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"German Tactics in the Desert" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following intelligence report on German tank and antitank tactics in North Africa was originally 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.]


The support of tanks by the other arms is essential to success of tank operations. German application of this principle is illustrated in the following information on the Axis 1942 spring offensive in North Africa.

Great alertness was shown by the German forces in covering their front with antitank guns when their tanks were halted or stopped to refuel, and in protecting their flanks at all times with an antitank screen. A threat to the German flanks by tanks was immediately met by the deployment of antitank guns while the German tanks continued their movement. The enemy appears to have a rapid "follow the leader" system of deployment and a system of visual control by means of colored disk signals.

Every effort was invariably made to draw the fire of the defense, especially the fire of antitank weapons, by the deployment and advance of a few tanks. These tanks advanced, and were then withdrawn, and the enemy concentrated his artillery and mortars on all the defenders' weapons that had disclosed themselves. After a thorough preparation of this kind, the real tank attack was launched.

In at least one instance, a passage through a minefield was cleared for German tanks in this manner: A detachment of tanks advanced to the edge of the minefield and engaged all the defending weapons they could see. Pioneers then dismounted from the tanks and proceeded to clear mines on foot, covered by the fire of the tanks. Tanks that were hit were pulled out by other tanks and then replaced.


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