The following combat instructions for PzKw 4 units have been condensed from a German
document. They give an excellent idea of recent enemy tank tactics.
b. Individual Tactics
(1) In view of the small amount of ammunition carried, the gun is normally fired at the
halt in order to avoid waste. The machine guns mounted in turret and hull may be effectively
fired up to 800 yards against mass targets, such as columns, reserves, limbered guns, etc.
(2) As soon as each target has been put out of action, or as soon as the attacking German
infantry are too near the target for tanks to fire with safety, the tanks move forward by
bounds of at least 200 to 300 yards. When changing position, drivers must take care
to keep correct position in the tactical formation.
(3) Single tanks may be used for supporting action against prepared positions. The tank will
normally move from a flank under cover of smoke. Embrasures will be engaged with AP shell. During
action, it will be necessary to blind neighboring defenses by smoke. Tanks will normally fire
at prepared defenses from at most 400 yards' range. Assault detachments work their way forward, and
once lanes have been cleared through the antitank defenses, the tank will follow and engage
the next target. Close cooperation between tank and assault detachment commanders is essential. Light
and other signals must be prearranged. Single tanks can also be used in fighting in woods and for
protection of rest and assembly areas.
c. Platoon Tactics
(1) During the attack, medium platoons move forward in support of the first wave; one half of the
platoon gives covering fire while the other half advances. The whole platoon seldom moves as a body.
(2) The platoon commander directs by radio, and he can control fire by radio or by firing guiding-rounds
on particular targets.
(3) Antitank weapons will normally be engaged from the halt. If the nearest antitank weapon
can be dealt with by the light platoon, the medium platoon will engage more distant antitank
weapons or blind them. Artillery will be attacked in the same manner as antitank weapons. Enfilading
fire is particularly recommended.
(4) If friendly light tanks encounter enemy tanks in the open, the medium platoon should
immediately engage them with smoke-shell in order to allow the lights to disengage and to
attack the enemy from a flank.
(5) Moving targets and light weapons should be engaged with machine guns or by crushing; mass
targets with HE.
(6) Against prepared defenses, the procedure is as mentioned in Paragraph b (3). When
the whole platoon is employed, the advance can be made by mutual fire and smoke support. When
the position is taken, the platoon covers the consolidation by smoke and fire. The platoon only
moves forward again after the enemy weapons in the prepared position have been knocked out.
(7) In street fighting a medium platoon may be employed in the second echelon to give
support. Nests of resistance in houses may be cleaned up with the help of the tanks' guns, and
lightly built houses can be crushed.
(8) If a front-line tank formation is ordered to hold an objective until the arrival of
infantry, protection will be given by the medium platoon, which will take up position on
high ground with a large field of fire.
d. Company Tactics
(1) When medium platoons are attached to light companies, they work on the latter's radio
frequency, and not on that of their own medium company.
(2) Reserve crews follow immediately behind the combat echelon and move back to join the unit
trains only after the beginning of an engagement. They come forward again as soon as the battle
is over. Reliefs must be so arranged that drivers take over refreshed before each action, that
is, on leaving the assembly area.
(3) The repair section, commanded by an NCO, travels with the combat echelon until the beginning of the battle.
(4) The company commander moves at the head of his company until the leading platoons have gone
into action, when he operates from a temporary command post with unimpeded observation of the
battle area. Keeping direction and contact are the responsibility of company headquarters
personnel while the commander is at the head of his company.
(5) In the attack, the normal formations are a broad wedge (Breitkeil),* or line with extended
interval (geoffnete Linie). Effective fire of the whole company may be obtained if the
rear elements give overhead fire, or if they fill up or extend the front of their company to form line.
(6) For tank-versus-tank actions, the company, where possible, should be employed as a whole. When
enemy tanks appear, they must be engaged at once and other missions dropped. If time allows, the
battalion commander will detach the medium platoons that have been attached to light companies
and send them back to the medium company. In all situations, medium tanks should endeavor to
have the sun behind them.
(7) During the pursuit, the medium company will be employed well forward in order to take full
advantage of the longer range of its HE shell.
(1) The light tank platoon of battalion headquarters company guides the medium company on the
march, and when going in to rest or assembly positions. If the medium company is moving on
its own, one section of a light tank platoon may be attached to it.
(2) Parts of the antiaircraft platoon of the headquarters company may be allotted to the medium company.
(3) Tank repairmen move directly behind the combat echelons. The recovery platoon is responsible for
towing away those tanks which cannot be attended to by the repair section. The recovery platoon is
under the orders of the technical officer, who has under his control all equipment and spare-parts
trucks of the tank companies, which may follow by separate routes as prescribed by him.
*One platoon echeloned to the right, one to the left, and one in line to form the base of the
triangle, with apex forward.