Monday 8 August 2016

Tanks at Lake Hasan: Tactics

  1. In battles for the Socialist Motherland, our tankers fearlessly and bravely went into battle, demonstrating bravery, courage, tenacity, and dedication to the Party and Motherland until their death. There was not one case where tankers faltered in battle. Crews that were trapped in a hopeless situation fired upon the enemy until their end, struck the samurai down with their fire, and died in their burning or knocked out tank, but did not surrender.
  2. In battle for Zaozernaya hill, the tanks showed their power and high combat quality. The Japanese fear of our tanks was demonstrated in the fact that all enemy firepower was directed against them: all artillery fired at tanks, all AT guns, all infantry, and finally, samurai charges at tanks by tank destroyer teams. The Japanese hated and feared tanks, opened artillery fire at individual tankers the moment they saw anyone in blue overalls.
  3. Tanks enabled infantry to move forward and take Zaozernaya hill. Coming close to the front lines of defense, the crews opened fire at concentrations of the enemy, crushed enemy strongholds with their guns and their tracks. As a result of effort by all types of forces, Zaozernaya was taken, the Japanese samurai were exterminated, and driven off from Soviet land, despite difficult terrain that was nearly inaccessible for tanks, tactically difficult for us due to the shape of the front and presence of commanding heights in the enemy's hands.
  4. The terrain around Zaozernaya hill is difficult and does not allow for massed tank attacks. The terrain caused the following:
    1. Tanks could not hit the enemy front line at the same time to suppress their strongholds.
    2. Tanks did not penetrate into the depth of enemy defenses and did not achieve their objectives, only reaching the front lines and achieving shallow penetration by some tanks.
    3. Tanks took heavy losses in personnel and materiel.
  5. On August 6th and 7th, the following were lost:
    1. Killed:
      1. 3rd Tank Battalion: 14
      2. 2nd Tank Battalion: 22
      3. RB: 4
      4. BBO: 4
      5. Total: 44
    2. Wounded:
      1. 3rd Tank Battalion: 25
      2. 2nd Tank Battalion: 23
      3. RB: 9
      4. BBO: 2
      5. Brigade command: 3
      6. Total: 62
        In total, 106 men were out of action during the tank attack, out of 342 men and 112 tanks participating in the attack. This is 30% of the men which participated in the tank attack, 41.7% of which were killed and 58.3% of which were wounded. 13% of all soldiers and commanders participating in the attack were killed and 17.5% wounded.
        25 commanders were killed or wounded, 16 tank commanders, 27 drivers, 31 gunners. Most of those killed were commanders: 41 men. The large loss in commanders is explained by the fact that the commanders are always ahead of their subordinates, and the fact that the enemy concentrates fire on commanders' vehicles, which have noticeable antennas.
  6. Materiel losses: 49 tanks lost (8 burned), 43% of all tanks participated in the attack. 18 tanks were repaired on the battlefield, the rest either required factory repairs or were written off. 36% of tanks were repaired in the field, 64% required repairs at the factory, or 22% of all tanks that participated in the attack. 8 tanks were destroyed by white phosphorous shells or shells hitting the fuel tank, or were burned by Japanese tank destroyer teams.
    Out of all tanks participating in the attack, 17 tanks were stuck in ravines from the 3rd TB, 18 from the 2nd TB, and 9 from the RB, in addition some tanks were stuck in ravines or swamps but later freed by their own crews.
  7. All knocked out tanks were hit with direct fire by anti-tank guns. Only two cases of negligible damage were noticed from indirect fire. The conclusion is that indirect fire at tanks is ineffective. Japanese tank destroyer teams jumped at individual tanks that approached Japanese trenches, and even then most of the Japanese teams were destroyed by fire from other tanks.
  8. The Japanese picked a region for provocation that did not allow for massed usage of our vehicles, especially tanks. If the terrain good, even in this unfavourable tactical situation, our tanks could have combed through the entire depth of their defenses and no anti-tank measures could have stopped us.
  9. Actions of the tank units during the entire operation showed that the terrain was mostly impassable for tanks and it was unreasonable to send two entire tank battalions and one RB company. Another method of using tanks was necessary, and this conclusion should have been made as a result of analyzing prior actions by the 32nd and 40th TB. It is more reasonable to apply tanks in small groups up to a platoon in close contact with infantry, use the rest as mobile batteries withe fire correction from infantry.
  10. Even in these conditions, the high percentage of losses can be explained by a lack of cooperation between infantry, artillery, tanks, and aircraft. The organization of cooperation was unsatisfactory. Combat action showed that the organization of cooperation is the key element to success in battle and has to be one of the most important elements of preparation. Organizational failures included:
    1. The enemy's artillery positions were not scouted out before the attack, and, partially, the anti-tank guns were not scouted by all possible means: aircraft photos, observation, nighttime searches, recce in force, and tank reconnaissance.
    2. Tanks were not assigned to regiments in time, and as a result, tank commanders only had a few hours to work with infantry commanders our of three days of preparation.
    3. Artillery was spread out and artillery support of tanks was weak. As a result, the enemy's defenses were not suppressed during the battle.
    4. Infantry commanders, without reconnaissance data, could not give concrete objectives to tanks, and tank commanders could not precisely establish artillery support objectives, and even if they did, it was not recorded or checked how many artillery squadrons were used to support tank attacks.
    5. Organization of the attack was done independently by infantry, artillery, and tank commanders, without consulting each other.
  11. Organization of attacks in tank units also had drawbacks:
    1. Tank attacks could not have been sudden, as the initial positions were within sight of the enemy.
    2. Despite reconnaissance missions, the terrain was insufficiently evaluated, difficult places were not discovered and attack routes bypassing difficult terrain were not marked.
    3. Tank battalions and companies did not organize their own tank reconnaissance 300-400 meters in front of the main echelon that would have discovered enemy AT guns and obstacles and directed the rest of the tanks.
    4. Tank units did not organize cannon tank groups that could suppress enemy AT guns and cover other tanks on the way to their objectives.
    5. No precise control within the battalion was organized, no observation over the battalion during the battle was organized, the result was an uncontrollable mass of tanks that was not evened out to attack at the same time. The very nature of objectives given had an imprecise character.
  12. Insufficient organization of cooperation is explained by insufficient tactical training of the tank commanders. Tankers did not practice the basics of combined arms warfare. No combined arms exercises of the mechanized brigade with infantry was done. The brigade was only taught independent action in the enemy rear and on the flanks. No training of the tank brigade and some infantry division was done, field manuals and instructions for organization of the battle and control were not mastered. More time should be spent on tactics in general.
  13. Tank crews did not practice close combat during their training. The close combat manual is also insufficient. The BUMM part 1 manual does not meet requirements. Tank crews were unprepared to drive in difficult conditions with closed hatches, they were not trained enough in observing and evaluating terrain through optical devices. It is also necessary to train commanders and political staff to be able to replace tank crews.
  14. Artillery did not concentrate fire on the front line and the flanks when tanks closed in within AT gun range. Smoke shells were not used and enemy AT guns were not blinded.
  15. A mismatch between authorized and actual strength in men and tanks, as well as transport trucks, leads to a decreased combat potential of the unit, as the assigned supplies are not retrieved by the brigade. It must be necessary to revise the cadres of the brigades and organize them in such a way that they can handle their allotted supplies. In order to raise combat preparedness, tank units in border areas must always have authorized materiel and staff on hand, without any excursions or ad-hoc formations using tank units.
  16. The enormous importance of sappers in mechanized brigades was revealed. They ensure that the brigade can match, performing reconnaissance and building paths, built crossings for tanks under enemy fire, supplied the brigade with food, saved men during floods, built pontoon bridges and rafts when the brigade exited a flooded region, loaded knocked out tanks on ships to evacuate them to factories.
  17. In conclusion, the following must be done to correct deficiencies:
    1. Tank commanders must learn to organize attacks and control of their unit in cooperation with other types of forces in accordance with the field manuals.
    2. Crews and units must learn to fight in close quarters along with infantry and independently, in difficult terrain.
    3. Practice cooperation between tanks during the attack, keep up communication with infantry and artillery.
    4. Work in issues of engineering support of the attack.
    5. Introduce a system of combined arms exercises with infantry, artillery, and aircraft."

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