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The German Armored Division
Military Intelligence Service, Information Bulletin No. 18, June 15, 1942
[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the wartime U.S. War Department publication. 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.]

Chapter 4


24. Because of its large number of guns and machine guns of various calibers, its speed of going into action and its maneuverability, the tank brigade can concentrate a heavy volume of fire on all targets. Its cross-country performance and armor enable it to exploit this fire power against the enemy at most effective ranges.

25. The success of the tank brigade depends upon its employment in mass formation and the concentration of the largest possible number of tanks to gain surprise in deep thrusts against the enemy's weak spots.

26. In all situations the success of the tank brigade is primarily dependent upon the personal leadership of the commander.

27. He carries out the reconnaissance of ground on which the conduct of the tank battle depends. On the basis of the division order, his knowledge of the terrain, and reconnaissance, he lays down the detailed order of battle for his brigade, its main line of attack, and its frontage and depth.

The tank brigade can be employed either in frontal or flank attack, and in several waves. The method depends upon the task, the terrain, the degree of resistance expected from the enemy, and the depth of the enemy's defensive zone. In general, flank attack is preferred.

When the situation is uncertain or the attack made over dead ground, it may be desirable to employ at first only a few elements, holding the remainder of the force in close reserve. The first wave of tanks must be given sufficient tanks with heavy caliber guns to insure that the enemy's antitank defense is quickly and surely neutralized.

28. On the basis of division orders, the brigade commander lays down the method of cooperation between tank regiments and supporting arms. During the battle he gives orders either verbally or by radio to the artillery regimental or battery commander accompanying him.

29. During the attack the brigade commander keeps the division constantly informed of the progress of the attack and of the objectives gained. On reaching objectives he decides whether the regiments are to be organized to pursue the attack or to reassemble under division orders.

30. During the attack the brigade commander directs his unit by means of radio. He has for this purpose the brigade signal platoon, which is detached from the division armored signal battalion. The nature of the task, the situation, and the allotment of other arms will from time to time necessitate change in the use of radio communications. Normally, the brigade commander will maintain radio contact with the division, his regiments, and the artillery. It may also be necessary, however, to establish radio communications with the motorized infantry and air force reconnaissance units, as well as with antitank troops. The brigade commander must make an early decision as to what communications are absolutely essential and whether an additional allotment is required from the division.

Radio communications from reconnaissance aviation working with the tanks may, if necessary, be supplemented by message dropping.

31. If task forces are formed, the commander of the tank brigade will normally command one of them.


32. The main effort of the armored division falls upon the motorized infantry brigade when the nature of the ground and tank obstacles prevent use of the tank brigade, and when it is essential to exploit the speed of the motorized infantry.

33. Equipment of the motorized infantry brigade with armored transport vehicles enables it to follow the tank brigade in vehicles over the battlefield, and to fight in close cooperation with the tanks.

The motorized infantry fights on foot. It can, however, engage an inferior or demoralized enemy without dismounting. These two methods supplement each other. Transport vehicle crews must therefore be kept close at hand while the infantry is fighting dismounted. In those cases where the motorized infantry brigade is not equipped with armored transport vehicles, it must dismount as soon as it comes within range of enemy infantry fire.

The motorized infantry brigade moves more quickly than the tank brigade on roads and tracks.

34. Equipment of the motorized infantry brigade with a large number of automatic weapons enables it to hold a broad front, even against an enemy of considerable strength.

35. The motorcycle battalion is an especially rapid and adaptable force. It is particularly fitted to anticipate the enemy in rapidly occupying important areas, to engage a weak enemy, to follow closely behind a tank attack, especially at night, in order to provide the tank brigade with necessary infantry protection, to reinforce the reconnaissance unit, to undertake wide and deep enveloping movements, to perform protective roles, and to act as a reserve.

36. The motorized infantry brigade has a signal platoon which is detached from the division armored signal battalion. On the move and when advancing deployed in vehicles, communications will be chiefly by radio. When attacking deployed on foot, wire communication becomes necessary.

37. If task forces are formed, the commander of the motorized infantry brigade will normally command one of them.


38. In keeping with the mobility of the armored division, the artillery must be employed in a mobile and elastic manner. Its equipment and speed in going into action enable it to give continued and effective support to the swiftly moving attack of the division. Its armor and its mobility on self-propelled mounts permit part of the artillery to follow the tanks, even within range of enemy infantry weapons, and to go into action from positions where fire by direct laying is possible. Armored command and observation vehicles enable the officer observing and directing the artillery fire to accompany the tank attack and to cooperate closely with the commander of the tank brigade.

39. The relatively small size of the artillery component makes it necessary that it be allotted only a few tasks of major importance. Fire of the artillery must be strictly concentrated upon such targets as cannot be engaged by the tanks.

In an attack against an enemy organized for defense, every effort must be made to reinforce the division artillery, particularly with medium batteries. Artillery reinforcements obtained from the GHQ pool, by their equipment and training, are not so well fitted for direct support of the tank attack as is the division artillery. Their primary role should be to engage targets in the enemy's rear and flanks after the first penetration has been made.

Smoke troops can give effective assistance to artillery.1

40. Artillery spotting planes and the armored observation battery report enemy gun positions and provide the commander with valuable supplementary information. They can undertake tasks of registering and spotting for their own artillery.

Spotting posts of the armored observation battery lying outside the division's sector must be given protection.


41. As a result of its speed, mobility, cross-country performance, and protection against tanks, the antitank battalion can attack enemy tanks. It unites mobility and fire power in battle. Its object is to engage and destroy enemy tanks by surprise attack from an unexpected direction with concentrated fire.

42. In addition to engaging enemy tanks, the antitank unit has the task of neutralizing enemy antitank defenses, thereby supporting its own tanks.

43. Antitank units, especially when supporting motorized infantry, can also use HE shell to neutralize especially troublesome enemy defense areas. Heavy antitank units can engage loopholes of permanent defenses and of fortified houses.

44. Antitank units will normally be employed in companies. In an attack against strong enemy tank forces, every endeavor should be made to employ the battalion in a mass formation. In engaging loopholes and enemy defense areas, antitank units will be employed by platoons or with single guns.


45. The armored engineer battalion is able to follow tanks everywhere on the battlefield. In cases where not all the battalion vehicles are armored or capable of moving across country, only the armored engineer company of the battalion can be used in direct support of the tank brigade.

46. The task of the armored engineers is to provide the armored division on the march and in battle with the necessary facilities for movement. These include:

a. Seeking out and removing obstacles in the line of advance;

b. Clearing lanes through mine fields;

c. Marking mined areas;

d. Constructing crossings and bridges with improvised or standard equipment capable of carrying all vehicles of the armored division.

In addition, armored engineers cooperate especially in the attack against permanent defenses.

47. The large number of engineer tasks necessitates economy of employment. The engineer force must not split up into small detachments. All other tasks must be subordinated to the main function of insuring a clear passage for advance of the tank brigade; therefore every endeavor must be made to employ the armored engineers before the tank attack begins.

48. The tank brigade, the motorized infantry brigade, and the reconnaissance unit each has its own engineer platoon. The nature of the task, the situation, and the terrain may in some cases necessitate its reinforcement by parts of the armored engineer battalion.


49. In keeping with the mobility of the armored division, the armored signal battalion is well equipped with radio and telephone equipment. Cross-country armored signal vehicles can accompany the tank attack wherever it goes and supply the communication necessary for its command.

50. The chief signal officer of the division must be kept informed of the current situation, plans, and employment of troops in order for him to make suitable arrangements for communications.

51. Radio communications must be insured by employment of sufficiently powerful sets in point-to-point traffic. In event of a rapidly moving attack by the armored division, the chief signal officer must have at his disposal a reserve of radio equipment.

52. Telephone communications, especially to superior headquarters, must be maintained as long as possible. It is important to cooperate with the corps signal unit in pushing forward a main artery as rapidly and as far as possible.

Existing civilian telephone lines are to be used when possible. In rapidly moving operations over wide areas, the division commander decides if and when wire communications are to be established.


53. The units of the armored division are vulnerable to attack by enemy aircraft. It is normally not possible to give protection to all parts of the armored division. If army antiaircraft units and heavy air force antiaircraft units are attached to the division, the employment of all antiaircraft fire power must be unified.

54. The scanty proportion of fire power forces the command to limit tasks of the light antiaircraft battalion, and to concentrate them at especially threatened localities.

55. In cases where the antitank battalion does not possess guns effective against tanks at longer ranges, heavy antiaircraft units or single guns will be used in antitank defense and assault of fixed defenses, according to the principles in paragraphs 42 to 44.

1. Smoke troops are probably attached to the armored divisions only on special missions. The smoke company is believed to consist of about 120 officers and enlisted men and 24 vehicles. In addition each company has eight 81-mm mortars, and it is possible that 100-mm mortars may be introduced.

2. The antitank battalion comprises headquarters, signal section, three antitank companies, and probably one antiaircraft company. An antitank company consists of headquarters, signal section, and three platoons. Each platoon consists of four sections each armed with one 37-mm AT gun, and one section armed with two light machine guns. The 37-mm AT guns are now being replaced in many units by 50-mm AT guns. The antiaircraft company is believed to consist of twelve 20-mm superheavy AA and AT machine guns.

3. The armored engineer battalion consists of headquarters, 3 light motorized companies (possibly only 2 in some cases), 1 motorized heavy bridge column, and 1 supply park. The motorized companies have 4 officers and 183 enlisted men each, and are armed with 9 light machine guns, 153 rifles, and 34 pistols. The heavy bridge column comprises all the equipment and personnel necessary for construction of a bridge of 28-ton capacity. It has 6 officers, 184 enlisted men, and is armed with 1 light machine gun, 153 rifles, and 36 pistols. The supply park has 2 officers and 48 enlisted men, and is armed with 1 light machine gun, 36 rifles, and 14 pistols. The personnel and engineer equipment is moved in passenger cars, trucks, tractor trailers, and motorcycles.

4. The signal battalion of an armored division consists of headquarters, an armored radio company, an armored signal company, and a light combat train.

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