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Were infantry guns worth the trouble?

Discussion in 'Artillery' started by harolds, Dec 12, 2011.

  1. mac_bolan00

    mac_bolan00 Member

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    soldiers in another forum (tacticalforums.com) said. but you can glean it from wiki if you look up development of small arms after WWII, the AR series, the AK-47, all the way to the M-4.

    before the army started developing the m-4, they did a re-analysis (stats) of all small arms engagements from 1900 to perhaps desert storm. there were two findings (among others): 1) small arms accounted for only 5% of casualties and 2) 95% of small arms engagements happened within 200 meters range.

    of course those numbers mean nothing to a veteran who fought a long and bloody ground campaign but it's enough to convince people in the pentagon that it doesn't make much sense to equip an army with a $3,000 rifle weighing 8 pounds bare, capable of killing someone out to 600 meters. a carbine weighing 4-5 pound bare, costing less than $1,800, and capable of killing out to 200 meters or slightly farther, would suffice.

    also note that the development of assault rifles emphasized full auto capability at close range. the basic philosophy is that the one who squeezes off more rounds is bound to win (!) this was gleaned even while WW2 was going on. the stg-44 and its bastard son, the AK-47, were built around this concept.

    ok, back to artillery. i'm very sure mortars and artillery accounted for much more war casualties.
     
  2. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Yes, to a degree it is. But, I think if you really want to examine the premise of your question more than superficially, you have to get to the root of the issue. Was there a real gap in artillery support? If so maybe they were worth the cost. Was the percieved "gap" a doctrinal problem with how artillery was employed, then no, they don't justify the cost. You'd be better off restructuring your forces to address the problem. Do certain forces have a greater need for such a weapons system because of unique requirements of their employment. The Japanese in jungles, with little or no road structure and little motorized transport, probably yes. An airborne unit where artillery has to be glider landed and vehicles severely limited in size and number, yes. A fully mechanized force like the US army in europe, probably not.

    Thank you, now I know I can discuss the issue with you without having to get heavily into basics.

    No, not at all. The way you phrased your response I wasn't sure what your "experience" might be. If you had been a WWII vet, and there are a number on the forum, most denoted by their names in blue, I was going to defer to what you had experienced and not what I had read. If you were a vet of the current Wars on Terror, I was going to suggest that delays in or denial of artillery support is probably due to the legal and targeting restrictions imposed on todays forces in the war zone.

    I can agree to that general statement. I might change the word often to sometimes, because I think it overstates the frequency of problems getting divisional artillery support. There was a period of time when there was a severe shortage of artillery rounds because Congress in it's infinite wisdom thought the Army had too much stockpiled and had them cut back production. The most affected round was the 105mm round, this would have affected artillery proper and the M3 105mm equally. If delays or denials in support were because of restrictions placed due the shortage, then same/same, it would have had the same effect on both gun types.

    Yes, but the Germans also used large numbers of 75mm and captured 76mm field pieces in their artillery. In this case no more lethality. You could even argue, based upon comparing the M3 105mm to the German 75mm FK16nA, FK18, FK38 or FK7M85 all of which could be found in German artillery units, that the infantry gun in this case is more lethal. Then you have the Soviet M-1938 120mm mortar that was particularly effective and lethal, so now mortars are back in the mix. I guess what I'm trying to say is that you really can't make such general statements across the entire spectrum of a weapon type.

    Here again we'll have to disagree. My experience with both types of weapons supports my position, so dude, I'd say we're at an impasse here.

    For those that don't know, a mortar is a high-angle of fire weapon, the round will travel in a high arc to it's target. A gun or rifle is a fires with a larger propelling charge, normally has a longer barrel and a relatively flat trajectory. A howitzer has an arched trajectory between that of a mortar and a gun, generally has a shorter barrel, has a smaller propelling charge, and fires at a lower velocity than a gun.
     
  3. leccy1

    leccy1 Member

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    I have not researched this subject although I may do some time so these are my limited observations and ideas.

    To decide whether they were worth it you have to define how they were used.

    Were they used like conventional Brigade or Div artillery in mainly indirect fire
    Were they used mostly in direct fire mode
    Were they used as a battery
    Were they used individually attached to sub units.
    Defensive or offensive.
    History behind the reasoning for the Infantry needing immediate gun support.

    Nearly every picture I have seen of the Germans using their IG has been an individual gun supporting small units as a direct fire weapon. Mostly in defence but some, especially in built up areas, in the assault being manhandled to deal with strongpoints. In these cases neither mortars or Bde/Div artillery are as useful for immediate use. The infantry has the weapons where they wish, no other unit has any call on them so you know you will have that dedicated support.
    They entered service in an era when comms to the artillery were mainly still by field phone so it was difficult to bring down quick fire where needed, WW1 experience showed that Infantry could outrun the range on the Artillery leaving them vulnerable to counter attack so various methods were tried to bring some guns forward behind the infantry (never mind the aforementioned lack of comms).
     
  4. Poppy

    Poppy grasshopper

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  5. harolds

    harolds Member

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    Yes, the Germans issued both 75mm Leichte Geschutz 40 and the 105mm LG 42. These were first issued to airborne troops then to mountain troops. Ranges on these guns were 7435yds and 8695yds respectively. They made about 450 of the LG 40s and I don't know how many LG 42s. The manufacture of these guns was terminated in 1944 because they used too much propellant.

    While guns of this type are extremely portable because they don't need a heavy carriage or recoil system, they have some real minuses. The horrendous back-blast is both dangerous in its own right and also kicks up a lot of dust, making the weapon easy to locate.
     
  6. harolds

    harolds Member

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    From what I can tell from my sources, that they (German IGs) were issued in the number of two heavy (150mm) guns and (I think) three 75mm guns to each infantry regiment. I believe they were used in just about every way you ask about: as a battery, individually, attached to sub-units and of course in both offence and defence.
     
  7. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

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    There were numerous organisations for inf guns in German units (no change there then!).

    The most common was a Gun Coy within each Inf Regt (supporting three, later often two Inf Bns), equipped with two 15-cm heavy and six 7.5-cm light inf guns, two guns per Pl. When the Volks Grenadiers appeared, their Regts had a Heavy Coy with eight 12-cm mortars (in two Pls of four), and a Pl of four 7.5-cm inf guns (I've seen some suggestion recently this latter Pl was to be re-equipped with two 15-cm inf guns when available). Each of the two VG Inf Bns also had a Pl of four 7.5-cm inf guns in its Heavy Coy.

    The Panzer Grenadier Bns originally had a Pl of two 7.5-cm inf guns in their Heavy Coy, with no Regtl level guns. By early 1941 their Regts added a Gun Coy with four 7.5-cm and two 15-cm guns. In early 1942 the Gun Coy switched to four 15-cm inf guns, and the displaced 7.5-cms were sent to the Motorised PzGren Bns, giving their Heavy Coys four light inf guns in two Pls. The introduction of the 12-cm mortar saw the towed 7.5-cm guns being replaced from late 1943 onwards in Mot PzGren units, while the Armd units had already adopted 7.5-cm weapons on halftracks (SdKfz 251/9s). Panzer Recce units used towed 7.5-cms somewhat longer, but eventually received a Pl with six 8-cm mortars, in halftracks for Armd units. 15-cm guns were retained at Regtl level till the end, with self-propelled versions becoming available from mid-1943, though they never supplanted towed models.

    The early war Recce units in both Inf and Mot Divs were authorised two 7.5s in their Heavy Coys.

    Gary
     
  8. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    I can't speak for anyone else but in my case you are correct. A battalion being a sub-unit of a regiment. Most commonly there were 2 to 5 battalions in a regiment, three being the most common but units utilizing the old square structure would have 4 and some artillery regiments had 5.
     
  9. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    British nomenclature is a bit confusing for the rest of us, I'm sure I won't get it all right.

    In the infantry, a regiment is not a tactical unit at all any more but an administrative one, also the repository of unit heritage and tradition. A regiment forms battalions as needed, in peacetime there may be only one but in wartime many may be formed, and then disbanded upon demobilization. Presumably most of the troops will have signed on only for the duration, but those who wish to remain in the army can stay with one of the remaining battalions of the regiment rather than having their unit completely disappear, so it's a morale benefit.

    A designation like 4 Royal Welsh Fusiliers refers to the 4th battalion of the RWF regiment.

    There are many oddities usually related to the history of units. For example the Rifle Brigade is (was?) a regiment, 2 Rifle Brigade would therefore be a battalion of that regiment.

    In the tactical organization, battalions form brigades, and the battalions in a particular brigade may or may not be from the same regiment; my understanding is most often not.

    Some other branches use regiment for a tactical unit comparable to an infantry battalion. This is particularly common for former cavalry units converted to armor. WWII artillery included field, antitank, and antiaircraft regiments which were slightly larger than American battalions, with respectively 24, 48, and 54 guns (Reynolds, Steel Inferno).
     
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