A German document, evidently written by a platoon
commander of an antiaircraft-antitank company, deals
with an antiaircraft-antitank battalion's use of the
20-mm dual-purpose gun against ground targets.
2. EXTRACTS FROM THE DOCUMENT
The 20-mm gun on a self-propelled mount combines the fire
power and mobility of an antiaircraft gun with the accuracy and
penetration of an antitank gun. It is insufficiently armored,
however, and this fault must be offset by making good use of
cover and by fire control.
The smallest unit in battle is the section of two guns. Use of
single guns, except for individual tasks like the engagement of
enemy observation posts, is exceptional. Ground observation is
most important; every spare man must be employed on it, and
must be made personally ambitious to spot targets.
b. Action During Assembly
During assembly, antiaircraft-antitank troops usually take over
protection against air and land attack. Guns must be sited so
that attacking aircraft can be engaged from reverse slopes, while,
moving the gun to a position on the forward slope, it is
possible to bring under fire the enemy approaching on the ground.
c. Action During Attack
The antiaircraft-antitank troops support the advance of the
infantry and other arms. For this purpose the antiaircraft-antitank
guns should be sited to a flank, to exploit their range
fully without endangering the advancing German troops. The
addition of 100 yards, more or less, to a flank hardly interferes
with the effectiveness of the 20-mm gun, whereas it does affect the
enemy's infantry weapons by widening the target.
When in action only the following remain on the vehicle:
driver and gun commander and Nos. 1 and 4. When the gun
commander is away on reconnaissance for a new gun position,
No. 3 takes his place. The other men (who are the ammunition
handlers) give protection and carry out flank observation. If
there is no mine-spotting section available, the ammunition handlers
must search for mines in the ground to be passed over.
The platoon or section commander and his runners follow
directly in the rear of the attacking infantry or the assaulting
engineer detachment. The commander reconnoiters good positions
and good targets for the guns.
Good fire discipline (including good observation) is of the
greatest value; this is gained by experience and will be made easier
by cooperation with the attacking troops and the various
observation posts. The sectors of fire must be assigned. Telescopes and
rangefinders will be used to the fullest.
Changes of position must be made quickly. Occupation of a
gun position from a flank must be avoided if possible. The guns
will advance by bounds. If they meet slight opposition which can
be broken by one section, the other section remains in reserve and,
after the action, leapfrogs forward as an advance section while
the first makes itself ready again.
When close to the enemy—for example, when breaking into his
positions—the guns fire on the move. This forces the enemy to
take cover, and weakens his morale.
When bivouacking or holding a defensive position, the guns
occupy prepared positions under cover. Other alternative positions
are prepared, battle outposts are put out, and landmarks are
g. On the March
On the march the battalion is disposed as follows:
No. 1 gun—protection to front and right.
No. 2 gun—protection to front and left.
No. 3 gun—protection to rear and right.
No. 4 gun—protection to rear and left.
Under air attack, a similar formation will be adopted. On the
section commander's orders, the troops will halt and open fire. Aircraft
will be engaged only if they spot or attack the battalion's
own positions, if bridges or observation posts need protection, or
if the aircraft offer especially good targets.
It has been proved that the gun, rightly used, can put even the
heaviest tanks to flight even if it cannot put them out of action;
that is, by its high rate of fire it can jam turrets and gun mantlets.
The most effective range against tanks is under 400 yards. Every
effort must be made to attack them from the sides.
3. EXTRACT FROM A GERMAN NEWSPAPER'S COMMENT ON THE 20-MM GUN
The duties of the antiaircraft-antitank battalions are, above all, to
protect other units against low-flying attacks while on the march
and in action. For this purpose the 20-mm gun is principally
The battalions are part of the infantry's support. Troops of
these units are therefore trained as infantrymen; but, in addition,
they learn their own weapons, including training with different
sizes of rangefinders in height estimation. Otherwise, the training
corresponds to that of flak units. The antiaircraft-antitank
units (the platoon is the normal fighting unit) are located in the
column of march according to the prearranged operation order. In
case of surprise attack, fire is opened either immediately from
the tractor on which the gun is mounted, or else sections (which
are fully motorized) leave the column and occupy a position on
firm ground with a good field of fire, with the gun dismounted.
After fighting, the units catch up with their original position in
the line of march.
Antiaircraft-antitank guns use only tracer ammunition—high
explosive against aircraft, and, if necessary, armor-piercing
ammunition against ground targets; they have a limited ceiling
and are used principally by day. Antiaircraft-antitank troops have
no listening apparatus or searchlight batteries and do not pretend
to rival the flak artillery. Further tasks include: protection of
divisional artillery against low-flying attack, participation in
ground fighting by neutralizing enemy machine-gun nests and
other strong points, or defense against single tanks.
 The duties of Nos. 2 and 3 are not indicated.