Nazi germany Nazi Germany (1942)
Training vehicle – 1 built

Introduction

During the early stages of World War II, the rampaging Wehrmacht began running into some hardened British steel among the softer skinned Crusaders and Vickers Lights. This was of course, the famous Queen of the Desert, Infantry Tank Matilda Mk.II, and nothing short of an 88 mm cannon would stop one.

Witnessing this excellent, unyielding armor first hand, the Wehrmacht were more than happy to capture any operational Matildas for themselves.

In fighting in France and North Africa, some of the captured Matildas were turned on their original operators. A tank under the name of “Dreadnought” is one such vehicle frequently seen in photographs from the time.

A few of the vehicles were sent back to Germany for analysis. This practice of sending captured equipment back to HQ was the norm in all armies. The tanks were mostly used for training purposes in their standard configuration, but one vehicle, previously identified as No. 111, was converted into the Infanterie Panzerkampfwagen MK II 748(e) mit 5cm KwK 39 L/42.

It was nicknamed “Oswald” by its operators.

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Here “Oswald” can be seen taking part in training exercises, note the name “Oswald” on the fender. Source: – beutepanzer.ru

Oswald

The conversion of the “Oswald” was caused by the Hochsee-Lehrkommando (High Seas Instructional Command). For a time, it was trained on in it’s original form. It later underwent some modifications. The tank’s hull and power plant remained the same as the standard Matilda II.

The major modification was the removal of the 2 pounder main armament and the turret, being replaced with the 5cm KwK 38 anti-tank gun. The gun is thought to have come from an irreparable Panzer III. It was pivot-mounted, protected by a specially hand-made shield which went over the weapon’s standard gun shield. Two 7.92 mm MG 15s were mounted atop this.

Infanterie PzKpfw MK II 748(e) Oswald transporting troops during a training exercise
Infanterie PzKpfw MK II 748(e) Oswald transporting troops during a training exercise

Quite why the turret was changed out is unknown, it is quite possible that the supply of 2-Pounder ammunition ran out and, for obvious reasons, it was easier to resupply with 5 cm shells. Also, the extremely tight turret of the Matilda would’ve made it ill-suited to training purposes. The open space the modification granted would’ve made training, and guidance of the training, a lot easier.

The only other modifications were cosmetic. It was repainted in German camouflage and markings. The name “Oswald” was stenciled onto the track guard above the front left idler-wheel.

Infanterie_PzKpfw_MK-II-748(e)_Oswald
Rendition of the OswaldMatilda_KwK_38
Oswald on the back of a PiLaBo.41, No. 504, during training exercises. Source: – beutepanzer.ru

Training in the Wehrmacht

This particular Matilda is believed to have served under the British Army in North Africa before its capture, and bared the serial number “111”. The vehicle does, however, have raised suspension, a feature not continued after the debacle in France 1940, so it may well have been captured from the BEF.

Almost untouched, the tank came into German possession at some point in 1942. It was transported back to occupied Holland. Here, it was handed over to the Hochsee-Lehrkommando in Terneuzen where it underwent its modifications. It was then used to train loaders and take part in combat training. It took park in Operation Sea Lion style invasion training.

Fate

It is unknown what happened to the “Oswald”, it is possible that it was used against the allies as Holland was liberated. Destroyed in this action, or scrapped, it didn’t see much action during the rest of the war and does not survive today.

An article by Mark Nash

Infanterie Panzerkampfwagen MK II 748(e) mit 5cm KwK 39 L/42 “Oswald”

Dimensions 15’11” x 8’6″ x 8’3″ ft.in (5.99 x 2.60 x 2.50 m)
Crew 3-4 (driver, commander, loader, gunner)
Propulsion 2 diesel 6-cyl AEC/Leyland 94/95 hp
Speed (road) 16/9 mph (26/14 km/h)
Armament 5cm KwK 39 L/42
2 x MG 15 7.92 mm machine gun
Armor 78 mm (3.07 in) hull, approximately 10 mm (0.39 in) for the gun shield
Total production 1 Trainer

Links & Resources

Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.: Captured American & British Tanks Under the German Flag
Osprey Publishing, New Vanguard #8, Matilda Infantry Tank 1938-45
Oswald on en.valka.cz (Slovak)
Oswald on world-war-2.wikia.com

Germans Tanks of ww2
Germans Tanks of ww2

12.2cm FK (r) auf GW Lorraine Schlepper (f)
15cm sIG 33 L/11 auf Fahrgestell Panzerkampfwagen III Ausf.H (Sf)
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7 Responses to Infanterie PzKpfw MK II 748(e) “Oswald”

  1. theflyinghetzer says:

    Hi, found another mistake in here, very first paragraph.

    “This was of course, the famous Queen of the Desert, Infantry Tank Matilda Mk.II, and nothing short of an 8.8 mm would stop one.”

    An 8.8 millimeter Flak AA cannon? That’s a rather puny weapon, isn’t it? Did you mean to put the “8.8 centimeter” instead?

  2. TheSavageChicken says:

    Hi,

    Thanks for another interesting article. I’ve always had a keen interest on armored vehicles and always though i was some kind of an “armchair-expert” on the area yet week after week you keep on bringing new weird vehicles which i had no idea even existed. Very entertaining, educational and humiliating 🙂

    One minor correction to the article, though: on second photograph (“Oswald on the back…”) the vehicle on that German ferry is actually a LWS (Landwasserschlepper), a German WW2 amphibious vehicle. Both Wikipedia and achtungpanzer have minor articles about that obscure but interesting vehicle. Any new info you could get on it would be welcomed.

    Once again, congratulations for your excellent site.

    • MarkNash says:

      Thanks, Mate! Many more strange vehicles to come!

      Don’t worry we know the vehicle at the front is the LWS, Oswald is to the rear of it, the only visible part being the gun shield.

      • TheSavageChicken says:

        Oh crap…

        Apparently i need to have my eyesight checked. I assumed that gunshield was part of ferry’s integral armament (many German ww2 ferries carried impressive armaments: quad-20mm’s, 88’s etc.) and i never ever realized there was another vehicle stealthily hiding onboard…

        Well, another remainder for me not to comment hastily on forums.Not the first one unfortunately 🙁

        • Stan Lucian says:

          Hello, SavageChicken!
          Well, we all get some stuff wrong sometimes. And discussing it and realizing you were wrong is a normal part of learning new things!
          All the best!

  3. Hairsplitter says:

    ” … replaced with the 5cm KwK 38 anti-tank gun. The gun is thought to have come from an irreparable Panzer III. It was pivot-mounted, protected by a specially hand-made shield which went over the weapon’s standard gun shield.”

    In 1942 the Panzer III were upgraded to long 5 cm L/60 gun. Combat engineers used the surplus short 5 cm L/42 guns on naval style pivot mountings to arm their boats, ferries and landing craft. The Lehrkommando would simply drop one of those gun assemblies onto the Matilda.

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