Military Tactics: The George Patton Quiz


By: Staff

6 Min Quiz

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About This Quiz

Gen. George S. Patton Jr. was a skilled military leader whose aggression and ability to read a battlefield led to many successes in World War II. He helped define American armored warfare doctrine. How much do you know about his battlefield tactics?

What tactical maneuver did Patton execute while commanding the First United States Army Group in the D-Day invasion?

The First United States Army Group didn't exist, and Patton wasn't really in charge of it, but he was named as its commanding officer to help sell the deception.


Patton used two types of units in his advance guard, which preceded the main body by about a mile and aided in reconnaissance: half-tracks and quarter-ton trucks together, and …

Light tanks were effective at identifying where enemy infantry was deployed and spotting enemy tank destroyers.


Toward the end of a battle, what did Patton think artillery should do?

Patton felt the powerful artillery guns should be brought to bear on remaining enemy armor or fortified emplacements late in a battle.


How were tanks and trucks supposed to arrange themselves to avoid strafing and bombing attacks from aircraft?

Units had to be dispersed so an air attack was only likely to strike a single unit, but they had to also stay close enough together to maintain control and cohesion.


Although desert combat is notable for its lack of terrain, what could be taken advantage of if attacking from the correct direction?

Patton was certainly not the first general to realize it is preferable to attack so that the sun shines in your enemies' eyes.


During the drive to recapture France, Patton's armored units adopted a practice in which gunfire, particularly using .50-caliber M2 Browning machine guns, would be trained on any location along the path of advance that might offer cover to waiting German troops, flushing them out. What is the term for this practice?

Reconnaissance by fire allowed armored units to move much more quickly, maintaining pressure on retreating German troops instead of waiting for scouts and infantry.


What was the name of the truck convoy system that effectively supplied Patton's Third Army (and other Allied armies) in their advance through France?

The majority of the Red Ball Express drivers were African-American. While Patton (an outspoken racist) didn’t create the convoy system, he made effective use of it.


What was the minimum distance between tanks and trucks underway advocated by Patton?

Patton believed keeping vehicles at least 75 yards apart was the optimal distance. It was actually harder to keep them from getting too close together than to keep them from drifting farther apart.


What was the basis of Patton's doctrine with the U.S. Third Army late in the war when it regarded attacking Nazis in Europe?

Patton's nonstop aggression in attacking the Nazis is sometimes referred to as the American version of blitzkrieg.


What was Patton's advice for pneumatic tires driving over sand?

He knew tires deflated to 70 percent pressure could achieve better traction on sand, and the tires could temporarily go as low as 50 percent for stuck vehicles.


What characteristic of U.S. Sherman tanks allowed armored units to advance through France with speed?

The reliability of Shermans made it easier for supply units to keep up with the pace of the advance, which is really the limiting factor in any military advance.


True or false: Patton's preference for traveling tanks was a disciplined single file column.

Ground units in an orderly straight line were very vulnerable to bombing and strafing attacks. A staggered formation was necessary.


Where did Patton develop his desert tank doctrine?

Patton was the first commander of the Desert Training Center, and he learned a great deal while running tank exercises there.


Not all of Patton's tactical decisions were brilliant. His disastrous raid on the Hammelburg, Germany, prisoner-of-war camp was intended to rescue whom?

The raid not only failed to recover Patton's son-in-law, but also resulted in more than 200 U.S. troops being killed or captured.


What did Patton believe was the key to coordinating reconnaissance with artillery and dispersed units?

Effective command and control of armored units required a radio in every tank, something that wasn't widely accepted at the outset of World War II.


Aside from recon and vehicle dispersal, what else did Patton believe was crucial in desert tank warfare?

Patton's writing on desert tank doctrine gives clear and specific instructions on the maintenance of vehicles in harsh desert conditions.


In his rush to capture Messina, Italy, during the invasion of Sicily, Patton ordered several amphibious landings. Why?

The landings were partially successful at outflanking Axis units, but in some cases Patton's main force was moving so fast that the landings were no longer behind enemy lines by the time they happened.


True or false: Patton felt the only real use of aircraft in a tank battle was for reconnaissance.

In France, Patton made extensive use of close air support, allowing a commander in an attacking tank to perform "air traffic control" and order air strikes.


When moving across open terrain, tanks should do what, according to Patton?

Changing direction, or "tacking," makes it more difficult for enemy guns to fire accurately at an individual tank.


In the absence of cover, what was a ground force's best form of protection?

Patton envisioned tank forces moving too quickly and frequently to construct cover or trenches. Constant observation, from the ground and the air, was needed to make sure ground units knew about approaching enemies well ahead of time.


Where did Patton believe tank destroyers should be positioned relative to the main force of his tanks?

Patton used tank destroyers aggressively, keeping them at the front of his lines.


Patton's preferred positioning for tanks was in a depression or behind a hill, with just the turret and gun exposed. This is known as …

Defilade, also known as hull down, was an optimal position for U.S. tanks in World War II, as they typically had heavily armored turrets.


True or false: Patton saw combat as a fluid, complex situation, and he thought that commanders had to be creative and adaptable to succeed.

He once wrote, "Battle is an art, and the commander, the artist, must paint his own picture."


Why did Patton insist that tank destroyers and mobile artillery have .50-caliber machine guns whenever possible?

The .50-calibers were undoubtedly useful against infantry, but Patton knew protecting his supply units from air attacks was crucial — anti-aircraft fire was the primary reason he wanted his vehicles equipped with them.


Patton was able to quickly redirect his forces from their rapid advance to fighting in the Battle of the Bulge. How many divisions was he able to reposition in just three days?

Patton redirected six divisions, more than 100,000 vehicles and hundreds of thousands of men, in a remarkably short time. It was a singular feat of military organization.


True or false: Patton's aggression was successful but came at the cost of terrible American casualties.

The constant attack doctrine prevented the Nazis from reinforcing and resupplying their positions, which actually saved American lives.


What did Patton think was the defining characteristic of desert tank warfare?

Patton's desert doctrine was largely defined by the total lack of cover.


How did Patton tell tank crews to position themselves relative to incoming fire?

Patton understood proper angling of tanks to make the most of their armor.


When the Third Army ran short of fuel and supplies, partly because the fuel was being sent to other units, how did it acquire extra supplies?

Claiming to be from the First Army was an effective way for the Third Army to get their hands on fuel.


According to Patton, what was the maximum distance allowable between task forces (discrete combat groups) when moving abreast?

"The interval between them should not exceed visual contact," Patton wrote.


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