I have noticed that during WWII the Germans captured quite a few P-47s, P-51s, Spitfires, and other Allied aircraft. I know that they tested them extensively but wanted to know if they ever used them against Allied aircraft.

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    $\begingroup$ Googled "captured B-17", got en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kampfgeschwader_200 , warhistoryonline.com/military-vehicle-news/… , historynet.com/japans-fleet-flying-forts.htm . A bit more persistence would yield many more similar links, no doubt. Perhaps after a bit of looking you'll end up sharing a self-answer? $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 5, 2021 at 22:52
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    $\begingroup$ Not really an answer but there are quite a few reasons why this would not be a good idea. 1) Without training, manuals etc. you'd need to be quite an ace to get into an unfamiliar aircraft and fly it with any ability, 2) It's only one plane. Most tactical actions require squadrons to achieve anything worthwhile, 3) It would be very dangerous; in the heat of battle, the risk of getting shot down by your own side would be high. It might've been useful for a top secret covert operation - don't know if that ever happened... $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 6, 2021 at 11:29
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    $\begingroup$ 2 does not really apply to French planes. The Germans must have captured 100s after the fall of France which they probably passed on to Vichy France. $\endgroup$
    – papirtiger
    Commented Jan 6, 2021 at 12:07
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    $\begingroup$ And then there's maintenance. Warplanes need parts, tools and procedures that are sometimes specific to that model. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 6, 2021 at 15:59

2 Answers 2


Not sure about the Germans, but the Italians used a P-38 (from the site 12 O'Clock High):

The piece about the P-38 captured by the Regia Aeronautica is extremely correct (at last, I was sick of reading accounts or questions mutuated from the complete fantasy of Martin Caidin...! ), except for one detail: the plane shot down on August 11, 1943 by Col. Angelo Tondi with the P-38 wasn't a B-24 but a B-17 instead...

and later on the same post:

This is extracted from the diary of 2nd Lt. James Franklin Boston:

"August 11, 1943-Mission to Terni, Italy 06:00. Carried 6000 lbs. demos. (demolition bombs). Flak moderate. Coming back 60 miles from Italy intercepted by ME-109 and captured P-38 with enemy flier flying it. Nobody fired at first, thinking it friendly. Saw it slip in a formation from behind and shoot down a B-17. Everybody fired at it then including myself but my gun jammed. 20mm shell came by my head while I was looking through astrodome and went into No. 2 engine. P-38 was not shot down."


Yes they did.

Kampfgeschwader 200 flew recon and supply missions in captured bombers.

Here's a good few more captured examples: German Warplanes 1939-1945, Captured Allied Aircraft in Luftwaffe service Among them:

  • A Fairey Swordfish was maintained in serviceable condition for around six months, one has to ask why.
  • A special squadron, the Zirkus Rosarius, went around training front-line squadrons against them, not sure if you'd regard that as "operational", but it is more than mere test and evaluation.
  • Several examples are transports. Given the Kampfgeschwader 200 use of bombers in this role, it might seem unlikely that these others were never used in their intended role.
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    $\begingroup$ That's a nice collection of photos, but I don't see any references in there to actually using the captured front-line aircraft in active operations against Allied aircraft-- as opposed to for testing and evaluation. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 6, 2021 at 20:55
  • $\begingroup$ @quietflyer Good point. I have modified my answer accordingly. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 13:21

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