Which prompts me to ask, is volley fire effective, or just a psychological deterrent to attackers?
Does volley fire not prevent fast accurate riflemen from shooting as well as they might? Is there a tactical advantage with volley fire?
The question popped into my mind during a showing of 'Zulu' (the celebrated multi rank volley firing) but does this tactic hold up in modern warfare?
I suppose the scenario depends on whether the men are equipped with BARs or self-loaders.
Rob Davis MSc MIAP Anstey, Leicester UK. 0976 379489
The question is whether you can sustain a given rate of fire at any particular time. With muzzle-loading weapons, or single shot breechloaders, uncontrolled fire can lead to the situation where everybody is loading at the same time; hence the effectiveness of the two or three rank volley. With magazine loading weapons, particularly semi-automatics or automatics, this is less of a problem. Since the deployment of machineguns on a large scale, volley fire has been rendered obsolete, as the sustained fire weapons take over the role of suppressing the opponent.
It was found in WW II that (at least for American riflemen) the effectivness of individuals with personal arms were not very effective in hitting an ememy (soldier, emplacement etc particularly when they were partially protected or hidden). The tactic of massed fire was then begun, where everyone using more rapid fire weapons simply shot in the direction of the enemy emplacement. This was supported by mortars, heavy machine guns etc.
You will notice that GI's no longer wear 'marksman' medals.
'Tis still current doctrine in Australian Army to classify effective ranges of SA weapons as effective range = x, section fire (or 'volley fre' in this context) = y where x is usually 300m and y = 600m.
Section fire is when all the weapons of a section (formerly 10 now 8 personnel) fire upon the area (which all that can be expected at ranges like 600m by the average person) with the expectation that the target will be suppressed ('where's my brown corduroy pants ?' or even damaged/wounded or
No, I haven't noticed that. When did it happen?
They were still wearing them the last time I was in uniform in 1986.
I would have thought that most of the psychological effects of volley fire would only be effective at short range as was the case with it's use by the British during the Napoleonic wars.
Hello Chris. I saw the topic of volley fire and was intrigued. The last I heard of such a thing was the Civil War. In my own experience, limited as it was I do'nt recall such a thing. The closest I can was: 'FIRE AT WILL!'. Can you enlighten me? Thanks , Irwin
I can think of two examples where Volley fire was still employed, and effectively so, in WWII. Mid to Late war Pak Fronts (groups of Anti-tank guns linked to a single fire controller) As used by the Germans and Russians when faced with superior Armor. A single AT gun fired at a Tiger or JosefSTalin Tank may or may not be effective in stopping it, but the Pak Front utilized all available guns to fire in a 'volley Fire' principle at the same target. Multiple hits can be devastating even without penetrating the armor. The crew maybe safe, but a jammed turret or smashed suspension or broken track is effective in rendering a tank useless for that battle.
The other instance is similar, Volley fire with Bazooka's against German Armour targets. Single Bazooka fire against a German tank in anything other than a very close, very well timed, and aimed, shot, was not very effective. But 'volley fire' of several bazookas at one time on one target could stop a tank via hitting some vulnerable spot, as listed above, or by affecting the confidence of the German Tank crew and making them choose to withdraw from that situation, rather than commit to further combat at those ranges. A german tank in close proximaty and without good Infantry support would be succeptable to Bazooka Volley fire.
What the person was referring to, is I believe the sort of massed firing used in the Civil War and the Zulu War. Rent the movies 'Gettysburg' or 'Zulu' for examples. It concentrates your fire and somewhat compensates for the slow reloading times of muzzle loading and single shot breech loading weapons. The problem is that when rifled muskets appeared, it became a tactic of bloody attrition, which totally ignored the great increases of effective range. Picket's charge was one result. Against people armed with spears and clubs, it can be highly effective. Against intelligently led and well trained troops with even single shot rifles, it's usually futile. Against machineguns, it's nothing short of suicide.
'Volley fire' as it was understood in the age of the repeating infield was instead massed fires at VERY long range. The original SMLE had a 'volley sight' on the stock which allowed high angle firing. If you've ever seen an M-203 grenade laungher (40mm GL under an M-16), the function of the sight is quite similar.
Volley fire allows you to take area targets, such as troops in close order, under fire at extreme ranges, if you don't have a machinegun. Volley fire can be an effective harassment weapon against entrenched troops, since they have little protection from the plunging fire. This was used with a variety of weapons during the Russo-Turkish War, including Winchester 66 lever actions. Even still, the Russians quickly learned to return fire with license produced Gorlov Gatling
It was found in WW II that (at least for American riflemen) the effectivness of individuals with personal arms were not very effective in hitting an ememy .
The person writing the above apparently never engaged in combat in the jungles weremuch modern weaponry was usless.
This was largely a function of the traditionally egregious Army marksmanship training.
Not many jungles in France and Belgium....