Monday 12 February 2018

DP in Combat

"To the commander of the 74th Rifle Corps

The use of the DP in modern battle
  1. In all types of combat, the DP light machinegun was and remains the main automatic weapon of the infantry squad.
    1. During penetration of enemy defenses, the crew, following in the squad formation, can quickly prepare for battle and conceal itself and then open massed fire against enemy strongholds that are preventing the squad from advancing.
    2. When blocking and liquidating bunkers and dugouts, the effective long range fire and rapid maneuver of the DP crew on the battlefield makes it the most effective weapon of an infantry squad.
    3. When reinforcing a captured line, as well as when deflecting enemy counterattacks, the DP crew can quickly prepare for battle and open sufficiently powerful fire, while heavy machineguns and other types of heavy infantry weapons are not available at the squad level.
    4. When pursuing the enemy, the DP crew is always prepared to open fire.
    5. In the defense, the sufficient range and the ability to stealthily change positions ensures the successful deflection of the enemy.
    6. When clearing enemy trenches during an offensive and during reconnaissance, the submachinegun is more effective.
  2. In all types of combat, the DP destroys targets listed on page 1 of the 1938 infantry field manual.
  3. Firing on armoured targets with the DP has not proven its worth in practice.
  4. As a rule, fire is opened in short bursts. The shooter does not fire more than 15-20 shots without changing positions or targets. Long bursts (more than 15-20 shots) are only fired when defending from enemy attacks and counterattacks. The fire is maintained until the machinegun jams.
  5. Replacement of barrels is not performed in practice until the machinegun stops firing.
  6. The most effective fire is at a range of 600 meters, when any individual and group targets can be hit. At a range of over 600 meters, one can only effectively fire at groups.
  7. On the offensive, it is impossible to find a place on the flanks for firing in a wide arc without being constrained by one's own soldiers. Usually, the light machinegun follows in formation and fires ahead to not impede the movement of its squad.
    The machinegun crew must pick a location with a wide arc of fire in order to be able to accompany its squad with fire for as long as possible.
  8. The mass of a light machinegun with a magazine is not enough of a weight on the shooter to cause him to fall behind the riflemen.
  9. The shooter should not be armed with a submachinegun, but a submachinegun is necessary for his ammunition carrier. Both need grenades and a knife.
  10. During an offensive and in the depth of enemy defenses, mutual support of the light machinegun and the riflemen is reflected in their cooperative fire.
  11. The light machinegun works flawlessly when correctly maintained. The magazine is poorly designed and jams, thus causing delays in light machinegun fire. The light machinegun is difficult to protect from dust, sand, etc. in offensive combat.
  12. The failures that are encountered most often are:
    1. Failure to feed.
    2. Delayed return of the moving parts forward.
    3. Failure of the moving parts to return forward completely.
      If the magazine is functional, failures are often corrected by simply cycling the bolt.
  13. The issue of external conditions affecting the trajectory of bullets has not been explored.
  14. Fire at airborne targets is performed without leading tables, since without an AA sight it is impossible to measure leading. An approximate aiming point is given by the commander when the command is given. To avoid pointless fire, the shooter only opens fire when the commander orders it.
  15. The light machinegun often remains unused if the shooter is disabled, as the other squad members are not taught how to use it. All squad personnel must know how to use the DP.
  16. In practice, gathering all light machineguns in one group under the platoon commander was not done, as there is no reason to do so, since the platoon commander will be distracted from his duties and would have to command the machinegunners.
    In rifle squads, the machinegun is necessary as a long range automatic weapon.
    I consider it necessary to design a submachinegun that uses a more powerful cartridge.
  17. The advantages of the MG-42 over the DP are: high rate of fire, reliability, metallic belt. Disadvantages: poor stability due to weak bipod, very heavy. In offensive battles, the MG-42 is given to infantry squads.
  1. The DP machinegun is the main automatic weapon of the infantry squad. Its removal from the infantry squad is only possible in the event that a more effective type of long range automatic weapon is designed that has equal or greater firepower compared to the DP.
  2. It is necessary to replace the DP magazine with a metallic belt. The magazine is unwieldy and is vulnerable to dirt and malfunctions, which limit the rate of DP fire.
  3. Protect the moving parts of the modern DP from dust and dirt.
Personal questions:
  1. Experience of war shows that the current organization of infantry proved itself in combat. It is necessary to introduce an intermediate round for the submachinegun and replace the DP with a superior squad machinegun.
    A single light and heavy machinegun would be too heavy in practice to be light and unusable as a heavy.
    The infantry needs a bayonet, but its attachment should be like on the latest model of carbines.
  2. Practice shows that issuing body armour does not provide sufficient protection.
    A large part in the protection of infantrymen from small arms fire is played by shields on sleds. When penetrating fortifications in winter, the soldier moves the shield in front of himself and is protected. When assault groups used shields, only 15-20% were hit, as opposed to 80-85% without shields.
    Wounds when shields are used are light and most of them hit the lower parts of the body (legs).
  3. The long barrelled 45 mm gun and 76 mm guns proved themselves in battle. The 82 mm mod. 1942 mortar with one arbor should be removed, leaving the mod. 1937, or the mod. 1942 should be improved. Sights for mortars (square/angle) should be replaced with an optical device that allows for precise aiming.
    In battle, especially in deep defense, mortars are left without ammunition due to an absence of transport methods in companies, and thus cannot be used as a close range infantry weapon.
    It is necessary to provide aiming devices (periscopic azimuth compass) and communications measures.
  4. The qualitative and quantitative analysis of the losses dealt to the enemy by our artillery, mortars, and small arms fire is illustrated by the following examples:
    1. After each artillery barrage, while the division units are breaking through, there was not a single case where the attack stalled, as the artillery fire was effective.
      Note: during the penetration of enemy defenses at Zavolopka (near Radomyshl) enemy trenches were largely destroyed, his fire network paralyzed, communications disrupted, as a result of which the enemy's defenses were completely paralyzed.
    2. When fighting in depth and deflecting counterattacks in battle for Lenino homestead (near Radomyshl), the 1180th Rifle Regiment crossed the river, using it as cover from the attacking forces, captured the settlement, and was able to deflect six enemy counterattacks of up to a battalion of infantry and 12 tanks due to the timely transport of artillery across the river.
    3. When crossing the San river, the 45 mm gun battery of the 1176th Rifle Regiment managed to cross and deflect an attack by up to a company of enemy infantry from point blank range, capturing 16 prisoners, six cars, and one motorcycle.
    4. When crossing the Vistula river, the foothold could not be held without the timely transport of regimental and divisional artillery, as the enemy could have easily pushed the infantry back with tanks and APCs.
    5. When taking Sandomierz, the division's units already took heavy losses in infantry. The assault by two assault groups accompanied by two batteries from the 268th Independent Tank Destroyer Artillery Squadron was accompanied by effective support from divisional artillery batteries firing over open sights from an observation point outside the city
    6. Around Bela (west of Krestynopol), a retreating enemy infantry column with 30 carriages was spotted. The infantry of the 1176th Rifle Regiment was 3-4 km behind the enemy column and unable to catch up to them. Artillery from the 917th AA Regiment took initiative, placing machinegunners on cars, catching up to the infantry, and destroying up to 200 soldiers from point blank range of 600-800 meters captured 22 carriages with ammunition and supplies.
    7. Small arms fire in the offensive is disorganized and unaimed, and thus damage inflicted is slight. From temporary positions, the most effective fire is from light and heavy machineguns. In general, the most effective small arms fire is seen in close combat and defensive combat.
Commander of the 350th Zhitomir Order of the Red Banner, Order of Bogdan Khmelnitskiy Rifle Division, Guards Major General Vekhin
Division Chief of Staff, Guards Colonel Sychev
November 30th, 1944"


  1. I was always surprised that the Drum fed light DP machine gun was used in Soviet tanks. The bow machine gun is one thing but a co-ax is usually belt fed with a heavy barrel.

    1. It was one of those things that they meant to fix, but never got around to it. The tank mounted ShKAS was belt fed. The DS-39 could be fed by either belts or magazines. Neither of these went into production, however.

    2. The PM M1910 Maxim's would work as a co ax gun. But I bet they cost a lot more. On the other hand I bet the Russian infantry would of been happy to trade their M1910 150lb behemoths in exchange for a 20 lb. tank DT.

    3. That water jacket tho... :/
      The British did use water-cooled MGs in their inter/early-war tanks but changed to air-cooled jobs right fast once a suitable design was found, no doubt for very good practical reasons. Not that swapping the thin-barrel-water-jacket setup for a heavier air-cooled one should have been a particularly challenging feat of engineering ofc; something very similar was done with the aircraft variants already in WW1 after all...