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German armored doctrine and the tactics generally stayed the same since the beginning of the war, aside from a few, key changes made to adapt to changing enemy tactics and a changing battlefield landscape.
In practice, a German armored force (Kampfgruppe or combat group) was centered around its Panzer Abteilung. Within this group would also be elements of the Panzer division's pioneer (engineer) battalion, Panzergrenadier regiment(s), Panzerjäger battalion, among other support units.
Refinement of Tactics
One of the leading proponents of the changes made later in the war was the development of Soviet anti-tank screens and tactics to deny German counterattacks, which made spearheads lead by armored vehicles particularly costly, resulting in tank losses the Germans simply could not replace. Leading the attack directly against strong Soviet anti-tank defenses would thus be panzergrenadier infantry accompanied by combat engineers as opposed to armored vehicles. German armor supported by the Kampfgruppe's reconnaissance unit would maneuver around, instead engaging Soviet breakthroughs and similarly trying to force an opening in the enemy lines. By 1944, the reconnaissance battalion in German armored divisions was oftentimes pressed into full combat service, in stark contrast to its initial purpose of simply scouting enemy lines and positions.
- ↑ Battistelli, Paolo. Pier. Panzer Divisions: 1944-45. Osprey Publishing (2009), Page 6