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Halftrack gunners...

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I too believe that the sdkfz 250/251 gunners holocaust is not the way things went in real life. It certainly looks to me that as soon as a gunner in the game pops his head up to open fire, he seems to turn into a bullet-magnet of ridiculous proportions and gets killed instantly.

Yeah, those MG42s are dangerous so they *are* bullet magnets. If the HT is 300m - 400m away and there are closer infantry for the enemy to deal with the HT will take almost no fire at all and is free to be a royal pain. But if they are the pointy end - expect a hail of bullets.

In my experience the US halftrack gunners are better off, be it slightly.

I think you had better test this because that is not my experience at all. US HT gunners die fast and furious and their mounts are actually vulnerable to 7.92 fire so the vehicle and driver are also in danger.

What I see playing the game is that the German HTs are invulnerable to .30 cal fire so against allied infantry they have little to fear. As long as they stay buttoned. But the Allied infantry can kill all the occupants either as they fight over the sides of the HT or if they can get any height advantage they can spray the inside. One time in Sticking it out my opponent used his HTs like APCs and one got too close to a building my SMG equipped fire team on the second story cleaned the vehicle out of live occupants.

On the other hand German infantry can KO a US HT with just their rifle and MG42 fire. Not to mention KO their occupants buttoned or not. The difference between the two vehicles are defiantly modeled in the game.

We discussed this as a group before - just once mind you:D

http://www.battlefront.com/community/showthread.php?t=109433

After reading that thread I was left with the impression that things in the game are about right and that we are / were (cause I changed my behaviour) driving our HTs too close to the action.

Of course I say that and at the same time I am about to use some HTs as APCs in a game where the time is winding down. I am only doing that because I am desperate and I recognize I am doing it wrong. :)

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While i am not an expert i highly doubt that halftracks were such vulnerable to small arms fire. Angled plates and hard steels should give good protection vs .30 at any range.

Some of the grogs here for a comment?

Depends if its AP or ball ammo. By the next module BF will have figured out a way to differentiate load-outs between the 2 :D

Here is a threat that talks about 30 Cal M2 AP:

http://www.thehighroad.org/archive/index.php/t-306879.html

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Has anyone played Red Orchestra? Weapon performance modelling is pretty good in it. HT gunners don't last very long once the vehicle is in range of unsuppressed enemy (soviets in this case). The only thing is that in real life a gunner would duck and keep his head down if under fire but CM doesn't facilitate this as such (does it?)

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I believe it is due to the player we have so many casualties on tank crews, just as is the case with half tracks. The pixelmann could not possibly know that it is driving towards a threat and as such, it is you who should take the precaution of buttoning up or keeping your men out of harm.

Whenever there is a dangerous area within 300 meters, button. I believe they would have done it in reality too. This way I have few casualties in tank crews, and also have to (I think) realistically rely on other units to spot for them.

I am inclined to agree with all of that. I habitually button up all my armor when I expect to come into contact with the enemy in nearly all my games. But that is because on the maps we have available, contact almost always occurs within lethal small arms range. Once (if) we get into wide open spaces where common opening ranges are > 1000-1500 m, I am more likely going to leave them unbuttoned for better spotting.

Michael

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Yeah, seen it before. Discussed it as not quite in line with how they were used in real life by 1944:

http://www.battlefront.com/community/showthread.php?t=109433

Ofcourse. Didn't you know the Wehrmacht used SPWs as trucks because it had too much resources and fuel. Please give me a break from these "experts". :D

There obviously was found a bug. Has this bug been solved in the meanwhile?

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Ofcourse. Didn't you know the Wehrmacht used SPWs as trucks because it had too much resources and fuel. Please give me a break from these "experts". :D

There obviously was found a bug. Has this bug been solved in the meanwhile?

German optimistic propaganda film = reality? In 1944 the Germans lost panzers in counterattacks to PAK...

Push SPW into the spearhead against unsuppressed infantry and you'll lose, at best SPW gunners, at worse the whole SPW goes up in smoke.

The hey day of SPW charging positions was arguably a short period, on the eastern front around 1942/43 and even then it was a/ generally done as a surprise attack in rear areas or b/ on heavily suppressed opposition.

The main key - and as stated in the film you link to is combined arms. To be fair I suspect that the Soviets in your film are already heavily suppressed which has allowed the SPW to get in close whilst their supporting armour and flamethrowing SPW keep the defenders heads down. You can do this in CMBN as well (weel no flamethrowers) using good overwatch and suppressing the defenders with arty whilst covering your flanks with smoke.

You get your SPW in close though on suppressed troops and the gunners will be creamed. It's not that a great armoured shield...

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Ofcourse. Didn't you know the Wehrmacht used SPWs as trucks because it had too much resources and fuel.

No, they used SPW as trucks because they could move troops in "relative" safety in places that trucks would just be moving morgues. Long range small arms fire and shell bursts that would shred a truck wouldn't faze a hanomag.

It's entirely possible to use even american halfies to storm a position, if you prep it right with enough HE and suppressive direct fire small arms. When you've got that much local superiority, you can do pretty much anything you want. That's the kind of local superiority the Germans attained with regularity, for whatever reason (whether it be their tactics or their enemies' multifarious failings) in the early war period, but which they managed less often in the latter part of the war. That vid proves nothing about how it was practical to use half tracks, and is at best irrelevant, and at worst disinformation.

Consider that BFC use the same ballistic modelling for small arms terminal effects against armour as they do for main gun rounds from tanks. If the model says "Penetration", the bullet went through. Or is that all borked too?

Consider also that even if it didn't [edit: I mean "if small arms ammo couldn't penetrate a half track anywhere, at any range"], assaulting anywhere the defenders could shoot down on you requires that the defenders be thoroughly suppressed, for the simple fact that there's no armour on the top of the troop compartment. Assaulting using half tracks requires that the defenders be suppressed. End of. If you can manage that, then the "rolling coffins" are a great way to get the Gropos across the beaten ground of adjacent but distant supporting positions and indirect support fires quickly and without ticking up their fatigue meters.

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Re: the video:

Since the commentary is in German some may not get all the details.

This was a training film for officers. It's about countering a breakthrough. When the SPWs attack the enemy has already been under fire from artillery, a Panzerjäger and HMGs. The SPWs drop off Grenadiers in the old German trenches that had been overrun.

The SPWs only engage directly after the gap is closed - then it is their task to deter the enemy from opening the gap again (with support from artillery).

A classical combined arms maneuver - would probably make a nice scenario.

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The enemy has been under fire, but the attack is lead with SPWs and they lead the attack and drive THROUGH the enemy positions and cut them off. It is not even mentioned that they should stay back and only support the infantry.

And after cutting the enemy off, then the SPWs even are placed IN FRONT of the regained HKL - to protect it.

It is also demonstrated that the SPWs are endangered by antitank teams, not by bullets.

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The enemy has been under fire, but the attack is lead with SPWs and they lead the attack and drive THROUGH the enemy positions and cut them off. It is not even mentioned that they should stay back and only support the infantry.

And after cutting the enemy off, then the SPWs even are placed IN FRONT of the regained HKL - to protect it.

It is also demonstrated that the SPWs are endangered by antitank teams, not by bullets.

Ack :)

That is a combo training/propaganda film. It needs to be taken with a pound of salt, not just a pinch. Or do you think a 1943 US infantry training film that said the MG42 isn't a big deal and can be easily countered was telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

Read the tactical manuals for PzGrens and it does not advocate driving straight into the midst of active defenses. Halftracks were intended to support infantry, not overrun enemy positions. I'm sure the training manual is more accurate a source than this dramatization.

Plus, just ask yourself a simple question... why were halftracks abandoned as a design after the war? The Americans actually stopped producing halftracks before the war ended. The Czechs, who continued producing the SPW251 (OT-810) after the war, got rid of the exposed MG position entirely. In fact, they put an armored roof over the back. Simple answer... halftracks failed to perform their intended tactical role as desired. Hence why all modern infantry, from the 1950s on, has been moved about in fully enclosed AFVs that generally have way better protection for the gunners.

It's simple physics at work. The shield provides decent protection from enemy fire that is dead on straight ahead. Anything even remotely to the sides was unprotected. A gunner pivoting too much left or right would also be exposed to fire from the front. And finally, there is a pretty sizable slot in the front of the shield which offers zero protection from incoming fire. That greatly limits tactical flexibility in the real world.

In short, pour enough fire at a halftrack and you're pretty much going to come away with a wounded or dead gunner. Gunners stayed alive by observing three cardinal rules of engaging enemy forces, especially dug in ones:

1. Always keep your distance

2. Never show your flanks

3. Use combined arms to suppress

Do that in the game and you'll have great results. All other actions your milage will vary :D As many posters have already said, gamers are notorious for bad tactics. Especially when the player has thin skinned vehicles at his disposal.

Steve

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BTW, modern tactics for IFVs is pretty much the same as WW2. Get close to the enemy, drop off infantry and provide covering fire while the infantry does the hard work of closing and killing. The more suppressed the enemy is ahead of this action the better.

And here's some stuff from the German PzGren manual dated 1942:

39. If the armored halftrack comes under hostile fire, the hatches are closed on the command "Luken dicht!". [note, this does imply that the gunner takes cover IMHO]

44. When the armored halftrack is halted, the fire fight is led with the onboard MG, since only by firing during a halt can you effectively hit targets.

Short bursts fo fire while in motion, on recognized enemy targets at moderate speed and at close ranges forces the adversary into cover and prevents him from firing his weapons. This effect is to be taken advantage of by immediately stopping and firing at the halt, to destroy the paralyzed adversary with aimed fire. The squad's safety is increased by this fighting method.

fire from the moving armored halftrack can at sudden collisions with the enemy have a strong destructive effect on mass targets like convoys and retreating adversaries. However, fighting the adversary from the halted armored halftrack is always to be striven for in such cases.

45. Halted firing positions are chosen so that the vehicle is mostly hidden from the view of the enemy. The better the fire position is chosen, the less the enemy recognizes or is in the position to fight, the longer can be taken advantage of the firing halt.

A firing halt should not be interrupted generally without a recognizable hit. In open terrain, in the proximity of the enemy, and during hostile shelling the firing halt should not last longer than 15-25 seconds.

note the emphasis on picking firing positions and firing while stopped. I'm not going to type out the rest of the stuff in the manual, but there are more references to the HTs picking their stopping spots very carefully and staying on the move. Players are notorious for not keeping things on the move, thus allowing the enemy to concentrate fire and increase their chances of scoring a hit. The PzGren manual is pretty clear that this bad tactics.

Steve

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When you stop and think about it a person behind a metal gun shield is the exact or very close replica of the metal human shaped targets used in shooting practice.

Now imagine taking a metal human steel target and have it protruding halfway through the sunroof of a car. The silhouette is about as good a target as one can imagine.

That is one serious bullet magnet. Anyone who has shot at metal targets knows the real danger of being hit by bullet fragments which is why you always wear eye protection. Automatic weapons fire greatly increases that risk.

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I also would like to know the reality of infantry jumping out of a moving halftrack. Even at 2-5 mpg there is a real risk of ankle, knee or some other injury. I'm not saying it wasn't done or common practice, but I've had the opportunity of trying it a few times with a rifle and gear and even on pool table smooth ground it's far more difficult than it looks and the risk of needless injury is present.

On uneven ground the risks go up considerably. It would seem that if at all possible you'd want to bring a personnel carrier to a complete stop and have infantry exit through the door-not over the sides. Same hold true to ingress a vehicle. Best if done at a halt-which may not always possible. Entering a moving vesicle-especially if its moving over 5mph is not as easy as it looks and you can get injured far more easily than you might realize.

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You're very much correct that the shield is a "bullet magnet". It gives enemy gunners a solid target to aim for. Definitely not the best thing for the guy behind it.

As for your question about dismounting while on the move, the manual does provide for this. On the command of "Aufspringen" ("Abspringen" was for normal dismounting through the door) the soldiers go over the sides and some go out the back. The Truppführer (assistant squad leader) was responsible for closing the doors. The manual specifies that both Aufspringen and Abspringen were to be practiced both on the move and halted. The manual states that when dismounting on the move the vehicle should be going no faster than 10kmh (6mph).

If you look at the dismounting in the film clip you can see why it probably wasn't done in real life much if at all. One of the soldiers that dismounted looked like he might not get back up :D The chances of situationally relevant injury are huge. Even something that a soldier could shake off in an hour or two is not something you want one of your squad members to have. A well drilled Squad should be able to dismount from a halt within a few seconds. If the HT was in a situation where it couldn't afford a few seconds to halt I'm guessing everybody was already fooked.

Steve

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Aside from injury from jumping off a moving vehicle there is the very real possibility of an unintentional discharge of a hot weapon-bad enough with a bolt action or semi auto and even worse with an automatic weapon. Training and experience lessens the risk. Poorly trained and inexperienced troops will tend to make more of those careless errors.

A grenade that unintentionally went off would be a disaster.

IDK-the jumping off a moving vehicle looks great on film, but I really gotta wonder about it.

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It's getting ridiculous. The OKH movies were produced not for fun and they did not teach a wrong use of the weapons.

There is a bug with HT gunners as soon as they use the weapon and denying the historical use will not solve the bug.

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The HT gunner's head is really a small target. All that is being argued I think is, that infantry normally does not shoot so well, only when aiming at HT gunners they all become sharpshooters. I mean I have seen soldiers shooting at soldiers behind waist high walls for minutes (where the other party exposes head AND upper body), but when it comes to HTs, the gunner usually gets it within the first few shots fired. It is a particular problem with infantry accuracy and it arose with the machinegune improvement that also improved infantry accuracy in general. There is really no safe distance (except maybe 500m+) to use HTs. The only way I use them now is with an 10m covered arc at all times, this is really something that should be looked at.

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What with the different behaviour of HT gunners and TCs? A TC will button up when coming under fire while a gunner will not (and his replacement neither).

Or am I mistaken in my impression?

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I feel that the general way that the Gunner in CMx2 is portrayed is pretty wrong as well. I don't know if its changed but I remember that the gunner did not fire by aiming through the vision slit above the weapon but instead stuck his entire head out from behind the metal shield.

That would mean that he exposes much more than just his head to enemy fire.

Sure the shield might act like a bullet magnet, but it is still just a "chest sized" shield.

We all know how "easy" it is to hit a metal chest sized (half body) target from a good distance. Especially if you are being fired at or the target is moving, or both.

And even if you do hit that target, only a small portion of it would have the gunners head behind it.

So there is no guarantee that you will damage the gunner (who is wearing a helmet as well, thus giving some protection to shrapnel from penetrations).

All in all it should be pretty hard to hit the gunner from any greater distance.

And yet it seems (anectdotal, I know) that in CMx2 every time I fire with a halftrack all the enemies are suddenly snipers.

EDIT: Clear example of what I mean:

8ecca840c4ab.jpg

Compare that to this reenactment photo where the gunner is crouching down a bit more:

2SdKfz%20251%20half-track.jpg

The difference might seem small, but from the front you would be seeing a full head sticking up above that shield, whilst at the bottom one you would just be seeing the top of the helmet.

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FWIW, I do appreciate that halftrack gunners are prime targets, and even more when the halftrack is within 250 - 300 meters. But not when there are at least eight enemy teams/squads, with one or even two MG34/42's per team, and two Stugs blazing away at you and your three airborne infantry units, from at least four different positions.

But as soon as the halftrack-gunner gets up to the HTMG, it seems like everybody forgets about everything but him. Instant kill.

I don't mind a (very) high kill percentage for HT-gunners, but it's the 100% rate that annoys me. Even when it's true that we gamers deploy the halftracks to close and very badly, (I think Bill Hardenberger is the epitome of being carefull with his troops and look at his latest AAR against c3k!) then in real life chance and/or luck would make it possible to get survivors.

Considering the losses I might be biased, but I can't remember a single 250/251 in combat that hadn't got his gunner shot.

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