Before any attack acquaint yourself with the
ground. Use the information provided by other units or by the map. Share this information
with your subordinate commanders. Exact information and correct estimation of the terrain
will be the decisive difference between victory and defeat.
No armored attack is so fast, even under the
most pressing situation, that you do not have time to put subordinate leaders into the
picture about the tactical situation, mission, and anything else which may impact on the
coming action. Losses due to over-hasty action are your responsibility and place the
success of the mission in jeopardy.
Only careful combat reconnaissance can
protect you from surprise. Protect to your flanks as well as the front. Observation to all
sides is the duty of every commander. ALWAYS KEEP YOUR EYE OUT FOR THE ENEMY!
Your entire ability in combat must be used
to make a constant appreciation of the situation. Only in this manner can you make the
correct decision during the decisive seconds and issue short, clear orders without delay.
This is the kind of leadership for which you are responsible.
Iron radio discipline is a prerequisite of
good leadership, particularly when your only method of command is radio. In the point
company for instance, the trail platoons should not use the radio at all except in
emergency, leaving the net clear for the point platoon leader.
You must lead with strength. At least two
tanks must be forward, and the trail platoons must be held far enough forward to support
the lead platoon. The more guns that fire in the first minute, the quicker the enemy will
be defeated and the fewer losses you will suffer.
When breaking cover, do it quickly and
together. The more targets the enemy is shown simultaneously, the harder his fire control
and distribution will be, and the more guns you will have in effect on the enemy.
In the attack drive as fast as you can. At
slow speed you can see and shoot only a little better than at high, and are much more
likely to be hit. For a tank there should be only two speeds: the half (for firing!) and
all out forward. This is the basic principal of tank combat!
When antitank weapons are encountered at
long or medium ranges, you must first return fire and then maneuver against them. First
make a firing halt in order to bring effective fire to bear - then commit the bulk of the
company to maneuver on the enemy with the continued support of one platoon.
When antitank weapons are encountered at
close range, stopping is suicide. Only immediate attack at the highest speed with every
weapon firing will have success and reduce losses.
In combat against the antitank guns you may
never - even under the protection of strong fire support - allow a single platoon to
attack alone. Antitank weapons are not employed singly. Remember - lone tanks in Russia
You must continually keep a broad interval
between vehicles. This splits the enemy's defensive fire and complicates his fire control.
Narrow intervals must be avoided at all costs, especially in critical situations, or it
will cost you losses.
When an impassable obstacle, for instance a
minefield or antitank ditch, is encountered you must immediately and without hesitation
give the order to withdraw into the nearest cover. Standing still, in open sight, trying
to carry on the attack, has in such circumstances no sense and will only cost you losses.
Your consideration on how to make a new start will be best made in the safety of cover.
When your attack must pass potential enemy
tank positions, for instance a woodline, you should either pass by them so closely that
you are inside their minimum range, or remain so far away that you are outside their
maximum effective range.
Enemy tanks should not be attacked directly,
because then they see you and know your strength before you can kill them. More often, you
should avoid them until you can move into favorable firing positions, and surprise them
from the flank or rear. Repelled enemy tank assaults must be aggressively pursued.
A strongpoint, for instance a small village
or artillery battery position, whenever possible should be attacked from different
directions simultaneously in order to split enemy defensive fire and deceive him about the
true location and direction of the attack. In this manner your breakthrough will be easier
and your losses fewer.
Always prepare dug in positions and
camouflage against the possibility of air or artillery attack. Being sorry afterwards is
no excuse for losses taken by these causes.
Ammunition should not always be conserved;
in the decisive moment, if you want to save casualties, you may expend ammunition at
exceptionally high rates (for instance, an emergency attack.)
Never split your combat power; that is to
say, do not employ parts of the company in such a manner that they cannot support each
other. When your attack has two objectives you should attack first one and then the other
with all weapons. In this way you will more certainly end up with both objectives in hand
and fewer casualties.
Support from artillery fire or dive bombers
must be used immediately, that is to say, while the fire is still hitting the objective.
Afterward, when the fire has stopped it is too late. You must know that mostly such fires
only produce a suppressing effect, not a destroying one. It is better to risk a friendly
shell or bomb than to charge into an active antitank defense.
Other weapons and arms, cross-attached to
you, should not be misused. Do not use them for purposes for which they were not intended,
for example, do not use tank destroyers as assault guns, or armored infantry as tanks, or
recon or engineer troops as infantry.
Unarmored or lightly armored units attached
to you must be protected from any unnecessary losses until they are needed for their own
operational tasks, for which reason they were attached to you.
Cross-attached units placed under your
command are not your servants, but your guests. You are answerable to supply them and
share everything they need. Don't just use them on guard duty! In this way they will work
better and more loyally for you when you need them. And that will be often!
In combined operations with infantry or
armored infantry, you must make certain that the arms stick close together; only so can
they help each other and achieve success. Which of the two is leading is a secondary
matter; what must be known is that it is the intention of the enemy to separate them and
that you must prevent this in all circumstances. Your battlecry must be "Protect the
Infantry!" and the infantry's battlecry is "Protect the Tanks!"
You and your soldiers must always
concentrate on your combat mission, i.e. "the bridge," and you may not turn
aside, for example, to an enemy on your flank, unless he is actually dangerous to the
accomplishment of your mission. Then you must attack and destroy him.
After a victorious battle; i.e. the seizure
of a bridge or the occupation of a village, keep your helmets on. That is to say, prepare
for a counterattack which will certainly come, perhaps in a different place than you
expect. Later you can collect the spoils of victory.
In a defense or security mission place your
tanks so that not only their firepower, but also their shock action can be brought into
play. Also, leave only a few tanks in stationary firing positions. Keep most as mobile
reserves under cover. Tanks defend aggressively!
Against strong enemy resistance, there is no
point in continuing to attack. Every failed attack only costs more casualties. Your effort
must always be to hold the enemy with only weak forces, in order to use mass of your
strength at another, weaker place, breakthrough, and destroy the enemy by surprise attack
in the rear or flank.
Never forget that your soldiers do not
belong to you, but to Germany. Personal glory hunting and senseless dare-deviltry lead
only to exceptional cases to success, but always cost blood. In battle against the Soviet-
Russians you must temper your courage with your judgement, your cunning, your instincts
and your tactical ability. Only then will you have the prerequisites to be victorious in
battle and only then will your soldiers look on you with loyalty and respect and always
stand by you in untiring combat readiness.
The panzer division in modern warfare today
holds the former place of cavalry as the decisive arm of combat. Tank officers must carry
on in the tradition of the cavalry, take up its aggressive spirit on behalf of the Panzer
arm. Therefore take note, as a basic combat principle, of Marshall Blucher's motto,
"FORWARD AND THROUGH!" (but with intelligence).