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Thread: "Cockroach" versus Panzers - first tank aces of the Second World War

  1. #1

    Default "Cockroach" versus Panzers - first tank aces of the Second World War

    "Panzerwaffe officer captured during first days of September 1939 was praising speed and nimbleness of a Polish tankette, claiming that: "...it is very hard to hit such a small cockroach from a gun"."

    "Cockroach versus Panzers":

    Plutonowy podchorąży rez. Roman Edmund Orlik (71. armoured dyon of Wielkopolska Cavalry Brigade) was one of the first tank aces of the Second World War:





    In September of 1939 his tank was TKS tankette with automatic gun calibre 20mm:



    His driver was kapral Bronisław Zakrzewski:



    - On 14th of September during the battle of Brochów he eliminated 3 tanks from Panzer-Regiment 36. from 4. Panzer-Division.

    Map is showing the battle of Brochów (14th - 15th of September 1939). Map is showing situation around 20:00 on 14th of September 1939 - it comes from the album "Army Poznań 1939" by Piotr Bauer and Bogusław Polak:

    "Offensive of Wielkopolska Cavalry Brigade on Brochów on 14th of September 1939 (situation at 20:00)":



    The battle of Brochów was fully won by the Poles.

    - On 18th of September during the combat of Pociecha he eliminated 3 tanks from Panzer-Regiment 11. from 1. Leichte-Division. He also destroyed several motorized vehicles during that combat and took 2 prisoners of war (tank crew). He also tried to rescue the crew of one of those eliminated by him German tanks - which started to burn - but he - unfortunately - didn't manage to rescue them and all of them died.

    Among tanks eliminated by Orlik on 18th of September there was tank of Leutnant (or Oberleutnant ?) Victor IV Albrecht von Ratibor - commander of a platoon. The whole his platoon was eliminated during that combat and Prinz Victor IV Albrecht von Ratibor was heavily WIA and severely burned - and after a few minutes he died. He was born in 1916 and was first son of Victor III August and Elizabeth zu Oettingen-Oettingen und Öttingen-Spilberg:

    http://www.gen.heinz-wember.de/hohen...orIIIA1879.htm

    Orlik's victories (kills) during combat of Pociecha (1., 2. and 3.):



    - On 19th of September Orlik eliminated 7 German tanks (from Panzer-Abteilung 65. or from I. battalion of Panzer-Regiment 11.) during the battle of Sieraków. Most of those 7 tanks eliminated (most probably 6 of them) were Pz-35(t) tanks.

    His tankette was one of 2 tankettes from 71. armoured dyon of Wielkopolska Cavalry Brigade (both of them were TKS tankettes with 20mm automatic guns) which broke through to Warsaw (during the night from 20th to 21st of September 1939). He was later fighting in Warsaw until 28th of September 1939.

    Orlik's victories (kills) during the battle of Sieraków (1., 2., 3., [...], 7.):



    Total: 3 + 3 + 7 = 13 kills.
    Last edited by Domen123; December 29, 2008 at 06:22 AM.

  2. #2
    Treize's Avatar Dux Limitis
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    Default Re: "Cockroach" versus Panzers - first tank aces of the Second World War

    So....

    The polish had tanks and we had none, as a western country?!?!?!

    They still lost the war unfortunatly.
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    Default Re: "Cockroach" versus Panzers - first tank aces of the Second World War

    So... how many Polish tanks did the GERMANS destroy in the war?
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    Default Re: "Cockroach" versus Panzers - first tank aces of the Second World War

    It is TK-3.

    Three German Panzer 35 were destroyed by one 20mm TKS at the starting of war; but itself was suffered very heavy lost during the Poland campaign.

    After the Poland campaign, German actually used it as a police armour car and dealing Polish.

  5. #5

    Default Re: "Cockroach" versus Panzers - first tank aces of the Second World War

    If it comes to the battle of Sieraków itself:

    - On 19th of September Orlik eliminated 7 German tanks (from Panzer-Abteilung 65. or from I. battalion of Panzer-Regiment 11.) during the battle of Sieraków. Most of those 7 tanks eliminated (most probably 6 of them) were Pz-35(t) tanks.

    German sources say that during the failed German Panzer counterattack on Sieraków, Panzer-Abteilung 65. (from 1. Leichte-Division) lost 26 KIA and WIA tank crewmen (including 4 officers, 5 NCOs and 17 soldiers).

    The majority of tanks of Panzer-Abteilung 65. which took part in the attack (and most probably the whole Abteilung took part) were eliminated during that battle. Also Bade writes about this. According to Bade (and also according to German daily reports) the remaining German tanks escaped towards Hornówek and Lipków.

    German tanks were attacking (according to Bade - but Polish sources confirm it) in two separated groups at the same time (it is possible - but not certain -, that apart from Panzer-Abteilung 65. also I. battalion of Panzer-Regiment 11. took part in that attack - or at least some part of it). Both groups were defeated and dispersed.

    From the first group the Poles eliminated 27 tanks - 7 by Orlik, 20 by 7. light artillery dyon (direct fire) and 7. horse rifle regiment (the majority by regimental AT guns). During combats with this group the Poles (7. horse rifle regiment) lost 56 men - 14 KIA and 42 WIA.

    From the second group the Poles eliminated 11 tanks - including 2 by direct fire of artillery platoon from 14. light artillery dyon (porucznik F. Orzeszko) and 3 by platoon of AT guns cal. 37mm of podporucznik Wiktor Ziemiński from 14. uhlan regiment (two of them were destroyed by Wiktor Ziemiński himself). The remaining 6 were eliminated by elements of 17. and 14. uhlan regiments and 9. horse rifle regiment.

    Before the German counterattack, during the Polish attack on Sieraków (in the morning - the attack started , around 10:00 - so after less than 10 hours - Sieraków was captured), platoon from 15. light artillery regiment eliminated 2 tanks. Few tanks were also eliminated by 6. uhlan regiment - which was fighting north of Sieraków. And also in Sieraków (during the Polish attack) - apart from 34 German trucks (full of equipment and ammo), which were captured and later destroyed there, a few tanks were eliminated. While conquering Sieraków Polish forces also captured 9 machine guns.

    Polish forces which took part in the battle of Sieraków - Laski (elements of Wielkopolska and Podolska Cavalry Brigades) were fighting both with tanks of Panzer-Abteilung 65. and tanks of I. battalion of Panzer-Regiment 11. during that day.

    During the battle of Sieraków the Poles captured - according to the Polish sources - 70 POWs from II./KSR.4 and inflicted heavy casualties to it.

    According to the German sources - both the German daily reports and relation of Bade - II./KSR.4 was dispersed and crushed during that day, and the remaining rests of it gathered on the road from Truskaw to Izabelin, where they established a hedgehog defence.

    So... how many Polish tanks did the GERMANS destroy in the war?

    It is impossible to establish how many were destroyed (because rather none of them were repaired by the Poles - all of them were captured either by the Germans or by the Soviets after the Polish Defensive War ended).

    But the number of both damaged + destroyed - so eliminated (both by the Germans and by the Soviets - but the majority by the Germans) was probably around 350 - this - however - includes both tanks and armoured cars and other AFVs (except armoured trains).

    If the number of damaged + destroyed was 350, we can estimate that around 70 - 60 of them were completely destroyed (during the battle of Kursk - in July of 1943, Operation "Zitadelle" together with Operation "Kutuzow" - the Germans lost over 1245 tanks, of which 248 were completely destroyed - so less than 1/5).

    If it comes to first tank aces of the Second World War again, during the Panzer battle near Piotrków Trybunalski (it took place on 5th of September), one of Polish 7TPs from 2nd light tanks battalion eliminated 5 German tanks.

    I have also heard, that during the same battle one of German Panzers eliminated 7 Polish tanks.

    But unfortunately I don't know their surnames and any reliable sources for both figures.

    But I know that another Polish soldier - plutonowy podchorąży Mieczysław Białkiewicz - eliminated two German tanks during that battle (he was also from 2nd light tanks battalion - and was also fighting in 7 TP tank).

    And on 12th of September - near Warsaw -, Hauptman Schnell (from Panzer-Regiment 35. of 4. Panzer-Division) - not alone, but together with his marching column - was said to eliminate 7 Polish AFVs.
    Last edited by Valus; December 29, 2008 at 05:16 AM. Reason: double post

  6. #6

    Default Re: "Cockroach" versus Panzers - first tank aces of the Second World War

    Nice post Domen123, these engagements are less well known and people sometimes forget the tenacity of the polish soldiers in early WW2.

    Edit:
    Also from now on when I fly the P.11 in my IL2/FB/AEP sim I shall be known as the "Fighting cockroach".
    Last edited by Oklop; December 24, 2008 at 07:56 AM.
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  7. #7

    Default Re: "Cockroach" versus Panzers - first tank aces of the Second World War

    This is an interesting topic. Could someone post something about the types of tanks and other AFV that were used by polish army?
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    Default Re: "Cockroach" versus Panzers - first tank aces of the Second World War

    13 kills is quite impressive. He did have the advantage of being on the defensive, plus he had a small tank that would be easily concealed and was fighting the poor pz. 35 but still. What happened to Orlik? Did he survive the Battle of Poland?
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    Default Re: "Cockroach" versus Panzers - first tank aces of the Second World War

    hey nothing bneats this

    oles charghe with cavalry and beat the german tanks.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Mokra
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  10. #10

    Default Re: "Cockroach" versus Panzers - first tank aces of the Second World War

    ya if it werent for the russians, then the poles could have put up a hell of a fight. The germans at this stage really didnt have the whole blitzkreig thing down and maybe the poles would have been able to fight long enough for the expeditionary forces to move in on germany.

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    Default Re: "Cockroach" versus Panzers - first tank aces of the Second World War

    Quote Originally Posted by scheuch13 View Post
    ya if it werent for the russians, then the poles could have put up a hell of a fight. The germans at this stage really didnt have the whole blitzkreig thing down and maybe the poles would have been able to fight long enough for the expeditionary forces to move in on germany.
    Na, Allies did not plan any expeditionary force into Poland (mainly because only Danzig could be used to move their force); British and French were not really expected Germany would dare to attack Poland after the their guarantee of indepedance for Poland.

    Poland would fall no matter what, just how long the Polish could hold (and that would not change the war too much since British only had four divisions could deploy at 1939; French was too gay to even think about an attack).

  12. #12

    Default Re: "Cockroach" versus Panzers - first tank aces of the Second World War


    - On 18th of September
    during the combat of Pociecha he eliminated 3 tanks from Panzer-Regiment 11. from 1. Leichte-Division. He also destroyed several motorized vehicles during that combat and took 2 prisoners of war (tank crew). He also tried to rescue the crew of one of those eliminated by him German tanks - which started to burn - but he - unfortunately - didn't manage to rescue them and all of them died.

    Among tanks eliminated by Orlik on 18th of September there was tank of Leutnant (or Oberleutnant ?) Victor IV Albrecht von Ratibor - commander of a platoon. The whole his platoon was eliminated during that combat and Prinz Victor IV Albrecht von Ratibor was heavily WIA and severely burned - and after a few minutes he died. He was born in 1916 and was first son of Victor III August and Elizabeth zu Oettingen-Oettingen und Öttingen-Spilberg:

    http://www.gen.heinz-wember.de/hohen...orIIIA1879.htm

    Orlik's victories (kills) during combat of Pociecha (1., 2. and 3.):

    And here some interesting pictures related to this event:




    The same Panzer IV B:








    After transporting it to some factory (I don't know the exact place):




    Here the same place - more wrecks can be seen:




    Wow... - he destroyed Panzer IV B with use of TKS with 20mm gun... - it is like destroying Panzer IV B with use of some poor version of Panzer II...

    Previously I thought that Prinz von Ratibor was fighting in Pz-35(t)... - but it seems that I was wrong.

    And - when looking more carefully - even in the picture above, when Orlik marked his tank victories during the combat near Pociecha - three tanks can be seen, including 2 smaller (Pz-35ts) and one larger - this larger one is probably Panzer IV of von Ratibor - and it is burning in the picture... Everything correct.

    What happened to Orlik? Did he survive the Battle of Poland?
    Yes, he survived the war and died in 1982 in an accident (probably a car accident).
    Last edited by Domen123; December 29, 2008 at 05:41 PM.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: "Cockroach" versus Panzers - first tank aces of the Second World War

    Well, the German "line" panzers - III and IV - went through quite a lot of upgrading through the war to keep them battleworthy. The late-war versions were something like ten-twenty tons heavier than the first models, mostly from added armour.

    The German tank force at the start of the war was really pretty meh, all things considered. It wasn't for nothing that the senior commanders were getting ulcers at the very thought of having to take on the French, who had rather more rather better machines.

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    Default Re: "Cockroach" versus Panzers - first tank aces of the Second World War

    Quote Originally Posted by hellheaven1987 View Post
    ...French was too gay to even think about an attack).
    Eh, not really. They actually made a largely symbolic thrust against the German defenses in the West as a gesture of sympathy to the Poles. The main thing was really that they were busy mobilizing, and in any case an offensive war against Germany had been off their planning table since the late Twenties or so (when it became clear the Brits and Americans weren't about to let them have forward bases on German soil, which were necessary as "jumping-off" points if they wanted to link up with their Central European allies).

  15. #15

    Default Re: "Cockroach" versus Panzers - first tank aces of the Second World War

    Could someone post something about the types of tanks and other AFV that were used by polish army?
    Well, the German "line" panzers - III and IV - went through quite a lot of upgrading through the war to keep them battleworthy. The late-war versions were something like ten-twenty tons heavier than the first models, mostly from added armour.

    The German tank force at the start of the war was really pretty meh, all things considered.
    That's true.

    But it is generally said that Polish 7TP light tanks - although not numerous - were better than the German Panzer II tanks.

    It is not true certainly.

    I mean - they might be better in some aspects, but in conditions of an average battlefield of tank battle - it proved not to be very important and not to have any influence on the result of the combat.

    Most of combats between tanks were fought on distances of several hundred metres or shorter.

    I know a case, when German Panzer II with 20mm automatic gun (it was during the battle of Tomaszów Lubelski - on 19th of September probably - or on 18th of September, I don't remember the exact date) eliminated Polish 7TP from a distance of around 700 metres...

    Of course there is nothing strange in it, considering that Orlik in his "cokroach" eliminated some of those Pz-35(t) which he eliminated during the battle of Sieraków - from a distance of around 600 metres - and his weaponry was very similar to this used in Panzer II tanks.

    If it comes to Polish 7TP tank - it was very good, because it was able to eliminate any German tank in 1939, including Panzer IV version C.

    But it was also vulnerable to fire of any type of German tank or armoured car, except those equipped only in MGs (so Panzer I and light armoured cars).

    So in real - in practice - the winner was the one who hit the enemy first... And Panzer II had got an automatic gun - 7TP not - so rate of fire was even faster in Panzer II - this was certainly an advantage of Panzer II.

    In 1940 - as You noticed - it was differently - British infantry tank Matilda or French heavy tank Char B1 Bis had got so strong armours that they were practically impossible to penetrate by bullets from German Panzers.

    Also French Renault R-35 and Hotchkiss H-35 had got stronger armours than Polish 7TP, but lower capability of destroying German tanks than Polish 7TP (Polish 7TP and British Vickers E had got better guns for Anti-Tank purposes than French tanks).

    In 1939 Poland had got many French Renault R-35, but only several of them were used against the Germans (during only one combat - the battle of Kamionka Strumilowa - which was, by the way, won by the Polish side), because of the Soviet agression.

    The majority of them escaped to Romania after some combats against the Soviets or without combat at all.

    Also British Vickers E had got better armour than 7TP - Poland had got very few of them in 1939, but they proved to be both efficient (as well as 7TP) and also resistant (certainly more resistant than 7TPs). They were fighting in 10. Motorized Brigade of pulkownik (later general) Stanislav Maczek - which won many combats against the Germans in 1939, and after the Soviet agression withdrawed to Romania with full equipment (it didn't lost any artillery gun during the campaign, it lost only few AT guns, it lost many tanks but those which survived were all evacuated to Romania) and with full combat value.

    To summ up - people who say that German Panzer II was a poor tank - are wrong.

    In fact Panzer IIs were very good at least during the Polish campaign (even if comparing with the best tanks Poland had), and were still - at least - good at least until the beginning of Fall Barbarossa.

    But it is of course a fact that in France they were not able to undertake balanced combat with some types of French and British tanks.

    But still their 20mm automatic gun and great speed was their big advantage.

    ---------------------------------------------

    If it comes to tankettes - Poland had got 574 tankettes TKS, TK-3 and TKF in different versions - they were basic and most numerous AFVs of the Polish army -, but only a few dozens of them were equipped with something more than only a single machine gun (German Panzer I was equipped with two MG 34s). Orlik's TKS tankette was among them.

    Polish army planned to rearm / equip all tankettes with 20mm automatic guns, but production of these guns was going too slow and before the war Poland didn't manage to do it.

    I think that rearming / equipping all tankettes in 20mm automatic guns could have changed much - if only the Poles had have managed to do it before the war.
    Last edited by Domen123; December 29, 2008 at 01:52 PM.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: "Cockroach" versus Panzers - first tank aces of the Second World War

    I know some of the French tanks had pretty poor guns as far as tank-killing went - low-velocity 45mm - as they were designed for infantry fire support (eg. R35; the R40 version was upgraded to a better long-barrled gun), but their "line" designs like the S35 had high-velocity guns quite capable of taking on anything the Germans wielded.

    And then there was the Char B1 series, which gave German tacticians well-founded nightmares long before they had to actually fight the beasts. The BEF's Matilda IIs proved to be almost as troublesome, although not quite as destructive owing to their lighter armament.

    Bet you the German commanders were quite unhappy about having to fight those nasties mostly with PzKpfw IIs (which weren't actually supposed to be part of the line of battle anymore, but there wasn't yet enough IIIs and IVs to go around to phase them out) nevermind now the tiny Is, which were really training vehicles by that time.

    It's not like the Panzer II was a poor tank or anything, it was just plain too light to rumble with the big boys and wasn't really meant to either. The entire "light tank" concept was really a bit flawed that way; they weren't really cost-effective. 'Course, the even smaller "tankettes" suffered from that and then some, as they didn't even have turrets to help out with the "speed is armour" thing...

    Then again, arguably any AFV is better than nothing at all, if only for infantry support against MG nests and suchlike.

  17. #17

    Default Re: "Cockroach" versus Panzers - first tank aces of the Second World War

    Orlik's victories (kills) during combat of Pociecha (1., 2. and 3.):
    By the way - this map was made by plutonowy podchorąży Roman Edmund Orlik himself, but most probably after the war - so at least several years later.

    It is really impressive how damned exact it is, despite it was made so long after that event:

    "gęsty młodnik" - subtitle which can be seen in Orlik's map - is exactly the same type of trees as can be seen in the photos of this destroyed Pz-IV ("gęsty młodnik" = "dense young forest").

    A forest road which is marked in Orlik's map can also be clearly seen in all of these photos.

    More over:







    In my opinion Orlik shot at least one long series or maybe even the whole magazine of his 20mm bullets towards this Panzer IV - probably from a very short distance (all of them hit in the same place, more or less).

    It is obvious that after receiving at least several succesfull hits, ammunition inside this Panzer IV exploded. It also burnt out, as can be seen both in the photos and in the map made by Orlik himself - and as is also written in the subtitle below the first photo of this wreck which I posted in this thread.

  18. #18

    Default Re: "Cockroach" versus Panzers - first tank aces of the Second World War

    Domen could you not quote a post that heppens to be half a page long? It tends to be annoying to scroll such a distance, thanks.

    But anyway, the Germans lost more tanks than the Polish? I know the Russians did. I know the Polish Kb ppanc wz.35 7.92 mm anti-tank rifle proved to be a good weapon verse German Panzers too, such a soldier could hide in a trench and take out quite a few tanks and halftracks). If the Polish Air Force wasnt destroyed in the first week of the Invastion, they might have held the German and Soviet Forces off until the French could attck (sadly the French pussyed out and held to the defensive until the Germans invaded...)

  19. #19

    Default Re: "Cockroach" versus Panzers - first tank aces of the Second World War

    But anyway, the Germans lost more tanks than the Polish?
    Much more. But of course only relatively small part of them was taken out by Polish tanks, the majority was taken out by artillery and AT guns.

    I know the Polish Kb ppanc wz.35 7.92 mm anti-tank rifle proved to be a good weapon verse German Panzers too, such a soldier could hide in a trench and take out quite a few tanks and halftracks).

    This is the effect of Kb ppanc wz.35 7.92 mm anti-tank rifle hit into the tank's armour (this particular tank is from 8. company / Panzer-Regiment 3. / 2. Panzer-Division - eliminated during the battle of Wysoka on 2nd of September 1939):

    Three succesful hits (armour penetration) from AT rifle can be seen (one of them is marked):



    As you can see AT rifle couldn't "destroy" a tank in a proper meaning of this word (unless it hit into the engine / fuel and set fire inside the tank or cause explosion of ammo inside the tank).

    But it could damage a tank (penetrate armour) and kill / wound its crew (especcialy by splinters and fragments - because after a bullet penetrated the tank's armour, a lot of splinters and fragments were flying inside and hitting members of the crew).

    It was an efficient weapon and caused many casualties to the Germans.

    But - as I wrote above - tanks hit by bullets from Polish AT rifles were usually not very hard to repair (you had to patch up the hole or replace one or a few armoured plate / plates from the tank).

    It was - however - much harder to "repair" those of the crew members whose heads or chests were cracked open by AT bullets or splinters .
    Last edited by Domen123; February 04, 2009 at 07:22 PM.

  20. #20

    Default Re: "Cockroach" versus Panzers - first tank aces of the Second World War

    By the way - most probably another photo of this Panzer IV Ausf B which belonged to Prinz von Ratibor and was destroyed by Roman Orlik near Pociecha (it appeared not a long time ago on Ebay.de and later - from ebay - on Polish forum odkrywca - it is also present on Historical Media internet site, I guess):



    And let's take a look once again on the map of that combat made by Roman Orlik himself:

    Last edited by Domen123; February 04, 2009 at 07:28 PM.

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