Friday, 31 January 2014

Soviet AT Instructions

I've covered German AT instructions in great detail, and the time has come for some Soviet ones. The following is "Temporary instructions for combat with enemy tank units" CAMD RF 249-1544-4.

"Temporary instructions for combat with enemy tank units.

Fig. 1. A personal trench.
Fig. 2. Personal trenches connected together.
  1. The most important thing in a battle with enemy tanks is the destruction of enemy tanks. If tanks break through our defending infantry, cut them off from their infantry escort, stop its advance, and destroy it with short counterattacks.
  2. When fighting enemy tanks, keep in mind their weak points.
    1. Tank crews cannot see well. They can pass several meters from concealed infantry and not see them.
    2. Tank crews cannot hear anything except the sound of their own engine.
    3. Tanks can't shoot at people that are lying down in trenches, or are within 5-6 meters of the tank.
    4. A tank can't cross a wide trench, 4.5-5 meters for a heavy tank, 2.5-3 meters for a light tank. A tank can't pass a slope higher than 45 degrees, a vertical wall 1.5-2 meters tall, swamps, rivers with sticky floors. In a forest or in smoke, tanks move slowly.
    5. Only the first wave of heavy tanks has thick armour on the front and in the turret, which can only be penetrated by 76 mm guns and greater. The side armour of these tanks and all armour of light tanks can be penetrated with 45 mm guns. The most vulnerable places are on the top and bottom of the tank. The top and bottom of a tank, as well as the side of a light tank, can be penetrated by anti-tank hand grenades.
    6. Tracks of all German tanks can be broken or damaged by 45 mm guns or anti-tank mines, anti-tank hand grenades, and bundles of 4-5 regular grenades.
    7. A tank carries a large amount of flammable fuel.
  3. Our forces, including infantry, have a number of means to deal with enemy tanks. It is important to know how to use these means, using the weak characteristics of tanks.
    Each infantry regiment and each battalion must have a tank destroyer unit, equipped with anti-tank mines, incendiary bottles, anti-tank hand grenades or grenade bundles, packs of explosives, and smoke bombs. The anti-tank team should be composed of the bravest and most agile soldiers, and well trained in the use of the aforementioned equipment.
    Additionally, infantry has a number of 45 mm AT guns and 76 mm regimental guns.
    All regimental artillery can and must shoot at enemy tanks with direct fire.
    Aircraft can also destroy enemy tanks, by dropping bombs or firing armour piercing bullets from their machineguns.
    Every infantry unit must be able to quickly build deep zig-zag anti-tank trenches or personal trenches (fig. 1), in which it will be protected from enemy tank fire and the fire of supporting aircraft, mortars, and artillery. If there is time, connect personal trenches with passageways (fig. 2). 
  4. When a large amount of tanks attack as a part of the first wave, open fire from all anti-tank artillery at viable combat distances. 45 mm guns should attempt to fire at the flanks, or, if that is not possible, the tracks. A well concealed anti-tank gun firing from the flank is difficult for the enemy to discover. Frontal approaches to the gun should be guarded by other AT guns.
    Infantry that is tasked with destroying tanks should hide in separate trenches until the tanks are close, then attach mines and anti-tank grenades to the tracks with ropes, or, as the tank drives away, throw anti-tank grenades or incendiary fluid on the tank's engine deck, or two smoke grenades tied together, in an attempt to hook them on something on the tank. If there are flamethrowers available, use them, aiming for the tank's observation ports.
    The rest of the infantry should be hidden in trenches or ditches, or, if none are present, camouflage themselves. Observers must always be present. Infantry must open fire at infantry that is accompanying tanks, with the aim of holding it back and cutting it off from the tanks.
    At this time, the anti-tank unit, depending on the situation, may fight the wave of tanks accompanying the infantry, or prepare for tanks that may return to help their infantry.
    As a rule, the infantry escorts are weak, and can be destroyed with short counterattacks.
    Tanks that break through to the rear can be destroyed with any artillery. Batteries must move to camouflaged positions, prepared in advance, and suddenly open direct fire at tanks.
    If our tanks are present in the breakthrough region, they must meet the enemy with powerful fire from camouflaged positions.
  5. Immediately report all successful cases of individual soldiers or units destroying enemy tanks so that the personnel may be rewarded and the act of heroism may be announced to the entire unit.
  6. Tank attacks are almost always supported by artillery or mortar fire, dive bombers, and ground attack aircraft. The best defense from this kind of fire is positioning the forces inside narrow trenches or individual trenches. The best defense against low flying aircraft is machineguns, special AA ones and regular hand-held ones. Sniper fire with rifles may also be effective. In all infantry units, keep a number of personnel trained to combat aircraft: 1-2 hand-held machineguns in a platoon, 1-2 mounted machineguns in a company, no less than a machinegun platoon in a battalion. Regiments and divisions should organize special AA units with AA machineguns and artillery.
  7. Well disguised anti-tank defenses, energetic and skilled work by companies, teams, and units in destroying tanks in cooperation with anti-tank and field artillery can deflect even the most powerful enemy attack.
Chief of the North-Western direction force HQ, Major-General Zaharov
Chief of the Operations Department, Major-General Ivanov"

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