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Vulnerability of Hanomag halftrack gunners..


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The original discussion of this thread was about whether or not halftrack gunners (and unbuttoned tank commanders) have or have not become more vulnerable to small arms fire since CMBN version 2.0. My "feel" is they have, based on my game experience, but Baneman has given us some very well done extensive testing, which I hope he and others (hello, BFC?) will continue.

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Well, info and my testing framework have been sent up the channels via the ever-helpful c3k, but I don't think we're going to hear from BFC in the immediate future, since extensive testing ( which mine is not, btw, merely preliminary testing ) and attendant "digging in the code" will obviously have to be done to locate the root cause of the issue.

As a programmer myself, I can tell you that bug-hunting is never a quick process and asking for estimates is a pipe-dream only believed in by middle-managers ;)

I'm confident that it's now on their radar, which is good enough for me.

For now, I shall continue to use them as fire support, but much much further back than my normal practice.

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Thx Bil and Aragorn fot the support. And womble, JasonC and others for interesting comments - you forced me to go through my references on Hanomags again. Sorry womble if my replies sounded sometimes harsh, it was nothing personal, just to keep the right temperature, you know ;) In fact I usually agree with your comments in other threads (excluding your view on Hanomags use of course).

The most important thing as Doug stated, with which (I hope) everybody agrees is that there is something wrong about the current behaviour of Hanomag gunners in game. I hope BTF will have a look at it, and fix it ASAP to increase the fun associated with playing their brilliant product even further..

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I'd guess, rather, that it's not the work of moments to dismount the thing and load yourself up with the ammo. So you can simulate it at force pick time by eliding the track and adding an LMG team.

I think the Brits get something similar in BN too; one of the MG-carrying Bren carriers has an MMG team that can fire from the vehicle or dismounted, from what I've read on here.

If the Brit MMG can be dismounted and remounted in seconds, then no reason why not the Hanomag MG. If this would be a more realistic depiction of how it was used...

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The most important thing as Doug stated, with which (I hope) everybody agrees is that there is something wrong about the current behaviour of Hanomag gunners in game. I hope BTF will have a look at it, and fix it ASAP to increase the fun associated with playing their brilliant product even further..

I'm sorry, but despite some interesting testing (thanks as ever!), I haven't seen anything that indicates a bug, although I'll admit I read through the thread fairly quickly. Testing seems to indicate that gunners are vulnerable when firing their gun. That is a given as they must partially expose themselves to aim and fire the gun. Too vulnerable is entirely subjective. More vulnerable than pre-2.01 has not really been established, and even if it were, not isolated to a bug with the 251, rather than with the firing unit, or even a factor that might be an improved behavior that is having a negative outcome in this particular circumstance (for example, both infantry MG and semi-automatic rifle firing rates are up in the latest version, which could shorten the time to achieve a gunner kill, especially at shorter ranges).

However, the lack of engagement of US halftracks under the same conditions (at least I am assuming this was carefully controlled so that the only different factor was the type of HT) as the 251s might be an issue, especially since my recollection is that the 251 had better armor protection. This is possibly related to a similar issue with bren carriers. If I can confirm, I'll add this to an existing report.

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I'm sorry, but despite some interesting testing (thanks as ever!), I haven't seen anything that indicates a bug, although I'll admit I read through the thread fairly quickly. Testing seems to indicate that gunners are vulnerable when firing their gun. That is a given as they must partially expose themselves to aim and fire the gun. Too vulnerable is entirely subjective. More vulnerable than pre-2.01 has not really been established, and even if it were, not isolated to a bug with the 251, rather than with the firing unit, or even a factor that might be an improved behavior that is having a negative outcome in this particular circumstance (for example, both infantry MG and semi-automatic rifle firing rates are up in the latest version, which could shorten the time to achieve a gunner kill, especially at shorter ranges).

However, the lack of engagement of US halftracks under the same conditions (at least I am assuming this was carefully controlled so that the only different factor was the type of HT) as the 251s might be an issue, especially since my recollection is that the 251 had better armor protection. This is possibly related to a similar issue with bren carriers. If I can confirm, I'll add this to an existing report.

There is nothing subjective in it. See Banemans post No24. Hard data: it is more difficult to hit an exposed infantryman than a shield-protected gunner.

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There is nothing subjective in it. See Banemans post No24. Hard data: it is more difficult to hit an exposed infantryman than a shield-protected gunner.

I don't think you can directly compare that way. Spotting, cover, concealment, suppression, distribution of fire, etc. are all different. The valid comparison would be a crew member with and without shield, if you are trying to determine if the shield is providing protection.

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I don't think you can directly compare that way. Spotting, cover, concealment, suppression, distribution of fire, etc. are all different. The valid comparison would be a crew member with and without shield, if you are trying to determine if the shield is providing protection.

Oh Jesus. Now I have enough..

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The half-tracks were meant to give some measure of support. Doctrine tells us so explicitly. It also tells us that they are not to be employed in this way until the heavy hitters of the enemy have been spent. After the tanks rolled over the enemy lines, and the main effort has shattered the opposition, there are still plenty of hold-outs to be taken, and the main gain from a battle is found in the pursuit. Two functions for which the light armor is a fine choice.

So no, you wouldn't use them as most do in the game. That much is true. But to suggest they weren't used for combat is silly. The 251/16 isn't much use for non-combat purposes. There were up-armoring kits around. The Stummel was given a coax late in the war. Most pictures of killed Hanomags show the machine-gun on its mount, so it wasn't whisked off with the troops with any regularity. They weren't tanks, but they were armored troop carriers.

The Hanomags were mostly employed ferrying men and materiel around through artillery stonk territory. If they could be spared, they would also get around to other tasks. But when did the Heer ever have anything to spare?

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I don't think you can directly compare that way. Spotting, cover, concealment, suppression, distribution of fire, etc. are all different. The valid comparison would be a crew member with and without shield, if you are trying to determine if the shield is providing protection.

Well, I guess in the "versus Infantry" test, I tested with more than one target guy so the incoming fire may have been spread. I suppose a better test would have been with just one guy ( dismounted driver ) behind the hedge. I can try some of that.

It does look ( visually at least ) that a guy kneeling behind the hedge is more exposed than the gunner behind his shield - and I don't know if the hedge is even supposed to be "protection" at all. I just wanted to stop them from going prone.

The US halftrack thing might be a wrinkle in the code dealing with Allied-v-Allied stuff, but until it's sorted out, any testing against them to see if they're more vulnerable without the gunshield is moot, because the firers would have to be changed. I could test with them at 100m ;) but it seems spurious since none of the "shielded" guys survived that anyway.

For me the oddest thing was the practically 100% safety of the non-firing ( yet unbuttoned ) gunner - visually he is in almost the same spot.

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If the Brit MMG can be dismounted and remounted in seconds, then no reason why not the Hanomag MG.

Um, because they're not the same system and might be built differently? BFC aren't just going to say "Oh, because the Brits had a fast-demountable Vickers in one of their Bren variants, we'll make the MG in the 251 quickly dismountable too." unless that really was the case. I don't know that it wasn't, but it's certainly a possible reason "why not the Hano MG".

If this would be a more realistic depiction of how it was used...

There's already the option to add an LMG crew to the dismounts to represent the MG being unmounted before the battle gets under way.

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Thought the rearmost AA LMG was used as the second squad LMG in Pzgr units? I don't see why a shield was added if the gunner is not expected to sometimes engage targets. I think Bills tactic of using it as a support weapon to cover advancing dismounts, whilst the 251 is hull down, replicates the modern M113's tactics very well, and tell the Israelis that lightly armoured APC's are just battle taxis!

CM does not simulate troops breaking when attacked by armour, irrespective of any casualties caused, a major hindrance in any simulation of armoured warfare. Have a company of 251's covering their assaulting infantry who are attacking a platoon of green troops and see what happens in real life, even if they have AT assets to support them. CM is a theoretical simulation, not reality, you cannot transpose tactics directly from the virtual battlefield to the place of real fear, confusion and crucially real lives on the line.

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Aragorn - yes that is one, the other I am thinking of was urban fighting in Russia. It was a while ago and I may be misremembering, but what I remember was during the 3rd battle of Kharkov, when 1SS and 3SS between them quickly cleared the city; the flame 'tracks were used in block clearing against holdouts as they mopped up etc.

There are also tactical accounts of flame *tanks* at Kursk, but those were Panzer IIIs not SPWs.

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Some examples of low SPW losses in PDs in heavy combat periods, taken from unit level detailed losses at Kursk.

3rd PD begins the fight with 72 tanks plus 16 assault guns (mostly Marder II, a few StuG) of 88 AFVs. In the 2 week period 4 June to 18 June, the report 82 losses from those 88 AFVs, 42 of them come back out of its repair shops during the same period and 6 replacements are added. But the absolute loss rate, not TWO loss but knocked into the shops, is almost 95% in the space of 2 weeks. The same unit starts out with 71 SPWs, and reports 14 lost in the period. The more lightly armored item is being lost at only 19% of the rate of the heavier ones, and this has to reflect safer use. The whole division is losing 1 SPW per day - try getting that performance in CM scenarios using them as MG hosing platforms.

6th Panzer starts with 110 AFVs (not counting Hummel SPA or command tanks, but counting Marders) and 125 SPWs, and sends 103 through its shops in the same period. It reports 32 SPW losses, only 2 actually lost the rest only damaged. The destroyed TWO are a single 250/1 and a single 250/5 (command track / radio variant), both from its recce battalion. In 2 weeks of Kursk-intensity fighting that sent the entire panzer strength through the workshops from battle damage.

7th Panzer starts with 118 AFVs (not counting SPA but counting SPAT) and 132 SPWs, and reports 129 into the shops or worse from enemy damage. 36 SPWs are damaged or worse, with all of 8 total losses.

11th Panzer starts with 134 AFVs (including StuGs and Marders etc), 126 hit the shops or worse in the 2 weeks of fighting. It starts with 75 SPWs, 14 are damaged or worse, all of 5 lost TWO.

19th Panzer starts with 98 AFVs and its gross losses of them come to 112 (57 are returned to duty within the period, so there is "churn" in those figures, understand); it has few SPWs, only 29 at the start, and 6 are damaged and 1 lost TWO.

Grossdeutchsland has 200 AFVs (organic, that is not even counting the Panthers all working with it) and 61 SPWs, plus 5 SPW replacements received, and reports 166 hitting the shops in the period. SPW losses? 3. That's right, 3.

1SS has 206 AFVs (including some Grille Marders StuG etc) and 149 SPWs, counting 19 received after the start, and reports AFV gross losses of 156, and SPW losses of 15, including 11 TWO.

2SS has 186 AFVs at the start, and 129 SPWs, and receives another 17 SPWs during that 2 week stretch making 146 total SPWs available by the finish. It reports 142 of that AFV total hitting the shops or worse in that period - and reports 3 - count 'em, 3 - lost SPWs.

3SS has 170 AFVs and 125 SPWs, plus 19 more SPWs received during the fighting for an SPW total of 144 engaged. It reports gross AFVs into the shops of 137, and SPWs 13 (9 of them TWO, the others damaged).

Adding them up - not everyone, but 4 heavy and 4 smaller Heer PDs in some of the most intense 2 weeks of mobile offensive combat of the war, we have 1176 AFVs and 876 SPWs exposed to battle damage over those 14 days, and the units report 1027 gross AFV losses, or 87% of initial strength, 6.25% of initial strength lost each combat day as an average. 137 SPWs are damaged or worse in the same period, 15.7% of initial strength or 1.1% per day. And of those SPW damaged or worse, less than 1/3rd are TWO.

Keep in mind, these losses were experienced by units conducting offensive operations through extensive mined areas, subject to periodic low level air attack including several reported strikes on command track concentrations and the like, and under incessant artillery fire from rockets, corps level guns, several armies worth of ordinary howitzers etc - for 2 weeks. Nothing like all those SPW losses, low as they are, came from front line action. Also notice that the absolute loss rate for the fighting AFVs was sufficient to send practically the entire fleet through the shops, so running strength left at the end (of *2 weeks* of action, not a full season or anything) reflected only what could be repaired - not something they would want to expose their first line transport to, if they could help it.

But hey, you try getting that kind of survivability out of your SPWs in CM - and that relative survivability of SPWs compared to full AFVs - then tell me again they routinely used them for front line combat as extra fire support, 100-200 yards from active enemies.

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There's already the option to add an LMG crew to the dismounts to represent the MG being unmounted before the battle gets under way.

In addition to that, in the editor the org at squad level changes between (mounted) and (unmounted) to reflect the extra man being extracted from manning the carrier MG and moving into the manoover squad

Mounted squad: 8 men, incl 2 x MG42

Dismounted squad: 9 men, incl 2 x MG42

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Jason I'm not sure anyone is saying they where used as close as 100 to 200 yards..but further back giving covering fire and suppression fire. They are a mobile MG unit..simple. Obviously they'd be abit more timid when armour is on the battlefield, but still I think they where used in the right circumstances for fire support.

Also you quote these horrendous losses which sort of proves they where used more than a Bus but where actually in combat.

I'm with Bil on this one. They are a quick mobile MG unit that can be used to give covering fire and suppressive fire from a reasonable distance (out of handheld anti tank weapons).

If they where used solely for transporting troops..I very much doubt they'd carry on building them or using them and just used a Blitz truck instead..saving the MG's for other uses.

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The following is all just my observations to date through the versions...

Any head sticking out of a vehicle, whether it be a commander, gunner, or firing passenger, is a high-priority sniper target. MGs as well will go for the head shot rather than a dismounted target. It is my opinion that it is a targeting code thing, that rates any vehicle mounted personnel higher than dismounts.

An actively firing 251 gunner gets more "attention" than one may feel is appropriate for the level of supposed real protection. This can lead to all sorts of under-the-hood dice rolls or whatever witchcraft BFC uses to determine each trooper's momentary level of competency. Like the trooper that cowers uselessly for five turns, breaks, then somehow summons the will to kill three enemy before running away. Troops shooting at mounted gunners may just have their "inspiration" rheostat turned up too high.

I agree that "there is something out there", but it just falls under my general category of... too bad/sucks to be us/war is hell. Work your tactics to fit what you experience... just like they had to back then.

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So one must accept the reality and move on.. like so ...

To get the most out of a 251's gun shield, the player should always try for both an elevation advantage and a slight backwards tilt to the 251. Keeping engagement ranges outside of zook range, and within normal "deployed" MG42 team ranges helps a lot as well.

251/1 has no organic gunner anyway, so until a mortar team or two is out of ammo, or some combat team has been rendered ineffective for other duty... they have no real way to contribute in an assault/direct support role.

Company XO teams are the most expendable assets at battle start if one would want to even use 251s early.

251 passengers CAN be given targeting/arc orders, and WILL stand up and send rounds downrange. A platoon of 251s advancing out of a smoke screen in echelon on Slow towards a woodline, with six or seven scout teams chewing up the woods with MP40s may just change a few minds about whether or not to use 251s in direct assault roles. A Puma, Lynx or other light support vehicle adds a nice touch as well to a mini-kampfgruppe.

Treat Hannomags and their passengers in any direct assault role just like all your chips at a poker table... already lost. Then bet them when you feel you should.

l'audace l'audace toujours l'audace... or keep 'em in the rear with the gear like they were used.

If you DO manage a breakthrough, you just change orders to FAST and now the enemy is really screwed, as you run rampant in the rear... dropping off a team here and there like little deadly Easter eggs.

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The majority of CM players most likely do not play at the point levels or battle sizes that would make any true offensive use of hannomags a sensible choice, given the likely casualty rates.

But when it works.... what a turn file!

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251/1 has no organic gunner anyway, so until a mortar team or two is out of ammo, or some combat team has been rendered ineffective for other duty... they have no real way to contribute in an assault/direct support role.

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Um, no, that's not the case.

Way back in 2011 I did some testing ;) regarding this fact and although incomplete, here were my findings :

Further to my question about when you get a "gunner'd" 251/1 and when you don't, if purchasing, I ran some QB selection tests.

It seems you get :

Panzergrenadier Battalion

Batt Hq : 251/1 No Gunner

Coy HQ : 251/3 No Gunner

XO Team : 251/3 No Gunner

Platoon HQ : 251/1 +Gunner

Squads : 251/1 +Gunner

Heavy platoon :

HQ : 251/1 +Gunner

HMG squads 2 per 251/1 : No Gunner ( makes sense as the HMG squads are 6 men each and a dedicated gunner in a 251/1 takes up one of the 12 passenger slots ).

Pioneer Battalion

Batt HQ : 251/3 +Gunner.

Vehicles purchased singly :

250/1 : +Gunner

250/3 : +Gunner

251/1 : No Gunner

251/3 : +Gunner

Couple of questions then arise :

1) Since I thought the */3 model is the radio-equipped version, why does the Panzergrenadier Battalion HQ get a 251/1 ?

2) Why is it that the 251/1 is the only version that comes without a dedicated gunner when bought individually ?

3) What is the rationale for the other distribution within the battalions ?

I'm not trying to say anything is "wrong" (particularly in the case of Q3 ), but you guys did all the TO&E research and I'd really like to know why.

Thanks

Questions 1-3 were never answered, the thread veered wildly off course and then died, lol.

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I'm ignoring your three questions, above. :) (BTW, regarding number 2, I just bought 50 individual 251/1's and they all came with drivers and gunners. Individual units in the editor)

A test: 300m, US teams vs. 251/1's. The halftracks had 100m covered arc to their 12 o'clock, fanatic morale. (Keep 'em heads up.)

The US had 5 man teams, made up of 4 Garands and one scoped 1903 Springfield, at 300m. Normal, regular.

After 1 minute, approximately 11 of 50 gunners were casualties. The squads fired an average of approx. 50 rounds per casualty. (Decent variation.)

Next up, the same test, but substituting US halftracks as the target.

Ken

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1) Since I thought the */3 model is the radio-equipped version, why does the Panzergrenadier Battalion HQ get a 251/1 ?

2) Why is it that the 251/1 is the only version that comes without a dedicated gunner when bought individually ?

3) What is the rationale for the other distribution within the battalions ?

Try to answer 1) and 3)

I checked the KStN 1108 (gp) Stab und Stabskompanie eines Panzergrenadierbattalions (gepanzert) from 1.11.1943 and the later with Freie Gliederung (F.G.) from 1.4.1945: Both show a 251/3 in the Stab - the 1943 Version had an additional 251/8 (Ambulance) in the Stab. In addition the Stab has 1 K√ľbelwagen and 4 Krad or Kettenkrad. The Stabskompanie has two 251/11 (Telephony) and one 251/3 - no other 251s. The 1945 version had just three 251/3 in the Stabskompanie the 251/11 had gone. There were no gunners assigned in the KStN on battalion level to the 251/3, there is a comment stating that one of the radio operators was a gunner at the same time.

The KStN 1114 c Panzergrenadierkompanie (gepanzert) from 1.11.1943 shows two 251/3 in the Kompanietrupp (HQ) with no gunner and not mentioning who would be the gunner. The Panzerzerstörertrupp then has a 251/17 (Flak) [Hope we'll get this one soon :) ]. Each Zugstrupp (Platoon HQ) was assigned a 251/17 too. The three 251/1 per platoon had assigned 1 gunner each. The heavy platoon had a 251/17 assigned to the Zugstrupp (platoon HQ) and the four HMGs were transported on two 251/17 too. The two 251/2 had MGs, but no specific gunners assigned. There were two 251/9 too.

In reality the 251/17 were a bit rare and were replaced by 251/10 and 251/1 it seems.

Later (1.7.44) the Zugstrupp of the heavy platoon had a 251/1 assigned instead of the 251/17. A 251/17 was assigned to the Kompanietrupp at the same time.

There is another KStN 1114 a (Freie Gliederung) dating from 1.8.44 with just two Panzergrenadier platoons with four 251/1 each all with gunners, one heavy platoon with one 251/1, two 251/2 (all without gunners) and two 251/9 . In addition there was a fourth platoon with six 251/21 (Flak).

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C3K, my take: if the HTs are spraying MG fire should the inf teams return fire at all? Their faces should be in the dirt, esp given the enhanced suppression effects in 2.01. Otoh, you didn't mention cover.

In C3K's test the HTs are *not* firing. He has given them short (100m) cover arcs and the infantry are 300m away.

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c3k - decent variation? Could you expand on that as I am conscious that for dome people 40-60 might be decent whereas 20-80 would be horrific in a U shaped graph.

You say next test M3's - I had assumed it would be the German Halftracks firing at the troops and seeing if the gunners then truly die more quickly or less quickly than when they simply man the guns. Just to check its not freak configuration result on other machines.

However as long as the tests are done it should be interesting.

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C3K, my take: if the HTs are spraying MG fire should the inf teams return fire at all? Their faces should be in the dirt, esp given the enhanced suppression effects in 2.01. Otoh, you didn't mention cover.

Good question. I gave the gunners a 100m covered arc. The GI's were 300m away. The halftrack gunners stood tall, but never fired a shot (as planned). So there was no incoming fire against the GI's which would skew the results.

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c3k - decent variation? Could you expand on that as I am conscious that for dome people 40-60 might be decent whereas 20-80 would be horrific in a U shaped graph.

You say next test M3's - I had assumed it would be the German Halftracks firing at the troops and seeing if the gunners then truly die more quickly or less quickly than when they simply man the guns. Just to check its not freak configuration result on other machines.

However as long as the tests are done it should be interesting.

bisu brought up, and baneman tested for, vulnerability of Hanomag gunners. Therefore, any outbound fire (from the halftrack) would skew any results. I may try an area target command and see if that changes anything. (And do the same tests w/the US halftracks.)

Whereas I have the savegames, I haven't done the maths. The 5 man teams started with 481 rounds of M2 .30 cal. ball. The variation seemed to be bounded by about 450 to 420 rounds left.

Ken

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