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George MC

German 'Handy Top Tips' armoured tactics document

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This document has been bouncing around on the internet for a while now. I've just rediscovered it and it makes for some interesting reading - allowing for the usual panzer hyperbole vs untermenche rubbish - as it contains many tactical tips that are applicable to the CMRt battlefield. I think it's an early Ost front document - perhaps 1942, maybe early 43.

 

This is the full text which I've taken from the FieldGrau website (worth visiting in it's own right). The link is HERE 

 

If you'd like the text in the original German I found this LINK.

 

I've highlighted the lessons I've found really useful on the CMRT battlefield.

 

AUTHOR's PREFACE

 
The Panzer Regiment is, by reason of its firepower, protection and mobility the main fighting power of the Division. Its strength lies in unexpected, concentrated and determined attack; aggressive leadership and daring operations.
 
FORWARD
 
Combat in Russia has shown once again that for us, in action against the Communists, it is not so much the kind or number of our tanks but the spirit and skill on the tank soldiers that count. Only by these factors are German tanks always, even in Russia, victorious.
 
This exemplary combat spirit can however count for little as the weapons speed, armor or number of tanks in achieving success, if they are not led and employed by fully competent officers.
 
Superior tactical leadership in battle is a prerequisite when one desires few, or better still, no casualties.
 
The purpose of this volume is to collect the experiences of the veteran front-line combat leaders of our Regiments in action, and pass it on in simple and understandable form to our junior officers.
 
1. Before any attack acquaint yourself with the ground. Use the information provided by other units or by the map. Share this information with your subordinate commanders. Exact information and correct estimation of the terrain will be the decisive difference between victory and defeat.
 
2. No armored attack is so fast, even under the most pressing situation, that you do not have time to put subordinate leaders into the picture about the tactical situation, mission, and anything else which may impact on the coming action. Losses due to over-hasty action are your responsibility and place the success of the mission in jeopardy.
 
3. Only careful combat reconnaissance can protect you from surprise. Protect to your flanks as well as the front. Observation to all sides is the duty of every commander. ALWAYS KEEP YOUR EYE OUT FOR THE ENEMY! 
 
4. Your entire ability in combat must be used to make a constant appreciation of the situation. Only in this manner can you make the correct decision during the decisive seconds and issue short, clear orders without delay. This is the kind of leadership for which you are responsible. 
 
5. Iron radio discipline is a prerequisite of good leadership, particularly when your only method of command is radio. In the point company for instance, the trail platoons should not use the radio at all except in emergency, leaving the net clear for the point platoon leader. 
 
6. You must lead with strength. At least two tanks must be forward, and the trail platoons must be held far enough forward to support the lead platoon. The more guns that fire in the first minute, the quicker the enemy will be defeated and the fewer losses you will suffer. 
 
7. When breaking cover, do it quickly and together. The more targets the enemy is shown simultaneously, the harder his fire control and distribution will be, and the more guns you will have in effect on the enemy. 
 
8. In the attack drive as fast as you can. At slow speed you can see and shoot only a little better than at high, and are much more likely to be hit. For a tank there should be only two speeds: the half (for firing!) and all out forward. This is the basic principal of tank combat! 
 
9. When antitank weapons are encountered at long or medium ranges, you must first return fire and then maneuver against them. First make a firing halt in order to bring effective fire to bear - then commit the bulk of the company to maneuver on the enemy with the continued support of one platoon. 
 
10. When antitank weapons are encountered at close range, stopping is suicide. Only immediate attack at the highest speed with every weapon firing will have success and reduce losses. 
 
11. In combat against the antitank guns you may never - even under the protection of strong fire support - allow a single platoon to attack alone. Antitank weapons are not employed singly. Remember - lone tanks in Russia are lost! 
 
12. You must continually keep a broad interval between vehicles. This splits the enemy's defensive fire and complicates his fire control. Narrow intervals must be avoided at all costs, especially in critical situations, or it will cost you losses. 
 
13. When an impassable obstacle, for instance a minefield or antitank ditch, is encountered you must immediately and without hesitation give the order to withdraw into the nearest cover. Standing still, in open sight, trying to carry on the attack, has in such circumstances no sense and will only cost you losses. Your consideration on how to make a new start will be best made in the safety of cover. 
 
14. When your attack must pass potential enemy tank positions, for instance a woodline, you should either pass by them so closely that you are inside their minimum range, or remain so far away that you are outside their maximum effective range. 
 
15. Enemy tanks should not be attacked directly, because then they see you and know your strength before you can kill them. More often, you should avoid them until you can move into favorable firing positions, and surprise them from the flank or rear. Repelled enemy tank assaults must be aggressively pursued. 
 
16. A strongpoint, for instance a small village or artillery battery position, whenever possible should be attacked from different directions simultaneously in order to split enemy defensive fire and deceive him about the true location and direction of the attack. In this manner your breakthrough will be easier and your losses fewer. 
 
17. Always prepare dug in positions and camouflage against the possibility of air or artillery attack. Being sorry afterwards is no excuse for losses taken by these causes. 
 
18. Ammunition should not always be conserved; in the decisive moment, if you want to save casualties, you may expend ammunition at exceptionally high rates (for instance, an emergency attack.) 
 
19. Never split your combat power; that is to say, do not employ parts of the company in such a manner that they cannot support each other. When your attack has two objectives you should attack first one and then the other with all weapons. In this way you will more certainly end up with both objectives in hand and fewer casualties. 
 
20. Support from artillery fire or dive bombers must be used immediately, that is to say, while the fire is still hitting the objective. Afterward, when the fire has stopped it is too late. You must know that mostly such fires only produce a suppressing effect, not a destroying one. It is better to risk a friendly shell or bomb than to charge into an active antitank defense.
 
21. Other weapons and arms, cross-attached to you, should not be misused. Do not use them for purposes for which they were not intended, for example, do not use tank destroyers as assault guns, or armored infantry as tanks, or recon or engineer troops as infantry. 
 
22. Unarmored or lightly armored units attached to you must be protected from any unnecessary losses until they are needed for their own operational tasks, for which reason they were attached to you. 
 
23. Cross-attached units placed under your command are not your servants, but your guests. You are answerable to supply them and share everything they need. Don't just use them on guard duty! In this way they will work better and more loyally for you when you need them. And that will be often! 
 
24. In combined operations with infantry or armored infantry, you must make certain that the arms stick close together; only so can they help each other and achieve success. Which of the two is leading is a secondary matter; what must be known is that it is the intention of the enemy to separate them and that you must prevent this in all circumstances. Your battlecry must be "Protect the Infantry!" and the infantry's battlecry is "Protect the Tanks!" 
 
25. You and your soldiers must always concentrate on your combat mission, i.e. "the bridge," and you may not turn aside, for example, to an enemy on your flank, unless he is actually dangerous to the accomplishment of your mission. Then you must attack and destroy him. 
 
26. After a victorious battle; i.e. the seizure of a bridge or the occupation of a village, keep your helmets on. That is to say, prepare for a counterattack which will certainly come, perhaps in a different place than you expect. Later you can collect the spoils of victory. 
 
27. In a defense or security mission place your tanks so that not only their firepower, but also their shock action can be brought into play. Also, leave only a few tanks in stationary firing positions. Keep most as mobile reserves under cover. Tanks defend aggressively! 
 
28. Against strong enemy resistance, there is no point in continuing to attack. Every failed attack only costs more casualties. Your effort must always be to hold the enemy with only weak forces, in order to use mass of your strength at another, weaker place, breakthrough, and destroy the enemy by surprise attack in the rear or flank. 
 
29. Never forget that your soldiers do not belong to you, but to Germany. Personal glory hunting and senseless dare-deviltry lead only to exceptional cases to success, but always cost blood. In battle against the Soviet- Russians you must temper your courage with your judgement, your cunning, your instincts and your tactical ability. Only then will you have the prerequisites to be victorious in battle and only then will your soldiers look on you with loyalty and respect and always stand by you in untiring combat readiness. 
 
30. The panzer division in modern warfare today holds the former place of cavalry as the decisive arm of combat. Tank officers must carry on in the tradition of the cavalry, take up its aggressive spirit on behalf of the Panzer arm. Therefore take note, as a basic combat principle, of Marshall Blucher's motto, "FORWARD AND THROUGH!" (but with intelligence).
Edited by George MC

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Maneuver is still the basis of Teutonic war. While a Russian guide in this vein would emphasize smashing an enemy with direct fire and an American guide would emphasize surgical precision strikes from air support and artillery prior to attack, the advice strikes me as quintessentially German. :D

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8. In the attack drive as fast as you can. At slow speed you can see and shoot only a little better than at high, and are much more likely to be hit. For a tank there should be only two speeds: the half (for firing!) and all out forward. This is the basic principal of tank combat! 
 
.

 

 

Thanks for posting this. I think number 8 has a typo. "half" (my bold) should probably be "halt". You should either be shooting or going full out at the enemy. ;)

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Very interesting, especially number 8. In the attack drive as fast as you can. At slow speed you can see and shoot only a little better than at high, and are much more likely to be hit. For a tank there should be only two speeds: the half (for firing!) and all out forward. This is the basic principal of tank combat!
 
This dispells the myth that tanks needed to stop to fire effectively i have read elasewhere.

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And this one was probably written for me :D

 

29. Never forget that your soldiers do not belong to you, but to Germany. Personal glory hunting and senseless dare-deviltry lead only to exceptional cases to success, but always cost blood. In battle against the Soviet- Russians you must temper your courage with your judgement, your cunning, your instincts and your tactical ability. Only then will you have the prerequisites to be victorious in battle and only then will your soldiers look on you with loyalty and respect and always stand by you in untiring combat readiness.

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Very interesting, especially number 8. In the attack drive as fast as you can. At slow speed you can see and shoot only a little better than at high, and are much more likely to be hit. For a tank there should be only two speeds: the half (for firing!) and all out forward. This is the basic principal of tank combat!
 
This dispells the myth that tanks needed to stop to fire effectively i have read elasewhere.

 

I've started using move or slow for my AFVs when moving as a unit on the attack (with overwatch) at close range they engage and fire and still hit stuff. When attacking over open ground then yes it's charge forward into cover (with other units in overwatch). I've also started to mass units more e.g. use a company as a company rather than small packets of tanks. It works pretty effectively!

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And this one was probably written for me :D

 

29. Never forget that your soldiers do not belong to you, but to Germany. Personal glory hunting and senseless dare-deviltry lead only to exceptional cases to success, but always cost blood. In battle against the Soviet- Russians you must temper your courage with your judgement, your cunning, your instincts and your tactical ability. Only then will you have the prerequisites to be victorious in battle and only then will your soldiers look on you with loyalty and respect and always stand by you in untiring combat readiness.

He! You and me both  :D

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That's an awesome document, thanks for sharing!

 

It would be great if we could find similar documents for the US and USSR. I'm very interested in reading US documents similar to this, because I think the conventional doctrine of the US has always involved a great amount of fire support and is quite reliant on it, doctrinally and practically (hence the extreme investments of the US in their top-notch airforce).

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Very interesting, especially number 8. In the attack drive as fast as you can. At slow speed you can see and shoot only a little better than at high, and are much more likely to be hit. For a tank there should be only two speeds: the half (for firing!) and all out forward. This is the basic principal of tank combat!
 
This dispells the myth that tanks needed to stop to fire effectively i have read elasewhere.

 

Erm, no it emphatic expletive doesn't. It says it doesn't matter what speed they're moving, you can't expect to hit anything. The "half" later in that paragraph should be a "halt". You HALT for firing, but if you're moving, move FAST. It's an axiom in Sumo, too: "When you move, move. When you are not moving, be still." O' course the reasoning behind the two are a bit difference, but stillness == stability.

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i find this one interesting.

 

26. After a victorious battle; i.e. the seizure of a bridge or the occupation of a village, keep your helmets on. That is to say, prepare for a counterattack which will certainly come, perhaps in a different place than you expect. Later you can collect the spoils of victory

 

Any idea what they ment by "the spoils of victory"?

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This reminds me of my shipboard days as a young officer. We'd get these requests from higher levels for lessons learned.

We'd develop a list on the ship and it would be hell as it went up through the "chop chain" of the department head, XO and CO.

Everybody twisting it this way and that way, rewriting it to make it "better"...

 

I wonder what ones didn't make the cut!

 

Maybe these:

31. Just because you can see the target from your cupola does not mean the gunner can see it also or the gun can shoot the target!

32. During the attack follow closely to the tank ahead and then pause if he stops, then go, no wait...then pause, ok, now go...go!

33. Your radio headset as tank commander contains a special magnet to attract bullets....

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Erm, no it emphatic expletive doesn't. It says it doesn't matter what speed they're moving, you can't expect to hit anything. The "half" later in that paragraph should be a "halt". You HALT for firing, but if you're moving, move FAST. It's an axiom in Sumo, too: "When you move, move. When you are not moving, be still." O' course the reasoning behind the two are a bit difference, but stillness == stability.

That does make more sense.

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8. Während des Angriffs fahren Sie so schnell wie Sie können. 
Bei langsamer Geschwindigkeit können Sie nur ein wenig besser sehen und schießen, 
als bei hoher Geschwindigkeit und es besteht die Möglichkeit eher selbst getroffen zu werden. 
Für einen Panzer sollte es nur zwei Geschwindigkeiten geben: die Halbe (fürs Feuern ) 
und Vollgas voraus. Das ist die grundlegende Voraussetzung für den Panzerkampf! 

 

Hmmm. die Halbe = the half?

Edited by kohlenklau

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Any idea what they ment by "the spoils of victory"?

The first rule of the spoils of victory is never mention the spoils of victory.

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In French...

8. Lors de l’attaque, roulez aussi vite que possible. A vitesse lente vous ne tirerez et ne verrez pas beaucoup mieux qu’à vitesse rapide, par contre vous serez bien plus vulnérable. Pour un char il ne devrait y avoir que deux régimes : la demi puissance pour le tir et la pleine puissance pour le reste du temps. C’est le principe de base du combat blindé ! 

 

la demi puissance

 

half power

 

So what? They didn't stop to fire?

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Kohlenkau, where are you getting your foreign language interpretations from? If you're google-translating the original text from here, of course the typo will be propagated and translated. Or if you're not, it's entirely possible that there's a typo in whatever German original was used to produce the English and French translations, and the person who made the French translation hadn't really got a clue, so added in the bit about power, which isn't in the German you posted; it could be implied, if you assumed that the "b" in "Halbe" wasn't a typo of "Halte", which can mean "stopped" (a swift Google turns up at least one dictionary example that's not more about "keeping" or "holding", and that's specifically about parking vehicles).

 

Or maybe you're just 'avin' a larf.

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As a german native speaker I can assure you that "die halbe" means "the half".

 

"Halte" is a word that doesn't exist. "Halt" would be the word for stop, but then the sentence wouldn't make any sense:

 

"Die halbe" refers to "Geschwindigkeit which means speed. (Translated: "The half" "speed", "die halbe" "Geschwindigkeit").

If the writer wanted to say that the tank had to stop and obey basic german grammar instead of "Halt" he would have had to use "stehende" (standing).

 

"For a tank there should only be two speeds: The standing (because the sentence is built so that it refers back to speed) and full (again, refering back to speed.)

 

Für einen Panzer sollte es nur zwei Geschwindigkeiten geben: die stehende nd Vollgas voraus.

 

Or, if you neither care for german grammar nor the detailed explanation:

 

No typo. Half speed is what the text is saying.

Edited by Jargotn

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i find this one interesting.

 

26. After a victorious battle; i.e. the seizure of a bridge or the occupation of a village, keep your helmets on. That is to say, prepare for a counterattack which will certainly come, perhaps in a different place than you expect. Later you can collect the spoils of victory

 

Any idea what they ment by "the spoils of victory"?

I wondered about this myself. It's either an oblique reference to enjoying success i.e. relaxing and switching off (in mountaineering you have a similar concept when completing your climb and/or getting to the top is only half the battle - you still have to get off so you don't 'switch off' or relax till you are back down and safe i.e. at the car or hut).

 

Or perhaps it does refer to collecting booty - rations, souvenirs, watches, rings etc, or plain curiosity - seeing what the other side have in gear/look like or just admire your handiwork...

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As a german native speaker I can assure you that "die halbe" means "the half".

 

"Halte" is a word that doesn't exist. "Halt" would be the word for stop, but then the sentence wouldn't make any sense:

 

"Die halbe" refers to "Geschwindigkeit which means speed. (Translated: "The half" "speed", "die halbe" "Geschwindigkeit").

If the writer wanted to say that the tank had to stop and obey basic german grammar instead of "Halt" he would have had to use "stehende" (standing).

 

"For a tank there should only be two speeds: The standing (because the sentence is built so that it refers back to speed) and full (again, refering back to speed.)

 

Für einen Panzer sollte es nur zwei Geschwindigkeiten geben: die stehende nd Vollgas voraus.

 

Or, if you neither care for german grammar nor the detailed explanation:

 

No typo. Half speed is what the text is saying.

Thanks for the clarification Jargotn :) I've been hunting about trying to find an electronic version of the original pamphlet. I managed to find some collector selling a copy but it only has colour scans of the front cover and several pages inside.

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In number 14, what can we suppose is meant by 'inside [the enemy tanks'] minimum range'? 

My assumption is get so close that neither side has the advantage e.g. spotting. If you are that close you'll surprise them as much as they'll surprise you - also limits their field of fire and number of targets one enemy unit can engage i.e. it's more 1:1?

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So, from https://www.dict.cc/?s=Halte

we have:

 

stops: Halte {pl}

 

The context appears to be "rail". So I'm thinking "end-stops" the kind of thing you put on a curtain rail to stop the sliders coming off the end.

 

And

 

Restrictions on waiting and loading [br.] [traffic sign]: Beschränkte Halte- und Ladezeiten

 

Which implies the existence of the word "Haltezeiten", meaning "waiting times" or "parking times", depending on what your jurisdiction defines as "waiting" and "parking" wrt vehicles.

 

There's also the shoolboy's favourite "Haltestelle" which I was taught means bus stop, literally "stopping place". But this says just means "stop" (I interpret it from the other given examples as "the place where [something] stops", 'Stelle' being 'place', an' all).

 

https://www.dict.cc/?s=Haltgives us "Haltepunkt" and "Halteanzeiger", but those are both masculine gender, so would be "der", but if the speaker is referring to the sense of multiple tanks, it'd be plural, so go back to "die".

 

From this it seems clear to me that it's entirely possible that "die Halte" is a colloquialism, possibly archaic, possibly restricted to military (I mean, how many times do English speakers who aren't military, refer to doing something "at the halt"?). It could even be a diminuition of Haltestelle, which is Feminine gender, so would be 'die', whether plural or singular.

 

Or perhaps, Jargotn, you've some insight into the validity of those web sources that makes my logic untenable.

 

Because firing on the move wasn't something to be encouraged except at close range, and as paragraph 8 says, move fast because moving slowly makes you an easier target, and doesn't improve your gunnery any, as paragraph 9 makes clear: Fire, then maneuver. So either the instructions are contradictory, or "die Halte" is both what is meant and means what it sounds like it should mean.

 

Hell, if firing on the move was such a good idea, what purpose does gun stabilisation serve? And surely, if you're ever supposed to fire stationary, that makes three speeds (stopped, half and full) if "halbe" was the intention of the original pamphlet. Because it's absolutely clear that shooting while stopped is best.

Edited by womble

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So, from https://www.dict.cc/?s=Halte

we have:

 

The context appears to be "rail". So I'm thinking "end-stops" the kind of thing you put on a curtain rail to stop the sliders coming off the end.

I believe that in this case the rail-ontext is not refering to a curtain rail but to the "tracks"-rail. In this case "Halt" is short for "Haltestelle", which you explained later. "Halte" is the plural which is used when refering to multiple stops:

This train has two stops.

Dieser Zug hat zwei Halte (->stellen).

 

And

 

Which implies the existence of the word "Haltezeiten", meaning "waiting times" or "parking times", depending on what your jurisdiction defines as "waiting" and "parking" wrt vehicles.

On german roads you are waiting if you are close to your car and don't stand still for more than three minutes.

 

But I believe that is besides the point here. And yes, the word "Haltezeiten" does exist and is commonly used in exactly that context.

 

There's also the shoolboy's favourite "Haltestelle" which I was taught means bus stop, literally "stopping place". But this says just means "stop" (I interpret it from the other given examples as "the place where [something] stops", 'Stelle' being 'place', an' all).

Literally translated "Haltestelle" does mean "stopping place" (As in: The place where something stops). You'll normally use it to refer not only to busstops, but also to similar public transports (The Underground, normal trains, etc.)

 

https://www.dict.cc/?s=Haltgives us "Haltepunkt" and "Halteanzeiger", but those are both masculine gender, so would be "der", but if the speaker is referring to the sense of multiple tanks, it'd be plural, so go back to "die".

 

From this it seems clear to me that it's entirely possible that "die Halte" is a colloquialism, possibly archaic, possibly restricted to military (I mean, how many times do English speakers who aren't military, refer to doing something "at the halt"?). It could even be a diminuition of Haltestelle, which is Feminine gender, so would be 'die', whether plural or singular.

 

i don't think that "Halte" is a diminuition for "Haltestelle". Haltestelle is a a place (or a noun), but the sentence we are referring to needs something that itself refers to Geschwindigkeit. Or, to make this more understandable to anyone who can't talk german (By the way, hello to you all. Greetings! We will have finished soon, I promise!)

You can't say "Our speed at the moment: Stopping place".

You could say "Our speed at the moment: Halted."

 

I can, however, imaginethat "die Halte" was used in that context but isn't anymore today. I know that if "die Halte" was regularly used in my surroundings the sentence from the book would sound just fine. Maybe that is what happened here? It would make more sense regarding the instructions written in the same paragraph.

Or perhaps, Jargotn, you've some insight into the validity of those web sources that makes my logic untenable.

 

dict.cc is an excellent source I often use myself.I can't say the same about vocabulix. Not because It's bad, but because I never used it before. It might be good or bad, but the translation it provided here seems fitting.

 

Because firing on the move wasn't something to be encouraged except at close range, and as paragraph 8 says, move fast because moving slowly makes you an easier target, and doesn't improve your gunnery any, as paragraph 9 makes clear: Fire, then maneuver. So either the instructions are contradictory, or "die Halte" is both what is meant and means what it sounds like it should mean.

 

Hell, if firing on the move was such a good idea, what purpose does gun stabilisation serve? And surely, if you're ever supposed to fire stationary, that makes three speeds (stopped, half and full) if "halbe" was the intention of the original pamphlet. Because it's absolutely clear that shooting while stopped is best.

Exactly. That's what I think is weird about the whole thing.

Maybe the guy who posted the instructions himself didn't think about "die Halte" and used "die Halbe" instead, reversing the meaning. We may never know

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No, I do joke around elsewhere. But on this, I was trying to figure it out as well. half or halt, stop to fire, what did they mean?

 

I was also scouring the internet for scans of the original brochure/pamphlet and probably found the same auction house with a few scans of the cover and a page but not the one of interest.

 

I found the German translation or whatever from a German site.

 

Which came first? the chicken or the egg as far as the versions floating around?

 

I found a site in German which seems to MAYBE have jpeg scans of the other pages but a window pops up and you need to register to see them I think. I didn't register.

I might be wrong and they are not scans, it is all in German!

 

I will come back and edit the links in....

 

EDIT 1: George already had the link to the German language version in post #1, I hadn't noticed it before.

 

EDIT2: These might be scans here...? At least we will know what the actual document was printed as saying, right? 

 

http://www.militaria-fundforum.de/showthread.php?p=3338428

Edited by kohlenklau

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Yeah, a discussion on german grammar! Love it. Joking aside, from all i know german tanks were ordered to do a "Schießhalt". Which would make it "halt". Would also explain why there is an article before half( the half), "die Halbe" would not make much sense in this case. "Der/n Halt" is not much better though. I would guess something got lost in translation here.

In the german army up till the introduction of sophisticated fire control systems there was a Schießhalt( shooting while standing still). Even the early Leo I was taught to do this. Its also a contradiction to the paragraph before, where it is explained that shooting while driving is terribly inefficient.

 

In CM the penalty for shooting on the move was reduced for WW2 tanks because of 1min turns and something else which i dont remember right now. So it may make sense in CM to move fast towards the enemy and shoot, while in reality you would only do this in extreme situations, like in an ambush.

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