Thursday 16 August 2018

Grand Theft Auto

"Award Order
  1. Name: Kondratenko, Vladimir Ignatyevich
  2. Rank: Guard Red Armyman
  3. Position and unit: anti-tank rifle crew member, 1st Independent Rifle Battalion, 10th Guards Rifle Brigade.
    is nominated for the Order of the Red banner.
  4. Year of birth: 1924
  5. Nationality: Russian
  6. In the Red Army since: March 1942
  7. Party affiliation: VLKSM member
  8. Participation in combat since: August 6th, 1942 (Western Front)
  9. Wounds or concussions: none
  10. Prior awards: none
  11. Recruited by: Steingardt recruitment office, Kranodar krai
Brief and specific description of heroism: during battles near Mayramadag on November 6th, 1942, comrade Kondratenko knocked out two German tanks from his anti-tank rifle, set fire to a car, and drove an enemy tank off the battlefield under fire.

Commander of the 10th Guards Rifle Brigade, Guards Lieutenant-Colonel Terenkov"

There is also a photo of the hero, smiling next to his trophy.


  1. Hmm, an infantryman figuring out under the duress of combat how to drive an enemy tank with the instructions in a different language with I presume no training, is impressive. Heck, even getting into a friendly one would be impressive.

    1. Chances are the driver didn't stop to turn off the engine when the crew legged it which ought to have simplified the task considerably - figuring out the basic steering and acceleration/braking is a lot more straightforward than going through the full monty of starting up the vehicle. (I understand the process could be terribly convoluted in period AFVs.)
      If he had prior experience with tractors or the like (which seems likely since he thought of this stunt in the first place) he'd have been on relatively familiar territory.

      On an unrelated note that's a well-earned 10/10 smugface he's making there.

    2. Kellomies Unless that tractor was tracked, there was little to none similarity. But it's always possible that in his free time he sat on a tank or vehicle and picked up some of the skills. Soldiers do things like that when they get bored.

    3. William Sager: IIRC a lot of Soviet pre-war tractors were tracked, the dual use component of tractor = arty prime mover was part of the agricultural machinery planning.

      Apart from that: interesting story, guess Guardsman Kondratenko was the lucky member of his ATR-crew (and supporting infantry) to be singled out for the award.

    4. My reasoning being that if you're familiar with the basic principles and logic of driving vehicles then figuring out the controls (to the fairly minimal degree needed for this stunt) is really just a matter of some hasty empirical experimentation. Can't recall out of hand the specific interface scheme used in Pz IV but neither of the Usual Suspects of the period, steering levers or a wheel/yoke (plus pedals ofc), ought to be an insurmountable mystery to someone familiar with the general concept.

      Somewhat like how even an entirely new alphabet is really just a matter of familiarity to someone who's grasped the concept of reading (ie. literate) but any writing at all is meaningless squiggles to someone who hasn't, if you pardon the somewhat tortured comparison.

  2. Apart that I miss the part where he also kills 50 Fascist with his anti tank rifle, I enjoyed the story. I wonder how common this was - infantry commandeering tanks?

    1. It's certainly SOP in the "Men of War" games but I think this is pretty much the first time I read of it happening this way IRL, unless you count the occasional captured AFV turned against its previous users in street fighting by plucky Resistance types and suchlike.

    2. There was at least one other occasion - US rangers at Cisterna (Anzio) commandeered a couple German tanks, but had no way of identifying themselves to their comrades so it did not end well.

    3. Life wasn’t very rewarding to ceasing the initiative, or so it would seem.

  3. another "GTA" , now team work -

    1. Great clip. Take note of their uniforms during the closeups: some have new uniforms made for shoulderboards, some have hold uniforms with the collar insignia cut off and shoulderboards sewn on.