Thursday, June 28, 2012

Warpac and Nato Unit frontages

When gaming periods from ancients to the horse and musket period many people want to make sure that their cohorts or battalions have the correct frontage when basing figures.  When it comes to World War 2 and modern warfare there is not as much information available or what is available is not often used.

This site has compiled a lot of data on World War 2 infantry frontages. Tanks could operate on much greater frontages. I don't recall the web location, but I came across one item of information that a Russian tank battalion, about 30 tanks, attacking on a 1km front was considered a dense formation. 

There are a number of sources that provide information on post World War 2 formations.  Some of them are rather expensive, while others can be found on the internet for free, and some are out of print.  Some of the information that I found was actually from computer games that simulated modern warfare.  Comparing that information with other sources confirmed that the data used for the computer games matched that data.

The following is a compilation of data that I have obtained from various sources along with a some images from U. S. army tactical manuals.  The first two images are platoon  formations with the first one possibly being an offensive formation and the second a U. S. defensive position..  The next two are Soviet company and battalion offensive frontages. I have also added a picture of M1 tanks on exercise in a German field. Similar spacing can be seen in photos from the Iraq wars.
According to the Battle Book (Center for Army Tactics) 86-(ST 100-3)-2202 dated
1 April 1986 Ft Leavenworth, KS the following are listed:
 Page 4-5 Section III. Soviet Tactical Doctrine:

Unit Size/ Zone of Attack (overall)/ Attack Frontage (Main Attack)
Army/ 60-100km/ 30-60km
Div/ 20-30km/ 15-25km
Regt/ 10-15km/ 3-8km
Bn/ 2-3km/ 1-2km
Coy/ 1-1.5km/ 500-800m
Defensive Sectors (Soviet)
Unit Size/ Normal Frontage/ Extended Frontage
Div/ 20-30km/ up to 45km
Regt/ 10-15km/ 15+ km
Bn/ 3-5km/ 7.5+ km
Offensive Echelonment:
Unit/ Distance from 1st Echelon:
2nd Echelon Div/ 50-80km
2nd echelon Regt/ 15-30km
2nd echelon Bn/ 5-15km

From Soviet Army Field Manual (1982).
Motorifle (tank) battalion: up to 2 km (at Regiment's breakthrough sector – up to 1 km)
Motorifle (tank) company: up to 1 km (at Regiment's breakthrough sector - up to 500 m )
Motorifle (tank) platoon: up to 300 m

Motorifle (tank) battalion: up to 5 km , depth up to 3 km
Motorifle (tank) company: up to 1500 m , depth up to 1000 m
Motorifle (tank) platoon: up to 400 m , depth up to 300 m

From Soviet Air-Borne Troops Field Manual (1984).
Battalion: up to 2 km
Company: up to 800 m
Platoon: up to 250 m

 Isby & Kamps, Armies of NATO's Central Front states "...a (West German) brigade would attack on 12,000m frontage - the principle of being stronger at the decisive point - the Schwerepunkt - still applies. A Panzer or Panzer Grenadier battalion woud usually have a 4,000m sector on the offensive, though for a breakthrough operation it would concentrate on a 1,000-1,500m spearpoint, or 700-1,000m in a Panzergrenadier battalion was attacking dismounted..."

Regarding the defense, "...The size of the defensive room s varies, depending on the terrain and mission. Panzer and Panzergrenadier battalions would usually hold 5,000m frontage, light infantry battalions 4,000m. Battalion rooms would be 3,000-5,000m deep, those of brigades up to 25km...The Germans would deploy 80% of their forces forward and the rest in reserve, in cotrast with the traditional US 'two up, one back' deployment. Companies would fight together, and battalions would be deployed in defensive positions, often without a reserve. If required, the battalion reserve would usually be two platoons but could range from a single platoon to a full company."

The following links also provide information on modern unit frontages
Canadian Army LAVIII and Leopard C2  field trial article
click on 2003, then volume 5, number 4

Any and all additional information, links etc is welcome.