M10 Ersatz


Le Teich, France

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Artist's Description

Otto Skorzeny, Pz. Bgde 150, Kampfgruppe X, Operation Greif, Malmédy, December 1944

Hitler’s most trusted operative, Waffen-SS Commando Otto Skorzeny, drawn Operation Greif as part of an elaborate special operation during the Battle of the Bulge in the winter of 1944. The idea was to camouflage German tanks into the most likely American model for their silhouette. The very effective Panzer V Panther was chosen for such task, as it was found easier to mimick the M10 Wolverine. To a train eye, this was still a risky plan, but amidst rumors of fifth columns and general confusion caused by the surprise offensive, it had chances to succeed.

The ultimate goal was to capture strategic bridges on the Meuse River, trapping remaining forces and establishing a new strong defensive line further west. The operation was initiannly planned to the use of 150 men of the Einheit Stielau, picked for their language skillsand knowledge of the culture, complete with enemy’s equipment, Skorzeny requesting 15 tanks, 20 self-propelled guns, 20 armored cars, 100 jeeps, 40 motorcycles and 120 trucks. However he only received 48 vehicles and just two Shermans in bad conditions.

Therefore he resorted to transform existing Panther Ausf G, welding sheet metal on the turret , hull, upper glacis and false rear to achieve similar shapes and slopes. This included the sacrifice of the of the German Commander’s cupola. But to a trained eye, the contraption was easily betrayed by the overlapping wheels and muzzle break. Nevertheless the whole brigade was destroyed on December 21-22 during the failed attempt to capture Malmedy.

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