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ncc1701e

Artillery advices needed

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Hi all,

I would like some advice regarding artillery support. Each time I am facing a scenario with multiple support assets, I am wondering which one is the best for the support mission I would like to do.
Do you have some advices on when using what between the following?

60mm mortar
81mm mortar
120mm mortar
105mm howitzer
122mm howitzer
130mm field gun
155mm howitzer

What is the major difference between a mortar and a howitzer and a field gun?

Sorry, I realize this may be some basic questions for you.

Cheers

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Howitzer can fire at a steep/high angle ( a bit like a mortar trajectory) and thus can shoot at targets closer than a "gun".  Good for landing on targets behind walls for example.  Not sure if that effect is modeled in CM.

All calibers are good vs infantry - altho' the larger (105mm) and larger are increasingly effective vs buildings and vehicles - so may be a waste to use large caliber vs infantry (unless inf is your primary problem).

The smaller calibers are usually faster to call for and arrive - so 60mm and smaller can be kept close to your inf and used for direct fire (assuming the mortars are safe from enemy fire).

 

 

 

Edited by Erwin

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As a ex-artillery officer, here are the principal differences between the types of platforms.

Mortars are high angle only and are incapable of direct fire.  Given an equal caliber, a mortar will have a higher rate of fire than a howitzer or a field gun.  Mortars (except for the very largest) can be broken down and man packed or carried by improvised transport (like the bed of a pickup truck).  For getting directly behind tall intervening terrain with fire, they are a preferred weapon.  Most effective against infantry, limited effectiveness against vehicles, emplacements and buildings.   Lethality inceases with caliber but portabillity/mobility decreases.

Howitzers are capable of direct fire, indirect fire and high angle fire.  They are either towed or self propelled.  Can get really big calibers.  Very effective against infantry, limited against vehicles and emplacements.  Preferred weapon of choice of you don't have airpower and want to level a position, a building or structure.  Biggest variety of ammuntion type - illumination, Smoke - Base Ejecting, Smoke - WP, Cannister (anti-infantry direct fire),HE, ICM, DPICM,  and smart munitions and variable time and time fused ammunition.

Field Guns are direct fire weapons and in a pinch, can do low angle indirect fire, limiting their range and usefulness.  A anti-tank gun is a example of a specialized field gun, for example.  Can get to big calibers like howitzers and are either towed or self propelled.  Not a lot of field guns are made anymore due to their limitations as tanks have largely taken over the roles the field guns used to provide.

In general, the larger the caliber, the bigger the lethal zone.  The larger the round, the smaller the CEP (Circular Error Probable) footprint - a fancy way of saying that if you want to hit a point target, you get the biggest caliber you can get as the round is more stable in the air and less affect by meterological and has a smaller CEP footprint.

The larger the caliber, the more destructive it is to vehicles and structures and emplacements.  Bigger is better.

Call or response times are not weapon dependent.  They are determined by the communications capability and doctrines of the C3 systems used by the army in question.  Lighter weapons like small mortars can be set up quickly and torn down quickly but once emplaced, once a call for fire goes out, it is the C3 systems, crew training and observer training that determine how fast you see a round on the ground.

Combat Mission games try to simulate artillery systems and capability.  Why does it take longer to get a 155mm round on the ground verses a 80mm mortar round base on what I stated above?   The delay is to simulate the fact that mortars are closer to the enemy than howitzer systems and to reflect time of flight realities.  For example,  most of the time, a mortar 1 km from the enemy will tend to have a round on the ground sooner than a 155mm howtizer shooting from 7 km away. And the chain of command / communication issues are simulated as well.  A US 155mm is not inherently faster than a Soviet built 152mm yet in game, the US player will get fire for effect well before the Syrian player will.  This is doctrine and C3I being simulated in game.  So the bigger delay in response time is coded into the game to 'simulate' that.

Hope that answers your questions.

Edited by BlackMoria

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20 minutes ago, BlackMoria said:

Mortars are high angle only and are incapable of direct fire.

M224 60mm mortars can be used in a "direct fire" capacity, though it is low angle similar to a 203/320.

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Blackmoria's answer, unsurprisingly, is the one to pay attention to.

Some more points and an illustration:

Mortar vs. Howitzer vs. Field Gun - the interesting thing is where they overlap.

fig7-3.gif

The main practical difference, in all CM games, is how organic each asset is. In WW2 titles, US infantry have 60mm mortars at the Platoon level - this means they are available for the platoon leader to call down, and that they are going to be quick to respond to changing circumstances. 81mm mortars exist at the Company level, and most formations attach their artillery at higher levels than that, and often these larger assets are only available to Forward Observers. 

In CMBS (and to a less extent CMSF, but we'll have to see exactly how this is modelled in CMSF 2) , the modern US infantry rifle platoon can have embedded Forward Observers, and may also have access to small drones. The rifle company also typically has 120mm mortars, which are gettng to the point where they're no longer really "miniature artillery", since they can do some real damage. It's also notable that the US 155mm and 120mm mortars both have a limited amount of precision-guided rounds, which allow you to call in "precision" missions. In the modern titles, Forward Observers often have dedicated vehicles, which cut down their response time even further.

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So I'm not a Fister(Forward Observer) but there is essentially a depth of fires chart that gives guidance as to how you should layer your indirect fires as you move in on objectives or as the enemy approaches you. On a quick search I found the image below. It isn't what I was looking for, but is very similar.

image.png.193eea9c84ab15fa63c6e1d69c277a44.png

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3 hours ago, ncc1701e said:

Hi all,

I would like some advice regarding artillery support. Each time I am facing a scenario with multiple support assets, I am wondering which one is the best for the support mission I would like to do.
Do you have some advices on when using what between the following?

60mm mortar
81mm mortar
120mm mortar
105mm howitzer
122mm howitzer
130mm field gun
155mm howitzer

What is the major difference between a mortar and a howitzer and a field gun?

Sorry, I realize this may be some basic questions for you.

Cheers

Some people already went into details about the different weapons systems. Some great advice would be to learn about the weapons systems in real life as they seem to work similar in CM.

In CM the biggest notable difference between Mortars and Howitzers is that mortars fire in a more vertical path and that most mortars can be employed both on- and offmap, while howitzers and field guns are usually only available off map. Apart from that they all lob rounds over to the enemy. There are various shells (smoke/airburst/groundburst/precision iirc) and various firing patterns. The accuracy and time to call depends on the unit calling the artillery (their training and communication capabilities) and the artillery piece itself.

How I use them:

60mm mortar -> nice for (direct) support of small units in firefights.
81mm mortar -> suppressing and destroying enemy strongpoints. 
120mm mortar -> like the 81mm but better. It's a great mortar, however munition is usually limited. 
105mm howitzer -> weaker howitzer but usually a lot of rounds. Use it on targets of opportunity or else in a large diameter strike with a lot of rounds over a longer time
122mm howitzer -> stronger than 105, more useful in urban area bombardments.
130mm field gun -> maybe a more lower trajectory that's significant? otherwise it's just a larger 122mm.
155mm howitzer -> This is the goto artillery. It will basically destroy what it finds, even tanks. This is good for almost everything, use it on where you expect important enemy positions. They will suffer. 180mm and 203mm are also great. 

Basically larger calibre is better, however then downside is that larger guns usually have less rounds and or feature a slower rate of fire and response/setup time. In real life there are more relevant factors, but since this is about the game I guess this will suffice. :)

 

Edited by Lethaface

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Just brought up the Scenario editor in CMBS, to look at the US artillery for comparison:

Comparing batteries of three guns apiece, the ammo counts are:

155mm Self Propelled (Paladin) 
117 HE
12 Excaliber (Precision guided)
12 WP (Smoke)
Call-in time for Typical FO on foot: 4 minutes

155mm 
180 HE
12 Excaliber
18 WP
Call-in time: 5 minutes

105mm
105 HE
30 WP
Call-in time: 5 minutes

60 and 81mm mortars come in pairs, and each pair has:
100 HE
8 WP
Call-in time: 3 minutes

120mm mortars have:
50 HE
XM395 (Guided) 8
6 WP
Call-in time: 4 minutes

The increase in smoke rounds for the 105mm is interesting, although obviously the 155mm WP rounds will have a larger footprint.

Doing the same test with a FO mounted in an M1200 Armored Knight shaved off one minute on each call-in time (so Paladins were 3 minutes, etc.), with the exception of the 81mm mortars, which remained at 3 minutes.

I forget what the equivalent vehicles are in CMSF, but they're in there, and have a similar effect.


Oh, also worth mentioning Danger Close - smaller calibre rounds are easier to use closer to your own dudes, without taking hits.

Edited by domfluff

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The Red side also gets to play with artillery rockets, the 122mm BM-21 and the 107mm Type-63. The Chinese type 63 is genuinely the poor man's field artillery and has had a 50+ year career on the battlefield.

 

 

lebanon-hezbollah-type-63-rocket-launcher.jpg

9de000652471c4c9ca5.jpg

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15 hours ago, BlackMoria said:

Field Guns are direct fire weapons and in a pinch, can do low angle indirect fire, limiting their range and usefulness.  A anti-tank gun is a example of a specialized field gun, for example.  Can get to big calibers like howitzers and are either towed or self propelled.  Not a lot of field guns are made anymore due to their limitations as tanks have largely taken over the roles the field guns used to provide.

Jeez, I hate to argue with a professional, but I honestly feel that that statement is a trifle misleading and could stand a little modification. During the WW II era and before, most field guns had longer ranges than howitzers of the same caliber. Thus they were used a lot to bombard targets deeper in the enemy's zone of defense. This made them well suited for counter-battery fire, harassment fire on road intersections, assembly areas for enemy troops, suspected supply dumps and whatever was considered a worthwhile target. Almost all of this fire was indirect in the sense that the gunner did not have eyes on the target but was firing on calculated map coördinates, whether observed or unobserved by spotters. Most of these duties have now been taken over by aircraft or rockets, whether guided or unguided.

Michael

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^^^

Yes. "Guns" were known to be heavier, but longer-ranged, than "Howitzers". They were longer-ranged due to a higher muzzle velocity. The metallurgy and engineering required to achieve that higher muzzle velocity meant that the same-caliber Gun was far heavier than its Howitzer counter-part. 

In modern armies, the advances in projectile technology (base-bleed and rocket-assist), higher chamber pressures (better metallurgy), longer-wearing barrels (ditto), and other changes have meant that the "Gun" no longer does anything that the "Howitzer" cannot. And, due to the ability to loft rounds higher, the Howitzer can do things that Guns cannot. So, other than a few specialized cases, Howitzers have completely supplanted Guns in modern artillery parks.

(Rocket artillery has taken over the traditional role of Guns, as far as that role cannot be done by a Howitzer. Meaning, the far, deep-strike, into the enemy rear-area, and/or counter-battery fire from a long distance. Howitzers can do some of that, but not at the ranges which have become desirable.)

A case in point: the standard field howitzer of WWII was 105mm. The US version weighed about 5,000 lbs and had a range of about 10km. (Give or take...) The German version of a 105mm Howitzer had specs which were, for all practical purposes, identical.

Now, the standard US towed howitzer is the M777 with a weight of about 8,000 lbs and a range of about 24km for normal rounds and 30km for base-bleed (e.g. Excalibur). (There is an M777ER (a3?) in the works which adds some barrel length, fires a rocket-assisted projectile (rap) and has a rumored range near 70km.)

In WWII, the US "Long Tom" 155mm Gun had a range of 24km. The same as the modern howitzer. The drawback was that it weighed 30,000 lbs.

Modern howitzers are FAR more capable than their WWII forebears...

 

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The Grenade launcher? In formal terms I doubt it (it won't come under "artillery"), although conceptually it's pretty similar to WW2 infantry guns like the Ig18. The main difference is that the Infantry guns can fire indirectly, and has a much great range.

Obviously, as with anything like this, the lines are blurred.

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1 hour ago, ZackTactical34 said:

Is the MK19 officially classified as a field gun?

It's actually classified as a Machine Gun, despite firing 40mm explosive rounds. It's still belt fed, and although it can fire indirectly onto targets, it's primary fire mode is direct fire.

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Regarding the M2 60mm mortar, in the U.S.M.C. in Vietnam and 1970's, the M2 was company level. Usually, the weapons in the Company Weapons Platoon were parceled out to the Rifle Platoons. I was a Weapons Section Leader, and was assigned to a rifle Platoon along with a 60mm mortar section (three guns), a machine gun squad (two M60 machine gun teams), and an antitank assault team (M202 multishot rocket launcher and LAAWs. We used the tubes (M2s) mainly for direct fire (targets we could  see),and illumination at night. Whenever the section set up in a fixed position (perimeter), the mortar crew would register their tube by aligning a side of the baseplate to north. They would then set out aiming stakes at specific azimuths to register for indirect fire (fire emissions that they couldn't see or at night). If we received a fire mission from the Company through the Commander of the Rifle Platoon to which we were assigned to support another unit that was outside the azimuth range for the mortar, the gunner would physically pick up the bipod legs and move them until the sight was alined on an aiming stake, and then dial in the coordinates of the target. In Vietnam, many Marine M2 crews wouldn't even bother to use the baseplate or bipod to deploy their weapons quickly. They would just put the ball of the tube on the ground, and walk in the rounds like a grenade launcher. Of course you can't do that in CMSF.

M2 60mm mortars assigned to the Rifle Platoons are used primarily in the direct fire mode. Those retained at the Company level are primarily used in the indirect fire mode.

Marine 81mm mortars are Battalion level, are indirect (except maybe in an extreme situation), and are rarely, if ever, parceled out to Company level.

Thus, Marines use 60mm mortars for both direct and indirect fire missions. This can affect how you select weapons and units for a quick battle or deploy Marines in CMSF2 if you have the Marines Module. The Marine formations are very different from Army units in both their composition and how you use them.

Edited by Vet 0369

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17 minutes ago, Michael Emrys said:

......and more staying power then their Army equivalents

That's because after you've gone through a few months of intense physical and mental stress in the swamps of South Carolina or desert of Southern California bullets and explosions don't mean much, and your body works on muscle memory. The training differences between the Army and the Marines are quite different because their basic missions are different.

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Posted (edited)
On 9/26/2018 at 4:39 PM, ncc1701e said:

Hi all,

I would like some advice regarding artillery support. Each time I am facing a scenario with multiple support assets, I am wondering which one is the best for the support mission I would like to do.
Do you have some advices on when using what between the following?

60mm mortar

Light infantry in open air positions without top cover of any kind. 

Quote


81mm mortar

Soft targets in minor entrenchments, small structures, and heavy weapons. HE rounds stand a good chance to wreck crewed weapons. 

Quote

120mm mortar

Most targets lighter than a tank. Very profitable caliber when used against weapon crews and makes short work of most structures. 

Quote

105mm howitzer

Anything. A really ubiquitous caliber for the most part that makes sense against all targets. Good for use in suppression or destructive fires. Airbursting rounds will cause casualties over a wide area. 

Quote

122mm howitzer

Destructive. Even heavy armor should proceed with caution. Will level most structures and wipe out entrenchments with ease. 

Quote


130mm field gun

See above in most cases. 

Quote

155mm howitzer

Grid square removal. In the old days this caliber was the lighter end of siege guns and naval artillery. I actually think this range starts to become counter productive at the tactical level. The rounds are so dangerous that your own men need to keep well away from them. Best used against map rear areas. 

Quote

What is the major difference between a mortar and a howitzer and a field gun?

Sorry, I realize this may be some basic questions for you.

Cheers

Angles of fire. Also organization. Mortars are almost always left to the infantry although sometimes heavier mortars will be Division or Corp assets. Field guns trace their lineage back to the age of cannon and musket, being useful in both indirect and direct fire roles. Few exist today. They were usually lighter guns, prioritizing mobility over power but these descriptors varied widely by Army. Howitzers are typically large guns intended for destructive, indirect fire into and behind enemy positions. In the old days there used to be Siege Artillery too and it was used quite frequently up into the Second World War. Aircraft and nuclear weapons took over that job and now precision munitions are replacing both of them too. 

Edited by SimpleSimon

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On the subject of long range indirect fire field guns, I meant to mention the M107 http://www.tanks-encyclopedia.com/coldwar/US/M107-SPG.php but time and other business intervened. I've always had a soft spot for the M107 with its incredibly long range and good accuracy, but I guess its role has now long since been taken over by rockets and tactical aircraft.

Michael

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