When to use mortars/IG/howitzers?

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Ste
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When to use mortars/IG/howitzers?

Post by Ste » 07 Sep 2017 13:18

In order to give a better explanation, I will make an example:
a Major, commanding a grenadier bataillon had to attack and conquer a town. He has at his disposal some 81mm mortars in each of his companies, he has some IG (both 75mm and 150mm) and also a battery of 105mm howitzers under his command.
Depending on what he will decide to use mortars instead of howitzers instead of IG?
Thanks in advance.

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stg 44
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Re: When to use mortars/IG/howitzers?

Post by stg 44 » 07 Sep 2017 17:30

Ste wrote:In order to give a better explanation, I will make an example:
a Major, commanding a grenadier bataillon had to attack and conquer a town. He has at his disposal some 81mm mortars in each of his companies, he has some IG (both 75mm and 150mm) and also a battery of 105mm howitzers under his command.
Depending on what he will decide to use mortars instead of howitzers instead of IG?
Thanks in advance.
Why not all of the above? If you've got it use it. The only reason I could see a problem is accuracy, so you'd have to tailor the mission to the CEP of shorts/long dropped rounds. So Howitzers, the furthest away and most inaccurate would suppress until other weapon systems got on line and could direct fire (IGs) or accurately indirect fire close by, while mortars would hit targets further from the front line to avoid hitting their won troops. So in terms of danger close the howitzers were the weapon you'd have to stay furthest from, mortars next, IGs last, as they were the most accurate and the one that could direct fire close to the front.

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Re: When to use mortars/IG/howitzers?

Post by Ste » 20 Sep 2017 16:21

So, for example, use howitzers before grenadiers starts to attack and after that, cover the advance of grenadiers with mortars because being near the frontline it was easier to control fire and avoid friendly fire casualties? Same for IGs?

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Hoplophile
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Re: When to use mortars/IG/howitzers?

Post by Hoplophile » 17 Feb 2018 05:33

Under normal circumstances, the major would use battalion heavy weapons for Schwerpunktbildung, the creation of a main effort at a place and time that offered the greatest chances of decisive effect. This would leave the companies that were not part of the Schwerpunkt) (main effort) with the duty of fulfilling their particular missions without calling upon the battalion weapons.

In other words, the field artillery battery and infantry gun unit would cooperate directly with the company (or companies) forming the Schwerpunkt while the company mortars would be employed as directed by the company commanders.

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Re: When to use mortars/IG/howitzers?

Post by yantaylor » 20 Feb 2018 21:39

I would guess that late in the war, each German Infantry Company would have a pair of 81mm mortars at their disposal and these could be under the command of the company commander.
You could even give these companies an extra punch by splitting your 75mm IGs and using them for direct fire.
That leaves you with your 150mm IGs and 105mm FHs, now the 150mm IGs were organic to your regiment and could be placed fairly close behind your advance. This would still mean that they need an observer to direct their fire, but these could probably be directed more quickly then the 105mm FHs.
The 105mm FHs are divisional artillery and would probably be in the rear area and would be a part of a fire plan.

Just my take on it.
Regards
Yan.

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Re: When to use mortars/IG/howitzers?

Post by SgtVan11B » 24 Feb 2018 13:28

When to use mortars? It's elementary that mortars are used to cover avenues of approach that aren't exposed to direct fire. Of course they're also useful for 'fire for effect' fending off attacking troops in the open. As for the Wehrmacht in late stages of the war, where unit cohesion gave way to cobbling together whatever still came from the tap of dwindling manpower, the 50mm knee mortar was more prevalent as little or no training was needed and the weapons portable and convenient while retreating. It was a knee mortar that wounded my dad on 4/16/45 as they drew the noose and bagged 5000 German prisoners - titled "Finale" in the unit history, it was primarily his 397th Infantry with an assist from the 398th bearing south (both part of the 100th Infantry Division) that was the last real engagement for them. Quite ironic that my dad caught one on this last day of substantive combat after a long slog after landing in Marseilles, France. Also ironic when he was unscathed by the nasty house-to-house fight for Heilbronn, the defender's resistance stiffened by their anger at having their city bombed by the British. Akin to Stalingrad and Monte Cassino, reducing an objective to rubble helps create excellent cover for defenders, not the set pieces of intact structures that can be dealt with more methodically.

yantaylor
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Re: When to use mortars/IG/howitzers?

Post by yantaylor » 24 Feb 2018 21:25

I think your father was probably more likely wounded by a 5cm GrW 36 then a knee mortar, which was a Japanese weapon. I suppose there were plenty of angry German civilians knocking around in 1945, because both the British and the Americans bombed quite a few cities, the carpet bombing ahead of Cobra for example, probably killed quite a few French folks too.

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Re: When to use mortars/IG/howitzers?

Post by Yoozername » 25 Feb 2018 05:49

This is from another thread I posted here about a book written by an officer in the German 13th company of a Regt.


Re: Why no 88/105mm infantry guns?
Postby Yoozername » 26 Sep 2017 20:17

Received 'At Leningrad's Gates', it's a very good read.

https://www.amazon.com/At-Leningrads-Ga ... 1935149377

"The book has a couple of pictures of the author, and a crew, both posing with a 12 cm mortar. There is no mistaking the pictures for the 105mm early 'nebel 35' mortar. The (120mm) weapon has all these features (of a German weapon).

The author, being a F.O. for the 13th company (among other things), describes all the weapons from the company being used indirectly for the most part. They are the indirect weapons of the infantry regiment, along with the battalions own 81mm mortars. The guns of the division are controlled by the division and the author does not have much to do with them besides an occasional mass 'time on target' type engagement.

The lighter 7,5 cm IG are usually the ones that are brought into action first and again, used indirectly. rarely are they used directly in situations like street fighting and then only carefully. The high trajectory that they are capable of is used to bring down fire so as to clear trees and so protect the German infantry from friendly fire. The guns themselves are said to have been used a half mile to a mile behind the MLR. The book uses non-metric units since the author had moved to the US and the book seems to have been written later in life.

The book does not mention using HEAT rounds but does describe an incredible indirect mission called in by the author after he climbed up a tree. He directed 15 cm IG fire onto T34s with infantry aboard and destroyed some armor. the author claims some accuracy for these weapons and also a rare use of 21 cm rockets he fired right out of the packing crates. He hit a forest, so that being his target, he claims accuracy.

The issuance of the 12 cm mortars (not 105mm), seems to come from when his regt. was designated a Grenadier Regt. He claims a platoon (3-4) were used and to good effect on soviet infantry that were attacking in a dense group. Photos show their use. Some sources claim that 12 cm mortars were used at battalion level but I always thought this was a myth I have read they were used in separate units like the US 4.2 inch were. But, evidently, they were issued in this case at the Regt. level. The 13th company was a bit bloated as far as man-power needed (~300), and at times their usefulness was in question (fluid battles not their forte), and had to retreat first when it was time, because of the 'pack-up'.

The author used wire commo most of the time as a preference. It seems that they used horses most of th time also. the book could have had more battle detail but it is a memoir and his family and love life and the hard-ships did move me. I appreciated his coming to the USA and becoming a citizen and have to say, compared to the stupid NFL crap going on nowadays, he is more of an American than most.

All-in-all, I would say that the post-WWII future of the infantry gun was similar to the antitank gun. They were too vulnerable and infantry were better served by weapons like the recoilless rifle and SP mounted weapons or just tanks."

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Re: When to use mortars/IG/howitzers?

Post by yantaylor » 25 Feb 2018 13:07

After 1944, were the German's planning to replace the 75mm IGs with 12cm Mortars?
I suppose that mortars are cheaper and faster to produce then Infantry Guns, so to replace the Regimental Infantry Gun Platoon with 12cm Mortars would seem a logical move, especially when your armament production system is under pressure.
So late in the war, was the 8cm Mortar used as a company support weapon and the 12cm a battalion support weapon?

Regards
Yan.

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Re: When to use mortars/IG/howitzers?

Post by Yoozername » 25 Feb 2018 16:55

Again, the 12 cm GrW 42 were issued to the author's 13th company in addition to the six 7,5 cm le.IG 18 and the two 15 cm sIG 33.

Basically, the 8 cm Granatwerfer 34 is a battalion weapon and the infantry guns and 12 cm mortars are regimental weapons. The 13th company used the weapons primarily as indirect fire. The division used its howitzers separately.

I believe the Germans also used the 12 cm mortars in independant units. Much like the US 4.2 inch mortars.

It is a very good book if you can get it.

https://www.amazon.com/At-Leningrads-Ga ... QDGR758SSC

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Re: When to use mortars/IG/howitzers?

Post by yantaylor » 25 Feb 2018 19:55

So the 12cm mortars were added to the 13th company of the regular infantry regiment to supplement the 7.5cm and 15cm Infantry Guns, rather than replace them?

Regards
Yan.

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Re: When to use mortars/IG/howitzers?

Post by Yoozername » 25 Feb 2018 20:22

Yes.

The 12 cm had comparable range to the other weapons and a faster rate of fire than the 15 cm sIG33. The 7,5 cm IG had a faster rate of fire than either. The 15 cm sIG33 was a heavy platform and would only be taken off the horses if need be. The author details that they were a horse drawn outfit. I would imagine that trucks would have to bring up the ammunition to some degree.

Post WWII, most armies ditched the IG concept since communications improvements could replace the IG firepower with division assets. Most armies went to regimental weapons like the 4.2 inch mortar or the 12 cm class. Direct fire weapons like the 'super bazookas', RPGs and recoilless rifles filled that need for bunkers and AT duties, etc.

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Re: When to use mortars/IG/howitzers?

Post by yantaylor » 25 Feb 2018 20:37

Wow that 13th company must have had some really serious firepower.

This morning I looked at the order of battle of the 10th SS Panzer Division in Normandy and in the reconnaissance battalion, there is a half-track company which had two platoons and two gun sections, and they are;

Half-Track Company:
Pioneer Platoon [13 x LMGs & 6 x Flame-Throwers]
Panzerjager Platoon [3 x 75mm Pak 40s & 8 x LMGs]
Infantry Gun Section [2 x 75mm IGs & 4 x LMGs]
Gun Section [6 x 75mm Guns & 8 x LMGs]

Now I don't know if this is a mistake by the author [George Nafziger], but is this right and if so just what are these 75mm guns in the gun section?
Are they were sdkfz 251/8s? The battalion did have 6 x sdkfz 234/3s in the heavy platoon.
The other two half-track companies have what look like two sdkfz 251/8s each, but would this company had six of these?

Regards
Yan.

Gary Kennedy
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Re: When to use mortars/IG/howitzers?

Post by Gary Kennedy » 26 Feb 2018 01:32

The description by Nafizger does match with the authorised strength of a Heavy Coy in a Pz Recce Bn, though I wouldn't term the 7.5-cm subunits as Sections, they were Platoons. The Pl with two 7.5-cm guns used towed weapons, with four halftracks, one for the HQ, one for amn and two each towing a light inf gun. The other Pl was based on the 251/9 (not the 251/8, which was the ambulance variant) with six such vehicles, each mounting a 7.5-cm weapon L/24, plus two more halftracks, one each for HQ and amn duties.

The official distribution of mortars and infantry guns in the 'neu Art' Grenadier Regt, as laid out in late 1943, was two 8-cm mortars within each Rifle Coy, four 12-cm mortars in the MG Coy of each Gren Bn, and the usual six light and two heavy inf guns in the Inf Gun Coy of the Regt. Where the 12-cm mortars were unavailable the authorised substitution was a Pl with six 8-cm mortars, additional to those with the Rifle Coys. The Type44 Regt brought the 8-cm mortars back into the MG Coy (now renamed the Heavy Coy) to give a Pl of six 8-cm and a Pl of four 12-cm weapons; again if there were no 12-cm weapons a (second) Pl of six 8-cm mortars was authorised. Both the 15-cm inf gun and 12-cm mortar were authorised motor transport (the RSO) in the nA and Type44 Regt.

The Volks Gren Regt removed the 12-cm from the Bn structure and replaced the Inf Gun Coy with a Regtl Heavy Coy, with two Pls of 12-cm mortars (four tubes in each) and a Pl of four 7.5-cm inf guns; this latter was to be replaced by a Pl of two 15-cm inf guns. The Gren Bns also each had a Pl of four 7.5-cm inf guns and an 8-cm mortar Pl with six weapons in their Heavy Coys. Horse-drawn transport was used by the inf guns and mortars.

I think production of the 12-cm mortar was in the 7000-8000 range, which presumably excludes captured Red Army PM-38 models, so not insubstantial. How many were reported on Div strength returns would give a better guide as to the numbers with combat units.

Gary

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Re: When to use mortars/IG/howitzers?

Post by Yoozername » 26 Feb 2018 04:35

Here is some evidence that the Germans used the 12 cm mortars in separate units.

http://www.lonesentry.com/articles/ttt/ ... lions.html

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