Main Armored Car and Tank Directorate of the Red Army, “Destroy fascist tanks with the antitank rifle”, Voenizdat of the NKO USSR, 1942.
Translated by James F. Gebhardt
Original Source: GABTU KA, Unichtozhai fashistskie tanki iz protivotankogo ruzh’ia, Voenizdat NKO SSSR, 1942.
As an antitank rifleman you have been handed by the Soviet people a powerful means for the destruction of fascist tanks-the antitank rifle.
In order to accomplish this task with honor, you must know your weapon to perfection, adroitly and cleverly employ it, skillfully employ the terrain, know the enemy’s strong and weak points, precisely execute the mission assigned to you by the commander, and operate in cooperation with your comrades.
TAKE FULL ADVANTAGE OF THE COMBAT CHARACTERISTICS OF THE ANTITANK RIFLE!
The rate of fire of the self-loading rifle is 15 rounds per minute, and of the single-shot rifle 8-10 rounds per minute.
The maximum effective range of firing with the self-loading rifle (PTRS) is 1500 meters, and of the single-shot rifle (PTRD) -1000 meters. The best results of firing are obtained at ranges of 300-400 meters and closer.
The armor-piercing incendiary projectile, if it strikes a vulnerable spot, is capable of disabling or setting on fire any enemy tank (armored vehicle).
The weight of the rifle: self-loading – 20.3 kg (44.7 lb.); single-shot – 16 kg (35.2 lb.). The modest dimensions, ease of carry and camouflage, and precision and accuracy of firing all impart high combat qualities to the rifle.
Preserve your rounds and use them primarily for firing at tanks and armored vehicles!
Requirements and actions of the antitank rifle crew
Use every available minute before battle and during the lulls in battle to prepare yourself and your rifle for accomplishment of the next mission:
- swab the barrel bore dry of rifle lubricant;
- clean excess lubricant and dirt from the moving components;
- check the setting of the gas regulator at the gas port;
- check the secure mounting of the bipod legs and their adjustment in the deployed position;
- check to ensure that there is no dirt, sand, snow, or other foreign objects in the barrel bore and muzzle brake.
Do not load the rifle with dirty or unserviceable cartridges. Regularly lubricate the chamber with a thin layer of rifle lubricant during breaks in firing.
In a combat situation always keep the rifle loaded; during short movements place it on “safe”.
Upon receipt of a combat mission from the commander, clearly understand:
- the subunit’s mission;
- your mission as a component of the subunit;
- the location of your firing position and sector of fire;
- who is supporting you and whom you are supporting;
- signals and commands both with the commander and with adjacent elements.
Having clarified all these points, quickly initiate careful preparation of primary, alternate, and false firing positions.
Skillfully prepare firing positions!
Select a location and prepare your position so that:
- from it you can see well and cover with fire the probable avenues of the enemy’s approach to a range of 500-1500 meters;
- it is well camouflaged against ground and aerial observation;
- it has concealed connecting trenches and overhead cover in the event of artillery and mortar fire;
- it can be seen by your commander and any neighboring positions with which you are operating.
Examples of the preparation of firing positions are shown in figure 1.
Figure 1. Preparation of firing positions for antitank (PT) rifles
During the preparation of a firing position in open terrain, erect a reliable shelter with overhead cover made of wooden beams or other available material with an earthen embankment. Prepare covered connecting trenches (“whiskers”) 15-25 meters in various directions both toward your own lines and toward your dugouts. Construct your dugouts (firing positions) in the form of circular platforms with the capability to fire in all directions.
In all cases camouflage the firing positions so that they blend in with the surrounding terrain.
During times of heavy artillery and mortar fire, take cover in the shelter. Upon the approach of enemy tanks, quickly occupy a position and engage them in frontal fire.
When preparing the firing position on the edge of a forest, shift your dugouts somewhat forward, camouflaging it with bushes. Trim the grass and bushes in your firing sector.
In a built-up area set up your firing position in buildings, sheds, ruins, and other structures or close to them.
Do not occupy a position where the enemy might easily detect you.
Having made an embrasure in the wall of a building, camouflage it with available materials, thatch, boards, plywood, and other material.
If there is not sufficient time for preparing firing positions, use local objects, undulations of the terrain, ditches, canals, bushes, tree stumps, craters, and so on.
When using a knoll as cover do not place the rifle on the top of the knoll. Dig it in on the left or right side of the knoll.
Do not use objects for cover that are clearly visible to the enemy, such as a lone tree, lone building, boulder, tree stump, and so on.
Having occupied a position for firing, continuously and attentively observe the surrounding area, in particular the approaches from the enemy side, and for signals from your commander or neighboring elements.
FIRE AT ENEMY TANKS WITHOUT MISSES!
In order to fire without misses, you must: be able to determine the range to the target, know the most vulnerable places of a tank and armored vehicles, and be able to select an aimpoint.
When there is not sufficient time to determine the range by measurement, choose a sight setting by eye. Teach yourself mentally to set aside distances of 100-200 meters on the terrain.
Permit the enemy tank to reach close ranges (50-100 meters).
Vulnerable spots on tanks (armored vehicles)
The most vulnerable spots of tanks are: their flanks (fuel cells), drive sprocket, sights, vision devices, and rear hull (engine compartment); of armored vehicles – the engine, located in the forward portion of the vehicle.
When firing at the tank T-III aim as shown in figure 2.
Firing at moving targets
Figure 2. Vulnerable spots in the armor of the German T-III tank
Figure 3. Sight pictures for moving targets
If the target is moving across your front at a range of 400 meters with a speed of 25-30 kmh, aim as shown in figure 3a.
At ranges greater than 400 meters with this same speed and direction, increase the lead by 1/4 silhouette for each 100 meters (figure 3b) and correspondingly reduce the lead for ranges closer than 400 meters.
If the tank is moving at an angle, aim as shown in figure 3c.
If the tank is moving directly toward you, do not use any lateral lead but aim slightly below the desired point of impact.
If the tank is moving away from you at ranges up to 400 meters, it is not necessary to lower or raise the aimpoint.
At ranges closer than 400 meters, fire with the sight set at “400”.
With an increase or reduction of the tank’s movement speed, correspondingly increase or decrease the lead.
Upon the simultaneous appearance of several targets (tanks), select the most dangerous and important.
If several dangerous targets have appeared, select the closest.
As a rule, in all cases open fire only upon command or by the pre-agreed upon instructions of the commander.
Open fire independently only upon the sudden appearance of the enemy or in a case of immediate danger.
When firing at tanks, try to take advantage of the enemy’s confusion, reduced speed, turns, and halts.
Actions of the antitank rifle crew in various combat conditions
When in the attack, clarify your subunit’s mission, study the terrain of the upcoming actions, move by a concealed route, and pick out a new firing position in advance with consideration for the possibility of conducting fire from it.
Having occupied a new position, dig in and be prepared to fend off enemy counterattacks.
Keep track of the movement of your neighbor to the right and left and be prepared at any moment to give them support.
When in the defense, carefully study the terrain, prepare primary and alternate firing positions well, and also make false positions. Do not give your own position away before the approach of tanks to the closest ranges.
Operating in ambush, camouflage your position carefully and open fire at the most important vehicle in the column. Having hit it, switch fire to another target. Try to bottle-neck the column.
Operating in forested terrain, continuously conduct observation of the forest roads and trails. Using large trees for cover, clear away the bushes and small trees ahead of time in the directions of your fire.
Operating in a built-up area, select firing positions at intersections of streets, roads, and approaches to the built-up area. Prepare two or three firing positions in a modest sector of 30-40 meters. Take three or four shots from one position, then rapidly and with concealment move to a new position.
In the event of the sudden attack of enemy tanks on a column in which you yourself are moving, quickly dismount your vehicle and take up a firing position to the flank of the column. Using canals, knolls, and other natural cover, commence firing on your own initiative. During movements in a combat situation, always hold your weapon ready for battle and seek a position both in the column or in the vehicle itself that is suitable for rapid exit and taking up of a firing position.
Maneuver and mutual cooperation of an antitank rifle crew with submachine gunners, grenade throwers, and soldiers with Molotov cocktails
The basic requirement of tactical employment of the antitank rifle is maneuver in all situations in combat.
The light weight of the rifle, ease of carry, relatively simple preparation of firing positions, and ability to employ natural obstacles for cover – all these capabilities make the crew of the antitank rifle invulnerable.
Learn and put into practice:
- in all cases have secondary firing positions;
- take 5-10 shots from one position, then move to another;
- if the enemy tank is moving in a direction not favorable to you, quickly and discreetly occupy another position in order to shoot it in the flank or rear;
- maneuvering on the battlefield, guide the tank into the fire of another antitank rifle crew;
- in those cases when you are operating with other antitank rifle crews, and in a combat formation of our own infantry, clarify your own mission and that of your neighbors;
- when being supported by grenade and Molotov cocktail throwers, study their locations and do not fire in this direction;
- if an enemy tank has halted, disable its weapons first.