Sunday, 21 April 2013
Tiger Tactics as Observed by the Red Army
Note: The terms "Tiger" and PzVI are used interchangeably in this document. All instances of "PzVI" (except for the title) were replaced with "Tiger", since that designation would be more familiar to an Anglophone audience.
"Comments on Combat Use of the PzVI (Tiger) Tank
1. Experience on the Belgorod direction showed that "Tiger" tanks are quite vulnerable, not only to artillery, but to AT squads and tank destroyers, particularly at short range. 76 mm guns are most effective at a range of under 500 meters, especially when fired from ambushes.
Note: the 85 mm AA gun can penetrate the side from a distance of 1450 meters, and the front from 1000 meters.
2. When advancing, Tigers are used by the Germans to support infantry, and are widely used to penetrate defensive lines.
Tiger tanks fight in small groups of 5-10 units, accompanied by sappers, infantry, and artillery (especially with the Ferdinand self propelled assault gun), submachine gunners, grenadiers, and with other tanks, as a part of the first offensive wave.
Note: Tigers are organized into Heavy Tank Battalions.
3. After a thorough artillery barrage and/or bombardment, the Tigers advance jointly with infantry, sappers, and artillery support, under the cover of aircraft. They are used to support the infantry. In nearly all cases, Tigers are followed by assault guns, with one gun per 3 Tiger tanks on average.
4. After wedging themselves in the enemy defences, Tigers use their guns to suppress far targets (machine gun nests, mortar pits, artillery) that impede the progress of infantry.
The Tigers are followed by an infantry escort. If Tigers take casualties from AT squads, the escorts move forward, and, with support from the tanks, fight them off. Meanwhile, the assault guns and infantry mortars open fire on far away targets. When the path is cleared, the tanks continue their path.
5. After breaking through the first line of defence, the Tigers continue battle in the direction of the strike. The breach made by the Tigers is used to send through light and medium tanks with infantry riders. These reinforcements are sometimes also flanked by Tigers.
6. In order to scout out the layout of the defensive lines, Tigers use terrain to hide their hull, and try to attract fire, which sometimes happens if the opposing tankers and gunners are impatient and inexperienced. Tigers open fire at spotted ambushes and artillery emplacements from 1500-2000 meters.
Tigers are sometimes accompanied by scout aircraft to correct their movements, call out targets, and inform them of incoming tanks and artillery locations.
In order to successfully combat Tiger tanks, it is necessary to:
a) open fire from artillery and tanks from ranges known to be dangerous, to not fire prematurely, and reveal yourself to enemy tanks before the Tigers close in.
b) using combat experience, arrange specialized well camouflaged tank destroyer groups. Widely use ambushes, encirclements, and other methods of tank combat.
c) in order to maximize effectiveness of AT squads fighting Tigers, coordinate their actions with AT gun and mortar teams.
d) when Tiger tanks attack, they must be the first target for AT guns and tank destroyers. If the Tiger tanks are knocked out, the accompanying medium and light tanks will not continue the attack. "
CAMD RF 204-113-48