The conduct of fire : fire for effect
Fire for effect (стрелба на поражение – tir d’efficacité). Fire for effect was the fire delivered after the fire had been adjusted in order to produce effect upon the target. Great importance was attached to open effective fire at the enemy in the shortest possible time after coming into action, in order to make his return fire ineffective. When the range was found, the accurate fire proceeded with until the target was completely destroyed.
Depending upon the nature of the target and upon the accuracy with which the adjustment had been secured, the fire for effect could be of two general kinds :
– Fire at single range (стрелба съ един мерник, tir sur hausse unique) : it was employed when an accurate adjustment had been occurred. It was adapted to the attack of all stationary targets upon which an exact adjustment had been secured, or for the attack of moving targets as they reached a position upon which the fire had been previously registered. It was regarded as accurate and economic since, if the fire was properly adjusted, it could produce the necessary effect with the minimum expenditure of ammunition;
– Fire on an area, or searching fire, i.e. at successive ranges (стрелба по площад or стрелба съ разни мерници, tir par salves ou rafales échelonnées) : it was appropriate when it was impossible to secure exact adjustment upon the target. In that case it was preferable to enclose the target within the smallest limits that could be determined with surety and reasonable promptness and then to search the area thus enclosed by fire at successive ranges
The methods of fire usually employed to produce effect upon a target were :
– Single-shot fire by order (огън по команда) : at an order or at a sign of the battery commander, the guns fired at the same elevation, beginning from the right (with smoking powder from leeward) in succession by section or by battery. It was used as percussion fire against inanimate targets, in order to harass the enemy, when it did not offer a god target.
– Slow fire at a set speed (редък огън, с определена скорост – salvo) : at an order of the senior section commander, each gun fired 1 to 3 rounds per minute, according with the indication of the commander of the battery, in succession beginning from the right. If the firing speed was not set, the guns fired a round every 15 seconds. It was used in order to harass the enemy.
– Storm of fire (ураганен огън – rafales) : it consisted of a fixed number of rounds (usually 4) of rapid fire from each gun at the same elevation. Every gun fired as soon as it was ready, without waiting its turn. When it was necessary to fire more than 4 rounds, they were divided into two or more series, separated by a short pause. It was used to overwhelm a target rapidly or abruptly and to fire against a train.
– Progressive fire (прогресивен огън – tir progressif), which could be :
произволен) : it
begun after a
at an order
команда) : it was
carried out in the same way, but waiting the order of the battery commander.
It could be used at any range, but at great ranges the difference between the
elevations was of
– Sweeping fire (огън
съ косене – tir fauchant) :
it was used to shell a target of considerable breadth, i.e. more than 25-
– Fire to break up
обсейване – double
fauchage) : it was used up to
Artillery should absolutely avoid to fire at a range which might be
dangerous to it own troops. 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 Directive listed the different targets that the artillery might meet with on the battlefield (field fortifications, gorges, woods, houses, farms and villages), explaining how fire at them.
Fire at moving targets. If the target
was moving quickly, like cavalry or field artillery, progressive fire was
adopted, starting at the low limit of the
a train the adjustment was made with percussion fire, aiming at an object
quite in front of the train and firing a group of shots (two battery salvos)
at the middle of the
a captive balloon, if its size and the height where it was placed were known,
the distance was measured with the battery telescope; otherwise it was
obtained by means of the adjustment with time fire, with the help of lateral
observatories. Fire for effect was made with slow fire (1 round per minute),
shooting in the middle or at the low limit of the
Night fire. At night artillery could fire only at wide targets, when their position was exactly fixed and the range roughly known. Since it was impossible adjust the fire, in daylight auxiliary aiming points should be placed on the battlefield and firing data fixed, and by night the guns were aimed with the goniometer and the level. It was also advisably to mark the points that the enemy might occupy. To observe the movements of hostile troops, the batteries sent ahead some scouts, provided of maps and accurate sketches of the country and linked by telephone or by signals. As soon as the enemy was located, the whole area was shelled in deep with progressive fire. Against illuminated targets the adjustment was possible with the help of lateral observatories. Ammunition were placed near the guns, which were equipped with two lanterns, one for the fuze-setter, the other for the goniometer and the level. When a battery was overtaken by the night in position, it should keep their guns ready to fire at a given place, mainly at close range. The gunners passed the night near their guns, and one of them stood on duty.
Moving artillery by night required special preparations. If a battery had to approach the enemy lines under the cover of the darkness, the day before the ground should be accurately reconnoitred, the emplacements and their approaches chosen and marked, the firing data fixed. To make easier the night movement, every gun of the battery sent a scout, who acquainted themselves with the selected place. To shorten the way, by day the batteries approached their firing positions out of the sight of the enemy, remaining in awaiting position until the nightfall. The emplacements should be occupied keeping the order and maintaining complete silence.
If the position had to be not only occupied, but also chosen by night, the place should be first examined on the map, then sought on the ground, reconnoitred as far as the darkness allowed it, marked and finally the guns were guided to occupy their places.
Cease fire. In order to spare ammunition and keep them for the crucial moment of the battle, the fire should be interrupted when the goal was achieved, the effect was insignificant, aiming and sighting were made impossible by mist and darkness, or ammunition was lacking. In any case the artillery should not leave its emplacements without an order. If it was heavily shelled by the enemy, it could suspend its fire to hide the cannoneers, especially if the guns had no shields, but, as soon as the shelling ended, it should open again its fire.