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"Russian AA Artillery Methods" from Tactical and Technical Trends

A report on Russian antiaircraft artillery methods in WWII, from Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 39, December 2, 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.]


Russian methods of repulsing enemy air attacks were recently outlined in an article published in the Red Star. A translation of the article follows:

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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.


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