Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Artillery Effectiveness

As mentioned in this article, even the most impressive artillery barrage doesn't amount to much when you're just dumping shells in the vague direction of the enemy. Every shot must be carefully aimed, and the aftermath analyzed in order to ensure effectiveness. Here are some of these analyses, from the Battle of Kursk. Notice the difference that effective scouting makes: if you know exactly where the target is, you can drop shells directly on top of it. If you don't know where the target is, you are forced to blanket the area in shells, drastically reducing effectiveness.


Target #364, east of the Parashino agricultural college. Shells fired: 80 76 mm, 20 122 mm. 
Shells that hit within 50 meters: 7 76 mm, 6 122 mm
Shells that hit within 75-100 meters: 6 76 mm, 4 122 mm.
Effectiveness: 1 gun damaged by shrapnel, crew members killed.

Target #422, 3 150 mm gun battery, suppressed on July 5th, 1943, during counterbattery fire by 872nd Howitzer Artillery Regiment, 32nd Howitzer Artillery Brigade. 40 122 mm shells used.


Target #471 north of Senkovo. Shots fired: 39
Shells that hit within 50 meters: 33, 21 122 mm, 12 76 mm
Shells that hit within 50-100 meters: 6, 5 122 mm, 1 76 mm
Effectiveness: gun destroyed.

Target #485, 4 105 mm gun battery, suppressed on July 5th, 1943, during counterbattery fire by 872nd Howitzer Artillery Regiment, 32nd Howitzer Artillery Brigade. 54 122 mm shells used.


Target #541, south of Glazunovka. Shells fired: 75 122 mm, 40 152 mm
Hits within 50 meters: 2 122 mm, 6 152 mm
Hits within 75-100 meters: 5 122 mm, 10 152 mm
Effectiveness: one 150 mm gun damaged, crew members killed.

Target #514, south-west of the Prozorovskiy farmstead. Shells fired: 43
Hits within 50 meters: 39, 21 122 mm, 18 76 mm
Hits within 100 meters: 4 122 mm.
Effectiveness: one gun with crew destroyed.


Target #622 west of the Parashino agricultural college. Shells fired: 80 76 mm, 20 122 mm
Hits within 50 meters: 10 76 mm, 6 122 mm
Hits within 75-100 meters: 5 76 mm, 2 122 mm
Effectiveness: 1 gun destroyed, 1 gun damaged by shrapnel.

Target #543: north-west of Kuznach. Shells fired: 200 76 mm, 56 122 mm.
Hits within 50 meters: 3 76 mm, 12 122 mm
Hits within 75-100 meters: 4 76 mm, 6 122 mm
Effectiveness: 1 gun destroyed, crew killed.


Target #665, 2 105 mm gun battery, suppressed on July 5th, 1943, during counterbattery fire by 469th Howitzer Artillery Regiment, 32nd Howitzer Artillery Brigade. 46 122 mm shells used.

Target #721, Kriviye Verkhi. Shells fired: 75 122 mm, 40 152 mm
Hits within 50 meters: 3 122 mm, 10 152 mm
Hits within 75-100 meters: 4 122 mm, 6 152 mm
Effectiveness: one gun damaged by shrapnel, two crews killed.


Target #752, north-east of Lodyrevo. Shells fired: 200 76 mm, 50 122 mm.
Hits within 50 meters: 11 76 mm, 9 122 mm
Hits within 75-100 meters: 6 76 mm, 4 122 mm.
Effectiveness: 1 gun and crew destroyed.

Target #784, north-east of Lodyrevo. Shells fired: 200 76 mm, 50 122 mm.
Hits within 50 meters: 7 76 mm, 9 122 mm
Hits within 75-100 meters: 8 76 mm, 1 122 mm.
Effectiveness: 1 gun damaged by shrapnel, direct hit on two dugouts with people.


Target #792, north-east of Sadoviy. Shells fired: 200 76 mm, 50 122 mm.
Hits within 50 meters: 20 76 mm, 3 122 mm
Hits within 75-100 meters: 2 76 mm, 2 122 mm.
Effectiveness: 1 gun  destroyed, 2 guns damaged by shrapnel, 3 crews killed.

Target #846, 3 105 mm gun battery, suppressed on July 5th, 1943, during counterbattery fire by 3rd squadron,  753rd Gun Artillery Regiment. 78 152 mm shells used.


Target #1022, 3 150 mm gun battery, suppressed on July 5th, 1943, during counterbattery fire by 3/642 Corps Gun Artillery Regiment. 76 107 mm shells used.
Target #1024, 4 105 mm gun battery, suppressed on July 5th, 1943, during counterbattery fire by 2nd squadron, 753rd Gun Artillery Regiment. 64 152 mm shells used.


Target #1082, 3 105 mm gun battery, suppressed on July 5th, 1943, during counterbattery fire by 1st squadron, 753rd Gun Artillery Regiment. 58 152 mm shells used.

Target #1142, 4 105 mm gun battery, suppressed on July 5th, 1943, during counterbattery fire by 2nd squadron, 753rd Gun Artillery Regiment. 56 152 mm shells used.


Target #3975, north-west of Senkovo
Number of hits: 34
Within 50 meters: 26, 4 152 mm, 22 122 mm
Within 50-100 meters: 8, 3 152 mm, 5 122 mm
Effectiveness: 2 guns knocked out by shrapnel, 2 dugouts destroyed

Target 4042, east of Sadovod
Number of hits: 22
Within 50 meters: 13 152 mm
Within 50-150 meters: 9 152 mm
Effectiveness: 2 vehicles destroyed, 2 guns damaged by shrapnel.

7 comments:

  1. How did they determine where each shell landed and damage when the targets are far behind the lines?
    Also, amazing is the lines draw to the center of their intended targets.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not that far, these barrages are meant to go off right before an offensive starts. Assuming your offensive is successful, you can walk right up to your target and inspect the battlefield. The sizes of the craters allow you to determine what kind of shell landed there.

      Delete
  2. Maybe with analysis of aerial photography immediately afterward. That's going to be the only way on July 5th. The Soviets aren't going to claim that ground for at least another week. Many more salvos could be directed to those batteries and they could move. Even with that the number with casualties on the ground is a guess.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. None of the ones dated specifically to July 5th give casualty estimates mind you. Whether photorecon or later ground assesment of the scene it's certainly entirely plausible the German batteries had by that time vacated the shelled positions in question and taken whatever losses they sustained with them.

      Delete
    2. Well, the ones of July 5 are in all likelyhood against fortified targets.
      That is why so well directed hit spreads do so little damage.

      Delete
    3. Known and plotted targets, I think. It's kind of the point of the article that there's a major difference between shelling positions revealed by prior reconnaissance, and the kind of map-grid saturation bombardement used against previously unknown batteries located by the usual counterbattery methods (sound ranging and flash spotting AFAIK).

      You can pretty much eyeball the maps to tell which is which really. :3

      Anyways the point of counterbattery fire isn't destroying the enemy artillery (though casualties are a boonus), but to hamper their operations as much as possible so they're that much less a PITA for your own guys. (Which is why mustard gas was popular for the purpose in WW1 - between having to wear masks and the blistering effects the crews', particularly the loaders', jobs became onerous indeed.) Obviously the more shells that land in the immediate proximity of the gun pits the greater the chance of direct hits and fragmentation casualties and the more time the crews need to spend hunkering down.

      Delete
  3. According to german unit war diaries, the counter battery fire on the morning of July, 5th was ineffective.
    Very few units make mention of it, partly because the timing of the barrage meant that several units had not yet reached their deploymental areas. 292 ID´s diary mentions the counter battery fire which continued for two hours without causing significant losses. The only delay created by the barrage was in the area of the IIIrd PzKorps when the barrage destroyed a bridge and delayed the construction of a suitable replacement.

    ReplyDelete