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Old 07-07-2009, 04:48 PM
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Default German Beobachtungsanhänger

Although indirect Artillery fire had been used since the Russo-Japanese War, at the outset of WW1 the standard procedure for Field Artillery in all nations was using direct fire. In either case, the fire had to be observed and corrected by an Forward Observer (FO), always specially trained officer, supported by a small team and equipped with different types of communications equipment, in the case that the Battery wasn't within shouting distance. Anyway, one of the biggest problems for a high-value target like a FO was of course how to stay alive in a situation when the range and lethality of all weapons had increased, especially since the Fo had an intrinsic need to set themselves up in high, commanding and visible positions.
The German Beobachtungsanhänger was an attempt to solve both those problems in one stroke: number one by giving the FO access to a mobile high ladder, giving the FO often badly needed height, number two by also giving that ladder position a protection in the form of an armoured shield. It could be pulled either by Horse, by a Motor Vehicle or even pulled by hand. Two men could ride on the wagon when pulled.
Each Artillery Battery was each equipped with one Beobachtungsanhänger. The shield and ladder was very flexible, and could be employed in a number of different modes, including using the shield in prone position, when the shield was turned to its side and the sight was fitted to a low tripod mount. Also, Field Telephones was carried, plus digging equipment and laterns, for night service.
The Beobachtungsanhänger was used in the first, mobile phase of the war, but once the static Trench warfare set in, they fell out of use, being too vulnerable and difficult to use in the churned-up terrain, and the FO's instead taking their refuge to Bunkers or carefully camouflaged Dug-Outs.

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