Don't split up antitank units, give them definite tasks in combat,
maintain close liaison with the infantry, set up antitank nests
under unified command, employ self-propelled companies in mobile
operations—these are some of the antitank tactics outlined in a
recently obtained German document. The translation from the
The tendency to split up antitank units completely, to have a
proportion of antitank firepower everywhere, is wrong. The smallest
unit permissible is the half-platoon (two guns), except for defense
of streets for which less may be employed.
Companies in their entirety, or at least whole platoons, should
cover likely tank approaches. To use a single antitank gun is to
invite destruction. Other terrain over which tanks might approach
will be covered by mines, obstacles, or tank-destruction detachments.
Antitank units will normally be in support; they must be given
definite tasks and allowed to make their own tactical dispositions.
Engagement of even worthwhile infantry targets must be the
exception rather than the rule. Such employment is limited by lack of
mobility, by the bulkiness of the gun as a target, by the sensitivity of
the barrel which is subjected to great strain, and finally by the small
issue of high-explosive shells. In addition, accuracy diminishes with
On the move, regimental antitank companies are normally distributed
throughout march groups by platoons—one platoon always with
the advance party. No heavy antitank guns [should be] with the
point, as too much time is needed to bring them into action. Divisional
antitank battalions are normally brought forward as a body.
In assembling, locate in areas from which the final movement can
also be protected; local protection [should be] by machine guns. Positions
for antitank guns not immediately employed will be reconnoitered
and prepared. Antitank warning arrangements must be made
by the officer commanding the antitank unit detailed for local
protection. Advantage will be taken of unexpected gains of ground to
push forward the antitank defenses.
CLOSE INFANTRY LIAISON
In attack, antitank units follow the advancing infantry in areas
likely to favor tank counterattacks, moving from cover to cover in
such a manner that the antitank guns always have advantageous
positions. The leading infantry must not be beyond the range of the
antitank guns. As many guns as possible must be ready to fire
simultaneously. There must be close liaison between the antitank
units and the infantry before and during the attack. When the
objective has been reached, or if the attack is held up, a solid belt of
antitank defenses must be organized immediately. This is the
responsibility of the antitank unit commander.
In defensive operations, an antitank defense plan will be drawn
up by the responsible antitank commander. Location of the main
defensive belt must give the antitank guns suitable fields of fire;
this is a prerequisite for effective antitank support for the infantry.
Antitank positions must be established at some distance to the
rear. These positions must be camouflaged so they will not be seen
and concentrated on before the attack. However, in the selection of
positions it must be remembered that these should be sufficiently far
forward to cover the ground in front of the main defensive belt.
Normally, regimental antitank companies are forward, and divisional
antitank units are to the rear.
Alternative and dummy positions are essential for continued
surprise. Mines and obstacles should be used in suitable areas. Tank-hunting
detachments should be held ready in villages, wooded areas,
and close country.
Nests of antitank guns under one unified command should be set
up. Units arriving subsequently will be incorporated in the general
antitank defense plan.
Open fire as late as possible. Do not be deceived by feint attacks.
Use one uniform system of tank warning. It is important to keep
in contact with artillery OP's. Take advantage of all radio and
telephone facilities. Tank warnings have priority over everything.
If there is any possibility of creating an antitank reserve, the reserve
units must reconnoiter a number of possible positions and prepare
them for occupation.
In the employment of self-propelled antitank guns the following
Companies are controlled by radio, in emergency by flag signals.
Normal formations for movement on the battlefield are file,
arrowhead, broad arrowhead, or extended line. Self-propelled antitank
guns use fire and movement, their constant readiness for action making
them the ideal mobile reserve. They are, therefore, the very weapon
to use at points of main effort. The tactical unit is the company;
exceptionally, the platoon. Disadvantages at present are low speed (up
to 10 miles per hour), tall silhouette, weak armor, and restricted
traverse. Immediate counterattack, such as can be carried out by
assault guns, is impossible. Self-propelled antitank guns can be
employed only on open flanks if adequately covered by infantry. Whenever
possible, ground reconnaissance, preferably on foot, must precede
the occupation of positions.
CHECK BRIDGE CAPACITIES
On the move, one self-propelled antitank half-platoon should be as
far forward as possible; the remainder of the platoon should be with
the advance party. The rest of the company will remain together.
Road reconnaissance must include investigation of the carrying
capacity of bridges.
In an attack, the infantry will be accompanied by self-propelled
antitank platoons, each giving the other mutual support. The enemy
should be engaged by surprise, when possible from defiladed positions
or from positions on reverse slopes, with all guns firing simultaneously.
Fire should be opened, when possible, by whole companies, since it will
frequently be necessary to fire in several directions at the same time.
Platoons can fire effectively only in one direction at a time.
The only completely successful method of employing self-propelled
companies is in mobile operations. Flank attacks are very effective,
especially if they are combined with a small frontal attack.
In defense, the main task of self-propelled antitank guns is the
destruction of tanks which have broken through. Self-propelled units
will therefore be held as mobile reserves and employed all together,
especially for the point of main effort. An efficient warning system,
using radio whenever possible, is especially important. Gun commanders
must thoroughly reconnoiter probable operational areas, the
ground in the main defensive belt, tank approaches, and the rear areas
of the position. Close liaison with the infantry is essential. It is
wrong to dig in self-propelled guns because of their lack of traverse,
but firing and alternative positions must be prepared for them.