Tuesday 23 October 2018

German Ground Attackers

"Translated from German

Combat use of ground attack aircraft
March 1944


7. Anti-tank assault aircraft
  1. Anti-tank assault aircraft squads are independent units. They can be attached to assault aircraft squadrons or united in the direction of the main attack to form a powerful anti-tank group.
  2. Henschel 129 (single seater, two engine) and Junkers 87-G (with special equipment) are used as anti-tank assault aircraft. Both airplanes, due to their heavy weight and special weapons (Henschel 129: 30 mm cannon and two 7.9 mm machineguns, Ju-87-G: two 37 mm cannons) have low speed and are insufficiently maneuverable.
    They are very vulnerable to enemy fire, and the ability to use them is therefore limited.

Action in combat

22. Anti-tank assault aircraft

Anti-tank assault air units are armed with the Henschel 129 and Junkers 87-G aircraft. They are used against enemy tanks and armoured cars that broke through. Experience shows that they cannot be used against tanks in initial positions, since they are protected with powerful AA defenses. It is reasonable to use anti-tank assault aircraft and regular assault aircraft, FW-190 or Ju-87, together. The FW-190 and Ju-87 suppress enemy defenses and the infantry that accompanies tanks, and the anti-tank assault aircraft suppresses the tanks themselves. Cohesive joint action of both formations is crucial for success, otherwise thick clouds of dust and smoke will prevent anti-tank assault aircraft from acting successfully, or they will be struck by bomb splinters.

Assault anti-tank aircraft are introduced into battle in small units (2-3 aircraft). When assault and assault anti-tank aircraft are used together, they should be used in a ratio of 1:1.
Suppression of special targets

25. Tanks
  1. Assault aircraft must be used en masse against tanks in initial positions and on the battlefield. High caliber fragmentation bombs weighing 250-500 kg are the most effective. Infantry that escorts the tanks can be suppressed with small caliber fragmentation bombs. Soon there will be small caliber armour piercing bombs used that are dropped in large amounts.
    Tanks in initial positions typically have strong AA defenses and fighter cover. The sortie needs to be carefully planned in advance. Tanks are usually well hidden and cannot be spotted from a height of 3000 meters. In this case, the region where targets are located must be reconnoitred in advance, with the enemy situation, defenses, and location size discovered. Unit and formation commanders must receive precise instructions which must include large scale maps, aerial photos, and aerial diagrams. On the battlefield, the aircraft must deliver the main strike into the mass of advancing tanks. Hunting separate tanks is usually fruitless. Spotting targets is done by an officer observer from assault aviation., use of tracers by ground forces, and reconnaissance aircraft.
  2. Tanks that are dug into the ground can only be destroyed with a direct hit from a heavy bomb or special small caliber armour piercing bombs.
  3. Anti-tank assault aircraft are tasked with fighting enemy tanks that have broken through. These tanks are attacked with onboard weapons from a low height. This offensive tactic requires a calm and precise approach to the target, since the area of a tank where it can be defeated by a direct hit is very small. Any enemy AA measure prevents the aircraft from approaching the target. Therefore, it is reasonable to send ground attack aircraft into battle at the same time to suppress enemy defenses with their onboard weapons.
    If enemy tanks that broke through have fighter cover, it is often impossible to use anti-tank ground attack aircraft. In these cases, send ground attack aircraft armed with a large number of bombs against tanks."

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