Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Russian Military Model Company Celebrates WWII Soviet Antitank Dogs

Russian military model company Zvezda has a unique model kit about a little known but very important piece of military history. The Soviet army was able to eventually defeat the German tank force with the use antitank weapon dogs. During the war, the Red Army had suffered huge losses of antitank weapons to the huge German forces. A special program to train 60,000 dogs to use as suicide antitank weapons helped to win the war by destroying the massive German tank onslaught.

Dogs were equipped with suicide bomb vests and packs and a metal sensing antennae that would trigger the bomb once the dog would run under a tank or armored vehicle. During the battle for Stalingrad, one dog soldiers unit was able to completely destroy one German tank brigade of 63 tanks and two armored vehicles. With their heavy armor left in flames, the German army eventually lost their offensive effort against Russia and lost the war as well.

Russia's soldier dogs were an excellent weapon because of their small size and quickness, which allowed them to run for a short distance under the tank before most German tank machine guns could stop them. These Soviet dog soldiers were one of the important factors in the allied forces winning the war. With their tank force gone, the 600,000 man German offensive was gradually ground down to just foot soldiers who eventually surrendered, allowing the Russians to close in towards Berlin from the East while the Americans and British came in from the West.

Early efforts to train dogs to leave the bomb under a tank, and loosen the bomb pack with their teeth often resulted in failure, so the suicide bomb packs were soon designed to explode upon impact with the metal sensing antennae. Another problem is that the antitank dogs had to be trained to sense gasoline and not diesel like the Russians were using in their own armor. The U.S. Army also trained a force of antitank dogs, but animal rights concerns among the officers canceled their use in a combat role. But dog soldiers assisted the WWII U.S. military in other important ways.

Russian model company Zvezda has captured a unique story in military history of the Soviet antitank dogs. Modern animal rights persons would be horrified by a story such as this. But this brave force of animal soldiers turned the tide of the war. Every dog that lost their lives saved the lives of many of the allies and their civilian populations. That's the highest tribute a dog can do. To save a life.