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"Conservation of Class III Supplies" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following U.S. intelligence report on German fuel use in North Africa was published in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 14, Dec. 17, 1942.

[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.]


It is axiomatic, yet sometimes forgotten, that tactical operations cannot be supported without the necessary supplies. In this connection close cooperation must exist between G-3s and G-4s.

It is well known that in the various Egyptian-Libyan campaigns, the availability of class III supplies has been a major factor in the success or failure of tactical operations. This fact is highlighted by Axis instructions to units in Libya on the subject of restrictions on fuel consumption.

During February 1942 the Axis ground forces (about 10 divisions) consumed 3,700 tons of fuel, a daily average of about 132 tons; between February 15th and 28th, the Afrika Korps (15th and 21st Armored Divisions, and 90th Light Division) was issued 1,038 tons of fuel, a daily average consumption of about 75 tons. The instructions state that these quantities were brought forward only with great effort, and that this rate of consumption could not be maintained with the available transport facilities. It was therefore directed that all movements should be considered most carefully with a view to saving fuel, and that the rate of consumption was not to exceed one-sixth of what is referred to as "normal" consumption.

The significance of the figures given above is extremely difficult to assess. First of all, it must be remembered that major operations ceased in January 1942 and were not resumed until May. Secondly, it is not clear as to whether these amounts of fuel were actually consumed or merely issued to units from supply points; however, the general sense of the statement would appear to imply actual consumption. Thirdly, it is not definite as to what weight ton is used. Finally, it is not clear whether the 1,038 tons consumed by the Afrika Korps is included in the 3,700 tons attributed to the Axis ground forces. Assuming "fuel" refers to gasoline, lubricants, and diesel oils, and that "tons" refer to metric tons (approximately 2,200 pounds), and using an average figure of seven and one-half 42-gallon barrels per short ton (2,000 pounds) of all types of fuels, it is estimated that 3,700 "tons" would constitute about 1,280,000 U.S. gallons, and 1,038 "tons" about 360,000 U.S. gallons.

As a sidelight to the above, it is of interest to note the following figures on the fuel consumption of German mechanized vehicles, based on a German manual. Light armored cars are said to average about 8 miles per gallon, medium armored cars 7 miles, and heavy armored cars 5 miles. The Mark I tank gets about 3 miles to the gallon, the Mark II about 2 miles, the Mark III and IV about 1 mile. In the case of both armored cars and tanks, the engine oil consumption is about 5 percent of the gasoline consumption.

Based on 15 gallons per vehicle, it has been estimated that it requires about 16,000 gallons of gasoline for a German infantry division, 44,000 gallons for a motorized division, and 32,000 for an armored division.


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