Indications of the military council on the 1st Ukrainian front on the combat use of IS-122 tank regiments and ISU-152 self-propelled artillery regiments May 29, 1944.
Commander-in-chief of forces of 1st Ukrainian front, Marshal of the Soviet Union Konev
Member of the military council the 1st Ukrainian front the lieutenant general, K.Kraynyukov
On 29 May, 1944.
By commanders OF [BT] and mV by the armies
Commanders of the tank armies
To commander OF [BT] and mV KA
The combat employment of heavy tank and self-propelled artillery regiments has shown that IS-122 and ISU-152 are the best weapons to deal with the heavy tanks of the enemy (Tiger and Panther), with the heavy self-propelled gun (Ferdinand); and also with bunkers and strongpoints.
IS-122 tank regiments and ISU-152 self-propelled artillery regiments are given to increase the strengh of tank, mechanized, and in certain cases rifle corps.
Combat employment of IS-22 tank regiments and ISU-152 self-propelled artillery regiments within tank and mechanized units has a large combat effect, which is confirmed by the military operations of these regiments in the 1st Ukrainian front.
I. Examples of the combat use of IS-122 tanks and ISU-152 self-propelled units
The enemy, starting on 14.4.44, repeatedly attacked the position of 135 ID and 53 guard tank brigade aiming to achieve a breakthrough from the fortified position, to Kupshintse, and to surrounded units in Tarnopol.
On the night of 16.4.44, 11 IS-2 from 11 Guards Heavy Tank Regiment arrived to the positions of 53 Guards Tank brigade (GTBr). Three companies of regiment took up defense in the southwestern and western outskirts (To Pochapintse). One company, placed under command of 53 GTBr, was located behind the battle formation of medium tanks. Its role was to support them by firing from stationary positions.
At 10:30 of 16.4.44 enemy forces of 25 tanks and two battalions of infantry attacked. At 16:00 there was another attack, this time by 40 tanks.
With the price of large losses for enemy it was possible to make room the battle formations of 53 GTBr.
One company of heavy tanks, located beyond (behind) the combat formations of medium tanks, opened sudden intensive fire against enemy tanks from stationary positions at a distance of 1500-2000m. As a result 13 tanks burned (Three Tigers and ten Panthers). In this combat especial mention of the following crews is made: Lieutenant comrade Vovk, who destroyed 4 tanks, of them a Tiger; and the Guards crew of Lieutenant Timokhin, who destroyed 3 enemy tanks, one of them being a Tiger.
The attack of the enemy was repelled, and the remaining tanks pulled back to initial positions.
72 Guards Heavy tank regiment was attached to 11 Guards Tank Corps to increase the strength. Its task was to perform ambushes in the second echelon from 1.5 to 2kms of the front edge of our troops. It engaged in ambushes on the region of farmsteads, north of Gerasimov.
At 11 hours on 20.4.44 the enemy broke through the defensive positions at Podvertse and Zhivachuv; heavy and medium tanks continued to advance to the southeast. Our IS-122 tanks opened direct fire from 1.5kms. As a result fire at the first moment of battle it was set fire by 6 and are hit 3 tanks of enemy, of them 6 “tigers”.
On 21.4 at dawn, tanks took defensive positions at the front line, behind reverse slope of hills. They were advanced to the deliberate [poluzakrytye] positions. Tanks covered by infantry of 40 [GTBr] and by regular sub-machine gunners.
In two days of combat the regiment hit and destroyed 25 tanks of the enemy
399 Guards TSAP arrived and was available to 11 Guards tank corps in Nazviska. At 7 hours it engaged a fortified position in the section of 27 [MSBr] with the task allowing the breakthrough of the tanks of enemy from the direction of [zhivachuv] to [Nazviska], [Gerasimuv].
At 12:00 of 20.4.44 and after an artillery preparation, 7 enemy tanks went into attack at the positions of 27 [MSBr] and rifle regiments.
Batteries opened fire from a distance of 1400-1500m.
After the first few shots several enemy tanks caught fire. The rest, despite the fire of self-propelled units, which caused losses, approached the batteries and tried to outflank the positions of the regiment.
10 enemy tanks abandoned the left flank and started to go around (encircle) battery position. A backup battery was moved at 9:00 PM to destroy the threat, 3 enemy tanks were hit after first shots. The others quickly retreated (hided).
The regiment conducted a heated battle for 7 hours, with enemy tanks and infantry performing attacks. As a results of the attack (counter attack – zakhlebnulas-), enemy was stopped at the boundary of highway between Zhivachuv and Nazviska.
Losses of the enemy: 13 tanks (6 burnt and 7 hit) and 100 soldiers/officers.
Heavy tank and self-propelled units, covered by infantry and medium tanks, inflicted significant losses to the enemy in four days of combat, after hitting and destroying 85 enemy tanks.
II. The combat employment of official IS-122 regiments and ISU-152 self-propelled artillery regiments
Passability, armor protection, mobility and constant readiness for opening fire make possible for self-propelled units to accompany tank and infantry units and provide constant and effective support with powerful fire.
IS-122 and ISU-152 open direct fire from 2000 m. Effective fire is achieved from 1500m.
Tanks conduct fire from the stoppages, from those opened, [poluzakrytykh] also on the possibility of sheltered firing positions. Tanks and self-propelled units follow the battle formations of medium tanks or infantry from one position to another, combining fire and maneuver, in this case they are not torn off from the battle formations. The delay of tanks and ISU interfere with their battlefield surveillance and knowledge of combat situation, which leads to delayed pening fire. In all forms of battle, the flanks of heavy tank subdivisions and parts must be covered by medium tanks or infantry with artillery support.
Furthermore, each heavy tank and ISU must have direct cover from the sub-machine gunners.
The skillful use of terrain increases the effectiveness of weapon, decreases the losses and facilitates surprise fire attack on the enemy. Area relief, upper layer of soil and passability have a significant influence on the mobility and a battle of heavy tanks and SU. Swamps, wide deep streams and creeks, wet meadows are the heavily passable obstacles; therefore it is especially important to identify them timely.
Terrain and battlefield reconnaissance must begin from the moment of obtaining the operations order and it must not cease during entire battle. The tasks of terrain reconnaissance is the establishment of the passability of the terrain and roads, the presence of bridges and their load capacity, establishment of the possibility of the concealed rapprochement with the enemy, selection of the footholds and shelters. In the phase of combat the reconnaissance should mainly ensure the surprise attacks on enemy tanks, refine objectives and targets for the fire of tanks and ISU.
Thorough battlefield surveillance is necessary. In the regiment observe the staff officers from the observation points and connection ([PNS]), with Np of the commander of formation, to whom is attached the regiment. The commanders of vehicles and the commanders of subdivisions observe from the combat vehicles or out of the vehicle, leaving (creeping out) forward. The results of observation from the battlefield immediately must be transferred to regiment-commander for radio or to connected.
The connection of regiment-commander with the company commanders (batteries) is achieved by radio and also by rockets. Wire-pulling of other branches of services (with whom it interacts) increases the reliability of control. In combat fire, commands are -as a rule- transferred by the plain text but the designation of subdivisions, units, surname and the posts of commanders must be encrypted (compulsory). First of all regiment-commander appears coupling constant with the connection, to which it is attached. In the process of battle it must be located in the battle formations of regiment, hence it can directly govern its companies (batteries), while at the decisive moment by a personal example more rapidly act on its battle formations.
Regiment-commander and its staff ensure the free bringing of march by the thorough reconnaissance of route and places for the arrangement.
The speed of motion along good roads 20 km an hour, with the average speed not below 15 km an hour, on the mountainous country 10 km in hour weather and the special feature of roads cause significant fluctuations in the speed. With the march on the mountainous country, along the twisted roads with the sharp turns, with the descents should be assigned the more prolonged periods of march, since stoppages for the technical inspections must be assigned through the shorter time intervals. Regiment accomplishes march by companies ([pobatareyno]). One company (battery) follows for another after the specific time interval. Under the effects in the operational depth and absence the contact with the enemys of battery must be ready to the reflection of the counterattacks of enemy.
IS tanks and self-propelled units ISU-152 possess the same passability and capability for maneuvering as medium tanks. Therefore they can persistently accompany tanks and motorized infantry in the offensive. The commander of formation, to whom is attached the regiment, and the commander of tank regiment organize battle in a position, determine tasks and sequence of their fulfillment, the position of regiment in the battle formation, a united system of orientation and the order of connection.
The regiment, as a rule, acts in the second echelon, after the medium tanks and the infantry, 300-500m after, in the direction of the main attack. The front of offensive is 1000-1500 m. basic tasks for the tanks IS and ISU include destruction of tanks, self-propelled units and the reflection of the counterattacks of enemy.
The closed country in the connection with the uneven relief and good possibilities for the observation is especially favorable with the offensive. Terrain with uneven relief prevents IS and ISU from the danger to be disabledby close AT batteries.
With the breakthrough of the strong defensive zone of enemy the tanks IS and ISU can act in the first echelon for the destruction of bunkers and fortified positions.
The part of the tanks is included in the composition of assault teams; in this case they are given to rifle regiments and are distributed on the assault battalions. Tanks, thoroughly adapting to the terrain, attack bunker and dot in the composition of assault teams, suppressing bunker by fire on the embrasures from the distance of 1500 m and nearer.
Tank subdivisions and parts IS and ISU adapt as the powerful means of antitank defense and as mobile antitank reserve; its place - in the direction of the probable attacks of the tanks of enemy. In the defense the tanks, as a rule, are arranged taking into account the mutual fire connection between themselves and anti-tank field guns.
IS-122 tank regiments and ISU-152 self-propelled artillery regiment take up defense in checkerboard formation along the front to 2.5 km and the open country before the gun barrels and the possibility to conduct fire because of the shelters is advantageous into the depth to 2 km with the defense.
In the first line the infantry, artillery and medium tanks, after them 500-600 m two-three of company of tanks IS and ISU and further on 800-1000 m are located the remaining tanks of regiment as mobile reserve.
The crews prepare two-three firing positions for each tank, one of which is basic. The concealed ways of approach to them are planned. All selected firing positions must be equipped, and are dug out in entrenchments to conceal the position. The tank or ISU, which must be thoroughly camouflaged. To achieve precise and effective shooting firing data and coordinates must be calculated.
It is expedient tanks to hold in the shelter and since the beginning of the tank attack of enemy to advance on the firing positions. If there were no time for the equipment of firing positions, it is profitable, using natural terrain, to advance tanks to the firing positions then so that it would be evidently only the part of the tower. Thorough battlefield surveillance from each tank and ISU in both cases is established. Always one should consider the possibility of the appearance of tanks of enemy; IS and ISU must be with any situation ready to the reflection of the tanks of enemy.
It is expedient to allow the tanks of enemy as nearer as possible. IS and ISU fire from a distance of 1500 m or closer destroys any heavy tank of enemy. It is especially favorable when it is possible to hit the tanks on the flanks.
With the reflection of the attacks of enemy one of the methods is the action of tanks “in pairs”: one conducts fire according to the tanks of enemy, the second follows because of the shelter the maneuver by tanks of enemy and it supports the operations of the first tank with fire.
The method of anti-tank ambushes is justified. Tank ambushes are organized in the direction of the probable attacks of enemy, with the task to allow to approach the tanks of enemy to the close distance and to destroy by their sudden aimed fire.
In other respects to be guided by regulations [BT] and mV KA, the part of the I and THE II.
The application of tanks IS -122 and self-propelled units ISU-152 in front of the battle formations of medium tanks and infantry as the fixed instruments on the front edge or in the defense zone is forbidden.
Commander OF [BT] and mV
the 1st Ukrainian front
the lieutenant general of the tank troops
2-ic commander OF [BT] and mV
the 1st Ukrainian front
the Major General of the tank troops