Schlittengeräte

Discussions on the vehicles used by the Axis forces. Hosted by Christian Ankerstjerne
larth
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Schlittengeräte

Post by larth » 17 Mar 2007 11:34

I am looking for information on the use of "Schlittengeräte", also called "Propellerschlitten" by the German Army during WW2. Any kind of information or a hint on where such information can be found would be appreciated. One issue of the German Waffen-Arsenal (#179) is dedicated to winter equipment and in addition to the captured Russian versions, there is a little info on German ones. One photo caption states that the "Tatra Plant" developped a German version, but it is unknown if a production was started. There are several sledges depicted that are not of the NKL-16 or NKL-26 variety, mainly being obvious due to having only three skis, but also the form is different. The armament is a forward mounted MG 42. The max speed for this is given as 75 km/h!

Keessmit
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Post by Keessmit » 17 Mar 2007 12:35

Hello,
have a look at

http://www.tatraworld.nl/1.v855.htm

It is assumed that two prototype V855s were built. ("V"means Versuch) They never went into production. Though they did well on flat areas, but were of less use on twisty narrow-and hilly roads when one had to use the drum to get uphill.

Kees Smit
webmaster http://www.tatraworld.nl

larth
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Post by larth » 18 Mar 2007 10:59

Keessmit wrote:Hello,
have a look at

http://www.tatraworld.nl/1.v855.htm

It is assumed that two prototype V855s were built. ("V"means Versuch) They never went into production. Though they did well on flat areas, but were of less use on twisty narrow-and hilly roads when one had to use the drum to get uphill.

Kees Smit
webmaster http://www.tatraworld.nl
Thanks Kees! Haven't seen something like the drum before! Unfortunately it is not the same vehicle type as on the photos in the magazine, but could be a civilian model.

Keessmit
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Post by Keessmit » 18 Mar 2007 11:54

Hi,
I have understand from the photo caption on page 43 of WaffenArsenal # 179 that the Germans built their version of the propeller sledge, not that they built an own version of the Russian propeller sledge shown on the photo.

larth
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Post by larth » 18 Mar 2007 14:36

Hi Kees,
Keessmit wrote:Hi,
I have understand from the photo caption on page 43 of WaffenArsenal # 179 that the Germans built their version of the propeller sledge, not that they built an own version of the Russian propeller sledge shown on the photo.
I agree. The ones on the truck look different from the Russian ones, with a headlight in the nose for exampl. Then on page 45 there is a completely different model again (three skis, big windows - glas?). Only the protection frame for the propeller looks the same as on the model on page 43. So possibly two different models of German make. And a whole internet with no info!

regards,
Lars

Keessmit
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Post by Keessmit » 18 Mar 2007 22:45

Hello, there are numerous links on the www. As the subject interests me, I looked around a little bit.
On this forum I also found a better shot of the motorsledge as printed op page 43 of Waffenarsenal # 179
Regards
Kees

Scale Model:
http://ru.armorama.com/modules.php?op=m ... &artid=348
http://www.modellboard.de/thread.php?postid=170553
http://www.kartonmodellbau.net/pics/geb ... rzeuge.htm

Soviet propellersledges:
http://www.otvaga2004.narod.ru/publ_w1/2006-10-09.htm
http://ww2.games.1c.ru/?action=screenshot&groupid=19
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aerosan
http://www.battlefield.ru/index.php?opt ... 23&lang=en
http://www.battlefield.ru/index.php?opt ... 23&lang=en
http://www.armor.kiev.ua/Tanks/WWII/sani/
http://mkmagazin.almanacwhf.ru/venicle/nkl_16_42.htm
http://mkmagazin.almanacwhf.ru/armor/rf_8_gaz_98.htm
http://stonebooks.com/archives/000120.shtml

Quote: “ One of the most unique units in the Red Army armored and mechanized force structure was the aerosleigh [aerosanyi] battalions, 62 of which were formed beginning in January 1942. Considered by the Stavka to be a type of mechanized force, there were 48 aerosleigh battalions in the February 1943 force structure and 57 in July 1943. The aerosleigh battalion consisted of a headquarters and supply company with 10 cargo sleds and 3 combat companies with 10 aerosleighs each. The company consisted of three platoons with three sleighs each and a tenth command sled. The overall strength of the battalion was about 100 men with about 45 NKL-16 or NKL-26 aerosleighs. The NKL-16 aerosleigh consisted of an armor-plated turret with a 7.62mm machine gun mounted on four skis. It was propelled by a rear-mounted aircraft type engine and propeller and could transport 4-5 men. The NKL-26 had the same armament but was more powerful and more heavily armored. Aerosleigh battalions were employed in winter raids, to combat enemy ski troops, to transport supplies, and in operations across difficult terrain in snow conditions, often in conjunction with ski battalions and brigades.”
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Keessmit
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Post by Keessmit » 18 Mar 2007 23:09

Some more research done and I think the propellersledge above is the

Аэросани ОСГА-6 ( Propellersledge Osga 6)

Another link with a small photo of the central headlight sledge
http://www.warlib.ru/index.php?id=000054

Other smotorsledgelinks:
http://www.battlefield.ru/index.php?opt ... 24&lang=ru
http://mkmagazin.almanacwhf.ru/venicle/nati_ix.htm
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Keessmit
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Post by Keessmit » 18 Mar 2007 23:12

And an exploded view
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Keessmit
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Post by Keessmit » 19 Mar 2007 01:08

Well, to understand fully the usability of the propellerschtiite/aerosane/motorschlitten/aerosleighs I recommend to read the

"Red Army Review of Aerosleigh Combat Operations in 1942-1943"

Translation from Russian into English by Jozhik Chernobyl'kij


The following is my translation of an actual Red Army report reviewing aerosleigh operations in the winter campaign of 1942-1943. To my knowledge, the report is not otherwise available in English. The Russian original was written in 1944 and is currently hosted at:

http://armor.kiev.ua/Battle/WWII/sani/index.php

Aerosleigh schematics can be found at:

http://armor.kiev.ua/cgi-bin/imgshow.cgi?sani1.gif

Note that the NKL-26 (combat) model is the top one. [The other one is the NKL-16 transport model.]

Separately, the translation remains faithful to the language of the original report - i.e. any "stiltedness" is found in the original (that's how Red Army reports were written back then). In addition, the printed version of the document must have included a number of maps showing all the named places cited, however these are not available electronically to my knowledge.

Finally, the report is divided into three sections - introduction, combat reports, and conclusions. Thought this would be useful to mention at the outset.

To BF - if you could move this to the Research section (or somehow make sure it isn't lost in the ether), I'd mightily appreciate. To everyone in general - feel free to PM me with any questions on this post or any related topics.

Review of combat operations of aerosleigh units in the Great Patriotic War (1942-1943)
Red Army Tank & Mechanized Forces Command directorate. Pub. Voenizdat NKO, 1944.

Edited by:
Guards Major-General of Tank Forces, I.G. Ziberov

Prepared by:
Colonel G.Ja. Sapozhkov
Lieutenant-Colonel A.P. Bandurkin
Lieutenant-Colonel N.I. Kisjun

Aerosleighs in the Great Patriotic War

The theater of operations encompassing the northern and northwestern regions of the Soviet Union stretches for thousands of kilometers. These regions are characterized by a considerable number of large and small lakes, rivers and forests, as well as few roads and a thin population density. The winter period with a deep, stable snow cover lasts on average around four months.

All these factors serve to complicate combat operations in the northern and northwestern regions. Forces generally flow towards the few populated areas, with large stretches of the land remaining unoccupied. Observation and control of these areas requires units capable of fast movement across road-less, snow-covered terrain. The only units that satisfy these requirements are ski infantry and aerosleighs.

The first military use of aerosleighs occurred in 1915, at which time they were utilized primarily as transports or couriers. In the winter campaign of 1939-1940, the Red Army had several aerosleigh detachments used with reasonable success against the Finns. They were used primarily to maintain communications between forces, as well as to transport ammunition, food, fuel and gun oil to forces operating far from their supply bases and to evacuate wounded. Sometimes the aerosleighs carried out combat assignments, mounting surprise attacks on the enemy, his command posts and rear areas.

The most widespread use of the aerosleighs occurred during the Great Patriotic War, especially during the winter campaign of 1942-1943. It is during this campaign that they were first used as combat platforms on a large scale. Experience showed that the most successful aerosleigh detachments operated in open terrain: on the iced over lakes Ladoga, Il’men’ and Seliger, frozen rivers, and near the shores of the Gulf of Finland and the Baltic Sea.

The movement of aerosleighs across rough terrain and forest roads 4-4.5 meters wide is very difficult and often impossible. Movement along narrow forest roads with frequent sharp turns and a large amount of brush and tree stumps, or else across brush higher than 6.5 meters, drastically decreases the average speed of the aerosleighs and leads to frequent damage to the sleigh skis and propeller blades.

The combat experience of aerosleigh detachments against the German-Fascist forces in the winter of 1942-1943 allows to draw several preliminary conclusions regarding their positives and negatives and to rectify any errors in their battlefield employment.

Presently, the aerosleigh detachments are divided into combat and transport units. The NKL-26 model is used by the combat aerosleigh battalions, which operate together with conventional armed forces (primarily ski infantry) and conduct independent combat support missions (reconnaissance, communications, etc.). The NKL-26 is armed with one DT (Degtjarev Tank) machine-gun. The transport aerosleigh battalions are comprised of the NKL-16 model, and are used to transport ski assault units and combat supplies such as fuel, food and ammunition, as well as to evacuate wounded from the frontlines. In addition, these units carry out patrols and serve as rear-area couriers.

The specific tasks accorded to each type of aerosleigh units during the Great Patriotic War were as follows:

Combat Aerosleigh Battalions (CAB):

1. Area reconnaissance.
2. Flank security for infantry and tank units.
3. Guard patrols of lake shorelines and areas not occupied by our forces.
4. In conjunction with ski infantry, pursuit of retreating enemy forces.
5. Command post protection and communication with forward units.

Transport Aerosleigh Battaliions (TAB):

1. Troop transport and evacuation of wounded from the battlefield.
2. Supply and weapon delivery to the frontline.
3. Towing or transporting machine-guns, mortars and anti-tank guns.
4. Patrolling areas not occupied by our forces.
5. Deploying smokescreens.

The following are examples of CAB and TAB units carrying out these tasks during the winter campaign of 1942-1943.

1. COMBAT RECONNAISSANCE

Operations of the 18th CAB and 28th TAB near Zubec

The actions of the 18th CAB constitute an example of a successful combat reconnaissance by an aerosleigh battalion. On March 15, 1943, commander of the 18th CAB was given a mission of covering an assault group of SMG ski infantry (a platoon of the 119th Separate Ski Battalion) being transported by the 28th TAB to a point 2 kilometers southwest of Gumboric with the aim of reconnoitering enemy rear areas near the Zubec strongpoint. To distract the enemy, the remainder of the 119th SSB was to simulate a frontal attack on Zubec.

At the start of the operation, the 18th CAB was stationed in a forest 0.5 kilometers southwest of Majak Svirskij, while the 28th TAB was in a forest 1 kilometer northeast of the Novaja Svirica island.

The mission was accomplished as follows.

A company of transport aerosleighs loaded with SMG infantry, covered by a company of combat aerosleighs from the 18th CAB, moved out from the jump-off point on the Chemba island. The remaining aerosleighs remained in their initial staging areas. Simultaneously, the 119th SSB began to simulate a frontal attack on Zubec. Upon reaching the designated area, the SMG infantry dismounted and began carrying out their mission, while the aerosleighs returned to the jump-off point.

Having encountered no enemies on the eastern shore of Lake Ladoga, the SMG infantry turned south to conduct a combat reconnaissance of Zubec itself. At the same time the combat aerosleigh units patrolled along the shoreline and on the flanks of the ski infantry, preventing enemy reinforcements stationed in nearby Gumboric from moving up. The units were supported by our artillery, which shelled Gumboric. An enemy attempt to reach the Zubec garrison with small ski detachments was thwarted; these groups were scattered and destroyed with machine-gun fire from our aerosleigh detachments.

The cooperation between the aerosleigh units and ski infantry resulted in a successful combat reconnaissance of local enemy defenses. Having completed their mission, the infantry withdrew under the cover of aerosleighs.

Actions of the 53rd CAB near Spaspiskopec

On March 14, 1943, commander of the 53rd CAB received the following order: “using one company of combat aerosleighs supported by an infantry assault group, carry out a surprise attack on the enemy at Navolok and capture prisoners.”

To accomplish this mission, the commander formed a taskforce of 15 combat aerosleighs and 40 SMG infantry, with the infantry riding on the aerosleighs’ skis. At 0330 hours on March 15, 1943, the taskforce moved out from Zheleznyj island towards Navolok. The remaining units of the CAB continued to carry out patrols near their staging area on the eastern shoreline of Lake Il’men’.

While on the march, the taskforce lost its way and emerged to the south of Spaspiskopec. The taskforce commander decided to not waste any time regaining its planned route and to carry out a surprise attack of the enemy in Spaspiskopec. Having dropped off the infantry, the aerosleighs sped to the enemy’s flanks and opened fire with machine-guns. Under this covering fire, the infantry mounted a rapid attack of the enemy positions. The taskforce’s sudden appearance threw the Germans into a state of confusion and panic. This allowed the SMG infantry to quickly penetrate the village. However, the enemy quickly regained his composure and opened up on the supporting aerosleighs with machine-guns, mortars and artillery weapons.

The aerosleighs continued to engage the enemy for 40 minutes, drawing off most of his fire and allowing the SMG infantry in Spaspiskopec to take prisoners. Having accomplished their task, the infantrymen withdrew under cover from the aerosleighs, which then broke off themselves. The battle’s success resulted from brave and decisive actions taken by the taskforce. During the short combat, the enemy lost 5 machine-gun nests and up to 30 soldiers and officers as well as several men taken prisoner.

2. COMBAT SUPPORT OF INFANTRY DETACHMENTS
In addition to conducting combat reconnaissance and assisting in capturing prisoners, the aerosleigh units carried out numerous attacks to the enemy’s flank and rear as well as pursuing retreating enemy forces.

Actions of the 1st Company 8th CAB near Chernyshino

The 1st Company 8th CAB, attached to the 1093rd Rifle Regiment defending Chernyshino, successfully counter-attacked the enemy flank.

The background to this operation is as follows.

As a result of the previous battles, our forces captured a bridgehead on the western shore of the Zhizdra River near the village of Chernyshino (35 kilometers south of Suhinichi). Our army’s main defensive positions at this time were still on the eastern shore of the Zhizdra River. The enemy was now preparing to recapture our Chernyshino bridgehead, which had split his defenses in the area.

In anticipation of the enemy attack, the commander of the 1093rd RR created an assault taskforce comprised of an aerosleigh company and SMG infantry, tasked with counter-attacking the attacking enemy’s flank. By 2000 hours on February 19, 1942, the 1/8 CAB took position in a clearing to the northeast of Koshh. Here the company remained in ambush for two days, awaiting the probable German assault on the Chernyshino positions. The company was spotted by enemy aircraft on February 20, 1942, and altered its position to avoid unnecessary casualties. The new position was in a southern clearing of a forest 2 kilometers northeast of Chernyshino. The company’s front was covered by small brush, which did not impede the aerosleighs’ maneuvers.

By 1500 on February 21, 1942 the enemy commenced his assault on Chernyshino by deploying groups of SMG-armed ski infantry out of a wood to the north of Chernyshino. After most of the enemy infantry moved out into the open, the 1093rd RR commander ordered the aerosleigh company move out. Formed in a wedge formation, the aerosleighs attacked the enemy infantry in the flank and threw him back into the woods north and northwest of Chernyshino with heavy casualties. Having accomplished this, the 1/8 CAB moved to its rally point on the southeastern outskirts of Chernyshino.

Having reorganized their units, the Germans repeated their attack from the same direction. When the enemy infantry cleared the woods, the aerosleighs attacked him again but this time from the direction of its rally point and threw him back once more.

Unfortunately, the counter-attacks mounted by the 1/8 CAB did not receive adequate infantry support, and as a result the company suffered unnecessary losses in men and material. Nevertheless, through brave and decisive actions the company successfully carried out its mission.

Actions of the 13th CAB near Krivaja Kletka

The 13th CAB, attached to the 241st Rifle Division, was tasked with preventing any enemy parachute landings from taking place in the vicinity of Lake Seliger, and to destroy any enemy forces advancing towards the lake’s eastern shore. Prior to the start of the battle, the CAB was based 1 kilometer southeast of Krasota.

On the morning of March 18, 1942, up to two enemy companies began moving out of Polnovo and concentrating in the woods northwest of Krivaja Kletka. Upon learning of this, the division ordered the 13th CAB to “in conjunction with a rifle company, destroy the enemy attacking Krivaja Kletka.” Upon surveying the village, the CAB’s commander decided to have the accompanying rifle company take up defensive positions on the northern outskirts of Krivaja Kletka, aiming to fix the enemy’s front while the CAB counter-attacked into his flank.

The rifle company, drawn from the 318th Rifle Regiment, quickly dug in on the northwestern edge of Krivaja Kletka, while the 13th CAB stationed its units as follows: 1st Company on an unnamed island 2.5 kilometers south of Zykovshhino, 2nd Company – 1.5 kilometers east of Krivaja Kletka and 3rd Company – 1.5 kilometers southwesto f Zykovshhino.

The enemy concentrated near a hill northwest of Krivaja Kletka and in a clearing southeast of Polnovo, and proceeded to attack the village. The attacking units were halted by strong rifle and machine-gun fire from the defending rifle company. At the same time, the 2/13 CAB commenced flanking fire against the enemy’s second echelon, and managed to separate it from the first echelon. This seemed to throw the enemy into a state of confusion, and the second echelon units began a hurried retreat towards Polnovo. His first echelon followed, still under fire from the dug in rifle company and suffering many casualties.

As the 2/13 CAB and the attached rifle company beat back the enemy assault, the 1/13 and 3/13 CAB mounted a counter-attack at maximum speed against enemy units approaching from the clearing southeast of Polnovo. The enemy, suffering heavy losses, fell back into the woods and did not repeat the attack for the remainder of the day. By the end of the engagement, the enemy dead alone amounted to 140 soldiers and officers.

As darkness fell, the troops returned to their previous staging areas. The aerosleighs achieved their success in this operation thanks to the suddenness of their attack, which was conducted at maximum speeds.

3. INDEPENDENT AEROSLEIGH OPERATIONS

Independent actions of 3rd Company 4th CAB near the Kulikov lighthouse

The actions of the 4th CAB in this instance serve as an example of independent aerosleigh operations. The 4th CAB was attached to a separate ski battalion. During the night of March 26-27, 1943, the ski battalion’s scout group was conducting a reconnaissance of enemy positions to the north of the Kulikov lighthouse on the western shore of Lake Onega. The enemy attacked the scout group with overwhelming force and initiated pursuit as the group retreated.

At dawn on March 27, 1943, the commander of the 4th CAB received the following mission: “with one company of combat aerosleighs, attack the enemy forces pursuing our scout group.” At 0750 hours, 3rd Company 4th CAB moved out from its staging areas on the Kobyl’e Lake, and, after covering 16 kilometers in the space of an hour, mounted a sudden and rapid attack on the flanks of the pursuing enemy. The enemy units were forced to fall back to their initial positions, taking heavy casualties in the process.

Having thrown the enemy back to the western shore of Lake Onega, the aerosleigh company returned to its assigned rally point. By successfully utilizing its speed and maneuvering capabilities, the company provided timely and valuable assistance to the scout group.

COMBAT SUPPORT OF SKI UNITS

Actions of the 1st CAB near Metchi-Shara island

Oftentimes the aerosleigh units were tasked with providing combat support to ski infantry. In this instance, the 1st CAB was tasked with supporting ski infantry of the 33rd Separate Ski Brigade and a band of partisans during their mission to destroy the enemy garrisons in Sondola and Kirp villages.

To accomplish this task, the commander of the 1st CAB decided to utilize one company of combat aerosleighs and two platoons of transport aerosleighs. Specifically, one combat aerosleigh platoon was to cover the partisans, the second platoon of the same company was to support the flank of the ski infantry attacking Kirp, while the third platoon remained in reserve near Pinema-Guba. The transport aerosleighs were to transport the ski infantry from Pinema-Guba to Metchi-Shara island.

By 2100 hours on January 28, 1943, the preparations for the operation were completed, with the participating ski and aerosleigh units assembled near Pinema-Guba. At 2200 hours, the operation commenced. One aerosleigh platoon accompanied the partisans to the enemy’s frontline positions. Having met no resistance, the partisans penetrated to the Germans’ rear areas while the aerosleighs returned to their jump-off area near Pinema-Guba.

The second aerosleigh platoon advanced on the ski infantry’s left flank. Near Metchi-Shara island the ski group was met with strong machine-gun and mortar fire from enemy defense lines. An enemy counter-attack forced the ski infantry to fall back. As combat intensified, the commander of the aerosleigh platoon carried out a sudden attack on the enemy’s flank. The platoon’s rapid actions stopped and then threw back the enemy counter-attack. This allowed the ski infantry to resume its attack on the northeastern portion of Metchi-Shara island.

After a brief period of time, the enemy renewed his counter-attack with fresh reserves. However, by this time the second aerosleigh platoon was reinforced by the third platoon held in reserve; the aerosleighs attacked the enemy once more, and threw the enemy back to his positions on Metchi-Shara island. This allowed the ski infantry to retreat to their jump-off points, followed by their supporting aerosleighs, which prevented the enemy from mounting an effective pursuit.

Actions of the 8th CAB near Rechnoj island

The 8th CAB was attached to units of the 313th Rifle Division. On the evening of February 14, 1943, the battalion commander was ordered to assist a ski infantry detachment in destroying an enemy garrison on Rechnoj island. To accomplish this task, the CAB detached its 3rd Company of combat aerosleighs, which took up positions near Pigmatka on the night of February 15. At dawn, the aerosleigh company and the ski infantry detachment moved out from their jump-off positions. Two aerosleigh platoons were sent to form a blocking position west and northwest of Rechnoj island with the goal of preventing enemy reinforcements from Bor. Budjancev from reaching the garrison, while the company’s third platoon was sent somewhat further north towards the Kar. Navolok peninsula.

The ski infantry, after occupying initial positions in the Nameless Islands 1.5 kilometers northeast of Rechnoj island, attacked the enemy defenses but was met with organized machine-gun and mortar fire. After a 10-minute mortar bombardment, the Germans counter-attacked and began to force the detachment back. The commander of the aerosleigh company decided to counter the enemy thrust and interrupt his pursuit by launching a flank attack. The company, attacking at full speed, opened up with its machine-guns and threw the enemy back towards his defense line with heavy losses. The aerosleighs then disengaged towards their initial jump-off points for the operation. During the aerosleigh attack, the company freed a number of our wounded ski infantry men who had been captured by the enemy.

The aerosleigh company’s decisive and skillful actions prevented the enemy from fully developing his counter-attack and succeeded in throwing him back to his initial positions.

A few days before this action, the same CAB participated in the destruction of an enemy detachment which had surrounded a company of our ski infantry. After a dawn battle on February 9, 1943 near Pinema-Guba (Karelian Front), the enemy managed to encircle a company from the 33rd Separate Ski Brigade. At the same time, enemy aircraft bombed the 8th CAB, then stationed on the Murdo-Shari island.

The aerosleigh battalion, attached to the 33rd SSB, was tasked with transporting an infantry assault unit and supporting it in destroying the enemy and rescuing the encircled company. Within 45 minutes of receiving this order the battalion’s transport aerosleigh company, loaded up with infantrymen and escorted by a company of combat aerosleighs, moved out towards Pinema-Guba. After unloading the troops, the transport unit retreated while the combat aerosleighs took up blocking positions to prevent the enemy from falling back across the frozen lake.

The enemy, now under attack from the assault infantry group, began to retreat along two directions – through a nearby wood and across the lake. The latter enemy detachment was met with massed machine-gun fire from the aerosleighs. This forced the enemy to break the encirclement and retreat into the nearby woods, allowing the aerosleighs and both of our infantry groups to march back to our lines.

The successful aerosleigh maneuver made in conjunction with an infantry attack dispersed the enemy formations while allowing a ski infantry company to escape from encirclement.

6. AEROSLEIGH COMBAT EXPERIENCE ON THE WESTERN FRONT

Actions of the 7th and 40th CAB near Teterja

The 7th and 40th CAB were attached to a 5th Army Mobile Group, which also included the 153rd Tank Brigade and two ski battalions. On March 4, 1943, the Mobile Group was ordered to cooperate with the 352nd Rifle Division and the 29th Guards Rifle Division in moving out to the Sekarevo-Kuznechiki line, and then to pursue the retreating enemy towards the town of Gzhatsk and reach the Chernogubcevo-Kolokol’nja region.

At 1830 hours on March 4, 1943 the two CABs reached Vorob’evo, where the commander of the 153rd Tank Brigade ordered them to transport a rifle company from the brigade’s motor rifle-machine-gun battalion as well as a sapper company from Laskino towards Teterja, 7 kilometers to the north of Gzhatsk. The infantry was tasked with striking the rear of the enemy defenses at Teterja, which was a key defensive position on the approaches to Gzhatsk, and subsequently to reconnoiter and perform mine-clearing operations on the roads leading to Gzhatsk.

At 1900 hours, the CABs moved out from Vorob’evo towards Laskino, arriving after approximately 20 minutes. Having loaded up the two infantry companies, the aerosleighs began the 10-kilometer march towards Teterja at maximum speed. After successfully traversing the roadless terrain, the CABs unloaded the infantry 1 kilometer northeast of Teterja and the 40th CAB departed towards its rally point at Mervino.

In all, the 20 transport aerosleighs of the two CABs transported 98 SMG infantrymen with 4 medium and 1 heavy machine-guns as well as 32 sappers. The machine-guns were mounted on the aerosleigh roofs during transport. Having discovered the infantry group, the enemy brought it under heavy fire from his mortar batteries in Teterja.

The SMG infantry quickly attacked Teterja, while the 7th CAB opened up on the enemy’s flanks. After a brief firefight, the Germans began a hurried retreat towards the western shore of the nearby Gzhat’ River. The attacking infantry captured Teterja and, together with the 7th CAB, defended their positions until the arrival of reinforcements.

The success of the operation came about due to the suddenness of the night attack as well as fire support provided by the aerosleighs. As a result, the detachment managed to gut the Gzhatsk-Teterja road and capture an important enemy strongpoint on the eastern shore of the Gzhat’ River. Upon capturing Teterja, the sapper company quickly cleared the nearby roads of enemy mines allowing the approaching Mobile Group tanks to continue their pursuit of the enemy without interruption.

On March 6, 1943 the 7th CAB transported 43 infantrymen to 500 meters west of Loma (7 kilometers west of Gzhatsk). Upon completing their mission, the CAB concentrated in Chernogubcevo.

During the night of March 9-10, the 7th CAB received the following orders: “with a 50-strong infantry detachment, advance to 1 kilometer southwest of Star. Melnica and, capturing the roads leading to Leont’evo, sever the enemy’s escape route.” The CAB reached its objective by 2130 hours on March 9, 1943. All enemy efforts to break out from Star. Melnica towards Gorki were stopped; after abandoning its supplies and heavy equipment, the enemy retreated in disorder. The 7th CAB and infantry from the 28th Rifle Brigade exploited their success by advancing 18 kilometers over one day, capturing a number of villages and losing only one aerosleigh (to enemy mortar fire) in the process.

Other Western Front CABs operated in analogous fashion. For instance, on March 4, 1943, the 6th CAB comprised of 18 combat aerosleighs with mounted SMG infantry attacked the enemy at Star. Kuznecovo; after the third attack, the enemy was forced to fall back from Star. Kuznecovo with equipment and personnel losses. Our losses – one aerosleigh knocked out with mortar fire. On March 7, 1943, the CAB comprised of 12 combat aerosleighs, while proceeding towards an infantry pick-up point, was met with powerful gun and mortar fire from Bol. Osinovka and Sobachkino. The CAB deployed into a line formation on the move and carried out three attacks against these two villages, finally capturing them. Our losses – 8 aerosleighs knocked out by enemy machine-guns and mortars.
On March 11, 1943, the 7th CAB and its accompanying infantry was ordered to link up with the 4th Company 28th Rifle Brigade near Pochinki and capture Lubnja, then set up an ambush on the Kasnja-Gorlovo road 5 kilometers north of Lubnja. The CAB accomplished its mission, inflicting heavy losses on the enemy forces.

Actions of the 20th CAB near Aleksandrovka

In addition to combined-arms actions, the aerosleigh units were often used in independent pursuit of retreating enemy formations. Thus, at 1430 hours on March 5, 1943, the commander of the 20th CAB, then attached to the 133rd Rifle Division south of Orehovo, was ordered to attack the enemy units falling back from Sereda, cut the Sereda-Katerushka and Sereda-Sverkushino roads, and capture Aleksandrovka. The CAB commander decided to attack the enemy with two aerosleigh companies, leaving one company in reserve.

At 2100 hours, the CAB commenced its mission. 3rd Company, constituting the left flank of the advance, moving along the Orehovo-Popovka-Kun’evo-Sereda route, attacked the enemy near Sereda. Simultaneously, 2nd Company, following the Orehovo-Karpovo-Filippovo route, attacked retreating enemy units near Filippovo. 1st Company remained in battalion reserve and followed 2nd Company, ready to exploit any success on the battalion’s right flank.

The enemy, subjected to simultaneous attacks from two directions, offered weak resistance and began to fall back with losses towards Aleksandrovka. The pursuing CAB did not allow the enemy time to dig in at Aleksandrovka and completely captured the village by 0200 hours on March 6.

The CAB commander was correct in his appraisal of the situation and in his decision to attack the enemy’s retreating column from both flanks, deploying his companies in wedge formations. As a result of this attack, the enemy column was scattered. Our losses – two aerosleighs knocked out with machine-gun fire.

7. AEROSLEIGHS DEPLOYING SMOKESCREENS

Aerosleighs from the 39th TAB were the first to be employed in smokescreen deployment. On February 28, 1943 the 39th TAB, then under the control of the Red Banner Baltic Sea Fleet staff, was ordered to provide smokescreen cover to the fleet’s moored combat vessels and military installations at the Kronstadt naval base, which were being shelled by enemy artillery. The battalion sent out three specially equipped aerosleighs. The first smokescreen put up by the aerosleighs concealed shell explosions from the enemy, which immediately complicated his spotters’ efforts to direct his artillery fire. Soon, the enemy artillery switched its targets to the three aerosleighs, attempting to take them out of action. Although the shell bursts in the aerosleighs’ immediate vicinity made their task more difficult, the team continued to put up smokescreens for a further six hours. During this period, the enemy fired over 1000 shells, however failed to inflict significant damage on either the aerosleighs or on any of his original targets. After the shelling stopped, the aerosleighs returned to base, having succeeded in their mission.

8. USES OF TRANSPORT AEROSLEIGHS

The transport aerosleigh battalions were widely used for transporting food, ammunition and wounded when meteorological conditions and deep snow prevented the usage of other means of transport. Thus, between February 20 and March 20, 1943, the 40th TAB, while operating in difficult weather conditions, transported 106.4 tons of supplies to the front while evacuating 513 wounded to aid stations 17-100 kilometers from the frontline. Each transport aerosleigh of the TAB accepted up to 500 kilograms of load per trip, which means that the entire 30-sleigh TAB was capable of lifting 13-15 tons of load at one time.

The loads were typically transported by company, and sometimes by platoon. After unloading, the aerosleighs usually moved off to rally points 1.5-2 kilometers away. Experience showed that a full fuel tank allowed a transport aerosleigh to traverse 160 kilometers of terrain at an average speed of 25-35 kilometers per hour.

During the preparatory phase of the Northwestern Front’s counter-offensive, the 11th, 18th and 35th TAB attached to a Rifle Corps were tasked with transporting light artillery and mortar batteries, including the gun crews themselves, to forward positions. Transporting the artillerymen’s weapons and equipment was a new experience for the three battalions, and so the battalion commanders had conducted numerous training exercises prior to carrying out their mission. In addition, the TABs had reconnoitered loading areas, movement routes, etc.

On the day of the mission, the weather was unexpectedly mild at first. However by evening, temperatures fell to -20 degrees Celsius and the snow cover grew sufficiently dense to facilitate aerosleigh movement. The loading of the artillery units was conducted at night, with the loaded aerosleighs moved out on the frozen surface of a nearby lake before forming into columns of march.

At 0200 hours on February 23, 1943, the three TABs moved out in two columns; they arrived at their destination on schedule while moving with an average speed of 15 kilometers per hour. The columns were steered along their designated routes with electric lights and lead vehicles. In addition to being loaded with men and ammunition, many aerosleighs were towing artillery weapons and equipment. In all, from February 23 through February 25, 1943, the three TABs transported: 22 45mm guns, 10 heavy machine guns, 18 mortars, 220 crates of mortar shells, 100 crates of grenades, 900 crates of rifle ammunition, 5000 artillery shells, 5.4 tons of foodstuffs, and 535 artillerymen, as well as evacuating 840 wounded from the frontline. Notably, the 35th TAB accomplished most of its tasks at night over the featureless terrain of a frozen lake; still, its aerosleighs almost always arrived at their designated objectives by the established deadlines. The practice of towing light artillery weapons also proved successful.

The transport aerosleighs were also utilized along combat aerosleighs to conduct patrols and as couriers. Patrols were typically conducted over:

a) frozen areas of lakes, rivers and along the seashore either at the junction of our units or in front of and on the flanks of our positions;

b) unoccupied road-less terrain at the junction of units and subunits.

The mission given to patrolling transport aerosleighs was twofold. First, to prevent enemy reconnaissance on the flanks and in the rear of our positions. Second, in the event of an enemy attack, to destroy him in cooperation with nearby rifle infantry units. In addition to active patrols in platoon strength, the aerosleigh units set up static observation posts and ambushes. A patrol area generally encompassed 10-25 kilometers of terrain, although this was roughly halved in areas where the enemy had exhibited increased activity.

Transport aerosleighs were also widely used as couriers between unit staffs and command posts, especially in areas lacking winter roads.

CONCLUSIONS

1. Aerosleigh units are most suitable for use on frozen lakes or rivers.

2. The most effective combat employment of aerosleighs involved pursuit of retreating enemy forces in conjunction with ski infantry, such as the infantry and the aerosleighs can support each other when necessary.

3. It is useful to attach combat and transport aerosleigh units to mobile tank and mechanized groups operating in the enemy’s operational depths.

4. Aerosleigh battalions can be successfully used to carry out sudden flank or rear attacks against a retreating enemy. Frontal attacks must be avoided, as these entail considerable losses. The aerosleighs should not be used on a battlefield which trenches, craters or with snow cover of less than 10-12 centimeters.

5. Experience showed that aerosleigh battalions cannot under any circumstance be tasked with overcoming even a weak defensive strongpoint with a frontal attack.

6. Using aerosleighs to patrol unoccupied terrain and to secure unit flanks and junctions against penetration by enemy reconnaissance groups proved reasonably justified.

7. Transport aerosleighs should be used primarily to supply troops operating away from roads with food, ammunition and fuel, and to evacuate wounded. In addition, they can transport detachments of riflemen, SMG infantry and sappers with all their equipment when terrain conditions prevent other means of transport from being employed.

8. Using aerosleighs to tow equipment proved successful, however this was not widely adopted.

9. The experience of transporting infantry assault groups via aerosleighs proved positive. Transport aerosleighs are best suited for this role, though they must be escorted by combat aerosleighs. Combat aerosleighs are not suitable for infantry transport, although they were sometimes used in this role.

10. Aerosleigh units can successfully operate in open or mostly open terrain with a snow cover of at least 10-12 centimeters. The speed of movement and maneuverability depend on the type of terrain and thickness of snow cover; large snow drifts, river valleys and small brush are difficult for aerosleighs to traverse.

11. The officers and men of the aerosleigh units have accumulated a considerable amount of combat experience in the winter periods of 1941-1942 and 1942-1943.

Combat experience showed the following deficiencies inherent to aerosleighs:

1. A limited combat radius without refueling.

2. Vulnerability to machine-gun, mortar and artillery fire, which limits the aerosleighs’ ability to carry out independent offensive operations.

3. Technical design flaws of existing aerosleighs that reduce reliability and restrict combat use.

Keessmit
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Post by Keessmit » 19 Mar 2007 09:10

See also for German confiscated sledges:

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... c&start=15
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Keessmit
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Location: Amsterdam

Post by Keessmit » 20 Mar 2007 21:56


Phil Bishop
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Location: UK

Post by Phil Bishop » 20 Mar 2007 21:58

Keessmit

Sory to disappoint you, but the captured aerosled picture you posted is in use with a Finnish unit not a German one. The Finns had a number of captured Aerosleds and also built several themselves.

Phil

larth
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Post by larth » 20 Mar 2007 23:27

Thanks guys! Just back from travelling, so only a quick note today. Most of the Russian links I had (I am focusing on the German use now), but there was some new ones as well.

The picture named captured nkl-16 is an OSGA-6 (see
http://mkmagazin.almanacwhf.ru/venicle/osga_6.htm and also the sledge.jpg and sledge3.jpg above for example. It may be in Finnish use rather than German, but normally the cross would be slightly different then (especially later in the war). These are also the ones on the truck (p43) in the Waffen-Arsenal and those were definitely for German use.

Loking closer at these it is possible that the ones on the pictures I mentioned in the first post above may be modified OSGA-6's. The protection grid for the propelller (or what one would call it) looks the same, they both have three skis but the door is in a different place and the nose is not pointed.

Phil, IIRC the Finnish designed and built ones never saw action as they were finished in mid 44 (if completed). I'll see if I can find where I saw that.

Keessmit
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Post by Keessmit » 21 Mar 2007 22:00

Hello, As has been clear from my posts, I am new on the subject of aerosans. Digging the web I found the earlier posts on the Axis History Forum. Looking through all the websites and studying all photos, I have the following questions. I hope somebody can help me out.

A) Several crosses are used on the aerosans.
1) In the Waffenarsenal magazin there are photos of a NKL-6 with a German cross.
2) On the top photo of this page we have a NKL-6 small cross. Is this a Red Cross Aerosan?
3) On the photo just above the text we have a NKL-6 with a Swastika or Von Rosen cross.
4) At http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... c&start=15 we see a NKL-26 with a Swastika or Von Rosen Cross with shortened arms.

B) There seems to be two different versions of the NKL-6
1) The one with two headlamps positioned on ether side of the A-pillar and a door close to the driver
2) The one with a centrally mounted headlight and a door more backwards.

C) How did the aerosans brake?

D) What is the difference between the NKL-16 41 and the NKL- 16 42. Is it that the the Typ 41 had a nose similar to the NKL-6 and the Typ 42 a flat nose similar in shape to the NKL-26?

E) Doe anybody have an opinion on the Tatra V 855 Aerosan? It is very different from the Russian aerosans. Improvement as far as I can see are the lower position of the engine giving a lower point of gravity. Then the Tatra has shaft driven roller to help the Tatra aerosan going uphill at low speed and helping it not to become a lame duck in city/village traffic.
Disadvantages as far as I can see is the weight. The body is all metal; then there is the drum. A Tatra T 87 car with a similar body weighs about 1320 kg. Further, the Tatra is not designed to be armed, not even with a MG. With its specifications, it would never have been a match for the Russian aerosans. Apparently it was only designed as a command vehicle or to transport troops.

Comments welcomed.
Bewst regards
Kees

Technical specifications:
NKL 6

Used in Winter War of 1939-40. Three skis. Ambulance, transport and raider variants were used.

Weight 0.7 t
Crew 6 (less for ambulance)
Length 6.03m
Width 2.70m (3.30m with skis)
Height 1.65m
Engine M11 (from Po-2 biplanes)
Max speed 80 km/hr (32-50 km/hr cruising)
Armament 1x7.62mm DT mg (if fitted)

NKL 16

Enlarged vesion of NKL 6. 1941. Four skis. Transport and raider varients.

Weight 0.7 t
Crew 6
Length 6.353m
Width 2.70m
Height 2.29m
Engine M11
Max speed 55km/hr (20-30 km/hr cruising)
Armament 1x7.62mm DT mg (if fitted)

NKL 26

Armored verion. 1942. Four skis.

Weight 0.8 t
Crew 4
Lenrth 5.5 m
Width 2.8m
Height 1.95m
Engine M11
Armour - front plate only 3-10mm
Max speed 70 km/hr (35 km/hr cruising)
Armament 1x7.62mm DT mg (on roof with armoured shield on aircraft ring mount)
Traverse 360

Tatra V 855. Four skis. Soft skin vehicle. Never used in a war theatre.

Weight??
Crew 6 (in two rows of three)
Length 5,3 m
Width 2.02 m
Height 1.75 m
Engine Tatra T87 (3 litre air-cooled V8 from Tatra T 87)
Max speed 80 kph
Armament: none

Phil Bishop
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Joined: 23 Aug 2005 21:41
Location: UK

Post by Phil Bishop » 21 Mar 2007 23:33

Interesting stuff. My two penny worth...the sled with the cross in the centre of a white circle is a Red Cross vehicle in German use. Agree with Larth that the Finnish use vehicle would have had slightly foreshortened "legs" on the swastika later in the war. But it is certainly Finnish, no German vehicles were marked with swastikas in such a way (except flags for air recognition). And you are also right about the Finnish built sleds being made late in 1944 and never seeing service. But they did have several NKL16 and NKL 26 captured from the Russians that saw service, plus at least (as we have seen) one NKL6.

Oh...breaking was simple but crude. The "pilot" pulled a lever which lowered metal blades from the bottom of the skis! Not recomended if on thin snow or ice.

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