Direction for firing in field artillery
Fire for effect (стрелба на поражение). This section of the 1915 direction presents only marginal differences compared to that of 1908, the most evident being the different classification of the various firing methods :
– fire by order (огън по команда) by gun, by platoon or by battery – without any change;
– storm of fire (ураганен огън), which can be :
1) without sweeping (без косене) – the same with only this addition : against gunners, when the shooter is confident of the elevation and the correction and the rapid attack of the enemy battery is required, the storm of fire can be done with more than four rounds;
2) sweeping fire (съ косене) – the same without the indication of the millièmes and the number of the turnings of the traverse at different ranges;
3) to break up (съ обсейване) – the same with the addition that the firing area of each gun is 70 to 150 m;
– progressive fire (прогресивен огън), which can be :
1) at will (произволен) – without any change;
2) at an order (по команда) – without any change.
The slow fire (редък огън) is not listed.
Fire for effect with time fuze is described exactly as in the previous direction, identifying two different cases : fire at single range (стрелба съ един мерник) and fire on an area, i.e. at successive ranges (стрелба по площад).
Fire for effect with percussion fuze is examined in much more detail :
– against inanimate targets is always done at an order, fire is observed continuously and after every 8 rounds, it is calculated whether the required number of short shots has been obtained;
– against shielded guns or an entrenched battery fire can be done separately by platoons and guns, each platoon or gun firing a group of 8 rounds on its opposite section under the command of the platoon and gun commanders;
– against an inanimate target lower than a probable deviation, firing is usually not produced unless it occurs at a shorter distance, but if the target does not come close, but it must be destroyed at any cost, it is shelled, but the effect can be obtained by wasting a great number of shells;
– to shell an area percussion fire is used only exceptionally, when the bracket cannot be narrowed below 100 m, and there is an inanimate target that must be destroyed at any cost. In this case, guns open a storm of fire every 25 m, with two or more shells per gun fired at each sight.
Artillery should absolutely avoid to fire at a range, which might be dangerous to its own troops. To check whether it was possible to fire over our own troops, the gun was pointed at the target with the appropriate bar sight and, without moving it, the graduated ruler was placed at the distance to the troops, increased by 800 m : if the graduated ruler passed over the heads of the troops, fire was allowed.
Usually with time shrapnel it
should not fire when its troops were less than
Distribution of fire. As a rule the fire of the battery was distributed over the entire front of the target from the very beginning of the shooting, but if the target was not clearly visible, or it was placed obliquely to the battery, the distribution should be decided only after the target had been bracketed.
A battery could beat
effectively a front of
Fire in depth was
distributed only when the target was deeper than
the target to be attacked had a continuous front, the guns at the end were
Fire at different targets. The part of the direction relating to the different targets that can be met on the battlefield is the most expanded and reworked on the basis of the experiences gained during the Balkan wars. The text is detailed and systematic and takes into account a large number of situations; however, it recognizes that sometimes they are so complex that it is not possible to theoretically establish how to act. In such cases, it is necessary to rely on the experience and skill of the battery commanders.
Fire at moving targets. Fire is adjusted either on the target itself or on some objects through which the target is likely to pass (bridge, gorge). To speed up the adjustment and more quickly destroy the target, only one observation of the limits of the bracket suffices, and when adjustment is done by series, the more important of the two limits is the one to which the target approaches.
The rules for firing against 1) quickly moving targets (with the difference that fire for effect stars at the low limit of the 200 m to 400 m bracket), 2) slowly moving targets, 3) jerkily moving targets, 4) train are the same as those established in 1908, in addition to them, the direction adds the following :
– when the target is moving perpendicular or obliquely to the direction of fire, with direct fire, the lateral deviation is determined according with the lateral displacement of the target, using auxiliary aiming point (indirecti fire), lateral corrections are done according to the amount of the lateral displacement of the target and the time needed to prepare the battery to open fire;
– when the target advance quickly for the adjustment it is enough to take the small limit of the bracket, and fire for effect begins with a single (test) round and when the target enters the effective area, fire is accelerated and, if necessary, the battery switches to the storm of fire;
– when the target approaches some local objects, to which the distance and direction have been determined by adjustment or on the map, the battery shoots with storm of fire on that sight;
– when the target is split into small groups, fire is conducted by platoon or eve by gun, assigning each of them a distinct sector of the front, and shooting is opened on the order of the platoon or the gun commander;
– when the target is at ranges of less than 1000 m adjustment is done by one battery series with time fuze set for low burst to verify the position of the enemy, and fire for effect is according to the nature of the target, but with universal shell the guns immediately open fire for effect with series set at good bursts and corrections are done based on the observation of the bursts and head impacts;
– firing from masked or covered positions, when the target enters the dead space of the cover, all or part of the guns advance to fire directly at the target; if impossible, they fire at the minimum elevation for the cover and the fuze gradually shortens according to enemy movement.
In the direction published in 1908 the last two rules were listed among the methods of firing at different targets, but without the reference to the universal shell.
Night fire. Occupying a position, the battery should prepare its guns to be able to fire during the night at all points where the enemy may appear (enemy positions, roads, villages…) and to shell the surrounding area, especially the close one, without adjustment. In addition, it should be able to fire at targets that would appear during the night. Data for night fire must be prepared and recorded during the day even through the adjustment. The gun lantern is used as aiming point. When it is still light, the battery sheaf is laid at one of the targets or at one of the adjusted points and the direction is indicated with lanterns. The line of sight of the battery commander to the target is also marked with a lantern placed 20-30 paces from him in the direction of the battery telescope and the target.
When starting night fire, it is useful to fire the first series of rounds at the target at which the sheaf is aimed, and when the battery commander is sure that the direction is correct, switch the fire to the desired target. The shelling of marked points is done with the data recorded by day, but only if the shelled area is 200-400 m deep. Night fire can be directed with the help of side observers equipped with lanterns placed at 20-30 paces from them, but the task of estimating the height of the bursts belongs only to the battery commander. The bracket is narrowed at 200-400 m and fire for adjustment and fire for effect are done with time fuze and with good bursts. When the bursts of the shells can be observed, being illuminated by a searchlight or by the moon, fire for adjustment and for effect are as during the day, except that the bracket is higher.
Finally, the battery must be prepared so that, in defence, it can form a fire barrage on the roads along which the enemy must pass, and in attack, form a barrier against enemy reinforcements.
The remainder of section IV – distribution of fire, switch of fire, signs of good fire – has only some marginal differences from the 1908 direction.
Aerial observation. Approaching the enemy in an encounter battle, the aircraft attached to the Army, should take off to see where the enemy artillery is concentrated, and where it is already in position. At the same time, it determines the number of batteries and where the largest artillery group is located.
The aircraft must first determine how far the artillery is from the ridge of the cover, and how far to the right or to the left of some object on the ridge visible to the heads of our artillery. Since the aircraft, from the height at which it flies, is unable to distinguish ridges, folds and relatively small objects in the terrain, the artillery must form a starting point for determining the distance of the targets. The observer determines, in relation to the bursts, the deviations in distance and the lateral deviations of the various groups of enemy artillery. He has with him a sketch of the area or a map, on which he marks the point of impact of the group of shrapnel, and in relation to it, indicate on the sketch the position of the enemy batteries, marking the distances and deviations from the target and its width with numbers or signs. The result of the observation is transmitted to the artillery head by dropping the sketch with a parachute over our position.
On receiving a report or a sketch from the aircraft, the artillery head prepares its batteries for the adjusting salvos, then a concentrated volley of 1, 2 or 3 batteries is fired at the target and the aircraft quickly transmits his observations. It does not need to be above the targets at the time of the burst, because from the great height at which it flies, it can observe correctly the targets even if it is very far from them.
If the first concentrated salvo does not hit the target, according with the observer’s indications, a second concentrated salvo is immediately fired to take the target in the high bracket. The observer checks the shots and reports to the artillery head the distance of the salvos from the target. When the target is taken in the bracket, the shelling of the designated area begins with time fire and howitzers torpedo shells. At this moment, the observer indicates to the artillery head whether the target is being fired and, if not, indicates the position of the bursts.
Every time the enemy artillery stops, the aircraft rises to see what it is doing : whether it is standing in the same positions, whether it is moving or retreating, and to what place. Reports are made after the aircraft has landed either to the commander or reported from the air with a previously established conditional sign. If possible, to direct firing, the aircraft takes photographic pictures of the enemy position and its artillery position.