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Russian Sniper Team


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No doubt somebody will be along to say that the photos were posed propaganda shots and the average Russian sniper team were lucky to have a rifle with a scoped rifle, let alone binoculars. Of which they would have had thousands of captured ones to equip such units by 44, given the number of German units overrun by then.

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The same people would let you know that all the captured binoculars would have been smashed by their owners before capture. Orders, duh! ;)

The Soviets in the summer of '44 had some very capable kit and the factories were putting out a lot of it.

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Maj. James F. Gebhardt's translation, of the 1942 Soviet Snipers manual, states binoculars (6x30) and a 4X trench periscope (used to peer around and over obstacles). They also operated in two man teams, both with scoped rifles and carried SMG's and grenades!

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Personally, I have no freakin' idea whether the Soviets had enough binos to give a pair to every sniper team. Official TOE and what actually happened in the field are often two different things, and in any event the TOE sources I have don't go down to that level of granularity.

It's tricky because the Red Army deployed a LOT of snipers, more than any other WWII combatant, at various levels of the TOE. I would not assume it's a given that the sniper teams organic at the platoon level were necessarily as well equipped as the Company level ones, or those attached to more specialized recon/infiltration units.

And it is worth noting that since Sniper teams are more common in Soviet TOE than any other nationality yet depicted in CMx2 WWII, *if* every Soviet sniper team had bios, this would mean that the Soviets were able to provide substantially more glass optics to their low-level infantry units than any other nationality, including the generally lavishly equipped Americans -- for starters, 5 binos/rifle platoon, plus a rifle scope in every platoon.

Did this actually happen? Especially by mid-1944, and in the better-equipped units like Guards formations, it wouldn't totally surprise me. But I also suspect BFC did what they did for a reason, and they Steve may have good reason to conjecture that the average Red Army rifle platoon was not so lavishly equipped, regardless of what the TOE says.

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If you have a scope on your rifle, do you need binoculars ?

Need, no. But remember that snipers are usually deployed as a 2-man team, shooter and spotter. If the spotter has his own set of optics, he's going to be much better at helping to spot and ID targets, spot fall of shot for corrections, etc.

Binos are generally superior to monocular optics for the purposes of spotting (rather than targeting) because they give you a wider field of view, cause less eye fatigue, and provide better depth perception. Just ask any hunter or wildlife photographer. You don't wander around trying to spot stuff through your rifle scope or telephoto camera lens; you use binos for spotting and ID, and then switch to the rifle/camera once you know where it is and what you're looking at.

In modern sniper teams, the spotter generally carries a high-power spotting scope as well as a decent pair of binos.

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The same people would let you know that all the captured binoculars would have been smashed by their owners before capture. Orders, duh! ;)

The Soviets in the summer of '44 had some very capable kit and the factories were putting out a lot of it.

Binoculars? Sure they were smashed by the enemy. We take a block of ice hold it in the palms of our hands to form replacement lenses. Worked pretty good from November till March.

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The Iszevsk arsenal apparently made 53,000 sniper version Mosins in 1942, and a total of 275,000 over its entire production run (which extended beyond the end of the war). The Tula arsenal made fewer but a substantial number, and 3 others made minor numbers. Overall I'd put the number of sniper rifles around 400,000, with an error bar of maybe 50,000. That makes them rarer than SVTs by a long way, and something like 1.5% of all Russian small arms. They probably had better survival than standard Mosins or PPsH, and wouldn't be spread to service troops, which might up the front line supply to twice that figure at the outside, but that is about it.

1 per platoon is generous, 2 per company is perfect feasible. That is the rough scale, from the production figures alone.

The scopes are fixed 3.5 power with a 3 post reticle. The original design was based on copying a German Zeiss scope, then it was radically simplified for wartime mass production.

Incidentally, that was the only instance of the Russians getting optics designs from Zeiss. In the mid 1930s the Zeiss firm designed the state microscope factory in Leningrad. Just as Russian wartime production of tanks benefited hugely from the rational plant designs set up in the 1930s by American engineers from the US auto industry, the Russian optics industry was based on foreign engineers and designs from Germany. Which they were happily selling to the Russians as late as 1936. After the war, the Russians put entire Zeiss factories on trains and shipped them bodily to Russia, and did the same for cameras...

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If you have a scope on your rifle, do you need binoculars ?

Scopes are for aiming at targets, not for finding targets. I have an original M91/30 sniper rifle (1942 Izhevsk) with a PU sniper scope, and the field of view is both narrow and relatively low-power (3.5x).

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From my readings, german binocs were more than popular for beeing aquired from willing or less willing germans on the battleground, not just by russians. Does not tell much about further distribution among troops, but a sniper "team" without the spotter having some binocs...erm..does not really makes much sense IMHO. To the contrary, the useless spotter makes the sniper "team" more visible to the enemy and oftenly enough, the bored spotter chooses his own targets and makes survivability a more serious affair. At least it´s oftenly so in CMBN. So while making own missions, I get rid of the lurker by cutting team strength by half. Works for me. :)

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