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"Russian Employment of Tanks" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following intelligence report on Russian use of tanks was originally published in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 18, Feb. 11, 1943.

[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.]


Soviet tactics, like German, are modern in character and show mastery of the entire gamut of weapons in modern war.

The following report deals with various items of information received from the Russian front, and is based mainly on articles which have appeared in the Russian Army newspaper "Red Star." No reference is made specifically to any particular phase of the Russian offensive.

The Russians declare that one of the main lessons of the campaign has been that armored forces alone can never achieve a decisive result; they must receive adequate support from other arms, and particularly from infantry, while they can never hope even to break the crust of a really strong position without the assistance of artillery or heavy bombing. The other arms are essential to deal with enemy artillery, antitank guns, and minefields. Moreover, even if tanks do penetrate a position, when unaccompanied by infantry they can be cut off and successfully dealt with, especially by night. The morale of seasoned troops remains entirely unaffected by the knowledge that isolated tanks are in their rear, for they realize that, provided the enemy infantry can be prevented from joining up with them, the tanks must either retire or be mopped up.

The Russians emphasize that armored vehicles must be concentrated to attack where they can be most effective. If they are supporting infantry they must be put under command of the unit supported, but the temptation to split them up into small groups with the object of helping the infantry forward all along the front must be avoided. Tanks should not be regarded solely as a means of direct attack to overcome strong resistance which is holding up the infantry, but should aim rather at breaking in where resistance is weaker, striking strongly defended localities only in the rear, and ultimately exploiting the "break-in" into a "break-through."

Tank forces in the attack must be accompanied by mobile field and antitank guns, which must be well forward to deal with surprise opposition. They will also be invaluable for repulsing enemy tank counterattack. Russian tank forces rely largely on air support, particularly by dive-bombers, to extend the range of artillery preparation, to harass enemy reserves, and to break up counterattacks.


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