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"Russian Employment of Antiaircraft Guns Against Tanks" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following intelligence report on the Russian use of antiaircraft guns against enemy tanks was originally published in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 7, Sept. 10, 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.]


Like the Germans, the Russians have found that it is profitable to allot antiaircraft guns a secondary mission of antitank defense. The following comments on antitank employment of these guns are taken from a recent issue of the semiofficial "Red Star".

"In the Russo-German War the Red Army antiaircraft artillery has learned to combat tanks as well as planes. Dual-purpose antiaircraft guns make good antitank guns because of their high muzzle velocity, high rate of fire, and 360° traverse.

"In the first 6 months of the war, Red Army antiaircraft artillery fired in self-defense at enemy tanks which broke through to the battery positions. Gradually, however, the antiaircraft artillery became an organic part of the antitank defensive system. In numerous instances, Russian antiaircraft guns have successfully repulsed attacks of large tank units.

"The antiaircraft units learned that most tactical operations seem to divide themselves into two phases. In the first phase, Russian army artillery concentrates heavy fire on enemy tanks before they can jump off. It then lays down a screen of fire to prevent the enemy tanks from approaching the Russian forward line of defense and breaking up infantry formations. In this stage the antiaircraft units are busily engaged in repelling the attacks of enemy aircraft, particularly dive bombers, which attempt to open the way for the tanks.

"In the second phase, after German tanks have broken into the initial line of defense, or deeper, the German aviation generally shifts its attention to Russian units reserved for counterattack. In this comparative lull, antiaircraft guns fire at the German tanks by direct laying; the shorter the range, the more effective the fire.

"It must always be remembered, however, that the first mission of antiaircraft artillery is defense against planes. In areas where there is insufficient antitank artillery, antiaircraft guns must be employed to drive off tanks which approach the battery positions or threaten to break up the battle formations of Russian troops.

"In order to combat enemy mechanized forces successfully, the antiaircraft artillery must prepare its antitank defense in advance. When the guns go into position they must be ready to open fire against attacking tanks immediately. To establish such a system it is necessary to:

1) Make a complete study of the surrounding terrain, with particular regard to possible tank approaches;

2) Determine the sector of fire for each gun, including ranges to key reference points;

3) Build the minimum amount of field fortifications necessary;

4) Establish special antitank observation points.

"All antiaircraft personnel not working at the guns during a tank attack take up positions in the vicinity and use hand grenades, gasoline bottles, or small-arms armor-piercing bullets against the enemy tanks."


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