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Broadsword56

Flanking The Fortress - Hill 531 (Tunisia) - WIP

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It’s all very easy but the time consuming bit is building the battles due to the maps.

How are people approaching the map building problem? Just take a stock of maps for say CMFI, if that is the setting, and edit the nearest match to the required terrain for a given battle?

All the best,

Kip.

PS

Thats the way I and a couple of guys handle it in our current PzC Sicily scenario. Pick the closest map in the stock game, or from the community and edit to get the right size and any major features. A quick way to get great maps.

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Thanks for the links, Byrden!

That last link is a great photo -- one I'd never seen before You can clearly see the the "saddle" where the little track goes up through the hills. This is where the US outflanked the right "shoulder" of Hill 609. That's this scenario. Only that little shoulder of Hill 609 appears on my map. If you look to the left you see how steep Hill 609 was on its left side, and that's where those cliffs you show in the closeup would have been.

Glad to see there's still some interest in this map/scenario project.

Thanks again to Snake Eye, who has coded some terrific AI for the Germans.

I had a solo test going (US vs the German AI) and was about 40 min into the scenario when I stopped -- I want to wait for the new CMBN 2.01 MG lethality improvements to reach CMFI and see how they affect Flanking The Fortress, becuse this scenario has HUGE open and long fields of fire for both sides' MGs. The Yanks a have a long and exposed movement to contact to reach Hill 531, so they could be slaughtered if the MGs become more dangerous than they already are. I'm also going to add a lot more offmap artillery for the US (divisional arty) so they can keep much more smoke going for a much longer time. Without continuous smoke cover on the approach, this attack is suicide for the US. Now that I've tried to replicate the battle I'm amazed that the Americans captured 531 with such light casualties. It was a real feat of arms, so no wonder it's still studied today in military classrooms.

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I just wanted to give a little bump to this citation...an amazing set of small-unit action references! Endless enjoyment to be had here...

A question, though: Where did you find the maps with this document? The PDF (and others on the site) only has the text with no map graphics.

Thanks again!

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Thanks, Panzermiller!

The Maneuver Center of Excellence separated the paper maps from the student officer reports and digitized them, then filed them here:

http://www.benning.army.mil/library/content/Virtual/Donovanpapers/maps/

You search on the name of the student officer who wrote the accompanying report. In this case it would be BRANDT, Maj. Arnold N.

Although the student maps aren't drawn to precise scales and are based on the officer's memory and AARs, they're really worth looking at because they're made by the men who were there. You can learn a lot by, for exmple, superimposing them over Google Earth and/or accurate topo maps to learn more about unit positions and movements in a particular battle. The reports often make illuminating reading and are excellent source material for CM scenarios.

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BTW, after playing with the new 2.01 machine guns in CMBN, I already expect Flanking the Fortress to play entirely differently once GL is out.

I'm rather concerned that the lack of microcover (boulders, etc.) will make these naked rocky Tunisian hills more lethal for attacking infantry than they really were. But we'll see...

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@snake eye: Thanks for offering to test this scenario again using GL.

One thing I would already want to change -- even before GL -- is to add much more US offmap artillery support. The smoke available now isn't enough to cover the Americans for the entire length of their advance across the valley to Hill 531. Without the smoke the attack is suicide. The real AARs make mention of divisional artillery being involved in the preparatory fires. I have some Long Tom guns in there now, but there should be a divisional support element with a proper OOB.

It will be interesting to see whether the new MG improvements to the engine will give the US HMGs a better ability to support the attack from their hilltop overwatch positions. In my short test they didn't accomplish very much and were largely neutralized by German mortaring.

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Hi Broadsword56,

You are right without smoke cover the attack is rather a suicidal one. However, once you have reached the area near the cliff and between the two hills (using artillery barrage and smoke) you are, if I can say it, safe, but only If the German observers do not have registered that area. The problem then is to move away from that position. Personally, I favor the right hook movement, using the low grounds cover.

But that move is only efficient if the attacking forces are not exhausted and have ammo. Usually I have a fresh platoon moving through the one being there to do the attack.

At that moment I have again a need for smoke cover.

That smoke cover is needed, specially, if I have platoons moving from the right hill downward and toward the attacking one to join the attack.

That platoon is particularly exposed on the hill crest and on the downward slope.

To resume my thoughts about the way I have handle up to now that battle, artillery is the answer. HMG are put to good effect to slow down the enemy and in putting down an interdiction fire along the hill crest. They are somehow exposed to mortar fire, if they are on a hill crest. So, it is better to move them in such a way that they are not viewed directly from the enemy. That can be done for just two or three of them. Doing so, means that you cover the right and or the left side, but not both. Is it worth doing so?

What game engine improvement will we have for these MG’s ?

Coming back to artillery HE barrage are not specially the answer. They seem terrific, the views of the barrages are fantastic and beautiful (to watch, not to be under) however and even on that bare and rocky ground of that Tunisian hill the casualties are rather low. In RL they could be low on some instances, but right here (with no cover), I don’t think it matches reality. Will it be better on GL ?

However smoke is surely the answer and it will be considerably needed to hide the attacking forces. That does not mean that HE should not be used. It must be used at the same time.

One thing I have found on GL is that the LOS is such that in one battle I did not see the enemy crouching in their foxholes dug on the top of a slope. My troops were on the other side in houses and these areas were in plain view of some of the guys. They saw a AA truck passing by, but missed the guys. I only saw them with quite a surprise in the AAR preview map.

That could be an asset in the scenario, if the enemy is not able to see the US as it had before. That we will learn testing the battle with GL loaded in CMFI

Could you send me the file with the added artillery or do you want me to modify the last one I had worked on the A.I?

Cheer

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In regards to your answer to my question in another thread about German AI for this scenario... DAMN. I only use German units so...

On another note, I wish that RoboQ campaign generator worked for CMx2. That is one of my reasons for still spinning CMx1. Not meaning to hijack the thread.

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Hi Snake Eye,

Please go ahead and add whatever smoke-capable artillery to the scenario that you feel would make it better. Then you can send me your saved scenario file and we can use that from now on.

If you want to adjust some of the US HMG starting positions to give them better fields of fire and better protection, please go ahead. The only requirement is that they start on those hilltops, which is where they were historically.

I think the low German casualties from the US artillery are realistic. From my understanding of this battle, the Germans had some good cover under and among the rocks. Consider this: If artillery could have killed a significant enough number of Germans on Hill 531, then why did the US find it necessary to make a frontal infantry attack and, ultimately, to fight them from boulder to boulder? It must be because only close-assaulting infantry was capable of dislodging them.

By the way, I hope your long trip to Tunisia went well. Since you have spent so much time there, can you tell me whether this map looks realistic for this northern part of the country? I tried to do the best I could using online photo sources, Google Earth, etc. I hope I captured the feeling of the place.

QUOTE=snake_eye;1443781]Hi Broadsword56,

You are right without smoke cover the attack is rather a suicidal one. However, once you have reached the area near the cliff and between the two hills (using artillery barrage and smoke) you are, if I can say it, safe, but only If the German observers do not have registered that area. The problem then is to move away from that position. Personally, I favor the right hook movement, using the low grounds cover.

But that move is only efficient if the attacking forces are not exhausted and have ammo. Usually I have a fresh platoon moving through the one being there to do the attack.

At that moment I have again a need for smoke cover.

That smoke cover is needed, specially, if I have platoons moving from the right hill downward and toward the attacking one to join the attack.

That platoon is particularly exposed on the hill crest and on the downward slope.

To resume my thoughts about the way I have handle up to now that battle, artillery is the answer. HMG are put to good effect to slow down the enemy and in putting down an interdiction fire along the hill crest. They are somehow exposed to mortar fire, if they are on a hill crest. So, it is better to move them in such a way that they are not viewed directly from the enemy. That can be done for just two or three of them. Doing so, means that you cover the right and or the left side, but not both. Is it worth doing so?

What game engine improvement will we have for these MG’s ?

Coming back to artillery HE barrage are not specially the answer. They seem terrific, the views of the barrages are fantastic and beautiful (to watch, not to be under) however and even on that bare and rocky ground of that Tunisian hill the casualties are rather low. In RL they could be low on some instances, but right here (with no cover), I don’t think it matches reality. Will it be better on GL ?

However smoke is surely the answer and it will be considerably needed to hide the attacking forces. That does not mean that HE should not be used. It must be used at the same time.

One thing I have found on GL is that the LOS is such that in one battle I did not see the enemy crouching in their foxholes dug on the top of a slope. My troops were on the other side in houses and these areas were in plain view of some of the guys. They saw a AA truck passing by, but missed the guys. I only saw them with quite a surprise in the AAR preview map.

That could be an asset in the scenario, if the enemy is not able to see the US as it had before. That we will learn testing the battle with GL loaded in CMFI

Could you send me the file with the added artillery or do you want me to modify the last one I had worked on the A.I?

Cheer

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@broadsword56

About Tunisia, the CMFI “Flanking the Fortress” landscape could be one seen there. However the landscape is quite different following the area you are traveling. The East is rather a coastal plain and it differs slightly from the North to the south. The northern part has more vegetation on the ground and bushes. In the south you will find less vegetation. But if it rains and it does rain in February the grass appear just after but does not stay too long. The vegetation is a dry one and very short.

In the North and West of Tunisia there are quite a lot of mountains. Moving away from the coastal plain you get into hills and a bit farther in mountainous areas.

These mountains in the west go down from the coast, along the Algerian border and toward the south where they lose height gradually.

The western part in the south has arroyos, canyons and high plateau. The centre is a flat surface with the Choot El Jerid (a salt lake) and near the coastal plain you have some hills between Gabes, Mareth and Tataouine running parallel to the sea. On their right the costal plain, on their left the desert is gradually starting all the way to the Algerian border and toward the deep south..

I posted some pictures to show you these differences. The 6th one is from the Chenini Tatouine area showing the typical vegetation.

I haven’t traveled to the west that time being in the south. I wanted to go to Kasserine in January 2012, but snow was falling like it never had for more than 50 years. In September 2012 the situation did not allow me to go there the way I would have liked to do it. In January and February of this year the events prevented me to do it once again. Kasserine is not that far from the Algerian border and Tebessa. You find there fantastic landscape.

I shall try to get back to the scenario using V1.10 CMFI –GL and see how it goes. If I can slightly modify the landscape in a way that it looks like what we are finding over there, I shall attempt to do it.

Cheer

mapofthearea_zps48836bab.jpg

Photos 1 & 2

GKE080506-43_zps16c3b621.jpg

PICT1853_zpsaf321141.jpg

Photos 3 & 4

DSC00733_zpsf661d728.jpg

DSC00737_zps16da065f.jpg

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Merci beaucoup, Snake Eye!

Fantastic photos -- this is what I enjoy so much about wargaming: the way the games lead me to explore and read more to learn about the history and the places on the maps.

(I think #4 looks a lot like my El Guettar map.)

You are the expert on Tunisian terrain, so please go ahead and alter Flanking The Fortress in any way that you feel makes it more faithful to the actual place.

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Thanks Broadsword56,

BTW # 6 has been taken in the South near Tataouine and or Douze. I did not have a GPS on my camera at the time.

I shall do what I can with the map within the CMFI-GL limits.

Cheer

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That’s right, the movie location is in and around the village of Ksar Hadada. Its location is above Tataouine around 30 kms going North West, 10 kms after Ghomrassen .

These pictures are the village surrounding, old houses and a small lane used as a model for the movie stage craftmen, the valley and the caves used for some movie shots and the tourist’s post reminding them of Star War if they did not know about it!

The Jerrycan and the canister for Pak ammo (in exibit there, having nothing to do with Lucas movie)) are vintage and were initially found around the village. Rommel’s AK and the Italians retreated here and fought rearguard battles from Mareth to Gabes to slow down the 8th Army. The village is located on the Dahar hills being parallel to the sea I wrote about before.

Cheer

PICT9181_zpsea45ac19.jpg

PICT9177_zps7d759dfe.jpg

PICT9183_zps1b13abe1.jpg

PICT9187_zpsc2f4d48b.jpg

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Sorry, Blazing 88's, but I never did release this, despite a lot of work on it by me and Snake Eye. Several reasons:

1. I discovered only after I made the map that CMx2 just doesn't simulate boulders and large rock-covered hills very well. The swirling fight in and around those boulders on Hill 531 at close quarters is what made this battle interesting to me. Otherwise, it's just a dull frontal assault across open ground.

2. Snake Eye -- God bless him -- took a keen interest in this scenario. He not only wrote some German AI plans for it, but posted real world pix and info that you see earlier on this thread. He also modified the hill terrain a bit to rough up the elevations and improved the German barbed wire defenses. I never had time to properly playtest the scenario vs. the AI, and I've since lost interest in standalone scenarios vs. AI.

3. Then CMFI got upgraded to the new and more realistic machinegun lethality. The German forces in this battle had a huge number of LMGs and HMGs. So, that plus open terrain, plus frontal assault, plus insufficient modeling of cover from rocks and boulders would probably mean a US bloodbath and a boring battle.

4. I'd considered releasing the scenario as-is, just to make it available to the community in case someone wanted to develop it further into something fun and challenging. But I don't like to put out WIPs that aren't tested or ready to play -- because invariably, some people don't bother to read the readme and disclaimers, and then complain that "this thing sux" or lament the time they wasted trying to play it.

I looked around my files for it just now, but I don't even have the scenario anymore. Snake Eye might, if you want to ask him. Otherwise, I guess it was just a noble experiment that failed to deliver on its early promise.

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Damn, thanks anyways Broadsword56... If Snake Eye see's this bump and would by chance have this scenario still, I would sure like to have a look at it please. ;)

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Yes, I have it. send me a mail.

@broadsword56

I agree with You. I still don't understand how the US attackers made it with only few casualties. However, I have found some reasons that could explain it. Will tell You more later, if You judge it worth.

Cheer

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@ Blazing 88's: Feel free to tinker with it and make it into something enjoyable to play -- you might want to wait to take advantages of any new features of the CMFI upgrade, though, which I understand is coming soon. And it would be nice if you do play it, to share any AAR or sitreps and screenshots here on this thread so we can all be entertained. :-)

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