The Iltis is from HHQ Company Panzerartillerielehrbataillon 345, an armored artillery battalion which was garrisoned in KUSEL then.

"Emma", that´s the nickname of the famous M109 "G" (Germany) over here which was introduced in the Bundeswehr in the early 1960´s and served until replaced by the Panzerhaubitze 2000 for nearly 40 years. It´s the short barrel early version that was upgraded in the early 1980´s as well.

Thanks again very much for these pics!

 

Edited by Proud Kraut

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Example of a vehicle pennant of a company commander with blue branch color (logistics). In this case modified with a track part and a wooden base to a farewell gift. Not according to instructions but usually the number of the company was painted onto the pennant.

 

 

 

Stander.JPG

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Thank you Lars.  I figured this would bring some memories back for you.  I have another thread I will share soon.

I am sorry to say I never worked very closely with our counterparts, but when I did, they were always professional encounters.  

And to everyone else, I wish these photos were of better quality.  I had a pocket camera I used to keep in my field jacket or my car for chance encounters.  I also did not like taking an expensive camera to the field.  But at least we have some images captured from the time.  Oddly, depending on lighting, distance to the subject and a steady hand, sometimes the photos turned out halfway decent.

 


Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

“But I don’t want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can’t help that," said the Cat: "we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad."
"How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn’t have come here.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

 

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On 11/13/2018 at 3:11 PM, Proud Kraut said:

VB - Vorgeschobener Beobachter (Forward Observer)

 

1989 c.jpg

Lars, in looking looking back over this thread, it finally dawned on me that I was looking at a vehicle with it's main weapon removed.  I thought I was looking at a short barrel weapon, somewhat like you see on the US Army Combat Engineer Vehicle (CEV).  It looks to be a rather large vehicle for transporting forward observers, and I am not sure how one would quietly sneak up on an enemy position.  But I understand the economy of reusing perfectly good existing vehicles.


Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

“But I don’t want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can’t help that," said the Cat: "we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad."
"How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn’t have come here.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

 

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Gil, you are absolutely right. What you see are the "remains" of a tank destroyer with 90 mm gun "Kanonenjagdpanzer".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanonenjagdpanzer

Those which weren´t upgraded to anti tank rocket "Raketenjagdpanzer" were issued to other branches, in this case field artillery. In difference to the armored artillery the field artillery had a more static role during the cold war. These "KaJaPa" (abrevation of Kanonenjagdpanzer) were more likely transportation vehicles for the FO teams. They had no special optics like range finders etc. but lots of space for the crew and it´s equipment.

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Lars, the next set of photos are for you.

These are from an open house at the German kaserne (compound) that was on the other side of Baumholder.  Again, these were taken in the early 1980's.

While the US troops inherited the barracks from the WWII era, Lager Aulenbach, (or Camp Aulenbach) were all modern buildings.  When those of us stationed on the US side had a chance to go over there, we were envious.  The buildings were probably 20 to 30 years newer and were designed to keep out the cold and damp.

The first photo is a show and tell area for a medical unit.  Notice the young man in the center with a US style BDU hat. Some of the Americans over there, dependents and young troops, took to wearing surplus M-43 caps, so it went both ways.

BB 1.jpg


Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

“But I don’t want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can’t help that," said the Cat: "we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad."
"How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn’t have come here.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

 

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A couple of ambulance vehicles on display. 

BB 2.jpg

BB 3.jpg


Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

“But I don’t want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can’t help that," said the Cat: "we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad."
"How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn’t have come here.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

 

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The reverse side of the same or similar vehicles.  (And a good view of one of the buildings that we envied.)

BB 4.jpg

BB 5.jpg

BB 6.jpg


Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

“But I don’t want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can’t help that," said the Cat: "we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad."
"How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn’t have come here.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

 

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