Wednesday 4 November 2020

Flamethrower Tanks

"Excerpt from the trip report to the Volkhov Front

The 502nd and 503rd Independent Tank Battalions used flamethrower tanks rarely, but the commanders and crews still praise highly the effect of flamethrowers in battle. For instance, the commissar of the 502nd ITB stated that the flamethrowers were used rarely only because the terrain got in the way and that German infantry flees in advance of the tanks to keep out of range. The effectiveness is high. When flamethrowers are used, the enemy runs from dugouts and abandons everything.

A driver of a KV-8 tank, comrade Paturnak, tells had he made only 4 shots from his flamethrower. An anti-tank gun fired at the tank, but as soon as a flamethrower burst was fired towards the gun the gun crew fled and two Germans fell down in shock and were then crushed by the tank's tracks.

The commander of the 503rd ITB, Captain Drozdov, stated that when using flamethrowers near Gontovaya Lipka the fuel did not reach the enemy positions, but they fled in panic. However, he considers it unreasonable to use flamethrowers in forested swamps.

The commander of the 507th ITB, Major Nikolayevtsev, tells that a KV-8 tank commanded by political coordinator Osatyuk fired 15 shots at infantry hidden in bushes. The infantry fled in panic. A portion of the fascists ran while on fire. One KV-8 tank used flamethrowers at night. The Germans ran in panic, tearing off burning clothes and even underwear.

The commanders of the 507th ITB reported to the 8th Army that "the flamethrowers fulfilled their mission" and later, after a description of drawbacks encountered during exercises near Kuzminka, writes that "after these drawbacks are corrected, this will be an excellent weapon to use against the enemy."

Another report to the same organization states that "the flamethrower is an excellent weapon for use against counterattacking infantry in forested swamps... practice shows that the effect on the enemy at night is terrifying. During an attack on the night of August 30th-31st near point 40.4 and in the sector of the 24th Guards Rifle Division the Germans fled in panic, throwing off their equipment and underwear".

All flamethrower battalions on the Volkhov Front mainly used KV-8 tanks. T-O34 tanks used their flamethrowers rarely."

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