artillery

National Doctrine and Procedures




GermanGermany [3]

The Germans, as well as several other nations, used a method derived from World War I methods and limited by their lack of radios. The artillery battery sets up in a fairly safe place such as behind a woods. The forward observer moves forward a distance, stringing field telephone wire between the battery and his Observation Post (OP). When he gets there the distance and angle to the battery are carefully measured. When the observer sees a target of opportunity, he rings up the battery's fire control and gives them an estimate of the range and angle to the target from the OP. The fire control officers use logarithm tables and adding machines to do the trigonometry to convert the two angles and distances to one angle and distance, and to correct for wind, humidity, powder characteristics, etc. Each gun is adjusted to hit the same spot (a converged sheaf). Total time between first call and first firing: 12 minutes. [2]

Corrections of up to 400m could be done fairly quickly using some short cuts, but longer distances would require recomputing the entire fire mission.

In the German army, artillery sees widespread use in a tank attack. Its primary mission is the destruction of AT guns, tanks, and artillery, though it is also used for counterbattery, smoke screens, and harrassment fire. The Germans did differ from most nationalities by creating special artillery observation tanks (Beobachtungswagen), as well as halftracks.

Some random points:




SovietSoviet Union [4]

The Soviets had a hard time training good observers and fire control specialists. Those who could usually ended up in Artillery Divisions. In most wartames, this is reflected by the fact that all Soviet artillery except mortars and direct fire must be pre-plotted. However, the Soviets on the attack should frequently receive a large volume of artillery at their disposal.

Artillery is deployed strongly and in great volume. In fact, Soviet doctrine states, "the speed of deployment by artillery units decides the outcome of the battle." In repeated offensive operations, density reached 300-480 pieces per mile of front.

Originally, about 80% of artillery was organic to rifle divisions or corps. After the major defeats of 1941, the remaining pieces were centralized and production became a top priority, resulting in the formation of artillery brigades, divisions, and corps, some of the highly specialized, employed at Stalingrad and thereafter.

Mortars and rockets play a greater role in the Soviet army than any other. Mortars are massed and used (and observed for) like conventional artillery; while rockets are under corps control and are added to key breakthrough attacks. In the attack, self-propelled artillery such as the SU-122 and SU-152 are used heavily for direct-fire artillery support. 120mm and 82mm mortars have roughly the same effects and burst radii as 122mm howitzers and 76mm guns, respectively.

76mm guns are widely used for direct-fire support of infantry and tanks. Less commonly, they're used as conventional artillery. 122mm howitzers are the backbone of conventional Soviet artillery, and 152's are used to supplement or against tougher targets. 122mm guns and 152mm gun-howitzers tend to show up in corps artillery. Antitank guns see heavy use.

Planning, coordination, and timing are key to Soviet doctrine. Detailed plans are layed out hours or days in advance, with plans to effectively neutralize all probable threats and to use surprise concentrations, false transfers, rolling barrages, etc. Fire plans can get quite detailed. [I think that in your average scenario the Soviets should be given more artillery than the Germans, but most of its use will have to be preplanned before the game begins.] Point targets are destroyed more often with direct fire than with precision indirect fire. In defense, phase lines are computed so that a barrage at a particular range can be set up quickly when enemy forces move to that range.

I don't think the Soviets had VT fuze, but they did have quick, delay, and mechanical timed. Open, parallel, and converged sheafs were used.

Barrages were layed down no closer than 220 yards with cover, and 440 without, to friendly forces (110 if flanking fire). Calls for antipersonnel defensive fire were always highest priority. Rolling barrages were set up to lead infantry attacks by roughly 200 yards and tanks by 300-800 yards. Fire transfer could be accomplished by up to 1650 yards via K-transfer (an expensive method, though not as bad as full recomputation), or direct transfer from a checkpoint or previous concentration by up to 330 yards.




JapanJapan [5]

At the opposite end of Soviet doctrine is Japanese:

Japanese use of artillery is subject to much criticism. The fundamental fault is that there is generally not enough of it. The weakness in artillery may be the result of lack of appreciation of the need for adequate fire support, or of a feeling that past experience has not demostrated the need for stronger artillery. The period of daylight fire for adjustment prior to the fire for effect reduces tactical surprise and diminishes the moral [sic] effect of the preparation. This unwillingness to fire the preparation unobserved at night would suggest low gunnery efficiency. Also the absence of general support artillery reduces the flexibility of the artillery fires and limits the ability of the division commander to intervene promptly in the action by use of his artillery. From the picture drawn in the tactical problems, one can feel reasonably sure that the Japanese infantry will jump off, even though their extensive preparations have neither destroyed hostile wire nor neutralized the enemy artillery and machine guns. The detailed workings of the direct support fires are not described in the problems studied; hence, no estimate of their effectiveness can be made other than that implied be the absence of detailed plans for infantry-artillery liaison.

Other parts point to Japanese artillery being used mainly for light counterbattery and interdiction fire. The same weaknesses show up in other situations:




UK FlagUnited Kingdom [2]

Before Dunkirk, the British used the same methods as the Germans and others. After Dunkirk, the British changed their fire control methods. By giving every FO a good map and a truck to haul a radio (and its large acid batteries), they separated the direct tie between the FO and his battery, allowing more than one battery to be called in by a single FO. More importantly, the map, which was gridded off in 1km intervals, was used directly in figuring out how to aim the guns - a simple right-triangle calculation was all that was necessary.

This process took only two minutes. They felt it more important to get the guns on target quickly than work out the perfect shot, so no time was spent in individually aiming the guns - the sheaf was never converged. British FO's were highly trained and given great latitude in determining how much artillery was appropriate for a given target.




US FlagUnited States [2]

The Americans used a refined version of the British system. First, they had the industrial capacity to produce and deliver tons of dry cells every week, so they gave everyone a radio. So in addition to the regular FO's, any platoon-sized unit can call for artillery (though somewhat less accurately). An officer heading the American Fire Control Center sifted through all the calls for help and deciding how much to assign to each target, given the observer, the probable target, and the ammunition restrictions. Fire Control Centers used a set of clear protractors and rulers already corrected for wind, powder, etc., so converging the sheaf was possible, and the response time was very quick and fairly accurate.




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