The following is an extract from a Russian publication on the organization of antiaircraft
defense of motor columns on the march.
* * *
Enemy reconnaissance is maintained by scout plane patrols approximately 20 to 35 miles
from the advance elements and by timely establishment of stationary posts of air
observation along the route of march. The stationary posts are provided with radio
and other means of communication.
Air observation details are usually attached to the security detachments of the motor column.
In order to cover the movement of the motor column, pursuit aviation is used either
en route or at specific points, such as crossings and in defiles.
Pursuit aviation covers the motor column, patrolling at different altitudes over the
region of its movement. Under conditions in which enemy raids are imminent and the
information service is reliably organized, it is sometimes possible to place pursuit
aviation in ambush near the route of the motor column.
One squadron of pursuit planes is capable of covering parallel columns along several
roads on a front of 10 to 14 miles. If the front of the movement is wider, it is best
to echelon the motor columns, allotting the pursuit aviation to one and additional
antiaircraft artillery to the other.
Antiaircraft artillery is assigned to cover troops and motor transport along their
entire route. If there is insufficient antiaircraft artillery, it is placed on sectors
of the road most vulnerable to air assault, i.e., open terrain, crossings, or
defiles. The batteries must be prepared for action and ready to open fire the moment
the motor columns arrive.
Antiaircraft and heavy machine guns are used for covering troop motor columns against
attack planes, dive-bombers, and scout planes of the enemy.
The distribution of antiaircraft machine guns is such that the whole motor column may
be covered by their fire. These machine guns mounted in trucks move in the motor
column at a distance of 1,200 to 1,800 feet from each other, always ready to
In transporting troops, motorized antiaircraft units manned by troops of the column, are
used for air defense. Taking into consideration that many such units may be
necessary, antiaircraft defense is organized along the march route as economically
If gas is sprayed from low altitudes, the motor column must leave the poisoned area
and halt. In such cases, the drivers take measures to conceal their vehicles and then
conduct a preliminary decontamination of the materiel and cargo. In case of heavy
contamination of the vehicle surfaces, the canvas covering and the cargo must be
taken off immediately and left on the side of the road, and the cargo covered with a
Large forests on the march route may be subjected to contamination prior to the time
the motor column reaches them. Drops of the gas remain on the branches of the trees
and get on the surface of the vehicles.
When contaminated forests are discovered, the march route is altered or the column
stopped until decontamination of the sector has been effected.
As a rule, aviation contaminates forest roads from low altitudes, and consequently roads
located one-half or one mile to the side of the contaminated area are usually not
affected. These alternate roads are less convenient, but they often save time and
effort otherwise employed in decontamination.
Dust from a motor column moving in a contaminated area is full of minute drops of
gas. These drops, together with the dust, are carried in the air and are capable of
producing casualties. Therefore, for the protection of personnel against gas, in
addition to putting on gas masks, the windows of the cabs must be shut tightly and the
distance between the vehicles must be maintained at 30 to 40 yards. For 2 miles
after passing the contaminated area, the increased interval must be maintained.