Squad level firepower comparisons

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Brady
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Re: Squad level firepower comparisons

Post by Brady » 21 Mar 2018 02:05

I ment, without a lmg being present, sans, for the sake of comparing the base value, the BAR is not a lmg i think we all agree on that.

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Re: Squad level firepower comparisons

Post by yantaylor » 21 Mar 2018 11:34

I would have guessed that a typical German Infantry Squad would be more likely to have a MG34 then a MP40, early German Squads had up to thirteen men and not a sub-machine gun between them, but they had a LMG.

If the German's managed to equip each infantry squad with StG 44s, G43s and MG42s, then they would have been more then a match for anyone especially if each squad had half a dozen panzerfausts too.

Going back to the BAR, I thought that the US Forces had plenty of them, the US Marines adopted three per squad by late 1944. I cannot understand why Browning never implicate the improvements done by the Belgians, they added a barrel changing system which seems logical for a LMG.

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stg 44
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Re: Squad level firepower comparisons

Post by stg 44 » 21 Mar 2018 12:10

yantaylor wrote:I would have guessed that a typical German Infantry Squad would be more likely to have a MG34 then a MP40, early German Squads had up to thirteen men and not a sub-machine gun between them, but they had a LMG.
Huh? SMGs were pretty integral to the German infantry squad from 1939:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDZMJXaADQI
yantaylor wrote: Going back to the BAR, I thought that the US Forces had plenty of them, the US Marines adopted three per squad by late 1944. I cannot understand why Browning never implicate the improvements done by the Belgians, they added a barrel changing system which seems logical for a LMG.
NMH is probably why, that and wanted as many as possible as quickly as possible, so don't disrupt production lines and use existing stocks. US Marines are not the Army, which held off on BAR use expansion, but got up to 2 official BARs per squad by the end of the war, tacitly accepting the standard practice on the ground.

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Re: Squad level firepower comparisons

Post by Dunnigan » 21 Mar 2018 15:07

Reference the evolution of the German Rifle Squad from 1939 on from the defunct Bayonetstrength website (accessible via web archive):

https://web.archive.org/web/20151001024 ... talion.htm

Under The Infantry Battalion, circa 1939 to 1940:
"The original Squad was thirteen strong, with three Squads per Platoon. The Squad was made up of a leader and assistant, both NCOs, and seven men, all of who were armed with rifles. The Squad was completed by a Light Machine Gun group of four men, armed with three pistols and one rifle and serving a single light machine gun..."

"This was the Squad and Platoon in use during the invasion of Poland, where it proved to be too cumbersome a unit to operate effectively in action. Following the campaign the ten man Squad detailed below was adopted, but it was not until early 1941 that this was reflected in the organisational tables. It does raise the intriguing question of whether units in action in the West in 1940 were operating on the old organisation or the new..."

"The NCO was originally armed with a rifle, but as sufficient stocks became available adopted the MP40 machine pistol..."

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stg 44
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Re: Squad level firepower comparisons

Post by stg 44 » 21 Mar 2018 16:41

Dunnigan wrote:Reference the evolution of the German Rifle Squad from 1939 on from the defunct Bayonetstrength website (accessible via web archive):

https://web.archive.org/web/20151001024 ... talion.htm

Under The Infantry Battalion, circa 1939 to 1940:
"The original Squad was thirteen strong, with three Squads per Platoon. The Squad was made up of a leader and assistant, both NCOs, and seven men, all of who were armed with rifles. The Squad was completed by a Light Machine Gun group of four men, armed with three pistols and one rifle and serving a single light machine gun..."

"This was the Squad and Platoon in use during the invasion of Poland, where it proved to be too cumbersome a unit to operate effectively in action. Following the campaign the ten man Squad detailed below was adopted, but it was not until early 1941 that this was reflected in the organisational tables. It does raise the intriguing question of whether units in action in the West in 1940 were operating on the old organisation or the new..."

"The NCO was originally armed with a rifle, but as sufficient stocks became available adopted the MP40 machine pistol..."
https://www.militaryfactory.com/smallar ... rms_id=501
This says the MP38 was issued to squad leaders in 1939.
http://www.mp40.nl/index.php?page=mp38
Thousands were produced in 1938-39, so it is entirely feasible it was widely issued and used in Poland and in France.

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Re: Squad level firepower comparisons

Post by yantaylor » 21 Mar 2018 17:01

The US Army saw the value of a belt fed weapon and tried to develop on the lines of the MG34, they ended up making a variation on their original light machine and called it the M1919A6.

I don't think that many nations had SMGs at squad or section level that early in the war apart from Russia and Finland, all the other were slow to add them, even the US Army never issued them as standard platoon weapons, but each company kept half a dozen at HQ level to be distributed to soldiers who are going out on patrol.

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Re: Squad level firepower comparisons

Post by Pruitt » 22 Mar 2018 02:00

Combat troops had a TOE, but experienced combat troops picked up as many automatic weapons as they could find. The Germans had second line troops often armed with Ersatz (replacement) weapons. Instead of a MG 34 or 42, you might find them equipped with a Maxim or a Zb-26. Once the German Army had access to Soviet weapons, they chose several as favorite. The PPsh stands out. They also liked Soviet Machine Guns.

The Americans and British did not seem to go after captured weapons as much, but Veterans often would add BAR's and Browning 1919. The British did seem fond of certain Italian Machine Guns. The Germans adopted the Beretta SMG as an Ersatzweapon.

The Americans adopted the M-1 Carbine to replace the Pistol. Many carried it as it was much lighter (so was the ammo). I have one and I have several 15 and 20 round magazines for it.

Pruitt

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Re: Squad level firepower comparisons

Post by yantaylor » 22 Mar 2018 11:41

You are totally correct Pruitt, soldiers on active service would pick up automatics from the battle field, especially the German's as PPsh was a good SMG and so was the Beretta.

The M1 carbine was an improvement on the pistol, but I suppose that most officers carried both, which would do them no harm.
Going by the TO&E of a US Infantry company circa 1944, that the CHQ had six extra BARs on stock.
A US Marine company also had six M1917 HMGs located at CHQ and these were used to replace the six M1919s in the machine gun platoon when they had sustained fire missions, the M1917 was water cooled and was built for this role.

Going back to the German's I would think that any of the reserve units serving on the Atlantic wall would be equipped with machine guns captured from the country they are stationed in, I bet it was a quartermaster's nightmare.

Yan.

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stg 44
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Re: Squad level firepower comparisons

Post by stg 44 » 22 Mar 2018 13:16

Pruitt wrote: The Americans and British did not seem to go after captured weapons as much, but Veterans often would add BAR's and Browning 1919. The British did seem fond of certain Italian Machine Guns. The Germans adopted the Beretta SMG as an Ersatzweapon.
They did, but from what I've heard from veteran accounts they learned that was a bad idea because the ammo could be tough to come by in certain circumstances, but more importantly everyone knew the difference in the German-American weapon sounds and if they heard a German gun being fired they'd fire at that direction, so they stopped using them and just kept them as souvenirs. US weapons were generally adequate and supply was excellent, so it didn't make sense not to use them. The really good stuff, the German Stg44 and FG42 were pretty rare until the end, but I have seen a number of pictures with US and UK troops using them in 1945. Seems like the bigger issue for the Allies is that German equipment, other than the MG42, wasn't really worth replacing their own stuff with until the end of the war, and with the MG42 is that it's sound would attract other Allied fire like bees to honey.

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Re: Squad level firepower comparisons

Post by Gooner1 » 22 Mar 2018 16:13

Brady wrote:late 44

weight of fire
At maximum rate of fire all the squads/sections will run out of ammunition in 5 minutes or less. The US squad, being generally larger, will have the advantage.

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Re: Squad level firepower comparisons

Post by yantaylor » 22 Mar 2018 17:21

Not an expert myself but speaking to old British soldiers in the 1970s, none of them did any close up fight, instead they use to say that they heard the bullets and the shells but never really saw the enemy, except for dead, wounded and POWs of course, which makes sense as your enemy wouldn't want you to see him and would go to great lengths to conceal his position because if you did see him you would shoot at him.
So any firing would take place at any know enemy positions and soldiers would keep their distance so anything under 100m would be considered close enough.

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Re: Squad level firepower comparisons

Post by Sheldrake » 22 Mar 2018 23:18

yantaylor wrote:Not an expert myself but speaking to old British soldiers in the 1970s, none of them did any close up fight, instead they use to say that they heard the bullets and the shells but never really saw the enemy, except for dead, wounded and POWs of course, which makes sense as your enemy wouldn't want you to see him and would go to great lengths to conceal his position because if you did see him you would shoot at him.
So any firing would take place at any know enemy positions and soldiers would keep their distance so anything under 100m would be considered close enough.
There may be some issues with your sample here. Most soldiers were somewhere behind the men in the actual front line. Most casualties were suffered by the rifle companies of infantry units, so much that most in Normandy had a 100% turn over of personnel over three months. Furthermore 80% of casualties were from mortars and artillery. Disproportionately fewer participants in close range fire fights would be around in the 1970s.

That does not mean that close range fire fights did not happen. Ultimately, the liberation of Europe was undertaken by Tommy's or Joe's willingness to get close and personal with Fritz. often it was a handful of men with guts who led by example who did just this.

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Re: Squad level firepower comparisons

Post by Cult Icon » 23 Mar 2018 03:23

IMHO, to generalize most german squads were little more than half a dozen men with a MG (and 1 MP or self loading rifle for the leader) in 44/45. The riflemen were loaded down with belts. At hard times, the squad was basically a MG team. The HGMGs were typically 6 men but losses would reduce it to the bare minimum of 3 men. The theoretical TOE was an ideal that was rarely met for long.

eg. The PzD at Konrad 1945attacked being refilled with men but missing about half their MGs and MPs.

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Re: Squad level firepower comparisons

Post by yantaylor » 24 Mar 2018 01:02

True Sheldrake, if you were continually at the sharp end so to speak, then your life expectancy would be drastically cut.

I do recall that most of these men were at the time in their early sixties and many of of them were infantry.
I remember how one chap who fought at Anzio said that he and his chum basically stayed in their fox hole together during the daylight hours because of snipers and if they needed to go to the toilet they had to just do it in their hole as moving out of your hole in daylight was suicide.

CI, you are spot on, at that stage in the war the German army was really running short on men especially in field replacements.
I don't know if the panzergrenadier regiments got first dibs on LMGs but according to reports their squads were allocated two LMGs, so how would that work as a fighting unit if each LMG had a three man crew? that would leave an NCO and three privates to act as infantry which is not so good for a armoured fighting unit which was formed as attacking formation.
So surly they kept the LMG teams down to two men or even just one gunner to allow for more soldiers to act in as standard infantry.

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Re: Squad level firepower comparisons

Post by Sheldrake » 24 Mar 2018 13:37

As a general comment the exact TOE of squads is very much a wargamers hobby horse. Counting bayonets and top trumps with small arms is only one factor.

#1 It was rare for any squad in any army to go into battle with the official squad structure. There were casualties from battle and sickness. Some armies left 10-20% of assault out of battle to ensure that if disaster struck there was a cadre around which to rebuild the unit. There were detachments and patrols and even, sometimes, leave of absence or absence without leave. The British platoon nominally had a strength of 40 men. Platoon battle drills were based on this structure. The Lionel Wigram the Chief instructor of the central battle school was an observer in the Sicily campaign and noted that platoons almost invariably went into battle with no more than 24.

#2 Furthermore, of those men, only one third could be counted on to take action in the way the army (and wargamers) think they should. One third would take every action to avoid combat, and the other third could be swayed. With variations this seems fair comment, and even wargamers recognise the need for some morale rules.

#3 There is also the matter of training and competence. Not everyone can shoot straight and unzeroed weapons are less than effective. How many WW2 riflemen were well trained marksmen? How effective were small arms other than the psychological effect of firing?

Sure there was a difference between having a BAR, Bren, MG34 or MG42 as the squad weapon. There was a lesser difference between the capabilities of other small arms. Whether the rest of the squad had bolt action rifles, Semi automatic or machine pistols probably had less impact than whether they were trained to use them and what proportion had their hearts in the fight.

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