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German Arty Doctrine is the same as the Americans's?

Discussion in 'Military Training, Doctrine, and Planning' started by Triple C, Apr 9, 2010.

  1. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

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    Is there a substantial difference between Germany and US's artillery doctrine? I have been told that Germany's artillery comparable to its American counterpart. The differences lay in inferior numbers of observers, radios, tubes and round. Any comments?
     
  2. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    The short answer is, I dont know. After reading through all the commentary I could lay hands on my conclusion is those writers were not very sure either.

    From the very few bits I have any confidence in it appears there were some differences between US & German artillery use. But, the details are not there. From miscl summarys of German production statistics, like John Ellis 'Brute Force', there clearly was less ammunition made for the German artillery than for the US Army, and from 1941 there are complants from artillery commanders having only half or a third the ammunition they needed.

    Unfortunatly those are only fragments and not yet confirmed.

    It is not at all clear if the German artillery had anything like the US Army 'Fire Direction System'. The two self claimed experts on German artillery I asked were unable to describe the details of the German artillery command and control system to me. Perhaps as I translate the German techincal manuals I can figure it out. I'd also like to see more eyewitness descriptions by German artillerymen. The two eyewitness accounts I do have have very little to say about the command methods.

    The performance of the two modern German division cannon, the 10.5cm & 15cm howitzers were very similar to the US weapons. In the case of the 10.5cmFH18 this seems to be because both were influenced by the old 10.5cmFH16. From the US Field Artillery Journal I have found three refrences to the FH16 being extensively tested and considered for adoption between 1919 & 1925. In 1925 the decision was made for the US designed M1 105mm howitzer, which was later fielded as the M2 105mm howitzer. i suspect the German and US ordinance engineers came to very similar conclusions from their experience with the FH16.

    At the level above the division there seems to be fewer cannon in the corps and army artillery groups on the German side. I've not done a through study, only rough counts, but I come up with a average of between three and four artillery battalions of the corps and army groups per division. That includes units like the heavy Morser and super guns. For the US Army the ratio is far above four battalions per divsion, probablly above six battalions per. Most of those were relatively mobile 155mm howitzer & 155mm long guns, with some 203mm (8") or a very few 240mm cannon.

    Within the US infantry division the regimental gun was 75mm pack howitzer, a much more capable weapon than the 7.5cm & 15cm Infantry Guns of the German infantry regiment. The US pack howitzers ammounted to a fifth field artillery battalion in each division. At this point my estimate is a US corps commander would have a artillery strength averaging 10 to 12 battalions per division. His German counter part was likely to have a average of 7 to 8 battalions per division. The Germans do seem to have more rocket artillery than the US Army, but it is not clear to me if that made up for much of the difference in rounds on target.

    If anyone has any descriptions of the command and control methods the Germans used above the battalion level for their artillery I'd very much like to see it.
     
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  3. macrusk

    macrusk Proud Daughter of a Canadian WWII Veteran

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    Try here for command and control methods of the German Artillery in World War II:

    Artillery Command in the German Army, WWII Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 29, July 15, 1943 (Lone Sentry)

    A brief excerpt from the above site:

    "Artillery Command in the German Army" from Tactical and Technical Trends

    The following article about artillery command in the German Army was originally printed in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 29, July 15, 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.]

    ARTILLERY COMMAND IN THE GERMAN ARMY


    In the German Army all artillery apart from the relatively small divisional allotment belongs to the GHQ pool (Heerestruppen). Units are allotted from this pool to army groups or armies according to the estimated needs. They may be sub-allotted to corps or divisions. The commander of the divisional artillery regiment, Artillerieführer or Arfü, commands the divisional artillery when it is not reinforced from the GHQ pool.

    When GHQ artillery units are attached to the division, the Arfü is usually subordinated to an Artillery Commander, Artilleriekommandeur, abbreviated Arko, who with his staff is likewise from GHQ. An Arko may also be assigned to command an allotment of GHQ artillery to a corps.

    When no GHQ artillery has been assigned to an army group or army, an Artillery General Stabsoffizier der Artillerie, abbreviated Stoart, advises the army group or army commander on artillery matters. When GHQ artillery units have been attached to an army, a Higher Artillery Commander, Höherer Artilleriekommandeur, abbreviated Höh Arko, is assigned to the army. A recent report from British sources gives some interesting details as to the powers and duties of a Higher Artillery Commander of an army, and of an Artillery Commander.

    a. Powers and Duties of a Higher Artillery Commander of an Army



    .....see the link for additional information
     
  4. macrusk

    macrusk Proud Daughter of a Canadian WWII Veteran

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  5. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    macrusk....thanks. I've been through both of those. Not nearly the detail I am looking for.

    Sprinkled through this thread are the various internet sites I located several years ago. Since I've been picking my way tough CARL and the US Field Artillery Journal, but it is slow going.
     
  6. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    Some over looked things:

    The Germans in static positions and situations did perform harrassing fires on their opposition. These tended to be of limited effect due to a tendency for them to become too predictable. That is, the concentrations were fired at the same time, often at targets in the same general area and, the number of shells fired was usually too small to have any real effect.

    Another tactic the Germans often employed with field artillery that Allied nations and the Soviets didn't was to have a 'roving gun' in the battery. This would be one gun that deployed away from the rest of the battery. Its purpose was to create doubt about where the actual battery was located by firing a few rounds then displacing. It was intended to mask the actual battery position and also to cover movement of the battery when it was displacing by making the enemy think that it actually hadn't moved.
    By late war radar and aerial observation were such that this generally wasn't going to work anymore on at least the Western Allies.

    Another thing the Germans did was to farm out sections of guns in a battery for special missions. You don't see this with the US, Britain or, the Soviets. They would attach the entire battery for such purposes. But, the Germans were rarely adverse to attaching two guns to some kampfgruppe or another for a particular mission or on a semi-permanent basis.

    While the Germans could mass batteries it was more difficult for them to do so as they lacked a system like the British (divisional and corps artillery brigaders) and US (the Fire Direction Center) had. The Soviets massed artillery by simple concentration having access to more tubes as a rule.

    Not helping matters was that by mid-war German industry was concentrated on turning out more and more flak rounds. These got priority over artillery shells creating a shortage of available rounds. Compounding this was an ever increasing amount of beute (captured) artillery in the inventory. By 1944 many infantry divisions were equipped in whole or part with captured artillery, particularly ex-Soviet pieces.

    As for mortars, the Germans tended to set these up either in battery or by section depending on circumstances. When time allowed they would have arranged one or two switch positions for the battery to displace to to avoid counterbattery fire.

    Another limitation on German artillery is lack of transport. Most batteries, even those in some divisions by late war, lacked proper transport for their guns. The ending of production of prime mover halftracks by the end of 1942 left a huge gap in replacement heavy tractors that wasn't filled. The later introduction of the SWS (Schwere Wehrmact Schlepper) didn't really make up for even a fraction of the losses incurred. In many cases once a battle became mobile German artillery was doomed to being overrun in place simply because it couldn't move for lack of means.
     
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