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"Balanced Antitank Protection" from Intelligence Bulletin

[Intelligence Bulletin Cover]   A short report on German antitank measures at the small unit level, from the Intelligence Bulletin, October 1942.

[Editor's Note: The following article is wartime information on enemy tactics and equipment published for Allied soldiers. In most cases, more accurate data is available in postwar publications.]



In view of all the comment about the German 88-mm dual-purpose antiaircraft and antitank gun, some of us may forget that use of this weapon is only one aspect of German antitank methods.

In line with German Army principles, each combat unit, from the smallest to the largest, is so organized, armed, and equipped as to be tactically self-sufficient. Antitank protection is vital to the successful accomplishment of a combat mission; therefore, suitable antitank weapons are provided for each unit. These weapons are used in accordance with the German doctrine of antitank defense, which may be summed up as follows:

Staffs, troops, and supply echelons must constantly be on guard against tank attacks. Careful ground and air reconnaissance and map study help to indicate the avenues of approach over which hostile tanks will attack. Certain terrain features are natural obstacles to tanks, and must be used to full advantage. The favorable avenues of approach must be protected by antitank guns, artillery, mines, and tanks.

Early information regarding hostile tanks permits timely and well-planned defensive measures. All reconnaissance agencies are required to report tank information to the commander immediately, as well as to the troops specifically threatened.

The antitank units which are organic parts of infantry regiments, battalions, or companies contribute their fire power to the support and protection of their own organizations. Those antitank units which are organic parts of corps and divisions constitute a reserve force which, because of their mobility, can be rushed to decisive areas as determined by the general situation.

Each infantry company is protected by a section of three antitank rifles.[1] Each regiment, in addition to these company antitank rifles (total 27), is protected by an antitank company of three platoons (each with four 37-mm antitank guns), and one platoon of four 20-mm rapid-fire antiaircraft-antitank guns.

A trend toward substitution of the 50-mm antitank gun for the 37-mm guns is progressing rapidly.

The antitank protection given to large units, such as the armored, motorized, and infantry divisions, need not be discussed here. But it is worth noting that the amount of antitank protection is steadily being increased for both large and small units.

[1] In Africa, each company of one light division was reported to be equipped with two 76.2-mm captured Russian field guns for antitank use.

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