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Effectiveness Of Artillery Against Entrenched / Dug In Infantry


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#1 17thfabn

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 2158 PM

After much searching on the net I have found virtually nothing on the effectiveness of artillery on troops in foxholes and trenches.

 

I wish I still had a copy of U.S. Army FM-640.

 

I'm interested in World War II weapons such as the U.S. pack 75 mm howitzer, the Brit 25 lb gun/howitzer , 105 mm and 155 mm howitzers.

 

And modern 105 mm and 155 mm howitzers.

 

I'm assuming the troops have overhead cover.

 

Using standard High Explosive projectiles.

 

No direct hit on the trench or foxholes.



#2 CaptLuke

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 2243 PM

After much searching on the net I have found virtually nothing on the effectiveness of artillery on troops in foxholes and trenches.

 

I wish I still had a copy of U.S. Army FM-640.

 

My recollection is that 6-40 was straight up gunnery and that all of the munitions effectiveness information was in a separate set of classified tables.  Of course that was a long time ago . . . .

 

Unclassified information is few and far between but some shows up open source.  Usually it has to do with either the US Army or an author, like David Isby, digging into Soviet artillery norms.  Data on the light pieces will be hard to find but you should be able to do some interesting guess work for NATO calibers if you have 122/152mm information.

 

For instance, here's a test described in Major (Retired) George A. Durham's article Who Says Dumb Artillery Rounds Can’t Kill Armor?

 

 

The third test was against a simulated US mechanized
infantry team in defensive positions. The target area consisted
of a forward defense area with a tank ditch 250 meters long,
minefields and wire obstacles. The infantry was dismounted
and had prepared positions with overhead cover. The fighting
vehicles and tanks were in supporting positions, dug in with
both “hull down” and “turret down” positions.
For this test, a 24-gun 155-mm battalion was used to achieve
the Soviet criteria of 50 percent destruction. To accomplish
these effects, the fire plan for each of the three iterations of the
test required 2,600 HE rounds with a mix of PD and VT fuzes.
In each iteration, 50 percent of the infantry fighting positions
were destroyed and  and about 50 percent of the personnel
were wounded or killed.

 



#3 Markus Becker

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 2340 PM

After much searching on the net I have found virtually nothing on the effectiveness of artillery on troops in foxholes and trenches.


Hmm, wasn't one of WW1's lessons that artillery could suppress but not destroy dug in infantry? I was told that was one of the reasons the British introduced the 25pdr(87mm) instead of the usual 100-105mm gun.

#4 lastdingo

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Posted 12 September 2017 - 0041 AM

The physical effectiveness or arty against overhead-protected infantry in trenches should be near-zero for small calibres. The infantry can (and did) use periscopes for surveillance, after all. Only very explosives-rich ammunitions would kill by blast (and incendiary oil munitions could kill as well).

 

Small remark: Experiments against field fortifications were the reason for the introduction of 150 mm heavy howitzers. Those experiments were pre-WWI and used much slower impacting 105 mm shells, so the overhead protection that resisted 105 mm shells then would likely not resist later 105 mm shells. Furthermore, 150-155 mm proofed overhead cover was devised and used as well.It just took more logs and more time to construct.

 

some link that may interest OP:

http://nigelef.tripo.../wt_of_fire.htm



#5 Sikkiyn

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 1130 AM

It will take some scanning through, as there is an astronomical amount of videos on just about everything, but artillery is there, multiple times.

 

https://www.youtube....hPEDf69RRVhRh4A



#6 rmgill

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 1527 PM

I will observe that the nature of the overhead cover and fortifications are important as are the accuracy of the incoming fire, how it's fuzed and what the explosives fill/projectiles size is.

For example VT fuzed 105 that's accurately laid over open trenches will be VERY bad for the men in the trenches. Conversely the same projectiles with PD fuzes will likely as not only cause light casualties.

PD fuzed projectiles striking trees and brush over open trenches was BAD news for the infantry in them. The same in open fields was less of a problem unless it was a direct hit.

#7 Markus Becker

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 1710 PM

PD fused means contact fuse or time fuse?

#8 DKTanker

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 1736 PM

PD fused means contact fuse or time fuse?

Point Detonating, yes contact fuse. 



#9 Colin

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 1756 PM

We had 105mm PD fuze with a delay option. would be used against structures and dug in infantry. Going by memory, 16" of overhead cover would protect from instantaneous detonating105mm



#10 CaptLuke

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 2157 PM

Hmm, wasn't one of WW1's lessons that artillery could suppress but not destroy dug in infantry? 

 

 

There's a lot of variation in "dug in", and the deep bunkers in WWI lines could be very dug in indeed.  Still, once you have a big enough gun, the issue becomes efficiency not capability.  David Isby quotes a Soviet artillery rule of thumb that trying for 50% casualties takes about 10 times the volume of fire as going for 10% casualties.  Getting that up to 90% casualties takes over 50 times the volume of fire of what's required for 10% casualties.  Whether these particular numbers are right or wrong, the shape of the curve seems reasonable to me.

 

The additional volume of fire for "destruction" imposes logistical burdens, increases vulnerability to counter-battery fire, simply takes too long, and eventually renders the target area impassable.  Even in WWI, famous for very long barrages with destruction as the goal, all these considerations helped drive the Germans to Bruchmüller's artillery tactics, emphasizing surprise and suppression rather than destruction.  His bombardment to kick off the German spring offensive of 1918 only lasted 5 hours total.

 

I was told that was one of the reasons the British introduced the 25pdr(87mm) instead of the usual 100-105mm gun.

 

One of Hogg's histories says they were just looking for a caliber that gave good range with an acceptable gun weight and settled on 3.45" by 1930.


Edited by CaptLuke, 13 September 2017 - 2200 PM.


#11 17thfabn

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 1544 PM

We had 105mm PD fuze with a delay option. would be used against structures and dug in infantry. Going by memory, 16" of overhead cover would protect from instantaneous detonating105mm

 

Kind of what I'm getting at.  

 

An artillery shell using a fuse delay will cause a crater. The bigger the shell the bigger the crater.  If a simple fighting position is within the crater the men it would be severely injured or killed. 

 

If I remember correctly the "kill radius " of a 105 mm howitzer is 25 meters, a 155 mm 50 meters and a 8" 80 meters. 

 

Does any one know the typical crater sizes of the various common artillery projectiles?


Edited by 17thfabn, 15 September 2017 - 1554 PM.


#12 rmgill

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 1613 PM

That's going to depend on the soil too I suspect. 



#13 lastdingo

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 1659 PM

 

We had 105mm PD fuze with a delay option. would be used against structures and dug in infantry. Going by memory, 16" of overhead cover would protect from instantaneous detonating105mm

 

Kind of what I'm getting at.  

 

An artillery shell using a fuse delay will cause a crater. The bigger the shell the bigger the crater.  If a simple fighting position is within the crater the men it would be severely injured or killed. 

 

If I remember correctly the "kill radius " of a 105 mm howitzer is 25 meters, a 155 mm 50 meters and a 8" 80 meters. 

 

Does any one know the typical crater sizes of the various common artillery projectiles?

 

 

 

WW2:

real-arty-2.gif

The thinner walls, more HE filler and better HE filler should vastly "improve" on this.

It depends on the soil as well.

Hardly anyone shoots modern 152-155 mm HE at open fields with delay, though.



#14 Marek Tucan

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Posted 16 September 2017 - 0426 AM

Then again thinner walls and more HE means less splinters, hence ditching the shrapnel/fragmentation and HE to get more general purpose HE-Frag...



#15 Chris Werb

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Posted 16 September 2017 - 0741 AM

Then again thinner walls and more HE means less splinters, hence ditching the shrapnel/fragmentation and HE to get more general purpose HE-Frag...

 

I thought a higher ratio of HE to wall thickness meant vastly more, but smaller fragments?



#16 17thfabn

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Posted 16 September 2017 - 0803 AM

 

Then again thinner walls and more HE means less splinters, hence ditching the shrapnel/fragmentation and HE to get more general purpose HE-Frag...

 

I thought a higher ratio of HE to wall thickness meant vastly more, but smaller fragments?

 

 

More explosive would also result in higher velocity fragments.

 

If I remember correctly around 15% was felt to be the ideal amount of explosive in an artillery projectile. 

 

The U.S. 105 mm was right on the money at 15%.  British 25 lb and 4.5" artillery shells tended to have a lower explosive content due to using a lower grade of steel. 



#17 lastdingo

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Posted 16 September 2017 - 0806 AM

More brittle (harder) steel leads to smaller fragments. A bigger explosive loads may also break up the shell better for more and smaller fragments, but there's less of a shell to work with. It's a "it depends" issue.

 

@Marek Tucan; there's hardly any use in which you don't want more HE, less shell wall in a HE shell. That's because the shell walls have to support the shell top (especially the quite heavy nose fuze) during the acceleration in the barrel without deforming too much. This means you have (or at least had historically) to stop making the walls thinner before you got to the optimum ratio for lethality.

The really thin-walled shells are those without a heavy nose fuse and without the ability to penetrate much by kinetic force; Minengeschosse (as used by Germany in 1940-1945 at 20-37 mm calibre), HEP/HESH, modern HEAT/HEDP - these have base fuzes or piezoelectric fuzes.



#18 17thfabn

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Posted 16 September 2017 - 1104 AM

If I remember correctly the same fuse was used on a 105 mm 155 mm and 8" projectile.

 

The 1 lb or so fuse would be a bigger issue on a 33 lb 105 mm shell than on the much larger 155 mm (100 lbs) or 8" (200lbs).



#19 lastdingo

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Posted 16 September 2017 - 1112 AM

It's much more complicated than that because of different shapes and levers, but more importantly, the shell walls don't proportionally scale up in thickness with calibre or square of calibre.



#20 JWB

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Posted 16 September 2017 - 1127 AM



 



 



Then again thinner walls and more HE means less splinters, hence ditching the shrapnel/fragmentation and HE to get more general purpose HE-Frag...

 

I thought a higher ratio of HE to wall thickness meant vastly more, but smaller fragments?

 

 

More explosive would also result in higher velocity fragments.

 

If I remember correctly around 15% was felt to be the ideal amount of explosive in an artillery projectile. 

 

The U.S. 105 mm was right on the money at 15%. British 25 lb and 4.5" artillery shells tended to have a lower explosive content due to using a lower grade of steel.

 

IIRC those shells were more effective against AFVs because the heavier casings meant larger fragments.






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