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  • Indirect Light Artillery Fire?

    Do anyone here have information of indirect use of divisional and regimental 76mm guns (both early and late) during the GPW?

    There is a huge misconception lurking in all war games that these pieces are "artillery" as in a sense howitzers, but to my sources they are actually direct fire "open sight" guns for close support.

    I know that they could be pre-plotted in advance during operational barrages (as tanks and spgs) by shoot and observe, but never during tactical combat.

    /Pappy
    "Charley Dontīt Surf."

  • #2
    Originally posted by Pappy View Post
    Do anyone here have information of indirect use of divisional and regimental 76mm guns (both early and late) during the GPW?

    There is a huge misconception lurking in all war games that these pieces are "artillery" as in a sense howitzers, but to my sources they are actually direct fire "open sight" guns for close support.

    I know that they could be pre-plotted in advance during operational barrages (as tanks and spgs) by shoot and observe, but never during tactical combat.

    /Pappy
    You cant lump regimental and divisional artillery together just because they have the same caliber.
    A regimental gun is a light weight piece , short barrel ,short range, low muzzle velocity, limited traverse.

    Comment


    • #3
      I was under the impression that the Soviet 76mm cannon were gun/howitzers that could do direct and indirect fire. Indeed captured Soviet guns were used by the Germans as antitank guns.

      The Soviets at least had a choice in how they used their field guns.

      Pruitt
      Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

      Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

      by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

      Comment


      • #4
        Both the 76.2mm Divisional Gun and the 76.2mm Regimental, or infantry gun could be used for indirect fire. The problem was, throughout most of the war neither the regimental gun battery nor the divisional light artillery batteries/battalions had the communications and control apparatus to do that easily. For the most part, the regimental guns could fire only under the direct control of their own battery commander and then, of course, subject to the severe range limitation of the guns, The divisional guns were mostly used for direct fire, with the regimental 120mm mortars and the 3 batteries of 122mm howitzers providing most of the indirect fire support for the rifle division.
        After mid-1943, whenever the division was under a HQ that also controlled an Artillery Division, the Artillery Division had the assets to incorporate all of the artillery and mortar units into indirect fire plans. After the spring of 1944, the Army Artillery Brigades formed in and for most of the combined arms armies also had this capability, so the incidence of using regimental guns, 76.2mm divisional guns, and the 82mm and 120mm mortars all in the indirect fire mode increased dramatically.
        Throughout the war, both the German and Soviet artillery units had a serious problem providing indirect fire support to a unit that they were not assigned to support. Since both were chronically short of communications assets, an infantry/rifle unit usually had communications only with the artillery assigned to it - either its regimental assets or its 'slice' of the divisional artillery. Forward Observers were only in communication with their own artillery unit, and there was no 'web' of wire lines to allow them to call in fire from anyone else.
        That meant that all artillery support to some extent had to be preplanned. If a Soviet rifle battalion or a German infantry battalion suddenly needed more artillery support than had been assigned to it, either one was going to have trouble getting it. This is the major contrast between both of them and the US Army in the war, because the US development of the Fire Direction Center at each level of artillery command meant that every artillery unit could perform the math to bring its guns to bear on any target within range, regardless of who was requesting the fire. This required a huge investment in communications (both wire and radio) and command and control assets, but the US Army had the industrial resources to do it.
        As one German command put it in late 1944, to attack an American unit that had communications with its artillery was simply suicidal, because within a very short time every American artillery piece within range would be firing on you, and they would keep it up until there were no targets left.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Sharposhnikov View Post
          The divisional guns were mostly used for direct fire
          Divisional artillery was normally used for undirect fire. See for example:
          http://militera.lib.ru/science/boy_s...zii/index.html
          with schemes like this:
          http://militera.lib.ru/science/boy_s...ivizii/s04.jpg
          http://militera.lib.ru/science/boy_s...ivizii/s10.jpg
          Positions of artillery batteries were several km from the frontline.
          The problem was, throughout most of the war neither the regimental gun battery nor the divisional light artillery batteries/battalions had the communications and control apparatus to do that easily
          Undirect fire on targets visible from the observation point is not a rocket science. In a simplest case it requires a phone line from the observer to the gun position and filed binoculars. Of course, it was not a problem and such methods were practices since the Russo-Japanese War.
          After mid-1943, whenever the division was under a HQ that also controlled an Artillery Division, the Artillery Division had the assets to incorporate all of the artillery and mortar units into indirect fire plans. After the spring of 1944, the Army Artillery Brigades formed in and for most of the combined arms armies also had this capability, so the incidence of using regimental guns, 76.2mm divisional guns, and the 82mm and 120mm mortars all in the indirect fire mode increased dramatically.
          Artillery divisions, brigades etc were a bundle of non-divisional artillery units. As far as divisional ones are concerned there was an artillery regiment staff with a staff battery which usually controlled them.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Pruitt View Post

            The Soviets at least had a choice in how they used their field guns.

            Pruitt
            speed erodes, weight does not
            the german lefh 18 had similar armor penetration because it fired a twice as heavy shell.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Artyom_A View Post
              Positions of artillery batteries were several km from the frontline.
              Are these units marked on the maps 76mm Divisional/Regimental Guns?


              Originally posted by Artyom_A View Post
              Undirect fire on targets visible from the observation point is not a rocket science. In a simplest case it requires a phone line from the observer to the gun position and filed binoculars. Of course, it was not a problem and such methods were practices since the Russo-Japanese War.
              Yes you are correct. This tactic are well used ever since the WWI. Usually tactically spotters was separated up to about 2km from the battery (length of carried comm cable). But I'm not sure if you refer to the light artillery as this is the standard practice of all indirect artillery fire, at the time mainly medium 122mm & 152mm (and mortars of course).

              Problems with the guns in questions lets say the later 76mm Zis-3, not to confuse it with its smaller 1920-30's brothers, is that they don't according to my knowledge have variable charge propellant, also the low angle of only some +30 degrees means that the indirect fire must leave a very large dead zone of several kilometers in front of them as otherwise trajectory would strike obscuring terrain. So in indirect fire target zone is maybe between 5-11km which is not a good range to place guns used to support the front line troops.

              I already know that in static warfare they could be used as indirect artillery as they literally shot them selfs into position. Which was done probably within a week before actual fire mission. But once movement occurred contact between enemy and fire zones was lost. As the Russians didn't have any FDC and Zis-3 guns lacked proper dials to fire against map coordinates (to my knowledge) indirect fire capabilities was lost.

              It is possible however, which I don't doubt, that Russian field ingenuity came up with some simple solution for this, but I want some proof and frequency of use if it came to this. My main conclusion is the same as Sharposhnikov, that organic artillery was used mainly in direct support and mortars and attached Medium Artillery was used in indirect, more then under the special conditions of static warfare as before offensives and some other maybe extreme cases of improvisation that was common during the war. I know for example that both German and Russian tanks was forced sometimes to commit into indirect fire using HE rounds.

              Cases when it (76mm guns) was used indirectly I must say I doubt its effectiveness both as weak caliber and doubtful accuracy of not being a true howitzer.

              Which evolves to a more decisive question; what was the minimal distance a high-velocity Zis-3 could place indirect fire?


              /Pappy
              "Charley Dontīt Surf."

              Comment


              • #8
                What struck me about early Soviet Artillery Divisions is they included the 76.2mm Field Guns in the mix. I can't vouch for later Artillery Divisions having them, but these cannon could produce a certain volume of fire the big guns could not.

                Pruitt
                Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Pappy View Post
                  Problems with the guns in questions lets say the later 76mm Zis-3, not to confuse it with its smaller 1920-30's brothers, is that they don't according to my knowledge have variable charge propellant, also the low angle of only some +30 degrees means that the indirect fire must leave a very large dead zone of several kilometers in front of them as otherwise trajectory would strike obscuring terrain. So in indirect fire target zone is maybe between 5-11km which is not a good range to place guns used to support the front line troops.
                  That is one of the advantages the lowly infantry man has , it called reverse slope defense, however as soon as they cross the ridge, they get it " directly or indirectly "
                  High elevation is useful for mountain guns , some of today's guns used in AFGHANISTAN have this option but generally for a light field howitzer they are not crucial.
                  the lefh 18 had 40 deg, zis 3-37 deg, 105 mle 1913 37 deg elevation.

                  Range is 5km, due to earth curvature any human size targets above that distance are invisible no matter how good lenses you have, and need to resort to over the horizon shooting.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
                    I was under the impression that the Soviet 76mm cannon were gun/howitzers that could do direct and indirect fire. Indeed captured Soviet guns were used by the Germans as antitank guns.

                    The Soviets at least had a choice in how they used their field guns.

                    Pruitt
                    Just because an artillery piece could fire indirect fire does not mean it is a "howitzer".

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
                      What struck me about early Soviet Artillery Divisions is they included the 76.2mm Field Guns in the mix. I can't vouch for later Artillery Divisions having them, but these cannon could produce a certain volume of fire the big guns could not.

                      Pruitt
                      It might seem like an odd inclusion, but there were several reasons why you would want a few of those in a unit tasked with supporting a Corps or larger formation;

                      1- Anti-tank defense, nothing can ruin your whole day like a Panzer raid.
                      2- counter-battery fire while you heavy guns have better things to do
                      3- Light units to go where the big boys can't yet. When you have a busy General hollering at you to get some guns over that river or up on that plateau, it's better to say "yes sir" and send some fast batteries over there than it is to try to explain why you can't do that just yet.
                      ... especially if it's the Red Army you happen to be in.
                      "Why is the Rum gone?"

                      -Captain Jack

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Domenic,

                        Do some more reading on the subject and get back to me! Infantry guns are short barreled. Gun/howitzers have long barrels so they have better range than Infantry Guns and can fire indirect missions. This allows you to use them as antitank fire as well. Bruce Gudmunnson has a nice book or two on Artillery. David Zabecki also has a good book called Steel Wind.

                        World War I saw field guns being used as indirect support as well. Experience taught that the light field guns were better at spreading gas than bigger guns. Rate of fire was important when you spread gas. The big guns were better at spreading HE around and had more range.

                        Pruitt
                        Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                        Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                        by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Pappy View Post
                          Problems with the guns in questions lets say the later 76mm Zis-3, not to confuse it with its smaller 1920-30's brothers, is that they don't according to my knowledge have variable charge propellant
                          ZiS-3 used the the same ammo as USV, F-22, mod.1902/30 field guns, which was basically the ammo for mod.1900 and mod.1902 field guns but with a slightly increased propellant charge. Neither gun have a separate loading of variable propellant charges. The same is true for virtually all pre-WWI light field cannons. The Germans designed a light cannon with a separate loading only in 1916 based on war experience:
                          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/7.7_cm_FK_16
                          The problem of "dead" zones existed but it didn't preclude the use of indirect fire completely. Generally speaking all 76,2-mm guns could also fire ammo for regimental cannons mod.1927 with a lower muzzle velocity (thus eliminating dead zones), but I doubt that it was a wide practice.
                          Are these units marked on the maps 76mm Divisional/Regimental Guns?
                          Positions of support groups of rifle regiments, which included organic artillery battalions of divisions. Note that it was a common practice to place all batteries of the organic battalion (one battery of 122-mm howitzers and two batteries of 76,2-mm guns) on positions in the same area and to employ a battalion as a single firing unit.
                          As the Russians didn't have any FDC and Zis-3 guns lacked proper dials to fire against map coordinates (to my knowledge) indirect fire capabilities was lost.
                          There were panoramic sights on guns and necessary instruments (artillery aiming circle etc) to lay guns in the needed direction relative to south-north axis. I believe there wasn't much difference here between ZiS-3 and other field artillery.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Artyom_A View Post
                            There were panoramic sights on guns and necessary instruments (artillery aiming circle etc) to lay guns in the needed direction relative to south-north axis. I believe there wasn't much difference here between ZiS-3 and other field artillery.
                            afaik there is : see topic : http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtop...7920&start=105

                            The disks on the range drum corresponded to different type of shells or different propellant charges. For example the range drum of the 76-mm divisional guns mod.1942 (ZIS-3) had for discs (according to the service manual): one graduated in mils, the second in ΔX for armor-piercing shell, the third -ΔX for old-type Russian HE shells, full charge, fourth - ΔX - for new long-range shells, full charge. The range drum of the 122-mm howitzer mod.1938 (M-30) had 6 discs graduated in ΔX for a HE shell, propellant charges: full, No.1, 2, 3, 4, 7. Also there was a scale graduated in mils on the front side of the drum. The service manual said that there were range-drums graduated in mils only, in that case tables of firing must be used to set a needed range

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                            • #15
                              There was a gun the finnish called "piiska", or "whip". I think it was an anti-tank gun, perhaps 45mm, I am not sure. But seemed like it was mostly used in direct fire roles.

                              EDIT:
                              This one:
                              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/45_mm_a...un_M1937_(53-K)
                              Wisdom is personal

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