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German Artillery in a Panzer Division

German Artillery in a Panzer Division

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Published by TarredPigeon

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Published by: TarredPigeon on Jan 22, 2013
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The following is a digest of an article written in the Red Star(Moscow) on the use of artillery in a German tank division during attack.It is interesting in that it describes the composition of march columns andattack formations, in addition to discussing tactical employment.The organic artillery with a German tank division, as used againstthe Russians on the Eastern Front, normally consists of two 105-mmbattalions and one 150-mm howitzer battalion, and is usually reinforced byone or two battalions of light artillery.On the march, the commanding officers of the artillery regiments,battalions, and batteries, plus a minimum of their respective staffs andcontrol units, march at the head of the column. The artilleryreconnaissance party marches with the tank reconnaissance unit. Batteryreconnaissance parties consist of two armored cars and two motorcycles. Incase one of the cars is destroyed the other can carry on the vitalreconnaissance work.Artillery observers ride in armored cars which are armed with machineguns. In each car there is an observer, the observer's assistant, a radiooperator, and a driver. There are two such observation vehicles perbattery. The battery commander rides in one and another officer in theother. The battalion has three such observers' cars.Planes are assigned to work with the artillery of the division andare subject to call by the commanding officer of the artillery who assignsthrough battalion one plane or more per battery, depending upon the amountof planes available. In the attack, one light artillery battalion normallysupports one tank regiment in direct support and the medium battalion is ingeneral support. But in the majority of cases experienced, the artillery ofthe tank divisions has been reinforced so that two light battalions can beassigned to a regiment in the first echelon, which allows one lightbattalion per tank battalion. One battery of each battalion supports theright element of a tank battalion, another the left element, while thethird is echeloned to the rear and is charged with security of the flanksand rear.Observation posts, command posts, and battery positions are all movedas far forward as possible. Batteries fire from concealed positions, as arule.Preceding an attack, preparation fire is conducted from 15 minutes to1 hour on enemy artillery and tank assembly areas, and observation pointsare smoked. Enemy front-line infantry is generally disregarded during thepreparation, as their neutralization is left to the tanks. Direct-supportbattalions do not always participate in the preparation fire, but are putin march order with full supplies of ammunition, ready to jump off with thetanks.The battalion commanders and battery commanders of direct-supportunits remain at their observation posts in an attack until the head tankpasses their line, at which time they take up their positions in the attackechelons. The German general-support artillery does not change its positionin an attack which is designed to go no further than the enemy artillerypositions. However, in an attack which is intended to penetrate beyondenemy artillery positions, they do move forward when practicable. If the

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