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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 5

Section I: GENERAL

56. The rapid movement of an armored division over wide areas demands forethought in directing and executing reconnaissance. Reconnaissance will be carried out by the air force reconnaissance squadron (attached to the armored division) and the motorized reconnaissance units, augmented by information collected by the armored observation troop.

57. Tasks given to the various reconnaissance units must supplement each other. In view of the small allotment of reconnaissance forces, supplementary tasks must be allotted for more detailed reconnaissance in a decisive direction only. Aerial and ground reconnaissance units must maintain close liaison.


58. The armored division can obtain its information about the enemy most rapidly from the air reconnaissance squadron.

59. This air reconnaissance squadron covers objectives 30 miles in front of the foremost parts of the division. At greater distances the army reconnaissance squadron of the armored corps is responsible. The limits of reconnaissance on the flanks are determined by the presence or absence of one's own troops, and the distances at which they are located.

60. The air force commander with the armored corps can take control of the armored division reconnaissance squadron, if direction of reconnaissance by the armored corps becomes necessary.

61. In tactical reconnaissance the squadron can be employed in the following special missions:

a. Watching railways and roads, especially for movements of tanks, antitank and motorized forces;

b. Reporting serious obstacles and barriers, and areas suitable for defense against tanks;

c. Reporting the nature of the terrain in the line of the division's advance.

It is of special importance to determine whether there are enemy forces concentrated to move against the flanks of the division.

62. Aerial photography must be planned in advance, as it provides valuable data for employment of the division.

63. In air reconnaissance during battle, watching over the tank brigade is of special importance when the latter is operating in advance of the other units of the division. Early confirmation of the positions of enemy antitank guns, the concentration of enemy tanks, tank obstacles, and ground suitable for tanks is important. The objectives reached by one's own tanks also should be reported.

64. Reconnaissance aircraft can give advance warning of approaching enemy aircraft.


65. The division puts the motorized reconnaissance battalion well in front when it needs to supplement air reconnaissance quickly, and when a clear picture of the enemy's dispositions can be obtained only by fighting. The reconnaissance battalion is fitted for this because of its equipment with armored vehicles and numerous automatic weapons. To carry out reconnaissance in battle against a stronger enemy, it must be reinforced.

66. The motorized reconnaissance battalion is fast, and has a wide radius of action. It can be employed for distances up to 60 miles. The frontage on which reconnaissance is carried out will generally be decided by the armored corps. In independent employment of the division, conditioning factors are estimated strength of the enemy, number of areas to be reconnoitered, road conditions, and nature of the terrain. It may extend to 35 miles, and frequently even more on open flanks.

67. The abundance of reconnaissance tasks makes it necessary for the command to concentrate on the essential. Apart from tasks which any reconnaissance unit may be called upon to carry out, the motorized battalion must also give early information of enemy antitank defenses, and by reconnaissance of the terrain prepare the way for movement of the armored division.

68. As soon as battle begins, the motorized reconnaissance battalion must receive orders as to whether it is to continue its reconnaissance activity, hold temporarily important features, withdraw through the division, clear the front, or carry out reconnaissance on the flank. Because of the nature of its composition, the motorized reconnaissance battalion is not suited for defensive missions. For example, an open flank may be watched over by long-range reconnaissance but must be protected by other troops.


69. Combat reconnaissance must be initiated as soon as the division is deployed. It is supplemented by reconnaissance platoons of regiments, by the armored observation troop, and by reconnaissance patrols on foot.

70. In combat reconnaissance, the location of enemy antitank weapons by all arms of the armored division is of special importance.

71. In cases where the tank brigade and the motorized infantry brigade are not equipped with tanks for battle reconnaissance, motorcyclists, infantry in armored transport vehicles, and bicyclists will carry out the reconnaissance.


72. Cooperation between air and ground methods of transmitting reconnaissance reports must be laid down by the division. Air reconnaissance will frequently show the motorized reconnaissance unit the direction in which reconnaissance must be developed. The motorized reconnaissance unit must have direct radio communication with the reconnaissance aircraft. If this is not possible, it will tune in to the reports of the reconnaissance plane.

73. In order to screen radio traffic, the reconnaissance unit will, as far as possible, communicate its reports to a station already known to the enemy. The division will listen in to messages.

74. Reconnaissance pilots can report either by means of radio, message dropping, or verbally on landing. The most rapid means is by radio, or by message dropping during flight. Radio communication is to be preferred as it offers the advantages of allowing queries to be made from the ground and new tasks to be communicated to the observer.

As far as radio equipment permits, units of the division should listen to the air observer.

1. The motorized reconnaissance battalion of an armored division consists of headquarters, a motorized signal corps platoon, 2 armored car companies, 1 motorcycle company, 1 heavy weapons company, and a light ammunition column. The motorized reconnaissance battalion has 12 heavy armored cars and 42 light armored cars and is armed with 63 light machine guns, 6 heavy machine guns, 12 20-mm machine guns, 3 37-mm antitank guns, 2 75-mm cavalry howitzers, 3 81-mm mortars, and 3 50-mm light mortars. The armored car companies consist of 6 heavy armored cars and 21 light and superlight armored cars, and their armament consists of 24 light machine guns, 1 heavy machine gun, and 6 20-mm machine guns. The motorcycle company has 8 solo motorcycles, 41 motorcycles with side cars, and 10 light trucks, and is armed with 9 light machine guns, 4 heavy machine guns, and 3 50-mm light howitzers. The heavy weapons company has 6 light machine guns, 3 37-mm antitank guns, 2 75-mm cavalry howitzers, and 3 81-mm mortars.

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