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"German Aerial Defense with All Weapons" from Tactical and Technical Trends

A report reproduced from a German military memorandum on defense measures to be taken by ground forces against air attack, from Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 32, August 26, 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.]


Reproduced below is a German memorandum on defense measures to be taken by ground forces against air attack. It is both comprehensive and concise. For previous reference to this subject, see Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 30, p. 6.

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(1) The activity of the enemy air force is directed against all resources of the German armed forces. It is, therefore, the duty of every single soldier and of all arms to combat enemy planes.

(2) The enemy plane can attack only when he can see you, your weapons, your vehicle or your tent. Avoid being "spotted" (sighted) from the air. The best protection against being seen is camouflage.

(3) Camouflage means adaptation to the forms and colors of the surroundings. Keep this in mind. Incomplete camouflage is better than none. However, an incorrect type of camouflage, such as the accentuation of color contrasts and the creation of noticeable shadows is worse than no camouflage at all. This will attract the attention of the enemy aviator.

Camouflage must be changed continually in accordance with the surroundings, background, weather, and even according to the time of the day. Efforts by each individual man increase the protection for all.

(4) On marches or at halts, in rest areas, while in readiness, attacking or defending, the leader must keep in mind to deploy the units, to disperse columns and marching groups, to keep proper distance between groups, as well as dispersal to the flanks. Gun emplacements of heavy weapons, preparations for combat of tanks, assault guns, and cars must be carried out near groves, in town-alleys or gardens, or near haystacks, or at least in surroundings which lend themselves for camouflage purposes.

(5) Execute marches and movements, even of smaller units, as much as possible at night. Avoid crowding. No halts at crossroads, squares or narrow places. Strictest black-out discipline. If flares are released by the enemy, cease marching, stop cars, don't move--hold draft and pack animals.

(6) Bombing attacks and attacks by other airplane weapons cannot be successful if you acquire cover against fragmentation for yourself, your weapon and your vehicle by digging. Remember: dig slit trenches when engaged in tactical situations, even at temporary halts or employments.

Never dig a slit trench beneath a motor vehicle (tanks excepted).

(7) On marches, the leader will order at least one man per platoon as an air guard; if troops are being transported on motorcars, at least one guard per truck.

(8) 20-mm AA self-propelled guns will always be ready for combat. Motorized troops must have the AA machine guns on trucks ready for combat. Keep sub-machine guns handy, distribute ammunition.

(9) On halts and in rest areas, designate a responsible superior for antiaircraft defense. Keep antiaircraft machine guns in readiness (in triangular formation).

(10) Weapons must be camouflaged. Fire only if the object to be protected is attacked and if the airplane is within range of the weapons.

(11) If an air attack is imminent, cannoneers and machine gunners will not leave their posts.

(12) Cannoneers and gunners are not to be used as air sentinels.

(13) Each target must be combated with several types of weapons. Designate one gun or machine gun to be on the alert, in order to open fire at a moment's notice, and to concentrate fire on the target by platoon or machine-gun section.

(14) Keep calm and don't get excited. To prevent damage by bombs or other airplane weapons and to efficiently repulse all attacks, act cautiously but quickly.

(15) There is no such thing as "air-terror".


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