From the order No.259 of December 27, 1942
Signed by Commander of the Western Front General Konev.
Recommendations on the fighting enemy's self-propelled guns.
The enemy has widely used self-propelled guns (StuG.) with main characteristics:
1. General Principe of the employment (from the captured instructions of the German Army).
The battalion can reach its full fighting ability only if it is used all at once. The Germans think that the best in the advancing battle is the close formation, in which all 22 guns are commanded by the battalion commander and are used in close co-operation with the infantry regiment at the main direction of the attack. If this is impossible, for example, in defense, the battery still retains the close formation. The battalion might be split only down to platoons, each having a separate task.
The general principle of employment is following:
on the smooth terrain StuG.'s might take forward position in front of the infantry. On the terrain, partly covered with the natural obstacles, the infantry keeps close to the guns, while on the terrain fully covered with obstacles (forest, cities, etc.) the infantry takes the forward position.
a) At the breaking fortified defense lines
The companies take positions in depth. Miners are assigned to the first line. The fire of the second echelon backs up the actions of the first echelon.
b) In offense against unfortified defense:
The unit is positioned in columns along the front line. On the open terrain, self-propelled guns take forward position. On the terrain with limited visibility, the guns move in 300-500 m behind the infantry. The places with possible anti-tank defense are fired upon preventively even without defined targets.
c) In the defense:
The battery takes the position with crew in the machines or near them. The commanding officer is with the commanding officer of the infantry unit defending the sector. Depending on the tactical situation, the battery is moved to the direction of the possible breakthrough for counter-attack.
The shooting at our tanks T-34 and KV is effected very carefully, by concentrating fire of a few guns on the selected target from the distances less than 300 m. The fire of separate guns from the distances more than 300 m is ineffective.
2. Fighting the self-propelled artillery of the enemy:
We have enough AT means in our disposal for the destruction of the German self-propelled guns, the main being the artillery of all caliber. If the battle is duly organized the directions and areas of possible attack of German self-propelled guns can be predicted with the sufficient precision.
The following basics should be applied in combat:
In the defense:
a) If our troops are at the prepared defense positions, the most effective will be the strike of the first and second echelon of the German guns. The second echelon is to be hit first by our guns at the closed and hidden positions. This is to secure the successful actions of our AT guns at the front line, which are to deal with the first line of German tanks.
With the advance of the German s.-p. guns closer than 1.5 km to our positions, they are to be eliminated by front line AT guns, while the guns at the closed positions cut the German infantry from the machines.
b) In the defense at the unprepared position it should be noted that the German guns will move in front of the infantry.
Our guns should engage the enemy before he would move in the close. Mobile AT reserve must be formed to act of the possible directions of the breakthrough.
After the breaking through our lines, all AT means, including hand grenades, are to be applied for the destruction of the German guns.
c) In the offensive actions the enemy s.-p. guns must be destroyed at their positions.
Special batteries shall be tasked with counter-battery actions. The batteries shall be assigned with clearly visible sector. The directions of the possible enemy actions must be determined in advance and firing solutions are to be determined by the commanding officers. Subject to the tactical situation the training shooting shall be performed.
In the actions inside the depth of the enemy positions, special guns (batteries) are assigned to the infantry. They take position in front of the infantry or/and at the flanks and are to be always ready for the fighting s.-p. guns.
Tanks KV and T-34 act mostly from the ambush. The assigned to the task tanks are positioned in front of the infantry or the other tanks, or/and at the flanks. Each is assigned with clearly defined sector and shall be ready to open fire at any moment.
AT rifles are effective by the shooting at the sides of self-propelled guns from 500 m or closer. AT teams take forward position or/and at the flanks.
In capturing a city, town or a village, the imperative is to secure the presence of AT means among the forward troops, as the enemy will apply self-propelled guns to restore the situation.
Signed by the Commander of Artillery of the Western Front Gen.-Lt. Camera
Evidently, the German units of self-propelled guns were very clear and present danger, to cause the special order. Interesting is, in my opinion, the close cooperation between German armor and infantry, especially so in the defense. Apparently, the Soviet tanks were no easy task for the German guns as seen from the description of the German tactics. I included this order as I thought it would be interesting for fans of both the German and the Soviet armor.
Back to the main index
Back to the section index Write me