German Squad Tactics & Organization in World War 2


Time to take a look a German Squad Tactics in World War 2. Two important points, first a squad rarely acted alone on the battlefield, it was used in coordination with other squads of its platoon and/or company. Second, the main source for this is the US Manual “German Squad in Combat” from the Military Intelligence Service released in January 1943. It is a partial translation of a German publication and using other sources, I could correct some small errors and inconsistencies, nevertheless take everything with a grain of salt, especially since manuals and combat realities often differ.

The German Squad

Let’s begin with organization and armament.

Structure and Armament

The German Infantry Squad in World War 2 for the most part consisted of 1 squad leader and 9 infantry men, thus a total of 10 men.
Initially all men besides the machine gunner and his assistant were equipped with the “Karabiner 98 kurz”, the German standard rifle, even the Squad leader, yet around 1941 he was issued a MP40 submachine gun with 6 magazines of 32 shots each.
The machine gunner was equipped with an MG 34 and later on with an MG42, he was also issued a pistol and an ammo drum with 50 rounds.
The assistant gunner carried 4 ammo drums with 50 shots and a weight of 2.45 kg each. Additionally, one ammo box with 300 rounds weighing 11.53 kg. He was also issued a pistol.

There was also an ammo carrier assigned to the machine gunner, whose job was to carry and supply ammunition. He carried two Ammo boxes with 300 rounds each. Unlike the assistant he was issued a rifle not a pistol.

Note that the “German Squad in Combat” indicates a pistol instead of a rifle as a weapon for the ammo carrier, but it seems that this is incorrect and is probably from an old layout, when the squad consisted of an LMG and rifle team. (Sources: Buchner, Alex and
Now, each rifleman had around 9 clips for his rifle with 5 shots each, thus 45 rounds. This was the regular amount, according to Buchner more rounds were issued in case of a combat situation. Also the second-in-command was armed the same way as regular rifleman.
Note that the men except for the squad leader were numbered, whereas the machine gunner was the “Schütze 1” or rifleman number 1, which gives a good indication of his importance.

Hence, in total the squad had 1 light machine gun, 1 submachine gun, 2 pistols, 7 rifles and several hand grenades, which were issued depending on the situation. (Sources: Buchner, Alex: Handbuch der Infanterie 1939-1945, S. 15-16; German Squad in Combat: p.1-3 ; Töpfer: p. 5-7; Bull: p.23-24)

Roles/Duties and Responsibilities

The roles/duties and responsibilities of each squad member were as follows:
The Squad leader was commanding the unit, he directed which targets the LMG should engage and if the combat situation permitted also the rifle fire. His responsibilities outside of combat included that the equipment of the unit was in order and that enough ammunition was available.(The German Squad in Combat: p. 1)
The Second-in-Command was his assistant and was in command during the absence of the Squad leader. His responsibilities were to communicate with the Platoon Commander and also adjacent squads, thus he was vital for the coordination. (The German Squad in Combat: p. 3)
Next is the Machine Gunner, he operated the light machine gun and was responsible for taking care of the weapon. (The German Squad in Combat: p. 2)
His assistant would help him with setting up the MG, supply ammo and assist him in combat. Usually he would be left of the gunner or to his rear. He had to be ready and close enough to support the gunner with tasks like changing the barrel or fixing jams. And in case the gunner couldn’t continue operating the LMG the assistant would take his role. He was also responsible to take care of the weapon. (The German Squad in Combat: p. 2-3)
The ammo carrier was responsible for inspecting the ammo, refilling fired ammo belts and checking for left ammunition in case of a position change. He usually stayed in the rear and in cover, but could act as a rifleman if necessary.( The German Squad in Combat: p. 2-3; Töpfer: p. 6)
The regular rifleman’s duty was to participate in combat with his rifle and bayonet. The riflemen formed the assault part of the squad. Thus, if necessary assaulting the enemy position with grenades and bayonet. Although not officially designated, they would also serve as ammo carriers to a varying degrees. Additionally, some were designated grenade carriers and/or throwers.( The German Squad in Combat: p. 2-3; Töpfer: p. 6)


Now let’s take a look at formations. The basic close order formations were the squad line or “Reihe”, the squad column or “Kette” which was basically a 90 degree turn of the previous and of course the Squad in March order. (The German Squad in Combat: p. 4)
As you can see the machine gunner with his assistants is always at the very front, he was the key member of the squad, which is also indicated by his designation “Schütze 1” or “infantry man number 1”. (base man) (The German Squad in Combat: p. 5)
These were the close order formations that were not suited for dangerous situations.

Squad Column Extended Order – Schützenreihe

Close-Order formations were abandoned if the situation changed due to terrain, hostile activity or other circumstances. The basic extended order formations were the Squad Column or “Schützenkette”and the Skirmish line or “Schützenreihe”. The squad column in extended order was not a straight line, instead the soldiers used terrain for cover, although the principal order of the line remained. Note that the second-in-command was at the end, ensuring that the squad stays together. (The German Squad in Combat: p. 5-6)

Skirmish Line – Schützenkette

The skirmish line was used if the firepower of the whole squad was necessary. In this case the riflemen move to the left and right of the machine gunner, who remained at a central position. The forward half of the riflemen moved to the right and the other half to the left. Alternatively, an echeloned right or left deployment was also possible, in this case the all men moved to the right or left of the machine gunner. The distance between the men was about 3.5 m ( 12.5 ft) (Original: 5 paces). Note that the squad leader had no fixed position in the formation.
Generally speaking, there was a standard approach for everything, like the squad line formation or how to deploy into a skirmish line. This means that any deviations from the standard must be explicitly ordered. (The German Squad in Combat: p.5- 8)


In terms of leadership the translated manual states that leading by example is essential. It is explicitly stated:
“In order to be a leader in the field, a superior must display an exemplary bearing before his men in the moment of danger and be willing, if necessary, to die for them. The weak and vacillating are then guided by his example and by his disregard of self in accepting privations and dangers.” (The German Squad in Combat: p. 10)

Squad in Offensive Combat

Now, let’s take a look at the squad in offensive actions. It is very important to note, that the squad in offensive combat would not act alone, but as an element of its platoon. Note that each platoon contained usually 4 squads. So let’s look at the different stages of offensive combat.

Stages of an Attack

The stages are as follows: development, deployment, advancing, attack and penetration. Note that most other sources use less stages and the transition from one stage to another can be quite fluent or blurry. (German Squad in Combat: p. 32-47)


The development phase is the first step in the preparation of an attack. The rifle company left their marching route and broke up into 3 platoons. Those platoons themselves separated into 4 squads. Yet, the squads remained in close formation. The machine gun and other important equipment was now carried by hand and on carts anymore. (German Squad in Combat, p 32-33)


Next was the Deployment phase, which was about organizing the troops into combat formations. Usually, the squad was deployed right after the deployment of the platoons. The squad leader may have received his orders directly from the platoon leader or acted independently based on the mission of the platoon. (German Squad in Combat, p 35-36)


Now, since the units were now in battle formations the advance phase began. The advance was ideally performed in squad column with the light machine-gun on the front. This would allow rearward supporting machine guns and other weapons to fire safely past the advancing squads.
If the squad was under effective enemy fire, the squad needed to use its own fire to support its movement by achieving fire superiority. Fire and movement should be employed, which means that one part of the squad fires to cover the movement of the other part of squad. This principle can also be used on a larger scale, where one squad covers another squad. (German Squad in Combat, p 36; Töpfer: p. 20-21)
If areas were covered by enemy artillery fire, they would have been avoided if possible, if not these areas needed to be crossed during firing pauses in quick rushes. Generally, it was recommend to use rushes, when the situation and enemy fire did permit them. (German Squad in Combat, p. 36-37)


Following a successful advance of the squad, the attack phase commenced. Although the difference is not so obvious at first, since both stages may include firing upon the enemy and also advancing. Yet, during the advance phase firing is only employed if it is necessary, whereas in the attack the firing was usually a crucial element.

Initially the fire fight was started by heavy weapons from supporting units, like artillery, infantry cannons and heavy machine guns, these weapons focus on the destruction or neutralization of strongpoints. The squad’s machine gun was also used, the riflemen depending on the situation. Yet, it is noted:
“[…] it is not the task of the riflemen to engage in fire fights of long duration in order to gain fire superiority. In the attack, in the final analysis, it is the vigorous shock power of the riflemen with bayonet which overcomes the enemy.”(German Squad in Combat, p 39-40)

Hence, at this point the squad still advanced. Generally, the squad should move as much forward without firing as possible, only if this wasn’t possible anymore it should engage the enemy. (German Squad in Combat, p, 39- 41)


The final stage is the penetration into the enemy positions. It is usually initiated around 100 m away from the enemy positions. (Töpfer: p. 21)
“In penetration, the whole group rushes or fires as a unit. If possible, the platoon leader employs several squads advancing from various directions against the objective. In this way the defensive fires of the enemy will be scattered. This form of attack is no longer carried out by the squad, but by the platoon.” (German Squad in Combat, p 42)

It is important the maximum amount of fire is provided during an assault. For this reason the LMG should be positioned to fire into the enemy position without risking friendly fire. If such a position is not attainable, the LMG should be used during the assault and fired from the hip. Furthermore, neighboring units should provide additional firepower and/or support the assault by a complementary attack from another direction.
Once the riflemen closed in on the enemy position, the designated grenade throwers on command would use their grenades and the squad stormed the position under the lead of the squad leader. (Töpfer: p. 21; German Squad in Combat, p 42-43)

Example for an Assault on an enemy position

To give you a better idea, how two squads with supporting elements would assault an enemy position, here is a little illustration, based from an original German manual from what I can tell, but the document I got it from provided no direct reference.

Here you can see the German positions on the left side and a fictional enemy on the right. Both positions are reinforced by barbed wire. There is a mortar pit with a light mortar and in the not visible rear position another light and heavy mortar are available. The mortars would attack the following areas of the enemy position. To support the attack the two heavy machine guns would be positioned on the flanks. In the center a squad with a light machine gun would fire at the enemy position. The assault itself would be performed by two assault squads that were supported by light machine guns, the first squad would directly assault the enemy position, whereas the second one would attack the rear and cut it off from reinforcements. (Töpfer: p. 21)
Once the assault was successful, the squad leader would ensure discipline and prepare for a potential counter-attack.



Töpfer, Harry: German Tactical Manual

Bull, Stephen: World War II Infantry Tactics – Squad and Platoon

WWII German Map Symbols by James Byrne

Oberkommando des Heeres: Hinweise für die Ausbildung der Infanterie auf Grund der Erfahrungen des Ostfeldzuges, H. Qu. O.K.H., 1.3.1942

[Tanks 101] Armor Protection 1920-1980 – Features and Characteristics


Time to talk about the basics of Tank Armor. After all, we all wanna know the basics when we are diving into tank designs in upcoming videos. Note that this video is limited in scope and mostly deals with developments from the interwar period up to the 1980ies. Anyway, let’s get started with armor materials.

Armor Materials

The usual material for armor was and is steel, but there are different techniques of producing steel and also other materials. Let’s take a look.

Rolled Homogeneous Steel Armor

Rolled Homogeneous Steel Armor was for quite some time the standard steel armor for tanks. Rolled steel means that the hot steel was rolled through one or several pairs of rolls during the production. It can be easily produced in large quantities, but can only be bent to limited degree. Usually it is used for armor plates, Germany in World War 2 used for the most part rolled Armor, thus their tank hulls and turrets have great boxy features. In contrast the cast steel turret for the Sherman had round features. (Headquarters, US Army Materiel Command: Elements of Armament Engineering Part Two Ballistics, Cp. 10, p. 1)

Now, a few words about terminology, rolled steel plates are usually welded together, hence the term welded armor is usually use instead of rolled armor. Although, this can be a bit misleading since cast armor is also welded together unless the part is completely cast. Thus, cast turret or hull implies that large parts of the element are made from cast steel.

Cast Homogeneous Steel Armor

Now, the other main method for producing tank armor is steel casting. In this case the liquid hot metal is poured into a mold. This has the main advantage, because the armor can be molded into various shapes easily, allowing for curved areas and specific thicknesses. (Headquarters, US Army Materiel Command: Elements of Armament Engineering Part Two Ballistics, Cp. 10, p. 1-3)
Initially, this technique was rather rate, but it was already used in World War 1 for several versions of the French Renault FT tank’s turret. (Ogorkiewicz, Richard M.: Technology of Tanks, p. 359)
In World War 2, the British, Soviets and US used various cast turrets, but it isn’t so straight forward, e.g., the Churchill Mark III had a welded turret, whereas the Mark IV had a cast turret and for certain variations of the T-34 there exist both welded and cast turrets. As you can see, it can get quite complicated, even up to this day certain tanks have some variants with cast and welded turrets, like the T-90.

But back to World War 2, in general, although the Allies used more cast turrets than the Germans as the war progressed. After the Second World War, cast turrets became almost universal for main battle tank turrets. Since the 1950s it is also common to cast complete hulls. Nevertheless, as mentioned before even current tank models use also welded elements. (Ogorkiewicz, Richard M.: Technology of Tanks, p. 359)
Chemically, rolled and cast armor are almost the same. The main advantage of cast armor is that It can be molded into almost any shape.(Headquarters, US Army Materiel Command: Elements of Armament Engineering Part Two Ballistics, Cp. 10, p. 1-3)
Now, let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages. The disadvantages of cast armor is that heat treatment and other refining techniques are complicated or not possible, thus it is not as though and shock-resistant as rolled armor.

A Manual from the US Army Materiel command from 1963 states:
“In general, rolled armor is about 15% better in resistance to shock and penetration than cast armor. However, this advantage is offset to some extent by the varying angles of obliquity and irregular shapes possible in castings. These variations in shape considerably decrease the penetrating ability of certain types of projectiles.” (Headquarters, US Army Materiel Command: Elements of Armament Engineering Part Two Ballistics, Cp. 10, p. 1-3)
Note that I don’t know if this value is also correct for World War 2 steel nor current steel.

Cast armor although reduced the number of welded joints, especially considering turrets or hulls that are made out of one piece. (Ogorkiewicz, Richard M.: Technology of Tanks, p. 359)

Face-Hardened Homogeneous Steel Armor / High Hardness Armor

One way to improve the hardness of armor was to process the surface of the armor, this armor is called face-hardened homogenous Steel Armor. In this process, called carburizing, the armor is heated in a furnace for a considerable amount of time. Usually rolled armor plates were used for this. The advantage is it increases the hardness, thus increasing the chance that projectiles shatter on impact, but increased hardness also increases the brittleness. Additionally, the welding of such armor plates could often lead to cracking during the welding or afterwards. (Headquarters, US Army Materiel Command: Elements of Armament Engineering Part Two Ballistics, Cp. 10, p. 3) Thus, early example of face hardened armor before World War 2 were usually bolted or riveted, which wasn’t ideal. Furthermore, the process is quite expensive and not suited for mass production. During the 1960s the problem of cracking could be overcome and high hardness armor was used on light armored vehicles mostly. Only in 1980s the technology was suitable to produce dual hardness steel thick enough for main battle tanks. (Ogorkiewicz, Richard M.: Technology of Tanks, p. 359-361)

Nonferrous Armor Materials

There were also various non-iron-based armors (nonferrous), like titanium, aluminum, magnesium alloys, nylon, fiberglass and others. (Headquarters, US Army Materiel Command: Elements of Armament Engineering Part Two Ballistics, Cp. 10, p. 1-4)

Aluminum Armor

Probably one of the most notable non iron amored vehicles is the Armored Personal Carrier M113, which has aluminum armor and is also one of the most produced armored vehicles outside of the Soviet Union. Also other aluminum armored vehicles like the M114, M 108 and M109 were built. Although aluminum is lighter, for the same amount of protection about the 3 times the thickness is needed compared to rolled Steel. There are various advantages and disadvantages for aluminum. (Ogorkiewicz, Richard M.: Technology of Tanks, p. 367-368)

As pointed out by the author Ogorkiewicz:
“In addition to the savings in weight, aluminum armour is also easier to machine and the greater thickness of its plates makes it possible to use stepped joints, which provide a partial interlock between plates and require therefore less welding. All this has helped to reduce the cost of producing vehicles with aluminum armour but its cost per ton has been significantly higher than that of RHA [rolled homogenous armor].” (Ogorkiewicz, Richard M.: Technology of Tanks, p. 368)
There are various armored vehicles that use aluminum and/or aluminum alloys to a large degree, like the M551 Sheridan, the British Alvis Scorpion, the French AMX-10 and also the M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle. (Ogorkiewicz, Richard M.: Technology of Tanks, p. 368-369) Now, the Bradley also has composite armor, so let’s take a look at it.

Composite Armor

The wide adoption of shaped or hollow charges like the Panzerfaust, RPG and HEAT shells, allowed the penetration of thick monolithic steel armor quite easily, this lead to the development of composite armor. (Ogorkiewicz, Richard M.: Technology of Tanks, p. 369-370)

[NOTE: shaped and hollow charges are used interchangeably here]

To spare you and me some complicated math here, basically hollow charges are not too much affected by the density of the material, thus certain lower density material provide better protection for their mass in comparison to steel, hence the term for this is also called mass effectiveness, which almost sounds like a really cheesy title for a computer game. The problem is that the resulting thickness usually makes those materials impractical to protect against shaped charges. Furthermore, they are also quite useless against regular anti-tank ammo or to use the technical term kinetic energy projectiles. (Ogorkiewicz, Richard M.: Technology of Tanks, p. 370)
Yet, the combination of low and high density material, can provide effective armor protection. The US started to develop composite armor at the end of the Second World War, there were firing tests with Shermans. Later on different version of composite armor were developed for the M48 and M60 Patton, but didn’t see mass production due to cost and difficulty in production. (Ogorkiewicz, Richard M.: Technology of Tanks, p. 370-371)
Yet, the British developed the so called “Chobham Armor”, which was also used by the US and Germany in their designs since the early 1970s.
“Since then almost all new battle tanks have been built with some form of composite or multi-layered armour instead of monolithic steel armour”. (Ogorkiewicz, Richard M.: Technology of Tanks, p. 371)
There are various materials like glass, ceramic and aluminum oxide, that offer greater protection against shaped charges than their density might suggest. Yet, those materials often have their disadvantages. The most effective approach is to use multi-layered armor consisting of steel and said materials. The effectiveness can also be improved by spacing those layer, although this makes the armor more bulky.(Ogorkiewicz, Richard M.: Technology of Tanks, p. 371-373)

Explosive Reactive Armor

Another protection against shaped charges was explosive reactive armor. It was developed in the 1970s and was first used by the Israelis in their operations in 1982 in Lebanon with British Centurions and US M60A1’s. A few years later the Soviet T-64 and other Soviet tanks were also equipped with reactive armor. (Ogorkiewicz, Richard M.: Technology of Tanks, p. 374-375)
Now, to properly explain reactive armor, we need some basic understanding of shaped charges. To put it very simple, a shaped or hollow charge creates a kinetic effect that punches through armor, reactive armor solves this problem by exploding. Of course it is a bit more complicated than that, reactive armor is basically a hollow brick consisting of an explosive charge between two metal plates. Now, if the brick is penetrated by a shaped charge, the explosives go off and brick expands towards the shaped charge. There are two effects that reduce the effectiveness of the shaped charge, first its velocity and angle is changed and second the expansion of the plates requires the molten jet to go through more space.
Of course reactive armor must be designed resistant enough to be unaffected by artillery fragments and small arms fire. Also it can be a potential hazard to unbuttoned crew and nearby supporting infantry. (Ogorkiewicz, Richard M.: Technology of Tanks, p. 374-375; Cooney, Patrick J.: Armor, January-February 1988, p. 7; Yap, Chun Hong Kelvin: The Impact of Armor on the Design, Utilization and Survivability of Ground Vehicles, p. 68-70)

Physical Properties

Now, before we look at the ballistic properties, let’s take a look at the physical properties, because those are determining the ballistic ones. And the most important physical properties are:
“(a) Hardness: the ability of the armor to resist indentation.
(b) Toughness: the ability of the armor to absorb energy before fracturing.
(c) Soundness: the absence of local flaws, cavities, or weaknesses in the armor. Unsoundness is not so often found in rolled armor as in cast armor, because of the mechanical working which has been done during the hot-rolling process.” (Headquarters, US Army Materiel Command: Elements of Armament Engineering Part Two Ballistics, Cp. 10, p. 1-7)

Note that a high hardness, which is measured by the Brinell Hardness Number (BHN), usually makes armor quite brittle and easier to break, thus reducing the toughness rating. Thus, increasing one value can also lead to the reduction of another value, hence the proper balance is more important than one local maximum.
Ballistic Properties / Armor Characteristics
So, let’s move on to the basic ballistic properties that are most important for tank armor.
“The necessary ballistic properties which are required of armor consist of resistance to penetration, resistance to shock, and resistance to spalling.” (Headquarters, US Army Materiel Command: Elements of Armament Engineering Part Two Ballistics, Cp. 10, p. 1-6)

Resistance to Penetration

Resistance to penetration is quite simple, it is the ability of the armor to resist the partial or complete penetration, which is called perforation by the way, through the armor plate. (Headquarters, US Army Materiel Command: Elements of Armament Engineering Part Two Ballistics, Cp. 10, p. 1-7)

Resistance to Shock

Next is resistance to shock, which means the ability of the armor to absorb energy without cracking or rupturing. Note that resistance to shock is referring to energy, thus it includes both projectiles as also explosion. Also atmospheric condition can change this property, low temperature makes most materials more brittle and thus more likely to crack. Something you should consider, especially if you want to invade Russia, Canada or Finland. (Headquarters, US Army Materiel Command: Elements of Armament Engineering Part Two Ballistics, Cp. 10, p. 1-7)

Resistance to Spalling

Finally, resistance to spalling, which is the property of armor resisting to partial cracking, flaking and breaking away of smaller elements, especially on the opposite side of the penetration. Usually, spalling results in an expanding hole from the entry to the exit of the armor plate. (Headquarters, US Army Materiel Command: Elements of Armament Engineering Part Two Ballistics, Cp. 10, p. 1-7)

Or to put it another way, resistance to spalling is the property of your armor plates preventing themselves from transforming into a shotgun blast that turns your crew into Swiss cheese.

Penetration vs. Perforation

Now, while reading I encountered a very interesting distinction, it seems that most of us use the term penetration not quite precisely. To quote:

“The term penetration is reserved for the entry of a missile into the armor without passing through it. The term perforation implies the passage of the missile completely through the armor.” (Headquarters, US Army Materiel Command: Elements of Armament Engineering Part Two Ballistics, Cp. 10, p. 11)

Now, if one thinks in more biological terms this actually makes quite a lot of sense. But, in case you wanna go full Penetration-Perforation-Nazi, here is a list of subreddits that will really enjoy your comments:

Whereas the word “enjoy” is used rather loosely here.

Surface Design and Features

The overall Surface design of tank armor should be focused on providing appropriate protection in relation to the expected direction of attack, e.g., strong frontal armor and weaker rear armor. Furthermore, the tank should have an overall convex surface and as a short reminder, this is what concave looks like. Now imagine some shot ricochets here with the convex shape the projectile will fly always away from the shape, but with the concave shape it can hit the shape after bouncing off. (Headquarters, US Army Materiel Command: Elements of Armament Engineering Part Two Ballistics, Cp. 10, p. 4)

Shot Traps

In context with armor design convex is reached by the absence of reentrant angles. These so called “shot traps” would often occur between the turret and the hull. What makes them so dangerous is that the deflected projectiles could strike weak spots in the armor that were usually hard to hit, like the top of the hull. Probably the best known shot trap of World War 2 is the early Panther. As you can see here a shot that bounces from the gun mantlet will deflect into the upper side of the hull, which is weakly armored. This was the reason, why the gun mantlet was changed. As you can see here, the lower Panther is a later variant. Here, the same shot will not be directed towards the hull if it ricochets. Reentrant angles are also relevant when attack by high-explosive shells, because they will also redirect the explosive blasts and fragments into lesser protected areas. (Headquarters, US Army Materiel Command: Elements of Armament Engineering Part Two Ballistics, Cp. 10, p. 4)


Yet, another aspect that is less obvious is that the surface should be as regular as possible. Basically, every irregularity that breaks the uniformity of the armor will restrict the uniform absorption of energy and as a result could damage the armor. (Headquarters, US Army Materiel Command: Elements of Armament Engineering Part Two Ballistics, Cp. 10, p. 4)

Thus, “A flat, smooth wall of constant thickness offers the best resistance to severe attack, principally because the shock of impact can be uniformly absorbed over the entire area.” (Headquarters, US Army Materiel Command: Elements of Armament Engineering Part Two Ballistics, Cp. 10, p. 4)

Sloped Armor

Now, probably one of the best known armor features is sloped armor, which was one of the features the Russian T-34 is well known for. Sloped Armor is basically armor that is not angled at 90 degree. Sloped Armor increases the effectiveness of armor in two ways, first it increases the distance the projectile has to perforate. In this case, an armor of the thickness of 1.2 has an effective armor thickness of about 1.7 if it is angled at 45 degree. And Secondly, due to the angle deflections and also shattering of projectiles becomes more likely.
Note that sloping usually doesn’t reduce the effectiveness of shaped charges. (Ogorkiewicz, Richard M.: Technology of Tanks, p. 363)

Spaced Armor & Armor Skirts (Schürzen)

Another way to improve armor rating is by using spaced armor, one of the first tanks that was fitted with spaced armor was a late Panzer III in 1942. After the Second World War spaced armor was not used commonly until the 1960s. Yet, sometimes spaced Armor is not so obvious than in World War, e.g., the Leopard 2A5 uses spaced armor at the frontal part of the turret. Probably the best known use of spaced armor are the German “Schürzen” or armor skirts in World War 2. (Ogorkiewicz, Richard M.: Technology of Tanks, p. 363-365)
These were originally introduced to protect the sides of German armored vehicles against Soviet anti-tank rifles that fired conventional Kinect rounds. Why do I mention that? Because there is a on ongoing myth out there that the skirts were introduced to protect against shaped charges, yet at the time of the introduction of the armor skirts in 1943 shaped charges weren’t common on the battlefield yet.(Spielberger, Walter: Sturmgeschütze, S. 92-93)
Skirts were not common the first decades after the Second World War, but were reintroduced with the British Centurion and other tanks in the 1960s and 70s. Although this time in order to protect against shaped charges. (Ogorkiewicz, Richard M.: Technology of Tanks, p. 365)

Slat, Cage, Chain and Bar Armor

There are also other forms of spaced armor, namely slat, cage or bar armor, which was also used in World War 2 with wire meshes instead of metal plates for the skirts. It usually consists of steel bars that are located at a certain distance to the main armor of the vehicle. After World War 2, slat armor saw a reintroduction in the 1960s and recently it is used by Israeli and US troops in the Middle East to protect against shaped charges. Also, since it is relatively easy to produce, vehicles used in the current conflicts in Iraq and Syria are equipped with all kinds of slat and chain armor. You might check out the galleries that the blog “Tank and Armored Fighting Vehicles News” put up, as always the link is in the description.(Ogorkiewicz, Richard M.: Technology of Tanks, p. 365;

Feasibility, Cost & Strategic Resources

As a final remark, one important aspect that we need to consider then it comes to armor is the feasibility in terms of industry, cost and resources, which is probably very well expressed with this remark from 1963:
“The alloys of certain light metals show future promise for use as aircraft armor where the importance of weight saved would offset the disadvantages of substituting a more expensive, strategically critical material in place of steel.” (Headquarters, US Army Materiel Command: Elements of Armament Engineering Part Two Ballistics, Cp. 10, p. 1-4)


To summarize, steel was and is a common material for armoring tanks, once it was used almost exclusively. It has a high density and is quite easily to produce in large quantities. The introduction of shaped charges although allowed to penetrate even very thick steel plates easily. To counter shaped charges various measures were introduce like spaced, composite and explosive reactive armor. Thus, nowadays a tank is usually armored with a multiple layers of different materials and/or additional armors like spaced and reactive armor.
Although steel was the main material for main battle tanks for light armored vehicles aluminum alloy armor is not uncommon since the 1960s.

Armor design is a complex topic, because many factors affect each other, for instance the key physical properties of tank armor are hardness, toughness and soundness, whereas increased hardness usually decreases toughness.

Furthermore, certain materials and techniques are quite expensive, thus armor design is not only influenced by military aspects, but also by feasibility in terms of the industrial capabilities and resources of the producing country.


Headquarters, US Army Materiel Command: Elements of Armament Engineering Part Two Ballistics.

Ogorkiewicz, Richard M.: Technology of Tanks, Jane, Volume 1-3.

Yap, Chun Hong Kelvin: The Impact of Armor on the Design, Utilization and Survivability of Ground Vehicles: The History of Armor Development and Use

Cooney, Patrick J.: Armor, The Professional Development Bullentin of the Armor Branch PB 17-88-1, January-February 1988.

Spielberger, Walter: Sturmgeschütze

Tank and AFV News – Armored Oddities of Syria/Iraq

[Weapons 101] Trebuchet – Traction & Counterweight – Medieval Equipment


“The word ‘trebuchet’ has been used for convenience to designate the rotating-beam siege machines, in the full knowledge that other terms were also used in the Middle Ages, and that the question of nomenclature remains unresolved.” (Hill, Donald R.: Trebuchets, in: France, John: Medieval Warfare, p. 271)
Now, since we covered that part, let’s get started. There are basically two types of trebuchets, the traction trebuchet, which was operated by men pulling ropes and the counterweight trebuchet, which provided the necessary force by using a counterweight.

Traction Trebuchet

Let’s begin with the traction trebuchet, which is an older and simpler design. It is assumed that it is a Chinese invention and made its way to Europe via the Arab world around the 9th century. (France, John: Western Warfare in the Age of the Crusades 1000-1300, p. 119; Hill, Donald R.: Trebuchets, in: France, John: Medieval Warfare, p. 271-272) It was the dominant form of artillery in Western warfare during the period of 1000 to 1300 AD. (France, John: Western Warfare in the Age of the Crusades 1000-1300, p. 119)
The traction trebuchet was a rather simple construction, the frame was static and connected to the dynamic beam with an axle. On one end of the beam was a nest, sling or other element for holding the payload attached and on the other end several ropes for men pulling down the beam in order to provide enough force to propel the payload. The beam was divided into two arms by the axle. (Hill, Donald R.: Trebuchets, in: France, John: Medieval Warfare, p. 274)

Some numbers

According to Donald Hill the most detailed account for traction trebuchets are from Chinese sources and he mentions the following numbers that are also similar to Arabic sources, but take them with a large grain of salt: (Hill, Donald R.: Trebuchets, in: France, John: Medieval Warfare, p. 274)
The relation in length for the long and short parts of the beam was 6:1 or 5:1 for light machines and 2:1 or 3:1 for heavy traction trebuchets. (Hill, Donald R.: Trebuchets, in: France, John: Medieval Warfare, p. 274; France, John: Western Warfare in the Age of the Crusades 1000-1300, p. 119)
Now, the number of ropes in the illustration is not correct, they were usually around 40 to 125 ropes and pulled by 40 to 250. Yet, the highest given number in the records was up to 1200 men, which sounds ludicrously high. Thus, although it was a rather simple machine, the handling required quite some training and coordination. (Hill, Donald R.: Trebuchets, in: France, John: Medieval Warfare, p. 274 & 280)

The range of traction trebuchet was around 78 to 120 meters (255 ft – 390 ft). Whereas the payload was quite varied from 1 kg up to 59 kg (2 lbs to 130 lbs). (Hill, Donald R.: Trebuchets, in: France, John: Medieval Warfare, p. 274 & 280)

Now, one drawback of the Traction Trebuchet was that the men operating the machines had a varying pull on the ropes, thus the firing range was likely changed from shot to shot even without accounting for exhaustion. (France, John: Western Warfare in the Age of the Crusades 1000-1300, p. 121) Something that was not the case with the Counter-weight Trebuchet, so let’s take a closer look at it.

Counterweight Trebuchet

Hill states about the Counterweight Trebuchet:
“This machine appears to have been invented somewhere in the Mediterranean area in the late twelfth century, and to have spread outward very rapidly from its point of origin into norther Europe and western Islam. But the question of the exact provenance of the invention, whether in Europe or in Islam, is not resolved.” (Hill, Donald R.: Trebuchets, in: France, John: Medieval Warfare, p. 275-276)

The Counterweight Trebuchet was more complex, instead of men pulling down the beam, another axle with a counterweight was fixed on the end of the beam. Furthermore, a mechanism for pulling down and fixating the long arm was added, which was usually a winch. (France, John: Western Warfare in the Age of the Crusades 1000-1300, p. 121) The counterweight was filled with stone, sand, lead or other heavy material. (Hill, Donald R.: Trebuchets, in: France, John: Medieval Warfare, p. 276-277) Another major factor was the use of a long sling, which was not unique to the Counterweight trebuchet, but more on this later.

The beam ratio of the Counterweight Trebuchet was also around 5:1 or 6:1. From what we know it seems that counter-weight trebuchets were used with heavier missiles. From a 14th century siege (Tlemecen) marble missiles were recovered, the largest had a weight of 230 kilograms (510 lbs). There are other accounts for other sieges giving a value of about 250 kg (560 lbs). But the usual weight was probably more around 45 to 90 kg (100 to 200 lbs).

Now, let’s look at the range, there are no proper accounts according to Hill, but he assumes that 275 m (900 ft) should be correct. (Hill, Donald R.: Trebuchets, in: France, John: Medieval Warfare, p. 277-278) Whereas another scholar notes that modern replicas suggest a range in the order of only 100-120 m, which would be about the same as the traction trebuchet. (France, John: Western Warfare in the Age of the Crusades 1000-1300, p. 123)

Why did it took so long?

Now, at first look, it may be quite surprising why it took so long to develop the counterweight trebuchet, after all, it seems just a simple improvement, but Hill argues that is not the case. He notes:

“What is in fact surprising, when one comes to consider the dynamics of the counterweight trebuchet, is that it ever became a useful engine of war at all.” (Hill, Donald R.: Trebuchets, in: France, John: Medieval Warfare, p. 280)
Why is it a complicated design? One of the main difference to the traction trebuchet is the fact that a lot of force is applied on the beam, when the trebuchet is readied and held in position. Whereas the traction trebuchet had the force only applied for a short amount of time. Thus, the counter-weight trebuchet had to be constructed with a stronger beam, which reduces its effectiveness quite considerably. Yet, one would assume that proper calculations or laborious trial and errors of various variations could produce an effective counterweight-trebuchet. Yet, Hill notes that without the addition of a long sling, there was no possible combination that would have made it feasible weapon. The long sling, basically provided an almost weightless extension of the beam, thus providing the additional force that compensated for the increased weight of the beam. (Hill, Donald R.: Trebuchets, in: France, John: Medieval Warfare, p. 280-282)
Although, the counterweight-trebuchet was quite a feat in engineering, its influence on warfare was limited and the balance between offense and defense was not altered significantly. (France, John: Western Warfare in the Age of the Crusades 1000-1300, p. 123)

Traction vs. Counterweight Trebuchet

Let’s take a short look at the main differences of the Traction and Counterweight Trebuchets:
(France, John: Western Warfare in the Age of the Crusades 1000-1300, p. 123-124; Hill, Donald R.: Trebuchets, in: France, John: Medieval Warfare, p. 275-279)

The main advantages of the traction trebuchet were that it was faster and cheaper to build and needed no specialists, unlike the counterweight trebuchet. It was also easier to transport and had a higher rate of fire. Yet, during operations it needed a large amount of manpower.
The main advantages of the counterweight trebuchet were its ability to fire larger stones and require less manpower during operations. The major drawbacks were it a complex machine and required specialists that were rare and few.

In terms of operating, it depends to a certain degree on the perspective, which one was, Hill notes the following:
“The first [traction] required greater skill in handling, the second in design.” (Hill, Donald R.: Trebuchets, in: France, John: Medieval Warfare, p. 279)
But John France notes:
“The construction and operation of the counterweight-trebuchet was the province of specialist engineers, who were not always available, and it was ponderous to transport.” (France, John: Western Warfare in the Age of the Crusades 1000-1300, p. 123)
Hence, it really depends how one defines as handling and/or operating. I assume if one includes maintenance into handling that the counterweight trebuchet was harder to handle.
Overall, both types of trebuchets were used together during sieges. Looking at their advantages and disadvantages, traction trebuchets were probably used for throwing light missiles, whereas the counter-weight trebuchets used for heavy stones.


Which brings us to the next point, the overall effectiveness of trebuchets.
In movies and computer games Trebuchets are often shown as weapons that can destroy city walls and towers easily. Yet, this depictions seems to be a big over exaggerated.
John France notes:
“Uninterrupted action by massed forces of large machines would surely have smashed masonry in time, but the conditions in which large numbers of such machines could be gathered and operated were relatively rare, and before the end of the twelfth century there is little evidence of artillery smashing the main masses of castles and walled cities.” (France, John: Western Warfare in the Age of the Crusades 1000-1300, p. 120)

Another aspect in attacking walls was, that the quality of the stones was very important, because if the stone shatters on the wall, the damage is quite limited. Thus, sometimes stones were transported a long way:
“At Acre, Richard used very hard stones brought from the West, which were so unusual that they were specially shown to Saladin.”” (France, John: Western Warfare in the Age of the Crusades 1000-1300, p. 124)
[Siege of Acre (1189-1191)]

One can expect that only a limited number of these special stones were available and used. Furthermore, Hill assumes that light trebuchets were used to throw missiles into the city, whereas the heavy trebuchets were used for attacking the walls. (Hill, Donald R.: Trebuchets, in: France, John: Medieval Warfare, p. 284) Thus, counterweight trebuchets with hard stones were probably used against fortifications, whereas traction trebuchets were used to attack softer targets like buildings.

It is assumed that the usage of heavy missile throwers was far greater in siege warfare in the Middle East than in Western Europe. (France, John: Western Warfare in the Age of the Crusades 1000-1300, p. 124)

Note that trebuchets were not only used in the offense, quite on the contrary, there were also used effectively by defenders. Since they could be mounted on towers they would also outrange the attacker’s machine. Defenders used trebuchets against siege towers and the enemy artillery, thus providing what we would call counter-battery fire nowadays. (France, John: Western Warfare in the Age of the Crusades 1000-1300, p. 120)


To summarize, there were two main types of trebuchet that were used during the middle Ages. The traction trebuchet, which was a rather simple design were the force for firing was provided by men pulling down ropes. And the more complex counterweight Trebuchet were the force was provided by a counterweight, although it gives a rather simple impression, it was a quite complicated machine once you dive into the dynamics of it.
By the way if the concept of the traction trebuchet is too odd for you, you might check out the following real life video of one and for those who want to rebuild one in the sandbox game besiege, there is also at least one video.

[Check out this Video of a small modern rebuild of a real life traction trebuchet]

[Check out this video of a rebuild of traction trebuchet in the game Besiege]


Hill, Donald R.: Trebuchets, in: France, John: Medieval Warfare 1000-1300.

France, John: Western Warfare in the Age of the Crusades 1000-1300

Nicolle, David: Medieval Siege Weapons

Contamine, Philippe: War in the Middle Ages

Ohler, Nobert: Krieg & Frieden im Mittelalter

McCotter, Stephen: Byzantines, Avars and the Introduction of the Trebuchet

Chinese Symbol for Invention


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Japanese Fortifications and Defense Organization in World War 2


Time to take a look at some Japanese field fortifications and defense measures. Note that in this case I used mostly sources from US military intelligence in World War 2. Unlike the Atlantikwall video this video is about the small scale units, hence you will see an individual bunker and also layouts for company and platoon defenses. Note that every country had some distinctive features, but the general layout were to a certain degree quite similar, if we consider this statement from the in publication Japanese in Battle from August 1944:
“Examples of typical defence layouts, from platoon to battalion positions, are shown at Appendix ‘ A ‘. They show no remarkable difference in principle from our own layouts.” (General Headquarters, India – Military Intelligence Directorate: Japanese in Battle – Second Edition, August 1944, p. 5)

Attitude towards defense

The Japanese had quite a negative attitude towards defensive combat, similar to the German Army, thus both addressed defense usually only in limited amount, but nevertheless both proved quite capable and dangerous in defensive operations and improved their training and manuals throughout the war. (War Department: Handbook on the Japanese Military Forces, 15 September 1944, p. 99; Das Dogma der Beweglichkeit. Überlegungen zur Genese der deutschen Heerestaktik im Zeitalter der Weltkriege, in: Bruno Thoß, Erich Volkmann (Hrsg.), Erster Weltkrieg – Zweiter Weltkrieg. Ein Vergleich. Krieg –Kriegserlebnis – Kriegserfahrung in Deutschland. Paderborn u.a. 2002, S. 143-166)

In General, besides their attitude towards defensive Combat the Japanese were renowned for both their elaborate defensive fortifications and their tenacity in defense. One area they were clearly lacking though, was the use of mines. But let’s take a closer look at those issues.

No Amateurs – Well constructed Bunkers

The Japanese constructed their bunkers usually from logs and earth. The logs were interwoven and strongly attached to each other. To strengthen the roofs of bunkers against indirect fire, they used alternating layers of logs and earth. This provided excellent protection and usually gave full protection against mortar and light artillery fire. (War Department: Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 21, March 25, 1943, p. 17)
Furthermore, for the Buna area (southeastern New Guinea) it was stated that:
“in addition, the bunkers had been planned and built for just this purpose long before the campaign actually started, and the quick jungle growth, sprouting up over the earthworks, gave first-class natural camouflage.” (War Department: Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 21, March 25, 1943, p. 17)
[Buna-Gona Battle (1942/1943)]


The tenacity and fanatism of the Japanese troops in World War II is well known and Field Marshal Slim wrote about the individual Japanese soldier the following:
“He fought and marched till he died. If 500 Japanese were ordered to hold a position, we had to kill 495 before it was ours – and then the last five killed themselves.” (Slim, William: Defeat into Victory, p. 615)

After all the Japanese doctrine and training put a strong emphasis on morale factors and tenacity. (Drea, Edward J.: In Service of the Emperor, p. 64) An US Army engineer remarked about the campaign in Buna the following:
“It would be impossible to overstress the tenacity with which the Jap[ane]s[e] clung to their prepared positions. Grenades, and ordinary gun and mortar fire were completely ineffective. There were many instances (not isolated ones) where dugouts were grenaded inside, covered with gasoline and burned, and then sealed with dirt and sand,—only to yield, 2 or 3 days later, Jap[ane]s[e] who came out fighting.” (War Department: Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 21, March 25, 1943, p. 17)


Although, the Japanese employed various ruses like dummy snipers and simulating friendly fire by synchronizing their own artillery with the artillery of the attackers, but their capabilities in mine warfare was quite limited for most of the war..( War Department: Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 21, March 25, 1943, p. 18; War Department: Intelligence Bulletin Vol III, No. 4, December 1944, p. 13)
In 1944 according to the Intelligence Bulletins this changed:
“Instructions recently issued to some Japanese troops in the far Southwest Pacific areas attempt to establish definite uniformity and improvement in the employment of land mines.” (War Department: Intelligence Bulletin Vol III, No. 4, December 1944 , p. 13)

Yet, it is also noted that:
“In this respect, the instructions as a whole are very general. They tell “what” should be done, but neglect to tell “how” the minelaying should be carried out. It is possible that, like many such Japanese orders, the details and the operational technique are left to the discretion of subordinate commanders.” (War Department: Intelligence Bulletin Vol III, No. 4, December 1944, p. 15)

Now, general instructions usually require a highly trained force, yet in 1944 all of the Axis members had lost most of the their best trained units.

Example: Beach Defenses Talisay-Tanke

Now, let’s see what the US engineers noted about a late war Japanese beach defense. In March 1945 US troops landed on the Talisay beach, where the Japanese had established an elaborate defensive system, but since the beach was undefended the site was mostly intact and could be examined by US troops. (HQ Eight Army – Engineer Section: Intelligence Bulletin No. 3, May 1945, p. 2-19) Since the conclusions of the report are rather short and cover mines, fortifications and ditches of a late war Japanese beach defense, I will quote directly from the report:

“1. Japanese employment of bombs and shells as improvised AT and AP mines was excellent. Their effectiveness was limited only by poor concealment, failure to arm some shells, and failure to cover them with fire. The75 mm shells used would have been particularly effective against personnel if they had been properly concealed.“
[AT – Anti-Tank; AP – Anti-Personnel]
(HQ Eight Army – Engineer Section: Intelligence Bulletin No. 3, May 1945, p. 18)

“2. The AT ditches were adequate to stop our medium tank. The log and rail barriers probably would not have stopped medium tanks or bulldozers completely, but would have provided sufficient delay to prevent armor over-running a position covered by adequate AT and small arms fire, and made the tanks good targets for AT weapons. “
(HQ Eight Army – Engineer Section: Intelligence Bulletin No. 3, May 1945, p. 18)

“3. Most of the firing positions and shelters afforded protection only against small arms fire, blast, shell and bomb fragments, and light mortar fire. None of the emplacements furnished protection from direct hits of 100 pound bombs or naval shell fire. Considered as light emplacements, the works demonstrated excellent improvisation and effective utilization of locally available materials by the Japanese.”
(HQ Eight Army – Engineer Section: Intelligence Bulletin No. 3, May 1945, p. 18)

Defensive Positions

Now, in this part, we will take a closer look at defensive positions. Once the command is given to occupy a position and setup defensive preparation the development was usually prioritized the following way: 1) Establishing the important points in the main line of the resistance, 2) Determining and development of the fields of fire and observation posts, 3) Setting up obstacles for the main line of resistance and 4) the development of communication trenches and personnel shelters. (War Department: Handbook on the Japanese Military Forces, 15 September 1944, p. 101-103) Let’s take a closer look at the development of a company position.

To give you some time-frame for orientation it is noted that:
„The division usually has from about 3 hours to a half day to complete its organization of the ground. Three hours is considered the minimum required to organize a rudimentary system of trenches and obstacles along the main line of resistance. The timework unit in engineering calculations is the 12-man squad which is considered capable of digging about
25 yards [23 metres] of standing fire trench in a little over 3 hours.” (War Department: Handbook on the Japanese Military Forces, 15 September 1944, p. 101)

Typical Company Position

Now, here you can see a company position after about 2 hours of work. Each of the areas is for one platoon, the firing trenches are for individual squads. The heavy machine gun is deployed along the support position. It is directed in a diagonal line, the same as neighboring units thus the cover is interlocked. After another 4 hours, the firing trenches of the squads should be connected forming a single line.(War Department: Handbook on the Japanese Military Forces, 15 September 1944, p. 102, Figure 86; & p. 100 (HMG))

The position after a week of construction, whereas a week is 56 hours of work. The caption of the illustration reads as follows:
“Squad positions will be enlarged [to] standing trenches. The communication trenches will be deep enough for crawling, and the shelters will be of light construction accommodating 6 men. Only the machine gun shelters will be built to resist 150-mm howitzer fire. The wire entanglements beyond the front-lines will be 8 meters in depth.” (War Department: Handbook on the Japanese Military Forces, 15 September 1944, p. 102, Figure 87)

Now, the same position after about 4 weeks of construction time, would be improved considerably. There would be another layer of wire in the front. And also some basic wiring on the flanks. Additionally, the trenches would be connected in a sophisticated system with adjacent units too. The individual shelters would be covered with roofs. Furthermore, although I am not completely certain, since there is no legend on the original figure, there would be tunnels or covered trenches connecting to the rear area. Looks a bit different than those 3 ovals from the start. (War Department: Handbook on the Japanese Military Forces, 15 September 1944, p. 103, Figure 88; see also Japanese in Battle)

A “Platoon” Defense Position in Burma

Now, let’s take a closer look at a platoon position from Burma. As a quick reminder a company usually consists of three platoons, so basically we take a look at a unit one level deeper.
As you can see it has a circular pattern. In the rear area there is a larger shelter with sleeping accommodation. The circular endings of the trenches are foxholes, whereas each has a one-man-dugout nearby, which had an earth and timber cover. Furthermore, there was a MG position that was well covered too. The report notes that the dugouts near each foxhole and three-bay machine gun position were the two interesting features. So, let’s take a look at the MG position.
(War Department: Intelligence Bulletin Vol III, No. 4, December 1944, p. 15)
(General Headquarters, India – Military Intelligence Directorate: Japanese in Battle – Second Edition, August 1944, p. 24)

MG Position

So, this is a Japanese Three-Bay Light Machine gun position in Burma from the side. As you can see the roof is constructed with several logs and reinforced with earth. The machine gun would be placed here. Now, why was it called “three-bay”, well let’s look at it from the front. As you can clearly see, the supporting logs divided the firing slit into three areas. And by the way, this is a type 96 Japanese light machine gun and not a British Bren, they look similar, but there is a clear difference between those two, which might not be so obvious.
Problem with the Numbers
Now, let’s go back to the Platoon position, because there is one problem I have encountered, which I couldn’t find a proper answer too. Basically, the numbers don’t add up.

The shown position is according to the description for a platoon. But the problem is that a rifle platoon of an infantry company of an “A” or “B” type division had 3 LMGs and furthermore 62 or 54 men. Now, there is only one position for an LMG, but also the area is quite small for 54 let alone 62 men. Although, the number of foxholes and LMGs would match almost exactly the layout of a rifle section. But I doubt such an error would occur, especially since this layout was reprinted in two different military intelligence publications.
Hence, I must assume that the platoon was far below full strength, but still I am confused that this isn’t noted in the report. But of course there is always the chance that I missed something or made an error. If anyone knows more, please let me know in the comments.


To summarize, although the Japanese had a serious distaste for defensive combat, their ingenuity and improvisation skills allowed them to construct various kinds of excellent field fortifications and defensive systems. Although their ability to lay sophisticated mine fields was limited for most of the war, the Japanese Army took actions to counter this problem and probably would have reached similar capabilities as other forces.

Now, a little public service announcement. I originally wanted to do something about naval tactics in the non-world war era, but since I got a bit sick and thus my mind could only operate at limited capacity, I switched to this easier topic, after all, I am mostly a land-rat from the modern era. So stay tuned, I plan to cover nearly every era of military history, major battle and much much more. Since I get quite a lot of repeating question about what topics I will cover, you might want to check out the frequently asked questions on my homepage.


TM-E-30-480 – War Department: Handbook on the Japanese Military Forces, 15 September 1944

War Department: Intelligence Bulletin Vol II, No. 7, March 1944

War Department: Intelligence Bulletin Vol II, No. 8, April 1944

War Department: Intelligence Bulletin Vol III, No. 4, December 1944

HQ Eight Army – Engineer Section: Intelligence Bulletin No. 3, May 1945

General Headquarters, India – Military Intelligence Directorate: Japanese in Battle – Second Edition, August 1944

War Department: Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 21, March 25, 1943

Field Manual 5-15, Field Fortifications, August 1968

Drea, Edward J.: In Service of the Emperor