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Chuikov on infantry tactics


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Just bought a s-hand copy of Chuiko'vs memoirs, vol. 2-- up to and including battle of Berlin. What surprised me was his extreme attention to the detail of infantry tactics, and small unit actions.

In urban fighting in Berlin, the "recipe" as applied by 8th Guards is as follows. Careful scouting meets with enemy opposition, usually strongly held buildings, with HMG and rifles for long-range fire from the top stories, and a small calibre gun + SMG elements in ground floor; also interlocking fire support from neighbouring building.

Step 1: set up support weapons, to "frame" the building, i.e. isolate it from any infantry reinforcements. Set up direct fire elements; 3 ATGs (I assume 76 mm), 1 45 mm, mortars.

2. Suppressive fire on all windows; 45 mm has specific mission to take out the german HMG, then fire at targets of opportunity, i.e. any "jack in the box" units that pop up back after suppressive fire lifts.

3. Assault unit, prob. 1 plt with SMGs, closes under cover of suppressive fire, to grenade range; breaks into building, takes out German gun with SMG fire. Support units move up immediately.

During assault, supportive fire shifts to neighbouring buildings.

German counters: immediate counter-attacks, or, refined solution: counter-attack that "fails" drawing Soviet pursuit, probably without heavy weapons yet set up to support, and straight into close range ambushes.

-- Nothing new; but vividly and simply written. Quite clear, too, that the assault units have the hardest job, and that Chuikov singles out leaders of such units for special bravery and competence under fire.

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They are two volumes of his Great Patriotic War experiences...the first vol being the "Road

to Stalingrad"...the 2nd vol (the one jctm

is reading)takes him to Berlin...

I've read vol 1 carefully, and it helped my

play in several Stalingrad situations... smile.gif

As Andreas says, Highly Recommended

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The key here is, of course, that you are very lucky if you can have a direct fire gun of 45mm or larger when you face a fortified HMG.

I think that situation description is a little idealized.

Just for starters, setting up the gun while the HMG and the snipers can fire back might turn out unhealthy, unless you can move the gun in during the night.

Suppressive fire to keep the HMG down is all nice but requires quite a bit of fire superiority when a fortified HMG covered by snipers is to be taken out.

I think this is a description of how to use overwhelming material when you have it. An important part of instructions, but not overly useful in a "have to do with what you have" situation.

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This is a late-war Soviet problem solving approach. The organisation of their assault groups (documented very well in the US Army Manual 'Handbook of the red Army') at this stage in the war would have provided them with these sort of weapons in most cases. It is not idealised, but rather a 'do it this way, it works' type of instruction. IOW - if you as a commander have not given your assault group the means, you are at fault.

All the best

Andreas

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Correct. They actually worked out these tactics as early as January 1942, during the fight against German "hedgehog" positions in bypassed, fortified villages and towns in front of Moscow.

More exactly, by that time a few units had done so. Their successful methods were published in Russian lessons learned and training documents by the spring of 1942, and translated and republished in the west later in the war, as part of the exchange of wartime lessons. I've seen some of these articles.

They also emphasis scoping out the enemy fire plan and picking a few bunkers to take out to allow the assault group to get close. The 45mms and ATRs fire at the embrasures of these, while the assault group closes by bounds, SMGs then sappers then LMGs (see below). They are to approach to point blank using whatever defilade they can get, while the enemy is kept heads down by the covering fire. Then they blow the position with DCs or grenades.

The use of a 45mm for direct fire against enemy strongpoints and especially MG positions was stressed already in those articles, was doctrine, and was widespread. The Russians fielded 48,000 45mm ATGs in the course of the war. They were not scarce, and it was not a rich man's solution.

Using a towed gun for it was, in fact, the poor bloody infantry's solution and a substitute for a tank. 45mm HE is less powerful than that from a 76mm infantry gun, but they were more common and had better AP performance, which was found useful against bunkers and buildings.

As for the reference to 3 other ATGs, it probably means ATRs not 76mm weapons. The unit involved is probably meant to be a company, and has that many ATRs as a matter of course - and would have 1-2 45mm for direct fire support. They'd use 82mm mortars if the target were a trench or foxholes etc, but against buildings and bunkers they used direct fire AP weapons.

As for the composition of the assault group, which someone guessed would mean SMGs, usually it was mixed, actually. One portion, indeed, SMGs - usually a squad of the assault platoon was equipped fully with them. Another squad would be sappers with backpack democharges and wirecutters, as well as grenades of course. FTs were rare but DCs were not, when anything fortified was being assaulted. The third section generally had 1-2 DP LMG and rifles and was used to cover the others, repositioning with them as soon as they cleared a spot.

Yes, they really mixed them down to the squad level like that, for assault missions. You can do so in CM if you have a company HQ lead the group.

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Step 1: set up support weapons, to "frame" the building, i.e. isolate it from any infantry reinforcements. ...
The other point of this in CMBB (perhaps in reality) is to cut down defenders trying to escape from the isolated block. Hate it when they get away, only to be rallied later!

Great info. I think the novice CM player in an urban fight could do far worse than live by these simple instructions.

As others have said, this sort of assumes you were able to move up heavy weapons at night or otherwise behind cover (smoke, fog, rain, artillery?). In the limited scope of CM, unless you have smoke or can suppress all spotters, LOS isn't going to change during the battle. This should change for the better in 'CM2: Stalingrad' (I just made that up, but we can hope).

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With a tank, obviously you just drive to a keyhole with LOS to the bunker or MG house.

With a gun, in reality it was pretty easy to move it the same way - they are much faster in reality than in CM (comparable speed to infantry on "move", which is what is happening really).

The MG position has LOS to long distances or it isn't important. I mean, if first LOS is across a street, you just walk the DC throwers to the back of the building across the street, advance or sneak through the building, and throw-place from the front windows. Since you haven't and presumably can't, there is long LOS to the MG, whether wide field or keyholed.

If it is long wide field LOS, you usually have your pick of cover somewhere. LOS will extend until it hits some form of cover. (In CM, a bare ridgeline is the only exception, and that is cover too, in real life). Where LOS terminates it can begin and there is cover.

In CM, guns can't be manhandled into buildings, so that is another way LOS can terminate without giving a good firing position. Guns don't fit through typical doors, but gaping holes left by artillery fire or demo charges are another story.

In CM you can get that effect by rubbling a building on purpose. You can also use rubbling to change LOS, dropping the block between an emplaced gun at its intended target, and waiting for the smoke to clear. (Rubble smoke has other uses in such situations, CM specific).

Guns have range, if LOS allows. While MGs are most effective at 100-300 yards, guns can happily pound them relentlessly from 500 to 800. Moving in cover you won't even be seen at such ranges, and if they do and fire back, fire at such ranges from 1-2 MGs hitting a gun through its covered arc and in cover, won't do much of anything. Alerted is typical. It takes an 81mm mortar to reply, not an MG.

You can also position the gun during temporary LOS blockage, from building smoke or fired smoke. Russians tend to be short on smoke rounds - more because the designers took them out than any reality in the matter. But 82mm mortars have a few, and off map can be used for a few rounds if you time the "shell walk" correctly. Bigger smoke from a flat-trajectory on-map weapon is actually better at this (better placement, sizable cloud, better duration, etc).

You can also just give the MG something else to do. If you are trying to cross streets it holds at the same time you move the gun to its patch of tree or rubble firing position, then perhaps he could scare the gun crew into giving up the gun idea - but only while letting you infantry across the streets it was meant to keep them from crossing. Generally it fires instead at the closer targets.

MG positions in urban settings depend on long LOS down definite avenues, and each has lots of blind spots. They only lock out your infantry by interlocking those bits of covered open - supplemented by water or wire sometimes etc. You pick which one to remove, to "unlock" a way forward.

You generally have several that will serve, some more vulnerable than others. Well, one item on the "vulnerability" list is "is it easy to get a gun to a good firing position against this one?" It is the most vulnerable such position that "gets gunned", in other words, not the least vulnerable.

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BTW (self-plug) - my CMBB scenario 'A Morning Commute' from the Der Kessel/B&T Stalingrad Pack features a standard Soviet infantry assault group in urban terrain, in case anyone wants to try how it plays.

Available from 'I wish it was Der Kessel', link in my sig.

All the best

Andreas

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JasonC must be correct re "ATGs"-- either my mistake or the translator's: so ATRs used against embrasures, windows, punching through cover and keeping heads down, rather than 3 76mm guns-- that would make the 45mm ATG rather redundant.

So yet another reason to keep ATRs in action-- the Sov. version of the .50 M2 used against fortif. ! Not sure CMBB models this v. well.

Another translation problem may be that of floors/ storeys-- were small-calibre guns placed in the "basement" or the "lower floors" i.e. ground floor (first floor in US usage). ?

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