Tuesday 18 December 2018

Anti T-34 Tactics

"Translated from German

Chief Inspector of the Land Forces at the Supreme Command of Land Forces

Supreme Command of Land Forces HQ
May 26th, 1942

Directions for combat of our tanks against the Russian T-34 tank

Characteristics of the T-34 tank:
The T-34 tank is faster, more maneuverable, and has superior off-road mobility than our PzIII and PzIV tanks, and its armour is thicker than the armour of our tanks. Its 76 mm gun surpasses our 50 and 75 mm guns in penetration. Its advantageous positioning (sloped position of all surfaces) helps shells slip off.

Combat against T-34 tanks using the 50 mm gun is possible only when firing from the flanks or the rear. It is necessary to hit the armour at a right angle. A direct hit on the turret ring with explosive grenades or machinegun fire often results in the turret jamming. In addition, a hit to the gun mantlet with armour piercing grenades from a short range results in penetration and bursting of welding seams. The 75 mm tank gun firing a hollow charge grenade penetrates the T-34 from 1000 meters.

Tactics of Russian tanks:
In defense and during retreating battles, the T-34 tanks are dug in including the turret on dominating heights, near roads, in forest clearings, and in settlements in such a way that after a quick artillery barrage it can retreat. Knowing its superiority in armament, the T-34 opens fire at attacking tanks from 1200-1800 meters. Since the T-34 is faster than the German tanks, it can choose the engagement distance.

Tactics of our tanks:
Since it is only possible to penetrate the T-34 from the flanks from a short distance with the 50 mm gun, the correct way to engage T-34 tanks is with the following tactics:
  1. Tie up the tank with three PzIII tanks that engage in a firefight. Taking up positions on a reverse slope or moving constantly will make it harder to engage the enemy.
  2. Meanwhile, two more PzIII tanks using all cover rush to the T-34 from the left and right flanks or come in from the rear and fire from a short distance using type 40 grenades, aiming for the sides or the rear of the tank.
  3. If there is a PzIV among our tanks, it is used to tie up the T-34 from the front. Using a smokescreen, the PzIV can blind the T-34 or cover the approach of other tanks. It is likely that the enemy will mistake the smoke for chemical weapons and disengage on its own.
When meeting tanks that are superior in quality and quantity to our own tanks (T-34 and KV), success is obtained only if the entire tank unit forms a single front of fire and blinds the enemy with fire. Even if not a single tank was knocked out, the enemy still almost always disengaged under the precision and speed of German tank fire.

Translated by: military translator Volgusova
Approved by: 80th Tank Brigade Chief of Documentation, Kondratov"


  1. Looks like the Soviet's were growing smart on the best way to use their early T-34's. Dug in with a retreat route.

    1. They would also dug the tank with the turret at 6, so they can chnage position fast. Still, it is a rather simple and static defense...

    2. Given the state of the Red Army in early '42 "simple" was pretty much exactly what the doctor ordered.

  2. the document in question was issued early 1942, when no experiences with the new 5cm Pzgr39 were at hand and thus includes only experiences accumulated when firing uncapped 5cm Pzgr 38.
    Quite a difference...

    1. When did the pzgr. 39 take over?

    2. Here we have critical mass as allways giving only one sided "information", not only that but only giving the one he thinks will back his loved side, never pointing anything bad of them and giving only detrimental information of the opposite side.
      There is diference between information and propaganda, quite a difference...

    3. The Germans had some problems getting the pzgr. 39 into circulation. Though I thought that by May 1942 they had enough time to do this.

    4. The problem was a lack of heat treatment standartization for the projectiles. Many manufacturers employed techniques they believed would fit their steel mix best. WaPrüf finally decided to circulate standartizing specifications in spring 1942 drawing from reports of Sächsiche Gußstahlwerke.

    5. Wow! You haven't admitted specifically those projectiles were bad, but this is a huge step. Go on Crit! When you admit the real world is not divided in good/bad or white/black but in different gray scales you start living more relaxed and healthy. It's difficult, I know, I passed from the same gap, but don't give up

  3. Sounds *exactly* like the tactics people believe the western allies used crewing Shermans against Tigers and Panthers.

    1. Well "pin and flank" is a principle pretty universally applicable in ground combat and has commonly turned things around against more heavily equipped opponents since spears were still the cutting edge of military hardware.

    2. Yes, I'm aware of that. Just nice to see the Germans drawing the same conclusion with the T-34.