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"Smokescreens, Suspended Mines as Anti-Airborne Defense" from Tactical and Technical Trends

An intelligence report on German use of smokescreens and suspended mines for airborne defense in WWII, from Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 51, October 1944.

[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.]


Use of smoke screens and mines suspended above ground on stakes to prevent successful operations by Allied airborne troops is directed in an order issued by the German high command last May.

The order reveals that at the time it was written the Germans anticipated "hundreds of gliders attempting to land by moonlight, artificial illumination, or twilight." Countermeasures to be used against the gliders, according to the order, included smoke screens which would cause the Allied forces either to "crash in the smoke, or attempt to land in an area not covered by a smoke screen and strongly held by our troops."

The order provides that, as a supplement to smoke screens, above-ground mines shall be used in the defense of terrain suitable for landing gliders and paratroopers. The above-ground mine method is described as follows:

"Stakes must be erected, wired together, and shells and mines attached. The density should be about 1,000 stakes per square kilometer. This obstacle can be effective only if every third stake carries a shell or mine which will have the effect of a combustion time-fuze shell or a ricochet air-burst shell if an enemy parachutist or glider strikes the wires. Mines or shells with pull igniters must be connected with every wire passing over the stakes.

"To prevent accidents, mined antiparatroop obstacles will be marked with warning signs. It will still be possible for tethered cattle to pasture underneath these mined obstacles. Antiparatroop obstacles will normally not interfere with farming on the land involved."

In areas that have not been smoke-screened or mined in defense against paratroops, the following tactics are sometimes used by the Germans:

Enemy units are permitted to infiltrate to previously prepared defensive positions where they are engaged. Experience has shown that it is the purpose of the Germans to keep the enemy paratroopers pinned down with automatic weapons until mortars call be used for annihilating fire.


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