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Anti-Tank Rifles in 1943

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"Is there a reason to keep anti-tank rifle companies in infantry regiments?

Combat experience shows that keeping an anti-tank rifle company in an infantry regiment as a permanent unit is not sensible for the following reasons:
  1. The summer battles of 1941 are characterized by new types of tanks from the enemy's side. These tanks have thick armour and powerful guns up to 88 mm in caliber. These vehicles include the Ferdinand SPG and Tiger and Panther tanks. Light tanks, armoured cars, and tankettes are used as an exception. The anti-tank rifle is only effective against the Ferdinand and Tiger at a range of 150 meters and closer. Such a close distance allows the enemy to destroy infantry, machinegun nests, dugouts and bunkers at close range, ensuring maximum effectiveness. This situation requires a light weapon that could reliably destroy tanks and SPGs at 600-700 meters. The anti-tank rifle does not meet these requirements.
  2. As a rule, few tanks and SPGs (5-6 vehicles per company) participate in a counterattack. More often, tanks follow infantry and suppress strongholds that prevent its advance. In these cases, enemy infantry can destroy anti-tank rifle teams. In this case, the anti-tank riflemen are forced to fight enemy infantry, take heavy losses, and cannot perform their direct task as the anti-tank rifles cannot destroy tanks at a range of over 150 meters.
    For example, in battles for height 161.8 1.5 km north-east of Teploye, on October 31st, 1943, at 05:30, after an artillery barrage, the enemy attacked from the Boyevoy settlement with a battalion of infantry and 8 tanks and 4 SPGs. AT guns and riflemen opened fire. Only Captain Navoykov's 76 mm field artillery battery managed to destroy a Ferdinand with a subcaliber round. Anti-tank rifles did not destroy a single tank.
    In battle for Stolbchee village in Bolkhov region from July 19th to July 23rd, 1943, during the time of strong tank attacks when up to 100 enemy tanks would attack at once, all measures weer used including anti-tank rifles. The weight of combat against enemy tanks rested solely on the shoulders of regimental and divisional artillery. Anti-tank rifles knocked out two tankettes and destroyed two armoured cars. Over 5 days, 45 anti-tank rifles were lost.
  3. Using the anti-tank rifles to shoot at enemy positions is not possible, as the rifle was made to fight enemy tanks and performed a specialized task. The sights on an anti-tank rifle do not allow to shoot at a small target 600-700 meters away and cannot be used to hit a small target directly.
    The anti-tank rifle cannot be considered an effective weapon against enemy positions.
    From June of 1943 to January of 1944, anti-tank rifles destroyed:
    1. 2 light tanks
    2. 2 armoured cars
    3. 3 light cars
    4. 12 fortified positions
      In only five days of battles between July 19th and July 23rd at Stolbchee 45 rifles and crews were lost.
Conclusions:
  1. It is not sensible to keep anti-tank rifle units in infantry regiments and an independent anti-tank rifle squadron in divisions.
  2. Anti-tank rifles are obsolete as a weapon. It is necessary to create a new weapon (artillery) that can destroy enemy tanks at a range of at least 400 meters.
Commander of the 108th Infantry Division, Guards Colonel Teremov
HQ Chief of the 108th Infantry Division, Colonel Lozovskiy"


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