CAMOUFLAGE OF INDIVIDUALS AND INFANTRY WEAPONS
Part III: CAMOUFLAGE – COMBAT POSITIONS
In Part I and Part II, we have been concerned with the simpler things that make individual concealment possible. We have stressed the basic points of background and silhouette and shadow. You will find yourself in numerous positions not covered specifically in this book, but if you remember the principles we have covered, you can meet every situation successfully.
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One rule must be before you at all times. Don’t relax, as long as there is a chance of your being observed. Practice concealment every moment of your life as a soldier. It will be a longer life and a safer one, and there will be more dead enemy soldiers behind you.
As always, after the demands of the military situation, background is the first consideration. Choose a place within the assigned area where the foxhole will not change the look of the terrain. Natural concealment is best. Keep both ground and aerial observation in mind. Against ground observation, site your foxhole so that you are not silhouetted against the sky or against a background of a contrasting color (fig. 46). Against air observation, site your foxhole under trees or bushes or in a dark area of the terrain. Make sure that your bush or tree is not isolated. A lone clump of vegetation is a conspicuous hiding place and will draw enemy fire whether he can see you or not. From the air, or from higher ground, spoil around a foxhole betrays the position.
If time or circumstances make it possible to dispose of spoil, cover it with natural materials. Soldiers have covered the spoil around their two-man foxhole with pine needles. A foxhole is sited under trees is concealed from both air and ground views. Lines are always important in any terrain. Trenches sited along natural ground lines such as edges of fields, intersections of hedgerows, fences, and cultivation patterns are difficult to distinguish.
The foundation of a foxhole cover is a frame (fig. 51) either flat or rounded—shaped from short branches bound together with wire, twine, strips of cloth, strips of woven reeds or dried grass. This frame may be garnished with grass or natural foliage to match the surroundings. Natural garnishing materials must be replaced before they wilt and change color. If this is not done the position will be in contrast to its background. Slits are left for firing.
Several factors must be taken into account in such an area, however. When the gun is fired, dust may be kicked up and betray the position to the enemy. If possible, take care to eliminate such a possibility by wetting it down is effective camouflage, but it should be sturdy enough to resist shock and fire. Otherwise it may collapse upon the position.
Also, an isolated patch of debris in a street is conspicuous. It is an obvious place for concealment and is sure to draw enemy fire whether he sees a gun in the position or not. Stay away from isolated positions of concealment. Always have an alternate concealed position chosen in case you are required to move.
MACHINE GUN FLAT-TOP
Construction details are shown in Figure 63. The frame can be made of pipe, saplings, or lumber. Hinges are made either of No. 10 wire, stakes pivoted on a pin made of wire or a drift pin, pieces of scrap leather, or stock door hinges. The net is a 15-foot by 15-foot garnished twine net.
Take care that the vegetation around the position is not compressed by the buggy-top when it is open. If the vegetation does become damaged, steps must be taken to restore its natural appearance. To complete camouflage small bushes must be placed irregularly around edges of net.
‘These comments are taken from reports of units that have successfully and extensively engaged in village and town fighting.
Boundaries Between Units
From an VIII Corps report describing techniques and methods employed by three infantry divisions during action at BREST:
“Streets formed the boundaries between units. In some cases the entire street was included within the zone of a unit; in other cases the boundaries were drawn down the middle of the street. There was not just separation of boundaries, but also the separation of responsibilities on both sides of the streets. Sometimes, if the street was a part of the boundary line, troops were shouldered duties along the demarcated line. Houses, other buildings, boundary walls etc also fell on the boundaries, and then, in the same way, responsibilities were divided. Any resort was seriously dealt with. Get more information on this boundary duties and fighting in the below sections. Many felt that responsibility for the street itself was immaterial since no one dared use it anyway.”
COMMENT: In village and town fighting, boundaries between units should not be drawn down the middle of the street. A street is a natural avenue for approach or for retrograde movement even though not used for either purpose. It is also a natural line of demarcation and as such must be considered a critical area. Our tactical doctrine teaches that in assigning boundaries all natural avenues and lines of demarcation should be made all inclusive to one unit or the other so that there will be no division of responsibility for a critical area.
In cities and villages it is feasible to place boundaries along the face of the buildings on one side of a street so that the street itself, together with the buildings along the side opposite the boundary, becomes the responsibility of a single unit. Stream lines, valleys, ravines, etc., are also classed as critical areas; assignment of any one of these should be all inclusive to one unit.
Zones of Unit Action
“Each platoon or squad should be assigned a definite zone or group of buildings within the city block under attack. The city block may be thought of as a hollow square outlined by buildings. When the buildings on the near side of such a square are already held, one unit (squad or platoon) should be assigned to clear the buildings on each of the two sides (right and left) while a third unit remains on the friendly side to give support by firing across the center of the square into the rear windows and back entrances of enemy-held buildings. Such support is very necessary. Bazookas, BAR’s, Tommy guns, and the SMG M3 are effective for such support.
Routes of Advance
“Routes of advance for platoons and squads varied. Hallways, stairways, rooftops, and basements were used. Sometimes it was necessary to blow only two or three walls in an entire block of buildings. “It was found best to cross streets near the center of blocks. To make sure that the doors of buildings across the street were open, the locks were shot away or the doors blasted open with bazookas or AT grenades. The street would then be screened with smoke from WP hand grenades so that the men could dash across under cover.
Enemy Firing Positions
“Sometimes the enemy removed a single brick to provide a loophole for firing from a basement.”
“Hostile SIG’s located in the upper stories of buildings often were able to get effective fire from ricochets on the stone streets.
Entry of Buildings
“One of our front-line leaders felt that it was better to enter the lower floors of buildings so that, if necessary, the building could be burned from the bottom; he was doubtless bearing in mind that the enemy could do the same if our troops were above. This platoon leader found also that after the ground floor was captured, a few AP shots (from an M1 Garand or BAR) upward through the floors would usually bring remaining enemy down with hands in the air.”
“When the enemy held out in a basement, a well. tamped charge of TNT on the floor above usually proved effective.”
“Pole and satchel charges were generally used; they were prepared by the engineers in almost all cases. Care was required in determining the amount of the charge, for it was difficult to estimate the thickness of the walls. The average thickness was about 18 inches. In a few instances, a too heavy charge brought the entire building down into the basement, leaving an unnecessary obstacle. One solution to this problem was to set the charges in fireplaces where the heavier side walls of the fireplace would prevent collapse of the walls.
“Our men were pulled back two or three buildings before charges were set off; this safety measure was always observed.”
“Ammunition and pioneer teams were at a premium because the rate of advance depended upon the number of demolition teams available. Sometimes front-line troops joined with the A and P men to form demolition teams. One unit reported that when the A and P platoon sent down a 4-man team, four 3-man teams were formed, using one A and P man in each.”
“Some buildings were set afire with 81-mm WP shells; however, this method was used only as a last resort because it left difficult obstacles. Such fires were set at night to avoid interference with daylight combat.”
Relief of Units
“One company commander recommended that the relief of forward companies be accomplished during daylight. He pointed out that routes forward led through basements, around buildings, through holes in walls, and over half-demolished walls. If men were brought to their stations during darkness, they lacked proper orientation and could not intelligently anticipate enemy action nor their own method of attack.”
Use of 60-mm Mortar Shell
“The 60-mm mortar shell was extensively used for direct fire through windows. The shells were launched from rifles by wiring them to the grenade projector adapter, M1.”
“Aerial photographs were in great demand. It was pointed out that aerial photographs should be taken almost daily during city fighting if they are to furnish exact information concerning the buildings yet to be taken.”
From the Commanding Officer, 329th Infantry, ETO: “For street fighting, we organize each rifle platoon into two sections-one to assault and the other to cover. Each section has two automatic-rifle teams and a bazooka team. All the men carry several hand and WP grenades.”
“We attack rapidly and aggressively, clearing each building in this order: first floor, second floor, cellar. Each succeeding building is covered by fire from the top floor of the building just cleared”
Principles of Street Fighting
The Commanding Officer of a regiment with the Twelfth Army Group attributes his unit’s success at AACHEN to the following factors: “We employed common sense, normal tactical principles, and maximum fire power. We forced the enemy to fight on our terms by attacking at every opportunity from a direction least expected and by isolating small sections which could then be left to small holding groups while other troops worked around to the rear.
“We proceeded without undue hurry, realizing that street fighting requires great physical exertion and considerable time if buildings are to be thoroughly searched and cleared. Our policy of searching every room and closet in every building, blowing every sewer, and thoroughly mopping up each sector paid dividends in later security. Not once did the enemy fire a shot from behind our lines; fighting troops didn’t have to worry about snipers in rear, nor were command and supply personnel hindered in their work by remnants of enemy resistance groups.”
“We placed tanks, TD’s, and SP guns in position just before daylight or at dusk. We would have the engineers and pioneer-platoon men blow holes in the near walls of buildings; then we would run the vehicles into the buildings and provide apertures for the gun barrels by blowing smaller holes in the far walls.”
Tanks in Village Fighting
Officers and enlisted men of a tank battalion that had fought its way from the beaches into GERMANY made the following comments concerning tank participation in village fighting:
– During the Approach: “Main roads and cross roads near small villages should be avoided; they are often mined and generally have one or more road blocks. The enemy’s first defenses, which are usually on the outskirts of the village, must not be permitted to separate the tanks and infantry. Tanks that bypass these defenses too far ahead of the infantry become subject to antitank fire and cannot fire at the bypassed enemy without endangering friendly troops. Some tanks and other direct-fire weapons should act as the base of fire while other tanks circle the village and attack from the flanks. Infantry carried on tanks should dismount before entering a village. (However, in one night attack, infantrymen remained on the tanks and fired effectively at enemy on rooftops or in upper stories of buildings.)
-Within the Village: “It is not necessary for infantry to precede the tanks into small villages, but infantry should remain abreast of or close behind the tanks in order to provide protection against enemy infantry. If more than one street is accessible, parallel attacks should be made. Narrow streets, on which only the leading tank can be employed, should be avoided.”
“Hand grenades were found to be of great value; without leaving the tank, the tank commander can throw them through windows to force enemy evacuation of buildings. Use of grenades also conserves tank ammunition and is less dangerous to our infantry than use of tank weapons.”
“WP can be of great value in village fighting, but its use must be definitely planned and explained to all elements before the attack. WP rounds should hit inside or behind ‘buildings; if they bit in front, the enemy can escape through the smoke undetected. A round of WP will sometimes force surrender or evacuation of a building.”
“Where resistance is stubborn, all buildings should be fired upon and either burned or destroyed. Enemy soldiers who have taken cover in buildings can be brought out by use of a few rounds of HE.
-After the Attack: “To avoid mortar and artillery fire, both infantry and tanks should move out of the village as soon as it has been taken.”
Comment from the Commanding Officer, 746th Tank Battalion, ETO: “An effective use of HE in villages is to fire with delay fuse, `skipping’ the rounds 50 to 75 yards in front of tank and infantry. This method was particularly effective at crossings of streets and alleys.”
“OP Security-It’s Gotta Be Good
The old observation-post rule is restated in adage form by Major Allison A. Conrad, 135th Infantry, ITALY:
Fighting, strategy, war plan, invasion and relieving are some of the important activities taking place inside a war zone and strong enough to change the course of the war. Two other critical elements here, which almost precede each progression are observation and communication. Observation post is continuously monitored for suspicious movements and every preventive step is taken here to stop the attack from these points. In other words, they are tirelessly guarded, much like what a trading robot does.
Less movement at the OP means less work for the Graves Registration Officer. Control of movement in and around an OP must be continuous. It is fatal to relax on this point for one moment. Even in a unit as battle-schooled as this one, I have seen excessive movement around OP’s bring down immediate enemy fire. (In one instance, the same thing happened at a Command Post). Each time the result was the same: A tragic number of unnecessary casualties.
‘Visiting firemen’ who insist upon driving up to your front door, instead of parking at a reasonable distance and advancing on foot under cover, are the worst offenders. Vehicle-dismounting points must be clearly marked, and guarded 24 hours a day.
COMMENT: A guard placed at a suitable point on the route to the OP with instructions to discourage unnecessary visitors and to point out the location and a covered route to authorized visitors, will help a lot to control movement at the OP.
Packboard for FO Radios
A Field Artillery Battery Commander, FRANCE: “Our forward observers usually required 10 or 15 minutes to remove their SCR-609 (or SCR-610) radios from the jeeps and set them up. We eliminated that cause of delay by mounting the radios and batteries on pack-boards. The only modification necessary was the changing of the antenna to extend upwards.
Phone for FO Radio Operator
Commanding Officer, 339th Infantry, 100th Division, FRANCE: “We have found it profitable to supply each forward-observer radio operator with two sound-powered phones and a small reel of W-130 wire. This equipment enables the observer to remain at his vantage point while the radio operator transmits from the position most suitable for his radio.
British Comment on OP Security
The Commanding Officer of a British Field Artillery Regiment, ITALY, forcefully voices the same observation-post ‘do’s and don’ts’ that are constantly being stressed by American officers and closes his exhortation with: ‘More care in occupation and use of OP’s must he exercised. Undue exposure and carelessness do not show bravery – they show that you are just a bloody fool. You may get away with it for days and then find that just when observation is vital, the Boche will neutralize your OP.’
Control of Forward Observers
Field orientation and supervision of FO’s are stressed by Captain Woodrow M. Smith, 34th Division Artillery, ITALY:
The artillery observers must be centrally controlled. We found it advisable for the battalion S-2’s (Officers from the Intelligence Section) to coordinate observation within their own combat-team sectors in order to eliminate the possibility of duplication of effort.
The S-2’s should instruct the new observers carefully to obviate their common tendency to over-enthusiasm. Inexperienced observers should also be warned against the danger of wandering off on patrol missions and otherwise getting separated from their supported infantry. FO’s must keep in touch with the situation.
An ETO observer similarly emphasized centralized control: ‘The battalion liaison officer should control the zones of observation. Don’t let the forward observer become an assistant infantry platoon leader.’
COMMENT: Whether the battalion S-2 or battalion liaison officer is to coordinate the FO’s is a matter for the battalion commander to decide. The point is that one individual must be responsible for the coordination of all observers so that complete coverage of the zone of operations is insured.
Use NCO’s as Observers
‘Count on having a minimum of 12 forward-observer parties per battalion,’ advocates the above mentioned ETO observer. ‘Trained sergeants and corporals can do this work as well as officers.’
Don’t Pin Down the FO’s
‘Forward observers should be permitted to leap-frog from one point of observation to another when operating with assaulting echelons. They should not be required to stay with the foremost elements of the rifle companies, where the observer is frequently pinned down and not able to perform his function of adjusting artillery fire,’ recommends Lieutenant Colonel Charles J. Payne, Commanding Officer, 19th Field Artillery Battalion, FRANCE. ‘Another disadvantage to keeping the observer with the foremost elements is the fact that the observer’s radio antenna often draws additional enemy fire which hinders the advance of the infantry.’
Supported infantry units should provide local security for the forward observer when he is occupying points of observation not included within the perimeter of infantry defense. COMMENT: FM 6-135, which has been issued to all theaters, discusses in detail the proper use of FO’s.
A Captain of a Field Artillery Battalion, FRANCE, points out: ‘One of the FO’s most important jobs is to get across to infantrymen the types of targets on which he can give them maximum support. After a little combat experience, the infantryman learns the true value of artillery and doesn’t call for support unless the target merits it. He learns not to waste valuable ammunition that he may need later on a more urgent mission.’
Warning to OP Kibitzers
Says a Captain of a Field Artillery Battalion, FRANCE: ‘Well-meaning infantrymen who crowd about the OP to observe the results of the firing or to steal a look through the BC telescope should be warned that they are inviting fire from the enemy. OP’s are high on the priority list of enemy targets. The importance of OP camouflage discipline cannot be over-emphasized.’
Current operations point to the increasing employment of the small infantry-tank team in a role requiring the closest cooperation and the ultimate in mutual support. Recent reports stress the need for the sound training of each individual in his own and his unit’s share of the job and for better understanding of the cooperating unit’s responsibilities, capabilities, and limitations. Joint training which will develop team unity must supplement technical training if missions are to be efficiently accomplished at minimum cost in lives and time.
Building Team Unity
Acquaintance Aids Teamwork- From the 752d Tank Battalion: “The tank-infantry team must work together from 48 to 72 hours at a minimum before it can hope to operate smoothly. It takes time to learn how the other unit does things and expects you to do them.
“When the tank-infantry commanders (including company commanders and staffs) know each other, they can work together much more efficiently than they can as strangers.”
An Okinawa report advocates personal contact between the members of the infantry-tank team: “In addition to technical training before embarking upon this mission, one regiment had tankers bivouac in the infantry area while some of its own men were sent to bivouac with the tankers. This helped to promote closer teamwork through discussions, understanding, and friendship.”
A Tank Ride Helps Doughboy Morale – Says the Battalion Commander of the 175th Infantry: “To make him realize the limited vision and field of fire and the closed-off feeling of the tankers, every infantry man should be given a ride in a buttoned-up tank. One such ride does a lot to counteract the infantryman’s dread of a tank attack and to increase his faith in his own ability to resist tanks.”
Tank-Infantry Team Plays – States a report from the 752d Tank Battalion.: “At certain times the burden of carrying the attack must, because of the terrain and the situation, fall on the infantry. At other times, the tanks are best qualified to bear the brunt of the attack. Both units must know this and learn to recognize the situations in which one or the other unit should lead.”
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The following extracts from field reports describe team plays used by some tank-infantry units in specific situations.
-In General From a 36th Infantry Division training memorandum: “When infantry and tanks are used together, the tanks’ primary targets are enemy machine guns and riflemen. Tanks will also make paths through wire and anti-personnel mines and break up any counter-attack .
“If infantry does not come up with tanks within a reasonable time, a section or more of tanks should be sent back to investigate. The delay will usually have been caused by enemy MG’s previously overlooked by the tanks.”
From the XXIV Corps On LEYTE: “Infantrymen must protect the tanks by fire to prevent the enemy from am-bushing the tanks. Ground distance between tanks and infantry is dependent upon the ability of the infantry to cover the tanks by effective fire.”
-At Night From the 191st Tank Battalion: “When working with infantry at night, the tanks should follow the infantry. The tank platoon leader or the tank platoon sergeant, however, should advance on foot with the leading elements of the infantry. Then, knowing the location of our own infantry, he can quickly bring up the tanks when tank targets are located.”
-In Woods From the 774th Tank Battalion: “We gained surprise in using our light tanks with infantry in woods by having the tanks follow the infantry from phase line to phase line. When resistance was met, the tanks would go up quickly (with guides) and spray enemy positions with canister and .30-caliber machine-gun fire. One section of tanks was assigned to each assault rifle company. Mine re-movers moved just behind the infantry and cleared routes for the tanks. The infantrymen checked all clearings for antitank positions.
“When possible, the tanks moved off the trails and covered one another. On each tank the bow gunner covered the area to the left, and the coaxial gunner covered the area to the right.
“Two infantrymen rode each tank; one was an automatic rifleman and the other manned the tank anti-aircraft gun. Both carried grenades and used the turret for protection. It was found best to assign a definite field of fire to each. Four mines and fuses to be used by the infantry for local protection were carried in each tank.”
-In Heavy Undergrowth – A report from Headquarters XIV Corps includes these comments on target designation: “Jap pillboxes are usually extremely well hidden and tanks are almost blind in thick vegetation or undergrowth. For these reasons, prime consideration should be given to target designation. Tank obstacles as well as targets should be designated to the tank commander by the infantry squad leader whenever possible.
“Tracer fire proved unsatisfactory for designating targets to the tanks. The best method was the use of red or violet smoke grenades. The full-charge grenade produces too much smoke and obscures the target. How-ever, if the fuse is unscrewed from the grenade and half the charge removed, an adequate amount of smoke will he produced. Rifle projection of the grenade is desirable for longer ranges. Best results are obtained by arming the grenade before firing as this will then give a trail of smoke to the target.”
-Against Tank Stalkers A G-2 on Okinawa comments as follows: “Infantry must he trained to work with the tank so that the Jap is killed before he reaches the tank. The Jap has a nasty habit of running up to tanks with satchel charges, Bangalore torpedoes, or antitank mines and attempting to stay with the tank until both tank and Jap are destroyed. If he is not killed before he gets to a halted tank, the damage to the tank is usually assured. This is especially true when tanks are employed in villages and towns.”
-When a Tank Is Disabled Says Colonel C. B. DeVore, 1st Armored Division: “In the event a tank becomes a casualty, the infantry should protect it until it can be evacuated. The crew of a disabled tank should continue to render fire support as long as its armament functions and its ammunition lasts.”
Common Errors That Impair Teamwork
From the 36th Infantry Division: “Platoon and squad leaders frequently forget during attacks that tanks are supporting them. “Infantry leaders frequently go to a tank commander and tell him an enemy machine gun is holding them up but can give no idea of its location. Even giving four or five possible locations helps the tanks to reduce such a target.
“Lack of communication between tanks and front-line infantry often makes real coordination impossible.
“Time for tank reconnaissance and orders is often not provided.
“Failure to use enough tanks sometimes reduces the effectiveness of the combined assault.
“Tank timidity is frequently encouraged. Tanks must expect losses as do the riflemen.
“Failure to give tanks the complete plan of maneuver reduces the effectiveness of tank support.
“Failure to give tanks the plan of maneuver …”
Technique of Transporting Infantry on Tanks Load Allocation
Says Lieutenant Colonel Kinne, 781st Tank Battalion, after working with six infantry divisions during European campaigns: “In an infantry mission, a maximum of 10 men may be carried.
“It is imperative that before mounting the infantry, thorough plans are made by the infantry commanders and tank commanders who are to ride together. It is the duty of the infantry commander to mount infantry personnel in such manner as to preserve unit tactical integrity. This insures that no time is lost in organizing for combat after dismounting.
“Heavy-weapons units as well as riflemen may be transported. A complete machine-gun or mortar crew with weapon can be carried on a tank.
What Tanks May Expect From the Infantry
“On the march, tanks provide their own security by pointing some of their turret weapons in each direction.
“The infantry riding these tanks can greatly aid the security of the column by maintaining watch over the same terrain covered by the tank gun. This is very important since the tankers’ visibility is generally poor.
“At a halt, the infantry dismounts and takes up security positions. Two infantrymen from each tank patrol at a distance, and the others provide close-in security.
“On arrival in the vicinity of the objective, the tanks will halt and take up all-round defense positions. The infantry will dismount and leave a small number of men for tank protection; the remainder proceed with reconnaissance. When contact is made, the. tanks prepare to support the infantry on call.
Discipline on March
“Mounting and dismounting are on tank commander’s order only; upon coming under fire, tanks will take up prearranged road-march positions and the infantry will dismount and form local security.
“All men must hold on to the rope or the tank. They must not hang on to another rider for support.
“Men must not smoke on tanks. Fire hazard is very great.
“When going through wooded trails or roads, keep eyes to the front to avoid being brushed off by branches.
Organization of the Captured Ground
From the XIV Corps in the Pacific: “When the final objective is reached, the tanks should halt and fire with all available weapons at definite targets or places of likely enemy approach or concealment. The infantry squads of the two forward platoons as well as the company support platoon, should immediately push forward to the rear and flanks of the tank line and construct a defensive position.
If the attack formation has employed a company of tanks with a company of infantry (i. e., three infantry-tank teams in line or in echeloned line), a reserve reinforced company of infantry must be moved forward to construct the defensive positions. This position should follow standard infantry procedure. of emplacing automatic weapons and mortars, of organizing the ground, digging in, and putting out protective wires. Prepared concertinas may be carried into action on the rear decks of support tanks because time is too short for apron fences to be constructed. No guns should be emplaced nor wire laid in the lanes made by the tanks as they advanced in the attack.
“After the defensive position is organized, the tanks and their protecting squads should withdraw via the original routes of advance. In turning to withdraw, all tank should turn to the right about if possible. A standard procedure like this enables the protecting squads to clear the danger space without confusion and subsequent loss of time. Tanks on withdrawing must reverse their turrets and keep them trained in the direction of the enemy because enemy AT guns silenced during the action may he re-manned in time to fire on the withdrawing tanks.
“After the tanks have withdrawn, the lanes should be closed by concertina wire, and further preparations made to repel enemy counterattack. Special attention must be given to strengthening the flanks of the salient. Infantry must investigate all ground within the salient and search all positions for enemy personnel. Heaps of enemy dead should be investigated to insure that none are feigning death.
Between the Leaders “Because the infantry squad leader furnishes information which directs the fire and movement of his support tank, communication between him and the tank commanders must he continuous and reliable,” states a XIV Corps training memorandum.
“Many means of communication were tried, but the one which worked best under fire was the EE8A telephone adapted for infantry-tank employment. An EE8A telephone is placed inside the tank turret. Also in the turret. at a place easily visible to the tank commander, is strapped a regulation flashlight. A 20-foot length of four-strand electric cable is laid from the telephone box inside the turret and extended down in rear of the tank. An EE8A telephone handset is connected to the end of the cable. The butterfly switch on the handset is modified so that when pressed it completes a circuit through one channel of the cable, lights the flashlight, and attracts the attention of the tank commander. Telephone conversation is then held over another channel of the cable, the telephones being wired for that effect. With this telephone setup, the squad leader has only to carry the handset to be able to communicate readily with the tank commander. The telephone must not he strapped to the rear of the tank, for enemy fire will destroy it.”
By Modified Radio Reported by the Executive Officer, 330th Infantry, 3d Battalion: “Satisfactory infantry-tank communication was achieved by modifying and installing SCR-536’s in the tanks. Removal of a bolt from the top of the turret provided a hole for the antenna. A short piece of rubber hose was placed around the aerial to keep it from grounding out. The radio sets were modified so that the tank commander could use a throat microphone and could operate the switch with an improvised extension.”
-Prearranged Signal From a British Infantry source: “When cooperating with tanks, we devise visual signals easily understood by the tankers. Tin hats raised on rifles indicate our positions when tanks are approaching from the rear to join us. A single soldier approaching a tank with his headgear or other distinctive item on a weapon indicates: “Stop, I want to talk to you.” A red Very light indicates the presence of antitank guns, and the direction in which it is fired indicates their location. A green Very light fired in the direction of an enemy machine gun indicates its location, and also serves as a request to the tank to knock it out. A white Very light fired at the tank signals: “Cease Fire.”
Villages in Mountains From Fifth Army Training Notes, ITALY: “An outstanding feature of the mountainous terrain in ITALY is the invariable location of villages on dominating terrain or on ground which is vital to the attacker in order that he may secure his line of communication. These villages consist of closely packed buildings with narrow, winding streets. The buildings are thick walled and are immune to shell fire except a direct hit; even these cause little damage. There are also a considerable number of scattered houses located on dominating features usually of the same strong stone construction. This is one of those unfortunate incidences where a village, originally built for inhabitation for humans to co-exist peacefully become an ideal location for a strategic warzone. Both from the side of the hidden front and from the side of the attacking front, the houses in these villages are target points. If you click for info on an article on this subject, the picture becomes stronger.
“The Germans make full use of these buildings as strong points and machine-gun installations. They endeavor to build up a system of mutually supporting positions which, because of their location, are extremely difficult to maneuver against. On many occasions the defenders have allowed the advance scouts to penetrate these villages or scattered strong points, then destroyed the following troops.
Attacking a Village “Daylight attacks against these hilltop villages are almost out of the question as casualties are invariably high. Extensive use of a limited night attack has proven to be the best method of handling this situation. The attack is made on as dark a night as possible. Silence is necessary and is relatively easy to obtain since the ground over which the approach is made is mostly cultivated. The process of infiltration must be systematic and every building gained should be immediately turned into a strong point for the attacker.
“It is advisable, where possible, to have the forward attacking elements allotted a high proportion of submachine guns. Each man should carry at least two to four hand grenades. They are invaluable in clearing buildings.
“The enemy’s mortars are habitually emplaced behind villages on the reverse slopes, dug down to a depth of 10 feet. These are almost impossible to knock out by artillery fire even if we can actually locate them. One unit has reported that they have successfully engaged targets of this type by pooling all its 131-mm mortars and ‘firing them as a battery under unit control.
“Of course, if at is at all possible, it is better to avoid these villages entirely, flank them, and cut the enemy’s line of communication.
“The absolute necessity of keeping a reserve for counter-attacks on the reverse slope is stressed. If there are any houses on the forward slopes they should be occupied or the enemy will use them to assist his counterattacks.”
‘Infantry Heavy Weapons In The Mountains Heavy Weapons Company Commander, 3d Division, ITALY: “Our heavy weapons companies have carried just about half of their weapons in Italy. In that way they could keep up both the guns and the mortars together with enough ammunition to make them useful. Every machine gun squad in the heavy weapons company has a light machine gun as well as a heavy. They carry the light machine gun up these mountains and later substitute the heavy gun if it is practicable to bring it up.
“In this type of terrain we use only two 81mm mortars. With them we can fire all the ammunition we can get up. It is much better to have two mortars firing when you need them than to have six mortars without ammunition.”
Rifle and Stove Mayor Kermit Hansen, 34th Infantry Division, ITALY : “In this division we have been able to give a fairly liberal allowance of the small Coleman stoves to the front-line infantry by taking them away from truck drivers, etc. Most units have one stove per squad. I am convinced that men will hang on to their rifles to the last, and to their stoves till next to the last. They utilize the German metal gas-mask container to carry the stove in. Being able to heat `G’ rations is a great morale and efficiency factor in cold, rainy weather, particularly up in the mountain tops where our men are now. Also a secondary but vital use of these stoves is to dry out wet socks; it is the only possible way that it can he done.”
Hot Food for the Front Line Assistant Division G-4, ITALY: “Front line units get into many places where you cannot get even a mule up to them. We heat ‘C’-ration cans in boiling water, then put them in 155-mm shell containers, and strap three containers on a packboard. The reports we get back indicate that the food stays hot for 4 hours-which is long enough to get it to the front line troops by dismounted pack methods. We have also sent up, by packboard, hot water in 5-gallon water cans, with each can wrapped in two blankets. Reports also show that the water on the front line is hot enough for the men to make cocoa or coffee.””
The M1911 is one of the most successful pistol designs in military history. Manufactured in the millions, the weapon was the standard personal defense weapon carried by officers and team leaders of all services during World War I, World War II, Korea and during the Vietnam conflict. It was very reliable and sturdy, the stopping power legendary. The stout mechanism is one of the strongest ever made. Mass production of the M1911A1 ended in 1945. The M1911 was the standard issue service pistol until 1984, when it began to be replaced by the M9 9mm pistol. Modified ‘fine tuned’ variants continue to serve with the Marine Corps and with Special Forces to this day.
John M. Browning designed the M1911 in response to the Army’s need for a pistol with greater stopping-power following the Army’s experience with close-in combat during the Philippine Insurrection of 1899-1901. Accounts abounded of the adversary, the dedicated and resourceful Moros, hacking to death multiple American soldiers or civilians before being killed themselves. Reputedly, the U.S. standard service small arms, the .30-caliber Krag-Jorgensen rifle—M1892 and M1896 models and .the 38 revolver was incapable of stopping brave yet suicide like Morro attackers. A public outcry tarnished the Army’s reputation. An indignant public and the U.S. Congress and wanted some answers. The slow moving gears at the Army quickened. The search for a replacement pistol began. Col. John T. Thompson (inventor of the Thompson sub-machine-gun) and a Col. Louis A. La Garde reached the conclusion that the army needed a .45″ caliber cartridge, to provide adequate stopping power. In the mean time, the genius Browning, inventor of the BAR and the Thompson submachine gun, then employed at Colt, had already designed a successful automatic pistol capable of handling a large .45 cal cartridge. Browning re-engineered this handgun to accommodate a .45 caliber cartridge and submitted the pistol to the Army for evaluation. The weapon failed to pass the acceptance tests. Lessons learned, an improved prototype Browning pistol was re-submitted. The second time around, another Browning design impressively passed a grueling set of tests in 1911. The Colt M1911 became the standard issue pistol for all branches of the U.S. military. Production was at first slow. Enough were manufactured to equip in part the US Army of WW1. A s a result of battle experience an enhanced version, the 1911A1 model was adopted in 1926. The changes were not extensive and were confined to items involving the safety and mainspring housing.
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|The Browning is a water cooled heavy machine gun. The weapon saw limited service in the latter days of the First World War. The Model 1917 was also used in the Second World War, but the guns weight (over 100 pounds battle ready) meant that it was mostly relegated to static defense areas and in anti-aircraft duty in the highly mobile conflict. The weapon fired the standard .30-06 round in fabric or metal link belts.|
||The M-1919 Browning series .30 cal. machine gun was used as both a company level flexible light machine gun on the M-2 tripod mount and as a fixed machine gun on armored vehicles. At the time of introduction, this weapon soon became one among the military strengths of the force. However, with increasing invasion and mobility of fighting forces, some of its features became setbacks for the Army. The gun was, of course, versatile and light when mounted on the tripod and highly useful wherever the vehicle could take it. To release the heat build up caused by heavy rounds of firing, the gun was fitted with a jacket for ventilation in the barrel. This made it quite heavy. The gun can be continuously operated by feeding belted bullets and had reduced issue with recoil. This weapon made a smooth patrolling unit when combined with an anti-tank gun on the same vehicle, but on the opposite end. Monitoring and attacking the same platform, which, if scaled down to a simpler and positive scenario can be compared to the combined trading business of a robot with a human retail broker. Check it out, the automation and accuracy of a computer software and the presence of mind of the human brain in one go. The M-1919A4 had a heavier barrel with a ventilated barrel jacket, but had a slower rate of fire (400-550 cpm) than the water-cooled gun. The M-1919 series fired the Army standard .30-06 round in fabric or metal link belts.|
|M2 .50 Caliber (12.7mm) Machine Gun
The original .50 cal. machine gun was developed by John Browning in 1918. An improved version was adopted in 1933 as the Browning M2 water-cooled machine gun The legendary M2, with nicknames like the “Faithful 50” and “Ma Duce”, is an automatic, belt-fed, recoil operated, air-cooled, crew-operated machine gun. This versatile weapon has many uses, primary among these are:
-The support the infantryman in both the attack and defense
|Model 1917 machine gunner at Rimling|
Part I: Camouflage Clothing: You Are the Target
Individual camouflage is the concealment a soldier uses in combat to surprise, deceive, and outwit the enemy. The ground is the soldier’s observation post, jump-off point for, attack, route of advance and communication, fortification, protection, and obstacle. He must know how to use the ground for effective concealment. He adapts his dress for best concealment while in the firing positions and for mobility, and carefully selects his routes between positions for such concealment as is possible while he is in motion. Interruptions, crawling (very slow) and running (very fast), aid concealment of motion.
The simple principles in this book have been battle tested. If the soldier learns and practices them continuously in training, he will know what to do about concealment at the right time in battle.
Camouflage activities of the individual are designed to deceive two kinds of enemy observers: ground and air. The above photograph shows a ground observer’s view of a landing operation. We are all familiar with views from the ground, but views from the air are different. Many things that are invisible from the ground can be seen from the air. In modern war, the enemy puts much reliance on aerial photographs for information about our activities and our intentions. The more they reveal to him, the better prepared he will be, and the harder to defeat.
By becoming familiar with the different look of things from the ground and from the air, by study of the ground view, and by studying aerial photographs, you can learn how to guard yourself and your unit against both kinds of observation. Bear in mind, too, that hostile observers both on the ground and in the air may use field glasses, telescopes, and cameras equipped with special lenses to increase their range of vision.
Concealment Depends On
Effective concealment of the individual depends primarily on background—your choice of it, and your knowledge of how to employ it to your advantage.
Background is your surroundings seen from the ground and from the air. They may be anywhere—a portion of a jungle; an area in a barren, rocky desert; a farmyard; or a city street. Background is the controlling element in individual concealment. It governs every camouflage measure taken by the individual. You wear clothes which blend with the predominant color of the background, and tone down the color of your skin and your equipment for the same purpose. You practice blending with your background by hiding in shadow and by avoiding contrast between your silhouette and the background. You avoid movement which the stillness of the background will emphasize. To keep the appearance of the background free of signs which point to the presence of military personnel, you follow concealed routes; and you conceal spoil, tracks, equipment, and installations.
This book tells how you —the individual soldier— can conceal yourself. In the illustrations, background, movement, signs of activity, and dress are inseparably connected, just as they are on the battlefield. Each soldier must be aware of them every moment of the day.
The outline of your helmet is one of the striking characteristics of a soldier’s equipment. Its curved, familiar shape can be identified by the enemy. One of your first steps in preparing for the job of staying alive to fight is to disrupt both the form of your helmet and the strong, straight-lined shadow it casts. Here are six ways of disrupting its form, all of which, except A, will reduce its shine at the same time.
A uses a disruptive paint pattern on the helmet. Take care to carry the pattern across the curved lines of the edges, especially those seen from the front. Besides ordinary non-glossy paint, liquid vesicant chemical agent detector, M5, can be applied to the helmet in a mottled pattern to give two kinds of protection at once. Under conditions of great heat or extremely rough handling, it may be necessary to renew this paint each week.
B uses a strip of burlap or osnaburg around the base of the helmet. Foliage can be slipped into the band and held in place. Do not use too much foliage. Do not place the band too high.
C uses the same principle as B, but here the issue rubber band is used.
D shows a helmet covered with a mesh helmet net. By itself, this net aids in toning down the helmet and eliminating some of the shine, but the shape of the helmet is still there.
E shows the helmet net put to better use. Foliage has been inserted in the mesh. It is held securely and can be quickly replaced with fresh materials when the old materials wilt and change color. The main point is to break up the shape of the helmet with short natural material which will not readily catch in surroundings and which will not disclose the head when it is moved slightly.
F is an improvised helmet cover made of a circular piece of osnaburg, burlap, or other cloth, 20 inches in diameter. A 1-inch hem is sewn around the edges, a tape or drawstring is pulled through it, and the whole thing is pulled tightly onto the helmet. It is painted to break up the solid color. Slits 2 inches wide have been cut in it to allow for the insertion of foliage.
No matter what kind of helmet camouflage you use, it is incomplete if the shadow underneath the helmet is not broken up by arranging the bits of foliage so that pieces of it hang over the rim of the helmet. Small irregular pieces of cloth, similarly arranged, will accomplish the same purpose.
Your face is light in color and, like your canvas equipment, is a beacon to the enemy observer who usually has the sighting end of a rifle at his eye. Color your face, neck, and hands to get rid of that light tone (fig. 8). Gloves may be worn. Coloring may be done by painting them in a disruptive pattern (fig. 9), or it may be done by toning them down in an even color (fig. 10).
On the face, disruptive patterns should cut across the nose line, cheek bones, eye sockets, and chin lines.
Lampblack, burnt cork, or just plain mud can be used as toning materials. Some soils contain harmful bacteria and should not be used in mud form to darken the face unless a medical officer has determined that they are safe to use.
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A mesh mosquito face net (fig. 11), properly toned down, is an effective method of breaking up the outlines of the face. Such a net can be dyed in strong coffee or in an issue dye.
Even your weapons need some attention in the way of camouflage. The outline of the rifle or carbine is easily recognized. It may be painted properly under the supervision of an officer or noncommissioned officer, or it may be wound with tape or cloth of a grayed color to disrupt its outline. Leaves or other natural material wrapped with tire tape are effective. The bayonet can be toned down with mud. When camouflaged by painting, weapons and equipment must be darker than surroundings. Flat surfaces are roughened by adding sand to prevent shine.
The reflection from a brightly shining object is a common giveaway. All shining articles should be concealed. Put your watch and shiny rings in your pocket, and keep that bright mess kit out of sight when you are not using it. Note the shine on the helmet.
Clean canvas equipment is correct for inspections, but in combat zones such equipment is an invitation to a bullet. In motion, light-color patches are easy to spot. One of your first jobs in dressing for the job of fighting is to tone down (darken) the color of your canvas equipment. It can be done with paint, mud, charcoal, or anything else which will make the tone of the canvas about the same as the rest of your clothes. To color canvas to match the OD uniform, use OQMG No. 3, Compound for Coloring Web Equipment.
With the same materials, tone down (darken) the color of your pack, cartridge belt, canteen cover, leggings, and shelter half. The pictures on this page illustrate the difference such coloring makes. In Figure 14, the soldier almost blends with the background, but those bright canvas articles stand out in the picture. They make excellent aiming points. In Figure 14, the soldier has darkened his canvas equipment. He is harder to see. The familiar outlines of his canvas equipment no longer stand out to the enemy observer.
Individual concealment is mostly a matter of using your head and the materials at hand. This applies to camouflage clothing as well. When issue camouflage clothing is unavailable, the soldier makes his own, suiting its form and color to the terrain. Here one soldier is painting another’s green twill fatigue uniform. A brush is not necessary. A dauber made with a wad of cloth on the end of a stick will do. Another method is to stamp the pattern on the cloth with a block of wood dipped in paint. But even paint itself is not essential. Any coloring material may be used: dye, black crankcase drippings, or even a mixture of mud and cup grease. The important thing is to make your clothes look less like a soldier’s uniform and more like the terrain in which you will move.
However, a soldier is not invisible simply because he wears a camouflaged suit. The suit is just the beginning of the concealment job. It makes it easier for you to conceal yourself — but it makes it easier only if you know the other principles of individual concealment.
Figure 16. Careful analysis of the background, before painting, produced these examples of camouflage suits improvised by a unit for use by observers and snipers in special terrain. A gray, rocky landscape suggests a snake pattern applied on fatigues dyed a light color.
Figure 17. A different pattern is needed to blend this soldier with an area in a desert. Its irregular lines resemble the concealing pattern on the back of a turtle.
Figure 18. In broken rocky country, this mottled pattern is effective concealment from enemy observation, ground and air. The soldier stays close to the objects with which he is blended. Such patterns arc conspicuous when moving or against wrong background.
The issue uniforms are carefully designed to blend with a wide variety of surroundings under average conditions. For fighting at close ranges, special measures may be taken.
The soldier (right) is wearing the jungle-patterned suit formerly issued by the Army, on request of a theater-of-operations commander, to troops engaged in jungle warfare. Its mottled pattern blends with the green foliage, and the outline of the soldier and his equipment melt into the background. The cloth cover which fits over the helmet has loops into which sprigs of foliage can be fitted to increase concealment. Wear the suit with caution. however, in extremely dark sections of a jungle because in this case the lightest colors in the pattern are especially noticeable during movement.
The reverse side of the jungle suit is shown in Figure 20. It is colored dark OD, which is the predominant color of jungle backgrounds.
For use in arctic country, the Army issues a snow suit, a two-piece garment, plain white, designed to blend with a white or mottled white-and-black background. Snow country isn’t all white. There is some black in it; shadows and dark objects appear darker than usual. The suit cannot conceal the small patches of shadow which surround the human figure, but that is not necessary if the background, too, contains numerous dark spots.
The above tells you how to go about dressing for the job of fighting. You won’t always have time to do all the things that are mentioned, but you must find time to do the most important ones for the job at hand. The usual order of importance is from the top of the head down; that is, from the most frequently exposed parts of the body to the least frequently exposed parts. This will make the job of concealing yourself easier and the enemy’s job of finding you harder, and they are worth every bit of time you can give them. Remember, though, that camouflage clothing and equipment alone won’t conceal you; they must be used intelligently in accordance with the principles of scouting and patrolling
Part II shows you how to use the terrain, how to move in it, how to make it work for you. With camouflaged equipment you are ready to make the most of the terrain.
The ETO had its own Mason-Dixon line. The border ran along the intersection of the Third and Seventh Armies.
General George Patton believed that he would be the first man on the banks of the Rhine, wrote to his wife that Devers and his Seventh Army had “made a monkey out of me.” The Seventh reached the Rhine before Thanksgiving Day 1944, with an intact bridge and the capture of the historic Strasbourg to complete history’s first wintertime crossing of the Vosges Mountains. Ironically, Hitler saved Patton’s reputation by way of the Ardennes offensive, only one month removed.
General Eisenhower professed support to take advantage of any opportunity of the moment. After months of grasping to take a bridgehead on the Rhine, through a brilliant coup-de-main, the Seventh Army handed the Allied Commander in Chief a historic opportunity: An open door into Germany by way of Strasbourg and the intact Kehl Bridge.
In early November, Eisenhower ordered Generals Montgomery, Bradley and Devers forward in a broad-front offensive to cross the Rhine River into Germany. The goal: End the war by Christmas 1944. Bradley’s First Army General Hodges and Third Army General Patton employed meat-grinder tactics like those used in World War One. While the American First and Third Armies sapped precious strength in the morass of the Hurtgen Forest and against the fortresses around Metz, the 44th I.D. and other Seventh Army units assailed the unassailable. Their order: Mission Impossible. Break through the enemy’s winter line in the Vosges Mountains and cross the Rhine. All the while constrained by command of the fewest resources and holding firmly last place in re-supply priority. With Ike’s support, Monty hoarded supplies and troops and stood pat. Dever’s Seventh Army attacked. Then, to everyone’s amazement, the Seventh Army breached the Vosges and reached the Rhine. The frosting on the cake. A liberated Strasbourg with its intact Kehl bridge over the Rhine into an undefended Germany.
The day after the Strasbourg’s coup-de-main, Devers received Eisenhower and General Omar Bradley, at his headquarters at Vittel in the Vosges Mountains. Instead of offering congratulations, the SHAEF commander came with the intent to borrow some of Seventh Army’s divisions. Patton needed help in the Third Army’s stalled offensive just to the north. Devers countered. His proposal, strike boldly beyond the Rhine and bypass the German forces on the west bank. And abandon Patton’s failed offensive and move the Third Army to Alsace under Devers’ command. From this point, move Alexander “Sandy” Patch and the Seventh Army across the Rhine for a northward push on the far side of the river inside Germany while Patton made a parallel drive northward on the near side of the Rhine. The objective: Roll up the enemy’s entire rear and cause Germany to abandon the Rhine’s west bank all the way up to Holland. And end the war in 1944 or early 1945.
This bold new decisive proposal startled his guests and his boss. Genearl Omar Bradley fought against the plan with its transfer of Patton’s Third Army. Eisenhower had nothing of this plan. He did not even want Danvers’ forces to cross the Rhine, with or without Patton. To General Patch and his Seventh Army staff, the Supreme Commander’s decision canceling the Rhine crossing amounted to a betrayal and smacked of favoritism. It directly contradicted the formal orders under which the Seventh had brilliantly succeeded. Eisenhower made no apologies nor explanations regarding ‘the why’ behind his changing 7th Army’s mission. He simply commanded Devers to abandon any plan to cross the Rhine. His new edict: Support Patton’s right flank in his failed offensive against the Saar.
The only point Devers won was to keep the divisions coveted by Patton. Obviously the boss favored Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery. Monty and his 21st Army Group continued to hold priority in the race to Berlin. Even though Monty stood pat, disobedient of his commander’s explicit order to go on the offensive, Eisenhower would not budge for his stated position. Dever’s soldiers fought and won. Bradley enjoyed a strong secondary priority from his long-time friend, mentor and now his commander, General Eisenhower. Bradley benefited by receiving the bulk of U.S. troop replacements and supplies while Devers divisions ran short. In the face of such favoritism, only the Seventh Army armies stood victorious in the fall of 1944. For the ETO, the sole source of triumphant news-reel and newspaper headlines for a war-weary home front emanated from the unfortunate one, the Seventh. All others failed to produce battlefield wins. Or in the case of the Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, the First Viscount of el Alamein led 21st Army Group, did not even try.
Fate is often cruel. General Alexander Patch, in early November 1944, lost his son Captain Alexander Patch Jr. near Luneville, France, while serving in the 79th Infantry Division. Matters were different for the Eisenhower family. A change of assignment greeted Lt. John Eisenhower upon his arrival in France. For this West Point graduate and ‘favorite son’ instead of the command of an infantry platoon came a cushy and safe staff assignment.
Ironically, musician and song-writer John Fogerty response when asked what inspired his late 1960s hit song ‘Fortunate Son’ [lyrics] was: “Julie Nixon was hanging around with David Eisenhower, and you just had the feeling that none of these people were going to be involved with the war” (the Vietnam conflict). David Eisenhower is the son of the same John Eisenhower.
The legacy of the Eisenhower pre-occupation or bias to the ETO north continues many years removed from November 1944. The story with legs remains the six months later coup de main of the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen in March 1945. History would have been different had the deserving got the due recognition, or at least allowed to continue what they were doing excellently. This is a story of how an internal conflict between morals destroyed a potential and remarkable victory in a path changing the war. The twisted fate of the seventh Army twisted the fate of the Strasbourg event, and I thought it to check it out in this post. The potential war ending and first to the Rhine River bridgehead at Strasbourg, with it’s superior Kehl Bridge, continues as the historical footnote.
With apology to Erich von Manstein, failure to capitalize at Strasbourg may well be one of America’s costliest ‘Lost Victories.’
Antitank rifles are issued to the German Army on a scale of one for each platoon (or equivalent unit). This article discusses in detail the types of antitank rifles in the German Army, how to distinguish between them, their technical and operational features, on how to manage them and also the associated accessories. The usage of these rifles differs straight from the source based on their context of use. For example, it may be mounted on a vehicle on a mobile scenario, fixed on a platform on the side of a road with a gunman or on the top of a building. There are at least two types of antitank rifles in use by the Germans: The Polish antitank rifle (model 35), which has been renamed the Panzerbüchse Pz.B. 38 (antitank rifle) and the Panzerbüchse Pz.B 39, a later model of the Pz.B 38.
b. How to Identify
Both the Pz.B.38 and Pz.B.39 may he identified by:
(1) Folding shoulder stocks with a rubber shock absorber
(2) Bipod mount and carrying handle
(3) Muzzle brake
(4) Single-shot, falling-block action worked by a moving pistol grip, Pz.B.38 and by recoil in the Pz.B.39
Pz.B. is the German abbreviation for Panzerbüchse, which means “anti-tank rifle.” The German tactical symbol for antitank rifle is to the left.
(1) General. The Pz.B.38 and Pz.B.39 are light antitank weapons carried by infantry. They are single-shot rifles fired from a bipod mount. The bullet is an armor-piercing projectile with tracer compound and sometimes with a tear-gas powder in the base. The Pz.B.38 and Pz.B.39 are basically the same and differ only slightly in appearance and component parts. The description of the Pz.B.39 which follows will also serve for the 38.
(2) Table of characteristics.
Principle of operation: Single-shot, falling-block action
Caliber: 7.92 mm (.312 inch)
Ammunition: Caliber .50 case, necked down to take a caliber .312 bullet
Sights: Front Inverted V blade, with hood for shade and protection
Rear Open V notch, non-adjustable, sighted 300 meters (328 yards)
Carrying handle Folding shoulder stocks
Over-all length:With shoulder stock in place: 62 1/4 inches, with shoulder stock folded 50 3/4 inches
Range: Effective 250 to 300 yards
Penetration: At 300 yards, ¾ inch (20 degrees impact) and 1 inch (normal impact) face-hardened plate; at 100 yards, 1 ¼ inch (normal impact) face-hardened plate
Muzzle velocity: 3,540 feet per second
Feed: By hand from two ammunition holders that clip on each side of stock forearm, each box holding 10 rounds of ammunition.
d. How to Operate
(1) Safety.-The safety lever is located on the tang
of the receiver just to the rear of the breechblock. To put the rifle on “safe,” move the safety lever until the letter “S” (sicher = “safe”) is exposed. To unlock, move the safety lever until the letter “F” (Feuer = “fire”) is exposed.
(2) To load and fire. Press the bipod lock and adjust the height of the bipod by turning the adjusting screw located underneath the pivot point of the bipod. Press the stock release button and snap the shoulder stock into place. Move the safety lever to the “fire” position. Push the pistol grip forward and downward, thus depressing the breechblock. Insert one round into the chamber, which is exposed by lowering the breechblock. Close the breechblock by pulling back and up on the pistol grip. The piece is now ready to fire. The rifle is fired from the prone position and should be kept in the “safe” position until ready to fire.
(3) To unload. Move the safety lever to the “fire” position. Being careful to keep the finger out of the trigger guard, open the breech by pushing the pistol grip forward and downward. This will eject the cartridge from the chamber. The rifle is now unloaded.
The ammunition used has a rimless case the approximate size of the U. S. caliber .50case, but the projectile is approximately the size of the U. S. caliber .30 projectile. The German nomenclature 11 for this ammunition is Patr. 318 S.m.K. for the pointed bullet with steel core, and Patr. 318 S.m.K. (H) for the pointed bullet with hardened-steel core. The ammunition for the Pz.B.38 and the Pz.B.39, though of the same caliber as the rifle and machine-gun ammunition, will not function in either rifle or machine gun, as the dimensions of the cartridge case are much larger.
(1) Oiling and cleaning. The rifle should be given the usual care with respect to cleaning and lubricating. Oil should be used sparingly or not at all in hot, sandy, or dusty country.
(2) Stripping. Remove the pistol-grip pivot pin by compressing its spring lock and pushing it out from left to right. Remove the trigger pistol-grip group and for one type of label used to identify ammunition for the antitank rifle breechblock from the receiver by pulling downward on the pistol grip. Disengage the breechblock from the trigger pistol-grip by sliding the breech out along the grooves in its sides. The breechblock can be stripped by pressing on the spring-loaded button and sliding the plate upward. Removing the two pins from the side of the breechblock will release the trigger bar and hammer.
(3) Assembly. Reverse the stripping procedure given in (2), on the opposite page. Be sure that the safety is on “fire” position so that the breechblock can be replaced in its slots in the receiver walls.
The accessories for these guns are a carrying sling and two ammunition holders that clip on the wooden forearm. A small cleaning kit similar to the rifle cleaning kit is carried by the antitank rifleman.