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Time on Target

Discussion in 'Military Training, Doctrine, and Planning' started by Riter, Jun 26, 2020.

  1. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, for some reason I was focused on four troops.

    The real problem for the Americans is the battery simply didn't have enough officers to form enough FO parties. There was only the captain battery commander, 1st lieutenant X/O, and one 1st and one 2d lieutenant as battery officers. Given the X/O was usually the F/O and liaison to the supported battalion, it often meant the most junior lieutenant formed the F/O party, while the BC remained at the CP. Anecdotally, as they gained more experience, batteries and battalions formed additional FP parties as possible, sometimes using senior NCOs, while eventually many infantry commanders picked up the methodology well enough from their liaisons that in emergencies they could sometimes call for fire, but I suspect that was a rarer occurrence than most movies, television shows, and war games would like to believe, In many engagements when the FO/ liaison officer was wounded or killed it sometimes meant disaster.
     
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  2. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    The main issue may have been the under-rated asset of artillery communications. WW2 era wireless equipment needed loving care and maintaining radio nets required diligence and a lot of practice. The infantry could often manage without comms, and the airborne seemed to prefer it), but artillery was useless without comms between the guns and observer. If the FOO became a casualty his signaller could become a hero, but if the man with the radio went down the infantry might struggle to talk to someone who could help. An unofficial motto of the Royal Corps of Signals is 'Death is certain - Comms are not'
     
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  3. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    good call--good point...I was just reading about the Rapido Battle again--it said all the wires/radios were down/etc
    ..you point out an issue I constantly talk about --reality/realistic thinking

    HyperWar: US Army in WWII: Salerno to Cassino [Chapter 19]
     
  4. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    ..also, by that time, others knew how to call for fire support--not just the FO....others knew how to use the radio--unless they were super green/etc!
     
  5. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    you suspect--yes suspect.....if your life is on the line, you know damn sure, '''you'' will learn how to call for fire support
    .....you are the TV Land Man.....
    ....there were Sergeants/etc leading platoons that usually took an officer....PFCs leading squads.....they learned fast
    --however, he has me on ignore--hahahhahahahah
     
  6. harolds

    harolds Member

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    Rich, I don't believe that in the U. S. Army the Battery XO was ever the FO. An XO's job was to take care of all the details that needed to be looked after so that the unit functioned effectively. He coordinated the movement of the battery from position to position and then, using the M2 aiming circle go each gun alligned on the same azmuth. Ammo, food, spare parts, etc. were all in his domain. In short, he was a very, very busy boy! This was so that the CO could spend his time commanding and not be mired down in minutia. The FO was an entry level position so the 2nd Lt. usually started there. The other 2nd Lt. usually ran the FDC.

    P.S. When I was in the service every infantry officer was trained on how to call in fire.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2020
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  7. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, I messed that up a bit from relying on memory. In World War II the F/O position was "open" in that, for example, in the 105mm Battery, there were five commissioned officers, one Captain and four Lieutenants (1st or 2d was actually not specified, but typically it would be two and two). The four Lieutenants shared four jobs - X/O, Assistant X/O, Reconnaissance Officer, and F/O. The senior Lieutenant was the X/O and was usually at the Battery Position, along with his Assistant, who was usually a 2d Lieutenant. The Battery Commander was usually the liaison officer at the supported infantry battalion, where he could observe and call for fire to the battery position. The Reconnaissance Officer was responsible for locating battery positions and doing initial survey and was usually the second 1st Lieutenant...which left the F/O. Usually, the most junior position, but also run through a lot, since the F/O Party typically sustained most of the casualties in the battery.

    That is where it eventually got to in World War II as well, but it was not doctrine, and took a while before it became a commonplace. Time after time the loss of a F/O could cripple an offense or defense, just as the presence of one, as on Hill 314 in August, the Bergstein in December, or Lausdell Crossroads, also in December, could make a huge difference. The other critical peice of course as Sheldrake mentioned, was the radio...artillery and infantry radios were separate nets during World War ii, so the loss of the FA radio and/or radioman could cause problems as well.

    BTW, the Battery X/O's job could be interesting as well. Charles "Carlo" Biggio's experience as the X/O of Battery C, 372d FA at Wirtzfeld on 17 December 1944 being perhaps the most unusual..picks up the phone at the battery position, its his Battery Commander at the DIVARTY TAC at Wirtzfeld, just a few hundred yards away, "Biggio! German tanks have broken through to our south, march order one of the battery howitzers, head south on the road to Buellingen until you find them and engage them!" With a 155mm howitzer. :D
     
  8. harolds

    harolds Member

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    As far as 2nd Lts as FOs go, there was a saying when I wore the funny green clothes: "The most dangerous thing in the Army inventory is a 2nd Lieutenant with a map!"

    In all honesty, I loved being an FO! While not officially, but in reality, the FO controlled the battery or even the Bn. I got to pick the target, adjust the fires and had a big say on what type of ordinance would be used. The best job of all! The next best was FDC boss-very challenging.
     
  9. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    I once knew an FA sergeant who talked about the time he and another soldier took their Gamma Goat up to one of the observation bunkers on an inactive area of the impact range at Sill and had just gone inside when "boom" and they got flattened. When things quieted down they went back out to find they no longer had a Gamma Goat, they had a pile of scrap metal. An 8" howitzer round, misdirected probably by a 2d lieutenant, had missed the designated range entirely and killed their poor goat. He was surprisingly philosophical about it...some people got killed on the range as victims of 2d lieutenants.

    BTW, you know what they say the Ivy Patch of the 4th ID represents? :D Four second lieutenants, all pointing north...

    Yeah, that practice evolved in World War II...it took quite a while before the idea of maintaining the battery commander's prerogatives went by the wayside. About the same time they agreed to put aside their horses. Carlo Biggio started his career in the FA by enlisting in the NG at 16 at the end of the Depression, the Washington Artillery of New Orleans, and his first job as an artilleryman was mucking out the stables.
     
  10. harolds

    harolds Member

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    We had Gamma Goats for a little while and as far as I'm concerned, that's about what should have been done to all of them!
    A buddy and I were damn near killed by a large shell splinter at Ft. Benning's MG course. We were sitting about a yard from each other near the impact area waiting for the night portion to begin. We heard a big bang just over small hill in back of us. A second or so later there was this "WHAP! and a disturbed bunch of ground appeared between us. We dug it up with a stick (hotter than hell) and put it on a piece of cardboard and took it down to the main instructor. He tried to tell us it was an old piece of metal when I dumped the fragment into his hand. After a few loud F-bombs he got on the radio and yelled for everyone on the range to cease fire. Forty-five minutes later a squad of colonels descended on us. There message was a simple one: "This never happened!" The course instructor, a major, looked at me after they left and said, "Welcome to the Army, lieutenant!"
     
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  11. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    I think the funniest one at Sill was when they tried to kill a retired major general who lived nearby by dropping a 155mm round into his backyard...I just read that and thought who except a retired major general would ever want to retire anywhere close to Fort Sill? When my Mom and Dad were there after living in Japan as part of the Army of Occupation, I think they thought it was a major step down from the primitive postwar conditions in Misawa.
     
  12. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Radio communications was not something that anyone could just do - although the US PRC 356 was issued down to platoon level. But that was a dumbed down short ranged radio with preset frequencies.

    There was a high degree of operator skill to maintain a set on net. The frequency drifted as the valve warmed up. On many occasions reception for voice was so bad that the operators needed to use Morse code over Continuous Wave. Good operators drew on antennae theory to rig an antenna to coax the best range in the terrain. If you want to talk to artillerymen you need to know the frequencies they are using that day. You need a radio that operates over those frequencies. Different arms had different frequency bands assigned for their use.

    The practical way for infantrymen to call for artillery fire is to use their own communications to call one of their own HQs which can call on an artillery liaison team with manage the artillery communications. However, I suspect the problem would have been between company and battalion HQ, While it would make sense for infantry to know something about radios the WW2 reality was that there was a huge turnover in infantry units. Priority #1 for infantry companies was to do infantry stuff with their replacements and current group of NCOs. The US 4th Infantry division suffered about 30,000 casualties in eleven months of combat, most of these were from the C6,000 men in its rifle companies. Infantrmen needed to focus on combat and survival skills. Being good at radios was a nice to have.

    Lots of times the infantry relied on the Gunners to pass messages, because being good at comms was essential to deliver indirect firepower - but don't expect them to be as good at the infantry stuff as the professionals.
     
  13. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Finnish artillery "guru" Nenonen

    Fire Correction Circle
    Fire Correction Circle - Wikipedia

    In a military context, especially by the Finnish Non-Linear Artillery of the Continuation War, the Fire Correction Circle (Finnish: korjausympyrä) or (Fire) Correction Converter Dial (Finnish: korjausmuunnin) is a fully mechanical auxiliary device which was constructed of plywood and transparent plastic and which used to be used to calculate targeting values for non-linear artillery and mortars. By using a Correction Circle the artillery observer is able to report the necessary fire corrections to the unit firing without knowing exactly where the unit is firing from. This is achieved by having the artillery observer report targets' coordinates and azimuth (from his or her own position) to the firing units, then report corrections (both lateral and distance-) in meters after a salvo. Each firing unit would make their own calculations for correction based on their own position, target's position, artillery observer's azimuth as well as lateral- and distance corrections in meters provided by said observer, in theory allowing for an unlimited number of firing units to fire on a single target using the same target coordinates and corrections reported by a single artillery observer. The system can and is also used to quickly switch between targets within the artillery observer's vision by simply reporting sufficiently big corrections.

    As an example of this in use, during the Battle of Tali-Ihantala Finnish Army had 21 artillery battalions and one heavy battery, a total of 250 guns and mortars, focusing their fire on targets inside an area of 7 square kilometers, considered to be a world record at the time.

    Fire Correction Circle - Wikipedia
     
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  14. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    The article might not be enough good but the main point is that all the artillery units, mortars hit the target the same time. For example in Tali-Ihantala 1944 the fire was opened five minutes before the Red Army attack time and all Finnish artillery fired the same position due to this invention and the Soviet attack never took place. It is said that all Finnish ammunition was used to cut the massive Red Army build up as they were concentrating their troops and tanks for the breakthrouh.
     

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