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"Suggested Reorganization of the Rifle Company of a German Armored Reconnaissance Battalion" from Tactical and Technical Trends

A report based on a captured German document in North Africa which details a German unit's suggestions for the reorganization of the rifle company of a German panzer reconnaissance battalion, from Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 24, May 6, 1943.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


The following is an extract from a document prepared by a rifle company of a German armored reconnaissance battalion. While the reconnaissance battalion is no longer included in the German armored division, its functions having been taken over by a division motorcycle battalion, this document is felt to be of interest in that it shows how the principle of decentralization, visible throughout the entire German army, is given emphasis. Furthermore, German tactical groupings organized along lines essentially similar to both the units discussed below may well be encountered. The document has reference to operations in North Africa against the British during the early summer of 1942. The extract therefrom follows:

*          *          *

a. Present Organization, Equipment, and Functions

(1) Organization and Equipment

The organization and equipment of the company consists of:

Three light platoons, each with seven armored half-track personnel carriers, and one 37-mm antitank gun on an armored half-track.

One heavy platoon with nine armored half-track personnel carriers, and two armored half-tracks with heavy mortars.

In all there are 37 half-tracks, of which 32 are armed with machine guns.

(2) Missions and Operations

The company, as such, was fought as a unit. It performed combat tasks and security missions. Reconnaissance missions were not assigned the company. However, individual platoons, reinforced with armored cars, antitank guns, and a captured 25-pounder (British 3.45-in field artillery piece), were used for reconnaissance in force.

The following types of operations were performed by the company:

Attack against hostile forward positions and counterreconnaissance screens;

Breaking through hostile motorized elements to eliminate flank threat;

Attack on enemy positions;

Blocking hostile attempts at penetration;

Defense against attacks by enemy armored vehicles; Counterattacks.

b. Suggested Reorganization

(1) Changes in Organization

It is suggested that the number of half-tracks in the three light platoons and the heavy platoon remain the same, but that the weapons be as follows:

Light platoons--each to have two (instead of one) 37-mm antitank guns on half-tracks;

Heavy platoon--four half-tracks with 75-mm guns, two with heavy mortars, and four with 28/20*-mm, or French 25-mm,** antitank guns.

(2) Advantages to be Gained

The offensive power of the company would be considerably increased by the incorporation of the additional weapons. Machine guns and 37-mm antitank guns remain indispensable for ranges below 2,000 yards. With the 75-mm gun, fire superiority can be quickly obtained at longer ranges, especially in attacks on the move; at short ranges they constitute a superior weapon against enemy positions, dug-in antitank guns, etc. The antitank section with four guns should supplement the 37-mm antitank guns, which are not effective against armored targets at long ranges.

The existing heavy platoon organization with its two heavy mortars and six machine guns is not sufficient for the tasks of the platoon in Africa. Even support from the artillery battery, which is usually available, is not sufficient. As the platoon which must support the company attack, provide the main weight of fire and establish fire superiority, the heavy platoon must be more generously equipped with heavy weapons. For the most part, it is this platoon, which has to deal with enemy self-propelled guns, armored cars, tanks, and dug-in antitank guns. The 75-mm gun, the mounting of which on half-track personnel carriers has been successfully tried out, is the weapon needed. Against enemy tanks the company requires a reliable antitank weapon. The 28/20-mm antitank gun or the French 25-mm gun mounted on a half-track is suitable. The above reorganization of the heavy platoon is required in the African Theater. On its own initiative the company has already created a heavy platoon with two 75-mm infantry guns and four 25-mm antitank guns mounted on personnel carriers.

*Choked bore--tapering from 28 mm to 20 mm.
**This is a dual-purpose AA/AT gun.


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