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"Tactics Used by Pz. Kw. 4's with Short 75-mm Gun" from Intelligence Bulletin

[Intelligence Bulletin Cover]   A report on German tactics used by Pz. Kw. 4's armed with the short 75-mm gun, from the Intelligence Bulletin, July 1943.

[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.]



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.


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.]
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.


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.


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 the battle.

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)[1] 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.

[1] Three platoons are involved, forming a hollow triangle with its apex forward.

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