"Brief Report on combat experience of tanks of the 252nd Tank Regiment of the 45th Dniester Mechanized Brigade of the 5th Mechanized Corps from December 1943 to present time
The 252nd Tank Regiment was equipped with American M4A2 tanks and British Mk.9 tanks. The following positive and negative qualities of the tanks and crews were observed:
- During long marches in spring mud the weakest link of the M4A2 was the main clutch. For instance: after a 200-250 km march 3 tanks broke down due to burning out of the main clutch and 4 tanks due to breakage of the main clutch casing. During a 130 km march on paved roads 2 tanks went out of action due to breakage of the track link joints.
- Complaints about limited visibility were made during battle (the commander can see only forward). It is not difficult for the loader to handle ammunition. The position of ammunition inside the tank is good. Firing on the move can be performed. Typically, fire is corrected by observing bursts.
- The most effective fire is from short stops at 800 meters or from ambush at 100-300 meters. The practical rate of fire in an attack reaches 6-8 RPM from the gun and 2-3 RPM from the breech-loaded mortar. Firing on the move at such a rate only has an effect on enemy morale.
- Typical ways of firing in an offensive battle is to fire from standstill, from behind cover, or on the move at a speed of 15-20 kph. Firing from short stops is the most frequent.
- Reconnaissance of targets is chiefly done by observation, but often recce in force is performed, when one or several tanks attack and the rest observe and suppress strongholds that reveal themselves. If there is time to prepare, sectors of fire are assigned to companies or platoons. If there is precise information about the location of targets, each platoon or even each tank can receive specific targets. During an attack, targets are designated by radio or with tracer shells or bullets.
- Correction of fire by bursts is the most practical. A fork is only possible when the tank fires from standstill at a stationary target.
- If the target is clearly visible, 3-4 shots or 2-3 machine gun bursts is enough to suppress it. This depends on the range and the target: for instance, 3-4 rounds are not enough when firing at an armoured target (tank or SPG) from 800-1000 meters. During combat on the Western Front near Strigino, a direct hit was made to the gun mantlet of a T-4 SPG from 800-1000 meters. This did not disable the target. 7-8 more rounds were needed to finally disable it.When firing on the move twice as many rounds are required.
- When tanks are waiting in ambush during the night or in bad visibility conditions, target designation is performed in relation to lines and landmarks. The elevation and turret traverse angle are recorded during good weather. For instance, target #1 means 15 degrees gun elevation, 10 degrees turret traverse.If the target is large, for instance a settlement (before a night attack) the fire is corrected using tracers.
- One drawback of military academy graduates is poor training in shooting on the move. Privates and NCOs have insufficient knowledge of their materiel.
- The crew conditions in M4A2 tanks are normal. One drawback is that the commander is uncomfortably placed in the turret to command his crew and unit. The radio operator is forced to load the gun, the turret commander must fire the gun, and the commander must observe the battlefield and command his crew and unit.
Chief of Staff of the 252nd Tank Regiment
Guards Captain Klucharev"
Source gives a date of September 19th, 1944