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"Red Army Artillery Training" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following intelligence report on Red Army artillery training methods was originally published in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 9, Oct. 8, 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.]


American observers were recently allowed to inspect the training center of a Red Army artillery unit and to observe gun crews and staffs in training.

The unit inspected was a 152-mm gun-howitzer regiment, designated as Army artillery. The regiment was composed of three battalions, of three to four batteries each.

A four-gun battery in firing position was inspected. Each gun crew was composed of nine men. Characteristics of the gun were as follows: weight, 8 tons; range, 19,500 yards; weight of projectile, 88 pounds.

The distance between the guns of the battery was 30 yards. Each gun was emplaced in a pit with 5-foot revetments built up on all sides. On either side of the entrance to the gun-pit were dugouts where the gun crews could take refuge during heavy enemy shelling.

An observed gun crew executed march order in 4 1/2 minutes; the normal time is 6 minutes. The barrel was pulled back into traveling position by hand wheels on either side at the breech end of the cradle.

In gun drill, 17 seconds elapsed between rounds in dry runs. One member of the crew handed the charges to another who placed them in a shell case. The shell case was inserted in the chamber after the projectile had been rammed home.

The group then inspected a battalion fire-direction center in a shallow dugout in the side of a hill about 150 yards distant from the gun position. This center consisted of an officer, assistant, and two telephone operators with two telephones connected to a switchboard. On a plane table was a firing chart called a "planshot" built on a 1,000-meter grid system on which were plotted battery positions located by adjusted data on the base point.

Regimental and battalion OP's were then inspected. It was explained that the regimental CO and the battalion CO are always at their respective OP's. Several periscopes with single eyepieces were spaced about 10 feet apart. Their readings were recorded and plotted, and the location of points in the target area were determined trigonometrically. On hand at each OP were cards 6 x 4 inches, showing locations of points with respect to the OP and an RP.

Rockets are fired from the regimental OP to indicate direction to other observers in order to facilitate quick orientation.

According to the officer conducting the inspection, Lt. General Tikhonov, assistant inspector of the Red Army artillery, the training center was so conducted that it was possible to organize and train a regiment of 152-mm gun-howitzers in 8 weeks, even though none of the personnel had had any previous artillery training. In order to achieve such results, however, a training schedule calling for 15 hours of training a day was necessary. If the personnel had had previous artillery training, a regiment could be organized and trained in 4 weeks.

The General also stated that at the siege of Sevastopol the Germans had used a weapon, presumably a howitzer, with a caliber of 615 mm. The Germans were also employing 320-mm mortars on the Eastern front.

Little was learned about the so-called secret Soviet "weapon of hell" or "Katyusha (little Katherine)," except that it was a type of mortar of tremendous size, handled by special troops who withdrew the weapon to the rear after it had been fired, in order to prevent its capture. It was stated that the Germans dropped pamphlets stating that further use of this weapon would result in the employment of gas by the Germans.


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