Tuesday 24 December 2013

Anti-Ferdinand Guide

I have previously written about brochures describing how to take out German tanks, and posted excerpts from them. I have since found a full version of one of them, the one describing how to take out a Ferdinand. You can find it here.

"Weak points of the German Ferdinand SPG and methods of combat with it" is a mouthful of a title, but very descriptive. The upper right corner helpfully reminds you: "Death to the German occupants!". The lower part of the page holds the publisher information: military publishers of the People's Commissariat of Defense, Moscow, 1943. 

The booklet doesn't waste time on introductions, and gets straight to the point.

"Weak points and methods of combat with the Ferdinand SPG

1. Suspension

The suspension puts the SPG in motion. The most vulnerable parts of the suspension are the rear most-wheel (idler), front-most wheel (drive wheel), and road wheels. 
Artilleryman! Open fire at the suspension with AP and HE shells of all calibers from all distances. The SPG will stop.
Blow up the bottom of the hull and suspension with mines.
Sapper-miner! Quickly set up mines on likely directions that the SPG will move in. Keep an eye on the SPG's movements. Prepare surprises for the Ferdinand.

2. Lower vertical plate

Components of the SPG are located past the lower vertical plate. 
Open fire with: APCR from 45 mm guns at 500 meters.
AP or APCR from larger caliber guns at 500-1000 meters.

3. Turret armour plates

The crew is present in the turret, as well as the gun mechanisms and ammunition.
Open fire: from a 57 mm gun with AP shells at 1000 meters.
From 76 mm model 02/30, 39, and 42, with APCR shells at 300-500 meters.
From 76 mm and 85 mm AA guns: with AP from 300 and 1000 meters.

4. Upper vertical hull plate and rear armour

The ammunition is stored behind the vertical part of the rear armour, and gas tanks and engine are located behind the front part. The lower sloped plate covers the electric motors. The exhaust system is behind a hatch in the center. The upper sloped plate has an emergency hatch.
Open fire from a 57 mm gun at 1000 meters.
From 76 mm model 02/30, 39, and 42, with APCR shells at 300-500 meters.
From 76 mm and 85 mm AA guns: with AP from 300 and 1000 meters.

5. Driver, radio man, and engine hatches

One of the weak parts of the SPG is the hatch on top of the gas tank.
Open fire at the lower part of the upper front plate with HE shells of all calibers.
Hit the hatches with AT grenades. Hit the air intakes with incendiary fluid.

6. Bottom of the hull

When the SPG climbs a hill, it exposes the bottom of the hull.
Open fire with any caliber gun at any distance.

Brief data on the Ferdinand SPG

Length: 7 m
Width: 3.5 m
Height: 3 m
Mass: about 70 t

Armour thickness:
Front (lower, sloped): 85 mm
All other front: 200 mm
Side, vertical: 85 mm
Turret side: 85 mm
Lower vertical plate: 50 mm
Roof, including driver and radio operator hatches: 45 mm
Roof above the engine and air intake hatch: 45 mm

Observation devices and ports:
There is a periscopic observation device above the driver. There is a removable panoramic sight for the gun on the roof of the turret. There are openings for personal weapons.

The front part of the SPG has hatches for the driver, radio operator, two engine compartment hatches, and two gas tank hatches. The roof has 3 hatches, and 2 small hatches in the corners. The rear plate has a large hatch, and a small hatch in it.

Two Maybach gasoline engines, with 300 hp each, are located behind the driver. The engines are equipped with generators.

Gas tanks and radiators:
550 liter gas tanks are located next to the engines. The radiators are located next to the generators.

The rear wheel is the drive wheel, there are 6 road wheels per side.

Gun: 88 mm
Ammunition: 70-90 rounds
Machine gun: MG-42
Ammunition: 2000 bullets"

The next three pages are diagrams that I have already translated in the linked article. After that is a pretty self explanatory part (shoot at the gun and observation devices to make the SPG useless), a table of everything we learned in the previous part, and some credits.

The very last page has a picture of how one would place AT mines on a Ferdinand's path ("use mobile AT mines") and some words of encouragement: "Artilleryman, tanker, tank hunter! Bravely let the Germano-fascist Ferdinand SPG approach, coolly aim, and surely strike at weak points! Tanker Lieutenant A. Erohin destroyed 6 Ferdinand SPGs. Comrade Erohin, with brave and decisive ambush maneuvers, destroyed Ferdinands in battle by opening fire from 500-1000 meters at their engines and gas tanks."

Thanks to the magic of the Internet, Erohin's memoirs are readily available. This is what he writes on his encounter with Ferdinands:

"It wasn't a tank, it was like a giant box. It was powerful, I could tell by the way the shells flew... Their battalion started taking up positions to support infantry. Behind the column of smoke, several more of these vehicles approached. One tried to get up a hill, and the entire company opened fire at its side. It stopped. The rest turned around and opened fire at us. After obtaining my commander's permission, I went in from the flank, behind hills and bushes. Peeking out from behind a hill, I fired five times at  the closest tank. It started smoking. The rest started backing off. Their turrets could not turn, and my flanking maneuver put them in a bad position. If they turned to fire at me, they would become vulnerable to our other tanks, and currently, they were vulnerable to me. Soon, it became dark, and the German attack failed."

Considering that his tank was a plain T-34-76, Erohin did pretty well. Here are some excerpts from his award orders:

"Over three days [Note: July 5-7, 1943] Lieutenant Erohin and his courageous crew destroyed 3 Tiger tanks and 10 Germans"
"On November 2nd, 1943, comrade Erohin met an ambush of enemy SPGs. In an uneven battle, he went for a flanking maneuver, and destroyed four SPGs from the rear."
"On November 5th, 1943, in battles for the village Sinyak, the enemy offered heavy resistance, delaying our advance. Comrade Erohin, on his tank, bravely penetrated the enemy defenses, destroying enemy soldiers and equipment. During the battle, he destroyed 128 soldiers and officers, two light tanks, one gun, and four machine guns. For courage and heroism in the fight with German invaders, for the destruction of enemy soldiers and equipment, comrade Erohin is worthy of the title of Hero of the Soviet Union."

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