Anti Tank Tactics

Discussions on the Winter War and Continuation War, the wars between Finland and the USSR.
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Laurance.Robinson
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Anti Tank Tactics

Post by Laurance.Robinson » 01 Jun 2018 20:22

I was wondering if anyone knows how the Finns combatted Soviet armour both during the Winter War and Continuation War.

Regards,

Laurance

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Re: Anti Tank Tactics

Post by Swing » 02 Jun 2018 07:17

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JTV
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Re: Anti Tank Tactics

Post by JTV » 02 Jun 2018 18:21

No offense intended, but Schadewitz was an exception - not a norm.

Unfortunately the subject matter is so wide, that there are literally books written about it.

Antitank-guns knocked out most tanks and were issued to (anti-tank) gun companies that belonged to infantry regiments and divisions. During Winter War they were first so few in number that they were commonly used as platoons of two guns or even as single guns and when things got really bad as single "travelling guns", which were taken where needed. Due to shortage of antitank-rifles at that time antitank-guns were often used in immediate frontline, which resulted heavy casualities. Starting 1941 Finnish Army had decent number of antitank-guns, but tank devepment also make guns that had been effective in 1939 obsolete by 1944.

Antitank-rifles were issued to infantry in company and battalion level . They were few in number during Winter War, but still proved useful. Year 1941 they proved highly effective when antitank-guns were often unable to follow advancing infantry fast enough and the grand majority of Soviet tanks in Finnish front were still pre-WW2 designs. Antitank-rifles were pretty useless against new Soviet tanks like T-34 and KV-1, so later they got used against other targets (bunkers, machinegun-nests, aircraft...).

Infantry also used satchel charges to knock out tanks, while molotov cocktails were more commonly used to burn tanks that had been already knocked out but could not be evacuated from field of battle. Also bundles of stick hand grenades saw some use during Winter War before being replaced by satchel charges. Both satchel charges and molotov cocktails were manufactured industrially during WW2.

Staring June - July 1944 Finnish infantry started using panzerschreck and panzerfaust, which proved highly effective and played major role in stopping Soviet offensive that summer. It was also that time when Finnish antitank-tank defenses could finally be organised in real depth.

Antitank-mines proved useful, although early on not available in numbers needed and field artillery was commonly used against spotted tank formations, or in some rare cases even against individual tanks.

Jarkko

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Laurance.Robinson
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Re: Anti Tank Tactics

Post by Laurance.Robinson » 03 Jun 2018 09:53

JTV wrote:No offense intended, but Schadewitz was an exception - not a norm.

Unfortunately the subject matter is so wide, that there are literally books written about it.

Antitank-guns knocked out most tanks and were issued to (anti-tank) gun companies that belonged to infantry regiments and divisions. During Winter War they were first so few in number that they were commonly used as platoons of two guns or even as single guns and when things got really bad as single "travelling guns", which were taken where needed. Due to shortage of antitank-rifles at that time antitank-guns were often used in immediate frontline, which resulted heavy casualities. Starting 1941 Finnish Army had decent number of antitank-guns, but tank devepment also make guns that had been effective in 1939 obsolete by 1944.

Antitank-rifles were issued to infantry in company and battalion level . They were few in number during Winter War, but still proved useful. Year 1941 they proved highly effective when antitank-guns were often unable to follow advancing infantry fast enough and the grand majority of Soviet tanks in Finnish front were still pre-WW2 designs. Antitank-rifles were pretty useless against new Soviet tanks like T-34 and KV-1, so later they got used against other targets (bunkers, machinegun-nests, aircraft...).

Infantry also used satchel charges to knock out tanks, while molotov cocktails were more commonly used to burn tanks that had been already knocked out but could not be evacuated from field of battle. Also bundles of stick hand grenades saw some use during Winter War before being replaced by satchel charges. Both satchel charges and molotov cocktails were manufactured industrially during WW2.

Staring June - July 1944 Finnish infantry started using panzerschreck and panzerfaust, which proved highly effective and played major role in stopping Soviet offensive that summer. It was also that time when Finnish antitank-tank defenses could finally be organised in real depth.

Antitank-mines proved useful, although early on not available in numbers needed and field artillery was commonly used against spotted tank formations, or in some rare cases even against individual tanks.

Jarkko
Thanks,

Yeah, I kinda guessed that Schadewitz would be an exception (each country has similar stories).

Thanks for the answer. Any good books you would recommend?

Do you have an opinion on this, https://www.flamesofwar.com/Default.asp ... _cat_id=33, and how close to the truth is it?

Obviously with the limitations of Finland their anti Tank tactics would be different from those of other nations.

Thanks for the input.

Regards,

Laurance

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Juha Tompuri
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Re: Anti Tank Tactics

Post by Juha Tompuri » 03 Jun 2018 11:06

According to Pansar i Vinterkriget 1939-1940 by Maksim Kolmiets (also Marskin Panssarintuhoojat by Erkki käkelä), the Soviet 7 and 13 Army tank losses at Karelian Isthmus during the war
were caused by :
Artillery 955 tanks
Mines 383 tanks
Burned 436 tanks
Sunk in water 110 tanks
Missing 35 tanks
Total 1904 tanks, of them 368 beyond repair.

Regards, Juha

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Re: Anti Tank Tactics

Post by JTV » 03 Jun 2018 18:56

Juha Tompuri wrote:According to Pansar i Vinterkriget 1939-1940 by Maksim Kolmiets (also Marskin Panssarintuhoojat by Erkki käkelä), the Soviet 7 and 13 Army tank losses at Karelian Isthmus during the war
were caused by :
Artillery 955 tanks
Mines 383 tanks
Burned 436 tanks
Sunk in water 110 tanks
Missing 35 tanks
Total 1904 tanks, of them 368 beyond repair.
It might be worth noting that both antitank-guns and field artillery seem to be included into "artillery" category and that the large number of tanks in "sunk in water" category is presumably explained by parts of 7th Army attacking across frozen Gulf of Viipurinlahti in March of 1940.

Y.A. Järvinen in his book "Jatkosodan taistelut" ("Battles of Continuation War") page 47 info about tanks knocked out by 4th Division during about 2 month period in summer of 1941:
- Equipment used for knocking out tanks:
-- Antitank-rifles: 16 tanks
-- Field guns and antitank guns: 4 tanks
-- Antitank-mines: 2 tanks
Total: 22 tanks

It might be worth noting that Finnish Army routinely had antitank-ammunition (first AP & APHE, later APC and finally in some calibers HEAT) field artillery and anti-aircraft guns, which in a pinch allowed them to be used to add bit more depth into antitank-defenses.

Jarkko

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Re: Anti Tank Tactics

Post by Juha Tompuri » 11 Jun 2018 19:04

Laurance.Robinson wrote:Do you have an opinion on this, https://www.flamesofwar.com/Default.asp ... _cat_id=33, and how close to the truth is it
Quite ok.
Seems that maps are being borrowed from here: http://www.winterwar.com/Tactics/FINatTactics.htm

Regards, Juha

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Re: Anti Tank Tactics

Post by Juha Tompuri » 11 Jun 2018 21:19

JTV wrote:Antitank-guns knocked out most tanks and were issued to (anti-tank) gun companies that belonged to infantry regiments and divisions.
As important it was to stop enemy tanks, knocked out is not the same as destroyed.
So... it would be interesting to find out the means that mostly took out the enemy tanks permanently.

Regards, Juha

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Re: Anti Tank Tactics

Post by JTV » 12 Jun 2018 19:50

Juha Tompuri wrote:
JTV wrote:Antitank-guns knocked out most tanks and were issued to (anti-tank) gun companies that belonged to infantry regiments and divisions.
As important it was to stop enemy tanks, knocked out is not the same as destroyed.
So... it would be interesting to find out the means that mostly took out the enemy tanks permanently.
Briefly noted the knowledge that I have cumulated on the subject has lead to such conclusions, that I no longer generally use the term "destroyed" in the matter. I use "knocked out" when an armored vehicle is put out of action and left to battlefield. This because unless we have actual statistics from the side that lost the vehicles, it is basically impossible to figure out how many of the armored vehicles belonged to "irrevocable losses" category. You are correct in that the damage caused by weapons such as antitank-guns varied considerably and the Soviets were quite efficient in salvaging & repairing their tanks. It is also worth noting that general rule of thumb is that the side that maintains control of the battlefield in end of the battle and after it will be the side that is able to salvage armored vehicles left behind. Considering this in summer of 1941 all Soviet tanks "knocked out" in Finnish - Soviet front were basically the same as "irrevocable loss" for the Soviets, since practically all of the battlefields fell into Finnish hands at least for couple of years.

Generally speaking there seem to have been only three reliable ways for causing irrevocable loss to the other side, staring from the best one:
1. Salvage the vehicle and either repair or scrap it for materials. Do not lose it in later battles to avoid it ending up back into enemy use.
2. Blow up the vehicle - if left in field of battle this is usually the safest way to make sure that the enemy has no interest in trying to salvage & repair it.
3. Set the vehicle on fire - not a 100% certain way of doing things, but there is a very good chance that fire will cause enough damage that salvaging & repairing the vehicle is no longer worth it.

Jarkko

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