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German Aim Corrections and First Shot Gun Settings


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A German report on aim settings and range corrections after a miss indicates that one method is to keep the range setting constant and move the aim point. This is exactly what DanielH was saying that he used in his computer wargames.

The report also states that the method of "constant range/move the aim" worked well when ranges were below 1500m, but when combat ranges extended out to 1500m-3000m the method lost effectiveness and crews were advised to use artillery type bracketing with 200m changes.

The above procedure would then explain why Bobby Woll and other panzer crew members would set the gun for an 800m range setting as a standard operating procedure:

a. if the target was between 0 and 800m and 2m tall (or higher), it would be hit on the first shot with a high probability using an 800m range setting regardless of actual range

b. if the target were beyond 800m the gun aim could be quickly changed for the first shot by varying the triangle aim point from the usual "at target bottom", based on the adjustment experience of the gunner and crew range estimates

The report is dated September 9, 1943, and my thanks to Michael Rausch for his translation assistance and explanation of the report statements.

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I mentioned this also.

I made a point about how to set battlesight range with you. That is, you set the range to 1000m (or whatever range) and THEN point at the bottom of the target. You can not point at the bottom of the target and THEN set the range to 1000m.

After awhile, gunners would see the relation to range changes and how the triangle would move. An example would be; gunner points at target bottom (bottom of hull). He fires and over shoots target. He then adjusts fire down 200m. He notices that triangle (which moves with range correction), is now pointed at level with bottom of tracks instead of level with bottom of hull. He has to adjust the aim now to bring the triangle up.

The obvious time saving measure would be to move the triangle instinctively instead of the two part adjust range setting/readjust triangle drill.

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Mr. Tittles,

And I told you several times, and showed the procedure with numbers, where one can aim the gun at the target bottom (set triangles) and then set the range.

DanielH was the first to note the constant aim/move the triangles around procedure on this forum, to my knowledge, so I mentioned his name.

Lorrin

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Don't know what the Tiger Fibel says--

But US Army Battlesight training circa early 80s says:

First set the range. (1600m for M60A1)

THEN lay gun at base of target.

If you do it the other way, the ballistic computer will apply a correction and you will lose your sight picture and have to resight.

As an aside, we also were taught the method of correction that was discussed here under the name 'Burst on Target'. It's worth mentioning that the Ballistic computers on the A1 were mechanical not electonic; Battlesight/BOT Conduct of Fire was considered the primary method on the battlefield.

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Originally posted by jrrich0000:

Don't know what the Tiger Fibel says--

But US Army Battlesight training circa early 80s says:

First set the range. (1600m for M60A1)

THEN lay gun at base of target.

If you do it the other way, the ballistic computer will apply a correction and you will lose your sight picture and have to resight.

As an aside, we also were taught the method of correction that was discussed here under the name 'Burst on Target'. It's worth mentioning that the Ballistic computers on the A1 were mechanical not electonic; Battlesight/BOT Conduct of Fire was considered the primary method on the battlefield.

Thanks for the response.

The German gun sights worked in the following manner (from GERMAN TANKS OF WORLD WAR II, by George Forty):

A. There was a range plate and a sighting plate

B. The range plate had the main armament scale marked around the outside amd rotated about its own axis

C. The sighting plate, which contained the triangles, moved up and down

D. Both plates turned together

E. To select a range the range wheel was turned until the marker was opposite the correct range

F. Then the sighting mark was laid on the target using an elevating wheel and traverse

That's how Forty describes the process (page 103).

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If the Tiger 88mm is set for 800m and a target is further out, the APCBC elevation above target bottom would require the following increase in mils:

800m, 0 mils

900m, 0.94 mils

1000m, 1.94

1100m, 2.84

1200m, 3.88

1300m, 4.82

1400m, 5.90

1500m, 6.88

1600m, 7.91

1700m, 9.05

1800m, 10.08

1900m, 11.18

2000m, 12.41

A quick and dirty relationship would be to raise the target sight one mil above the normal aim point (target bottom) for every 100m above 800m that the target is estimated to be at.

So if the target looks like it is 1200m, raise the triangle point so it is about 4 mils above target bottom if I have it correct. And since the center triangle is 4 mils high, the placement should be close to what is required.

Beyond a certain range the relationship may start to vary a bit from the ratio below 1500m or so.

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A. There was a range plate and a sighting plate

B. The range plate had the main armament scale marked around the outside amd rotated about its own axis

C. The sighting plate, which contained the triangles, moved up and down

D. Both plates turned together

E. To select a range the range wheel was turned until the marker was opposite the correct range

F. Then the sighting mark was laid on the target using an elevating wheel and traverse

That's how Forty describes the process (page 103).

And this backs up what I am saying. You set the range, then aim at the bottom. If you reverse the order, then the triangle will move off the aim point since they 'turn' together.

I read that British sights had the range scale outside the sight itself. The gunner had to go by feel of clicks. He would set the sight at a range and when the gun commander called out corrections, he would mentally count clicks to get the new range. If he lost count, he had to switch his eye from looking through the sight to looking on the outside of the sight itself. Vastly inferior to German sights which had a readable scale in the gunners vision superimposed.

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The Tiger Fibel should take a back seat in light of recent discussions. Reports from the battlefield will show the real methods of use of weapons.

Troops will quickly ascertain the best methods under battle conditions driven by the best motivater; that is, saving ones own life and winning.

I think the whole German text book method of antitank shooting is suspect. The need to do those silly calcs for the needed added range (half the target height times..etc) would not last under battle conditions. If there was a faster/better way, it would certainly be used.

When attacking and entering new terrain that has not been 'ranged', a quick and dirty method like keeping a set range and varying the aim point leads to very fast response from the attacker on quickly ID'd targets that present themselves (AT guns, MGs, TANKS/SPs).

The Tiger Fibel discourse about the gang-range estimation effort seems highly suspect and not very practical under most battefield situations. Other Fibel 'data' needs to be weighed against battlefield reports also.

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"I read that British sights had the range scale outside the sight itself."

That's incorrect. The range scale was included in the optic, but it had not the range eastimation help like the German guns.

Interestingly the early 2-pdr/Besa-MG sights had no illumination, so British crews had been more or less lost in night fights.

You can buy for a few dollar from the Bovington museum a copy of the British and US sights used in tanks during WW2. The collection includes the reticule plates.

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Sights

A most important component of an anti-tank gun is its sight, a 'sighting telescope' in British terminology. With the exception of the 25-pdr which also had a telescope, field and medium guns would engage tanks using their normal dial sight. In poor light or when the target couldn't be seen through an optical sight then an open sight (basically the same sort of thing as a rifle sight) was used. Range was set using a range drum that was part of the sight mount. This range drum 'clicked' when changed so that the layer could change the range by feel without removing his eye from the telescope. The graduations on this range drum determined the maximum possible anti-tank range, longer range indirect fire was possible but required a field clinometer to lay in elevation according to the data in the Range Tables.

6-pdr - initially had a 900 yard range drum, subsequently modified to 1200 yards.

17-pdr - from early 1944 3000 yard range drum, 1 click 100 yards to 1500 yards, 50 yards over 1500 yards.

The normal pattern for anti-tank telescopes was 'cross-hairs' their full height and width and vertical graticules aligned in a horizontal row that measured an angle (usually graduated at 30 second intervals). These marks were on a movable diaphragm in the sight that could be adjusted as part of the sight testing and zeroing procedures. Early model telescopes such as the No 22C used with 6-pdr and 25-pdr had a ×1 magnification and 21 degree field of view and that for 17-pdr initially had ×1.9 but popular demand led to greater magnification. In late 1943 the No 51 with ×3 magnification became available for 17-pdr. The issue was that magnification reduced the field of view, making it more difficult for the layer to acquire the target, particularly at shorter ranges. Later model telescopes also had graticules that could be illuminated for night shooting. An added complication was that British drills required the layer to keep layed on the target when firing, this meant a sight that wouldn't cause damage if the gun moved suddenly back when firing - black eyes were common among layers newly converted from 2-pdr to 6-pdr.

Guns were fitted with an open sight for use in conditions here visibility was poor. These comprised an open forsight blade and rear 'aperture that were part of the sighting telescope mount with the range drum. The rear aperture could be set with lead using lead drum with 'clicks' in the same manner as the range drum

http://members.tripod.com/~nigelef/anti-tank.htm#Sights

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