Jump to content

Division usage of Artillery


Recommended Posts

It was actually quite hard for me to make a good title for this thread but basically what I would like to discuss is the usage of division and corps level artillery on local offensive. I would like to get feed back on my view and also other examples.

The questions:

1)How much artillery fire would a battallion usually get for basic local assault. How many batteries for breaking the immediate enemy frontline and how much for harrasment of rear/blocking and pinning down the reinforcements moving to front.

2)Is it a realistic thought that the attacker would pool up mortars from different battalions of the regiment to support the lead battalion? Or was their use very rigid and limited to only support their organic battalion?

3)In any larger scale attacks, how much corps/army level artillery is realistic for the immediate frontline fire or would it be used almost exclusively to firing the rear areas?

4)Is there actually any real instance where Germans in Normandy where able to effectively use their artillery to any extend. I know that the German mortars were one of the biggest killer on the battlefied but I would imagine that any regular artillery battery would get almost immediately suppressed by air attacks and counter artillery fire. I would also love to know how effective the allied counter artillery fire would be in general?

Also as a side note, does anyone else think that the 150+ mm sized caliber rounds make unrealistic craters in the game, since it was rather common caliber I find it hard to believe them to be so fearsome when compared to the even more common 105mm. On the other hand 10kg of tnt already does a 5m wide crater so i might just be mistaken here since the round is usualy 40+ kg of wich at least half is explosives?

I take a generic panzegrenadier division as my example formation since I feel more comfortable with that oob/toe than the allies but the same principles should probably fitt to the allied divisions as well. The consideration begins with the unrealistic theoretical situation (for germans) where the division in question is fully refitted and supplied at the start of the offensive.

In this particular scenario/thought experiment the division attacks along two main axis of advance with 2 pzgrenadier regiments and third regiment is held in reserve (In this case are Two battalions per each regiment). Offensive is supported by neighboring divisions. Each regiment assault with lead battalion at dawn. The Goal for the offensive is to advance some 10-12km to effectively split the defending american infantry division and then exploit the the opening to enemy depth. (at least in theory ;) )

The PzGr-Division has a artillery regiment of 4 battalions: 1 self propelled battalion with two batteries of 105mm sp-guns and one battery of 150mm, 2 battalions of 105mm batteries and the heavy battalion of 150mm batteries. (In reality i think that only the ss-pzgr divisions might have had sp-artillery but dont know for sure.)

4 battalions of artillery is pretty much firepower but i think it is unlikely that they would be concentrated to fire on any single spot at a time so I would imagine that in this particular case the fire support would be divided as such:

The sp-batteries support the main axis of advance along the main schwerpunkt while one of the 105m battalions support the other regiments lead battalion. the second 105mm battalion fires to enemy rear with 50% fire falling directly behind the enemy frontline and the rest is gradualy spread futher along 2-3km depth on likely paths of reinforcements (would involve quite some speculation and guesswork). 150mm batteries are divided with 1 per lead battalion and the third will fire the most important enemy rear installations.

The initial bombardment would probably be relatively short 5-10 minutes and would also involve regimental SIG's and IG's as well as all the available mortar and nebelwerfers. For one grenadier battalion that could be easily 4-5 or even 6 sections of 82mm mortars, 2-4 sections 120mm mortars and 6 tubes of IG's. Quite a lot of firepower ehh? The allies would have more ofc..

After the initial bombardment the fire would move gradualy to the enemy rear as long as ammo supply allows, but I wouln't fire constanly with the limited ammo for germans but rather only use minimal harrasment fire to keep the fire going for long as possible. In theory the artillery should be able to keep up at least 1 hour of constant harasment and it should still leave enough ammo for point fire on enemy holdouts and to ward off counter attacks.

As for the rest like the corps level artillery I dont even have any idea on how they would impact the situation. Evidently they would also be used for the breaktrough and harrasment but I dont know the figures.

Am I on the right track here? Have I missed something? What was the reality for germans? Allies could ofc rely on enormous amount of firepower of all calibers but at least at the start of the overlord they are sometimes very limited on ammo supply?

I have done a scenario for my self where I found that it is actually possible for infantry company in foxholes to survive concentrated fire from 3 batteries of artillery plus the IG's and mortars for atleast 5-6minutes along a roughly 700-800m wide front. This was ofc only roughly 10-20% of the ammo for the artillery and only 1-2 minutes of intense mortar fire. Using the all the batteries on "harass and light" firing modes makes a impressive bombardment. that is still not game breakingly annihilating. Just as a tip if anyone else is wondering how to use artillery in scenario making without making it too easy for player ^^

Lots of text but hope there is some sense in it all. Comments, answers, ideas please :)

Ps:Due to the lenght of the text I dind't proofread it very much so sorry for all the typos :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1)How much artillery fire would a battallion usually get for basic local assault. How many batteries for breaking the immediate enemy frontline and how much for harrasment of rear/blocking and pinning down the reinforcements moving to front.

Almost impossible to answer as there is a huge range. Could be anything from nothing (organic Bn. mortars only) to many batteries of varying calibers. It all depends on how much support is available, the priority of the battalion action in the context of the wider engagement, and how strong and well dug-in the enemy is believed to be.

2)Is it a realistic thought that the attacker would pool up mortars from different battalions of the regiment to support the lead battalion? Or was their use very rigid and limited to only support their organic battalion?
Sometimes, but 81mm mortars have a pretty short range and therefore it's limited how much the mortars of one battalion can lend support in another sector. In general, if a battalion needed more indirect support for an attack than organic assets could provide, it would be more common to assign assets from Regiment above than to use an adjacent battalion's mortars. Also bear in mind that the level of support available from Bn. mortars was more often limited by available shells than by available tubes, so in general it would be easier to simply move more ammo to a battalion that needed them, rather than actually use the tubes of another battalion in support. One partial exception is German forces with 120mm mortars at the battalion level -- 120mm mortars have a much longer range than 81mm mortars and so are more capable of cross-supporting. But German formations with 120mm mortars were actually fairly rare in Normandy -- by the paper TOEs, they were supposed to have them, but relatively few formations were actually issued them and most were making do with just 81mm tubes at the battalion level.

3)In any larger scale attacks, how much corps/army level artillery is realistic for the immediate frontline fire or would it be used almost exclusively to firing the rear areas?
Again, really varies. In general, heavier/longer range stuff is usually reserved for firing deeper behind enemy lines, but in cases where the enemy is heavily dug in, big stuff was definitely used on immediate front line positions. Heavy artillery is a scarce resource so higher level commanders prefer to reserve it for where it's most needed.

4)Is there actually any real instance where Germans in Normandy where able to effectively use their artillery to any extend. I know that the German mortars were one of the biggest killer on the battlefied but I would imagine that any regular artillery battery would get almost immediately suppressed by air attacks and counter artillery fire. I would also love to know how effective the allied counter artillery fire would be in general?
In general, Allied counterbattery fire, and other things like air interdiction limited the Germans ability to use heavier artillery assets in Normandy. However, there were certainly occasions when they managed to do so to deadly effect. Off the top of my head, I can think of a couple of occasions when the Germans managed execute very effective Nebelwerfer strikes at U.S. forces assembling for the attack.

Also as a side note, does anyone else think that the 150+ mm sized caliber rounds make unrealistic craters in the game
Depends a lot on how soft the ground is and also how the round is fused. To me, the craters in game are about right for soft earth, HE delay, which would be used to cave in foxholes and trenches. I think they're probably too big for HE superquick.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Btw is the max ammo value given for arty units in CM a good representation a max daily usage of ammo for given battery during intensive fighting or would there be considerably more or less ammo to use if the unit is well supplied? This is particulary interesting if thinking about series of battles or campaign where the same support elements carry on. from mission to mission. Lots of campaign designers certainly use this method but is it more of a game balance issue or realism?

I have to confess that all tho I consider myself relatively well educated in military issues I still find my knowledge of artillery some what lacking. Should have probably paid more attention while I was in the army but alas we combat engineers didn't think that much of artillery (probably a ego issue of who makes the biggest boom or something..) so the finer details of said subject escaped my focus. There is also that usually ww2 history books tend to show figures of ammo and supply usages only for big battles.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Btw is the max ammo value given for arty units in CM a good representation a max daily usage of ammo for given battery during intensive fighting

Again, it varies a lot. For example, at times during the Battle of the Bulge, U.S. 105 & 155mm batteries were limited to less than a dozen shells per tube per day due to supply problems.

Other times, they had plenty; as much or even more than what you see in CM as the standard daily allotment. I can recall from Gen. Westmoreland's biography that there were times during the North Africa campaign when the guns he was commanding were shooting off ammo at speculative targets because they had more than they could move forward with; they had a daily supply they were expected to use.

Overall, I'd say that the default ammo levels for batteries in CM are a reasonable typical supply for the assets in question.

As a general rule (again, with many exceptions), the further down the supply chain you get, the harder it was to keep units consistently supplied. The ammo for stuff like 105mm and 150mm is of course heavier, but these guns generally sat far enough behind lines where supply trucks could just drive right up to them. But it was often dangerous or simply not possible due to terrain for supply vehicles to move all the way forward to where the battalion 81mm mortar batteries were, so these shells often had to be man-packed forward, a tedious and slow process.

So if a battalion 81mm battery shot its load, it might be hours or even days before it got fully resupplied. But reserves of ammo could be shuttled around much more easily for the bigger guns further behind the lines. This, of course, assumes that you have good logistics and transport structure. For the Germans in Normandy, where driving on the roads in daylight was extremely dangerous due to Allied air supremacy, I imagine getting artillery shells to where they were most needed was challenge at times.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

First of all, no. Nothing like that. Second, the national differences are not minor. They come from doctrine and the basic ways the formations fight, and they also come from the overall operational position at a given stage of the war, supply considerations, who controls the air, etc. Basically nothing is the same between the Germans in Normandy and the Americans in Normandy, for example. The similarity that each division has an artillery regiment suggests parallels in their usage that just are not there.

Second, Panzergrenadiers are never 3 regiments to a division, over the whole course of the war. Infantry divisions sometimes had the 3 regiments by 2 battalions each configuration, but the mobile divisions never did. They either have 1 armor and 2 infantry regiments of 2 battalions each, in the Heer, or they have 1 armor and 2 infantry regiments of 3 battalions each in the SS, or they have no armor regiment - but maybe an SP battalion - and 2 regiments of 3 battalions each, if a panzergrenadier division rather than a panzer one. But never more than 2 panzergrenadier regiments.

Next on the artillery, no SP wasn't limited to SS formations, all panzer divisions had it by that stage of the war. In 1943 some were still switching over to it, but by mid 1944 it is standard. Second, the 3rd battalion was not uniform 150mm howitzers. Instead the standard format was 2 batteries of those and the 3rd battery with 105mm guns - long barrel cannons, not short howitzers. Those were meant for long range work, both counterbattery and interdiction fires, though they were light for either role.

Next on the notion of pooling mortars to support an attack, no. The reason is only partly doctrine, it is also just ammo. Mortars can fire off everything they can be supplied with very rapidly; if limits are not placed on their use they are just always dry. 81mm pretty much support only their own battalion as a result (even company in the case of the Germans, who had both pairs at company and a battery of 4-6 at battalion). Heavier mortars - German 120s and US 4.2 inch - were used more like division assets (maybe regiment), but again with ammo limitations compared to div arty.

Div arty does most of the shoots because it has the best supply services to keep the guns stocked with ammo, the best communications to handle indirect fires, the best mapping and surveying systems for the same, etc. Organic mortars are a distant second in the US army and a close second in the German. But div arty is still firing more missions than even the battalion mortars.

Next as to dedications. The Germans used usually tight delegations by the standards of other armies. They could assign a specific battery to support a specific battalion as a routine thing, sometimes even a specific front line company position along the line. This reflects their FO personnel system. The FO for a specific battery is one team, it goes one place and directs the fire of that one battery. Everyone else was much more flexible about tasking of front line fires (the Russians used elaborate rear area planned fires, it is true).

The Germans would pool fires at the division or corps level through dedicated artillery commands - ARKOs - or using the HQ of the divisional artillery regiment. Pooling fires means the artillery command is taking orders from the divisional commander to support heavily in sector Foo, and then he uses half the division's guns to do so, maybe more. Occasionally an ARKO would call all the long range fires of a full corps, not on one sector but in the sense of making a fire plan that puts this howitzer battalion in support of sector Bar and that long range battery on counterbattery etc.

The actual fires will either be front line pull at single battery scale, or command push at battalion scale. The single battery fires are dedicated to a single battalion.

The most common tasking was for the divisional armor regiment plus the armored infantry portion of the others to form one KG with support from the SP battalion, for the individual 105 battalions to each support a KG formed around one of the infantry type regiments, and for the heavies to be allocated by the division or artillery regiment CO.

More later...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"The Panzergrenadier divisions were organized as combined arms formations, usually with six battalions of truck-mounted infantry organized into either two or three regiments, a battalion of tanks, and an ordinary division's complement of artillery, reconnaissance units, combat engineers, anti-tank and anti-aircraft artillery, and so forth."

-Taken from wikipedia page but mehh it's just wikipedia. How ever i'm rather certain of the 6 battalions of infantry divided eather to two or three regiments. But hey, unless we find some water tight oob charts im not going to argue about that.

Good notions about the mortar ammo limitations, gotta remember that. Also JasonC i'm very well aware that there are key differences between countries in their oob's and doctrines. My wording there was maybe inclined to otherwise but no need to be so hostile once again. However this is why I started this thread so that I and rest of us could learn how each side would use it's indirect fire.

About the sp-arty: I was not certain if heer grenadier divisions were always supplied with sp-guns but i knew for certain that lot's of ss-division where (not all ofc). I also knew that both heer and ss panzer-division did have sp-guns.

I also want to point out that this thread is also about the theory and ideal and not only about the reality. Because all armies have their basic doctrines and basic operation methods towards wich commanders usually aim if the situation doesn't require something special (wich it in reality almost always does yes yes i know).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also good points about inflexibility of german artillery usage. I can imagine that the auftragstaktik requires certain inflexibility to fire support since each individual commander get's the freedom to use his support when it best suits him. At least in ideal situation but I dont know if it was so in reality.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not sure if this relates to the artillery equation, but wasn't the German army heavely dependant on horses for moving and supplying artillery till the end of the war.

It would seem to me that lacking trucks and prime movers would have some effect on the flexibility of artillery.

Well up to a point there is no difference in wich way the arty is moved but ofc horse drawn arty will be less able to evade counter arty and will take longer time to redeploy. And it is true that at least all (almost all) the infantry divisions used horses instead of prime movers or trucks. Pzgrenadier and panzer division where in general more fortunate on that part.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, on paper the PG division had 2 regiments with 3 battalions. I'm not sure why you would use the PG division as a standard of comparison in Normandy, however. There was only a single PG division present.

Are you actually wanting to compare a standard Grenadier (Infantry) Division?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, on paper the PG division had 2 regiments with 3 battalions. I'm not sure why you would use the PG division as a standard of comparison in Normandy, however. There was only a single PG division present.

Are you actually wanting to compare a standard Grenadier (Infantry) Division?

Hah well it just came first to my mind as offensive mechanized formation as i'm atm in process of playing some hypothetical scenarios involving pzgr formation. But we can also discuss any other formation or doctrine as well. This example of mine was meant just as an opening of discussion really and to expose any underlying mistakes in my general use of artillery as part of offensive operations. I never intended it to be any kind a "standard template" for normandy area plus im not limiting this discussion to that front alone.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"But hey, unless we find some water tight oob charts im not going to argue about that."

The only reason this isn't insulting is that you are too ignorant to have intended it as an insult. The people you are talking to on this thread know more about the matter than any men living. They have seen all the water tight oob charts. They have told you the correct answer. And you are behaving like a fool about it, instead of simply taking the correction, saying thank you, and moving on.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"But hey, unless we find some water tight oob charts im not going to argue about that."

The only reason this isn't insulting is that you are too ignorant to have intended it as an insult. The people you are talking to on this thread know more about the matter than any men living. They have seen all the water tight oob charts. They have told you the correct answer. And you are behaving like a fool about it, instead of simply taking the correction, saying thank you, and moving on.

Wow. Touchy as well as hostile. And pretty arrogant too. (is he always like this?) I did very much mean what I said there and now. By "we" I meant me or any other conversation participant. If you have such a hard time understanding that I did not intend to insult you in any way but quite simply expressed my amateurs doubt. If doubting your word is an insult then I really see no wisdom in you. If my thread or way of writing doesn't suit your appetite you can go share your wisdom elsewhere. Otherwise keep yourself civil and I will very well do the same.

Ps: Do you even consider that this is not my native language and it also causes complications. I may write things in a way that seems ignorant but in reality it can be just limitations of using foreing tongue.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

http://www.axishistory.com/axis-nations/germany-a-austria/heer/150-germany-heer/heer-divisionen/4144-90-panzergrenadier-division

At least according to this materiel there was single one panzer grenadier division that had 3 panzergrenadier regiments in 1943 but yes it seems indeed that such an arrangement is an very rare indeed. How ever the number of battalions is same in any case and for this particular matter this should not have been this big of a issue. However I stand corrected.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is GROG LAND!!

Careful you don't fall into a deep well. ;)

Hahaha ohh yes it seems like it. Not very welcoming atmosphere but I guess it is to be expected. However the whole point of this discussion was for me to learn few pointers about artillery and that I certainly did. These pointers are valuable for me when making my own scenarios and I also enjoy the heat up to a point ;)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The only reason this isn't insulting is that you are too ignorant to have intended it as an insult. The people you are talking to on this thread know more about the matter than any men living. They have seen all the water tight oob charts. They have told you the correct answer. And you are behaving like a fool about it, instead of simply taking the correction, saying thank you, and moving on.

Totally uncalled for, and you know that. Show some manners next time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

First, it's a game. Have some fun with it. ;)

As for artillery use, as mentioned, the different combatants had similar equipment, but vastly different capabilities as to its implementation.

Most had one battalion (3x batteries) of 150mm and 3 battalions (total of 9x batteries) of 105mm. The 105 batteries (9) were typically paired with specific infantry battalions (9 in a division). The heavy (155) was allocated by the commander to the main point of effort.

Usually. This type of organization evolved from WWI experience.

The Germans kept to this type of use the most.

The British/Commonwealth were very flexible, using communications networks to enable a single FO to call in every tube in range in an entire corps. So, if the allocated artillery couldn't get the job done, they could call more. It helped that the artillery COMMANDER was the guy acting as FO. It was not a request: it was an order.

The US fell in between but gradually adopted the British/Commonwealth methods.

All of the above is VERY rough and will be picked apart as being too simplistic and not reflecting some actual use. But that's how it starts.

Now, if you have a division, it is part of a corps. That corps usually had some more artillery. In German, the ARKO; artillery commander, attached to a corps headquarters. They would help with the main point of attack. They would have 150mm or even 170mm artillery. (170 was rare, but a very accurate, very long range piece.) Of course, Germans being Germans, they had to make due with a lot of captured equipement, so you'd find just about anything.

Flipping at random to the 10th PzGr Division in Nafziger's OOB book, they have 2 regiments, each of 3 battalions. (Most German armored units had 6 infantry battalions, using "infantry" to signify men with rifles, not tanks.) The artillery regiment had 2 105mm battalions (3 batteries of 3 guns in each battalion). The other battalion had 2 batteries of 3 150mm guns and 1 battery of 3 100mm guns. (I should be making a difference between "gun" and "howitzer". The German 100mm gun (Kanon) was a long-range weapon. The 150's and 105's (haubitze) were short-range howitzers. FWIW.)

3rd PzGr had 4 gun batteries and Wespes, as well, which just shows how different the divisional organizations could be.

Hope that helps. A bit.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

YankeeDog,

If you watch WW II footage, 81mm mortars (on both sides) in action go through ammo at a prodigious rate, but these are dug-in mortars, so they probably have lots of ammo. Similarly, 88s are firing very rapidly. And they're often not dug in, such as on the steppe. In Italy, the hard-won U.S. Army recommendation, because of transport problems in the mountains, was that units bring fewer tubes and more ammo, it being easier to feed and maintain a few tubes than to do that for all of them. When we reached the end of our tether after galloping across France, but Antwerp wasn't yet open, our artillery was down to 3-5 rounds per day per gun. Worse than even the Bulge. On balance, I think the ammo loads for DIVARTY are very much on the low side, but this may've been done to keep ARTY, given the magnified effectiveness via god's eye view, no target location error, no observer location error and other factors, such as map size, from totally dominating the battles. Because of this, the bigger stuff is practically useless, there being so few shells before ammo exhaustion occurs. Unlike IRL, nobody resupplies the guns.

Regards,

John Kettler

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On balance, I think the ammo loads for DIVARTY are very much on the low side, but this may've been done to keep ARTY, given the magnified effectiveness via god's eye view, no target location error, no observer location error and other factors, such as map size, from totally dominating the battles. Because of this, the bigger stuff is practically useless, there being so few shells before ammo exhaustion occurs.

Targeting errors do happen.

Ammo counts:

German

150mm howitzer: 120

170mm gun: 100

210mm howitzer: 80

US

155mm howitzer: 120

203mm howitzer: 80

UK

140mm gun: 120

155mm Long Tom: 60

183mm howitzer: 40

I don't think they are at all useless. Most QB house rules, including my own, forbid anything larger than 155mm.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Unfortunately, your content contains terms that we do not allow. Please edit your content to remove the highlighted words below.
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...