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Red Army Tank Tactics

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  • #61
    In the greater context, one has to explain how the Red Army turned itself around in the face of catastrophic defeat.
    Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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    • #62
      Originally posted by Artyom_A View Post
      Also there are many curious comments, amendments and revision of the all three parts of the manual proposed by troops.
      Good find. Perhaps you could give some examples and comments on the curious aspects for readers who cannot translate the photo copy pages.
      Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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      • #63
        Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post

        That's an easy statement to make, and I can agree that implementation was not flawless. Why else would the General Staff send watchdogs down to army level? For this aspect of implementing directives see Nikolai Saltykov's "Dokladyvaya v general'nyi shtab", Moscow: Voenizdat, 1983.
        I'm looking at the reports after the unsuccesful attacks in Bielorussia during winter 43-44. It took 10 offensives before Stavka decided to do something about it.
        There are no Nazis in Ukraine. Idiots

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        • #64
          Originally posted by Emtos View Post

          I'm looking at the reports after the unsuccesful attacks in Bielorussia during winter 43-44. It took 10 offensives before Stavka decided to do something about it.
          Big ships turn slowly. Glantz does a great job in his and daughter's "Battle for Belorussia: The Red Army's Forgotten Campaign of October 1943-April 1944. He notes one of the three participating Front commanders (Sokolovsky) was relieved for the failed operation. He also notes that Rokossovky's performance was unappreciated in the operation.

          I don't consider the Red Army hitting its dominating stride until the summer of 1944.
          Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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          • #65
            Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post
            Good find. Perhaps you could give some examples and comments on the curious aspects for readers who cannot translate the photo copy pages.
            Too much stuff to process, frankly speaking. As I can see, the part II of the manual has the same motifs as the part I
            Combining fast speed with powerful fire and armored protection tanks are the decisive powerful means to destroy the enemy.
            ...
            Tanks attack at maximal speed destroying by their fire in movement infantry, gun, mortar, and machine gun crews.
            Skillfully maneuvering on the battlefield tanks use cover to attack enemy from FLANKS AND REAR. TANKS SHOULD AVOID FRONTAL ATTACKS.
            Compare with pieces quoted above. Note than "impact force" dropped from the qualities of tanks the same way as it did in the part I.
            Last edited by Artyom_A; 08 Jan 19, 07:51.

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            • #66
              Some other critical remarks about the manual
              1. The manual describes such types of units as tank battalions, regiment, brigades, mechanized and motorized rifle brigades. Nothing is said about motorcycle and armored recon units as well as about self-propelled artillery which was transferred to the Red Army's armored force several months before the 1943's manual was disseminated to troops. Admittedly there were separate instructions about employment of SP guns.
              2. The manual is based the authorized (TO&E) organization of units. For example, it said that motorized infantry moves on trucks and dismounts in battle. In reality a common practice for Soviet "motorized" infantry was walking on foot - a scenario not covered by the manual.
              3. It is said that heavy tank regiments in offensive are used for breakthrough of strongly fortified positions. Nothing is said about their offensive employment in other situations. Again, there were separate instructions about employment of IS regiments issued in 1944.
              4. The manual considers two possible scenarios: tank units employed for support of infantry and tanks units employed for independent missions. The main emphasize is on the first. In similar way the manual mostly focuses on "methodical battle" - that is attack on fortified positions made after a thorough planning and preparations. A considerably less emphasize is put on more fluid situations. Admittedly, there was a part III (tank and mechanized corps) which likely paid more attention to mobile operations.
              5. A rather curios command arrangement is prescribed. It is said that tank units shouldn't be broken into small pieces but must be employed under centralized control. The exceptions are special situations: broken terrain, build-up areas, woods, marshes, night actions, assault on fortifications etc. Hence the division is considered the smallest unit to which a tank unit can be attached, and the tank regiment is considered the smallest tank unit which can be attached to the infantry. Tank brigade can be attached to the rifle division, could support the rifle division without strict attachment, or it could operate independently. Smaller tank units (battalions, companies) can support infantry units (regiments, battalions) but normally should not be commanded by them staying under control of their parent HQ instead. Which resulted in very centralized and rigid command structure. For comparison, the 1940's manual "Tactics of tank forces" said very clearly that tank battalions/companies should be normally attached to infantry regiments/battalions when operating in support of them. Can't say what caused this change of doctrine.

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              • #67
                Regarding the point 5, here is a characteristic document (military experience report of the 82 Guards Rifle Division, August 1944
                https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=136686402
                ....
                In the course of the battle command and control of the tank groups operating with infantry happened to be problematic.
                After receiving an order from the division commander the commander of the tank groups could transmit it to subordinates only by radio. In battle conditions such communications were hardly tenable, since the recipient was not capable to answer either because radios were damaged in battle or for other similar reasons.
                Thus, infantry elements were frequently not supported by tanks which were assigned to support them and suffered failures.
                During the entire period of the three-days offensive combat by the division tank-infantry coordination was efficient only in the first phase, but then in the process of combat in depth of enemy positions as a result of shortage of communications this coordination was lost which led to undesirable outcome.
                Besides, when repulsing enemy unending counterattacks on 21.8.44 our tanks spent ammunition and fuel and abandoned the battlefield and came to the area 2-3 km from the forward line to replenish supplies, thus creating an impression of retreat. As a result the infantry stopped activities and dug in on the line it achieved, switching to firefight with enemy.

                CONCLUSIONS

                1. Commanders of tank groups supporting a rifle unit should be unequivocally subordinated to the rifle unit's commander and should obey his orders...
                2. As a result of a situation when tanks having no reliable means of communications are not commanded by the rifle unit, but follow orders from their commander placed at the divisional command point or even further - any coordination with infantry is lost, which leads to excessive losses both of tanks and infantry.
                Simply speaking, fore more reliable tactical coordination they wanted to have tank units subordinated to rifle regiments instead of just supporting them.

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                • #68
                  Originally posted by Artyom_A View Post
                  Too much stuff to process, frankly speaking. As I can see, the part II of the manual has the same motifs as the part I

                  Compare with pieces quoted above. Note than "impact force" dropped from the qualities of tanks the same way as it did in the part I.
                  Apologize for slow response, tied up in a construction project, leaving little time to track into source material.

                  Not familiar with "impact force" term, can you give it to me in Red Army (WWII) Russian term or is it your use of the term--I get conflicting concepts from different military dictionaries. When I look at the key point from the Part II manual on offensive, its focus is:

                  "During an attack by a combined-arms unit the tank is one of the weapons that determines success.

                  Its main duty is the support of infantry (cavalry) through fire and maneuver in the entire depth of the enemy defense. In executing these duties the tanks suppress enemy weapons, destroy infantry and tanks and destry infantry obstacles."

                  Also, your subsequent posts from the Part II manual, if you could reference the manual's paragraph numbers, I could find your specific points and references more quickly.
                  Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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                  • #69
                    Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post
                    Not familiar with "impact force" term
                    See the previous message:
                    https://forums.armchairgeneral.com/f...10#post5077710

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                    • #70
                      Originally posted by Artyom_A View Post
                      Thanks, I missed that while considering the greater scope of experience between 1940 and 1944. Red Army tank experience from Spain, Finland, Khalkhin-Gol and Poland did not add up, by then, with the theoretical exercises of the 1930's.
                      Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

                      Comment


                      • #71
                        Ok, some more comments on the Tank Manual of 1943.

                        1. The manual leaves no doubt that a tank attack must be supported by infantry. "The modern battle is fought by combined efforts of all arms" (para 24). The degree of this cooperation should depend on terrain and the strength of enemy defenses (para 26). Tanks forward and infantry behind them is considered a typical formation applicable in most cases. If tanks attack in several waves then the first wave is forward while the second wave follows behind in immediate contact with the infantry (Para 429). It is repeated several times that tanks shouldn't separate further than 200-400 meters from accompanying infantry elements (e.g. Para 26). There are two exception from this rule:
                        - "In unfavorable situations tanks advance behind infantry..." (Para 26). The nature of "unfavorable conditions" is not explained here. The paragraph 381 further clarifies that "In closed terrain (bushes, woods, buildings) it is expedient to move infantry in front of tanks. In this case tanks advance in battle lines of infantry and destroy enemy targets by its request. When accessible areas are present tanks are committed after infantry captures them." It is said that the order of advance can alternate during the attack (Para 381). Paragraph 441 repeats that when anti-tank obstacles are met then infantry moves forward and make passes, while tanks support it with fire.
                        - In a meeting engagement, in pursuit, in counterattacks, in favorable situation tanks can separate from infantry further than 200-400 meters (para 26). "In single cases when enemy anti-tank fire is weak, tanks can use their mobility to advance to the depth of defenses" (Para 434). "If enemy offers weak resistance or retreats then tanks attack not waiting for the infantry" (Para 453).

                        While the manual's provision are generally reasonable it has a somewhat rigid focus on "tank forward" scenario. Alternative formation is considered suitable mostly for unfavorable terrain. It can be expected that in attack of strong defenses with many mines or anti-tank weapons "tanks forward" formation would in most cases invite heavy losses.

                        2. It is repeated many times that tanks should attack in full speed, at the same time it is repeated that normally tanks should not separate from foot infantry further than 200-400 m. There is an obvious contradiction here which is not clarified by the manual. Another problem you can expect from a common sense is that tanks would be to busy in combat and had too limited observation to control the exact distance to supporting infantry.

                        3. Given popularity of tanks desant/tank riders there are surprisingly scant mentions of them. In the chapter 8 (Attack) I only find mention of them in a section relating to attack against hastily prepared positions. "477. Brigade (regiment) usually attacks the enemy caring desant of organic and attached infantry and sappers". "483. Desants and submachine gunners are widely used to capture important localities in depth of defenses" The same scant mentions are found in the Part I of the manual. It's not explained in what conditions riders can be used in combat, how many men a tank can carry, when they have to dismount, cooperation with tanks etc". That illustrates that there is a difference between manuals and actual practice everybody should be aware of.
                        Last edited by Artyom_A; 13 Jan 19, 11:40.

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                        • #72
                          To summarize all said above there were a problem in combined action of infantry and tanks caused by different speed and different vulnerability to weapons. The Soviet manual and the Soviet doctrine in general failed to fully resolve it. There were three basic options:
                          1. Tanks adapt their advance to infantry speed
                          2. Tanks attack at full speed alone separating from infantry
                          3. Tanks attack at full speed with infantry riders on them
                          neither of which was completely satisfactory. Naturally availability of armored personnel carriers would largely solve this tactical problem. However, there were available only in limited numbers sufficient to equip reconnaissance units only.
                          All said above applies to sappers/engineers as well. While tanks needed engineer support to clear obstacles (e.g. mines), there was the same difference in tactical mobility.

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                          • #73
                            For comparison points on the same subject from the German instruction ("Employment of combined arms in a panzer division") from the same period (the year 1944)

                            8. The tank regiment ... attacks enemy in full strength forming a spearhead (tanks forward).
                            All other arms have only one mission - to assist the tank attack and to use it for own advance. Tanks cannot fully clear the terrain from enemy forces, some elements capable of fighting always remain.
                            9. Panzergrenadier regiments follow behind tanks, destroy remaining enemy forces in cooperation with the second wave of tanks and secure rear and lines of communications....
                            10. If terrain conditions or presence of anti-tank obstacles prevent a tank attack, then infantry advances forward. That happens:
                            a) In attack across a waterline.
                            b) In dense forests, in swamps or rugged terrain.
                            c) When minefields, anti-tank ditches, and other anti-tank obstacles are present.
                            d) In attack on a continuous anti-tank position.
                            Tanks can support an attack of infantry by fire advancing behind the attacking elements.
                            Once the ill-accessible area is passed or bridges are built tanks advance forward again and operate as a spearhead.
                            11....
                            The stronger is the enemy and the lesser favorable are terrain conditions the closer must be a cooperation between tanks and infantry].
                            15. In a favorable terrain tanks advance by bounds from one covered position to another supporting the infantry following behind them with fire. Large forests or settlement infantry enters the first. Both arms provide mutual fire support.
                            16. When a continuous anti-tank position is present tanks break contact with enemy (guns directed to the enemy side). Actions of tanks against the flank or rear of the anti-tank position are launched only after reconnaissance and bombardment by artillery and ground-attack airplanes. If terrain conditions necessitate the frontal attack, then the infantry advances forward.
                            Tanks stay in cover and enter the battle only after the infantry breaks in.
                            17. Since tanks attract the mass of enemy fire the infantry should not advance close to them. It accompanies the tanks in assault group fashion either behind or on sides depending on terrain.
                            18. In the second and following waves as well as in areas with weak fire resistance infantry can be mounted on tanks as long as it is not engaged by observed fire.
                            19. Infantry in armored carriers advance directly behind the first tank wave. It destroys enemy anti-tank weapons, enemy resistance centers and tank hunters with fire from board weapons. To reduce strong resistance centers and overcome obstacles infantry temporarily dismounts.
                            20. Infantry on trucks can attack the enemy together with tanks only when the enemy is unprepared for defense or his resistance is shattered. Infantry can fight mounted on vehicles or dismounted.
                            Limited cross-country mobility of trucked infantry limit its employment to favorable terrain or roads.
                            21. Tanks and infantry fighting together in some narrow area must be subordinated to one common commander.
                            Translated from:
                            http://wwii.germandocsinrussia.org/r...de/grid/zoom/1
                            Last edited by Artyom_A; 14 Jan 19, 12:14.

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                            • #74
                              While the Soviet and German manuals look broadly similar there some important distinctions
                              - the German manual more explicitly advocates "infantry forward" formation in attack of strong anti-tank positions and emphasize that tanks should avoid frontal attacks against an anti-tank front
                              - brief but clear description of tank riders employment. Soviet-style employment is unequivocally prohibited
                              - instead of keeping a constant distance from foot infantry tanks should normally advance from one terrain feature providing cover to another. Sounds like a more practical provision
                              - foot soldiers bunching near tanks is prohibited to avoid losses

                              German post-war works (for example "Panzer - Marsch!" or "Tactics in Russian campaign" by Middeldorf) contained similar discussion of different formations of tanks and infantry employed in the attack.

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                              • #75
                                Originally posted by Artyom_A View Post
                                - brief but clear description of tank riders employment. Soviet-style employment is unequivocally prohibited
                                Can ypu point at those paragraphs please ?
                                There are no Nazis in Ukraine. Idiots

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