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"Soviet Saddle Packing" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following description of the Soviet saddle packing of antitank rifles was originally published in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 42, January 13, 1944.

[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.]


Horse cavalry has definite advantages of silence and ability to negotiate wooded country where tank travel would be extremely difficult. The Russians are reported to have equipped their cavalry with antitank weapons, and used mounted men in coordination with tanks and airplanes in a new and distinctive type of action.

The following description of the packing of the "PTRD" Protivo-Tankovoye Ruzhyo Degtyarev (Degtyarev* antitank rifle), a remarkably long-barreled, single shot, bolt-action shoulder weapon, carried on a pack saddle or ordinary cavalry saddle, was taken from an official Soviet source.

*          *          *

a. Transportation on a Cavalry-Type Riding Saddle (figure 1)

(1) Necessary Parts

For carrying an antitank rifle, the following pack equipment is used:

(a) Metal device for mounting the AT rifle        1 set
(b) Saddle bags2 pairs
(c) Breastband with neck pad1 set
(d) Breeching with tail strap1 set
(e) Saddle-girth (an additional belly-band)1
(f) Feed bag1
(g) Wooden boxes for the ammunition4

(2) Description

(a) The metal pack device (below) consists of a beam (1) with five holes to receive the U-clamps and the brackets (supports) -- one fixed (2) and one movable (3). The fixed bracket is welded to the beam, and the movable bracket is fastened to the beam with a bolt. The fixed bracket has a top strap (4) and a lock (5) which are hinged. The movable bracket has a revolving yoke (6) with a hinged fastening strap (7) and lock (8). Two U-clamps with nuts and washers (9) hold the metal device to the saddle bows.

[Soviet Saddle Packing - Metal Pack Device]

(b) The saddle bags carry the boxes with 120 rounds of ammunition.

(c) The breastband and the breeching with tail strap keep the saddle with its packed load from slipping forward and backward with a change of pace or in going over rough country.

(d) The saddle-girth (an additional belly-band) strengthens the whole pack arrangement, including the feed bag and spare parts and appurtenances.

(e) The feed bag holds the things necessary for the horse's care, the spare parts and the equipment belonging to the AT rifle.

(f) The wooden boxes carry the ammunition. The shape and dimensions of the boxes correspond to the inside dimensions of the saddle bags.

(3) Assembly

The assembly of the riding saddle is carried out according to the following directions. It is recommended that a second saddle cloth be put underneath for greater softness.

[Soviet Saddle Packing - Riding Saddle]

(a) The breastband and breeching are fastened on by means of connecting straps to the breeching and breastband rings of the saddle cloth cover on the right side.

(b) The breastband and breeching are next fastened onto the left side at the time of saddling and adjusting.

(c) The breastband is then connected to the front saddle bow by the neckpad straps.

(d) The breeching is finally connected to the rear saddle bow and the tail strap by two straps fastened onto the bow and tail strap.

(e) The saddle bags are put on the saddle bows in the usual manner.

(f) The metal pack device is fastened to the saddle bows by two U-clamps. For this the U-clamps are passed underneath the saddle bows so that they encircle them and project across the clamps.

(g) The beam is placed fixed bracket forward with its holes over the U-clamp bolts and is fastened down with washers and nuts tightened as far as possible.

(4) Method of Packing

The saddle as it is assembled is packed as follows (figure 1).

(a) The wooden boxes with the shells are put into the saddle bags and fastened with pack straps.

(b) Saddle pockets with oats are packed on top of the front saddle bags and fastened with pack straps.

(c) The feed bag with the articles necessary for the horse's care, and the spare parts and equipment for the AT rifle are placed in the middle, across the saddle, and fastened down with the saddle by the saddle girth.

(d) The AT rifle is then put into the bracket yokes, breech forward, muzzle to the rear. The gun is placed so that the sight is up and the back plate in a horizontal position; the mounting collar of the rifle must be even with the edges of the yoke of the rear bracket. The rifle is fastened to the device by means of the top straps and locks of the yokes. If the horse's neck permits, the gun may be fastened from four to six inches forward of the normal position. Unpacking is done in an order reverse to that of packing.

[Soviet Cavalry Saddle Packing of Antitank Rifle]

(5) Method of Firing From the Horse

When it is necessary to fire from the horse, the gun is removed only from the yoke of the front fixed bracket, remaining fastened by the rear swivel yoke. It is possible to fire at aerial targets up to an angle of 70 degrees in any direction (figure 2). In firing from the horse at targets on the ground (figure 3), the horse must stand 18 inches to two feet lower than the level of the gunner. To accomplish this, a pit, trench, or any kind of irregularity of terrain must be used. Stumps, fallen timber or rocks, can be used successfully. If there is no natural elevation a soldier lying on the ground may be used to stand upon.

b. Transportation on a Pack Saddle,** 1937 Model

If the unit has a pack saddle, model 1937, it can be suitably used for transporting an AT rifle with the addition of two pairs of saddle bags and the metal device. The ammunition may be carried on a pack saddle, model 1937, in one of the following ways:

(1) In the two pairs of saddle bags, as on the cavalry type riding saddle (figure 1).

(2) On a hanging metal frame, on which the ammunition boxes are placed and fastened with rope (not shown as packed on horse).

[Soviet Saddle Packing - Ammunition Boxes]

(3) In hanging cases or ammunition boxes, into which the shells are put.

The pack saddle is assembled in the usual manner. The fastening of the metal pack equipment and likewise the manner of packing in carrying shells is the same as for the cavalry type riding saddle (figure 1). When hanging frames are used for carrying the boxes it is necessary to have wooden platforms on the reversible frames, made to the size of the frames, to which ammunition boxes are fastened with ropes. The military unit must itself procure the wooden platforms. The suspended frames and cases are hung from hooks of the saddle bows and secured to the horse with the additional belly-band which goes with the pack saddle.

*Soviet ordnance engineer - and designer of machine guns.
**This saddle (figure 4) has the same appearance as the riding saddle. However, the sketch has been carefully checked and is believed to be correct.


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