Panzer killers: Anti-tank Warfare on the Eastern Front
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
From the cold and hunger of the Leningrad front to the clinging mud of the Korsun operation, from the gates of Moscow in 1941 to Vienna and Berlin in 1945, the recollections of these anti-tank gunners cover the vast expanses of the Eastern Front. The vivid personal narratives selected for this book give a fascinating insight into the firsthand experience of anti-tank warfare seventy years ago.
Their testimony reveals how lethal, rapid, small–scale actions – gun against tank – were fought, and it shows how such isolated actions determined the outcome of the massive offensives and counter-offensives that characterized the struggle on the Eastern Front.
They recall the hazards, confusion and speed of combat, but they also provide details of the day-to-day routines of campaign life as part of a small, tightly knit team of men whose task was to take on the most feared tank armies of the day. Panzer Killers is a valuable addition to the series of graphic eyewitness accounts of every aspect of the Red Army’s war on the Eastern Front published by Pen & Sword. It records the contribution of one of the neglected branches of the Soviet armed forces – the anti-tank men – who played a vital role in the complex military machine that stemmed the Germans’ advance, then forced them back to Berlin.
evening, when it grew dark, they’d bring dinner in Thermoses, but no one had much appetite. You’d drink a bottle of wine and nibble on something. There were American canned ham slices. You’d eat a couple of slices and only sip a bit of vodka. For the fighting in this bridgehead, I was awarded the Order of the Red Star. Before the next offensive, we were withdrawn into the reserve to receive replacements. On 20 August 1944, as part of the 6th Tank Army we entered a breakthrough. Iasi [Iassy,
number of lots of 45-mm armour-piercing shells were overheated during production. The flaws in the heat-treating process produced shells that could not penetrate German tank armour even at those ranges where the shells were supposed to be capable of doing so. Salvation in these crisis conditions lay in the 76-mm divisional and regimental guns. The short-barrelled 76-mm M1927 regimental guns were closest of all in weight and dimensions to the 45-mm anti-tank guns. At the same time, their
shells, since we had to encounter German infantry face-to-face quite often. Canister and armour-piercing discarding sabot were shells for close-range combat. An end cap screwed onto a high-explosive shell converted it into a fragmentation shell. Eight cases of shells were normally loaded onto the Willys – half of a combat load, among which there had to be canister shells! One could fully picture the preceding combat by the expenditure of shells. Here’s an entry about the expenditure of shells
500–600 metres, and then we opened fire. The column dispersed, and at this time the brigade arrived. That’s how we took the city. I believe that I seized it. It wasn’t just the tankers who took objectives! The next day I received orders to move on to Elbing. En route we took other little towns. The adversary was primarily occupying the villages and towns. You’d move up close to a town, pick out the largest building, fire a round at the bottom floor, and it would collapse; if there was no obvious
drum to the internal tanks and toss the empty tanks aside. Sometimes we discarded the auxiliary tanks, but we never got rid of the shells – they were always atop the vehicle. The vehicle always carried one and a half standard ammunition loads. Twenty shells were plainly too little. During a pause in the fighting, we might take the next shell not from the internal store, but from the external cases. For those times the radio communications were good. The radio sets kept pace with the times.