Forum Replies Created
I would suggest further releases along these lines:
“Lammerding’s Lads”, 2nd SS Panzer Div “Das Reich” marches from Tulle to Oradour.
“Oskar’s Oddfellows”, fighting “partisans” with the Dirlewanger Brigade.
“Les Gars de Degrelle”, adventures on the Eastern Front with Léon Degrelle and the Walloon Legion.
However, as satire in the English-speaking world seems to have been dead for some years now, I shall merely point out that anyone who thinks any of this is a good idea deperately needs to learn some history.
All the best,
Strangely, my father. a veteran (to use the current term for working soldiers) of WWII 2NZDIV Artillery in North Africa *probably Tunisia but I’m not sure he explained*, told me of a dead Ghurka frozen in place next to a track. He was in a kneeling pose with rifle held at 45º as if he was guarding something, just off to the side of track they were travelling along; instead of passing by they stopped to check him- stone cold dead and not a sight of injury, though he acknowledged it was night and they were using torches.
Such stories are widespread: there is no living doubt that there were many combat deaths whose cause was not at all obvious by visual inspection. The mistake people then make is attributing such deaths to air blast. The intensity of air blast produced by mortars and field artillery is not remotely enough. It was not widely appreciated until Zuckerman’s WW2 work on fragmentation casualties that quite tiny fragments — under a gram — can kill when driven at the velocities achieved by high explosive.
An analogous myth from the Napoleonic era was belief in “death by wind of shot”, where people — usually sailors in the accounts I’ve heard — were supposed to have been killed by the near passage of roundshot. Absolute piffle, and the idea was exploded something like a century and a half ago, but if you hang around the wrong neighbourhoods of the interwebs you’ll find some people still determined to believe it.
For people who enjoy stretching their gullibility muscles, one of the errors in “Mortars in World War II” — I didn’t by any means list them all — was the statement that the training standards of British airborne forces required them to run 200 yards in 16 seconds in full kit. If you would care to engage in a modest amount of calculation, that turns out to be 11.43 m/s, or a bit over 41 km/h, faster than Usain Bolt over a similar distance.
How many impossible things can you believe before breakfast?
All the best,
Interesting to read that the HE round was used in ricochet fire.
A NAVORD report on HEAT penetration credits the 75mm HEAT round with 3.5 inches (89mm) of penetration, which is really not enough against the T-34/85 glacis (45mm at 60 degrees from vertical giving 90mm line-of-sight thickness), or turret front (90mm rounded).
All the best,
U S Army doctrine (of which there is lots) recognises distinctions between tactical and protective obstacles, and between hasty and deliberate ones.
From the present discussion I wonder if we need a distinction between “proper” and “crap” obstacles. Proper dragon’s teeth are impassable to AFV and require a serious breaching effort by trained engineers; crap (Russian) dragon’s teeth merely slow progress, and can be breached and cleared by anyone. Similarly, proper buried minefields are a serious obstacle, surface-laid ones are easy to avoid if you pass through carefully at low speed, and easy to breach. One might similarly regard a wire fence as a crap obstacle (trained infantry lie down on it for their mates to cross, and wire-cutters will make short work of it) and a proper entangelement as a serious one.
I would speculate that anti-tank ditches, sea walls, Czech hedgehogs and knife rests all require sufficient effort to make in the first place that no “crap” version of them exists.
I’m also wondering how widely flame-traps were used in WW2. Mostly of the ones I’ve heard of (before the Iraq war) were British WW2 anti-invasion preparations, and never actually used. Any others?
It would also be interesting to know if there were any other distinct obstacle types not covered by the types mentioned so far — now is the time to share your research on anti-tank jelly barriers, Slovenian wasps-nest booby-traps, and red fuming nitric acid baths.
All the best,
All the best,
Never mind the other parts of the web, the mention of dragon’s teeth prompts me to ask the opinion of the assembled masses about obstacles more generally.
A set of rules I have been tinkering with lately (tactical WW2 because the world really needs yet another set of tactical WW2 rules, individual vehicles and squad bases) includes the following obstacle effects table, which is largely POOMA:
Obstacle Personnel or Wheeled or Fully-tracked animals half-tracked vehicles vehicles Anti-tank ditch, rubble, abatis Bad going Prohibited Prohibited Czech hedgehogs, dragon’s teeth, sea wall OK Prohibited Prohibited Dannert wire fence Bad going Bad going OK Wire entanglement, knife rests Prohibited Prohibited Bad going Mines, punjis OK OK OK
“Prohibited” means that crossing the obstacle is not allowed, it must be breached first.
“Bad going” means the obstacle must be crossed at creep speed, and there is a risk of vehicles getting bogged or personnel getting hung up.
“OK” means that the obstacle can be crossed at full speed, although in the case of mines and punjis with a risk of casualties.
What do we all think? Any obstacle types I’m missing? Any disagreement on the effects? Contributions from people with assault engineering experience especially welcome.
All the best,
I thought everyone knew that the role of cavalry is to give tone to what would otherwise be a mere vulgar brawl:
All the best,
Thanks John, that is very interesting.
Within 25 meters, the automatic mode was superior in time to first hit (Figure 5) although not in trigger pulls to first hit (Figure 7). The superiority of the automatic mode of fire within 25 meters is slight, but significant (p<.05) (Figure 5).
I am slightly struggling to parse the first sentence here. Is the implication that both auto and SA fire hit on the first shot but the auto firer just fired first?
Given that the number of trigger pulls to first hit for auto fire is so high even at the close ranges, I think it must be that the auto firers often managed to get off a couple of bursts before the semi-auto firers had got off their first shot. This strongly suggests to me that the accuracy of the first shot of a burst should not be the same as a single shot, as the burst is presumably got off more hastily and so more coarsely aimed.
For an RPG I wonder if it would be possible to come up with some kind of bidding system, whereby each turn players place a bid for each character to have first shot. Better bids (quicker times) can be made at the cost of sacrificing accuracy. Quickest shots are resolved first, and the target always has the option of becoming wholly or partially suppressed, sacrificing the accuracy of any shooting they still have to do or reducing their movement, in exchange for a lesser chance of getting whacked. I think player caution would lead to lethality much being lower than what the weapons are theoretically capable of, although unengaged shooters (including ambushers on the first turn of an ambush) could be brutally effective.
All the best,
Wait, there’s more. To add more blather I forgot the frst time…
Tony Jeapes (author of “SAS: Operation Oman”) wrote an interesting piece I no longer have access to while he was in charge of the BATT in Oman, in either the British Army Review or the Army Training Quarterly (or whatever it was called). It described the section organisation he used of two fireteams, each with a GPMG and three AR-15s. In a phrase I hope I recall accurately, he said that people getting up to go forward had to do so against “Not the pop-pop-pop of rapid musketry, but the mind-shattering noise of automatic fire.” I think it was also Tony Jeapes, or perhaps Ran Fiennes in “Where Soldiers Fear to Tread”, who mentioned the need to replace the Trucial Oman Scouts’ Lee-Enfields when they started meeting Adoo armed with AKs, saying that against AKs “A soldier needs an automatic weapon just to make himself heard”.
From “The Development of Combat Related Measures for Small Arms Evaluation”, Ronald D Klein and Charles B Thomas, US Army Infantry Board, Fort Benning, GA, undated:
“The next effort was to examine the individual effectiveness of each round of the different burst sizes; these are shown in Figures 9 and 10. The highest single-round effectiveness for both weapons is achieved with the single round of a semiautomatic trigger pull. The second most effective round for Rifle A is the first round of a 2-round burst; the same phenomenon for the first round of automatic fire for Rifle B was not observed. It could be expected that all first rounds of a burst and the single round of a semiautomatic trigger pull would be identical in terms of the probability of achieving a hit. The effort required to acquire a target, position the weapon, align the sights, and squeeze the trigger are exactly the same regardless of the mode or the number of rounds that follow the first round. These data do not support this reasoning and, in fact, show that first-round effectiveness is related to the number of rounds that follow and the effectiveness of the following rounds. Generally, individual round effectiveness drops very rapidly as the burst of fire continues in a quick-fire enfgagement. Bursts of four or more rounds are relatively ineffective against point targets.”
“An Experimental Review of Basic Combat Rifle Marksmanship: MARKSMAN, Phase I”, James W Dees, George J Magner and Michael R McLuskey, HUMRRO, Alexandria, VA, March 1971.
“DAY FIRING-SINGLE TARGETS
Mode of Fire
Mode of Fire (semiautomatic vs. automatic) was studied in Experiments 4, 11A and 111B. Against non-moving, single targets in the daytime, from most firing positions, the semiautomatic mode was superior to the automatic mode in both the time required for a hit and the number of trigger pulls required for a hit from 50 meters out. Within 50 meters, there was little difference between the two modes, either in time to first hit, or in trigger pulls to first hit, within 25 meters. The automatic mode was faster than the semiautomatic mode, in time to first hit up to 50m. Figures 4 through 7 illustrate the interaction between mode and target distance.
Time to first hit is probably the more important of the two criteria examined combining both speed and accuracy. The time to first hit as a function of target distance in Experiment 4 is plotted in Figure 4. These values are the means for the “coarse aim” technique for all of the five firing positions tested. Beyond 50 meters, the semiautomatic mode was superior in both speed and accuracy, becoming more superior with increasing distance. Within 25 meters, the automatic mode was superior in time to first hit (Figure 5) although not in trigger pulls to first hit (Figure 7). The superiority of the automatic mode of fire within 25 meters is slight, but significant (p<.05) (Figure 5).
Mean time to first hit data as a function of target distance for Experiments 11A and 11B is provided in Figure 5; the “aimed fire” portion of Experiment 11B was averaged across all firing positions for this graph. The differences between the positions used in Experiments i and 11B possibly account for some of the difference between Figures 4 and 5. Experiment 11A provided the only examination of the semi-automatic versus the automatic mode within 25 meters. The data for Experiment 11B on the same graph support the conclusion reached in Experiment 4 that semiautomatic fire is superior to automatic fire with the M16 rifle, beyond 50 meters (Figure 6).”
Fig 4 Time to first hit, experiment 4 Range (m) 25 50 75 100 150 200 275 Semi-auto 2.5 3.0 3.5 4.6 6.2 7.5 9.0 Auto 2.2 3.2 4.1 5.5 7.5 9.1 11.4 Fig 5 Time to first hit, experiments 11A and 11B Range (m) 10 15 20 25 50 75 100 150 200 11A Semi-auto 1.25 1.52 1.81 2.01 11A Auto 1.07 1.38 1.58 1.83 11B Semi-auto 3.0 4.0 4.7 7.5 10.7 11B Auto 3.3 4.8 5.8 8.2 11.3 Fig 6 Trigger pulls to first hit, experiment 4 Range (m) 25 50 75 100 150 200 275 Semi-auto 1.2 1.4 1.5 1.8 2.3 2.6 3.0 Auto 2.9 3.8 5.7 6.4 7.4 8.8 10.2 Fig 7 Trigger pulls to first hit, experiments 11A and 11B Range (m) 10 15 20 25 50 75 100 150 200 11A Semi-auto 1.14 1.21 1.29 1.54 11A Auto 1.05 1.14 1.29 1.46 11B Semi-auto 1.0 1.3 1.6 2.1 2.8 11B Auto 1.3 1.6 1.8 2.6 3.6
“DAY FIRING-MULTIPLE AND AREA TARGETS
Mode of Fire
In Experiments 4, 11A, and IIB it was determined that the semiautomatic mode of fire is superior in time to first hit and total number of hits as compared with the automatic mode of fire against single targets in the daytime. In Experiments 9 and 10 it was concluded that the automatic mode of fire is superior against single targets at night and in limited visibility conditions.
It was reasoned that the automatic mode of fire was superior at night because the targets were indistinct, resulting in less accurate aiming, thereby increasing the value of maximizing chance hits by the use of automatic fire; further, where the target was visible, the semiautomatic mode of fire gave a higher hit rate than the automatic mode because it was possible to re-lay the weapon for follow-up shots more rapidly in the semiautomatic mode. Multiple targets and area targets in the daytime have characteristics of both of these situations, so it was necessary to examine them in the daytime to determine which mode of fire would maximize the number of hits and the number of hits per unit time.
In Experiment 14A, the semiautomatic and automatic modes were compared at four target distances and two distribution densities for multiple targets. It was found that semiautomatic fire resulted in more hits per second than automatic fire. Furthermore, semiautomatic fire resulted in two to three times as many total hits as automatic fire, and resulted in better fire distribution as well. In addition, increasing the target density resulted in an even greater superiority for semiautomatic fire. Ammunition expenditure was held equal in both modes.”
Mode of Fire
In Experiments 9 and 10 semiautomatic vs. automatic fire at might was studied. It was concluded in both experiments that automatic fire using the three-round burst was superior to semiautomatic fire in total number of hits, and in hits per trigger pull. In addition, it took no longer to fire a three-round burst of automatic fire than to fire a single round in the semiautomatic mode at night. The conclusion must be that in a time-critical situation at night, automatic fire using the three-round burst is more likely to achieve a hit than semiautomatic fire. However, since automatic fire uses more ammunition than semiautomatic fire, the superiority of automatic fire at night will be compromised by the additional ammunition expenditure.”
It makes intuitive sense that the advantage of high precision should fade and eventually pass to high rate as the ability to aim accurately decreases, whether through psychological stress, short aiming time, or uncertainty as to the target’s precise position because of poor visibility or cover. I suspect that in real close combat a lot of shooting is what the Rhodesians called “drake shooting”, that is, brassing up likely cover. All the comparisons cited are based on hits on target, and I suspect that the apparent advantage of semiautomatic fire would not be so great if suppressive effect could be included.
All the best,
As a general rule, historical data on combat shooting (of which I can find very little) seems to show a pretty clear relation between precision and rate of fire in small arms, as explained in my presentation “Precision vs Rate” to the 2019 Close Combat Symposium at Shrivenham. Essentially, faster-firing weapons score more casualties per second, but fewer casualties per round. The presentation doesn’t seem to be available on the interwebs, so people who want their own copy should PM me with their e-mail address.
To deal with the original question, I think there is a different answer for SMGs and for assault rifles.
It probably makes sense to fire SMGs (machine pistols, machine carbines) on full auto the whole time. Two data points support this.
The first is the report of results from trials in WO 291/476 “Comparison of rifle, Bren and Sten”. One trial involved snap shooting at a close-range moving target. The Sten scores similar numbers of hits per shot in burst fire as on singles, and fires more than twice as many shots.
5-sec exposure of 1x4ft moving target making a 50ft run at 17 yds Weapon Shots/run Hits/run Hits/shot run P(hit) Bren (single) 4 1.4 0.35 0.82 Bren (bursts) 6.8 1.2 0.17 0.72 Sten III (single) 5.6 2 0.36 0.92 Sten III (bursts) 12.1 4.4 0.38 1.00
The same paper reports hit probabilities at longer ranges, these being for a man-sized target at 200 yards:
Man-sized target at 200 yds single shot 4-rd burst Rifle (unrested) 0.57 Bren 0.60 0.90 Sten (unrested) 0.31 0.40 Sten (rested) 0.40 0.68
Singles here clearly get more hits per round than bursts, but the added P(hit) seems worth having against a fleeting target.
My other data point comes from a bunch of P(hit) calculations I did based on some remarkably comprehensive Soviet small-arms data I happened to find. The source for most of this is GRAU firing table No. 61, “Firing tables for 5.54 and 7.62mm weapons against ground targets”, USSR Ministry of Defence, Moscow, 1977. Data for the PPS-43 comes from a table at https://img.allzip.org/g/36/orig/7867167.jpg. The Russians do their ballisticking a bit differently from Western gravelbellies, giving dispersions by the 50th percentile rather than the standard deviation, and having 6000 mils in a circle rather than 6400 for NATO. Data for BKs (boekomplekti, ammo basic loads) comes from various sources. After torturing all these data sufficiently I come up with the following summary table, based on “average” shooters:
Weapon CEP (NATO mils) RoF (rds/min) Fire time (min, s) Single Burst Single Burst BK Single Burst PPS-43 1.16 1.61 30 100 210 7 min 2 min 6 s AKM 0.34 1.70 40 100 120 3 min 1 min 12 s AK74 0.23 1.26 40 100 180 4 min 30 s 1 min 48 s RPK 0.33 0.94 40 150 320 3 min 45 s 2 min 8 s RPK74 0.23 0.74 50 150 360 7 min 12 s 2 min 24 s
I include the “fire time” figures showing how long a BK would last if pooted off at the doctrinal rates to adumbrate (good word, adumbrate) the conservation problem. Incidentally while collecting this stuff I noticed that Soviet official rates and BKs seem to be a very good match for the amount of ammunition that would just bring the barrel to the point if overheating. It’s hard to believe that wasn’t deliberate.
P(hit) calculations using these data produce some grossly over-optimistic P(hit) figures (as you’d expect, this is range firing). The Russian tables give one dispersion figure for the first shot in the burst, and another for subsequent shots. Obviously if a single shot and a burst are aimed with the same precision, the first round of the burst makes its effectiveness equal to a single shot, and subsequent rounds are just gravy. I suspect that in real life bursts are less accurately aimed, but have no figures on it. If we glom up the expected dispersion of the first round and two subsequent rounds, I get results that show single shots always produce a greater P(hit) than 3-round bursts for all weapons except the PPS-43, were bursts are always better. Having a lower P(hit) does not necessarily mean fewer expected hits for a burst, and this might be a factor where prompt incapacitation is urgently desired.
We’ve had three tables full of numbers, so the innumerates should have been scared off by now, and I turn to more anecdotal evidence.
No less a personage than Heinz Guderian tells you how to use your MP-44:
“The principal value of the MP-44 lies in its accuracy and high rate of fire (22 to 28 rounds per minute) as a semiautomatic weapon, and in its alternate use as an automatic weapon, when it is fired in short bursts of 2 to 3 rounds (40 to 50 rounds per minute). Generally, the weapon is set for single fire. Bursts will be fired only when beating off an enemy assault, making a counterthrust against a penetration, in close combat, or at very short ranges during combat in trenches, towns, or woods. Strict fire discipline must be observed. Conserve ammunition!”
The US Marines seem to agree:
From “Analysis of M16A2 Rifle Characteristics and Recommended Improvements” May 1983, Osborne and Smith, Litton Mellonics, Fort Benning GA, we read:
“The M16A2 has less combat capability due to the elimination of full automatic fire. Full automatic fire enhances the ability of Army units to clear and defend buildings, to conduct final assaults on enemy positions, to defend against an enemy final assault, to conduct an ambush, to react to an enemy ambush, to engage an enemy helicopter or fast moving vehicle, etc.”
The elimination of automatic fire is considered to be a mistake. It solves no problem and creates many. There should be a very careful analysis conducted to determine just what the issues are. One of the reasons the M16 was acquired was because soldiers in combat felt they were being outgunned by an enemy armed with an automatic AK47. Many times it is a very close call as to which side has fire superiority. The psychological impact of fully automatic fire can often make the difference in the unit’s perception of how effective their fire is. There are also some data to suggest that a soldier is more willing to expose himself and return fire if he has a fully automatic weapon, as opposed to a more controlled way of delivering fire. It has been well established that, during World War II and Korea, a large percentage of soldiers failed to fire their semi-automatic weapons during some enemy contacts. In Vietnam, armed with a fully automatic weapon, almost all soldiers returned fire. Much of the Vietnam firing was “wasted”, i.e., it didn’t hit anybody, however, it was a rare exception when individuals or units got into trouble because they had expended all of their available ammunition. The point can be made that there is nothing wrong with firing a lot of bullets if ammunition stocks are retained at safe levels. Considerable ammunition is conserved when 85% of a unit fails to fire their weapons, and considerable ammunition is expended when all unit members engage targets with full automatic fire. While good training and good leadership should keep the Army between these two historical extremes, the question of which alternative is wiser should be addressed.”
Does that answer the question?
All the best,
Mr. Picky thinks there are some pretty weird suggestions there. I should have thought the minimum requirement to be “Squad Leader style” would have been to use a squad-a-counter level of representation. I would also expect a combat resolution mechanism based on morale checks.
“MBT” is similar in scale to SL, but uses 100m hexes.
“Firefight” is similar in scale to SL, although it was published before it, and uses 50m hexes and fireteams as the basic infantry element instead of squads.
Neither game uses mechanics anything like those in SL.
“Mech War 77” (like the later “Mech War 2”) is part of the extended Panzerblitz family, and counters represent platoons, not squads.
In “Sniper” and “Patrol”, counters represent individual soldiers, not squads.
Games that use squad-leader-like mechanisms, set in the period 1947 to 1991, include:
“’65”, from Flying Pig games. Contains numerous recognisable Squad Leaderisms, but for my money entirely fails to capture any of the atmosphere of Vietnam, where the game is set. I have not seen the companion game “’85” set in Afghanistan.
“Fireteam”, from West End Games. Long out of print. Obviously based on Squad Leader, but the setting is US vs Sovs in central Europe. LMGs are represented by separate teams, I think a more sensible approach than the “gun only” counters in SL. The game also uses a command point mechanism, so unusual in wargaming terms in modelling motivation and command with entirely separate mechanisms.
“En Pointe Toujours”, a Vae Victis magazine game, set in French Indochina. Very SLish in flavour, regardless of what the designers might say, and I think offering some useful improvements. Has produced a couple of sequels, set in Normandy in 1944 and Kursk 1943. There is a bunch of other material available, covered at http://enpointetoujours.free.fr/EPT-en-modules.htm
I suspect “Fireteam” is closest to what you have in mind, and of course you’ll need to be able to get by in French for the “En Pointe Toujours” family. If I’ve missed any, they will surely be listed on Mike Dorosh’s marvellous “Tactical Wargamer” site: https://www.tacticalwargamer.com/boardgames/boardgames.htm
Given the sheer quivering genius of John Hill’s original “Squad Leader” design, it is an enduring mystery to me why it did not spin off a myriad of companion games in different theatres and periods using substantially the same basic mechanisms. This is what “Panzerblitz” did, with its offspring covering the Blitzkrieg years, NW Europe, the Western Desert, central Europe in an enhottened Cold War, and the Arab-Israeli wars. Given that there are many more wars that have involved squad-level infantry combat than have involved platoon-level armoured combat, I am at a loss to understand why nobody ever seems to have thought to try SL variants for the CBI, the Korean War, Vietnam, the Dhofar war, the Falklands, or, going earlier, the Spanish Civil War, the Russian Revolution, and the Great War. The human factor of morale remains the same, and the important technology has not changed much. Regrettably SL evolved in depth rather than breadth, and became perhaps the greatest folly of overcomplication in the history of wargaming, ASL.
This is so depressing I think we need some music to cheer us up, so here is the song after which “En Pointe Toujours” is named:
All the best,
I tend to reduce it to more of a base probability of hit being modified by type and or magnitude of cover.
Well, yes, but where do you get the base P(hit) numbers from?
And, the base probability has to be built out of more data than simply cross sectional area v. weapon’s grouping at range on the range.
Agreed, but only because of that “…on the range” qualification. Range firing hitting rates, as I hope we all know by now, are about two orders of magnitude worse than happens on the battlefield. But you can produce P(hit) numbers from a mere two inputs, the target size and the weapon’s dispersion.
I mean some soldiers are vetaran snipers, warm and well fed, other times they are green, using an unfamiliar weapon from the dead guy in front of them, hungry, tired, freezing and lost their glasses. Their groupings probably arean’t the same. And even if both are 50th percentile within their racia,l cultural, and whatever other groups, they may not represent the same size target in in the same pose.
Snipers can probably shoot well enough that the crude approach I am going to outline here is badly inadequate, but it will do for most battlefield infantry shooting, where accuracy is so poor that “trivial” things like crosswind and sight setting can safely be ignored.
The great thing about the factors affecting dispersion is that they can all be wrapped up into a single overall number. The business of estimating the magnitude of each element of an error budget can get honkingly complex for tank shooting, but for infantry work I think we can use more of a “big handfuls” approach, as other factors tend to be swamped by the soldier’s ability to point the weapon at the target. No matter, you can have as many factors as you like contributing to dispersion, just remember that you combine them by summing the squares and taking the square root.
Join me now on a magical journey of discovery on how to make crude P(hit) estimates from just two numbers, target area and weapon dispersion. Have your spreadsheets ready. There will be a test later. Try to imagine Rachel Riley telling you all this if it helps.
The measure of weapon accuracy I intend to use here is CEP, Circular Error Probable. This is the radius of a circle containing 50% of the projectile impacts. If someone has given you the standard deviation (sigma) of miss distance instead, convert this into a CEP by multiplying by the magic number 1.1774.
The measure of target size is the radius if the target, which is treated as being circular (“assume all chickens to be perfectly spherical”). Again, of someone has given you the target area, convert it to a target radius by doing A = pi * R^2 in reverse, which is R = sqrt(A/pi), where A is the area and R the radius.
Given the target radius, R, and CEP, the P(hit) can be calculated as 1.0 – (0.5^(R/CEP)^2). Why, yes, this is the method they use for nukes.
A worked example: consider a kneeling soldier being shot at from a range of 200 metres.
The weapon dispersion we will set equal to the AMSAA aim error function, which in effect assumes a perfect rifle, but a shooter whose skill-at-arms is in the bottom third of those observed in 8 different US Army experiments. The aim error at 200 metres is expected to be 3.67 mils. This corresponds to 0.734 metres at that range, using the mil relation (multiply the angle in mils by the range in kilometres, 3.67 * 0.2 = 0.734). Those AMSAA swine have given us a sigma, so we convert it to a CEP, 0.734 * 1.1774 = 0.864.
The target area we’ll take from Nimier and Laval, the first of my sources in the initial posting: 0.3248 square metres (one must admire precision to the nearest square centimetre). To convert this to a target radius, sqrt(0.3248/pi) gives 0.322.
P(hit) is then 1.0 – (0.5^(0.322/0.864)^2), which is 0.0918, or a gnat’s tadger north of 9%.
You can do all this on a calculator (how I did the worked example), and it is not at all hard to stick the formulae into a spreadsheet (how I checked it).
Additional sources to show where I got the CEP P(hit) calculation and the AMSAA aim error function, both available from DTIC:
DARCOM-P 706-101, Engineering Design Handbook, Army Weapon Systems Analysis, part 1, US Army Materiel Development and Readiness Command, Alexandria, VA, Nov 1977.
AMSAA Technical Report No. 461, System Error Budgets, Target Distributions and Hitting Performance Estimates for General Purpose Rifles and Sniper Rifles of 7.62x51mm and Larger Calibres, LTC(retd) Jonathan Weaver, May 1990.
And I don’t mean any of this in an argumentative way. Reading my type sounds a lot drier than the tone and inflection of my typing.
Don’t worry, Mr. Picky can pick an argument anyway, and will argue with himself if nobody else wants to play.
All the best,
4 20mm does the job, tho I needed several re loads to finally sink it.
That’s pretty impressive for 20mm, when you consider that U-boat pressure hulls used to bounce 3-in HEDA. I don’t suppose the game lets you load 3-in rocket spears on your Beau? That would fix things pretty quickly.
All the best,
Oops. Missed a bit. Edited to add a missing paragraph on fire for desruction.
(I regret I am clueless as to what gali. fianch. may be in context
My machine OCRed it as gali. fianch. too, but looking at it by eyeball it looks more like gall. fianch.
Googling “words beginning with ‘gal’ in Italian” suggests that with one l there are quite a few words about gallantry or galeries or galleons, but with two ls it does seem to be mostly about chickens.
All the best,
Does it matter that much below battalion level? I recall one exasperated British battalion commander stating that the first thing that happened in battle was that all communications immediately broke down. In WW2 runners, flares, O groups and field phones were far more reliable than manpack radios in tactical combat. Vehicle mounted were OK.
NA piece number WO 232/77 “Communications within the Infantry Battalion” quotes 21 Army Group/2064/2/OPS/(B) of 16 August 1944, “Lessons from Battle” by the Staffordshire Yeomanry:
“2. Bad Infantry Communications. These are without exception deplorable. There is the general defeatist attitude amongst infantry that their communications are bound to fail once the battle starts. The attitude is justified as they always do. The result is that the plan has to be too rigid, and once troops are committed it is impossible for them to adjust themselves to the enemy’s reactions. The whole system of infantry communications seems to require a complete overhaul.”
One of the benefits to the infantry of having accompanying tanks and artillery observers is that tank and gunner radios are much more likely to work, and I understand the artillery net was often used to pass messages for the infantry. It’s an aspect of combined arms that isn’t shown in any wargame I can think of.
Having used a Larkspur manpack radio on one memorable night exercise — I could hear Radio Luxembourg and a navigationally-confused Chieftain troop somewhere near us, but never the people I wanted to talk to — I imagine it must have required enormous skill and patience to get WW2-era radios to work adequately.
Before pointing out all the shortcomings of the Russians, in the first half of the war, radios were a vanishing rarity in German infantry formations below company level and many German tanks only had receivers, and some didn’t have a radio at all (typically Panzer Is in mixed panzer platoons).
From my recollection of the KStNs available from https://www.wwiidaybyday.com/kstn/kstnmain.htm I think a good hand-waving rule for German infantry is four sets for an infantry company from mid-war on — not enough for one per platoon and a rear link without using a flick frequency — and prior to that a similar number of K-Blinks, another thing I never see represented in wargames https://www.kriegsfunker.com/accessories/light_signals/k_blink.html
AIUI even the mighty US of A started their particiaption in the war without a transceiver in every tank, some vehicles having receivers only.
All the best,
The following snippets are from https://www.connect-wit.ru/svyaz-na-frontah-velikoj-otechestvennoj.html “Communications on the fronts during the Great Patriotic War”, zooshed through google translate with a couple of minor corrections.
The increasing role of radio communications
Ground forces in the first year and a half of the war mainly used portable radio stations of pre-war development – first 6-PK, then the battalion radio station (RB) and its modernized versions. The RB was widely used during the war for communication at the grassroots (tactical) level in infantry and artillery regimental networks. It worked in three subbands in the frequency band from 1.5 MHz to 6 MHz, providing communication in both telephone and telegraph modes, with an output power of 1.5 watts. A modernized version for cavalry units was produced under the name RBK.
In order to expand the used frequency range, in the interests of the tactical command and control level, the range of ultrashort waves (VHF) is being mastered. In the first war years, VHF radio stations with frequency modulation A7 began to be produced, which became widely used in rifle regiments and battalions, in artillery battalions and batteries. At the same time, the stations were continuously modernized, and at the beginning of 1944, the A-7-A radio station was created, in which the number of valves was reduced, and energy consumption was reduced by a third. At the end of 1944, the VHF radio station A-7-B began to arrive at the front, which had a greater range. In 1943, deliveries to the front of RAT radio stations for communication with the headquarters of large military formations and RB radio stations for communication in regimental networks almost doubled.
In the armoured forces, the number of command vehicles did not exceed 20% of the total number of tanks. The increased requirements for the command and control system indicated the need to install a radio station on each tank. At the same time, the need for radio stations increased sharply.The production of stations 71-TK-3 and KRSTB in the required quantity was difficult due to the rather high labour intensity of production. The possibility of using RSI-4 aircraft radio stations with minor modifications, the production of which was established in the country, was experimentally shown. Since March 1942, the production of such tank stations 9-R and 9-RM began, in the same year the industry began the production of quartz radio stations 10-R, 10-RK, 10-RM (KRSTB modifications).
During the war, the radio communication organization system made it possible to use communication not only with the directly subordinate headquarters, but also one step (command level) lower. The Headquarters of the Supreme High Command had direct radio communications with all active armies. In addition to communication through the headquarters of the fronts, the front commander, in turn, could directly contact the commanders of corps and divisions. The division commander had direct communication not only with the headquarters of the regiments, but also with the commanders of the battalions. Such a system of organization of radio communication justified itself not only during the period of temporary withdrawal of our troops, but also during offensive battles.
General strategic leadership of the partisan movement was also carried out from the Headquarters of the Supreme High Command, while at first the lack of established radio communications was acutely felt: in the summer of 1942, only about 30% of the partisan detachments had radio communication with the Central Headquarters of the partisan movement in Moscow. However, by November 1943, almost 94% of the detachments maintained radio contact with the organs of the partisan movement through the radio stations of the partisan brigades.
The number of radio stations in a rifle division increased during the war years from 22 to 130.
In the conditions of an acute shortage of military communications in the Red Army in the first years of the war, much attention was paid to the use of captured equipment. For the operation of captured means, special memos were issued for the troops.
The total volume of Lend-Lease deliveries did not exceed 4% of the volume of production at domestic enterprises, and by means of communications – no more than 5%.
Insufficient quantities were supplied with means intended for radio communications at the forefront, that is, at the level of companies and platoons.
The main American deliveries of communications equipment included: SCG-299, SCR-399 quartz-stabilized vehicle radios on the chassis of Chevrolet and Studebaker trucks, EE-8A telephone sets, chargers based on the Wisconsin engine, field communication workshops on a vehicle chassis and others. Under Lend-Lease, scarce field cable was also supplied (about 1 million km per year).
All the best,
I’d like to take a step back and ask what is ‘Shaping the Battlefield’?
An excellent question. However I’m afraid Lt-Col Fashionista McCool is going to have to deduct a couple of style points for saying “battlefield” (a nasty muddy place where people get stabbed up with bayonets) where you should have said “battlespace” (a more airy and intellectual conceptual space where we can contemplate the intricacies of AI drone enabled cyber tech hybrid Nth-generation multidimensional postmodern conflict, and definitely not the old Triang Hornby OO railway set with the exploding ammunition wagon and helicopter truck).
Less snarkily, your run-down of all the stuff “shaping” includes seems to me pretty much bang on the money, and the only thing I would do is fling in a mention for the oft-neglected sappers. A lot of “shaping” at the tactical level will involve the mobility and counter-mobility tasks that make up about half of what engineers do, and will notably include implementing your own obstacle plan — sticking mines and things in places that will funnel the baddies neatly into your prearranged kill zones (“engagement areas” for the squeamish) and breaching enemy obstacles so that they can’t do the same to you. This ultimately includes the “always on” task of Battlespace Area Assessment (BAE), part of Intelligence Preparation of the Battlespace (IPB), which used to be done by the Battlegroup Engineer and his pals poring over an overlay on an ordnance survey map and hatching in the “no-go” and “slow-go” areas with green pens to help the commander decide on suitable avenues of approach, of which there are often disappointingly few.
When you are suddenly dependent of ‘just in time’, we’ve seen with the supermarkets that this can become ‘just too late’ remarkably easily.
This is why military logistics are usually “just in case” rather than “just in time”. It does rather spoil the scheme you outlined in the original post, but a unit will typically carry three days of supply (DOS) on the fighting wagons and unit transport. You are right to identify ammunition as the one type of supply that has the potential to become critical quickly. People can burn up a week’s allocation of ammunition much more easily than they can use up a week’s fuel or eat a week’s rations. In particular, this applies to artillery ammunition, which typically accounts for half the total tonnage of logistic lift in a division. Artillery reconnaissance is an important part of “shaping” — although counter-bombardment (CB) is normally planned above Division level, everyone should hand in SHELREPs and MORTREPs to help locate the enemy’s indirect fire elements, and any worthwhile plan will include a fireplan which, if it is of any weight at all, will in turn need a dumping plan for ammunition. Really modern SP artillery (or MLRS) fighting a mobile battle won’t sit around in old-style gun lines, with ammo coming up from the waggon lines. Instead, ammunition will be dumped at planned points around an artillery maneouvre area (AMA) covering several map squares. When the time comes to rain exploding steel on the heads of the enemy, the SPs will come roaring out of their hides, screech to a halt next to an appropriate dump, and have the gun-bunnies shovel the ammunition off the ground and into the breeches of the guns as fast as possible. Everyone then clambers back aboard and drives off giggling before the enemy counter-battery fire arrives.
Certainly treating the infantry as the people who exist to shovel the stuff out of the back to ensure it doesn’t build up in warehouses has a certain charm 🙂
It’s an improvement on the old days, when an important part of logistics (A rather than Q) was to shovel infantrymen through the system and into the mouths of the enemy guns. That’s what all those “march battalions” in German orders of battle are for.
Growing old is mandatory, growing up is entirely optional! 🙂
The rule as I understand it is “If you haven’t grown up by the time you’re forty, you don’t have to.”
All the best,
Any chance of a close-up of Dagon?
All the best,
why do we have to be forced to model to wargame?
Nobody’s forcing you. It might not be obvious from the extraordinary fascination with their toy soldiers evinced by the most visible UK battlegamers, but there are plenty of ways of wargaming that don’t require geting one’s fingers covered in paint and glue.
I have a moderately large (259) collection of board wargames, and though a couple include miniatures that could be painted, I haven’t painted them. I have fabricated my own cardboard-component games to put on at COW (“Neverwar”, “The Moon-Grey Sea”, “Churchill Troop Leader”, “A Footslogger Situation”, “Gunner, Sabot, Tank!”, “Buckets of Sunshine”) or for teaching purposes (“Artillery Ammunition Resupply Game”, “The Hunting of the PLARK”) and written a couple of solitaire games that can be played with paper and pencil and perhaps a pack of cards (“Ramrod”, “Battle Drill 1944”). So you don’t need miniatures. I even have a set of counters for playing DBA with, which have seen combat on many a hotel room table, and did a good deal towards preserving my sanity during two years in Saudi Arabia.
There are not only plentiful computer games, but one can also now use the computer to fake boardgames (VASSAL) and miniatures games (Tabletop Simulator).
If you are rich, there are commercial games that offer beautiful ready-painted miniatures (Wings or Sails of Glory), or you could pay a painting service, or you could do what a wargaming friend does and trade second-hand painted figures for all his miniatures needs.
Personally, I am determined to enjoy glueing and painting, and will get round to reducing the giant heap of unbuild plastic kits and unpainted plastic soldiers any year now. But nobody’s forcing me.
All the best,
John.02/06/2023 at 23:46 in reply to: WW1 & WW2 Naval Boardgames – Recommendations Wanted #186862
Quarterdeck Games, as their name implies, specialise in naval games, with a bit more crunchiness to them than SPI’s “CA” or “Dreadnought”.
I enjoyed playing “Destroyer Captain”, but have to say that otherwise I haven’t met any boardgames that think have done a partcularly good job of 20th century tactical naval combat.
All the best,
I get annoyed by a lack of proofreading and copy-editing as much as the next old man who shouts at clouds.
I get more annoyed by people who don’t pay my bill (at 75% discount) for an agreed copy-editing job, and don’t even give an acknowledgement in the final printed book.
What annoys me still more, though, is having copy-editors who “correct” things to be wrong. No doubt this is partly my own fault for using difficult words that have fallen into desuetude, such as “immanent”, “sparsity”, and “desuetude”. It is also certain that my expectation that a copy-editor meeting an unfamiliar word might look it up in a dictionary is a sign of my quaint and outmoded old fogitude. Even so, I cannot remain with my piss unboiled when the editing team, presumably being paid for their work, are adding errors into the manuscript faster than I, working unpaid, can take them out.
Long-standing readers will be familiar with my fascination for the battle of Port-en-Bessin, perhaps the least-known but most extraordinary action of the Normandy landings. A couple of years ago I published a chapter in the collection “On Contested Shores”, a bunch of contributed pieces on the theme of amphibious warfare published by the US Marine Corps University Press. The electric text of this book is distributed Harry Freeman’s, so people who have not yet read my account of the battle can download a .pdf of chapter 15 from
The US Marine Corps University Press were at least professional enough to run suggested edits past the original writer, and managed not to lose their temper over the recalcitrant Brit who stubbornly refused to accept most of them. And I did discover something new to me about the battle from the reviewer who asked why I had not mentioned the B-24 strike that killed 24 Portais (difficult word, means “inhabitant of Port-en-Bessin”) on D-Day morning. The reason I had not mentioned it, which I think is quite a good one, is that no such thing ever happened. It turns out that such a strike was scheduled, and this was news to me, but, whatever it hit, it didn’t hit Port-en-Bessin. The figure of 24 killed is pure tosh, produced by an over-hasty reading of the roll of civil victims held at the University of Caen; I sent the reviewer my spreadsheet containing the names, dates, and cause of death of all Port-en-Bessin’s WW2 dead.
Worse yet was the way editors cheerfully added wildly misleading footnotes about some of the locations mentioned in the narrative. 47(RM) Commando landed near Le Hamel, conducted a battle march which included a brisk action at La Rosière, and established themselves ready to assault the final objective from Escures. Marine Commandos are fit lads, and famous for it, and the battle march was some 15 km. However the footnotes on these places, which seemed to have been produced from the first google hit for the place name, confused these places as follows:
le Hamel …on the Somme
La Rosière …in the French Alps
Escures, not to be confused with Escurès, in the Atlantic Pyrenees
That would have been a formidable approach march indeed: “Once round France touching all four corners, GO!”
I would have thought it should have been tolerably obvious that the places in question were the ones with those names in Calvados. But that’s just more of my quaint and outmoded old fogitude.
All the best,
Kenny from South Park
…and here was me hoping it would be Kenny Starfighter.
All the best,
‘Latest thinking’ may have been a bit of a misnomer, insert ‘a current hare-brained theory’ instead.
The HMS Hood Association website has a wealth of details, including excerpts from the Admiralty inquiry into Hood’s sinking, but it probably wasn’t there I saw the claim.
I’m going to hazard a guess that you read the discussion of ricochet in the detailed and expert discussion in http://www.navweaps.com/index_inro/INRO_Hood.php
One possibility I have never seen discussed, but which seems a simple and adequate explanation, is that the Hood was struck in an spot where she had defectively-manufactured armour plate. I am sure that naval armour quality testing was as good as better as it was for tank armour, but armour plate manufacture is a very demanding task, more so for thick plate, and quality control is (at least until six sigma came along) never 100%. I am reminded of the British test shoot against an early captive Tiger in North Africa when shots were going through the 80mm plate on one side at large multiples of the ranges found on the other side, thanks to a defective plate having crept into the tanks construction.
All the best,
Representing AI on the battlefield in a wargame is one set of problems. Using AI to play the C3 in a wargame is a whole other bag of spanners.
I don’t agree. Autonomy is autonomy, whether the autonomous behaviour is human or machine. One of the big things a commander has to do in real life — and this is the difference between extremes of Auftragstaktik and Befehlstaktik and all the possibilities in between — is to decide how much autonomy to grant to subordinates. In some cases the limits of communications technology mean that autonomy has to be granted whether the commander likes the idea or not, as for example to masters of cruising ships in the Napoleonic era, who received dispatches with considerable delays, or U-boat captains in the Atlantic WW2, who could only intermittently receive signals from Kerneval. In some cases a subordinate might show autonomy to the extent of disregarding instructions from higher, as for example Nelson putting the telescope to his blind eye, or the commanders of the Kwantung Army deciding to start a small war with Russia without permission from Tokyo.
Given the importance of levels of autonomy in real life, I find it disappointing that no wargame I have ever met makes any attempt to portray them, to the extent that
I do not like having orders in a game.
is probably not an uncommon attitude. I find it weird, as I would have thought that giving orders is the essential function of whatever commander the wargamer is pretending to be; but I suppose not everyone holds the “commander’s boots” view of how wargaming should work.
The traditional wargame mechanism for modelling behaviour beyond the control of the commander is the reaction test. These are no longer fashionable, and were limited to the question of limiting a player’s options as to what an element could do when driven to consider the problem of self-preservation.
I dream of having a set of rules that has something like reaction tests to produce the decision behaviour of commanders at different levels of the command hierarchy, considering all sorts of stimuli rather than just those related to self-preservation. These could be used to run the whole game without player intervention, or any number of players could be slotted in on either side at any level of command to provide their own decisions instead. This would be a big bugger to design for a battalion-level land game, but I think might be doable for, say, a section attack game or a squadron-a-side fighter game, with players taking some soldiers/pilots and the others (NPCs) being controlled by the rules.
Has anyone ever seen anything like that?
All the best,
Shipping rants, is it?
Last year I conceived the idea that my life would be somehow improved by accumulating a load of 1:144 scale models of WW2 fighters. Some of the fighters I needed (Hayabusas/Oscars) seemed to be obtainable only in Japan. I duly whomped in an order with HobbyLink Japan.
Consider, if you will, the following timeline, and imagine, if you can, the degree of boiling rage I have built up against Parcelfarce International.
02 Sep 22 Receipt of order acknowledged from Tokyo
05 Jan 23 Demand for customs charges of £38.59 received from Parcelforce, paid immediately
24 Jan 23 Scheduled delivery not attempted
27 Jan 23 Parcel put on “Parcelwatch”
?? Feb 23 False second demand for customs charges received
08 Feb 23 Parcel scheduled for return to Japan, having escaped “Parcelwatch”
20 Mar 23 Parcel arrives back in Tokyo
23 Mar 23 Parcel posted from Tokyo
24 Mar 23 Parcel dispatched from Kanagawa
HobbyLink Japan have done nothing wrong, but were obliged to charge a second shipping fee when they had, through no fault of their own, to ship the parcel a second time.
Parcelfarce have done pretty much everything wrong, failing to even attempt delivery on the agreed date, raising a spurious second demand for customs charges, sending the parcel back to Japan on the false pretext that it was “unclaimed”, and failing to catch the thing with their “Parcelwatch” scheme.
Given the torpid pace of international surface mail, I expect the cursed parcel to pop up again maybe next month. If Parcelfarce decide to treat me to another dazzlingly display of freestyle incompetence, it’s not impossible that I might get a bit shirty with them.
In the time since that ill-fated first order, I have had one delivery from HobbyLink Japan and three from AliExpress in China, none of which encountered the slightest difficulty.
All the best,
I mostly agree with John’s assessment, but only mostly.
I will grudgingly concede that there might be a good deal of interest in modelling the autonomy aspect of drones. A lot of wargamers will hate being deprived of control over assets that behave autonomously. Real generals seem to think the same way, which is why the campaign against killer robots (to the surprise of the campaign’s founders) enjoys (or enjoyed last time I looked) considerable support from the military.
As an historical wargamer, I would be interested in ways of making elements under command behave autonomously, as a way of modelling Auftragstaktik (“mission command”) as against Befehlstaktik (“orders is orders”) approaches to command. Game mechanisms developed to do that would I think also be useful in animating enemy forces in solitaire games. The problem is that, whereas players of solitaire games might be happy for enemy forces to behave fairly stupidly, it is generally accepted that Auftragstaktik produces better decisions than Befehlstaktik.
Any ideas on how to model autonomic decision-making, whether by drones, solitaire enemy, or subordinates fulfilling an Auftrag, gratefully accepted.
I notice that it’s now seventy years since Robert Sheckley wrote “Watchbird”:
All the best,
Why not buy a small toy drone with a fitted camera and fly it across the wargame table. The gamer using it may only attack targets they see through the camera. That would make an interesting game and troop camouflage would be very important.
I have fond memories of a game run by John Bassett that did pretty much this for a game based on the FARC-EP kidnap in 2003 of Northrop Grumman contractors from a crashed surveillance Cessna in Colombia. Even the gadget-fiend responsible for the setup was not quite mad enough to use a real drone, but a digitial camera on a stand was mounted over the wargames table, with a feed to a separate room where the security forces had their operations room. I think this must have given them a perspective a bit like trying to fight a battle you are watching through a drinking straw, but submarine commanders have been doing that for years.
The disparity in scales between the ground and the models/figures means that such a method can hardly produce a convincing representation of the problem of target acquisition. Using the popular ground scale of 1mm on the table to 1m in real life, the area you have to search is almost 200 times smaller with 1/72 models, and more than ten times smaller with 1/300. There’s also the point that wargames tables never include anything like the number of false targets that occur in real life.
One of the lessons learnt from the game was the equivalent of “never wear a red hat in a riot”, namely “never drive the visiting IRA bomb-making team around in a white Land Rover.” Other lessons learnt were quite independent of the reliance on drone recce, but included “Never trust a Ukrainian arms dealer”, “Never trust a Colombian drug lord”, and “Never trust these new-fangled IRA-supplied radio-controlled bombs, use string, you know where you are with string.”
Unless its a double blind game, the advantage of the players being to see everything and have knowledge of enemy positions more than represent the added situational awareness drones provide. Otherwise I see a lot of complicated rules for spotting, visual ID of target and friendly fire to tone down combat effectiveness, or simply make the to hit roll a lot less successful.
Just so, and this has been a problem for professional wargamers and simulationists. When “digitization of the battlespace” was all the go, people wanted to use existing simulations such as Fort Hatstand’s Battlegroup Model to explore the advantages offered by improved communications and better situational awareness. The problem was that, as this and other models of its generation had been written to explore proper old-fashioned Cold War questions of two sides shooting the bejasus out of each other, the designers had made the simplifying assumptions that communications and situational awareness were perfect. Some models actually went further; MODSAF, a popular medium for writing such simulations, could be shown to permit what can only be described as telepathy. It’s hard to write a model showing the benefit of better communications if people already have telepathy.
It’s not surprising if amateur wargamers fight shy of rules about spotting, identification and friendly fire; the professionals largely sloped shoulders rather than develop better models. A political problem was that, typically, the higher-fidelity the model, the less brilliant is the apparent performance of the systems in it, and managers are deeply unwilling to pay good green cash money to get simulation models that show performance to be worse than it was in the previous simulation model. And that, kiddies, is why a lot of the advantages touted for military comms and combat ID gear is based on hand-waving assertions and pretty graphics, rather than credible modelling.
I find it hard to see why any special rules should be needed to cover drones.
What makes a drone a drone is the fact that it does not carry a pilot (either it is piloted remotely, or it is autonomous and does without altogether). Pilotlessness is not especially relevant to any tactical mission a drone might undertake. Not having a pilot might increase the g forces a UCAV can pull over a crewed fighter, and not losing a human when a drone is shot down suggests less regret at losses, and no need to undertake combat recovery missions (thus depriving the wargamer of a bunch of interesting scenarios). Remotely-piloted drones might be vulnerable, or have their range reduced, because of EW action against their command link. Tiny drones might become inoperable in high winds. Other than those marginal cases, I don’t see how dronitude is interesting.
Recce drones are just like recce aircraft, because they are recce aircraft.
Observation drones are just like AOPs, except that the observer is in the rear with the beer.
Armed drones are just like armed aircraft, because they are armed aircraft.
Suicide drones are just like guided missiles, except that they tend to move a lot slower.
Airborne relay drones are just like other airborne relays, because they are airborne relays (show me a set of wargames rules that even mentions siuch things).
Drones may come in smaller sizes than other aircraft, because you don’t need to fit a pilot in, so they may be harder to spot, and issued at lower tactical levels. But the fact that a rifle platoon might have its own spotter aircraft doesn’t change the essential nature of a spotter aircraft.
All the best,
If you are alternating units or small groups performing an action, I cannot see what advantage is offered by slicing the turn into phases — why should all shooting occur before all movement, or t’other way around? That only makes sense in games where every unit moves or fires in a phase, as in traditional sequences of play such as those of the Panzerblitz family or Squad Leader, and even there opportunity fire rules have been used to achieve intertwinglement.
All the best,
Life is much more like a packet of Revells – you are not SURE what you are going to get, but you know it probably won’t be very nice.
Made oi larrf.
All the best,
We assume that others know and or share our assumptions.
Worse, we often assume that we are not making any assumptions, when in fact we are.
This was demonstrated very forcefully to me when, in my first week as a language assistant in northern France, I spent about an hour walking around the place trying to find a post-box to post a letter to my parents. I must have walked past perfectly good post-boxes dozens of times until I appealed to a local for help in finding one. It’s much easier to do if you don’t assume that post-boxes must be red (French post-boxes are yellow).
All the best,
I have liked the idea of alternating actions ever since I met it in SPI’s “Firefight” in 1976 (although because rightpondian figure gamers pay very little attention to leftpondian boardgames, there seems to be a collective impression that the idea comes from more recent F&SF rules).
In my customary desultory fashion I have been failing to rapidly develop my own updated version of “Firefight” which had an outing to a decidely tepid reception at COW a few years ago under the title “Gunner, Sabot, Tank”. More recently I have been trying to develop a version shifted to WW2 titled “Gummipanzergrenadier”, which has been tried out a couple if times with my Horsham circle of wargamers (none of whom now live in Horsham). My game designs may be rubbish, but the titles are brilliant.
The realisation slowly dawned that there was no need to separate movement, fire, rally and artillery phases. Rather, I define the actions elements can take, and players alternate having an element or (if qualified) group of elements execute actions in turn. An action might be shoot, advance, assault, jockey forward, jockey back, adjust fire, rally, or take up fire position. These actions include different mixtures of fire and movement, as my elements are single vehicles or squads of personnel. I use an opportunity fire mechanism (which I call “watch and shoot” because that’s the fire order), so that an element in a fire position is allowed to shoot at elements moving or shooting within its arc of fire. This can produce chains of responses as advancing elements trigger defensive fire, and the defensive fire in turn triggers covering fire from overwatching elements. The good thing about WW2 is that one does not need to worry about the time of flight of ATGWs, which otherwise complicates matters and might demand a spot of phasing. It’s also fairly unavoidable to have a phase for checking smoke dispersion and casualties from continuing artillery fire missions. But, as far as possible, I favour abolishing phases and glomming everything into one general action phase.
All the best,
The command decisions are largely made in the alignment for battle and the main(only?) influence the commander retains once battle starts is in control of a small uncommitted reserve and his perception of the best time to release/lead them to victory is at best limited.
I think we might have discovered The Greatest Wargamerism Of All (TGWOA), namely that a player’s decisions will mainly determine the results of a combat once it has started. It’s true that an ancient general had very few levers of control once the army was arrayed in battle order, but it’s true in other periods as well. I remember, having done my research for my game “The Moon-Grey Sea”, wondering if it was even possible to make a game about being escort commanders in the Battle of the Atlantic, given the comprehensive direction given in Western Approaches Convoy Instructions (wonderfully illustrated with Jack Broome cartoons, but definitely prescriptive). Even where a commander may have substantial freedom to decide things, those decisions normally have to be “pickled” and preserved in the form of a plan, which then needs to be shared with the people who are going to make it happen; but wargamers don’t like committing themselves in advance. The people who are going to make the plan happen may have very little discretion in how they make it happen, their duty may simply be to be efficient little cogs in the machine.
As Guy points out, this is also intertwingled with the problem we were grumbling about the other day, that in most wargames players are actively punished for keeping a reserve.
TGWOA is, I think, necessary in order to make a satisfactory game. Tony Hawkins defines what makes a good game in terms of the frequency of significant decisions it presents to a player (if a decision makes no noticeable difference to the outcome, it’s not significant), and I think he’s right. So the player is cast as the hero, and probably with much more control over events even than a hero should have.
Sometimes I enjoy a game where its more about seeing the process unfold, though it is obviously not as exciting and I don’t want that every time.
…and I remember Martin Wallace pointing out that a lot of customers in the Eurogame market got their kicks from operating the game mechanisms, so my instinct to try to make wargame processes as simple as possible was not necessarily the correct one. This brings me to that curious beast that is “B17: Queen of the Skies” (On Target, 1981; Avalon Hill, 1983), an extremely successful solitaire wargame that has spawned a family of imitators. Charts and tables and dice rolls the game has aplenty, but one searches in vain for a significant decision. The player picks the name of their B-17F, but has no control over the quality of their crew, their target, the weather, the opposition, their position in the formation, or anything else that I can recall. One is in a position like “dummy” in a game of bridge. Rather than being a solitaire game, I think of “B17: Queen of the Skies” as being a nullitaire game, the human is the dummy and the player is the game. This I dislike intensely, but the game continues to have a large and enthusiastic following, so it is still just as well that we don’t all like the same kind of things or they wouldn’t sell many mixed biscuits.
All the best,
DBA was all bells and whistles when it came out (it still is – but it’s a good game with no resemblance to ancient warfare – which is why you can call the ‘units’ anything you like and the same stone paper scissors calculations work whether ancients, napoleonics or fantasy).
Weird. I am not quite old enough to have participated in ancient warfare, but one of my reasons (apart from being able to finish several games in an evening, not having to tick off casualties, and having a good chance of explaining the rules to a first-timer so that they could play creditably) for loving DBA as soon as I met it was that, unlike the WRG 4th-6th edition rules (and at the time WRG was pretty much the only game in town for ancients) the movements of the units on the board bore some resemblance to all those little battle maps in Arthur Banks’ “World Atlas of Military History” for the ancient period. If one considers the allocation of PIPs to model the allocation of the commander’s attentional resources, it’s perhaps unsurprising that it works across multiple periods and environments.
On the question of horses and days, I think it makes some sense to speak of workhorse mechanisms, that come up again and again. PIPs is one such. I would also suggest the reaction test (which I think of as a WRG idea but probably pre-dated them), the saving throw (which I first heard of through Featherstone, but little of his stuff was original to him), strike and defence values (Lionel Tarr?), and GHOD. Board wargaming still having a distinct culture from figure gaming has its own workhorse mechanisms, attack and defence strengths, odds CRTs including retreat results, step losses, untried units (Panergruppe Guderian), opportunity fire, turn sequence chits.
John Hill made a reputation for himself by deliberately designing games to include mechanisms that would already be familiar to anyone who had played other games. When he did introduce innovations (the morale check from “Yalu”, made famous in “Squad Leader”, the “vamp until the music stops” turn sequence in “Battle for Stalingrad”) they were surrounded by comforting and familiar old mechanisms.
No doubt this is good design practice — innovation for its own sake is just annoying, as recognised by the patterns movement in software development. I suspect, though, that most writers of wargames rules have done a lot more reading of wargames rules than they have primary research. This gives rise to what I call “wargamerisms” — things that happen in wargames because it has become traditional, not because it bears any resemblance to the way real combat happens. Morale failure arising principally from accumulated casualties is one such. Having manpack flamethrowers increase the vulnerability of the element carrying them is another (and John Hill’s fault, from “Squad Leader”). The crackpot idea of massive points values for ships in naval games, rightly derided by Connard Sage above, is a particularly dreadful example — Fletcher Pratt wrote his rules in the 1930s, we really should have moved on by now. You can probably think of other wargamerisms to make Mr. Picky gnash his teeth in doddering rage.
All the best,
Still nothing more specifically tank gunnery related.
OK, so I have finally got some evidence of panzer gunners being expected to use ricochet fire.
Thanks to Stephen Taylor, who has shared a vast number of WW2 manuals on his site:
The two sources I have chosen are the Merkblatter (pamphlets) for a couple of AFV-only weapons, so we know this is information aimed at tank gunners, not artillerists.
The transcription and translation are my own, leaning heavily on Google Translate. Please shout out if you spot any errors; the 8.8cm document was printed in Fraktur, which I find very hard to read.
H. Dv. 481/55, Merkblatt für die Munition der 7,5cm Kampfwagenkanone 42 und 7,5cm Sturmkanone 42, 28 Jan 1943.
Abpraller: sie entstehen auf festen Gelände bei flachen Aufschlagwinkeln. Sie eignen sich zum Bekämpfen der ungedeckte sowie hinter Deckung in Gräben und Häusern befindlichen lebenden Ziele.
Ricochets: these occur on firm ground at shallow angles of impact. They are suitable for attacking live targets in the open or behind cover in trenches and houses.
H. Dv. 481/60, Merkblatt für die Munition der 8,8cm Kampfwagenkanone 36, 08 Jan 1943.
Besonders geeignet gegen alle ungedeckten sowie hinter Deckungen und in Schutzgräben befindlichen lebenden Ziele. Voraussetzung sind ein festes Auftreffgelände und Fallwinkel nicht über 360-. Grenze der ausreichenden Splitterwirkung gegen lebende Ziele bei 4 bis 8 m Sprenghöhe, 20m seitwärts und 10m vorwärts des Geschoßsprengpunktes.
Particularly useful against all living targets in the open, behind cover and in fire trenches. Prerequisites are a firm impact area and an angle of fall no more than 360 mils. Limit of sufficient fragmentation effect against living targets at 4 to 8 m burst height, 20 m to the side and 10 m to the front of the projectile burst point.
So far, then, there seems to be good evidence for the use, in doctrine if not in the field, of ricochet fire by American, British, German and Russian gunners, and American and German tankies. Now where can I find British and Russian tank gunnery manuals?
All the best,
Dragging the discussion back to dry land, I have found a couple more snippets that make it plain that both German and British field artillery had occasion to use ricochet fire. There’s also a bit about the relative effectiveness of ricochet and groundburst shell.
From Field Artillery Journal, Sep 1943:
GERMAN RICOCHET DOCTRINE
Considerable progress has been made by German artillery in the use of ricochet fire. It is recognized as being useful, effective, and not mysterious. Although it can not be used in every case, the possibility should always be examined. Our own investigations have borne great fruit, and as our doctrine develops it is interesting to see what the Germans have to say.
“Investigate the possibility of using ricochets. The decisive factor is the angle of impact on the terrain, not the angle of fall. Angles of impact up to 270. (15º) can be expected to result in ricochets; and even beyond that (up to 360 or 20º) ricochets are possible. In many instances it will be necessary to resort to practical trial.” We have found ricochets entirely practicable at angles of impact of 520 mils and greater.
“Irregular lateral position of ricochet bursting points with respect to one another, is not sufficient evidence that the shots were not fired from parallel barrels. The lateral position of such points of burst is to some extent determined by the nature of the terrain at the point of ricochet.” In other words, a projectile may be deflected from its plane of fire when it ricochets.
“Adjust with non-delay fuze, obtaining a bracket conforming to the depth of the target. After a shot has been placed within the target, change to fire for effect with delay-action fuze at the range diminished by 50 meters.” Reducing the limits of the zone for fire for effect compensates for the projectile’s additional travel, between its point of impact and point of burst. If ricochet fire for effect were conducted through the bracket established by a super-quick-fuzed projectile, part of the effect would be “over” and the near edge of the target would remain unscathed.
“When firing ricochets, a change in charge calls for renewed bracketing.”
RICOCHET AND TIME SHELL FIRE IN NORTH AFRICA
Practically no ricochet fire was sought or used by our artillery at the front, although artillery units in rear areas and British units armed with 105-mm Motor Carriage M7 used ricochet as well as time shell. Several reasons were given for non-employment of ricochet fire:
(1) Time fire has functioned satisfactorily. If the testimony of numerous prisoners is to be believed, Germans dread time shell. One of our divisions is reported to have based its plan of maneuver, to a great extent, upon the limiting range of time shell.
(2) No delay fuzes (other than the .05) have been available.
(3) The terrain was believed to be too broken for ricochet fire.
(4) Capabilities of ricochet fire were not fully appreciated. Since their entry into action, FA units have been engaged continuously with the enemy and have had little or no opportunity to train. Commanders were impressed with results recently obtained using ricochet fire in the United States, and stated that at the first opportunity its capabilities would be explored.
Most of our time shell concentrations appear to have been adjusted for a height of burst of about 50-60 yards. Results of tests in this country indicate that a burst center 15 yards high gives best effect.
Some German air bursts approximately 60-80 yards in the air were observed over one OP. These were fired approximately every half hour, apparently for harassing effect. The only other enemy artillery fire observed were impact bursts.
From FM 6-40, “Field Artillery Cannon Gunnery”, 1960:
Ricochet fire should be used only against personnel dug in or under light cover when VT or time fuzes are not available. Ricochet fire is not as effective as VT or time fuzes against targets requiring air bursts. Ricochet fire is not used against troops in the
open. Against troops prone in the open, it would require ricochet action from approximately 80 percent of the rounds fired to be as effective as the same number of rounds fired with fuze quick. Factors which determine whether a projectile will ricochet cannot be evaluated for a particular point of impact until the bursts are sensed. Ricochet fire must be observed. Another fuze must be used if ricochet action cannot be expected from at least 50 percent of the rounds fired in fire for effect.
Still nothing more specifically tank gunnery related.
All the best,
a ‘current hare-brained theory’ suggests that a shell from the same salvo penetrated Hood forward, below her belt armour (her bow as well as her stern is detached), causing another explosion in a forward magazine.
I thought that was supposed to be a shot that fell short and continued underwater to strike below the waterline, and below the belt armour.
Leaving aside the fact that the angle of fall at the relevant range is probably too high for ricochets off water (if Tret’yakov’s guide for smaller calibres is anything to go by), it seems to me that the only advantage a ricochet would offer is meeting Hood’s belt armour at a more favourable angle.
All the best,
I have not heard of it being used with British guns
My memory has failed me, I *have* heard of it. NA piece number WO 291/113 “Lethal effect of artillery fire” reports the results of a trial conducted at the School of Artillery on 22 June 1943. The trial included several serials of ricochet fire, fired not only with US materiel (75mm and 105mm) but also with 25-pdr HE using fuze 231. The results seem to show good effectiveness of ricochet fire for the US guns, poor for the 25-pdr, which does better with superquick. The worst results for the 25-pdr are timed airbursts using fuze 222. Not what one would have expected. I have no idea how much influence this trial may have had on the unpopularity of ricochet fire with the RA.
NA piece number WO 291/496, “Anti-personnel effect of small HE shell”, suggests that HE under 75mm calibre can be effective against personnel in open-topped trenches using ricochet fire. As it is a theoretical paper, the fact that it mentions the lethal area of 6-pdr HE does not necessarily imply that a delay fuze was available for it, and the 2-pdr HE round it considers is for the 40mm Bofors.
I need to revisit my collection of Soviet artillerania
Lebedev’s “Field artillery officer’s handbook” mentions ricochet fire, but it’s all a bit modern, published in 1984. Much nearer the war is Tret’yakov’s “Artillery ammunition”, 1947, which mentions ricochet fire, and gives the best ricochet angles off land and water for guns and howitzers including 45mm anti-tank guns and 76mm regimental and divisional guns. In principle, then, I expect practically any WW2 Russian AFV would have been capable of ricochet fire. Whether they used it in practice remains an open question, they may have left such fancy shooting to the artillery.
Latest thinking is that it was such a shot that did for HMS Hood.
Come on, give us a source, I can’t be chasing that as well, I’m up to my knees in terrestrial gunnery.
All the best,
Thank you so much. In return, whenever someone tells the story of what you did that one night at Gencon, I’ll say it was me 🙂
I have no recollection of ever attending Gencon. I must have been incredibly drunk.
Do you have anything on the purpose of the delay fuze? I assume if you have a set delay, you can get it to go off at a fixed range, but was this something that was actually used?
Mr. Picky suspects that you are confusing delay fuzes with time fuzes. A time fuze goes off a certain time after the shell leaves the barrel; a delay fuze goes off a certain time after the shell strikes something.
To quote from the 1943 edition of FM 17-12:
“Delay action. The .05-second delay action results in the shell penetrating before bursting when it strikes light armor, gun shields, or buildings. If the shell strikes the ground, it ricochets, travels 20 to 25 yards beyond the point of impact, and then bursts about 10 feet in the air. Because of the downspray from the burst in the air, a ricochet burst has devastating effect on personnel without overhead cover. It is much more effective than the impact burst obtained from a superquick fuze setting.”
As a matter of detail, the M48 fuze had a delay of 0.05 sec, the M48A1 0.15 sec, and the M48A2 one or other of the two depending on what version you were issued.
Ricochet fire was I believe common practice with US field artillery, and apparently tank gunners. I have not heard of it being used with British guns, I suspect because most British tank and field arty fuzes lacked the necessary graze action, and also perhaps because British shell used weaker steel than US and so may have been less capable of withstanding the stresses involved. TM 30-430 “Handbook on USSR military forces” as I recall credits Soviet field artillery with the ability to perform ricochet fire, but I don’t recall seeing anything on the topic from Russian sources, I need to revisit my collection of Soviet artillerania (if that’s a word). Likewise I have never seen any German mention of ricochet fire, but I have never been able to find much on German artillery, it’s all panzers panzers panzers when it comes to the Germans.
I think I can safely say that I have never seen, heard of, or smelled a set of wargames rules that includes ricochet fire.
All the best,
will have to fish out my US tank gunnery pamphlet from wherever it’s hiding.
The 1957 edition of FM 17-12, “Tank Gunnery”, states “Impact fuzes are most common to tank gun ammunition, although time fuzes are available”, and then never mentions them again. It does, however, recommend ricochet fire. The 1943 edition also recommends ricochet fire, but makes no mention of time fuzes at all.
All the best,
You swine do this deliberately, don’t you?
I have wasted most of the day flonking about the interwebs and looking through my electric copies of technical manuals to find the answer.
So far I have found only two time fuzes for tank main guns, but delay fuzes are popular. My flonking has been confined to American, British, German and Russian tank guns. I have also confined myself to “gun tanks”, so CS tanks, HMCs, StuHs or similar things carrying howitzers could no doubt offer a greater variety of fuze functions.
BD M58: Impact fuze used in the M63 HE shell fired by the 37mm M3, M3A1, M5, M5A1 and M6.
PD M57: Impact fuze used in the M48 HE shell fired by the 75mm M2 and M3.
PD M48, M48A1 and M48A2: Impact and delay fuze used in the M48 HE shell fired by the 75mm M2 and M3, M42 HE fired by the 3-in M7, M42A1 HE fired by the 3-in M7, 76mm M1, M1A1 and M1A2, and M71 HE fired by the 90mm M3. Depending on version, this could be set for a delay of 0.05 or 0.15 seconds.
MT M43: Mechanical time fuze for the M71 HE fired by the 90mm M3, with a delay of up to 30 seconds. This is listed as compatible with the M3 gun, but I have never heard of either AFV delivering time fire, and doubt whether the fuze was ever issued to them.
No. 255: DA percussion fuze for HE fired by 2-pdr.
No. 243: DA percussion fuze for HE Mk 10T fired by 2-pdr and HE Mk 2T in 6-pdr.
No. 244: DA percussion fuze for HE fired by 17-pdr.
No. 410: Graze and percussion fuze for HE fired by 17-pdr or 77mm.
Kopf Z Zerl P: Impact, self-destroying fuze for Sprgr Patr 18 fired by 3.7cm PaK 36 and presumably 3.7cm KwK 36.
AZ 39: Impact fuze for Sprgr Patr 18 and Sprgr Patr 40 fired by 3.7cm PaK 36 and presumably 3.7cm KwK 36, Sprgr Patr 38 fired by 5cm PaK 38, KwK and KwK 39.
Fl AZ 23: Impact fuze for Sprgr Patr 34 fired by 7.5cm PaK 40, KwK 40 and StuK 40.
Kl AZ 23 0.15: Impact or delay fuze for Sprgr 42 fired by 7.5cm KwK 42 and StuK 42. Could be set for a delay of 0.15 seconds.
Kl AZ 23 umg 0.15: Impact or delay fuze for Sprgr 34 umg fired by 7.5cm PaK 40, KwK 40 and StuK 40. Could be set for a delay of 0.15 seconds.
AZ 23/28: Impact fuze for Sprgr L/4.5 fired by 8.8cm KwK 36.
KTM-1: Impact and graze fuze for O 240 fired by 45mm guns, O-271 fired by 57mm guns, OF-350 fired by 76mm guns, and O-365 fired by 85mm guns.
KTMZ-1: Impact and graze fuze for F-412 fired by 100mm guns.
V-429: Impact fuze for OF-412 fired by 100mm guns and OF-472 fired by 122mm guns.
D-1: Impact or time fuze for OF-472 fired by 122mm guns. A drawing shows a scale on the fuze going up to 125, but I have no idea what units it is in.
It is noticeable that none of the German 8.8cm time fuzes listed for HAA guns in that calibre are listed for use in tank or anti-tank guns.
With a delay fuze available to them, American, British and German tank gunners with 75mm weapons could presumably conduct ricochet fire. I have not heard of this being done, and will have to fish out my US tank gunnery pamphlet from wherever it’s hiding.
Corrections and additions welcome.
All the best,