Although recent models of the German Pz. Kw. 4
medium tank have been fitted with a long-barreled
75-mm gun, the Germans are still using Pz. Kw. 4's
mounting the short-barreled 75-mm gun (see fig. 1).
For this reason the information which follows should
prove useful. It is based on German Army documents
which discuss the tactics employed by individual
Pz. Kw. 4's armed with the short 75-mm gun, by medium
tank platoons, and by medium tank companies.
2. TACTICS OF INDIVIDUAL TANKS
a. Because only a small amount of ammunition is
carried, the gun is normally fired while the tank is at
the halt, so as to avoid waste. The Germans state that
the machine guns mounted in the turret and hull can
be employed successfully against mass targets—such
as columns, reserves, limbered guns, and so on—at
ranges up to 800 yards.
|Figure 1.—German Pz. Kw. 4. Mounting a Short-barreled 75-mm Gun.|
b. As soon as a target has been put out of action, or
as soon as attacking German troops are so near a target
that it is dangerous for tanks to fire, the tanks
move forward by bounds of at least 200 to 300 yards.
When changing position, the drivers take care to keep
their correct position in the tactical formation.
c. Single tanks may be used for supporting action
against prepared positions. The tank normally moves
from a flank under cover of smoke. Embrasures are
engaged with armor-piercing projectiles, and neighboring
defenses are blinded by smoke. Tanks usually
do not fire on static defenses at ranges of more than
400 yards. The assault detachments work their way
forward under this protection, and as soon as lanes
have been cleared through the antitank defenses, the
tank follows and engages the next target. The German
Army requires close cooperation between tank
and assault-detachment commanders. Light signals
and other types of signals are prearranged.
The Germans also use single tanks in woods fighting
and for the protection of rest and assembly areas.
3. PLATOON TACTICS
a. During the attack, medium platoons move forward
in support of the first wave. Half the platoon
gives covering fire while the other half advances. The
whole platoon seldom moves as a body.
b. The platoon commander directs by radio, and he
can control fire either by radio or by firing guiding-rounds
to indicate particular targets.
c. Antitank weapons usually are engaged by tanks
at the halt. If the nearest antitank weapon can be
dealt with by the light tank company, the medium
platoon engages more distant antitank weapons or
attempts to blind them. Artillery is engaged in the
same manner as antitank weapons. The Germans consider
enfilade fire especially profitable.
d. If the light company encounters hostile tanks in
the open, the medium platoons at once engage them
with smoke shells in order to allow the light company
to disengage and attack the opposition from a flank.
e. Moving targets and light weapons are engaged
with machine-gun fire and by crushing; mass targets
are engaged with high explosive.
f. Against prepared positions, the procedure is that
described in paragraph 2c, above. When the whole
platoon is employed, the advance may be made by
mutual fire and smoke support. The platoon assists in
the consolidation of a captured position by promptly
laying down smoke and fire. Metal obstacles may be
engaged with armor-piercing projectiles. The platoon
does not move forward again until all hostile weapons
in the prepared position have been knocked out.
g. In street fighting a medium platoon may be used
in the second echelon to lend support. The Germans
employ the tanks' guns in cleaning up nests of resistance
in houses; they also use the tanks themselves to
crush lightly-built houses.
h. If a front-line tank formation is ordered to hold
an objective until the arrival of infantry, the medium
platoon gives protection by taking up a position on
high ground affording a large field of fire.
4. COMPANY TACTICS
a. Medium platoons under the command of light
companies use the latter's radio frequency.
b. Reserve crews follow immediately behind the fighting
echelon, and move back to join the unit trains only
after the beginning of a battle. They come forward
again as soon as the battle is over. Reliefs are supposed
to be so arranged that first-line drivers are thoroughly
rested when they leave the assembly area to take over
before an action.
c. The repair section, commanded by a noncom,
travels with the combat echelon until the beginning of
d. The company commander travels at the head of his
company until the leading platoons have gone into
action. He then establishes a temporary command post
with unimpeded observation of the battle area. Maintaining
direction and contact is the responsibility of
company headquarters personnel while the commander
is at the head of his company.
e. In the attack the normal formations are the broad
wedge (Breitkeil) or extended order (geöffnete Linie).
The Germans believe that effective fire on the part of
the whole company can be obtained if the rear elements
provide overhead fire or if they fill up or extend the
front of their company to form a line.
f. In tank-versus-tank actions, the company is employed
as a unit, whenever possible. When hostile tanks
appear, they are engaged at once; other tasks are
dropped. If time permits, the battalion commander
detaches the medium platoons which have been attached
to light companies, and sends them back to the medium
company. At all times medium tanks attempt to fight
with the sun behind them.
g. During the pursuit the medium tank units are employed
well forward so that they can take full advantage
of the longer range of their high-explosive shells.
Tank mechanics move directly behind the combat
echelons. The recovery platoon is responsible for towing
away those tanks which cannot be attended to by
the repair section. The recovery platoon is under the
orders of the regimental workshop (maintenance) company
commander, who has under his control all equipment and
spare-part trucks of the tank companies. These
follow by separate routes as prescribed by him.
 Three platoons are involved, forming a hollow triangle with its apex forward.