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"U.S. and German Field Artillery in World War II: A" Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP01 Aug 2020 10:02 p.m. PST


"At first glance, there seems to be little difference between the artillery branches of the U.S. Army and German Wehrmacht in World War II. The American guns were a bit heavier than their German counterparts and generally had a longer range. The German 105mm was sufficiently similar to the American 105mm howitzer, and there were enough similarities overall between each army's guns to allow the U.S. Army to equip two of its field artillery battalions with captured German pieces to take advantage of the enemy ammunition stocks captured in France.

Nevertheless, evaluating an army's artillery requires a good deal more than looking at the standard guns that it deploys. To be fully effective, an artillery arm must be well supplied with suitable ammunition. There must be a sufficient supply of standard guns so that the units being supported can know what fires they can expect. It must have a good means of identifying and accurately locating a target and needs well-schooled forward observers who are in close contact not only with the batteries, but with the troops they are working with. Effective artillery requires fire direction centers that can accurately place fires and rapidly shift them from one target to another. Those fire direction centers must be able to co-ordinate with other artillery units to mass fires as needed. The guns must have effective prime movers or be mounted on tracked vehicles. There must be a sufficient supply of all of the above to meet the needs of the maneuver units or other forces the batteries are supporting. Finally, the guns must be protected from counter-battery fire or other interdiction…"
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Starfury Rider02 Aug 2020 4:00 a.m. PST

For those who missed it the first time

TMP link

And for those who missed it the second time

TMP link

No one cared the third time

TMP link

It's not a great article. Deliberately compares only two of the major artilleries in action (what, no RA and derivatives and no RKKA?). Pulls in non FA units like 4.2-in mortars and TDs for the US, but doesn't include German assault guns, 12-cm mortars, and the only mention of the 'dread' 88 is when US gunners fired a few! And also perpetuates the trope (that the right word?) that ONLY the US could do Time on Target.

"The sophistication of American fire direction developed at Fort Sill included the uniquely American ability, at that time: to have several batteries fire "Time on Target" (TOT) shoots. The fire direction center directing the TOT broadcast a countdown to all of the batteries participating in the shoot. Each battery calculated the time of flight from their guns to the target. Each fired during the countdown at a time that caused the initial rounds from all of the guns to impact the target simultaneously. Its effect was shattering."

"Large multi-regiment impromptu targets were often ordered ‘engage at', in which very precise time synchronisation was less important. For opportunity targets involving about one regiment the observer normally ordered them to fire when sufficient batteries had reported 'ready'. Alternatively the observer could control the moment of firing by use of the commands 'fire by order' then 'fire' at the appropriate moment. However, Time on Target TOT) had been introduced in North Africa in early 1942 for concentrations with the batteries' clocks being synchronised from routine time signals broadcast by the BBC. When own troops' safety was a consideration the observer could also order 'no rounds after . . . .' (a particular time). The problem with ToT was that the observers tended to err on the side of caution and be generous with the amount of time they allowed for all batteries to be ready to fire. This meant that ToT engagements took longer than others, and hence was contrary to the usual British desire to have rounds on the ground as fast as possible."

I'd love to know why it's pointed out roughly every six months. Have there been any major alterations in organisation of Wehrmacht artillery units in the last two years?


Thresher01 Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2020 10:38 a.m. PST

I'm okay with only the two army's artillery being compared, though it would be nice to have British and Soviet added in as well.

All of the above are important.

Even more so though are mechanical prime movers for the guns, instead of horses towing them, as well as trucks to provide the ammo and fast-moving logistical tail required to support them in the field.

Blutarski03 Aug 2020 2:06 p.m. PST

It has been recorded that German prisoners taken at Normandy, who had seen previous service in the East, described British artillery as far more powerful and effective than Soviet artillery.

IIRC, as in 1918, nearly half the personnel in the British 2nd Army were artillerists (dunno about the Canadians).
Awesome dudes.


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