No announcement yet.

How effective was the Soviet Union against German artillery?

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • #16
    Triple C,

    Not probable on the AT effectiveness of US artillery, a definite. Large volumes of concentrated artillery fired in converged sheafs were brutal on armor...and that is whether it was Army of Navy gunfire. It was in the fire control not just in the guns themselves.

    And the US tended to mass fires more effectively. You were not going to get fired at by a battery of 4 guns 6 wereg oing to get hit by a battalion of 12 guns 3 times...50% greater shells in less time.

    It was much the same with British and Commonwealth artillery forces.

    Here is an excellent summation of US Army artillery in WW 2.

    US Army in World War II
    Artillery and AA Artillery
    by Rich Anderson

    Chemical Weapons

    The 4.2" mortar battalions provided chemical warfare (WP, smoke, and gas) support to Army divisions. Originally without an HE capability, inasmuch as there were no HE rounds for the 4.2" mortar, in late 1942 a bright CW officer thought that it would be a good idea to provide an HE round for the piece. As a result the chemical mortars were available to provide welcome heavy mortar support for the infantry by 1943. By the fall of 1944 there were sufficient battalions in the ETO to allow for a normal assignment of one company per infantry division. In some circumstances this would be augmented to a full battalion.

    The 2nd, 3rd, 81st, 83rd, 86th, 87th, 89th, 90th, 91st, 92nd, 93rd, 94th, 95th, 96th, 97th, and 99th Battalions served in the ETO. The 84th and 100th Battalions served in Italy. The 71st, 80th, 82nd, 85th, 88th, and 98th Battalions served in the PTO.


    In World War I the artillery arm of the U.S. Army had fought in Europe equipped entirely with French or British weapons. There were many reasons for this: the need to standardize Allied arms, lack of shipping space, and lack of industrial capacity. However, another factor was that many ordnance specialists in Britain and France felt that the indigenous American gun designs were not up to European standards. As a result, in 1921 the U.S. Army Chief of Staff, General Charles P. Sommerall (one of the most brilliant artillerymen in U.S. Army history) established the Westervelt Board to examine the army's ordnance requirements for the future. The board's report was impartial and farsighted, and it had dramatic consequences for the U.S. Army artillery in World War II. The board recommended that the standard divisional artillery piece be increased in caliber from 75mm to 105mm, while the general support weapon for the division was to be standardized as the 155mm howitzer. The 4.7" corps general support gun (a British design) was to be discarded in favor of the 155mm gun (a French design). In addition, the board recommended that heavier pieces of the most modern type be designed, and that all artillery pieces be suitable for rapid motorized road movement. Finally, improvements in fire control methodology and communications were recommended, based upon concepts that had been pioneered by Summerall as an artillery brigade commander in France.

    The financial climate of the 1920s and 1930s delayed the deployment of such an improved artillery system. However, sufficient funding was available to allow innovative Artillery and Ordnance officers to continue experimenting with new gun designs and doctrine. As a result, when the Army began to expand, much of the background work to modernize the artillery was already complete. Designs had been completed and prototypes developed and tested for most of the guns and howitzers that were to see service during the war (the opposite of the situation in the new Armor Branch, where prohibitive cost had stymied design work on armored vehicle prototypes and doctrinal experimentation during the 1920s and 1930s).

    Divisional pieces included the M1 105mm howitzer and the M1 155mm howitzer. Both were excellent weapons, with good range and, particularly in the case of the 155mm, excellent accuracy. Other new weapons were the M1 75mm pack howitzer and the M3 105mm howitzer. Both were lightweight and could be easily broken down into manageable loads suitable for transportation by pack animal (horse, mule, or man as available) or by air, and if relatively short-ranged, were ideal for airborne forces. The M3 also saw service after 1943 in the Cannon Company of the infantry regiment. A SP version of the M1 105mm, the M7 Priest, also equipped the field artillery battalions of the armor division.

    Non-divisional artillery pieces included battalions equipped with these same weapons, as well as other, heavier pieces. A companion of the 155mm howitzer was the 4.5" gun (an indigenous 120mm gun was one of the few failures of the inter-war design projects). The tube of this gun was of British design, while the carriage was that of the 155mm howitzer (carriage commonality between companion guns and howitzers was one of the hallmarks of U.S. artillery designs). Unfortunately, the 4.5" -- although well liked by American artillerymen - was not a very efficient weapon for its size. The shell (also of British design) was of low-grade steel, thick-walled and with a small bursting charge compared to the shell weight. The 4.5" projectile weighed 54.90 pounds, but had only a 4.49 pound bursting charge, while the 105mm howitzer projectile weighed 33 pounds, but had a 4.8 pound bursting charge. Its range was insufficient to compensate for the relative ineffectiveness of this round and as a result it was withdrawn from service soon after the end of the war.

    A much more effective weapon was the M1 155mm gun, known as a "Long Tom" (an appellation with a long and glorious tradition in the U.S. artillery.) It combined long range, accuracy, and hitting power with a well designed, mobile carriage.

    A different 155mm gun was the M12 SP. Developed in 1942, it was an interesting amalgam of the old and the new, utilizing the tube of the pre-war French designed GPF (Grand Puissance, Failloux), itself developed in World War II, and the chassis of the obsolescent M3 Grant tank. It was an experiment by the Ordnance Department that had been turned down by the AGF in October 1943 on the grounds that there was no requirement for it. However, in early 1944 urgent requests from U.S. Army forces in England for a heavy SP gun resulted in 74 being rebuilt. They eventually equipped seven field artillery battalions in the ETO and proved invaluable. An improved model, the M40, based upon the M1 gun and M4 tank, was produced in 1944 and deployed in limited numbers to the ETO in March 1945.

    Heavier supporting artillery pieces were the M1 8" howitzer, an excellent and accurate weapon; the M1 8" gun, which was developed as an answer to the superb German 17cm gun, had greater range and a more lethal shell than the German weapon, but suffered from poor accuracy and excessive barrel wear; and the 240mm howitzer, a good, if very heavy, weapon.

    Nearly all US artillery battalions were organized with three firing batteries and a total of twelve tubes. The exception was the eighteen-tube armored field artillery battalion and the six-tube 8" gun and 240mm howitzer battalions. A major advantage for the American artillery was that it was fully motorized and highly mobile. All 105mm and 155mm howitzer battalions in the ETO were truck-drawn, although a Table of Equipment (TE) for a tractor-drawn 155mm battalion existed. The 155mm gun battalions were almost all tractor-drawn, although a few evidently were also truck-drawn. The 4.5" gun, 8" gun, 8" howitzer, and 240mm howitzer battalions were all tractor-drawn, although, again, a TE for truck drawn battalions existed. The standard prime mover was a two-and-one-half ton truck for the 105mm and a 4-ton Diamond T truck for the 155mm howitzers. Tractors included the M5 thirteen-ton prime movers, which were utilized for the 105mm M2 howitzer, the 4.5" gun, and 155mm M1 howitzer, and the M4 eighteen-ton hi-speed, full-track, heavy prime mover, which was utilized for the 3" AA gun, the 90mm AA gun, the 155mm Long Tom gun, 8" howitzer, 8" gun, and 240mm howitzer. Redundant M3 medium tank chassis, without armament, and M31 and M32 armored recovery vehicles were also utilized as prime movers for the heavier artillery pieces.

    Non-divisional artillery battalions were normally subordinated to field artillery groups. The groups were formed in 1943 from the headquarters battery of the broken up field artillery regiments. The field artillery group consisted of an H&H Battery, with a command element and a fire-direction center element, and a Service Battery. A group was usually assigned from two to six battalions, although one or more of the battalions might be attached for direct support of an individual division. Usually, the groups were assigned howitzer and gun battalions of companion caliber, that is, 155mm howitzers were grouped with 4.5" guns, 8" howitzers with 155mm guns, and 8" guns with 240mm howitzers. The normal ratio was one gun battalion for every two howitzer battalions, although this was not always firmly adhered to. Separate 105mm howitzer battalions were normally grouped together, but were almost always assigned to direct support of divisions. The 155mm SP gun battalions were assigned to groups as the tactical situation warranted, or were frequently attached, by battery or battalion, to armored or infantry divisions.

    Field artillery brigades were also created, originally to command the separate field artillery regiments and later, to command the field artillery groups. However, the brigade eventually was seen as a redundant and unnecessary additional layer of command. Most of the brigades were inactivated or were redesignated as H&H batteries and assigned to different corps and divisions. A few artillery brigades were retained and served as such, the 13th in the MTO and the 32nd, 33rd, 34th, and 61st in the ETO. In the First Army in the ETO, two field artillery groups were attached to the 32nd Field Artillery Brigade. The brigade controlled all 8" gun and 240mm howitzer battalions of the army, making it, in effect, a heavy artillery brigade. A similar, but less centralized system was followed by Third, Seventh, and Ninth armies for control of their heavy battalions.

    All in all, the U.S. artillery was equipped with armament that was at least as well designed as, if not better than, any other in the world. The U.S. artillery further benefited from communications equipment and a fire control system that was equaled only by that of the Royal Artillery. Individual forward observers operated close to the front lines and had access, via powerful radios and extensive telephone landlines, to a formidable array of weapons. The highly redundant signals system meant that, even when all other contact with front-line units and their headquarters was lost, the artillery communications net usually remained open.

    Perhaps more important, and making the U.S. artillery the best in the world, was a fire-direction system that had been develop at the U.S. Field Artillery School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, between the wars. This was a highly refined development of the crude system Summerall had pioneered in World War I. This system permitted rapid engagements of targets, and allowed the coordination of fires of many units from many widely separated firing positions. One of the most deadly tactics employed was the time-on-target (TOT) concentration. A TOT massed fires from several battalions onto a selected target and calculated the times of flight for the shells from each battery so that they all arrived on target at nearly the same instant (a similar tactic, called a "Stonk", had been developed independently by the Royal Artillery in North Africa).

    Further enhancing the deadliness of the U.S. artillery was the development and deployment in the ETO in December 1944 of the new proximity fuse. Also known by its code designation of VT (for variable-time) or POZIT, the proximity fuse contained a tiny radar that triggered detonation at a preset distance from a solid object. The POZIT fuse had been intended for use against air targets (taking a heavy toll of German "Buzzbombs" in the fall of 1944). The fuse significantly simplified and enhanced the lethality of air bursts and eliminated the need for complicated and unreliable time fuses.

    Although US artillery was second to none in the war, problems with ammunition supply did hamper efficiency at various periods. This problem reached its nadir during the fall of 1944, when the US artillery in Europe was reduced to strict rationing of ammunition. At one point, the artillery was limited to fewer than twenty 105mm rounds-per-day-per-gun. From 11 October to 7 November 1944, Third Army fired a total of 76,325 rounds of all types (an average of 2,726 per-day), which was less than the number fired on a single day during the Battle of the Bulge. Indeed, at the end of the Battle of the Bulge, ammunition reserves in the ETO were 31 percent of the War Department's planning levels (which were already conceded to be too low). Like the personnel replacement problem, the ammunition shortage was only truly solved by the ending of the war.

    Initially, the troop basis allotted by the AGF for non-divisional artillery was somewhat low, and it emphasized lighter artillery over heavier. Only fifty-four heavy and eighty-one medium battalions, compared to 105 light battalions, were authorized on 24 November 1942. However, lobbying by Generals McNair and Sommervell in 1943 resulted in an increase. On 15 January 1944 the War Department authorization had expanded to include 111 heavy and 111 medium battalions, while the number of light battalions authorized had decreased to 95. In April 1944 a review of combat experience by the Lucas Board resulted in a further expansion, with 143 heavy and 114 medium battalions authorized on 1 July 1944. Converting light artillery battalions made up most of the increased numbers, by 1 July the authorized number of light battalions was down to eighty. On 31 December 1944 the artillery reached its maximum strength. On that date there were a total of 346 battalions active, 137 heavy, 116 medium, and 93 light. On 31 March 1945 there were 137 heavy, 113 medium and 76 light battalions active, of which 307 were deployed or were about to deploy to active theaters of war.

    As of 8 May 1945 there were a total of 238 separate field artillery battalions in the ETO, including:

    Four 75mm howitzer battalions:

    The 463rd Parachute, 464th Parachute, 601st Pack, and 602nd Pack;

    Thirty-six 105mm howitzer battalions:

    The 18th, 25th, 70th, 74th, 76th, 115th, 130th, 162nd Puerto Rican, 170th, 193rd, 196th, 241st, 242nd, 250th, 252nd, 255th, 280th, 281st, 282nd, 283rd, 284th, 394th, 401st, 512th, 522nd Nisei, 569th, 580th, 583rd, 627th, 687th, 688th, 690th, 691st, 692nd, 693rd, and 802nd;

    Sixteen 105mm Armored Field Artillery Battalions (105mm SP):

    The 58th, 59th, 62nd, 65th, 69th, 83rd, 87th, 93rd, 253rd, 274th, 275th, 276th, 400th, 440th, 695th, and 696th;

    Seventeen 4.5" gun battalions:

    The 172nd, 176th, 198th, 211th, 215th, 259th, 770th, 771st, 772nd, 773rd, 774th, 775th, 777th Colored, 935th, 939th, 941st, and 959th;

    Seventy-one 155mm howitzer battalions:

    The 2nd, 17th, 36th, 81st, 141st, 177th, 179th, 182nd, 183rd, 186th, 187th, 188th, 191st, 202nd, 203rd, 204th, 208th, 209th, 228th, 254th, 257th, 333rd Colored, 349th Colored, 350th Colored, 351st Colored, 521st, 550th, 665th, 666th, 667th, 670th, 671st, 672nd, 673rd, 686th Colored, 689th, 751st, 752nd, 753rd, 754th, 755th, 758th, 759th, 761st, 762nd, 763rd, 764th, 767th, 768th, 776th, 805th, 808th, 809th, 937th, 938th, 940th, 942nd, 943rd, 945th, 949th, 951st, 953rd, 955th, 957th, 961st, 963rd, 965th, 967th, 969th Colored, 974th, and 975th;

    Thirty 155mm gun battalions:

    The 190th, 200th, 240th, 244th, 261st, 273rd, 514th, 515th, 516th, 528th, 540th, 541st, 546th, 547th, 548th, 549th, 559th, 561st, 634th, 635th, 731st, 733rd, 734th, 976th, 977th, 978th, 979th, 980th, 981st, and 989th;

    Six 155mm SP gun battalions:

    The 174th, 258th, 557th, 558th, 987th, and 991st;

    Thirty-eight 8" howitzer battalions:

    The 194th, 195th, 207th, 264th, 529th, 535th, 578th Colored, 630th, 656th, 657th, 658th, 659th, 660th, 661st, 662nd, 663rd, 736th, 738th, 739th, 740th, 741st, 742nd, 743rd, 744th, 745th, 746th, 747th, 748th, 787th, 788th, 790th, 791st, 793rd, 932nd, 933rd, 995th, 997th, and 999th Colored;

    Five 8" gun battalions:

    The 153rd, 243rd, 256th, 268th, and 575th;

    And fifteen 240mm howitzer battalions:

    The 265th, 266th, 267th, 269th, 270th, 272nd, 277th, 278th, 538th, 539th, 551st, 552nd, 553rd, 697th, and 698th.

    As of 8 May 1945 there were a total of sixteen separate field artillery battalions in the MTO, including:

    One 105mm howitzer battalion:

    The 175th;

    Two Armored Field Artillery Battalions (105mm SP):

    The 432nd and 1125th;

    Seven 155mm howitzer battalions:

    The 75th, 178th, 248th, 631st, 765th, 766th, and 936th;

    Four 155mm gun battalions:

    The 173rd, 530th, 633rd, and 985th;

    Two 8" howitzer battalions:

    The 527th and 536th.

    As of 8 August 1945 there were a total of fifty-three separate field artillery battalions in the PTO, including:

    Three 75mm howitzer battalions:

    The 462nd Parachute, 612th Pack, and 613th Pack;

    Eight 105mm howitzer battalions:

    The 97th, 134th, 147th, 148th, 249th, 251st, 260th, and 694th;

    Three Armored Field Artillery Battalions (105mm SP):

    The 426th, 427th, and 428th;

    Sixteen 155mm howitzer battalions:

    The 4th, 55th, 145th, 154th, 165th, 181st, 198th, 225th, 429th, 756th, 757th, 760th, 769th, 803rd, 804th, and 947th;

    Eight 155mm gun battalions:

    The 168th, 223rd, 226th, 433rd, 517th, 531st, 532nd, and 983rd;

    Seven 8" howitzer battalions:

    The 465th, 655th, 749th, 750th, 786th, 789th, and 797th;

    One 8" gun battalion:

    The 780th;

    Five 240mm howitzer battalions:

    The 543rd, 544th, 545th, 778th, and 779th;

    Two 4.5" rocket battalions:

    The 421st and 422nd.

    Okay, a little off track but.....
    “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
    Mark Twain


    • #17
      An excellent article. Thank you.

      The really impressive thing of US and UK artillery was being able to target a maneuvering tank company and destroy it over ground that has not been surveyed previously, and the flexibility to call on any artillery battalions in range of the enemy to shoot.

      For the Soviets their artillery seems to be a weapon reserved for set-piece battles.
      All those who are merciful with the cruel will come to be cruel to the merciful.
      -Talmud Kohelet Rabbah, 7:16.


      • #18
        Originally posted by Albany Rifles View Post
        Okay, a little off track but.....
        No, it's a good read, AR.

        The clean slate the US Army started with as regards artillery after 1918 meant it was the genuinely progressive branch of the US Army by international standards in WW2.


        • #19
          Originally posted by clackers View Post
          No, it's a good read, AR.

          The clean slate the US Army started with as regards artillery after 1918 meant it was the genuinely progressive branch of the US Army by international standards in WW2.
          The field artillery was the most progressive arm of the US Army throughout its history.

          In the 1830s and early 1840s the artillery went through a thorough reorganization and rearming and developed outstanding doctrine which was to provide it in good stead during The Mexican War; The Flying Artillery were decisive on almost every battlefield. After that war a further study was conducted which resulted in the development of excellent 12 pound and 3 inch field artillery which would give great service in the Civil War.

          That the Field Artillery would come out of the debacle of pre-World War 1 faield procurement and the wreckage of the war with a great way forward is not surprising. The other branches saw this and integrated fires into tehir doctrine as well.
          “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
          Mark Twain