Russian methods of repulsing enemy air attacks were recently outlined
in an article published in the Red Star. A translation of the article follows:
* * *
The first enemy air raids were characterized by concentrated attacks on
small targets. Dozens of Ju planes, one after another, made diving attacks on
specific objectives, dropping their bombs on small areas. Under such conditions
great endurance is required of the antiaircraft crews.
Intensive counterfire is necessary to prevent the success of concentrated
enemy raids. In combatting one air attack our gun crews fired long salvoes at a
definite point where the German planes went into their dives. If, however, the
leading plane did succeed in getting through the wall of fire and dropped its
bombs, the following planes were sure to get into the zone of fire. Following these
tactics, one of our batteries brought down three bombers during the first day.
The Germans began to employ other tactical methods which were carried
out at different altitudes. For instance, they made the so-called "star raids" in
which the bombers approach the target from all directions. The Germans began
to bomb large areas, attempting primarily to disperse our antiaircraft fire. The
effectiveness of our antiaircraft artillery during such raids depends to a great
extent on how completely reconnaissance is organized. Detecting enemy planes
on time and destroying their combat formation before they drop their bombs is of
prime importance. The antiaircraft gunners call this "saving a second of time".
In addition to the regular reconnaissance personnel, each crew in a battery
has a constant observation post. In this way it has been possible to maintain
reliable observation in all directions. To begin with, the men learned to identify
the different German planes; they also learned to determine the speed of the
Ju-87s and -88s with and without a bomb load.
The men were taught to determine, both with the naked eye and with
instruments, the distance to enemy planes. This so-called "constant concentric
observation" permits each battery to quickly maneuver its fire.
During the German "star raids" no attempt was made to score hits on
all the attacking planes that appeared over the battlefield but instead attention was
concentrated on those groups of planes which threatened most. On one occasion
our battery threw up a wall of fire at a group of Ju-87s and forced them to change
their course. At that very moment the observation post of one of our guns reported
six Ju-87s approaching from the rear. The crews immediately transferred their
fire to this group, aiming, as is usual in such cases, at the leading plane. The
plane caught on fire and went into a tail spin before the bombs could be dropped.
This broke up the combat formation of the whole group and the enemy planes
jettisoned their bombs and turned back.
In training the men and junior commanders, our higher officers paid
special attention to developing ability in determining whether the enemy planes
were continuing on their appointed course or were resorting to evasive antiaircraft
maneuvers. The fire accuracy of small caliber antiaircraft guns depends
largely on how well the course of the enemy plane has been determined.
In the majority of cases our battery employed dispersion fire, and always
made sure that there was a line of shell bursts in front of the leading enemy
plane. This was a psychological maneuver. In order to get out of the zone of
antiaircraft fire, the pilot sometimes increases his speed but this is very difficult
when he faces a continuous stream of fire.