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"Ruses for Concealing Artillery Positions" from Intelligence Bulletin

[Intelligence Bulletin Cover]   A translated article from Russian Red Army journal on German artillery ruses from the July 1944 issue of the Intelligence Bulletin.

[Editor's Note: The following article is wartime information on enemy equipment published for Allied soldiers. More accurate data on German weapons and equipment is available in postwar publications.]


Some German artillery methods of countering Russian observation and sound ranging are analyzed in a recent article in the semiofficial Russian Army journal Red Star. Only those which are likely to be of interest to U.S. troops in the European theater are discussed here.

The Russians observe that since the results of sound ranging are dependent on atmospheric conditions, the Germans always try to exploit these. At times when sound carries the farthest—for example, at night, in fog, and when there is no wind—German artillerymen try to fire as little as possible. But when sound conditions are disturbed—that is, when there are head winds, vertical midday currents, sharp falls of temperature, and so on—their activity increases. The Germans also take sound into account when they are siting their guns. In Russia, this factor has led them to display a marked preference for reverse slopes, groves, lake shores, and marshes.

In Russia the Germans have used roving batteries extensively. These move around, firing a few rounds from each position—and occasionally undertaking more systematic fire. The Germans select positions which are a reasonable distance away from other friendly units. German batteries often are held in ambush, and for long periods do not fire at all. Almost never does a gun fire singly, lest this make it easier for Russian sound ranging to locate its position. Instead, it is a common German procedure for a number of batteries to fire together at an even tempo, so that all the sounds of gunfire merge.

The Germans have been using special devices to imitate the sound of gunfire. These have been placed from 200 to 300 yards to one flank of a well-camouflaged German battery, or some distance to the rear of the actual gun sites. Sometimes these devices are supplemented by others, which simulate muzzle flashes.

In line with this same principle, a German gun will register from a site 200 to 300 yards to one flank of its battery. If a gun were moved farther away, it would make the registration for the rest of the battery less accurate and, by getting out of the general area of the battery, would make the success of the ruse less likely. When the Germans are taking part in systematic fire, they wait until they believe that the opposition has located this gun. The Germans then open up with their remaining guns.

To give their muzzle flash a background against which it will not stand out, the Germans sometimes send up rockets or set haystacks on fire. Smokeless powder and flash reducers are also used. Sometimes German engineers erect dummy structures to conceal artillery pieces, as a camouflage measure against air and ground observers.  

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