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  • John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    I’m afraid my budgeting is pretty much see it, “ooh! shiny”, want it, buy it!

    I thought that was the established standard.

    Although I haven’t attended a wargames show for quite a while now, my method for shows was to try not to spend more money than was in my wallet at the time.

    All the best,

    John.

    in reply to: The Universal Infantry Battalion #145778
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    So, no more LMG camp at depot?

    It’s hard to tell exactly what the Army is up to, but the Battle Order web site https://www.battleorder.org/british-rifle-platoon-2019 seems to think that light (i.e. foot-slogging) infantry will still have at least the option of a GPMG in each section. Armoured infantry seem to be expected to rely on their IFV for fire support. The idea from a few years back of a platoon weapons group, with maybe a GPMG and a light mortar, seems to have disappeared. Minimi has vanished entirely; colour me dubious about the claimed discovery that it was wildly inaccurate, and only had an effective range of 250 metres, both facts that 70+ other armies seem to have failed to notice for the 45 years or so Minimi has been in service.

    I expect we’ll have to wait for another war for the accuracy fetishists to have the foolishness of their beliefs demonstrated to them. Meanwhile, I point out that all the weapons in the golden haze of mythology surrounding the British infantry’s skill-at-arms, the Welsh longbow, Brown Bess, and the SMLE, have been noted for their rate of fire, not their high precision.

    All the best,

    John.

    in reply to: The Universal Infantry Battalion #145765
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    It all seems very sensible and well thought out. Consequently, the chances of it happening must be zero.

    Indeed. Nick Drummond is a very sensible chap, and knows what he’s talking about when it comes to mechanized infantry.

    For my taste I’d rather have just one calibre of small-arms ammunition in the platoon, and I think DMRs are an admission either that ordinary soldiers can’t shoot, or that the platoon has become incapable of fire and movement and instead engages in long-range bickering, but then I am nothing if not unfashionable. I certainly agree on the desirability of a light mortar, and wonder why we don’t buy the French FLY-K jobbie.

    The chances of it happening do indeed appear to be zero, the Army having made the harmfully stupid decision to strip the infantry section of its LMG for the first time in a hundred years. The USMC is committed to the same foolishness, but our own Marines do not seem to be convinced. I have yet to hear of any other nation doing so.

    All the best,

    John.

    in reply to: Soviet artillery data preparation time #145646
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    Couple of questions:

    What does full mean in the method column?
    What sort of map would our FOO be using?

    I could see that in Ukraine in 1941, he might have a pretty good 100k scale topo map with prominent features on it, but in Hungary in 44 would he have anything better than a 250k map showing that bend in the river and this town as a dot?

    You raise an interesting question.

    I don’t seem to have an electronic copy of the book lying about, but a much more modern artillery handbook (“Ground artillery officer’s handbook”, by V Ya Lebedev, Voenizdat, Moscow, 1984) says that full preparation requires 1:50,000 maps as a minimum. In the absence of mapping of suitable quality, I imagine the observer is going to have to resort to working by eye. The quality of Soviet mapping (not the maps they showed you, the ones they kept for themselves) was highly regarded, and they put a lot of effort into mapping countries outside the USSR, although how far this effort had got before 1941 I don’t know. Of course the Sovs would not be the only people to have the problem of getting good mapping when fighting in other people’s countries — I understand that a lot of the Allies’ gallop through France after the breakout from the Normandy bridgehead was done on Michelin tourist maps. It might be a nice addition to the artillery sub-game I was blethering about to have scenario instructions limit the maximum level of preparation a side’s artillery could undertake. Probably the guns would have to have been surveyed on to the grid for full preparation to be possible, so one also might have such limitations in a meeting engagement.

    “Full preparation” would need, as well as nice maps and a full selection of Gucci artillery instruments and nomograms, the latest meteorological bulletin (UK “meteor telegramme”, US “metro message”) so as to include corrections for wind, temperature, humidity, and all that jazz. I doubt that this sort of thing varies very much between different countries. Not being a gunner I do not feel up to attempting an explanation of the religious mysteries of their craft, and anyway all I’ve ever seen them do is punch numbers into FACE. I wonder if there any WW2 re-enactment groups that play at being gunners, and enjoy the thrill of historical authenticity in doing full artillery fire control calculations by hand.

    All the best,

    John.

    in reply to: How would you implement this? #145448
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    The classic WRG approach, similar to that outlined by Norm S, was to classify generals as bold, rash, or cautious, and dice for which class a general fell into the first time it was necessary to know. General’s personalities took effect entirely through the reaction test, with rash or bold generals favouring attacky results and cautious generals being more defencey. The thing I liked about the classification was that there was not a clear ranking of which type was better than any other; while bold was generally the best, rash and cautious both had their different uses. Having simple command modifiers, along the lines of AH’s “Squad Leader”, is all very well, but does not give the leaders any personality to speak of.

    I would quite like a scheme based on Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord’s observation that officers could be lazy or energetic, and clever or stupid. He famously used this to establish four categories of officers, of which only the energetic and stupid were useless. Add in a “neither” point on the scale in each of the two dimensions, and you have the possibility of nine different officer personalities, which seems plenty.

    What effects officer attributes have obviously depends on the mechanisms in use in the game, so it is impossible to make any specific recommendations without knowing how your intended game works, but I generally think it’s a bit daft to have officer personalities magically making troops move faster or shoot more accurately. Far better have their influcence in the areas of morale and command control, but it depends on having rules that reflect these.

    All the best,

    John.

    in reply to: Postage Rates! #145377
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    postage price is subjective.

    It’s a specific amount of money. How can that be regarded as “subjective”?

    All the best,

    John.

    in reply to: O Group WW2 Rules #145352
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    O Group WW2 rules are currently on the Start Line, forming up

    Mr. Picky hopes that they are forming up in the FUP, before moving off to cross the Start Line at Zero.

    All the best,

    John.

    in reply to: Definition of troop #145229
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    Am I inventing syntax?

    Nope.

    You might possibly be inventing semantics, but certainly not syntax.

    All the best,

    John.

    in reply to: You can’t take it with you. #144884
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    There is a company called KitRescue here in the UK that was specifically set up to rescue the plastic stashes of deceased modellers. At some point I may grit my teeth and dispose of the mass of unbuilt Airfix kits in the garage that have gone through the last two house moves still in their boxes.

    I am aware of no similar service for finished models.

    All the best,

    John.

    in reply to: PSC Battleravens on sale #144776
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    Dammit, more expense.

    Although, not so much expense as to stop me ordering two copies, one for me and one for niece Georgina.

    All the best,

    John.

    in reply to: service entry date fv432 ? #144428
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    Ah, John Profumo… an unfortunate story.

    Makes an excellent film, though. Joanne Whalley-Kilmer, Bridget Fonda, Britt Ekland, Deborah Grant, Jean Alexander, John Hurt, Ian McKellen, Leslie Phillips, Iain Cuthbertson, Ken Campbell — that’s what I call a cast.

    All the best,

    John.

    in reply to: service entry date fv432 ? #144303
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    Yup.

    I wish I could remember where I saw a beautiful model display of a mechanized infantry battalion, circa 1962, mounted in Saracens, and equipped with the new SLR and GPMG. Anti-tank was provided by 3.5-in bazookas in the platoons and a BAT platoon at battalion. Within a couple of years this would change to Carl Gustav and Wombat, and FV 432 would replace Saracen.

    All the best,

    John.

    in reply to: service entry date fv432 ? #144288
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    As I think I may have mentioned before, the electric version of Hansard is a good place to trawl for information on this sort of thing:

    “With regard to the heavier equipment, the new armoured personnel carrier and the 105mm self-propelled field gun are on trial in the field and the reports I am getting are encouraging.”
    John Profumo, debate on Army Estimates, Hansard 08 March 1962 Volume 655

    “Next year we shall introduce into B.A.O.R. an entirely new armoured personnel carrier.”
    John Profumo, debate on Army Estimates, Hansard 14 March 1963 Volume 673

    “Production of the armoured personnel carrier has gone ahead steadily during the year and the re-equipment of B.A.O.R. with this vehicle will continue.”
    Fred Mulley, debate on Defence (Army) Estimates, Hansard 08 March 1965 Volume 708

    “The programme for the tracked armoured personnel carrier will be completed during the year…”
    Lord Winterbottom, Lords debate on Defence Estimates, Hansard 29 April 1969 Volume 301

    All of which leads me to conclude that 1962 was the year troop trials started, 1964 was the year it was first fielded in BAOR, and 1969 was when production was completed.

    All the best,

    John.

    in reply to: The Bee Gees and Military Parades… #144157
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    It would have been better yet if the editor could have looped back a few bits, as in Ridley’s “Lambeth Walk”:

    All the best,

    John.

    in reply to: Roman Mile Fort #144087
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    John, thanks for the kind words – my son uses an Ender 3 printer and a mixture of Cura and/or Slic3r for his printing programs. He uses reels of plastic PLA 1.75mm. I hope that makes sense?

    Didn’t mean a thing to me, but gave me something to google. Having found a few links to the Ender 3 and its exceedingly moderate price, I can feel another “Dammit, more expense” moment coming on. Can you tell me how many reels of the 1.75mm PLA your fort took to make? From the quoted accuracy of a tenth of a millimetre, I imagine that, despite the economic price, the Ender-3 would do work fine enough for printing tank parts and figures in 1/76th. Any accounts of experience in the use of the Ender 3 for such fine work, or general guidance on things for a beginner to watch out for, I would find very welcome.

    All the best,

    John.

    in reply to: Roman Mile Fort #144073
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    An impressive piece naked, and still more so after the very effective paint job.

    I have to say it looks a good deal more solid and fortlike than the old Airfix effort of blessed memory.

    What material is it made of, and what printer did your son use?

    All the best,

    John.

    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    Cor crikey, I remember those. My copy is still lying around somewhere. I didn’t think much of the choice of title, as SPI’s “Firefight” had been published a few years earlier.

    I remember playing a game with them when visiting SELWG one evening. All I really recall of the game is the Russian player discovering just how useless a brick house wall was at stopping Browning 0.5″ fire, which turned the M113 into something of a supertank.

    All the best,

    John.

    in reply to: What are you reading? #143655
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    Go on then, why don’t you like Max Hastings?

    I don’t like him because of his honking pomposity, his well-attested reputation as a bully (“Hitler Hastings”) from his days as editor of the Telegraph, and the fact that I find his politics extremely unpleasant (not that far more unpleasant aren’t now on offer).

    I don’t think he deserves his reputation as a war correspondent, which he later parlayed into a second career as a populariser of military history, for the reason given in “Don’t Cry for me, Sergeant Major”: his own copy, alone among the contributions of all the reporters in theatre, was the only copy to be transmitted home at the moment of victory in Stanley, under what under the most extremely charitable assumptions possible were highly suspicious circumstances. Worse, to gain his tag as “The first man into Stanley”, he risked the ceasefire, and hence the lives of the soldiers he was accompanying, in pursuit of his own personal vanity.

    I don’t think he is a very good miitary historian because his work seems to lack originality and tend towards journalistic sensationalism. I was not very much taken with his attempts to appear controversial by justifying the actions of the Waffen-SS in his “Das Reich”; I was still less pleased by his statement that British Commandos routinely murdered prisoners, an accusation for which he provided no shred of evidence. His “Overlord” struck me as a popularised re-write ofthe relevant volume of the official history, but with an almost gloating emphasis on the disbandment of the 6th Duke of Boots, presented as if this incident had never been heard of before. Without wishing to appear unoriginal myself, I am not the only person who finds Hastings’ research unoriginal: see https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/161744

    Still, there are people who think Dan Snow is a military historian, and some people still trust Alan Clark and Paul Carrell as reliable sources.

    All the best,

    John.

    in reply to: What are you reading? #143639
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    My most recent military historical reading has been dipping into

    – Don’t Cry for me, Sergeant Major. Robert McGowan and Jeremy Hands’ personal memoir of the Falklands War. Still funny, and a useful corrective to people who think of Max Hastings primarily as a military historian.

    – The Tanks. Kenneth Macksey’s history of his regiment, the RTR, since 1945, and a bit different from most of his books. A very useful perspective of Cold War history from the British Army’s, and specificially the RTR’s, point of view. Having read a library copy many years ago, I had to acquire a copy for information on battlesight shooting, as embodied in the Battle Range Technique.

    – M60 vs T-62. Lon Nordeen and David Isby’s contribution to the Osprey “Duel” series. Again specifically acquired for information on battlesight shooting, which the authors seem to believe is an Israeli invention, that apparently being where the US forces got the idea from. Not a bad book, but the hard data seems to be mostly duplicate material from Isby’s earlier works.

    The last book I read in a proper old-fashioned start-at-the-beginning-and-go-on-to-the-end way seems to have been another Osprey, Matthew Moss’ “The PIAT”, which taught me a couple of new snippets about the beast.

    I blame the acquisition of this last book on the members of this forum, as I had to buy “The Anti-Tank Rifle” in the same series by Steve Zaloga to inform a discussion on here, and then it was hard to avoid adding “Panzerfaust and Panzerschreck” (Gordon Rottman) , “The Bazooka” (Gordon Rottman again), and “The PIAT”.

    The last more-text-than-pictures military-history-related book I read was Robert C Stern’s “Big Gun Battles: Warship Duels of the Second World War”, an interesting account worth filletting for numerical information. There was a bit of a wobble early on when the glossary erroneously defined the FAA as being “the afloat component of the RAF”, which it wasn’t at any time relevant to the book, but Mr. Pciky didn’t find anything else out of order.

    Ther rest of my reading seems to have been software engineering, wading through Pratchett and Baxter’s “Long Earth” series, and an unusual dollop of poetry.

    All the best,

    John.

    in reply to: A French abbreviation? #143172
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    Thanks Patrice. That’s an interesting site which completely evaded my searches. It also seems to suggest that ‘section’ rather than ‘groupe’ was the official term. Perhaps ‘groupe’ was a later adoption?

    “Le 20 août 1916 sont créés les compagnies de mitrailleuses à 4 sections”

    What do you call a component of a company, a section or a platoon?

    All the best,

    John.

    in reply to: A French abbreviation? #143141
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    For the French machine-guns, you could use ‘SdM’ or ‘CdM’, depending on the scale of the unit. ‘SdM’ is short-hand for ‘section de mitrailleuse’; ‘CdM’ is ‘compagnie de mitrailleuse’.

    Good idea to avoid the rather curt and unmilitary abbreviation of a solitary ‘M’. However the French “section” normally translates as “platoon” in English. “Groupe” would be the ususal term for a section (British) or squad (American).

    The term ‘automatic rifle’ was used originally to distinguish between a bipod-mounted direct fire weapon versus the tripod-mounted weapons capable of laying down indirect fire in beaten zones. The ammunition feed mechanisms were not part of the definition.

    “Fusil-mitrailleur : définition du Wiktionnaire
    Nom commun

    fusil-mitrailleur \fy.zi.mit.ʁa.jœʁ\ masculin

    (Armement) Fusil automatique à canon lourd d’un encombrement proche de la mitrailleuse légère, portable et alimenté par chargeur.”

    Clearly the feed system is part of the definition for some people. It is always possible to raise complications such as the hopper feed on the Japanese Type 11 or the weird clip system on the Breda 30, but both of these came after WW1 so wouldn’t have distracted people at the time. I am reasonably sure that the Britannica definiton of “automatic rifle” back in the 1960s gave the mag/belt distinction, although if you look up the current definition it doesn’t — and also shows a lovingly-drawn illustration of an M-16 with wooden furniture, which does little to inspire confidence.

    I don’t have my machine-gun books readily to hand to back up my contention, but I’m fairly sure the “bipod-mounted” distinction won’t work, as the Hotchkiss Portative was often used from a bipod, and was I think classified as a machine gun by most of its users (although the US seem to have decided to call it a “machine rifle”). There’s also the point that the Vickers could be fired from a bipod, as by the end of the war they had little legs attached to the underside of the cooling jacket for emergency use without the tripod. All these were removed between the wars, and they are now about as rare as rocking-horse manure, but examples can still be seen at the Vickers Machine Gun Collection.

    In more recent times the attempt at a definition based on role rather than mechanical features had the US Army operating three M60s per platoon in the automatic rifle role, and two in the machine-gun role. Completely daft, as is the oscillation of the Minimi (annoyingly embodying both belt and mag feed) between automatic rifle and light machine-gun according to the whims of doctrine-writers. New TLAs like SAW and LSW don’t help to make things any clearer. But back in WW1 I think you have a reasonably clear, simple and widely-agreed distinction between “automatic rifle” and “machine gun” if you just look at the feed system.

    All the best,

    John.

    in reply to: A French abbreviation? #143089
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    <Joad mode>
    It all depends on what you mean by “machine gun”.
    </Joad mode>

    If you mean a weapon such as the CSRG (Chauchat), yes, “fusil-mitrailleur” is correct, as is abbreviation FM, and I think would have been understood at the time. By good luck you can also use FM for the Italians, who say “fucile mitragliatore”.

    For this class of weapon you should not be using “MG” for English-speaking armies, though; “machine gun” would have referred only to what we would now call an MMG, in British service the Vickers. The Lewis gun was most often referred to as “Lewis gun” or simply “Lewis”, but the class of weapon it belonged to was considered to be an automatic rifle (or occasionally perhaps machine-rifle). The logical French distinction, copied by everyone, and retained by the Americans until quite recently, is that an automatic rifle is fed by a magazine, and a machine-gun by a belt (or, in the case of the Hotchkiss, strips). After the war British usage seems to have changed, first to “light automatic”, and then to “light machine gun”, although the latter term caused distress to some picky former members of the Machine Gun Corps.

    If, on the other hand, you mean a tripod-mounted gun capable of sustained fire, then the French is “mitrailleuse”, and the Italian “mitragliatrice”; given that “mitraille” signifies small projectiles such one finds in grape shot, canister, or langridge, I like to translate this picturesquely as “grape-shooter”. The Russian word is пулемёт, “pulemyot”, which means “bullet-thrower”, and quite a few slavonic and nordic languages use a term that means the same thing. Of course WW1 happened before the Russian revolution, when several letters of the Cyrillic alphabet were taken out and shot, so I believe the WW1 period spelling might have been пулѣмёт. Either way, the abbreviation for a hand-held machine gun would be рп (ручной пулемёт in modern Russian).

    The Germans used MG for both light and medium MGs, so if you want to distinguish them lMG or leMG for the light, and sMG for the medium (which they called heavy). This is not because the Germans suffered from less linguistic precision than the French, it is because their main light MGs really were MGs, even if they weren’t all that light. The MG08/15 and MG08/18 are members of that horrible class of “light” machine guns, like the Maxim-Kolesnikov and the Browning M1919A6, produced by the straightforward and imbecile method of taking a perfectly good MMG, stripping off the water-cooling jacket and tripod, sticking it on a bipod, calling it “light”, and hoping the troops won’t notice that it isn’t. The MG08/15 didn’t even bother taking off the water-cooling jacket. The quality of the resulting weapon is nicely illustrated by that fact that even in modern German the term “Nullachtfünfzehn” (08/15) is understood to mean something decidedly mediocre.

    All the best,

    John.

    in reply to: Im trying to make attack rolls more interesting #143060
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    I haven’t conducted John’s forensic dissection of the rules yet, but I’m afraid that you lost me at “Load : if not loaded roll a D6”. So there’s a 1 in 6 chance of your soldiers going into an attack without even loading their weapons?

    This does seem deeply improbable, agreed.

    I think a better rationale would be instead to treat this as a sort of “activation roll”, which could be modified by such things as the presence (and actions) of nearby friends, the amount of incoming fire, the personal bravery of the bloke in question, and so forth. Admirers of S L A Marshall could make a real meal of such a mechanism. The game “Iron Cross”, which appeared in “Strategy and Tactics” magazine no. 132, used just such an activation roll mechanism — although based on 2d6 — at the man-to-man scale (10m hexes, counters represent individual men, 2 minutes per game turn). It’s a long time since I played it, and my recollection is that I didn’t like it because I seemed to spend a lot of time rolling dice with nothing happening; but one could argue that that’s a good representation of low-level combat.

    I must say that idea of the combat result slide-rule looks interesting. Has anyone else seen “Birds of Prey”, the game of modern air combat for people who find SPI’s “Air War” or Jim Webster’s “Air Superiority” too lightweight? Some of the mechanisms there are based on nomograms, and the good thing about nomograms is that they give you the rare opportunity to use the word “isopleth”. I have often thought that we need more nomograms in wargaming, but having still failed to grasp how to contruct nomograms with PyNomo, I have not yet managed to do so.

    All the best,

    John.

    in reply to: Im trying to make attack rolls more interesting #143057
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    <Wibbly screen indicates that we are experiencing a flashback>

    I remember a set of micro-armour rules I wrote when micro-armour was new, about 1974 or so. Having seen a graph showing hit probability over range for a tank gun without a rangefinder in an article by someone, probably Richard Ogorkoweicz, in the International Defence Review — which to fourteen-year-olds seemed to be a frightfully serious and grown-up publication — and realising that you could get a really good fit to the curve by saying

    Up to 500 metres — 2 or more to hit
    500 to 750 metres — 3 or more to hit
    750 to 1000 metres — 4 or more to hit
    1000 to 1250 metres — 5 or more to hit
    1250 to 1500 metres — 6 or more to hit

    I devised a simple set of rules that involved a roll to hit, as above, with suitable modifiers for firer and target movement. There was no modifier for the target being hull-down, because there was a roll for hit location, which was I think

    Running gear hit on 1
    Hull hit on 2, 3 or 4
    Turret hit on 5 or 6

    …and then one rolled for penetration, needing to score higher with 1d6 plus your strike value than the armour value of the part of the target struck. There was then I recall yet another roll, still on 1d6, for behind-armour effect, the details of which I do not remember, except that a 6 resulted in the target exploding. I think we might even have had saving throws for Schurzen against bazooka hits.

    Given that the rules were based on what little snippikins of information we could find about tank shooting and armour penetration in those days, they were possibly not quite the worst micro-armour rules in the world, but I quickly grew to dislike them — up to four rolls per attack, really? SPI’s “Tank!” managed to roll up the whole business of hitting, penetration and behind-armour effect, while allowing for target movement, cover, and range-finder system, into one throw of a d6. It needed five different CRTs to allow for the different rangefinder systems portayed, though (I combined them into one massive CRT that was, effectively, three-dimensional).

    Here’s the thing, mind — years after I gave up on the rules, members of the school club continued to play with and enjoy them. Some players found tracking the progress of a shot fascinating, and one could hear boyish cheers when a round, having hit somewhere vital, penetrated, and scored a final six to make the target blow up. Probably these were the sort of players who would be able to get through a game of AH’s “Tobruk” without lapsing into unconsciousness.

    <Wibbly screen indcates end of old fart’s flashback>

    As somebody’s Granny once said, it’s a good job we don’t all like the same things, or they wouldn’t sell many mixed biscuits.

    All the best,

    John.

    in reply to: Project Slow Burn #142998
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    The rules cocktail sounds interesting

    I’m a great fan of cocktails. Google “It’s Hartnell, Damn It” for the recipe of a cocktail created for me by the estimable Simon Difford, whose guide to cocktails is indispensible. Who elese remembered that today was the anniversary of the launch of Mariner 2?

    The rules cocktail gives me an idea for what I think is a new kind of wargame, using elements of the Wargame Developments “muggergame”, where all the players try to bully the gamesmaster into doing what they want. It would need a collection of old, experienced, argumentative wargamers — easy enough to come by, one would think — and a collection of different sets of rules, all covering the same subject. Play would proceed along the lines of one of Chris Engele’s matrix games, with players presenting and arguing about what should happen next, with the additional restriction that all the arguments have to be based on some rule from one of the sets in the collection.

    If nothing else, this would at least remove the criticism of wargaming that it is unlike real life because in real life everybody doesn’t know what the rules are.

    All the best,

    John.

    in reply to: Im trying to make attack rolls more interesting #142976
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    Mr. Picky has some fairly severe doubts about all this.

    As far as I can make out, the dice rolls given correspond to the following probabilites of scoring an effective hit (better than a graze) on a target in the open:

    	short	medium	long
    Pistol	0.13	0.07	0.03
    Rifle	0.18	0.11	0.05
    LMG	0.27	0.14	0.11
    MMG	0.27	0.18	0.13
    HMG	0.27	0.21	0.16
    

    Those are not colossal chances, although I would suggest that pistols should be entirely useless above short range. It seems to me that they would give people an excellent chance of walking up to an unsuppressed MMG (not that the rules seem to have any mechanism for suppression), starting at long range, with no ill effects. Does that sound like the way WW2 combat worked?

    It looks as if the effectiveness of MGs is badly understated in relation to rifles. There is room for argument about how many rifles an MG was worth, but if the gun needs a crew of two, then under these rules it seems to me you would almost always be better off just having two riflemen.

    Having to roll up to six dice in succession to determine the effect of an attack that never seems to stand much more than a one in four chance of succeeding doesn’t strike me as “interesting”, unless you are fascinated by the business of rolling dice.

    I am bemused by some of the dice roll modifiers. What is an ‘MG’, as distinct from an LMG, MMG or HMG? What modifier do I use for people equipped with SMGs? How do I use grenades or mortars? And why is there no weapon with a modifier of zero? In order to minimise the amount of adding and subtracting, it would surely make sense to have the most common weapon have a zero modifier.

    All the best,

    John.

    in reply to: Daft dad – daughters present ideas needed #142630
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    Footprints.

    There might be possibilities in placing patterns of footprints to tell a bit of a story.

    For example, a trail of footprints leading to a place where there is some broken glass, a patch of something icky, and the vaguely-discernible outline of a body.

    Or two trails of footprints, one small and one much larger, leading to a knot of confused footprints, a patch of blood, and bits of a hobbit skeleton.

    Or footprints leading to a wall on which one can just make out the graffito “DRAGONS ARE A BUNCH OF WA” next to a large scorch mark.

    All the best,

    John.

    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    Carrying your rifle at the trail when enemy contact is likely does seem strange to modern eyes. Heck, it’s strange even to my late 1970s eyes! Maybe that’s why the SLR had a carrying handle? 😄

    Same age as my eyes. I do remember seeing a film of Gurkhas doing their stuff, and, yes, they did a platoon attack carrying their SLRs at the trail, by the carrying handle. ‘Cos they’re Gurkha Rifles.

    I also seem to recall an OCdt from Exeter UOTC unfolding the carrying handle and carrying his SLR like that, until he was told to stop being a dick.

    All the best,

    John.

    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    Moving with rifles at the trail also seems to have been “a thing”, it is in Infantry Fieldcraft and Tactics, and also another training film The Fighting Section Leader.

    But aren’t they Rifle Brigade or something weird? They are shown drilling with the uncommanded “at ease” position, which I thought was their thing. I couldn’t find anyone mention a bayonet, but I bet they called them “swords”.

    All the best,

    John.

    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    Assuming that there can’t be an enormous number of WW2 platoon attack training films featuring both an officer’s servant and a push-bike equipped runner, I imagine that the film in question must be “Platoon in the Attack”:

    The accents and profusion of Joneses would I think identify the regiment as Welsh Guards even without the shoulder flashes.

    Notice that at 6:12 the narrator says “Finally, may I remind you that the strength of the infantry rifle section is ten men in addition to the NCO. This increase leaves a margin to cover absence, sickness, etcetera, and should ensure a section going in tso action with seven men and the section leader.” The exercise as filmed uses sections eight strong.

    The film isn’t dated that I can see, but the habit of wearing respirator cases at the ready suggests to me that it is fairly early in the war. Other things I found noteworthy in the film were:

    * The section commanders on the diagram are indicated with three stripes. Since the Army Training Memorandum from early in the war seems to imagine that section leader is a corporal’s slot, I imagine that these are lance-serjeants, an appointment the Foot Guards have still not given up as far as I know.

    * The Boys ATR is carried in a rifle section, rather than in platoon HQ. I have always imagined anti-tank weapons carried at platoon HQ, as was the case with the 3.5-in rocket launcher and the 84mm MAW (before they were issued at section level) after the war. However, a gander at Infantry Training Part VIII for 1944 shows no mention of the PIAT in the standard platoon organisation, although one PIAT is used in the pillbox attack drill and two in the tank ambush drill. I therefore suspect that the situation remained as described in Infantry Training 1937: “The -55-inch anti-tank rifle.— Anti-tank rifles are carried in unit transport ready for issue when required. They are not specialist weapons and all ranks will be taught to fire them.”

    * The platoon commander is carrying a pistol as his personal weapon. I would have thought the lesson had been learned in WW1 not to do that.

    * Everyone with a rifle — including even the leading scout — carries it at the trail. I don’t think this is a Guards habit (although it might be for light infantry or rifles). I don’t know if there is an official “ready” position for the No. 4 rifle, but if not I would have expected them to carry their weapons at the port.

    * The film-makers are not shy about showing friendly casualties. The platoon is stopped when it comes under effective enemy fire that inflicts a casualty, unlike the modern expectation of being able to stop the instant before the first casualty is suffered.

    * In the final assault, we can actually see a Guards officer running! (“In the Guards, we are never late. Therefore, we never run.”)

    * There is no emphasis on using extreme caution when searching enemy bodies, nor of conducting the reorg a safe distance beyond the objective, I suspect due to lack of combat experience at the time the film was made against the wily Japanese booby-trapper and German mortarman respectively.

    All the best,

    John.

    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    I’m not sure I can recall ever reading about this recalling of surplus soldiers to go on work parties and so on – have you ever read of such a thing happening?

    I’ve certainly heard of people being left out of battle, and I don’t know when the Army ceased this WW1 practice. I don’t imagine that the folks who were LOB were just treated as being on an extended smoke break.

    All the best,

    John.

    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    I assume the late war memorandums dont change any thing significantly?

    Nothing more for the British section; indeed as I recall it was still 8 blokes at peacetime establishment plus 2 war establishment in the late 1970s, which is not very different (I think I was once told officially on my recruit’s cadre that as an IS battalion we were supposed to have 13-man sections with two lance-jacks, but I never saw or heard of any such daft suggestion anywhere else).

    Nothing gets mentioned for the Germans either, but the authors of the training memoranda would not have had the advantage of taking a gander at the KStNs splendidly displayed on https://www.wwiidaybyday.com/ which show a gradual decrease in German platoon and section strength, typically down to 9 blokes in a section and three sections in a platoon by 1943, and 8 blokes in a section by the end of the war.

    All the best,

    John.

    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    For years now I have been making my skirmish game squads somewhere from 6-9 men, regardless of army…

    Very sensible.

    I wish I could remember who it was who said that platoons usually go into action with a strength of about two dozen men, regardless of what it says in FM-E 666/23 “Organization of the Amnesian Ground Forces”.

    All the best,

    John.

    in reply to: paratrooper supply container #141132
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    I’m no airdrop container nerd, but https://tinyurl.com/yyrh7zy9 shows some 3-D artwork by someone who obviously is.

    I can find no evidence of the US using British containers other than for carpetbagger drops, but then I haven’t looked very hard.

    Even Mr. Picky would be hard pushed to bleat about it if you cut down a CLE and called it an A4.

    Moreover, none of the container shapes look especially challenging for even modest scratch-building skills.

    All the best,

    John.

    in reply to: RIP My Beatties Liquid Poly #140884
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    I shall skate quickly over the pal of mine who, in the early 1980s, borrowed a litre of toluene from work to use as polystyrene cement. I assume he must have lost it in a house move by now; I doubt he’s used it all.

    I shall also waste little time on my horror at the contents of British WW2 tank fire extinguishers, which I discovered when writing the insanely-detailed briefings for my Sherman skirmish game, and “Churchill Troop Commander”. Carbon tet in Pyrenes I’d already heard of, but methyl bromide was a new and worrying discovery.

    No, my aim here is merely to say “We know a song about that, don’t we, children?”, and to regale those of you who don’t with the sorry tale of Nobby Hall, an ordinary seaman (OD) who made improper and unauthorised use of carbon tetrachloride (CTC) to dry-clean his uniform. Words by Cyril Tawney, performed by Cyril himself and Shep Woolley and doubtless others.

    Nobby Hall, a young OD
    Cleaned his suit in CTC
    Hung it in the mess to dry
    His oppo lay asleep nearby
    All night long, the fumes arose
    And drifted by his oppo’s nose

    When the shakers voice was heard
    One there was who never stirred
    The funeral was a grand affair
    The RNBT Rep. was there
    Poor Nobby wept, for days on end
    To think he’d poisoned his best friend

    So sailors all, be warned by me
    If you clean your suit in CTC
    Always take the utmost care
    To hang it in the open air
    Or even better, if you can
    Hang it by the Wardroom Fan.

    All the best,

    John.

    in reply to: Help me choose a book title #139872
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    Another vote for “A Faculty to Dare”, although I would also quite fancy “Ironclad and Stream Line Jane”.

    All the best,

    John.

    in reply to: Data gobbets on Russian APCR #139830
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    More evidence against there being more than a very few 57mm-armed tanks to see service comes from the Russian-language wikipedia entry on the ZiS-2 and 4 gun, again translated with the assistance of Google Translate (which did a really good job, needing only a tweak here and there):

    Tank gun ZiS-4 and ZiS-4M

    At the end of 1940, the design bureau of Plant No. 92 on its own initative designed the 57-mm tank gun ZiS-4, a 76-mm tank gun F-34, the barrel of which was replaced by a barrel ZiS-2. As the new barrel was longer, counterbalance weights were added to the lower part of the gun’s cradle to restore balance; In addition, instead of the TOP sight, the TMFD sight was installed. The gun was installed on the T-34 tank and tested in April – May 1941, following which it was recommended for production, provided that the identified deficiencies were eliminated. Repeated tests of the modified version of the gun were successfully carried out in July 1941, and the gun was put into production. The exact number of ZiS-4 guns produced is unknown, but does not exceed 30, of which 10 were installed on T-34 tanks in September 1941. These tanks entered service with the 21st Tank Brigade, which participated in battles in the Kalinin area from October 15, 1941. By the end of this month, all 57-mm armed tanks of the T-34 brigade were knocked out [5]. By the end of 1941, series production of the ZiS-4 was discontinued, and the existing stock at the factory was mothballed.

    In spring 1943, as part of the continuing campaign to develop means of combating new, well-armoured German tanks and self-propelled guns (primarily the Tiger heavy tank), production of the ZiS-4 was restored. Already in May, Plant No. 92, using the reserve of 1941, shipped 5 guns, 4 of which were installed on T-34 tanks in July 1943. After conducting field tests, three tanks from August 21 to September 5, 1943 were tested at the front, which passed satisfactorily. Plant No. 92 produced an installation batch of 170 new guns (in a slightly modernized version under the designation ZiS-4M), but by September 1943 it was decided to abandon the production of T-34s with 57-mm guns in view of the successful progress of work on 85-mm tank guns D-5T and ZIS-S-53, which had a much more powerful high-explosive fragmentation shell, extremely important for Red Army’s forthcoming offensive operations, and the guns produced were not installed in tanks [5].

    [5] Kolomiets M.V. T-34. The first complete encyclopedia. – M .: Yauza, Eksmo, 2009 .– 496 p. – ISBN 978-5-699-30569-8.

    All the best,

    John.

    in reply to: Data gobbets on Russian APCR #139828
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    It’s all very mysterious.

    My most stalwart sources, Zaloga and Grandsen’s “Soviet Tanks and Combat Vehicles of WW2” and Karpenko’s “Obozrenie otechestvennoi bronetankovoi tehniki, 1905-1995” (of which I have only the German translation) both make no mention whatever of 57mm guns being mounted, even experimentally, in T-34s.

    A useful post from Scott Fraser on Armchair General https://forums.armchairgeneral.com/forum/historical-events-eras/world-war-ii/armor-in-world-war-ii/soviet-armor/154615-t-34-57-tank-destroyer gives what seems to be a pretty definitive account of the 1941 programme, and gives the fate of each of the ten tanks in the programme, together with their chassis numbers.

    According to tank archives http://www.tankarchives.ca/2013/07/soviet-57-mm-guns.html there were four vehicles in the 1943 programme, based on the 1942 model of the T-34. They do not seem to have seen action.

    It seems quite a jump from 14 vehicles to 324, so I wonder where Mr. Tucker-Jones got his information. It would, however, make sense of bothering to lay down boekomplekt norms for the vehicle. One might perhaps explain the 1943 directive as being the result of a keen staff officer thinking ahead to a programme that did not in fact materialise, but it is harder to see why anyone would have bothered in 1944.

    You will see from the piece I posted on preparing for tank shooting at Kursk that there was also a claim of 57mm guns being fitted in KV-1s, and the author gives no source for the claim. In support I have been able to find only an entry by Henk of Holland https://henk.fox3000.com/t34-2.htm which also contains the useful note that Factory 92 manufactured 172 ZIS-4M guns in 1943 before switching over to the 85 mm, and in 1944 turned out a further 19 ZIS-4Ms. That seems to put an upper bound on 57mm gun tanks about half that claimed by Anthony Tucker-Jones — I’d be interested to know his sources. Of course some of the guns fitted might have been ZiS-2s, as I believe was the case for the 1941 batch, or ZiS-4s.

    Unfortunately the web now seems to be awash with witterings from “World of Tanks” and “War Thunder” whenever one attempts to google on questions like this, and things are not helped by the lamentable failure of many writers to quote their sources.

    I’ve seen photos of both 1941 and 1943 models of 57mm-equipped T-34s, but have never yet seen a piccy of a KV-1 so armed.

    All the best,

    John.

    in reply to: Data gobbets on Russian APCR #139728
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    Did it happen to give any figures for how many T-34/57s were knocking around in 1944?

    Oh, come on, d’you think I wouldn’t have told you if it said?

    I was surprised at the idea there would be any, I’d have thought T-34/85s were the thing by then.

    All the best,

    John.

    in reply to: Whats you favorite “Unpopular” Rule Set? #139587
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    Back in the old days of being a Strategy & Tactics subscriber, and reading the table of “aceptability ratings” published for games in print in every issue, I found that I really enjoyed “Grunt” (SPI), “Year of the Rat”(SPI), “Hue”(SDC), and “NORAD”(SDC), but they all received some of the very lowest acceptability ratings. In three cases of the four, I ascribed that to the unpopularity of Vietnam games to a predominantly American audience, the Vietnam war being a recent and unpleasant memory (and “Year of the Rat” was one of the few games published while the campaign it represented was still in progress). Admittedly it’s guesswork on my part, but I suspect that the unpopularity of the fourth game, “NORAD”, was due to that same predominantly-American audience finding the nuclear destruction of North America no more amusing a subject than Vietnam.

    All the best,

    John.

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