Friday 16 April 2021

Winter War Tank Experience

"Copy #1

4th Army Chief Command
Army Staff
#578/41 secret

  1. General rules of using Russian tanks:
    1. Russians support their offensives with tanks (50-100 per division, up to 200 or about 20 per battalion when attacking fortified regions).
    2. Tanks advance in 2-3 echelons:
      1. To penetrate and to reach objectives in the rear.
      2. To suppress fire and break into the main line of defense.
    3. Tanks always drove with closed hatches. Observation was done through periscopes. Hatches were opened only for self-defense if the crew was in danger.
  2. Finnish combat against Russian tanks:
    1. The Finns say that a Russian tank attack against well prepared defenses has little chance of success.
    2. The Russians usually respond to a Finnish attack with a counterattack using tanks. Finns therefore successfully used anti-tank mines and grenade bundles.
    3. The Finnish 37 mm anti-tank gun can always penetrate a T-26 tank (6-16 mm of armour), T-37 tank (4-10 mm of armour) or BT tank (16 mm of armour).
    4. One division formed special motorized anti-tank companies that destroyed over 100 Russian tanks. The composition was as follows:
      The company consists of 4 platoons of 2 sections each.
      1st section: commander and deputy commander.
      2-3 "destroyers" armed with a pistol and egg shaped hand grenades.
      2-3 "blinders" armed with a pistol, Molotov cocktails, smoke bombs.
      1 SMG gunner and 2-3 support troops armed with rifles or pistols, Molotov cocktails, hand grenades or grenade bundles.
      Everyone has steel helmets and cotton buds for plugging their ears.
    5. Combat tactics:
      During the day and out in the open tanks can only be attacked from trenches. The leading tank is stopped with a mine or a grenade bundle. It's easier to attack a moving vehicle than a stationary one, as the latter and observe and fire more easily.
      Finnish anti-tank companies slipped into Russian territory if conditions were favourable (forests, poor patrols). They attacked Russian tanks moving in a column one by one. The lead tank was stopped first with a mine or a grenade. This was a signal to detonate the grenade bundles under the following tanks. The "blinders" threw their Molotov cocktail bottles. After the grenade bundles exploded, the "destroyers" jumped on the tank, fired through the vision slits, or threw grenades in the hatches. Expect some hatches to be open, as the Russians prepare for defense with hand grenades.
      Sentries and the SMG gunner protects the "destroyers" from encirclement, kill Russians who escape from their tanks, and hand the "blinders" Molotov cocktails and grenade bundles.
      If possible, anti-tank companies were equipped with anti-tank guns that fired at enemy tanks and allowed the company groups to work after that.
    6. Weapons:
      1. The 3 kg explosive charge was used most of all. Even a 2 kg explosive charge thrown between T-28 tank turrets can destroy the armour. A 4 kg charge thrown through the ventilation mesh can destroy the rear of the tank and the fuel tank.
      2. Incendiary bottles or Molotov cocktails. These contain three parts gasoline, 1 part paraffin and resin to make the mixture sticky. Wooden dowels soaked in fuel act as fuses. They are lit prior to throwing. 
        The burning fluid quickly spreads across the tank and seeps into openings and cracks.
      3. Anti-tank hand grenades weighing 2.3 and 4 kg. The explosive charge is in the form of a brick. The handle and fuse are the same as on ordinary hand grenades. The sides are covered in sticky fluid, ensuring that the grenade will not fall off the tank.
        The grenades are protected by removable boards during travel.
      4. Prolonged machine gun fire at tracks is sensible, as the tracks broke in many cases (trials against captured tanks should be carried out)."

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