Panzer Tactics Training Guide
|Panzer Vorwärts! Aber mit Verstand! | Armor Forward! But with Intelligence!|
|This is a translation of a German training circular issuedby the German Armored Force containing 30 basic lessons ofarmored combat on the platoon and company level derived from theWehrmacht’s experience against the Soviets. Written during the SecondWorld War by a German company commander, these lessons arefresh with recent combat experience. The original text hascartoon-like illustrations and civilian “parables” on one page, with thecombat lesson on the opposing page. Only the combat lessons aretranslated here.|
The Panzer Regiment is, by reason of its firepower,protection and mobility the main fighting power of theDivision. Its strength lies in unexpected, concentrated anddetermined attack; aggressive leadership and daringoperations.
Combat in Russia has shown once again that for us, inaction against the Communists, it is not so much the kind ornumber of our tanks but the spirit and skill on the tanksoldiers that count. Only by these factors are German tanksalways, even in Russia, victorious.
This exemplary combat spirit can however count forlittle as the weapons speed, armor or number of tanks inachieving success, if they are not led and employed by fullycompetent officers.
Superior tactical leadership in battle is a prerequisitewhen one desires few, or better still, no casualties.
The purpose of this volume is to collect the experiencesof the veteran front-line combat leaders of our Regiments inaction, and pass it on in simple and understandable form toour junior officers.
1. Before any attack acquaint yourself with the ground. Usethe information provided by other units or by the map.Share this information with your subordinate commanders.Exact information and correct estimation of the terrainwill be the decisive difference between victory anddefeat.
2. No armored attack is so fast, even under the mostpressing situation, that you do not have time to putsubordinate leaders into the picture about the tacticalsituation, mission, and anything else which may impact onthe coming action. Losses due to over-hasty action areyour responsibility and place the success of the missionin jeopardy.
3. Only careful combat reconnaissance can protect you fromsurprise. Protect to your flanks as well as the front.Observation to all sides is the duty of every commander.ALWAYS KEEP YOUR EYE OUT FOR THE ENEMY!
4. Your entire ability in combat must be used to make aconstant appreciation of the situation. Only in thismanner can you make the correct decision during thedecisive seconds and issue short, clear orders withoutdelay. This is the kind of leadership for which you areresponsible.
5. Iron radio discipline is a prerequisite of goodleadership, particularly when your only method of commandis radio. In the point company for instance, the trailplatoons should not use the radio at all except inemergency, leaving the net clear for the point platoonleader.
6. You must lead with strength. At least two tanks must beforward, and the trail platoons must be held far enoughforward to support the lead platoon. The more guns thatfire in the first minute, the quicker the enemy will bedefeated and the fewer losses you will suffer.
7. When breaking cover, do it quickly and together. Themore targets the enemy is shown simultaneously, theharder his fire control and distribution will be, and themore guns you will have in effect on the enemy.
8. In the attack drive as fast as you can. At slow speedyou can see and shoot only a little better than at high,and are much more likely to be hit. For a tank thereshould be only two speeds: the half (for firing!) andall out forward. This is the basic principal of tankcombat!
9. When antitank weapons are encountered at long or mediumranges, you must first return fire and then maneuveragainst them. First make a firing halt in order to bringeffective fire to bear – then commit the bulk of thecompany to maneuver on the enemy with the continuedsupport of one platoon.
10. When antitank weapons are encountered at close range,stopping is suicide. Only immediate attack at thehighest speed with every weapon firing will have successand reduce losses.
11. In combat against the antitank guns you may never – evenunder the protection of strong fire support – allow asingle platoon to attack alone. Antitank weapons are notemployed singly. Remember – lone tanks in Russia arelost!
12. You must continually keep a broad interval betweenvehicles. This splits the enemy’s defensive fire andcomplicates his fire control. Narrow intervals must beavoided at all costs, especially in critical situations,or it will cost you losses.
13. When an impassable obstacle, for instance a minefield orantitank ditch, is encountered you must immediately andwithout hesitation give the order to withdraw into thenearest cover. Standing still, in open sight, trying tocarry on the attack, has in such circumstances no senseand will only cost you losses. Your consideration on howto make a new start will be best made in the safety ofcover.
14. When your attack must pass potential enemy tankpositions, for instance a woodline, you should eitherpass by them so closely that you are inside their minimumrange, or remain so far away that you are outside theirmaximum effective range.
15. Enemy tanks should not be attacked directly, because thenthey see you and know your strength before you can killthem. More often, you should avoid them until you canmove into favorable firing positions, and surprise themfrom the flank or rear. Repelled enemy tank assaultsmust be aggressively pursued.
16. A strongpoint, for instance a small village or artillerybattery position, whenever possible should be attackedfrom different directions simultaneously in order tosplit enemy defensive fire and deceive him about the truelocation and direction of the attack. In this manneryour breakthrough will be easier and your losses fewer.
17. Always prepare dug in positions and camouflage againstthe possibility of air or artillery attack. Being sorryafterwards is no excuse for losses taken by these causes.
18. Ammunition should not always be conserved; in thedecisive moment, if you want to save casualties, you mayexpend ammunition at exceptionally high rates (forinstance, an emergency attack.)
19. Never split your combat power; that is to say, do notemploy parts of the company in such a manner that theycannot support each other. When your attack has twoobjectives you should attack first one and then the otherwith all weapons. In this way you will more certainlyend up with both objectives in hand and fewer casualties.
20. Support from artillery fire or dive bombers must be usedimmediately, that is to say, while the fire is stillhitting the objective. Afterward, when the fire hasstopped it is too late. You must know that mostly suchfires only produce a suppressing effect, not a destroyingone. It is better to risk a friendly shell or bomb thanto charge into an active antitank defense.
21. Other weapons and arms, cross-attached to you, should notbe misused. Do not use them for purposes for which theywere not intended, for example, do not use tankdestroyers as assault guns, or armored infantry as tanks,or recon or engineer troops as infantry.
22. Unarmored or lightly armored units attached to you mustbe protected from any unnecessary losses until they areneeded for their own operational tasks, for which reasonthey were attached to you.
23. Cross-attached units placed under your command are notyour servants, but your guests. You are answerable tosupply them and share everything they need. Don’t justuse them on guard duty! In this way they will workbetter and more loyally for you when you need them. Andthat will be often!
24. In combined operations with infantry or armored infantry,you must make certain that the arms stick close together;only so can they help each other and achieve success.Which of the two is leading is a secondary matter; whatmust be known is that it is the intention of the enemy toseparate them and that you must prevent this in allcircumstances. Your battlecry must be “Protect theInfantry!” and the infantry’s battlecry is “Protect theTanks!”
25. You and your soldiers must always concentrate on yourcombat mission, i.e. “the bridge,” and you may not turnaside, for example, to an enemy on your flank, unless heis actually dangerous to the accomplishment of yourmission. Then you must attack and destroy him.
26. After a victorious battle; i.e. the seizure of a bridgeor the occupation of a village, keep your helmets on.That is to say, prepare for a counterattack which willcertainly come, perhaps in a different place than youexpect. Later you can collect the spoils of victory.
27. In a defense or security mission place your tanks so thatnot only their firepower, but also their shock action canbe brought into play. Also, leave only a few tanks instationary firing positions. Keep most as mobilereserves under cover. Tanks defend aggressively!
28. Against strong enemy resistance, there is no point incontinuing to attack. Every failed attack only costsmore casualties. Your effort must always be to hold theenemy with only weak forces, in order to use mass of yourstrength at another, weaker place, breakthrough, anddestroy the enemy by surprise attack in the rear orflank.
29. Never forget that your soldiers do not belong to you, butto Germany. Personal glory hunting and senselessdare-deviltry lead only to exceptional cases to success,but always cost blood. In battle against the Soviet-Russians you must temper your courage with yourjudgement, your cunning, your instincts and your tacticalability. Only then will you have the prerequisites to bevictorious in battle and only then will your soldierslook on you with loyalty and respect and always stand byyou in untiring combat readiness.
30. The panzer division in modern warfare today holds theformer place of cavalry as the decisive arm of combat.Tank officers must carry on in the tradition of thecavalry, take up its aggressive spirit on behalf of thePanzer arm. Therefore take note, as a basic combatprinciple, of Marshall Blucher’s motto, “FORWARD ANDTHROUGH!” (but with intelligence).