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"PT-76 as Artillery Spotter?" Topic

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FugazzaWithCheese17 Sep 2020 7:27 a.m. PST

I'm looking for an arty spotter for my 20mm Soviets. The obvious choice would be a BRDM-2, but a retailer near here has some PT-76s for sale. The information I've found is not really conclusive about it. Does anybody know whether the PT-76 has actually been used as an artillery spotter? Thanks.

Sundance17 Sep 2020 8:43 a.m. PST

It doesn't appear so, although the command version might have been used in that role.

Barin117 Sep 2020 8:51 a.m. PST

makes little sense to me.I've never seen them mid 80s, even that we were basically stationed in swamp area of Karelia.
We were nornally establishing a forward stationary post.Depending of the season we were transported there on MTLBv, GTT or GAZ



In summer we might use Gaz-66 or Ural.

williamb17 Sep 2020 8:54 a.m. PST

Pt75's were used in divisional recon battalions and by navel infantry for amphibious operations. It was not equipped for artillery observation. The R-80 variant of the MTLB was used as an artillery observation vehicle in addition to the BRDM. Current Russian artillery command vehicles are ACRV's which operate with the forward command elements of the units they are supporting. see PDF link and section 9 of PDF link

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP17 Sep 2020 9:22 a.m. PST

Barin & williamb +1 ea. thumbs up

Personal logo javelin98 Supporting Member of TMP17 Sep 2020 10:04 a.m. PST

On the other hand, any grunt with a radio can be a forward observer in a pinch. That lesson was thumped into my skull often enough by senior NCOs.

Col Durnford Supporting Member of TMP17 Sep 2020 12:31 p.m. PST

Not sure the soviets were that flexible.

Barin117 Sep 2020 2:21 p.m. PST

You know what they say about ignorance and ruin…

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP17 Sep 2020 2:57 p.m. PST

any grunt with a radio can be a forward observer
Yep as you noted, we were all trained to call-in and adjust indirect fires. As an Officer I was even trained to call-in CAS and even Naval Gunfire.

Not sure the soviets were that flexible.
I thought the same, in most cases. Barin can you enlighten us ?

raylev317 Sep 2020 6:40 p.m. PST

Soviets were not that flexible. In fact, Soviet arty is know for it's lack of flexibility….but they had a helluva lot of it!

TimeCast Sponsoring Member of TMP18 Sep 2020 1:39 a.m. PST

Lots of stuff on Soviet Artillery here:

PDF link

Basically artillery fire was controlled at battalion level. Other units (such as Recce)could report potential targets but only artillery command observation posts (COPs) and higher could order and control fire (assuming that it fit in iwth the plan and authorisation was given by the senior commander).

Typical COP vehicles were the ACRV series,modified BTR60PB or even trucks in the older reserve divisions.

Soviet officers and NCOs were not expected to call in fire or even taught how to do it. Soviet units had a lot less radios than Western equivalents.


Barin118 Sep 2020 5:33 a.m. PST

this is a a very large subject. An infantry sergeant will not have an opportunity to call fire support from higher level he might need – unless the artillery is not next to him, as it was for instance when my grandfather was travelling with 76 mm gun battery across Dniepr in 1943.In this case the infantry commander can just point a finger.

What you normally see in the documentaries are hundreds of guns firing by ballistics somewhere. In the 2d part of WWII the concept of fire wave was perfected – i.e you;re moving the fire deeper in time from stationary position.
Mid 80s I was in large scale artillery unit – it was providing support to several motor rifle and tank units.
We were trained several times during my 2 years term on modified fire wave concept- you were firing from fixed position, then, when your troops were on the offence, you moved forward and provided another firewave, and then we were doing it depending on the speed of the offensive. This wave could be provided as a front, or could be concentrated – the difference was from 6 D-30 up to 70+ of them, plus several batteries of MBR launchers.
Therefore if heavy resistance at certian point of the front was preventing the offence, it will be overwhelmed with superior firepower.
You might not have flexibilty on lower level, but we had it on higher level, and it was perfectly within the doctrine, exisiting in the end of cold war.

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP18 Sep 2020 7:41 a.m. PST

Soviets were not that flexible. In fact, Soviet arty is know for it's lack of flexibility….but they had a helluva lot of it!
Yes that is what I taught in the US Army in the '80s. As we know during and after WWII they had a predilection for "hub-to-hub" FA, as well, so to speak.

Timecast +1

Barin +1

Personal logo javelin98 Supporting Member of TMP18 Sep 2020 3:37 p.m. PST

Quantity has a quality all its own!

Thanks for sharing your experiences, Barin. It's nice to get the straight scoop from someone who actually lived it.

FugazzaWithCheese18 Sep 2020 4:34 p.m. PST

Big thanks for all the info, guys.

Wolfhag07 Nov 2020 12:26 p.m. PST

I doubt if every Russian got the memo that he was not supposed to be flexible. Hey Barin1, how flexible could you make someone with a few bottles of vodka?


Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP07 Nov 2020 4:48 p.m. PST

evil grin

Rudysnelson07 Nov 2020 10:07 p.m. PST

No need for spotters in the US Army sense of the word.
Soviet artillery was pre-plotted prior to the start of an operation.
They plotted artillery onto and past the objective to the back and sides in an effort to isolate the objective.
They did not have danger close alerts and would be hitting the objective even as the tanks and BMPs rolled onto the target. So no concern about friendly casualties.
If you want a spotter, use as was mentioned, a GAZ or URAL, BRDM or BTR.
The massive Soviet artillery was never a concept fully managed by most S3 shops.

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