Monday 5 November 2018

Anti-tank Plans

"Directive of the Commander of Artillery of the 3rd Ukrainian Front #001931
RE: anti-tank defenses of footholds on the Dniester
May 10th, 1944

Commanders of artillery of the armies:

Temporary defensive positions of the Front demand that we take a number of measures to provide the defenses with artillery. All captured footholds on the right shore of the Dniester should be thoroughly and thoughtfully prepared for anti-tank defenses. To prevent the enemy from gathering resources, deflect attacks of infantry and tanks, and combat his artillery, it is necessary to prepare and negotiate the following systems of fire with combined arms commanders: long range attack, concentrated fire, immobile screening fire, anti-tank screening fire, both in front of our front line and in the enemy's depth. Pay special attention to the joints between the armies, corps, and divisions.

I demand that the following measures be taken immediately:
  1. Organize anti-tank defenses on the right shore of the Dniester. Move 45 mm guns, 76 mm regimental guns, individual 76 mm divisional guns from infantry divisions and anti-tank squadrons, and captured guns into the infantry's lines. Ensure the creation of anti-tank reserves: anti-tank artillery squadrons for the division's artillery commander, independent batteries of 76 mm guns from the infantry division's artillery regiment for the corps' artillery commander, and anti-tank artillery brigades for the army artillery commander. If the armies have independent anti-tank artillery regiments (army or Reserve of the Supreme Command) or brigades, attach independent regiments for anti-tank defenses, if necessary, to the artillery commanders of rifle corps, and preserve the anti-tank brigades in the anti-tank reserve, do not split them up and needlessly move them out to the front. In all cases, preserve units equipped with mobile prime movers in reserve.
    Prepare a maneuver plan to move the anti-tank reserve out to tank-susceptible directions and likely deployment areas, as well as maneuver of individual 122 mm and 152 mm howitzers to combat Tiger tanks and Ferdinand SPGs. Organize defenses on the right side of the Dniester predominately with artillery not equipped with mobile prime movers. Each gun position, closed or open, must have at least 40% AP or HEAT ammunition. Anti-tank guns must fire only at tanks or in self defense.
  2. Prepare a firing system both in front of our front lines and in the depth of out defenses. Zero in on all areas in front of the defensive lines, concentrating on areas of possible enemy crossings.
    The artillery firing system must be developed jointly with the combined arms commanders and be combined with small arms fire and engineering obstacles. Pay special attention to preparation for immobile screening fire and anti-tank screening fire in front of our defensive line. Joints between divisions, corps, and armies must be covered reliably with fire. Communications and control measures must be supplied for combined arms cooperation. Systematically check the fire in joints between units, and the organization of communication and direction.
  3. Compose a counter-barrage plan based on existing reconnaissance data. Correct and send updates as new informtion comes in.
  4. Deliver the following the Front artillery HQ before the end of day on May 13th, 1944:
    1. A diagram of the anti-tank defenses on a 1:100,000 scale map with an attached plan for the maneuver of an anti-tank reserve and a brief legend (number of anti-tank regions, composition, order of direction, senior artillery commander).
    2. Diagram of fire of the army's artillery combined with existing and planned engineering obstacles, with a legend (who provides the fire where, number of guns used).
    3. Agreements and diagrams of supporting the joints.
    4. Counter-barrage plan.
Send the materials along with a staff officer who can explain the materials.

Commander of Artillery of the 3rd Ukrainian Front.
May 10th, 1944"

Collection of Combat Documents of the Great Patriotic War, Volume 16


  1. Hi! I know, that's offtop, but I find Chieftain video about early T-34 tanks and I Think that's good place for writing my opinion about this video- T-34 is a famoust Soviet tank, and this is famous blog about Soviet tanks :)

    Generally, in my opinion, chieftain video it's not bat, but from other hand, not wonderfull. As example, I like Chieftain, but I think that Chieftain have only limited knowladge about sloped armour effect on internal volume. As example, Chieftain criticized sloped side hull armour. But in T-34 sloped side armour decrease only sponson volume. Hull roof have this same width that lower part of hull. For comparision, many tanks with vertical side armour don't have any sponons (Panzer III as example). In my opinion, T-34 side armour layout (sponsons, sloped upper side armour, hull roof with this same width that lower part of hull) make a bigger internal volume than Panzer III side armour layout (vertical side hull armour, lack of sponsons). Of course, T-44 and later Soviet medium tanks don't have a sloped side armour, but this tanks don't have a real sponsons. In my opinion Soviets stop use a sloped side hull armour, not because sloped armour limited internal volume, but because Soviets like extremly good ratio between weight and armour protection. And lack of sponsons decrease weight.

    And we must remember that many tanks which have a bigger hull roof width than width of lower part of hull, don;t have bigger turret ring diameter than width of lower part of hull. As example- Panzer IV and Tiger have a bigger hull roof width than lower part of hull, but this tanks don't have bigger turret ring diameter than width of lower part of hull. And T-34 can use turret ring diameter which have similar size to width of lower part of hull (T-34-85).

    Another example- T-34 use a rear sloped armour. In my opinion this layout have a only limited usefulness, but from other hand, betweer upper rear plate and lower rear plate was mounted parts of drivetrain, like side clutches, brakes and gearbox. If T-34 use vertical rear armour, propably don't have smaller engine compartment and bigger crew compartment, in comparision to real T-34.

    If we discuss about sloper upper front plate, in my opinion even if T-34 get vertical upper front plate, don't have a far more internal volume than real T-34. I think that, because typically tanks with vertical upper front plate, have a upper front plate located near driver head.

    1. Second pat of my comment- I also think that Christie suspension it's better idea than Chieftain think- coil springs and its covers limited internal volume (variant of Christe suspension which have coil springs located inside hull), but in my opinion, coil springs was mounted not "ideal on left" and "ideal on right" tankers. On drawings and scale models I see that coil springs was mounted front off and rear off tankers. Generally, I think that T-34 without Christie suspension, propably have a bigger fuel tanks capacity, but propably don't be more comfartable. I must noted that T-34-85 have slightly different shape of fuel tanks mounted on sides of battle compartment and slightly different shape of its covers (than in T-34 with 76.2 mm gun), but don't have different shape of coils spring covers. This mean that old shape of fuel tanks (and its covers) prevent to correctly usage of bigger turret ring diameter (1600mm in T-34-85, 1420mm in T-34), not shape of coil springs covers.

      If we discuss about ammo capacity- main ammo rack of T-34 was located on hull floor, in battle compartment, and I think that's good idea (chances that enemy projectile hit floor mounted ammo rack, don't be big). And sloped armour of T-34 don't limited lower part of battle compartment. In my opinion T-34 with vertical armour propably don't have bigger ammo capacity than real T-34 (and in my opinion at least T-34 Model 43 don't have small number of ammo). Christie suspension coil spring take some internal volume on lower part of battle compartment, but I think that T-34 without Christie suspension have a only slightly bigger ammo capacity than real T-34 (we must remember that torsion bars also take internal volume of lower part of battle compartment).