How long does it take for artillery to destroy non-dug in units?

Mrbsct

Ad Honorem
Jul 2013
2,646
USA
Title

How long does it take artillery to take out in the open units? Lets say two infantry platoons bump into eachother and both call artillery on each other. They both hit the ground. How long does aritllery take to end a firefight?
 
Nov 2019
133
Memphis TN
Title

How long does it take artillery to take out in the open units? Lets say two infantry platoons bump into eachother and both call artillery on each other. They both hit the ground. How long does aritllery take to end a firefight?
Weird question, but ..

Whoever’s hits first lol.. if they don’t have cover and an artillery shell hits super close by.... the fights over lol..

That is kinda like asking “if 2 guys are holding Granades and pull the pins and throw them at each other’s feet, how long till the fights over?? “




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Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,741
Dispargum
The exact scenario described in the OP is problematic. When two forces are in close contact artillery is not so accurate that it can land only on friendly forces. There will be considerable friendly fire casualties. Also, artillery is not generally fired at such small units as platoons. When shooting at a battalion that is not in close contact with friendly forces...

1. Artillery never attains 100% destruction of a combat unit. Artillery destruction is measured in terms of 10% personnel losses (casualties) aka harassing fire, 30% casualties aka neutralization, or 70% casualties aka destruction.
2. Losses are highly influenced by how well protected the target is. A unit is most vulnerable if caught moving in the open. A unit that is stationary but has not yet dug-in is moderately vulnerable. A unit that has occupied its position for 24 hrs or more so that everyone has a foxhole to hide in, is highly protected and difficult to inflict casualties upon. Also, an armored unit is more protected than an unarmored unit.
3. Percentage of loss is projected by tonnage of high explosive using tables that have been worked out in advance. Weight of high explosive is determined by caliber of the guns used. For instance, the NATO 155mm round and the Russian 152mm round both have about 15 pounds of high explosive. The Russian 122mm round has about eight pounds of HE. The NATO 105mm round has just under five pounds of HE. An 81mm mortar round only has about two pounds of HE. Bigger guns can inflict the same amount of damage with fewer rounds.
4. Artillery can fire about three rounds per gun over the long term. For a few minutes they can fire a little faster, but once the guns heat up they have to slow down their rate of fire to avoid overheating the guns.

For example:
Target: infantry battalion, moving through open terrain, no armored vehicles
to inflict 70% casualties requires 46 tons of HE which is 6,100 rounds of 155mm. It would take a battalion of 18 guns almost two hours to fire this many rounds. The target might not remain in place long enough to receive all of this fire.
to inflict 30% casualties requires only 28 tons which is 3,700 rounds of 155mm.
At the other extreme:
Target: Armored unit, dug-in and dispersed requires 3,400 tons of HE which is 450,000 rounds. (This target would never be engaged to this level of destruction since no one has the ammo or the time to fire this much ammo at just one target.)

You can see why the chain of command is always critical of infantry units that expect the artillery to do all of the fighting for them. It takes a lot of ammo to inflict even just a few casualties.

These figures are drawn from the Cold War era. More recent smart munitions would yield different results.
 

MG1962a

Ad Honorem
Mar 2019
2,193
Kansas
The exact scenario described in the OP is problematic. When two forces are in close contact artillery is not so accurate that it can land only on friendly forces. There will be considerable friendly fire casualties. Also, artillery is not generally fired at such small units as platoons. When shooting at a battalion that is not in close contact with friendly forces...
At the battle of Long Tan, combined US Australian artillery helped to break up platoon level attacks across an open field.

The forward observer for D company was calling in artillery support within 50 yards of his units location

The Artillery commander balked at the request for obvious reason.

The forward observer is reported to have said "If you dont kill us they will"