What do we know about the specifics of artillery shooting at the so-called contiguous combat sites in the First World War? Shedding light on this interesting question of tactical use of artillery is the task of this article.
In a positional war, the enemy's trenches were often close to each other - and in the conditions of shooting at close combat areas, the gunners could adequately demonstrate their skills.
Due to the lack of a sufficient number of trench guns in the Russian troops, the task of destroying the enemy’s first lines of defense in general, as well as the shelling of close combat areas in particular, had to be accomplished mainly with light field artillery.
Approximate areas are combat areas that converge with their forward lines only 200 meters or less. Such plots created a particularly difficult and responsible task for the work of artillery, and therefore required an individual study of each individual weapon - and often opening fire to each of them individually. It was precisely in-gun shooting, with careful calculation of its parameters, that was the main qualifying sign of shooting at close parts.
Such methods of shooting, included in the combat practice of the Russian artillery already from 1916, created the appropriate conditions for firing batteries. The practice of a two-year positional war showed that such shooting gave excellent results - hitting the enemy’s front positions during shelling was extremely rare, and occurred only at night or due to an abnormal deviation of the gap (undershoot).
Shooting with the correction of each weapon, creating the possibility of firing close combat areas, was also of great psychological importance, developing in the artillerymen the jeweler's accuracy of the task and special attention to the shooting - gradually raising their confidence, knowledge, skill and observation in them. Self-confidence, which arose in connection with the enormous risk and responsibility of firing at the adjacent sites, largely contributed to the positive solution of the most difficult tactical tasks by the Russian artillery.
As for similar firing by the enemy, they took place only in the first period of positional warfare, and were very quickly replaced by mortar fire. Moreover, from the very beginning, from the very beginning, there was a tendency to avoid artillery shelling of close combat areas, since this regularly led to shells breaking in the position of their own forward positions.
Shooting at contiguous areas required especially careful calculations of parameters for conducting artillery fire from the executors and reduced to taking into account not only the features of each weapon (taking into account individual installations — sight and level), but also changes in meteorological conditions (air density and temperature). The latter had an especially strong effect with a considerable proximity of the battle lines - especially with a large distance from the leading battery of the battery from the front line.
For example, in the position period on the Russian Front of the First World War in 1916 - 1917. The 6-th battery of the 3-th artillery brigade, when the enemy’s trenches were fired (close to the Russian advanced trenches on 100 - 150 steps), being in position at the Yamna line (south of Lopushana) five kilometers from clear days) changed the installation of sights. This was not done by chance. So, if the morning installation did not change during the day, then, due to a decrease in air density, it gave ineffectual migratory drops; shooting with the same daytime data in the evening resulted in shells breaking in their positions.
Thus, the Russian artillery reckoned with a variety of meteorological conditions with their firing as much as it could be done at the front. And it is worth considering that systematic methodological developments, summaries and field studies for processing existing firing tables, just as it was done in France for shooting without zeroing, were not observed in Russia during the war.
Work with goniometer
- Oleynikov Alexey