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Lend Lease Review

"June 19th, 1945
Report on use of tanks in combat by the 8th Guards Molodecheno Order of the Red Banner Mechanized Brigade in the Patriotic War

In combat during 1943, the 44th Guards Tank Regiment, a part of the 8th Guards Molodecheno Order of the Red Banner Mechanized Brigade, was armed with T-34 tanks that had a 76 mm gun and T-70 tanks that had a 45 mm gun. Later it did not use these types of tanks.

In combat during 1944-1945 the regiment used mainly M4A2 tanks with the 75 mm gun and partially with the 76 mm gun.

As a result, the summary of combat experience in 1944-1945 will focus on foreign M4A2 tanks.

Main conclusions from experience in battle are:
  1. One of the main drawbacks is that the 75 mm gun has a low penetration due to a low muzzle velocity. 
  2. A characteristic defect of the 75 mm gun that is commonly encountered is jamming of the shell in the barrel when firing.
    The Browning, machinegun, however, works flawlessly if properly cared for.
  3. The AA machine guns on M4A2 tanks are necessary as an AA weapon on the march, but in battle, especially in forests, snag on trees, are knocked off the mount, and impede the crew's mobility. It is necessary to remove the machine gun on starting positions before the battle.
  4. Experience shows that it is necessary to have 70% of HE ammunition, 20% AP ammunition and 10% subcaliber AP ammunition. This amount is sufficient for fighting enemy infantry and tanks.
  5. The tank crews are equipped with the TT pistol as a personal weapon. Experience shows that the Nagant is inconvenient to load and does not hold enough ammunition. Out of foreign weapons, the Walther is good: automatic loading, rapid fire, and sufficient amount of ammunition in the magazine make it convenient to fire out of a tank.
  6. The main observation devices used from within the tank in battle are optical devices and observation slits, which are inconvenient to use when the tank is moving. To improve observation in domestic tanks it is necessary to have a commander's cupola with 6-8 vision slits (like the cupola on the M4A2).
  7. The main type of target indication is tracer bullets and shells as well as the radio.
  8. The range of firing at armoured cars, tanks, and strongholds from standstill was up to 1.5 km. Firing on the move was done from up to 1 km at infantry, tanks, and armoured cars.
  9. The time spent firing from standstill or from short stops depends on the point of aim and location of the tank in relation to the enemy. Tanks in general should not stop to fire for longer than one minute during which 4-5 aimed shots can be made.
  10. When firing on the move the speed is typically 6-7 kph. The maximum speed for firing on the move as a unit is 10 kph.
  11. The practical rate of fire of the 76 mm gun is 7-8 RPM.
  12. Tank unit fire is directed by:
    1. Setting terrain objectives.
    2. Study of the enemy's defensive system and his strongholds by the crew.
    3. Study of the best way to approach the enemy's strongholds.
    4. Directions of targets by infantry (flares fired towards the target).
    5. Predetermined radio signals given during the attack.
  13. In battle, the fire of a platoon was concentrated. Experience shows that this gives good results. For example, near Zhagare the platoon of Hero of the Soviet Union Guards Lieutenant Mozgovoy fired together at a group of 5 armoured cars, 3 of which burned up.
  14. To organize fire at nighttime, it is necessary to:
    1. Establish the possible range of fire.
    2. Study landmarks.
    3. Signal the direction of firing with tracer bullets or flares.
  15. Indirect fire from enclosed or semi-enclosed positions was not done, although this kind of fire is necessary.
  16. The main type of dialling in is observing shell bursts and shifting the point of aim.
  17. During battle, tanks mainly fired at close range (1-2 km). Fire at further ranges was performed, but its results were negligible.
  18. Experience shows that the most often used and beneficial techniques in battle were firing from short stops and firing as a unit. These techniques proved themselves in battle.
  19. Depending on the nature of the battle, the expenditure of ammunition per day differs. Past battles showed that an enemy that is well entrenched needs 1.5-2.5 loads of ammunition per day. An enemy that entrenched in a hurry will require 1-1.5 loads. During pursuit 0.5-1 loads of ammunition per day are needed.
  20. To improve observation of the battlefield it is necessary to equip the hull gunner with either an optical sight or a rotating periscope.
Commander of the 8th Guards Molodecheno Order of the Red Banner Mechanized Brigade, Guards Colonel Gusev
Chief of Staff of the 8th Guards Molodecheno Order of the Red Banner Mechanized Brigade, Guards Lieutenant Colonel Kungurov"

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