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Skippy

Grants/Lees - Hull down or no?

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I'm new to the game and I'm having trouble with playing the CMAK scenario Fruhlingswind as the Americans. I'm particularly perplexed about how to handle my Grants against the German PzIIIs and IVs.

If I leave them hull down, they're harder to kill, but they can only use their 37mm, which has been ineffective against the German armor (I've been fighting at about 900 meters). But if I take them out of cover for more than a few seconds to use their 75s, they get lit up.

How should I handle this? Do I leave them hull down and hope the Germans close within the 37s lethal range or take them out of cover and hope the 75s do their work before their thin hull armor is penetrated? Is there a way to keep my tanks hidden long enough to sucker the Jerries in to lethal range?

Thanks.

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Welcome to the forum, Skippy.

The Grant has a silhouette of 100 largely due to its height so is hard to hide. Also, it has thin armor of poor quality that can't have the crew feeling too safe.

I'm not familiar with the scenario but in a typical battle situation I would

a) be the Germans :D or,

B) refrain from purchasing Grants, or Lees, or

c) if I had no choice, and I assume that there is also infantry, I would have them engage the enemy tank crews. If I have a sharpshooter, he will move quickly forward and attempt to kill any unbuttoned tank commanders.

AT rifles -who may work better in pairs- are not the most effective tank-killers but they can still cause damage and keep a tank buttoned. Uninterrupted bashing from a couple of ATRs for a minute or so on a tank with a dead commander might prompt them to bail out. No running long distances for them as they are medium speed.

2-inch mortars are fast units. I'd send them forward too. They can spot for themselves safely from cover, with their low ammo they needn't hang around for very long. They can create a smokescreen for my Grants to move a little closer. And if the enemy has open-top vehicles I'm in luck, these are easy prey for my mortars.

All these infantry units are 1-2 man units so much harder to spot than any tank. They can give the Grants the edge before the Grants even engage.

If, however, you are on your own, without any infantry support, you are fighting an uneven battle just like the historical crews were.

This is my take, I hope it can be of some help.

Evzone

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If you can't beat them in a straight tank duel, you'll have to even up the odds by outnumbering them. Preferably from different angles, where at least one your tank can hit the (less well armored) sides of an enemy tank. Even if you can win a straight out duel, you should try the same. Try placing your tanks so that they have line of sight to the same location, but at different angles. If that is not possible for some reason, use your tanks against the enemy infantry (that way you'll waste less ammo when your tanks blow up).

Sharpshooter and anti-tank rifles are best suited for keeping enemy tanks buttoned up. That way they reduce the spotting ability of the enemy tank, taking them longer to acquire targets. Don't expect anti-tank rifles (ATR) to kill anything bigger than a halftrack though. In any case in the Frühlingswind you don't get ATR's so you don't have to worry about that smile.gif .

Try playing as the Germans, that way you'll learn their weaknesses as well as their strength.

When I played that scenario as the Germans for the first time I got hammered pretty bad. Those Grants seem virtually indistructable. Just goes to show smile.gif .

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For Frühlingswind (only ever played it vs AI but had the demo for awhile before i bought cmak so i feel like i know it well...) i found that the Grants were useful if i hid 'em around the side of a building and just peeked the 75 out, and then reversed them the short distance into cover when the 50 mm hits started to get serious... i also figured it was best to keep them along the left side of the map, so they'd tend to have their hull gun oriented in the general direction of the axis attack. Hope this is useful... after all, they do have the best gun in the scenario, so maybe try and treat them as big fat AT guns...?

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The Russian called the Lee "a grave for seven brothers"!

Keep them hidden in scattered trees in pairs to engage the enemy when they come into sight or behind buildings and use short shoot and scoot moves to pop out, fire and reverse. MAKE SURE THAT YOU REVERSE ON EXACTLY THE SAME LINE otherwise the tank will spend ages turning before moving backwards. Difficult in this scenario but you can use keyhole techniques.

Make the Germans come to you while you are hidden and you can win this scenario.

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I think I phrased the question wrong, let me try again.

When engaging German tanks (esp. PzIIIs and IVs) at range, is it generally better to do it hull down and be more protected or go completely exposed and be able to use the hull 75?

Or is shooting and scooting between hull down hull up an acceptable compromise.

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Hull up. You should not stand in the open forever dueling a superior number of enemy tanks, but Grants should be fought hull up. Many of the German hits will still bounce (particularly at longer ranges to be sure, but some always hit the turret which is tough as nails, etc), and your own hits will generally be lethal. You win duels by KOing the other guy, not by being invulnerable to hits yourself. Nobody is.

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I have played the Fruhlingswind scenario once as US against a human German player, and won it without much finesse. I kept the two groups of Grants together as much as possible, the left group between the trees. The massed firepower defeated the German tanks, who probably entered the duel with too little coordination.

The Grants tended to flee after beeing hit by bouncing rounds, and I had to continually order them back into the firing line. Reasoning that having many firing guns together is their best defence.

In the end the German tanks were defeated rather badly, although it took many hits to KO them. I don't think I lost more than one Grant in the long range duel.

I used the halftrack mounted guns in shoot and scoot. Their fire was very effective, but it was very dangerous, as they drew a lot of counter fire. I lost them both, but they gave the Grants more firing time. Not a nice thing to do to their crews though.

When the long range duel was decided I charged the remaining German tanks with my Grants and that was not very smart, (but it was fun). It cost me more Grants than there were German tanks left.

The German infantry never made it beyond their starting ridge.

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Skippy,

The hulldown modeling on the Grant/Lee is, based on what I've read, incorrectly implemented. Loud indeed were the crew complaints about how much of the tank, called by the Germans "skyscraper on tracks" was left exposed when the tank was hulldown. This would not have been true had the exposed portion merely been the 37mm turret. Therefore, it logically follows that the crews were complaining about how much of the tank stuck up when the tank was hulldown with the 75mm gun in the sponson barely above the ground line. Watch "Sahara" starring Humphrey Bogart to see what I mean.

The big deal about the Grant/Lee in the first place was that it gave the Allies a tank with a powerful main gun, substantial armor vs. most threats (not the rare Panzer III and IV Specials or Tiger I) and a potent HE round with which to defeat ATGs, especially the dread 88. Prior to its introduction, British built tanks didn't even have HE at all in their own 2 pdr. and 6 pdr. armed Crusader/Matilda/Valentine tanks, except for the few close support tanks at what Americans would call company HQ. The downsides of the design lay in the riveted armor, the highly flammable high octane gas used to fuel it, and the limited traverse, sponson mounted gun. If the hulldown implementation in CMAK is as described, then the problems are further multiplied for the Allied player, and BFC really should fix this, IMO.

This veteran's account describes the problem, but he overstates the exposure because that portion of the tank from the ground to just above the mudguards was in fact masked when hulldown, meaning the tracks, running gear and transmission weren't exposed to fire, at least.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/05/a1099505.shtml

Regards,

John Kettler

[ September 24, 2006, 03:16 AM: Message edited by: John Kettler ]

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JK - clearly the complaint was and is that they tank can't really go hull down and use the 75, needs to use the 75, and so remains a larger target the a turreted tank would etc.

The turret plus sponson design was an interwar French idea, incidentally, based on their WW I experiences and expectations. They thought the 37 would be sufficient for dealing with all other tanks, and that the 75 would have an assault gun role in destroying bunkers and the like.

As for the comment about their value when they appeared, it was even higher than you say. The British had no 6 pdr tanks in the field yet. Those had HE pretty much as soon as they were fielded, and they had excellent AT performance, fully equal to the 75L38 in that respect. The 75 was better throwing HE, of course.

They just weren't in the field yet at the time the Grants appeared, which was the spring of 1942. The gun up in the turret was fully equal to every other gun in the British tank fleet the day they arrived. And the sponson 75 exceeded anything the Germans yet had deployed against the British, except the 76L51 on a few poorly armored Marders.

By the time of Tunisia, there were Shermans around, better in all respects, and the British had a portion of their home built tanks with 6 pdr rather than 2 pdr. The Grant was by then not a leading but about an average tank in the mix. It was still vastly better than Stuarts - used as half the early US ADs and a quarter of the independent tank battalions, and still used by the Brits as well - vastly better than 2 pdr armed Crusaders still in service, significantly better than the slow British infantry tanks with 2 pdr which were still a fair portion of there tank (as opposed to armoured) formations, etc. It was inferior only to Shermans, equal to or better than 6 pdr British built tanks other than the Churchill, which was rare, etc.

After Tunisia, since thousands of Shermans were available, it was obsolete. The chassis were mostly used for Priest and Sexton SPA at that point, plus recovery vehicles, "Kangaroos", and a few engineering "funnies".

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JasonC,

I'll be the first to admit I'm no expert on British armor, but at least I got most of the major points right. I didn't realize that the 6pdr. armed tanks came after the Grant was fielded.

Regarding its armament configuration, my understanding is that it was chosen because there was a desperate need to get a powerful gun into battle quickly, but the complex to engineer 75mm turret wasn't ready yet, so they went with what they could produce. As for going hulldown, roughly 50% of the Grant would be protected, based on leaving the 75mm gun so it could still fire. What seems to be happening in the game, though, is

that when the vehicle goes hulldown, only the 37mm

turret is usable. This is simply not how the Grant fought when hulldown, for the good and simple reason that it was all about the big gun.

That's why I think it needs to be fixed. BTW, did you ever play Avalon Hill's Tobruk, which is an OR analysis of North African combat? There's a skirmish battle in there called Duel of the Best which pits a force of Grants against a smaller force of III Specials equipped with a limited supply of PzGr40. Nasty!

Regards,

John Kettler

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Ok, so I went with your suggestions and started the scenario over. I hid the GMCs in the scattered trees to shoot and scoot them in and out of cover. More importantly, I moved the M3s from their hull down starting positions. Two of them were moved forward approx 150m to behind a low rise, and were later moved to hull up on top of the rise when the panzers arrived. Two more were moved back to another elevated position, and the last one was moved to a position in a wall, on the theory that the wall would offer some cover for the lower hull.

What a difference 100-200 meters and the full-time use of the 75 makes! I'm on turn 9 and I've knocked out 3 panzers and have lost no vehicles.

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Interestingly I had some problems when I fought the scen as Germans vs AI. The 50mm guns in the IIIS were pretty weak vs Grants (in another game I had several PzIIIs firing at point blank into the front of a Grant with little effect). The IVs can easily be killed by 37mm thru the front turret.

From the German perspective I found a Grant is almost proof to 50mm fire when presenting only its front and not staying on lower ground than the shooter. Fire from above partially negates the slope of the hull and enabled some penetrations.

The IVs died as easily from 37mm fire than the Grants from 75L4x fire. 75mm hits vs PzIVs results in quick knockouts.

So all you've got to do in the scen is to find firing positions, concentrate your fire (which is most easily done by concentrating your armor) and avoid flanking fire. Once the German tanks are engaged, you can try your luck with the GMCs from the flank. Or use Shoot and scoot with them to divert the German tanks.

Which is what you did.

Another thing I found is that between even tanks the side using shoot&scoot is usually the side dying as the other side gets off more rounds when you have a frontal fight where you can't achieve surprise. If you are doing shoot and scoot with 5 tanks vs 5 tanks where both can kill each other, the stationary side wins big - they shoot more often and if shoot and scoot is not perfectly timed and placed the stationary tanks have numbers. Plus the advantage in finding range for consecutive shoots at the same target. Shoot&scoot never gets that. The stationary tanks get it sometimes.

Gruß

Joachim

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Actually the trick with the Germans in that one is to close the range. You can't duel them with 50mm, they are too tough at the starting distances. But at 400m they are readily penetrated. You have to be aggressive and KO as many of the Grants as possible before the Sherman arrive, and hopefully have multiple angles to them when they do. The only useful preliminary is to reduce the outgoing firepower by dealing with the halftracks before cresting. If they are in the trees, artillery will do that nicely - open topped does not play happily with treebursts. They won't see out of the dust, either.

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Ok, now I'm on turn 12 and things are going distinctly worse. I've lost all(!) of my Grants and one of my Shermans. But at least I think I understand my mistakes.

Putting a tank *on* a wall doesn't simulate it covering behind the wall - the hull is exposed. Oops.

Two - shouldn't have positioned two of my M3s so close. Similarly, I shouldn't have moved my reserve M3s up closer.

One M3 was rendered useless by having its gun destroyed, which according to CMAK means that *both* guns are destroyed, as they aren't tracked independantly. Poo.

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Also, you need to keep in mind that when playing CMAK with fog of war enabled, that you will not necessarily know exactly when you have KO'd an enemy tank. Unless it blows up or catches fire, you generally have to wait until the crew actually bails out before you (and your forces) realize that the enemy tank is destroyed.

You may also be able to observe this phenomenon from the other side when you notice the enemy continuing to fire at and hit tanks that have already been destroyed, and whose crews are trying to get out.

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I know a tank is not dead when it is still moving for more than a few metres. And I definitely know it is not dead despite 10 penetrations if it fires back with 37mm :mad: The AAR did not see it abandoned or destroyed either.

50mm has a poor behind armor effect thru the glacis of the Grant. Closing in is one thing - getting side shots is much better. Even an ATR can penetrate the sides of a Grant if close enough.

What enabled me fighting up close was the low 75mm AP loadout of the Grants.

Gruß

Joachim

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Originally posted by Joachim:

And I definitely know it is not dead despite 10 penetrations if it fires back with 37mm :mad:

American crews I fight against have a special knack for staying alive in their tanks when the turret/hull is hit and even still firing back at my tank with geat accuracy despite being penitrated several times. Butch: "Hows that 75 wound through your left side Joe?" Joe: "Merely a fleshwound."

Tschüß!

Erich

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Rune - the release version.

An interesting trick I found - if you play as the defenders in an assault scenario and order your M3s to dig in, the hull gun can still fire, but most of your vulnerable hull is protected. The 75 fires in a very limited arc, but it's like having a turreted pillbox.

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I've always wanted to see "Sahara". On a related note i feel like the ultimate lost Bogey movie would be him in the Spanish Civil War smashing Falangists with a T-26 or what-have-you. Before he got all disillusioned, y'know. Not having seen Sahara, is there any sequence in there that could be a CMAK scenario? Bogart vs Desert Fox??

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z-warfare,

I think Sahara does lend itself well to a CMAK scenario, albeit a tiny skirmish. The Allies would have the hidden Lee, several MG teams and a couple of infantry squad equivalents. They would also have

a bunch of trenches configured as to allow rapid repositioning and set in front of a small heavy building. I think there were some antipersonnel mines, too, but I'm not sure. There'd be one VL representing the all important well. Defenders would have a high fanaticism rating, representing Bogey's steely determination and the criticality of delaying the German advance at all costs. Fitness would be normal or slightly degraded, since the Allies had water, at least to begin with.

The Axis force would be dismounted early war Panzer Grenadiers, complete with the Gw 36 mortar

and a sharpshooter. I think there were a few 251s in the mix, but they didn't fare well upon encountering the Lee! Troop quality would range as high as veteran, but substantial degrades would be applied to fitness to represent thirst, and the battle would take place on nasty terrain under blazing heat.

The Afrika Korps must capture the VL or ultimately wither in the face of fire and the demands of battle while super thirsty on a very hot day. If German morale breaks or the German force calls a cease fire, this means the water for guns deal has gone into effect. The Germans are also up against a British relief column of Grants and UCs, so must secure the watering hole before it arrives.

Regards,

John Kettler

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