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John D Salt

Couple of questions:

What does full mean in the method column?
What sort of map would our FOO be using?

I could see that in Ukraine in 1941, he might have a pretty good 100k scale topo map with prominent features on it, but in Hungary in 44 would he have anything better than a 250k map showing that bend in the river and this town as a dot?

You raise an interesting question.

I don’t seem to have an electronic copy of the book lying about, but a much more modern artillery handbook (“Ground artillery officer’s handbook”, by V Ya Lebedev, Voenizdat, Moscow, 1984) says that full preparation requires 1:50,000 maps as a minimum. In the absence of mapping of suitable quality, I imagine the observer is going to have to resort to working by eye. The quality of Soviet mapping (not the maps they showed you, the ones they kept for themselves) was highly regarded, and they put a lot of effort into mapping countries outside the USSR, although how far this effort had got before 1941 I don’t know. Of course the Sovs would not be the only people to have the problem of getting good mapping when fighting in other people’s countries — I understand that a lot of the Allies’ gallop through France after the breakout from the Normandy bridgehead was done on Michelin tourist maps. It might be a nice addition to the artillery sub-game I was blethering about to have scenario instructions limit the maximum level of preparation a side’s artillery could undertake. Probably the guns would have to have been surveyed on to the grid for full preparation to be possible, so one also might have such limitations in a meeting engagement.

“Full preparation” would need, as well as nice maps and a full selection of Gucci artillery instruments and nomograms, the latest meteorological bulletin (UK “meteor telegramme”, US “metro message”) so as to include corrections for wind, temperature, humidity, and all that jazz. I doubt that this sort of thing varies very much between different countries. Not being a gunner I do not feel up to attempting an explanation of the religious mysteries of their craft, and anyway all I’ve ever seen them do is punch numbers into FACE. I wonder if there any WW2 re-enactment groups that play at being gunners, and enjoy the thrill of historical authenticity in doing full artillery fire control calculations by hand.

All the best,