Military Review

God of war of the Russian Imperial Army of the First World War. Some features of the combat use of Russian artillery. Part of 1

During the First World War, artillery becomes a true "God of War."
We have repeatedly written about artillery in general and about Russian artillery in particular (see 1914 artillery of the year; Catch up and overtake; Together with the infantry; Maximum-gauge howitzersl; Tractor and self-propelled; Spit of victory and others) of this fateful era.

I would like to take a look at some features of the tactics of the combat use of Russian artillery - the kind of troops that played a key role in many battles of the First World War.

The prewar statutes and instructions of the Russian army noted that artillery in fire is stronger than infantry, but less stable in battle, and the flanks are its weakest place.

The Field Service Charter, defining the most important tasks facing this kind of troops in combat, noted that at the beginning of a collision with the enemy, the artillery supported the deployment of infantry into combat order, and during the offensive fire paved the way for the latter - hitting targets tasks. For this, the artillery must take positions from which it can fire at these targets with real fire. [Charter Field Service. SPb., 1912. C. 186 - 187].

During an infantry attack, artillery concentrates fire on attacked targets or on reserves. It is indicative that even before the war, statutory norms appeared in Russia, dedicated to artillery of direct support for infantry. According to them, such batteries should be advanced to the distances closest to the enemy - closer to the advancing troops. Their main task is to support the attack, help their infantry to establish themselves in the seized area of ​​the enemy position, assist in the pursuit of the overthrown enemy, and if the infantry will have to withdraw, cover fire retreat [Ibid. C. 187].

Giving a description of the combat tasks of artillery, the statutory norms noted that the main assistance of the artillerymen to the infantry consists in opposing the approach of the enemy, firing dead spaces and inaccessible areas, fire support of the advancing and retreating infantry. During the forced withdrawal of infantry from the occupied artillery positions, the task was set to stop the development of the success of the enemy - in order to allow his infantry to clean up and resume combat. Moreover, the artillery, even shooting its shells, should not leave positions [Ibid. C. 187-188].

1. Artillery preparation

It was ordered to maintain the closest connection between artillery and infantry. Light field artillery is included in combat areas (preferably by battalions) of infantry: if artillery is put into action massively from the very beginning of the battle (in order to achieve a fire superiority over the enemy), this will achieve a decisive impact on the outcome of the battle. Part of the guns remains in the general reserve. In some cases, it was allowed not to distribute guns in combat areas, and focus on individual positions - on the so-called. artillery sites.

Horse artillery should take up positions mainly outside the flank of the attacking cavalry and possibly farther ahead of such a flank. If the cavalry gone ahead closes the target, the horse artillery must switch to enemy reserves or, changing the position, continue to fire on the enemy’s battle formations, and in case of failure, cover their cavalry’s retreat.

Mortar divisions and heavy field artillery, which are part of the army corps, could also be introduced into the combat units and formations or remained at the disposal of the corps command. The main requirement in the application of heavy artillery - massing its fire.

Already in the pre-war manuals it was indicated that, depending on the situation, the fire control of all artillery or artillery of several combat sectors may be concentrated in the hands of the “senior artillery commander”. It was about introducing the institute of the artillery inspector, focusing in his hands the leadership of all artillery units on the corresponding position. By understanding this situation, the allies and opponents of Russia came later.

2. Hurricane artillery fire

For better destruction of targets, the artillery grouping was recommended to be positioned in such a way as to be able to fire the enemy with flank fire.

From the very beginning of the war, unlike their opponents, Russian artillerymen could fire from any positions - closed, half-closed and open. Thus, the very first 1914 battles of the year in East Prussia and Galicia illustrated the ability of Russian artillery to fire from closed positions. The duels of the batteries, which operated from open positions, also ended mostly in favor of the Russian artillerymen.

3. Mortar battery in battle

An eyewitness, describing the onset of the Russian 42 Infantry Division, noted how very quickly the Russian batteries had caused the batteries to silence part of the enemy’s batteries. And in the future Austrian prisoners officers talked about how they were shocked by the accuracy of firing the Russian battery at their batteries in closed positions. [Golovin N.N. From stories 1914 campaigns on the Russian front. Galician battle. The first period. Paris, 1930. C. 313]. And such characteristics, which reported on the superiority of the Russian artillerymen over the artillerymen of the enemy, are no exception - they are filled with memories not only of Russians, but also of German and Austrian front-line soldiers.

Yet the main purpose of the gunners in 1914 was the enemy infantry. A participant in the battle in Galicia, describing the picture of the work of Russian artillery he had seen, noted that all the visible wounds of the Austrians were exclusively from artillery fire. Charged boxes with knocked harness stood, a whole chain of skewed infantry lay - and many took it as live. [Ibid. C. 340].

During the Battle of Galicia, Russian artillerymen, unlike their Austrian counterparts, actively helped the infantry. And the actions of artillery became the most important factor of this strategic victory. For example, when the 13 of August in the area of ​​the 47 Infantry Division began a series of powerful attacks of the enemy, the Russian gunners thwarted the enemy offensive - the enemy suffered damage, slowed offensive pace. As a result, the Russian infantry, with the support of artillery, came out victorious, piling "whole stacks of Austrians" [Ibid. C. 238].

A front-line soldier, recalling the battles in East Prussia, noted how, during the Battle of Waplice, the Russian batteries opened fire on the advancing German infantry. Groups of German riflemen, now lying down, now rising from the ground, sank in the clouds of shrapnel breaks. After the smoke cleared, only the bodies of the dead and still crawling wounded were discovered - only the latter were before 400 [Zhelondkovsky V.E. Colonel Zheol'dkovsky's memoirs about participation in the actions of the XV Corps during the operation of the army gene Samsonov // Military Collection. Belgrade. 1926. Prince 7. C. 294].

4. German trenches defeated by Russian artillery

Even the relatively small amount of artillery possessed by the Russian army in 1914 was enough to win victories in many iconic battles. For example, the amount of fire weapons of Russian troops in the Battle of Rotten Lime did not exceed 2000 rifles, 12-16 machine guns and 10-15 guns per kilometer of the front. This was enough to create a fire superiority over the enemy. The 76-mm projectile gap covered the 15-meter square - and since the Russian 3-inch was giving 6 rounds per minute, the 48 of the infantry division guns were able to exterminate all living things for almost a kilometer area. In the field of the reach of field guns, everything that was not hidden under the ground or behind the folds of the terrain was destroyed - even the dug-in machine guns. We can recall the most well-known facts describing the fire victories of the Russian artillery - such as the defeat of the German 35 Infantry Division under Gumbinnen (27-I Artillery Brigade distinguished), the German 87 Brigade of the 17-th Army Corps Aid Aid (Aoften Aid) (Aid Actor) Infantry Division) and so on. The Russian army, in turn, felt on itself the full force of the fire of the heavy German artillery - for example, the fate of the Russian 25 Infantry Division, shot by artillery (24 guns per kilometer of the front), Germans 30-th Army Corps in Soldau.

The action on the open targets of the Russian 3-inch shrapnel was terrible. And one 8-mi light gun battery in a few minutes could literally destroy an infantry battalion or cavalry regiment. The officer, remembering what he saw in May 1915 in the battle near the villages. Radymno, writing like Austro-German infantry in whole ranks, "as if under the edge of a scythe," lay down under the fire of Russian artillery. The latter covered the entire visible space with a continuous layer of steel - destroyed people, compared trenches with the ground, completely changing even the terrain. Gunshot roar merged into a creepy continuous hum [Ververn B.V. 6-I battery. 1914 - 1917 The story of the time of great service to the motherland. T. 2. Paris, 1938. C. 32].

5. Preparation of the projectile before loading the gun

But the field gun was weak to destroy fortified targets. In addition to the shrapnel, the high-explosive grenade was part of the ammunition of the 76 field gun. People who came under the influence of a grenade turned into a sieve, and most of the buildings (including stone ones) also made their way through. But the grenade was rather weak for the destruction of concrete and earthen shelters.

Moreover, the heavy 42-linear (107-mm) gun, significantly exceeding the German and Austrian counterparts in its accuracy, flatness of the trajectory, long-range (10 km with shrapnel and 12 km with grenade) and the area affected (at medium distances in 4-5 km - about 1 km in depth) was also weak in actions against shelters.

It needed howitzer artillery. The howitzer was designed to destroy earthen and other shelters - the high-explosive action of the howitzer shell (bomb) was more powerful. Howitzer shrapnel was used to destroy closed targets that occupied a wider area. In terms of firing range (over 7 km), the Russian 122-mm howitzer was the most long-range in its class, second only to the French “classmate” in terms of rate of fire.

6. Camouflaged guns in position

Mortar (howitzer) batteries should be used to destroy closed targets, artillery and infantry in the trenches; infantry in settlements and in the forest, the destruction of strongholds.

7., 8. Mortar batteries during combat

Heavy field artillery was used to destroy durable and especially durable targets (fortifications, casemates, etc.), to destroy from a long distance concentrated enemy forces as well as military columns.

9. Heavy battery in position

The combined use of light and heavy artillery seemed expedient.

In the offensive, artillery concentrates fire on as many of the barrels as possible on the enemy’s troops and strongholds on the attacked sector, on reserves, leading a counter-battery struggle.

In defense, artillery, acting primarily from closed positions, concentrates fire on the most important approaches to the line of defense of its troops, paying special attention to shelters and dead space in front of defensive lines.

To be continued
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  1. Rotmistr
    Rotmistr 14 November 2017 06: 57
    Up to 75% of losses in the WWII were caused by artillery - indeed the God of war.
    The tactics of Russian artillery were advanced, as well as the material part
    The quantity (available shortcomings) was paid off by the quality of the use of available capacities and the valor of the gunners.
  2. XII Legion
    XII Legion 14 November 2017 07: 42
    Interesting analysis
    Perfectly selected rare photos
    Grouping of artillery, its qualitative use, and adequate tactics are the key to success in the era of fire fighting.
    Thank you
    We look forward to continuing
  3. Olgovich
    Olgovich 14 November 2017 07: 49
    An excellent article about one of the best branches of the Russian Army
  4. kvs207
    kvs207 14 November 2017 08: 06
    Quote: Rotmistr
    The quantity (available shortcomings) was paid off by the quality of the use of available capacities and the valor of the gunners.

    They would have more shells.
    1. Rotmistr
      Rotmistr 14 November 2017 08: 47
      That yes
      But in the summer and autumn of 1914 there was order with this question.
      And starting from the winter-spring of 1916, with regard to shells of light and medium caliber, it also gradually returned to normal.
      So, the Russian artillery “made” the Summer Offensive of 1917 - leveling everything that was possible with the ground and encouraging the decaying infantry after February 1917.
      The picture of the combat supply of the Russian army with artillery shells looked like this:
      By the beginning of the war, the army had 6,5 million 3-inch shells and about 600 thousand shells for medium-caliber guns.
      In 1915, artillery received 11 million 3-inch and about 1 million 250 thousand other shells.
      In 1916, 3-inch guns received about 27,5 million, and 4 and 6-inch guns - about 5,5 million shells.
      In 1917, Russia completely coped with the difficulties in meeting the needs of its army with regard to light and medium caliber shells. More than 14 million shells of the first type arrive this year (of which about 23% are from abroad), and over 4 million are delivered to medium-caliber guns (with the same percentage of foreign procurement). As regards shells to the guns of the TAON hull, the quantity of ammunition ordered from outside was 3,5 times higher than the productivity of domestic industry.
      But this, in general, is another matter.
  5. kalibr
    kalibr 14 November 2017 08: 22
    I liked the pictures. It is a pity that the author did not indicate their source. Judging by the look, it’s something from Russian magazines of that time or from the Great War collection. But there is such a photo collection in Russian, but there is in French ... I wonder where these photos come from ...
    1. OAV09081974
      14 November 2017 08: 36
      Good afternoon, dear Caliber.
      The first 2 is the Great Controversy of the Nations. 6-tomnik M. 1914 - 16's.
      The rest are pictures of war. M., 1917
      I have these publications.
      1. Mikado
        Mikado 14 November 2017 10: 55
        in the last photo 152-mm howitzer arr. 1910 (Schneider), on the two penultimate, it seems, 122-mm arr. 1909 (Krupp). Shirokorad wrote very interestingly how the competitions of these howitzers (122- and 152-mm Krupp and Schneider) were held. As a result, the Russian army received two types of howitzers of each caliber. He also wrote about “kickbacks” in procurement, and about the fact that the “same” Matilda played a role in this. The replenishment of the artillery unit went neither shakily nor rolls, and it was proposed that serf artillery be re-equipped right up to 1930!
        Thank you for the article! Yes, and did not know that howitzer batteries were called "mortar" then. The illustrations are really wonderful, rare. hi
        1. BRONEVIK
          BRONEVIK 14 November 2017 11: 27
          Remember the mortar division at Balgakov in the White Guard?
          How do you rate the 2005 film by the way?
          Serebryakov is handsome. Even the hussar epaulettes - with a scar - were reproduced.
          1. polpot
            polpot 14 November 2017 19: 48
            Budgakov, the author who is difficult to adapt to the film, I think masterpieces of The Dog’s Heart and the Turbines shot by Basov is for me the highest class, the screen version of the White Guard did not like the cast from the hackish series you look at the faces of Cops-1234 season, the same opinion about the last film about Trotsky.
          2. Mikado
            Mikado 14 November 2017 20: 12
            Sergei, did not look, unfortunately. recourse here in form - here recently the “Admiral” was shown, they were interested in the Order of Kolchak during a fictional battle with “Frederick Karl”. I had to climb on an Internet and find them, and what degree of how it was worn in relation to the form of clothing. what In general, the authors of the film lied there, too, because the required cruiser exploded in 1914, and Kolchak received such awards .. only in 1915! request
      2. kalibr
        kalibr 14 November 2017 12: 19
        OAV09081974 I envy. I need to "go into the bins" and supplement your theme with my photos. So to say, "get into your bed with your feet." I hope you do not become offended? Or I’ll send it, as I’m better to give them to you, and you yourself decide which text they are suitable for. So, probably, it will be better ... I wish you success in your work on the topic of PMV. I have not read such academically verified materials on it for a long time.
        1. OAV09081974
          14 November 2017 13: 35
          Thank you very much Vyacheslav Olegovich!
          I would be very grateful for your photo hi
          Thank you so much for the wish.
          And for appreciation! Such an assessment from a first-class specialist - is of great importance. Thank you again!
          hi drinks
  6. chenia
    chenia 14 November 2017 10: 38
    A very important acquisition of 122 mm guns. Moreover, in WWI, they may not have played a major role. but in the future we have an intermediate caliber that others did not have until our time.
    In general, artillery tactics have always been more developed than those of the enemy, especially in the Second World War.
    1. DimerVladimer
      DimerVladimer 14 November 2017 14: 46
      Quote: chenia
      In general, artillery tactics have always been more developed than those of the enemy, especially in the Second World War

      Apparently due to the scarcity of artillery in the Second World War.

      Throughout the war, each infantry division in the British model of the organizational structure had 72 25-pound howitzers QF 25 pounder. Each of the three regiments of the division had 24 guns consisting of three eight-gun batteries.

      According to the state of 1939, the rifle division had two artillery regiments - light (76 mm cannon (SPM) division and two mixed divisions, two 122 mm howitzer batteries (M-30) and one 76 mm cannon battery in each) and howitzer (122 mm howitzer division and 152 mm howitzer division), only 28 pieces of 122 mm howitzers. In June 1940, another 122 mm howitzer division was added to the howitzer regiment, and one mixed division was removed from the light artillery regiment. After these changes in the division there were 32 of them.
      That is, the Soviet rifle division was at times weaker provided with artillery, compared with the British

      In July 1941, after losses and the need to bring the states to the real presence of artillery systems, the howitzer regiment was expelled, the number of M-30 howitzers was reduced to 8(!).
      In March 1942, the third mixed division (of two batteries) was added to the artillery regiment of rifle divisions and the number of 122 mm howitzers increased to 12, and the number of 76 mm divisional guns to 20 pieces. In this state, Soviet rifle divisions went through the rest of the war.

      Since December 1942, there have been 3 divisions in the Guards Rifle Divisions, 2 batteries of 76 mm cannons and one battery of 122 mm howitzers in each, a total of 12 howitzers and 24 cannons. Since December 1944, guards rifle divisions had a howitzer artillery regiment (two divisions, 5 batteries, 20 122 mm howitzers) and a light artillery regiment (two divisions, 5 batteries, 20 divisional 76 mm guns). Since June 1945, the remaining infantry divisions were transferred to this state.

      Divisional guns (76 mm), to some extent compensated for the shortage of 122 mm guns, in which, as you can see, the entire war experienced a deficit (this explains why such a type of guns as the divisional ones remained in the USSR).

      The lack of artillery weapons of the Soviet rifle divisions largely determines the heavy losses of infantry in the Second World War.
    2. DimerVladimer
      DimerVladimer 14 November 2017 15: 00
      Quote: chenia
      In general, artillery tactics have always been more developed than those of the enemy, especially in the Second World War.

      What was the difference between the tactics of the artillery of the Germans from the Soviet?
      Both those and those who carried out art training, supported the infantry attack, organized suppression fire, barrage fire, suppression fire.
      Ideally, each advancing battalion should be given a battery and gunner’s art, then the losses would have been much less.
      Petr Alekseevich Mikhin, commander of the howitzer division, wrote well about this
      "Gunners, Stalin gave the order!"
      The artillery battery supports some kind of fire — which they will order — by the infantry battalion, they are in division 9. The artillery battery and the battalion are a bunch: they move together and fight. Later, in command of the division, I supported the rifle regiment with fire. [164]

      When I see the rupture of the first shell, I make an amendment, and the second, or even all 16 shells with the whole battery will fall to the right place with a cursory fire. The target is destroyed. The infantry is saved and already screams with delight and joy. How grateful the soldiers are to such an artilleryman who saves them from imminent death! Whether the infantry of the enemy before the last throw into our trenches is swept up by breaks; or enemy tanks stop under a hail of bursting shells - everything is in smoke, in clouds of dust, you can’t see where to go.

      Sometimes they let the enemy 400 meters. And went "quick shooting"! Some tanks burn, stop, being destroyed. The rest open fire on the guns and continue to rush forward on the battery.
      As a result of a short battle: either the tanks are half killed, the rest go back; killed in the battery, [171] wounded, of the four guns, 2-3 remain intact. Or: there are a lot of tanks, some are knocked out, but the rest burst into the firing position of the battery and crush the guns and calculations with caterpillars, and the enemy infantry jumps off the tanks and finishes off the surviving artillerymen.
      The remains of enemy tanks go further. But other batteries are standing in our rear, they are finishing off the enemy tanks that have broken through.
      In general, a battle with tanks is a terrible thing. Mutually scary.
      tml In general, a person had to die several times and, in an incredible way, fate kept him.
      1. chenia
        chenia 14 November 2017 19: 40
        Quote: DimerVladimer
        The artillery battery and the battalion are a bunch:

        This is precisely the German tactic — battle groups and a dowry division can be distributed to companies.
        At the beginning of the war, we acted like that.

        And then. CDs and below were generally parrots duplicating teams of senior bosses.

        In the offensive, artillery preparation and artillery support, planned targets - all on the gun shield. Creation of art groups.
        Fire transfer - a team of senior artillery chief not lower than the start of the division. at the request of the combined arms commander. (one of the reasons is the impossibility at the CD level to determine the OM band of his division. And what do you think, the rifle battalion supported the artillery regiment and not less at the breakthrough site. RGK artillery solved the tasks of suppressing reserves (in addition to aviation), it and counter battery combat.
        The advancing regiment (first echelon) is supported by all the artillery of the division and partly of the corps.
        in our time (in development) even battalion artillery (120 mm) can support the advance from units of a neighboring regiment. And only in art support (when the density of defense should fall, if the pace was appropriate) does the regiment and the KD appear some independence. Moreover, the battalion (company), which had advanced forward, together with the attached artillerymen of the Design Bureau, the KD (here we should talk about the KNP), can take control of the artillery group by order of the senior artillery commander.

        Quote: DimerVladimer
        When I see the rupture of the first shell, I make an amendment, and the second, or even all 16 shells with the whole battery will fall to the right place with a cursory fire.

        Defense. also planned barriers. - fires here KD can have the initiative (to call the combined arms fire or the situation itself). That's just that the correction in the battle is dubious (not, he will notice his salvo, but the gap of one shell is doubtful).
        Moreover, the senior art.head may cause the division’s fire in the interests. not only of another unit but also of another regiment of his unit.

        On the one hand, life made us find the right solution (first of all, the lack of a sufficient number of people firing in infantry regiments). And we taught the Germans to massage artillery (although they only got squeezed once per 200 barrels / km).
  7. Glory1974
    Glory1974 14 November 2017 11: 48
    Historically, in our army, the main emphasis has been placed on artillery, in contrast to the Anglo-Saxons, who have the base fleet and aviation.
    To the gunners respect and respect! All the gunners with whom he served shot perfectly. For all the time, only one got caught, could not hit the mortar battery in Grozny at the stadium. What does not even get into the stadium.
    Thanks for the article, very interesting!
  8. DimerVladimer
    DimerVladimer 14 November 2017 14: 23
    The gap of a 76-mm shell covered a 15-meter area - and since the Russian 3-inch gave 6 rounds per minute, then 48 cannons of the infantry division were able to destroy all life on almost a kilometer square.

    For that, 3 inches shooting shrapnel received the nickname - the scythe of death.
    In 1901, it was decided to create a more modern 76-mm divisional gun. Such a tool was created by a team of designers of the Putilov plant. In 1902, designers L.A. Bishlyakov, K.I. Lipinsky, K.M. Sokolovsky, taking as a basis the design of the domestic 76-mm gun of 1900 and the 76-mm gun of 1897 of the French model, constructed a new gun. According to its performance characteristics, the new gun was not much different from the arr. 1900 year.
    1. Mikado
      Mikado 14 November 2017 14: 46
      French guns of 76 French model 1897

      on the frames of the Parade on November 7, 1941, it was the French guns that followed the trucks. What is it? Trophies of Poland? or civil war? God knows.
      In 1939, the Poles used both types of guns (both French and Russian cannons), and our cannon was called "Orthodox". The French guns in the Polish army were partially transferred to a new course (new wheels with tires, and, it seems, even sprung), and could be transported by automobile traction. hi
      1. DimerVladimer
        DimerVladimer 14 November 2017 15: 40
        Quote: Mikado
        French guns of 76 French model 1897

        on the frames of the Parade on November 7, 1941, it was the French guns that followed the trucks. What is it? Trophies of Poland? or civil war? God knows.
        In 1939, the Poles used both types of guns (both French and Russian cannons), and our cannon was called "Orthodox". The French guns in the Polish army were partially transferred to a new course (new wheels with tires, and, it seems, even sprung), and could be transported by automobile traction. hi

        Then guns from museums used to be taken, so trophy ones are quite likely
        1. Mikado
          Mikado 14 November 2017 15: 43
          and they took not only guns, but also machine guns and other weapons. Yes, they stopped the enemy.
  9. Lieutenant Teterin
    Lieutenant Teterin 15 November 2017 10: 26
    Wonderful and informative article. To the author - my deep appreciation for the work done! hi