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"Deceptive German Artillery Methods" from Tactical and Technical Trends

A report on German artillery tactics and deceptions in WWII, from Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 33, September 9, 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.]



In the following article translated from a recent issue of the "Red Star", some German methods of counteracting Russian sound and flash reconnaissance are examined. For a description of similar tactics see Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 31, p. 15.

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Since the results of sound reconnaissance depend on atmospheric conditions, Germans always try to use these to their advantage. For example, when sound carries well, (at night, in fog, on calm days) Germans try to use their artillery as little as possible. On the other hand, when sound conditions favor the Germans (wind in the direction of their positions, vertical midday currents, sharp drops in temperature etc.) the activity of their artillery increases. In selecting their firing positions Germans take into consideration the effect of the surrounding terrain on sound. Firing positions on the reverse slopes of the hills, in groves, near lakes, and marshes are more desirable in this respect than those on tops of hills.

In order to deceive our sound reconnaissance and to draw our fire on empty positions Germans use "swinging" or "duty" batteries (American roving guns). These batteries swinging from one position to another, fire a few rounds from each position, mixing it occasionally with systematic fire. These positions are selected away from other batteries and other troop positions. Germans are very careful not to disclose their fire system. Many batteries do not fire for a long time as their mission is to ambush either our troops or our batteries. Almost never does a gun fire individually as it is then easily located by sound reconnaissance; instead, as a rule, several batteries fire together at an even tempo so that individual shots are drowned in the general noise.

To camouflage fire activity of especially important positions special devices are used that imitate sounds of gunfire. These devices are placed from 200 to 300 meters on the flanks of the camouflaged battery, or to the rear with respect to the direction of actual firing. Sometimes, for more complete imitation of a battery, these devices are supplemented by others which produce a flash simultaneously with the real volley.

Along the same principle a single piece located also 200 to 300 meters from the others is used for ranging fire. This piece if moved farther away, would interfere with correct ranging for the rest of the battery and would also enable us to discover the trick. These seperate pieces also have the secondary mission of nuisance fire. If several batteries are to take part in a barrage, these ranging pieces are used during the first stages. As soon as the Germans think that our sound reconnaissance has located these pieces, the rest of the guns open up. The ranging pieces continue their fire until the end of the barrage.

In order to hide their guns from our flash locators, very often rockets are sent up, haystacks and other material burned, so that the gun flashes are nearly invisible against the burning background. Smokeless powder and flash hiders are also used. Large-scale engineering works are made in order to hide the batteries from ground and air observation. Each battery has two camouflage experts who supervise this work.

Of course, all these measures are not taken by every German battery all the time, but it is well to know about all these tricks. Such knowledge enables us to evaluate properly the findings of our flash and sound locators, and when everything else fails we check our evaluation with PW interrogation.


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