Response to Question on Dupuy’s Combat Attrition Verities

Someone just sent an email asking about a particular single line on slide 44 of my Data for Wargames briefing I gave at HAAC: “Self-propelled artillery loss rates are about three times greater than for towed guns”. The briefing is here: Data for Wargames (Summary) – 2

I noted that this from Trevor Dupuy combat attrition verities. He specifically states on page 179 of Understanding War that:

“Self-propelled artillery loss rates are about three times greater than for towed guns. This is due to a combination of factors. larger exposed target; presence of fuel and ammunition in the self-propelled guns carriages; and vulnerability of engines to damage even when the weapon is still able to fire effectively. They are also more likely to be committed under more immediately lethal combat circumstances than are towed artillery pieces. It should be noted, however, that crew loss rates are slightly lower for self-propelled guns than for towed guns.”

This is clearly taken from one of his earlier studies in the 1970s or 19780s. See: TDI – The Dupuy Institute Publications or TDI – The Dupuy Institute Publications or TDI – The Dupuy Institute Publications. Off the top of my head, I do not recall which study it was from.

Trevor Dupuy also made the comment in private conversation that one other advantage to towed artillery is that after you deployed the piece, you then had a truck available to go get more ammunition.

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Christopher A. Lawrence
Christopher A. Lawrence

Christopher A. Lawrence is a professional historian and military analyst. He is the Executive Director and President of The Dupuy Institute, an organization dedicated to scholarly research and objective analysis of historical data related to armed conflict and the resolution of armed conflict. The Dupuy Institute provides independent, historically-based analyses of lessons learned from modern military experience.
Mr. Lawrence was the program manager for the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base, the Kursk Data Base, the Modern Insurgency Spread Sheets and for a number of other smaller combat data bases. He has participated in casualty estimation studies (including estimates for Bosnia and Iraq) and studies of air campaign modeling, enemy prisoner of war capture rates, medium weight armor, urban warfare, situational awareness, counterinsurgency and other subjects for the U.S. Army, the Defense Department, the Joint Staff and the U.S. Air Force. He has also directed a number of studies related to the military impact of banning antipersonnel mines for the Joint Staff, Los Alamos National Laboratories and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation.
His published works include papers and monographs for the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation, in addition to over 40 articles written for limited-distribution newsletters and over 60 analytical reports prepared for the Defense Department. He is the author of Kursk: The Battle of Prokhorovka (Aberdeen Books, Sheridan, CO., 2015), America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam (Casemate Publishers, Philadelphia & Oxford, 2015), War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat (Potomac Books, Lincoln, NE., 2017) , The Battle of Prokhorovka (Stackpole Books, Guilford, CT., 2019), The Battle for Kyiv (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2023), Aces at Kursk (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024), Hunting Falcon: The Story of WWI German Ace Hans-Joachim Buddecke (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024) and The Siege of Mariupol (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2024).
Mr. Lawrence lives in northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C., with his wife and son.

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