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"German Gun-Fire Defense against Low-Flying Hostile Aircraft" from Tactical and Technical Trends

A report based on captured German documents on WWII German defensive fire tactics against low-flying ground-attack aircraft, from Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 30, July 29, 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.]


In Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 14, p. 8, the question of putting up a defense against attacking enemy aircraft indicated how the use of every weapon capable of pointing skywards was found to be the best means of meeting such attacks.

According to a translated German document, reprinted below, emphasis is placed on the heavy losses occasioned in men and materiel by fire on low-flying aircraft by infantry weapons, including the rifle. The translated document reads as follows:

*          *          *

Attacks by low-flying hostile aircraft have repeatedly caused serious losses. Despite this, units often fail to take advantage of the opportunity to destroy hostile aircraft. Lack of a defense of any kind often facilitates the enemy's accomplishing his mission.

Yet it has been proved that heavy losses in men and material are caused by fire from infantry weapons. Aircraft are very fragile and are grounded for a considerable time by hits in the motor, fuel tank, magazine, wiring etc. A considerable defensive effect is already accomplished when the pilot is impeded in directing his fire, or when his aircraft is damaged.

Hostile pursuit bombers frequently approach in low flight and start to gain altitude only shortly before their attack. Therefore, they cannot be picked up by our air raid warning sentries early enough to permit our own fighters to arrive on time. The fire of all available weapons, including the rifle, is at that time and in these cases, the most effective antiaircraft defense.

How is the attack by low-flying aircraft repulsed?

The coordinated fire of all weapons not being employed in the ground fight offers the greatest possibility of defense.

Officers of all grades are responsible for the immediate and energetic defense against attack by low-flying aircraft. They are the first to open fire on the flying target. Antiaircraft fire is best opened with a salvo. The defense is continued with rapid rifle fire. The attacking aircraft is thus met by a hail of steel. No aircraft is invulnerable! Therefore, here, also, attack is the best defense.

Rifle fire directed at aircraft flying above 2,000 feet is not effective and only serves to reveal your own position to the enemy.

Every soldier - no matter what arm of the service - must be indoctrinated with the firm will to shoot the attacker out of the sky.


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