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SimpleSimon last won the day on February 5

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  1. Effectively, I see the Combat Mission games as more like virtual board games than video games in the conventional sense. If you want to understand Combat Mission it's helped me quite a bit to see the games as a logical conclusion of the Advanced Squad Leader series, having made the jump from tabletop to desktop. It's nearest sibling is the Close Combat series....which I think also emerged from some of the same guys at one point. Much of the war-game market Avalon Hill used to cater to is being served by Matrix Games and Slitherine these days, and to a lesser extent Paradox Interactive. Operation Flashpoint dominated my free time for a decade after it's release (also Jedi Outcast and Halo) but after Resistance nothing was heard from Bohemia Interactive for years (they were in fact in the middle of a breakup with Codemasters) and I just moved on. I was browsing YouTube one day when I just happened to basically trip over some videos showing off Shock Force 1 which was the first i'd heard of the entire series let alone that something of ASL's legacy existed anywhere. Signed up for the demo and purchased the next day after the extremely favorable impression the demo left me with.
  2. Interestingly some attitudes toward the class expressed here are identical to the feelings of American Commanders after their experiences with mounting the 75mm pack howitzer and M1897 gun on half tracks. "This doesn't seem too useful". For the Americans it was simply that the emergency was less acute. They didn't see any need to bother with awkwardly trying to fit a howitzer to a half track when they had plenty of Stuarts and Shermans around to fully equip Armored Divisions with ready vehicles, reserve vehicles, and still have enough hardware left over to disperse Tank Battalions among Infantry Divisions. On the other hand, American Commanders had a distinct tendency to push the M10 and M18 into the Assault Gun role. Certainly they were better protected than a half track but not much better, and certainly no better off against a Pak 40 or an 88. They were also huge, as vehicles based on the Sherman's hull tended to be. Not sure if anyone has seen one in real life before but the StuG is ridiculously short. Shorter than a Jeep Grand Cherokee. I'm sure this enabled it to-literally-squeeze into some curtain calls other AFVs would have had trouble with.
  3. The Operation plans for an attack and defense by both sides through the Fulda Gap were perfectly sound. What else matters?
  4. I'd lean more towards something in the 1980-85 period myself when both NATO and the Warsaw Pact had a similar level of readiness for a major war. Around this time both sides were facing major junctions in terms of arms procurement and manpower balancing. Lots of old equipment was still in stock for the Warsaw Pact partners like the Mosin Nagant and T-34 at the same time the Russians were bringing out the gas-turbine powered T-80. The M1 Abrams and Leopard 2 had only just entered production and substantial numbers of M48 Pattons were still kitting out the Federal Republic's Panzer Brigades. Meanwhile many of the NATO signatories were finding it necessary to slash headcounts. France had effectively given up on Divisions and reorganized most of its Army around small Brigades. While Britain was progressively de-mechanizing BAOR (British Army on the Rhine), turning Armored Divisions back into Infantry Divisions because of the need to cut expenses. These soft de-mobilizations were a major reason the US was conducting its REFORGER exercises to quickly deploy III Corp to Europe, because it looked as if NATO wasn't going to be capable of composing a continuous front if war broke out in the 1980s.
  5. Oh no here comes another Simon infodump lol... The biggest bottleneck was manpower which Germany's industry was sharing with the Army. The Heer took priority and the entire reason why production didn't fall and even increased during the war was simply because the Nazis turned to ruthless forced labor to keep the civilian economy functional and work sub-human untermensch to death at the same. There was a lot going around that Speer had worked some kind of miracle in the armaments industry, but this was only partly true. He did inject some rationality into the system of armaments production that Fritz Todt and Goering had been badly mismanaging but ultimately it was his partnership with Himmler that yielded his success in squeezing the German economy to its absolute maximum. The upshot of this partnership not only allowed Germany to maintain and even increase armaments production during the war, but also enabled Germans to maintain a much better standard of living than the occupied territories in spite of all the bombing right up until the nation's infrastructure finally began to collapse as the frontline overtook it. The downshot which of course the Nazis weren't likely to care about was the horrifying death toll and misery being inflicted upon the rest of Europe while Nazi forced requisitions of labor and food literally exported the war's ruinous effects on other civilian economies. Aside from the moral outrage of such actions the Nazis may not have saved themselves as much trouble as they believed either. In 1943 the French coal industry collapsed requiring Germany to export its own coal supplies to keep the French rail and energy network functioning. Shutdown of transport would paralyze the movements of military formations and if the electrical grid failed work on the Atlantic Wall would halt. Famine broke out in Italy the same year and badly undermined what little support was left for Mussolini's regime, the Allied invasion was the straw that broke that camel's back even though it was more like a falling tree... If what happened in France was any indication than allowing Russian troops to retreat would've invited defeat and annihilation. French and British troops were allowed to retreat in 1940 and this led to mass routs all the time. Generals kept informing Weygand and London that they were conducting "tactical withdrawals" of course...right on through Paris and beyond. Paris was the center of the rail network by the way and giving it up would ensure German victory by freezing military transport and cutting off the French forces still holding the Maginot Line. The same was true of Moscow. Fighting from beyond it would be pointless, so the Stalinist authorities ordered men to stand where they were and fight. Horrifying yes but I simply cannot find anything to indicate that these measures weren't the chief reason why the Soviet Union survived 1941. Other explanations like German supply problems and the weather could only partly explain the failure of Barbarossa and definitely played a role. Remember the most frustrating fact of all...Stalin's mismanagement was most likely why the situation got as desperate as it did and why the Red Army was so unprepared for the invasion. Yes the consequences of these actions inflicted many disasters and injustices upon Red Army troops. Many times Generals were right to request a retreat and men accused of desertion were in fact following orders to reposition or were just lost etc. It was hard to say, so the Stalinists took no chances and as distasteful and horrifying as it was it's hard to argue that the measures the Communists took to ensure the Soviet Union's survival weren't...well...effective. Stalinist measures most definitely got in the way of the war's prosecution after the first year, but crucially Stalin came around to that fact as the war went on. Though it'd be untrue to say that he had come to trust his Generals and relaxed Communist influence over the military entirely. Certainly the desperate measures of 1941 were not borne out of any strategic insight or sound military rationality. Moscow was afraid of losing control, but that's just a sign of how seriously Soviet authorities took the threat they were facing. By comparison France never took the threat it faced from Germany seriously, and look where that got us all. It's crucial to understand that in both Europe and Eurasia there was a great and visceral fear of a man on horseback or a military man gone self-proclaimed Dictator. Since Francisco Franco, Miklos Horthy, and Philippe Petain all became that very nightmare it's harder than one thinks to accuse the Communists of having been irrationally paranoid... God I should go get a beer. You know you all don't need to read my crap if you don't want to lol.
  6. The Grille is armored though. Not well, but enough to be immune to rifle or machine gun fire. Even a PTRD would struggle against its protection from the front. I think the idea with it is to get it much closer to enemy positions and since the Russians didn't have the Bazooka it wasn't unreasonable to push something with 15mm of armor close enough to an enemy position that they start to fill the gun sight. Like 200ish meters. I know the Grille is often labeled as self propelled artillery but I'm unsure it actually was. It only carried 15 rounds in the hull for its gun. The Hummel only carried a few more sure but it would've operated in rear areas as artillery support where it would've been able to provision from an ammo carrier. The sIG 33 was just too short ranged for it to have been a very good self-propelled artillery but that might be why only 200 were built.
  7. Many Armies during World War 2 were still using regimental guns or infantry guns in a direct fire role to reduce particularly strong or pesky defensive positions. Quite a few light artillery pieces had sights for direct fire too. An entire class of armored vehicle existed to get a set of tracks under a 75mm gun and carry it right up into the thick of the fighting with the infantry ie: Assault Guns. In an age of bolt action rifles and machine guns capable of reaching out 2km it seemed rather insane to actually have big artillery guns still around the frontline firing at clear targets in the Napoleonic tradition. During World War 1 short ranged guns didn't prove to be unreasonably vulnerable to infantry fire as much as counter battery fire, but a pre-war belief that the Next War would be more fluid and mobile than it actually was meant most Armies had large numbers of light field guns that just weren't powerful enough to really defeat entrenchments and were overly reliant on shrapnel and case shot which was literally useless against infantry that had dug in even lightly. Erwin Rommel's troops suffered numerous barrages from French 75mm guns firing shrapnel shot early in the war and as long as they were in foxholes casualties were almost always negligible. (According to his book) The sIG 33 for instance is often depicted in most games like an artillery piece...but as far as I know it was actually incapable of indirect fire and had to be laid at a target over open sights. It only had a range of around 4,500 meters so it wouldn't have been a very practical weapon for indirect fire. Generally it was expected that infantry guns would be far away enough from their target so as not to face any acute danger from return fire. However by the 1930s it was being increasingly realized that the guns and their crews were highly exposed to mortar and artillery fire so their usefulness ended up being more circumstantial than mortars would be. Mortars were just becoming increasingly better at delivering stronger and more accurate fire, and were much less vulnerable and lighter. Most Armies were trying to replace their cannon companies with mortars but shortages may have precluded this so it didn't always happen. As far as I can tell only the Americans were serious about maintaining their own Regimental Cannon Companies in spite of all the alternatives around...but they had a very good Regimental Gun, the 105mm M3 with an 8,000 yard range making it practical for use behind defilade. It took until the Vietnam War for the Americans to come around to the fact that what they needed for the infantry was a proper Heavy-Mortar like the 120mm mortars the Germans and Soviets had adopted but for some reason nothing too useful for that was found until the Soltam K-6. As far as the question for the topic goes, yes, cannons and field artillery are highly valuable in a direct attack. It'll be crucial to both screen them properly and force the enemy to divert as much of his supporting fire as he's got to other parts of the battlefield than where your guns are. This means that you should consider very high minimum ranges for them, like never closer than 800m to a target and the farther the better. Distance is safety for the crews....
  8. lol how many accounts and narratives of World War 2 do we all rattle off today uncritically as gospel when it's just Cold War posturing from both sides? The Anglo-Americans with their concepts of rule-by-consent and citizen-soldiers absolutely never would've been able to stomach the kinds of human losses the Soviet Union did. They'd've all more than likely ended up going the way the French did as a peace/collaborationist faction used the confusion and chaos to seize power, legitimately or not, and then seek terms with the Nazi thugs. The unfortunate truth was many leaders in Western Europe in 1940 were more worried about preserving their Armies than the states those Armies were responsible for protecting. Not only was there a visceral fear of a communist coup running in rear areas, but for many of Europe's old-fashioned Monarchist leaders the collapse of Democracy presented them with many opportunities to roll back the achievements in social progress and equality yielded throughout the industrial booms of the 19th century. With the Gestapo's thugs ready to assist in rounding up liberals and intellectuals. Churchill was certainly not that type of Leader, but if the situation was bad enough it just wouldn't be up to him anymore. He'd have ended up like Paul Reynaud, valiantly vowing to fight from the end in a prison cell he was thrown in by his own countrymen... In the midst of crisis Paris and London consented to allowing their Generals to withdraw from understandably hopeless situations. This created a tendency for Generals to withdraw all the way to Paris and then keep right on withdrawing into the Loire or the Bordeaux...with fatal consequences for the Third Republic and even worse consequences for the Republic's many Jewish and minority citizens it was responsible for protecting. A year later the Soviet Union would tolerate no withdrawals, and told its Generals what to think...or else. Who's capital withstood the full weight of a Nazi onslaught in the end? Yes it led to many disasters, yes it led to much resentment between Stalinist authorities and its soldiers in the Red Army. The greatest disaster of them all however would be from a Nazi victory. It's true that Lend-Lease aid wasn't really perceived on the battlefield until around late 1942 or so. However, the Russian narrative plays down the most important element of Lend-Lease aid which was not hardware, but food. When the invasion began the civilian economy nearly collapsed due to the loss of huge swathes farmland and food stocks. Soviet agriculture was barely out of a phase in it's history where a bad harvest might well lead to famine even if Stalinist authorities weren't actively manipulating food supplies just to punish recalcitrant Ukrainian nationalists. Soviet authorities couldn't hide when foreign made equipment was at the front, but what they did hide for years was the docks of Arkhangelsk spent their first year packed with vital food supplies and rations for soldiers and factories workers barely subsisting on watery soups and a foul tea made of pine-needles to ward off scurvy. The last functioning thread of the civilian economy in the dire year of 1941 was literally the food network and that is largely thanks to huge imports of food stocks from the Anglo-Americans. If the civilian economy collapsed then war production would collapse with it with catastrophic consequences for the war effort. Victory over the Fascist Menace was obtained through the collective effort of the Allied powers and the coalition they assembled to triumph over it. Any one of them could've survived on their own, but precisely none of the Big 3 would've been able to achieve victory without the other 2.
  9. True or not that's a pretty narrow view to take on the series' prospects. The audience for wargaming isn't huge here by any means, and probably pars rather well customers in Europe of which i'm sure UK customers are a relevant slice. In any case, I as an American have no inclination to weigh the games for purchase based on the presence of US forces in it. I doubt i'm really alone on that.
  10. Maybe just my own read but experience seemed to show the best thing you could do for your tanks was to arm them heavier instead of armour them heavier. Protection was good for the crew of a tank but firepower was the best protection of all and a far better use of surplus weight than armor.
  11. I saw a Paratrooper in Fortress Italy arc, like legit lob a Bazooka's rocket into one of those Italian Fiat-17s from 250m away once. It was awesome, an absolutely crazy shot.
  12. Here's what I found, and it's consistent with Syrian Army organization in SF2. Motor Infantry would use BTRs or BMPs to get around, could be either depending on availability but I think BMPs would be in the minority. https://www.battleorder.org/rus-ussr-squad-graphics https://www.battleorder.org/ussr-bmp-afghansky And the Company. That website has other formations as well. Syrian organization in SF2 is entirely consistent with these tables. It'd be hard to find anything more official, and this looks reasonable enough combined with what Battlefront assembled for the game.
  13. In the British Army though a tank Regiment had around 48 vehicles each. Around the same as an American Battalion which had 45. http://niehorster.org/013_usa/44_org/div-arm/_armd-div.html US Army Armored Division ^ http://niehorster.org/017_britain/44_org/amoured divs/07-ad.html ^7th Armored (UK) on June 6th. Aside from different and confusing use of a title both of these formations were detailed the same way. The US Army didn't use a Brigade HQ because it was included among General McNair's many staff "de-fatting" cuts. They went straight to regiments. So US Tank Battalion = UK Tank Regiment. A Combat Command of the Armored variety would be around 50 tanks or less though they were not strictly "tiny tank divisions" per se. US Army Combat Commands could be successful in far flung battles with lots of room for maneuver and wide force-to-space ratios...they were extremely out of their element anywhere the force densities were high and generally ended up fighting under nearby Infantry Divisions where they could count on that Division's support such as at Bastogne (although they were at the town and defending it before the 101st showed up). Since they tended to fall under support of a parent unit rather than carry the independent Cavalry-style action they were planned for, they weren't very useful in the ETO anywhere the terrain wasn't very favorable. They had favorable terrain in southern and central France, but in the Ardennes they couldn't maneuver freely. There's less and less mention of them after Operation Nordwind although i'm pretty sure they continued to see use in various forms until the US Army conducted a major reorganization in the 1960s. Today's Regimental Combat Team is only distantly related to them. I think the main problem though was that they were essentially independent Commands and fought far away from their parent, which meant that they fought beyond the range of their Division's artillery and infantry components and could suffer heavily without these items. They presented Panzer Divisions with isolated, bite-size targets that had already saved the Germans the trouble of having to cut them off from friendlies. In practice, they usually retreated to the protection of the nearest Infantry Division...but then why bother with them?
  14. Commonwealth Armored Brigades were misleadingly named Doug, as that very table reveals a much larger unit with not one but three regiments of armor underneath the Brigade HQ plus infantry. A Combat Command rarely exceeded the size of an over strength Regiment even with attachments, infantry, engineers, etc. With their parent Division they'd fight as a Division, with it's absolutely crushing weight of artillery in support and greater infantry component. The Combat Commands fought detached from their parent Division, and during the Bulge they paid for it.
  15. The Syrian Army in Shock Force 2 is applicable actually, and you'd be surprised how little changed between 1945 and 1989. The greatest difference was in equipment. After the war the Soviet Union could mechanize most of its forces to which I think Group Soviet Forces Germany was fully mechanized. Anti-aircraft missile batteries were standard and I think just about every Motorized Rifle Division had an attached Tank Regiment. ToE for a Russian Rifle Division of 1944 http://niehorster.org/012_ussr/44_organ/div_rifle/44_rd.htm ToE Russian Motor Rifle Division of 1980 https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fe/Soviet_Motor_Rifle_DIV_1980s.svg The basic structure didn't change much, the main difference was in quality of equipment with more ubiquitous mechanization. These formations were still relatively light on organic support, engineers, signals, recon, maintenance, hospitals, etc all remained battalions with only a single artillery regiment organic to the table. This was because artillery in the Red Army was and continued to be, pooled at a GHQ.
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