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"German Methods of Armored Attack by Small Units" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following report on German armor tactics in Libya during WWII was originally printed in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 17, January 28, 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.]


The following report on German tactics in Libya gives in sketch form the small unit tactics as referred to in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 16, p. 25.

Sketch No. 1 illustrates Rommel's method of advancing to the attack. The field artillery in the box is usually not deployed, but remains in the box. The armored cars have presumably formed a screen and cleared the front, and are working around the flanks of the defense area.

[German Armored Attack by Small Units: Fig. 1]

Sketch No. 2 depicts the movement of Rommel's units when he decides not to attack, but to withdraw to a more favorable position. As shown in the sketch, when attacked frontally, the German armor (A) which has been leading the advance falls back to the flanks, and the forward guns, which had been close behind the leading tank, fall back and form the front face of the box. The guns on the rear face of the box are not deployed, but move in column until the battle actually commences. In the event that the British attack the box frontally, the German armor, which had been withdrawn to the flanks, can be employed in a double envelopment.

[German Armored Attack by Small Units: Fig. 2]

Sketch No. 3 shows the action of the German units when the British attack on the flank rather than frontally. The movements are the same as in Sketch No. 2 until the British definitely commit themselves to an attack on a flank. Then the German units proceed as illustrated, with the result that the British find themselves attacked on three sides and possibly four: from the front, by the armor which has withdrawn in the face of their attack; from the flank, by fire from the box; and from the rear and far flank by the German armor from the opposite side of the box which initially withdrew, and then, after the British had definitely committed themselves to flank attack, swings around to the rear and far side of the attacking British.

[German Armored Attack by Small Units: Fig. 3]


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