German Squad Tactics

Discussions on High Command, strategy and the Armed Forces (Wehrmacht) in general.
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Zimtstern
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Re: German Squad Tactics

Post by Zimtstern » 03 Sep 2019 17:18

No you didnt aswer the question because you are focusing on the overhaul firepower of all arms combines but im only interested in the firepower provided by the infratry conductiong combined arms operations. Its not important for my question how much firepower they have compared to other arms or how much they kill or else. Its about the infantry coming into action to contribute to the combined arms effort and the enemy infantry working agaist them all while all arms of both sides are working togehter.
Duncan_M wrote:
03 Sep 2019 16:54
That is not why one conducts a defense, especially not the Germans.
I didnt mean to say that anyone did defence beause of that. I simply ment to say that defence is a force multipler and in general you could aim to use that. Neverless even if you didnt aim for that it will still boost your strenght.

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Re: German Squad Tactics

Post by Duncan_M » 03 Sep 2019 17:54

Zimtstern wrote:
03 Sep 2019 17:18
No you didnt aswer the question because you are focusing on the overhaul firepower of all arms combines but im only interested in the firepower provided by the infratry conductiong combined arms operations.
I did answer the question, just not to your liking. Which you seem to take offense to unfortunately.

And the reason is you're entirely focused on one aspect of the infantry fighting power, the infantry rifle gruppe, while utterly ignoring everything else, which is especially worrisome because the German army was notorious for its combined arms doctrine.

Squad vs squad doesn't exist. By WW2, there wasn't even something like infantry vs infantry, since the centuries past cavalry and artillery both played a major role in battle as well. By WW2, an infantry regiment was simply part of an overall unit, full of various soldier types, all meant to work together to accomplish a mission. Any important mission was impossible to accomplish with a series of rifle squads with no platoon, company, battalion, regimental, divisional, corps, army, or air force supporting units. Even at the tactical level, little to nothing could be done without supporting arms, be it on the offense or defense as well.
Its not important for my question how much firepower they have compared to other arms or how much they kill or else.
Never once did I compare the German weapons availability of an infantry division to anyone else, which is immaterial because it was not until well into WW2 that the Germans even began tickering with various KstN to task organize them to actual battlefields and enemies. I simply listed out what they had access to, so when they formed into kampfgruppe, those weapons are what a German infantryman in a infantry division had access to.

And the only mention I made to about combat effectiveness and lethality was to answer your question about which was deadlier (and yes, King of Battle=Artillery is far deadlier than infantry small arms used in a gruppe).
Its about the infantry coming into action to contribute to the combined arms effort and the enemy infantry working agaist them all while all arms of both sides are working togehter.
If you look at all the German soldiers in a standard infantry regiment (who would also be supported by artillerymen, engineers, and cavalrymen), not all of the infantry are in a rifle squad/gruppe.

Depending on unit KstN, there are 5 cm mortarmen of the zug, there are 8 cm mortarmen of the rifle company or heavy company, the heavy machine gunners of the rifle company or the heavy company, there are 12 cm mortarmen and 7.5cm gunners of the regiment's 13th company, panzerjaegar of the regiment's 14th company, and EVERY ONE OF THEM IS AN INFANTRYMAN.

So when you go off about infantryman, make note that while many of them are in the rifle squads, many are not, they are infantrymen in other roles, who as part of a combined arms doctrine, are used in concert with the infantrmen of the rifle squad. Or sometimes not even them (see use of engineers in Stalingrad).
I didnt mean to say that anyone did defence beause of that. I simply ment to say that defence is a force multipler and in general you could aim to use that. Neverless even if you didnt aim for that it will still boost your strenght.
No, defense in of itself is not a force multiplier. Defense is a situation in which one side defends an objective they hold, instead of taking one from someone else.

Being on the defense allows one to sometimes fight in favorable conditions that give advantages, such as picking the ground, holding key terrain, digging in and fortifying positions with protection from direct and indirect fire, having designated and cleared sectors of fire, having registered mortars and artillery and designated target reference points, laying AP and AT mines, building various obstacles to channelize and impede attackers. But not all of them are done on a defensive, and often times weren't done.

There are even plenty of times a unit on the defense, even German, barely even dug in at all and were wiped away with little difficulty, either destroyed, pushed back, or forced to surrender en mass.

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Zimtstern
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Re: German Squad Tactics

Post by Zimtstern » 04 Sep 2019 19:10

Duncan_M wrote:
03 Sep 2019 17:54
Squad vs squad doesn't exist. By WW2, there wasn't even something like infantry vs infantry,...
Ah, now I understand. With that point of view my question is hard to answer. I will value your opinion.


At the same time I want to invite all the other guys who are reading this to make their own thoughts and share their clever ideas. I would love to get more solution proposals.

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Re: German Squad Tactics

Post by Duncan_M » 05 Sep 2019 17:09

Zimtstern wrote:
04 Sep 2019 19:10

Ah, now I understand. With that point of view my question is hard to answer. I will value your opinion.

At the same time I want to invite all the other guys who are reading this to make their own thoughts and share their clever ideas. I would love to get more solution proposals.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRtwa9MNom0&t=

This is a decent video that shows a series of historical small unit German defensive positions on the Eastern Front. In it, you can see how the combined arms aspect of infantry division actually pans out. The same supporting weapon systems in the defense would be allocated for the offense too.

More so if the objective was important enough to be deemed the division's main effort, its schwerpunkt, which would gain the majority of supporting arms, including more batteries of artillery, more shells allocated, StuG support, engineers, etc.

But it wasn't just the division that had a schwerpunkt, every subunit did as well. Each would take one or more of their elements, designate them the schwerpunkt, having others perform supporting operations (with fewer support weapons allocated), or being in the reserve.

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Re: German Squad Tactics

Post by Zimtstern » 05 Sep 2019 21:03

Oh, I know this channel, love it.

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Re: German Squad Tactics

Post by Zimtstern » 09 Oct 2019 05:10

Anyone got any good new ideas?

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Re: German Squad Tactics

Post by Alphapackleader01 » 06 Jun 2021 06:50

Hi, let`s see if I got your question right:

American squad has firepower distributed amongst all squad members
German squad has most of its firepower concentrated in one squad member, the machine gunner

You think, that this German concentration is ineffective and want to know how this way of fighting could be so successful. I hope I got that right. Based on this understanding, the answer lies in 3 points:

1. area target vs. point target
2. volume of fire
3. sustainability of fire

OK, so let`s get to it.

1. Area Target vs. Point Target

You mean, the American squad presents their firepower as an area target based on its distribution, while the German squad presents its firepower as a point target concentrated in the machine gun.

When Germans and Allies made for a friendly exchange of bullets, we need to divide this into two distinct situations. These are engagements at longer distances and engagements at shorter distances. Where exactly the one turns into the other is rather blurred. For the sake of this discussion, we assume for the longer distances something around 400 m and for the shorter ones something of less than 100 m.

The shorter distances can be discussed fairly shortly. Here the German squads were simply not that effective against the Americans as the latter with their autoloading rifles would just have no problem to engage most of the German soldiers with their bold action rifles.

Now, shorter distances are not necessarily that preferred. There are a few reasons for that:
- The danger of being overwhelmed with a sudden charge
- The danger from heavy fire support close to the own positions
- The danger of being overwhelmed by enemy firepower (for the Americans thanks to the Grand and for the Russians thanks to their submachine gun formations)

There are situations, in which short ranged engagements were unavoidable or even preferable:
- When there is simply not enough range, like in cities
- When there is no fire support and the enemy should be wiped out in an ambush with infantry fire for effect

At large, German squads would be better of going for the firefight at longer distances. Assuming that the enemy was pinned down, this would allow them to decimate them with machine gun sprayed fire, aimed bolt action rifle fire, and artillery support that includes also mortars.

Having established, that greater distances are desirable, we can fairly well assume that they would engage the enemy early on. Now, let`s come back to the 400 m for such an engagement.

The average squad size was on paper 10 for both sides. However, there might have been variations according to changes in time and for specific units and of course because of casualties, but for the sake of simplification, let`s go with 10.

As a former soldier, let me tell you, that 10 m is the preferred distance between soldiers. This again might vary according to circumstances. In general, for the advance, people tend to be more afraid as they have to go over relatively open space while being shot at. This makes them seek a more closely relationship with their squad members and make it less then 10 m. In defense, there are certain requirements that necessitate the soldiers to be in pairs in their foxholes. But we can safely assume 20 m distance between each pair, so we are back at 10 m per soldier as an average. This leaves as with a defense and attack width of roughly 100 m.

Putting this into a ratio, we get 4 to 1. For each meter of width we have 4 meters of distance. Now, put your left arm fully extended in front of you. Make a fist and raise your middle finger and pointer, like to make the victory or peace sign. Try to separate the tips of both finger as far of each other as possible. If you are the German machine gunner, you could place the full 100 m of squad width of the American squad between these two finger tips.

This means, if you start to engage the enemy, you need only a very few degrees of going left and right, and you have sprayed the whole enemy line. Now, there is also some depth to them, but that should be less then 50 m. With one burst, given the inherent limits of controllability with an MG34 and 42 at their respective rates of fire, you definitely have bullets going all over this width and depth. Shooting bursts, you will simply create an pattern of unpredictable hits all over this area.

Anyone in this area has the natural tendency to seek cover and forgets to shoot back. In other words, they are pinned down. The riflemen in your group, snipers, and whoever else can now engage fairly static enemies and pick them up one by one.

In short, with the distances of the engagements and width of a squad line, an area target and a point target are not that much different from each other. Of course, there were more than one American, but also more than one German squad.

2.Volume of Fire

Assume, the American squad has the serious advantage of firing their guns first on the German squad in the above example. They might even accomplish to get the Germans to keep their heads down. But for how long? Garands have a fairly limited magazine capacities and the BARs with their 20 rounds were no good catch either. In short, very fast, the firepower would wane as everyone reloads. Time for the German machine gun to pen up and do its work. This was it for the American squad.

A German machine gun has belts with 50 rounds each that can be combined with each other. In short, there is no reload needed. There is only the issue of swapping the barrel that could be achieved in a few seconds. This was the time, the Americans would probably try to move or gain the upper hand in the exchange.

However, swapping the barrel is a process taking only 4 to 7 seconds. How far can an American squad, laden with equipment, come in this time? Not far enough to charge. What about them shooting now themselves? Then we are back at the beginning, were the American squads fires away their mags and get pinned down while reloading.

3. Sustainability of Fire

When in the defense, German units could stockpile a lot of ammo in their positions. They had overlapping fields of fire between the different squads. The result is, that during barrel swaps, the other machine guns of the other squads could handle their areas of aim as well. This means, German units could keep up their fire and keep down the heads of American squads for a fairly long time.

I know, there are a lot of guys who will now try to interject the fire support from the other units of the divisions, like arty. OK, good point, but totally useless, so bad point. Why? Because both had them. However, assuming Germans in the defense and the Americans in the offense, Germans were nice and secure in their positions and Americans in the open. One round of fire support for both, and you still have a lot of German machine guns but a lot less American firepower.

What about the opposite? German in the attack and Americans in the defense, yes, that is a different thing. This might explain why it often was easier to stop a German assault than assaulting a German position.

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Re: German Squad Tactics

Post by Delta Tank » 07 Jun 2021 14:51

To all,

I read this book a long, long time ago, I thought it was pretty good. “A perspective on infantry” By John English

https://www.amazon.com/Perspective-Infa ... 0030596998

Mike



Mike

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AbollonPolweder
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Re: German Squad Tactics

Post by AbollonPolweder » 08 Jun 2021 18:02

Alphapackleader01 wrote:
06 Jun 2021 06:50
Hi, let`s see if I got your question right:

American squad has firepower distributed amongst all squad members
German squad has most of its firepower concentrated in one squad member, the machine gunner

You think, that this German concentration is ineffective and want to know how this way of fighting could be so successful. I hope I got that right. Based on this understanding, the answer lies in 3 points:

1. area target vs. point target
2. volume of fire
3. sustainability of fire

OK, so let`s get to it.
...
Very good analysis. Thank you sir! Of course, Dunсan М can easily destroy your version of the German-American "battle". For example, American artillerymen will fire several volleys at the position of the Germans. Either a Sherman platoon appears or an A-26 Invader arrives. The infantry squad does not fight separately from other branches of the military, as Dunсan М again claims. This is theoretical. In practice, everything can be, including a pure confrontation: squad versus squad. The Soviet infantry of 1941 very often fought without the support of artillery, tanks and aircraft. Mainly using only small arms.
https://sites.google.com/site/krieg1941undnarod/
Better to lose with a clever than with a fool to find

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