WW II, a British focus




 

 

INVESTIGATIONS IN GERMANY
BY
TANK ARMAMENT RESEARCH,
MINISTRY OF SUPPLY

SECTION B       THE HEERESWAFFENAMT

When the personnel of the various firms were interrogated as to who asked (or directed) them to undertake development of a piece of equipment, they invariably replied that it was the Waffenamt. It seems quite clear that the Waffenamt formulated the technical specification (Technische Lieferbedingungen) and left the firm or firms selected to work out details of design. After the firms were satisfied with their own tests on their prototypes, the Waffenamt carried out its own trials and, when satisfied, accepted one of the designs for production.

Army equipment was controlled by the Heereswaffenamt, and there is no doubt that this organisation employed (in uniform) many first class technicians and scientists. Towards the end of the war, however, wholesale dispersion (mainly from Berlin) seems to have occurred and the various bodies in the Speer Ministry possibly took over a greater measure of control. Even so, there is no doubt that the HWA was fully alive to operational requirements and worked out many of the technical requirements for execution by the firms. For instance, for the evolution of a new tank sight. the HWA specified the required magnification (or magnifications, if dual), field of view, exit pupil diameter, and so on. Whether or not the HWA had an experimental organisation to work out such details could not be ascertained, either in Germany, or subsequently in England.

According to personnel at Krupp's main range at Meppen the following was a rough division of time spent on trials at that range.

For the
Heereswaffenamt 30 per cent
Kriegsmarine. 50
Luftwaftenamt 10
Krupp development trials 10

The Heereswaffenamt, for instance, laid down a detailed programme for each particular trial that it ordered. Personnel at Meppen were rarely consulted about details of procedure and seldom were told the object of a trial. It appears they merely provided the range, and gun detachments and technical assistance for carrying out the required measurements, for each such trial was attended by HWA officers. Perhaps as many as 20 for an important trial. On completion of a trial the raw results were forwarded to Berlin, and the Meppen establishment heard no more about that particular trial.

The ranges at Hillersleben and Kummersdorf were apparently run by and staffed by the HWA. Artillery trials were carried out at Hillersleben. No details of the techniques employed were known by any of the firms who were visited. From the point of view of Tank Armament Research it is relevant to note that although firms tested their own tank guns at their own ranges, they were fixed to a special mounting for the purpose. It was the Heereswaffenamt who conducted tests with the guns mounted in the appropriate tanks, and using the service sighting equipment.

During the course of the various interrogations several names of HWA personnel, with which firms had dealt were obtained. It is understood that a copy of a telephone directory of the Heereswaffenamt organisation is held at G.S.I. (Tech), HQ, B.A.O.R. When copies of this become available. It is intended to select names of those within this organisation who were responsible for the technical aspects of the items of interest to Tank Armament Research, with a view to having them traced and brought in for interrogation. It is felt that such personnel should have considerable information concerning the user requirements for the future and the various ideas that were under consideration.