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At the end of World War I, the German military was forcibly dismantled by the Treaty of Versailles. Long-range
and heavy artillery was destroyed and the largest artillery piece was limited to the 105mm Field Howitzer.
Whereas the emphasis in the final years of WWI had been on centralized control of massed firepower,
in the 1920's more weight was put on individual artillery batteries and the authority of the individual
battery commander. After Hitler repudiated the Treaty of Versailles, heavy artillery reappeared in the
inventory, and Bruchmüller's theories were reintroduced. However, the emphasis on battery control
was never completely erased. Also, the Field Artillery was definitely a forgotten stepchild when it came
to equipment, the Luftwaffe and Panzer forces being favored for modernization, especially in communications
equipment. The result was that the Germans entered the war with a system that was little advanced from what was used in World War I, with radios supplementing field telephones.
It could be responsive and highly accurate at the battery level, but had little or no capability of
massing fires, especially over short periods of time. German artillery also suffered from a
general lack of equipment, which was offset somewhat by the use of heavy mortars and rocket launchers.
The German emphasis was on "destruction of point targets". With true Germanic :-) precision, they
would do the calculations intended to drop the initial rounds on top of the intended target. This
requires accurate range estimation and incorporation of lots of correction factors for weather conditions,
relative heights of the battery and target, barrel wear, etc. In his lecture, David Weseley says that when
engaging targets of opportunity, they retained a relative inefficient method of computing range and
direction that required them to know the relative range and bearing of the target, observer, and battery instead
of the methods used by the British and U.S., who needed only the map positions of the target and battery.
His point is that these calculations took time, and the average response time from call-for-fire to
mission was on the order of 10-12 minutes. Whether this technique improved during the war is debatable,
and unfortunately most sources tend to discuss German equipment rather than doctrine.
On defence or for deliberate attack, the emphasis on precision was not a problem, as the German observers and survey parties
would do the calculations for lots of potential fires. A concentration
could then be brought down by means of a code word and a map reference. The artillerymen of Grossdeutschland
summed up their defensive technique as "many tubes, few rounds, suddenly, on a single point." and
it often slowed up or stopped a Soviet breakthrough.
The Germans liked to fire by battalion, but the batteries could split up to support individual infantry
battalions, providing a small volume
of relatively responsive fire, especially when the infantry battalion had a separate mission.
They would then reform when the battle was concluded.
On defence, or in a deliberate attack, the Germans were well drilled on combining
the fire of multiple batteries and even battalions. At higher levels of command, the Germans
retained great administrative flexibility. They would parcel out artillery from the army reserve into task-oriented
forces and reorganize artillery as needed and they still retained the ability to do Bruchmüller-style
artillery fire plans. However, this flexibility will generally not be seen in a Battlefront game,
because it was part of the preparation for the battle instead of the execution of the battle. They also made
one attempt to reorganize their artillery based on a coherent divisional organization, but this was
submerged in the Russian flood. Also, as German artillery remained numerically weak throughout the war,
and gathering large artillery formations at one point would
require stripping other areas of the front of some of their support.
Finally, much of the German artillery (and indeed much of their army), relied on horse-drawn transport. Reducing
their pace to that of the horse and meant that they took longer to get into position.
As Battlefront games generally begin with forces in place, this will not usually effect things.
German Artillery can be classified:
Command - Medium-High level. While the Germans often permanently assigned batteries and battalions
to support specific units, they kept some of their artillery in reserve and parceled it out to the areas of the front
where it was needed. While they were capable of using coordinated strikes in a prepared fireplan, they
didn't do this well against targets of opportunity.
Control - Medium. Forward observers and officers made most of the calls-for-fire for the artillery. They were
generally tied to controlling specific elements.
Communications - Average. Radios were not as prevalent as might be expected for a modern army. Ground-lines
were used heavily. When they did use radios, they were used to connect the observer to the individual
elements that were under his control. Unlike the British and Americans, the Germans did not
fully develop the concept of a radio net that allows the
rapid sharing of resources. In Battlefront, this means that the Germans do not have any special multiple-element
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The German methods were quite similar to those in use in WWI, and it is reasonable to use them
for Axis minor countries such as the Romanians and Hungarians, and other minor combatants
whose methods are unknown. French
methods were also, popular, especially
in Western Europe.