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      Special Upgrade 4 Tech Tips   12/27/2016

      Hi all! Now that Upgrade 4 is out and about in large quantities we have now discovered a few SNAFUs that happen out in the scary, real world that is home computing.  Fortunately the rate of problems is extremely small and so far most are easily worked around.  We've identified a few issues that have similar causes which we have clear instructions for work arounds here they are: 1.  CMRT Windows customers need to re-license their original key.  This is a result of improvements to the licensing system which CMBN, CMBS, and CMFB are already using.  To do this launch CMRT with the Upgrade and the first time enter your Engine 4 key.  Exit and then use the "Activate New Products" shortcut in your CMRT folder, then enter your Engine 3 license key.  That should do the trick. 2.  CMRT and CMBN MacOS customers have a similar situation as #2, however the "Activate New Products" is inside the Documents folder in their respective CM folders.  For CMBN you have to go through the process described above for each of your license keys.  There is no special order to follow. 3.  For CMBS and CMFB customers, you need to use the Activate New Products shortcut and enter your Upgrade 4 key.  If you launch the game and see a screen that says "LICENSE FAILURE: Base Game 4.0 is required." that is an indication you haven't yet gone through that procedure.  Provided you had a properly functioning copy before installing the Upgrade, that should be all you need to do.  If in the future you have to install from scratch on a new system you'll need to do the same procedure for both your original license key and your Upgrade 4.0 key. 4.  There's always a weird one and here it is.  A few Windows users are not getting "Activate New Products" shortcuts created during installation.  Apparently anti-virus software is preventing the installer from doing its job.  This might not be a problem right now, but it will prove to be an issue at some point in the future.  The solution is to create your own shortcut using the following steps: Disable your anti-virus software before you do anything. Go to your Desktop, right click on the Desktop itself, select NEW->SHORTCUT, use BROWSE to locate the CM EXE that you are trying to fix. The location is then written out. After it type in a single space and then paste this:


      Click NEXT and give your new Shortcut a name (doesn't matter what). Confirm that and you're done. Double click on the new Shortcut and you should be prompted to license whatever it is you need to license. At this time we have not identified any issues that have not been worked around.  Let's hope it stays that way Steve
    • Battlefront.com

      Forum Reorganization   10/12/2017

      We've reorganized our Combat Mission Forums to reflect the fact that most of you are now running Engine 4 and that means you're all using the same basic code.  Because of that, there's no good reason to have the discussion about Combat Mission spread out over 5 separate sets of Forums.  There is now one General Discussion area with Tech Support and Scenario/Mod Tips sub forums.  The Family specific Tech Support Forums have been moved to a new CM2 Archives area and frozen in place. You might also notice we dropped the "x" from distinguishing between the first generation of CM games and the second.  The "x" was reluctantly adopted back in 2005 or so because at the time we had the original three CM games on European store shelves entitled CM1, CM2, and CM3 (CMBO, CMBB, and CMAK).  We didn't want to cause confusion so we added the "x".  Time has moved on and we have to, so the "x" is now gone from our public vocabulary as it has been from our private vocabulary for quite a while already.  Side note, Charles *NEVER* used the "x" so now we're all speaking the same language as him.  Which is important since he is the one programming them


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  1. John! I haven't really thought about the things that happened in the video here so thoroughly. The truck was used as it would be less likely to be targeted by an ATGM (and it was out of effective small arms fire). I don't know what kind of explosions you're referring to? Perhaps you're rather refering to my bullet-zip-sounds/the supersonic crack of the bullets? To my surprise, the ATGM actually fired at the advancing russian infantry platoon. I didn't give an explicit cover arc to prevent it, but I thought the AI would not do this on its own. At some point it was simply spotted by the tank (from ca. 1.6km distance - might explain the arc?) and knocked out by the first shot. Ranges varied from ca 1.6km (wood to BMPs and tank) to ca. 150 meters (fire fight up close). These long lines of sight are pretty adequate for some of the Ukrainian countryside (flat, many fields are even larger than that). I tend to prefer longer ranges. More bullets flying around for longer times, fewer casualties (that is: if the defenders take proper defensive positions, safe from longer range fire by vehicles, while threatening anything that ventures too close with hidden ATGMs and RPGs). Thanks for watching and the feedback!
  2. With a very broad brush that ignores all nuances, I'd say that the layer on which modern warfare gets really interesting and deep from a competitive point of view is located slightly higher up (battalion level at least) than the level portrayed by Combat Mission games. I suppose that many scenarios in Combat Mission games are rather implausible/unrealistic as they usually boil down to full blown trials of strength with casualties on both sides or deliberate attacks on prepared defenses. And while situations such as these - i.e. situations in which both sides have an equal chance to win - make perfect sense for a game, they're not exactly what you'd be looking for on the operational level (which of course does not mean that they didn't happen at all). On the other hand, situations that are plausible if you consider the operational background tend to be situations in which one side has decisively more power on the field. And this, in turn, makes for rather dull, highly asymmetrical games on the tactical level. It's just a matter of executing the inevitable. Perhaps you loose a bit more or less in the progress, but still, the result is already clear. With highly asymmetrical forces, the best one player could do is to delay, but that's not really a lot of fun from the player's perspective. That being said, despite the scenarios being implausible, Combat Mission games offer very deep micro-tactics (you don't need me to tell you that!), and executional skill and knowhow are key, even though some of it sometimes feel a bit gamey. I think that a major factor of Combat Mission's attractiveness lies in the focus on micro-tactics. It's has a huge immersive appeal. I mean look at all the video-AARs (thanks replay-function!!). It's a miniature's wargamers dream come true. In Combat Mission, I'm on the battlefield, seeing individual soldiers engage! If I was in a battalion-level-simulation, I'd be looking at a map, moving counters (hello, Command Ops!). I don't know if Combat Mission games should try to grow towards the operational level. I don't think so (we'd need games with durations of 6+ hours... phew). But perhaps it's worthwhile to think more about operational plausibity, both on the level of scenario-design, but also concerning game-mechanics (or rather additional options for scenario-designers). It would be interesting to have more asymmertrical scenarios, with slimmed-down objectives. Also, I fully agree that operational recon should be represented at the start of a scenario. I'd also like a lot if the defending player had the option and the need to preserve his forces by withdrawing more often (when some event is triggered), so that he'd need to carefully gauge how long to delay and when to retreat. Also, it would be interesting to have friendly AI-controlled troops on the battlefield. This would help greatly to make scenarios more plausible while keeping them at a manageable size for the player (you're the captain of this company, the other company to your right is commanded by someone else...). It would be great if players could feel that they're only one cogwheel in a larger battle, part of a battlefield that is alive. For this it would also be super if objectives could be updated during a scenario. I.e. if the player was confronted with sudden changes (due to the operational developments out of the player's control) and could receive new orders during the scenario. Generally speaking: enhancing the narrative aspects of scenarios. Plans may change: "Battalion command informs you that B coy to the right has spotted a platoon of enemy tanks coming your way. Retreat your company immediately!" --> New objectives: exit your troops at X. Bad example, but you get the idea. But I fully understand that these are very ambitious suggestions. In any case, nothing compares to Combat Mission games.
  3. I've taken a closer look at the battle report itself. So here is my understanding of what happened: 1BW = 1st Blackwatch battalion, 7A&S = 7th Argyll and Sutherland Highland battalion. Broad light-blue line = hypothetical german defense. This shows the planned course of actions for 7A&S's coys (dotted arrows) and their actual progress (full arrows) during the night. Of course this depiction gives no information about time and most of it is uncertain. I think that the final positions of A coy and C coy (which had lost all its officers) are well documented. For B and D coy and the tank-squadron it's much harder to tell. Also, the terrain on the western flank is quite interesting (orchard, bunker, ditches/alluvial plain (where the ditch splits up in three parts)) D coy started the attack (togeter with C coy) and came under fire. At ca. 00:00, enemy movements were seen south of Gerbini (around the bunker area), so D coy sent two of its rifle sections there (in fact the coy was supposed to go there anyway!) and found the enemy in "considerable strength". The report by Dell Porchetta (A coy) states that D coy took part in the battle for Gerbini station, and that at some point parts of D coy retreated into Gerbini station on their way back from Gerbini airfield. So it seems as if D coy stayed off course and joined A and C coy along the railroad, probably pushing though to the airfield at some point. B coy was the reserve coy. When enemies were found in considerable strength south of Gerbini (see above), B coy was ordered to "subdue" the enemy there. So I assume that D coy actually advanced into Gerbini. This is quite important since practically none of the other coys of 7A&S seem to have made it there! If we assume that B coy entered Gerbini via the wood/orchard, then we also need to assume that the coy was unaware of the bunker a bit further to the south (which would pin down the blackwatch-coy tasked with securing the road). It's not unreasonable, given that all this happened during the night. The tank-squadron (on paper: 15 tanks) of the 46th Liverpool Welsh Royal Tank Regiment arrived at C coys final position around 00:00. It temporarily sent a troop (3 tanks) to support A coy which was heavily engaged by counter-attacks along the rail/in Gerbini Station (also by a self propelled gun). The further movement of the squadron is a riddle to me. Dell Porchetta mentions that the tanks moved off to support B company, which was sent to "subdue" the enemy south of Gerbini (see above). Next, we're informed that the squadron has taken up position in the woods at Gerbini. I wonder how the squadron moved from Gerbini station to Gerbini woods. This image describes the course of actions on the following morning. A strong german counter attack induces the the British to retreat to their starting positions. Rennie draws some conclusions from this battle: He sees the failure to reorganize a defense against an imminent counter-attack in Gerbini as the main reason for the defeat/withdrawal. Obviously the ground that had been gained during the night had to be reinforced with AT-guns against the counter-attack. But as pockets of resistance (with the help of darkness) in and around Gerbini still held out and the road (strada statale 192) turned out to be defended, it seems as if the British were not able to organize a proper AT-gun-defence at Gerbini in time. As a conclusion, Rennie suggests to pre-plan AT-guns' positions in the furture („It seems now that the A.Tk plan for reorganisation down even to the sighting and responsibility of each gun should be worked out beforehand. A.Tk defence should follow up the various stages of the attack, making good ground as it is captured.”) and speed up the follow-up of the AT-guns in the attack, or, to be more precise, to make AT-guns join the attack. He carries on emphasizing that AT-guns must not stick to a strict AT-role, but should support their infantry’s attack by firing HE rounds. He even suggests to make them fire from exposed positions and follow the infantry very closely (if necessary under the cover of a smoke screen or an artillery barrage). He also argues that even the larger calibre Phearson AT-guns should have been brought up to the AT-ditch to support the attack in this case. This naturally makes us question why the performance of the Shermans was so poor. A squadron is a pretty large unit of 15 tanks! One would assume that the Shermans in the woods were in a good position to beat back a counter attack. But apparently, the squadron got badly beaten by the attacking tanks/sp. guns. (Of course we lack a precise number on how many vehicles the Germans could commit). Rennie mentions that the squadron performed so poorly because it had had no time to prepare the attack and it had not been involved in the planning phase. (Remember it was sent by a different division!): “The Sqn Commander knew the plan at 1700hrs and this left only three and a half hours of daylight for recce. It appears however that in this operation that orders were not given to Troop commanders till after dark and no troop commanders therefore saw the ground or the infantry with whom they were to cooperate.” So the tank-commanders were operating in unknown territory in the dark. This would explain why the squadron failed to take up good positions and was beaten so badly at dawn. -------------------------------------- Two maps with all the details I could find for the attack of the 1st Blackwatch companies on the western flank (since this is my potential first scenario): ---------------------------------------- Next, I will try to break this battle down into interesting scenarios and also think about where the german defences could have been. Obvious points would be the bunker (controling the strada statale) and the orchard (protecting the bunker's eastern flank and also enfilading the approach to the railroad, itself protected by the ditch). In fact the area around these two features are mentioned very often in the battle reports. Further obvious defensive positions would be Gerbini Station, the railroad, Gerbini airfield. I still need to take a closer look at Gerbini itself. For the start, I think it's a good idea to concentrate on the western part of the battle: the night-attack of B company against the wooded area south of Gerbini - which, at some point, was supported by the tank-squadron- , and also the dawn-attack of the blackwatch-companies along the road. A third (very large) scenario could be the morning-counter attack on western Gerbini. Also, the terrain on the eastern flank is quite interesting: orchard, bunker, ditches and alluvial plain (where the ditch splits up into three branches). I think that the eastern part of the battle is more difficult and less interesting to put into a scenario, as it seems that A, C and D coys were mixed all over the place and I don't really get a clear picture of the events. It seems to have been a slow frontal attack over terrain that was not really that interesting - just open fields. (Plus I'd need train carriages and ideally some airplanes to properly represent Gerbini station and airfield).
  4. An Open Letter to Developing Team.

    I fully agree on fortifications. The lack of a broader choice of defensive structures is a real pity and my biggest (still very, very small compared to other games on the market!) criticism. For CM:BS, it is most significant, because you don't even get bunkers. Ideally, we'd get a variety of different bunker/pillbox sizes and shapes, slit trenches, proper foxholes (single, two-man), additional camouflage options, options for overhead-cover, battlepositions for vehicles, straight sandbag-walls, (oh and also allow the defender to use democharges during the deployment phase!) etc. Right now, I think that overall casualty rates for defending infantry are too high - especially in CM:BS - which is to a good part also the result of a lack of fortifications. The first thing an infantry unit would do if tasked to defend is to dig in. And if they had only half an hour, they would still have some kind of pan for cover. A problem seems to be that fortifications need to be set into the ground-mesh/earth. If you're a scenario-designer and do some terra-forming to make your fortifications "sink" into the ground properly, then their position is immediately evident to any opponent who takes a look at the ground. Far from ideal. If you make fortifications purchase-able and placeable by the player, then that kind of blatant terra-forming is impossible and the fortification needs to be spotted, but the fortification will be placed on top of the ground-mesh, rather than sink into it - I can't really tell the gameplay-implications of it. Obviously the fortifications is easier to hit/the troops within it suppressed more easily? That being said, I wonder if it would be possible for fortifications and soldiers occupying them to simply clip into the ground. I couldn't vare less if the legs of my soldiers in a slit trench were cut-off. This way we would need no terraforming and the bunkers/trenches would still have a low profile. I think it's already partly the case with foxholes right now, while soldiers in treches or bunkers don't clip. I can only speculate wildly - and there are some theories about how foxholes and trenchers are working right now -but another issue might be to model the ingame-effects of fortifications. Here a problem might be that an action spot comes in the size of 8m², whereas some fortifications might ask for a more detailed resolution. Also, I think it's worth noting that strong defenses (bunkers) might not be that interesting from a gameplay-perspective. For the attacker, it's a case of identifying them (which is rather one-sided in favour of the defender) and then either evading it (not on CM's tactical scale) or bringing heavy weapons to bear to suppress & assault it or knock it out - which, in turn, is rather one-sided in favour of the attacker. Scenarios in which support is not strong enough to fully suppress a bunker might be interesting though.
  5. I've entered "Bunker gerbini" a thousand times. I also tried refugio, casamatta and all the like. According to the 1943-map, the motorway that you mention did not exist in 1942. It seems as if the major east-west-route in the area was running south of Gerbini (though I did not check all the adjacent map-sectors). So it would even make more sense for the bunker to be oriented to the south. @ Kaunitz: Oh, well if it's in Westfalia, then the case seems pretty clear: Since the 17th century, the Kaunitz-family held the dominion/county (reichsfreie Grafschaft) Rietberg (as in Kaunitz-Rietberg) in Westphalia, and Kaunitz was part of it. So they seem to have named one of their villages after their family. PS: You can even make out some traces of bullet-impacts on the front of the bunker (on the connection-part in between the loopholes). Interestingly, they're all pretty high up, which would make sense if the bunker was dug-in as it is shown in Earie's drawing.
  6. Thanks for the tip! The problem with centralized placement is that it only gives you one tree/bush. (I'm using the bushes because the shortest tree is too large and doesn't look as if it blocks LOS on the ground level like those short orange trees would.) And one bush per 8m² doesn't look like an orchard. These little trees should stand very close together. The bocage therefore serves to make the orchards denser (still with 3 trees it is not dense enough) and align the bushes symmetrically in the action spot. It seems to be my very personal problem, but I really miss something in between the tallest bush and the shortest tree in the editor (also in CM:BS). Forest tiles only come with very sparse (and deep-dark green) undergrowth that doesn't really look right, I'm afraid. Wow! Chapeau! How did you find this? Let's try to interpret these pictures. I still strongly suggest that the bunker is oriented to the south, which is the direction of the allied advance (and also the tank ditch is supposed to support the airfield against an approach from the south). I think that the first (left) picture shows the bunker from the southeast, the second one (right) from the southwest. (Note the little crater/earth track in front of it which can be seen on the satellite image too). So these two "towers"/risalits are the loopholes. It seems as if there was one loophole at each of the southern corners of the bunker. Outside, each loophole is reinforced with brick-walls that protect it from oblique fire/shrapnel and a little roof against artillery. We can't see whether there were also loopholes to the north (unlikely...). I'm not an expert so I wonder whether you think that these loopholes were designed for MGs or bigger stuff? The pictures also strongly reinforce my suspicion that the bunker is indeed the strange structure we can see on Eadie's drawing. First, I think it's pretty safe to say that this was the only bunker of that kind around Gerbini. Second, it looks like the bunker on the photos! On the drawing, it's obviously better camouflaged/dug in, so that one cannot see the concrete walls. But if you look closer, you can actually see one of the oblique protective brick-walls of the southwestern loophole. The two superstructures on the loopholes still look a bit strange, but on the photos you can see that there might indeed have been something on top of the loopholes that got destroyed. This still leaves the question about that building in front of the bunker, which must have restricted its field of fire. On the 1943 map, it's hard to say if there really was a building. There is a small dark dot, but this could be anything, really. On the drawing (if it is indeed oriented like I suppose it is), there are ruins directly south of the bunker. These might have been ruins in 1943 as well, or maybe a buildig that got destroyed in the battle. Today, there is a house on this very location, but it bears nothing in common with the one on the drawing. It dates from more recent times. Another issue that the 1943 map shows another orchard south of the bunker which must have limited its field of fire as well. However, if we ignore the possibility of an orchard and assume that the modern house is positioned on the place of the old one, then the most plausible role for the bunker would have been to overwatch the anti-tank-ditch (which was lined with barbed wire) to the south? You can travel down/south the strade statale quite far and still see the bunker, so its field of fire would have been excellent. The question is where the tank-ditch was exactly located. Judging from Rennie's sketch, my guess is a modern day street. But this street is 900 meters away (direct beeline) from the bunker. Not really the optimal distance? But maybe the ditch was further to the north? Any way, the positioning was not bad, given that the allies attacked exactly here - the only bunker far and wide in this area. Also, I wonder whether the note on the Rennie's sketch actually refers to the bunker. He clearly circled the position of the bunker and noted "mortar 4 mg task". Suppress/smoke this bunker (which houses 4 machine guns) with the mortars? We are told the Blackwatch coy took it with the help of a smoke screen... @ My name is pretty uncreative. My primary military-history interest was/is the Third Silesian War ("Seven Years War") 1756-1763 and I simply took the name of the famous state-chancellor Kaunitz (Wenzel Anton von Kaunitz-Rietberg), which I used as an avatar in some forums for some time. The Kaunitz (czech Kounice) originated from Bohemia. Interesting that there is a Kaunitz in Switzerland. I have no connections to it! I live in Vienna. - in the shadow of those giant, immensely ugly WWII-flak-towers.
  7. Orange cove The 1943 map shows an "orchard" in Gerbini. This must be what is called "woods" in the actual battle reports. In the real battle, a platoon of Shermans took up position here (and got badly beaten by the german tanks in the counter-attack). I think it's okay to assume that these were orange-plantations. Today, the area is full of orange-orchards but back in 1943, they seem to have been a bit rarer, judging from the 1943 map -maybe because of less developed irrigation-systems. On the old map, all "orachards" are close to rivers or ditches. Now, what would these woods have looked like? I couldn't find a single historical photo of an orange-plantation in the Catania plain. All I could find was this photo of a Sicilian orange tree. From this picture I think it's safe to assume that orange trees in 1943 looked quite similar (very short and small!) to those that can be found around Gerbini today (no major differences due to new methods of breeding, etc.). So, I'm trying to nail down the look of today's plantations around Gerbini: I've tried out a lot of design patterns and different kinds of vegetation. This is the best basic/unpolished design I could come up so far: It consists of sand ground (I'll have to test the ingame effects) because sand has the best matching colour. On top of that, I've planted echelon/arrow-shaped "low bocage" to give the orchard a higher density while still allowing for long diagonal lines of sight. I could still cut LOS here and there. Finally, on top of that, I've planted bush C (3) all over the place - I think it might actually be an orange tree with its white blossoms. The leafes are a bit darker, but that doesn't worry me too much (and there is no real alternative...). Luckily, the bocage reduces the randomness of bush-placement which would otherwise cut all the diagonal LOS. Not quite perfect but close enough. Trees are much too large, while bushes only are not dense enough and too random. So in my eyes a mix of bocage and bush seems to be a good work-around. PS: In fact these bushes are a tad too short. I might use bush B instead of C, but it looks quite ugly (and doesn't fit to the bocage's colour). But well, gameplay aspects take priority over aesthetics...! So this is the new version with slightly taller trees:
  8. Improvement suggestions

    Hehe. Of course you're right. "Problem" solved. Out of total negligence, I made myself believe that unit selection in the editor is the same as in quickbattles. I can only hope that you're asll getting used to my misguided improvement suggestions by now. But even a blind squirrel will find a nut once in a while! @ arty fire plans: It's not that important since scenario designers could still write down a historical/scheduled fire plan in the briefing for the players to issue themselves at the start of the game. But still it would be more convenient.
  9. Here is an image to give you a broader perspective on the area: The Highland division attacked from the south. One would assume that the tank-ditch (red) would link up the Simeto and the Dittaino river and would be overwatched? If I'm not mistaken the accounts also mention pillboxes and earth works in the wood north-east of Gerbini station/north west of Gerbini airfield. The 1943 map might give you some idea. (I didn't find anything suspicious on the satellite view). And here is a second view concentrated on the "bunker-area" (I tried to blend features of the 1943 map with features of the modern satellite map) - the red square is the bunker, greenish-areas are the 1943-orchards, the green lines follow (approximatively ) the 1943-contour lines (south: 50 meters, north: 60m), black = streets or paths,, blue = irrigation ditches: PS: Italy bunker in oblong shape : http://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-italy-second-world-war-bunker-62473154.html
  10. I've been scanning the surroundings, yes. To the south, there is some kind of factory or garbage dump today (see link). There are plenty of strange-looking earth shapes, but I think these are of more recent date: https://www.google.at/maps/@37.4654875,14.8386701,179m/data=!3m1!1e3 (the bunker is a bit to the north). But I have to admit that I have no eye for satellite-archaeology. I even tried to make out artillery-craters, but to no avail. By the way, the only indication that this might be a bunker is the information of the OpenTopo-map which states "1943 bunker" here if you zoom in. And also, this is the position which gets mentioned in the battle-reports. I'm still waiting for my delivery of a small Osprey (sigh) booklet on bunkers in Italy (and Sicily, I hope). I doubt it, but maybe it will prove that this was a common shape for a bunker in Italy. The vegetation seems to have changed quite a lot. Naturally, the soil around the Etna volcano is very fertile. In the Catania plain, there are three major rivers (Dittaino, Gornalunga, Simeto) whose water, by means of a system of reservoir dams and irrigation-ditches, is used to irrigate the orchards. I can’t tell for sure how extensive this network was back in 1943. Judging from satellite views, almost all the ditches noted on the 1943 map still exist today. However, the 1943 map does not show the (irrigation-)basins/pools that can be found on the modern satellite view. One would assume that if these existed, they would be represented on the map for sure. Today, the fields around Gerbini are dominated by orange (arance rosse) orchards (and maybe some sparse olive orchards). The question is whether this was true in 1943. In accordance with accounts of the battle, the 1943 map shows only two patches of orchards south of Gerbini (today the whole area is plastered with orchards...). In the smaller, southern one, there are also some symbols for “vine” mixed into the trees. So, if we assume that these patches were the only orchards arouznd, we need to ask what the rest of the terrain (the blank terrain on the 1943 map) looked like. With no means to make any safer conclusion, I will simply use "ploughed fields" and "dry grass". I also wondered what the orange orchards looked like back then. I can’t really nail down the exact look of the modern day orchards. There is only one good choice to represent these short orange trees (perhaps 2-3 meters height) in the engine: bush B. The smallest "tree" (D) is by far too large. The problem, however, is that I cannot recreate the density and the symmetrical pattern of the orchards with bush B. So, in the end, I will have to make a compromise which needs to focus on the ingame effect rather than on visual and mimetic fidelity.
  11. PS: View of the bunker via google street view (taken from strada statale 192): https://www.google.at/maps/@37.4662765,14.8364244,3a,15y,73.64h,90.4t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s4ZAolfVidamSX7eTHWGuJw!2e0!7i13312!8i6656
  12. Gerbini west: axis defenses I was quite surprised that there is no detailed (by that I mean down to company level for important individual battles) book available either in german or english when it comes to Sicily. So, most of the german dispositions will be guesswork and I'll have a lot of freedom here. For the western sector of Gerbini, however, the reports mention three distinct features: 1) anti-tank ditch: The accounts and Rennie's sketch mention an anti-tank-ditch, ca. 20 feet deep (lined on the north side with barbed wire), south of Gerbini which served as a starting line for the attack. I've tried to make out the exact location on google maps' satellite views, but I'm not entirely sure, as there are a lot of irrigation ditches all over the place. Moreover, one would assume that the tank-ditch would link up to the Dittaino river to the west and the Simete to the east. Anyway - the anti-tank-ditch was not a really important feature for the battle itself. It would just serve as a starting point. 2) axis pillbox/bunker: Reports of the action mention a pillbox (maybe this is what is sometimes also called "barracks"?). The bunker is visible on google maps (see pictures). It was assaulted and taken by the 1st coy/1st Blackwatch and will also be a central feature of the scenario. Unfortunately, I could not find a ground-level-picture of it. However, I wonder if this bunker might actually be the left/central building on Eadie's drawing? The shape would fit quite well, I think, and also, vegetation is growing on the building - so it seems to be camouflaged. The building to the right can be found on the contemporary map too (maybe these are the "barracks"?) - a strange dot south of "mass.a Landolina". Moreover, there is (or rather was) a "wood" behind that bunker, which would be correct. The viewpoint would be on strada statale 192, looking north-east. So the tanks would not have wandered too far off the street - a small tip of the (dirt...?) street might be shown in the lower left corner. The rise of the ground is also reasonable and the place has obviously been shelled (crater, defoiled trees, buildings in ruins). Also, Rennie's account mentions two tanks getting knocked out (well, at least "hit") somewhere around here: "Two tanks of the troop sent to E, which had moved far out onto the open and level ground, were hit." But in the end, it's all speculation. Maybe you are in the mood to help me interpret whether this strange building might indeed be the bunker? 3) mines: According to Rennie's account, 6 AT-guns were moved up north modern Strada Statale 192 into Gerbini in order to fortify it against the imminent german counter-attack. The leading portee hit a mine. So one can assume that some parts of the road south of Gerbini were mined.
  13. This thread is about the creation of a historical map and scenario for CM:FI/GL: The battle of Gerbini which was fought on 20/21st July 1943 between elements of the commonwealth 51st (Highland) Division and the german parachute-tank-division Hermann Göring. As I don’t want to create or play scenarios that are larger than 1 company, and there is a limit to the maximum map-size, the scenario will only comprise part of the battle. But maybe I will end up with several company-sized scenarios. Context There is not a lot one needs to know about the overall context: After its landing south of Syracuse, the british/commonwealth 8th army (XXX. and XIII. corps) pushed north along the eastern coast of Sicily. The aim was to get to Messina as fast as possible in order to cut off the germans’ path of retreat and trap them on Sicily. A few kilometers south of Catania – a major coastal town – the 8th army met stiff resistance. Montgomery tried to bypass Catania further to the west, on the inland. In the battles of Gerbini and Sferro Hill, however, he had to learn that his army had made contact with the first (Hauptkampflinie) of three main defensive lines of the Germans, stretching from the west coast to the east cost of Sicily. While the western half of the defensive line made use of the mountainous terrain, here, on its eastern end, it ran along the plain of Catania, a large plain south of mount Etna. The germans set up their defenses at the northern edge of that plain, stretching 40 kilometers along and behind the river Dittaino. At Sferro and Gerbini, the commonwealth/british army tried to penetrate the eastern sectors of the Hauptkampflinie. The 51st Highland-division had established a bridgehead north of the Dittaino from which it started a night attack on Gerbini. It was primarily carried out by the 7th battalion Argyll & Sutherland highlanders and 2 companies of the 1st Blackwatch Highlanders – both these battalions were part of the 154th brigade of the 51st Highland Division/XXX. corps/8th army. Gerbini itself was northing more than a crossroad, orchards and a few houses. North of Gerbini, however, lay Gerbini airfield - a major axis aerodrome which had been a high priority target for allied bombers. Also, a single railroad-track ran east-west in between Gerbini proper and the airfield, with a stop at Gerbini station (stazione di Gerbini on the map). Today, you can only make out some remains of the runway on a field in between the railroad and the modern highway. Sources For a contemporary 1943 map (1:25.000) take a look here: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/ams/italy_25k/ (Gerbini) (same here: http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/onlineex/maps/europe/zoomify138659.html ). This seems to be the US Army Map Service -map that the allied troops actually used during the campaign. You can compare this to modern maps, like the OpenTopo map (https://opentopomap.org/#map=15/37.47215/14.84386) and google maps (https://www.google.at/maps/@37.4691357,14.842885,1698m/data=!3m1!1e3). Thanks to the 51st Division online museum, there are two quite detailed reports about the action available online: The first source is a report by brigadier T. Rennie, the commander of the 154th Brigade, dating from August 14th 1943. It also includes a sketch (based on the map linked above) on which the objectives/artillery targets are marked: http://51hd.co.uk/accounts/gerbini_combs (report + artillery fire plan), http://51hd.co.uk/history/sicily_gerbini (Map/sketch). Note that if you compare the plan to the report of the action nothing seems to have gone according to plan. None of the 7th Argyll & Sutherlands coys seem to have reached their assigned target area - instead they stayed further to the east and advanced on the airfield and beyond (D coy) and along the railroad (where A coy made it to the station). The west was therefore still held by the enemy as the 1st coy/1st blackwatch found out when it tried to secure the road north to clear the way for the support weapons and got pinned down in the process. The course of the tank platoon is a riddle for me. They showed up at the road/rail junction (where the 7th A&S's C coy held out) in the east at 00:00, then sent a tank to support A coy in the station, but later took up position in the orchard north of Gerbini, in the west. I wonder how the tanks got there. The second source, also to be found on the 51st Division online museum, is a shorter account of Dell Porchetta, a member of the 8th platoon of A coy of the 7th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders. http://51hd.co.uk/accounts/porchetta_gerbini (His company surrendered at Gerbini station) I also found this account quite helpful: https://weaponsandwarfare.com/2017/02/25/the-plain-of-catania-1943-part-i/ I could even find some drawings by the Division's artist Ian Gilber Marr Eadie (1917–1973):http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/8379 It is labeled with "Gerbini". We can try to identify the exact location (see next post). Some impressions filmed at Gerbini airfield: https://youtu.be/6HOPxnK2a6A Selection The Gerbini-attack is too large to be put into a single scenario. Therefore, I've decided to select (a) single theater(s) of the battle. I think that the western flank of the battle is very interesting. Here, the 1st coy. of 1st Blackwatch got pinned down, the 2nd coy managed to take a german pillbox with the help of a smoke screen, AT-guns were moved forward, and also, the german counter-attack on the next morning has been very strong, knocking out a good part of the Shermans who had been positioned in the orchard north of Gerbini. I think that this makes for one (or two) interesting scenarios (attack - counter-attack). Moreover, I feel confident that maps and the accounts give me a quite detailed picture of the terrain. Gerbini station and the airfield are harder to imagine, since I couldn't find any contemporary pictures.
  14. Improvement suggestions

    New improvement suggestions: flares to increase visibility in night battles and add aesthetical appeal; could be implemented in a variety of ways: 1) squad-based (like smoke), 2) called in via the fire-support tab, 3) as a special scenario-parameter (night/flare). The more sophisticated implementations (1 & 2) could last only a certain time (depending on the type of flare: ordinary/parachute) and have a certain area of illumination. Flares were and are in use in all settings, from WWII to modern day. It would make night-battles much more fun to play and make timing an interesting factor (if flares are limited). Minor thing for scenario-design, especially for WWII-titles: let the scenario-designer set a fixed artillery-plan (no control for the player over pre-planned barages). It seems as if artillery fire plans were sometimes decided beforehand on higher HQ-levels than those represented in the game (company). Allow us to mix forces of one "faction". E.g. the Göring-parachute-division in CM:FI needs para-troopers AND tanks. Right now, if I choose Luftwaffe (in order to have access to para-troopers), I can't have tanks in the same scenario. Target Reference Points should be toggled on/off like units when pressing ctrl+i. They're so ugly. If not already in the game: perhaps heavier calibre small arms weapons could have an increased suppressive effect. From what I've read, larger calibers are better for suppression because their bullets travel faster and therefore make a louder supersonic-crack-sound, which is a major factor when it comes to suppression. Also, the larger the calibre, the more visible the impact-effects of the bullets on the ground/etc. Moreover, any "small arms" that fired tracer-rounds (mgs) had a stronger effect on the enemy's morale. (In the game everything fires tracers to enhance the overview for the player.) From what I've read, US & British fired red tracers, Germans fired red ones that turned green/white. PS: Inspiration for mg-tactics https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_HYmcm9A2o