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20 mm AA guns, Tanks, and Spotting


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I find the dynamic between Sherman tanks and german 20 mm AA guns a bit strange. When my tank encounters one of these guns, I usually find out be hearing the 20 mm shells bounce off the front of the tank, which results in the crew popping smoke, and the tank retreating. Besides retreating, it is really annoying that the tank never seems to know where the shells came from. This seems odd to me for two reasons. 1) Why is the tank running away when the 20 mm shells cannot penetrate the target? (Very different from heavy machine gun fire), and 2) Shouldn't the tank be able to get some idea where the gun is located? I would think at least a sound contact should pop up. (Also you would think tracer rounds would give away the position.

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German 20mm guns can do a lot of damage to optics, radio, etc., even if they don't penetrate the Sherman's armor.

Step out of game-think and just consider the tactical situation for a moment:

If you're a tank commander and the first indication of a nearby enemy is the sudden clanging (and feel) of 20mm rounds impacting on your vehicle, it means you're being ambushed -- i.e., targeted by an enemy you haven't seen. And if the 20mm is targeting you, there could be panzerfausts lurking as well. Or, what if the 20mm was intended to attract your attention while an AT gun or a Panther is somewhere else, lining you up for a lethal shot on your flank? So the smart thing to do is get out of the ambush zone ASAP, establish some situational awareness, assess the situation, and then take appropriate action. If there's just the 20mm, you can always attack it on your own terms.

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... so the tank pulls out of LOF of the gun after the initial contact with the 20mm FlaK, and the TC opens the hatch to make contact with nearby friendly infantry, who scout ahead and return to tell him more or less where gun lies.

Armed with this new information, the TC closes the hatch and orders the driver forward again. But before the gunner can get a lock on the gun through the gunsight, dozens of 20mm AP rounds prang off the glacis and mantlet, tearing chips off of the armor and giving the tank crew and idea of what it would be like to live inside a blacksmith's anvil.

Concerned about damage to important components like tracks, gunsight, and vision slits, and perhaps more than a bit rattled by the impacts and the noise, the TC pops smoke and reverses out of contact again.

I don't see anything unrealistic about this sequence of events.

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Tanks are not the answer to all problems. If the 20mm AA is dominating your armour, hit it with mortars. Or maybe an HMG (which can be snuck into place, perhaps) to suppress the AA so the tank can finish it with DF HW. Or maybe you need to get some range on the AA with your tank gun; the dispersion at long range would probably mean the TC would be less spooked.

The reason good WW2 combat sims are interesting is because of the way they demonstrate the interactions of the various arms. AA is just a new entry on the circle of scissors-paper-stone-lizard-spock.

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Also, consider: In WW II, a Sherman tank could only have one type of main gun round loaded at a time. Since the primary threat to it would be armor, I think the default round was AP so that the tank could have the quickest possible reaction to an armor contact. So if the tank gets ambished by enemy 20mm, another reason to pop smoke and retreat out of the LOF is to give the loader time to put HE up the spout.

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A couple of comments on the side-

Can the tank crew really know that it's not a 37mm FLAK hitting them? It might be just a reaction to being hit by a weapon in the category of 'autocannon'.

In CMFI I've seen an M10 panic and retreat when fired upon by an MG (which was firing from a lower elevation, not from above.) So I think the game is modeling disruptive effects on the crew, rather than actual danger of penetration, when it makes the armor retreat.

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Despite all the explanations, I think someone who really knows the game should do a bit of testing on this one to ensure it's not some kind of bug?

Well, I don't pretend to speak for everyone who "really knows the game well", but personally I haven't seen anything to suggest there might be an issue here. When and if I do, I might run tests. But until then, I'll spend my limited testing time elsewhere. Gotta save at least a few hours a week for actually playing the game, ya know. :rolleyes:

But I encourage anyone who is interested in this condition or any other game condition to learn how to set up a simple test map in the editor and run some tests yourself. It's really not all that difficult; it's something you should be able to figure out yourself with a little RTFM and a couple hours of noodling. And if you do discover something interesting and/or in need of revision, please do let us know and I'll be one of the first to say thank you.

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I can't speak to how these weapons are modeled in the game, having not yet had a chance to use them, but I do think it's useful to examine combat footage to have a proper appreciation of what the hapless tank's experiencing. Take a look at what's going out. Starts at 26:18.

Now imagine that both hits and suitably positioned near misses that fuze all have real potential of stripping the tank practically bare: periscopes, sights, radio aerials, external MG, crew stowage, damaging tracks, sprockets, return rollers, etc.

There's a case from Tunisia in which a German infantry company cornered a Sherman in an olive grove and shot it to pieces with rifle and MG fire. No periscopes, no sights, turret jammed, tank immobilized and so on. The 20mm guns are probably firing a mix of API and HEI, with huge consequent potential for wreaking havoc on all exposed parts of the tank. There's also a further consideration: The Germans started using 20mm and 37mm in conjunction with such weapons as the 88. So now, it's not merely a 20mm cannon that must be considered, but a serious ATG as well. That such logic is real is shown by the 1956 Arab-Israeli War in which an Israeli recon unit with .50s in jeeps encountered Egyptian tanks in the street. Aiieee! The .50s burped, and both sides fled. The Israelis scooted because they were outmatched. The Egyptians ran because, in their mind, the next encounter might be an RR unit in jeeps, and Israel had them and used them lethally.

Regards,

John Kettler

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Also, consider: In WW II, a Sherman tank could only have one type of main gun round loaded at a time. Since the primary threat to it would be armor, I think the default round was AP so that the tank could have the quickest possible reaction to an armor contact. So if the tank gets ambished by enemy 20mm, another reason to pop smoke and retreat out of the LOF is to give the loader time to put HE up the spout.

This point peaks my curiosity. I have had the impression from reading a few number of books written by Allied ex-tankers (e.g. Tout, Hill, etc) that the default round in Normandy and beyond was in fact a HE round. It's good for infantry and PAK's and can still give an armoured vehicle a good rattle while the AP round gets fed into the breech for the second pop.

But that's my impression. So I'm not calling either way... but you've got me thinking now. :confused:

(Ouch.)

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It seems like the consensus is that it is being modeled correctly. Perhaps the issue is the binary nature of the Tac AI. In the face of 50 caliber machine fire (12.7 mM, I believe), the tank will ignore it, but the reaction to 20 mm fire is the same as the reaction to a 75 mm AT gun, pop smoke and retreat. Perhaps, there needs to be more variability in the Tac AI's decision making, i.e. in the face of 20 mm fire the tank only retreats half the time. Perhaps I will set up a test just to see how this works.

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This point peaks my curiosity. I have had the impression from reading a few number of books written by Allied ex-tankers (e.g. Tout, Hill, etc) that the default round in Normandy and beyond was in fact a HE round. It's good for infantry and PAK's and can still give an armoured vehicle a good rattle while the AP round gets fed into the breech for the second pop.

But that's my impression. So I'm not calling either way... but you've got me thinking now. :confused:

(Ouch.)

because you are correct, the default round was HE for most units during the last year of the war. There was slim chances of running into German armor, so the most likely target was going to be non-armor.

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It seems like the consensus is that it is being modeled correctly. Perhaps the issue is the binary nature of the Tac AI. In the face of 50 caliber machine fire (12.7 mM, I believe), the tank will ignore it, but the reaction to 20 mm fire is the same as the reaction to a 75 mm AT gun, pop smoke and retreat. Perhaps, there needs to be more variability in the Tac AI's decision making, i.e. in the face of 20 mm fire the tank only retreats half the time. Perhaps I will set up a test just to see how this works.

I agree with you in that it is not the best approach for the AI all the time but it is how it is. Plus taking out the gun is not hard in the present system either. Even if you want to use only that one tank.

When the smoke clears and your tank is out of line of sight of the AA gun,

Move the tank up only as far as needed to not be seen but able to fire on a action spot adjacent to the gun location. A minute or two of that and you normally have the gun suppressed and some of the crew killed or wounded. Then move into direct line of sight with the tank faced and aiming preset on the gun and you will then get off the first round to normally prevent any additional return fire. But using combined arms is a better method - this still works very well, of course something has had to the spot the gun before this works. Without a spot, dont waste your effort trying to take the gun on with the tank

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I decided to simulate this. I tried to build my own tank, but I gave up on it before getting up out of my chair. Too hard, donchaknow.

Instead, I grabbed a garbage can lid. I had one of my teenage sons grab one of our paintball guns. The other one fought to be included in the test. Strange. Usually they hate it when I force them to do chores. Be that as it may, I then had the stronger of the two grab the paintball gun, since the weaker was huddled in the fetal position, beaten and defeated. (After all, that is the only way to choose, is it not?) The son with the paintball gun then hid in the back yard.

I had a choice of either side of the house around which to enter the back. Sure enough, as I came out on my chosen side, my impregnable garbage can lid was pelted with paintballs! I was safe, but, partly based on his shouts of martial vigor and also because of the yells of the weaker son shouting "pin the old man down, I'm getting my paintball gun", I quickly retreated.

Performing a systems check, I realized that, aside from bruised shins, I was quite fine. I therefore went back into the yard, letting them know in no uncertain terms that the first one to fire upon me would be grounded.

I was immediately fired upon from two directions at once.

I retreated.

I have called my wife. She will be home soon. In the meantime, a pair of vagabonds are wandering about my yard. Offboard support will crush them.

All in all, I think the game simulates real life quite well.

Ken

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I decided to simulate this. I tried to build my own tank, but I gave up on it before getting up out of my chair. Too hard, donchaknow.

Instead, I grabbed a garbage can lid. I had one of my teenage sons grab one of our paintball guns. The other one fought to be included in the test. Strange. Usually they hate it when I force them to do chores. Be that as it may, I then had the stronger of the two grab the paintball gun, since the weaker was huddled in the fetal position, beaten and defeated. (After all, that is the only way to choose, is it not?) The son with the paintball gun then hid in the back yard.

I had a choice of either side of the house around which to enter the back. Sure enough, as I came out on my chosen side, my impregnable garbage can lid was pelted with paintballs! I was safe, but, partly based on his shouts of martial vigor and also because of the yells of the weaker son shouting "pin the old man down, I'm getting my paintball gun", I quickly retreated.

Performing a systems check, I realized that, aside from bruised shins, I was quite fine. I therefore went back into the yard, letting them know in no uncertain terms that the first one to fire upon me would be grounded.

I was immediately fired upon from two directions at once.

I retreated.

I have called my wife. She will be home soon. In the meantime, a pair of vagabonds are wandering about my yard. Offboard support will crush them.

All in all, I think the game simulates real life quite well.

Ken

Were they 20 mm paintballs? If not the whole test is invalidated and you now have to go back into the yard sans garbage lid. I think your pixeltruppen from your last dust up would appreciate that.

Edit this should also be a good test of the vulnerability of the c3k chin trap.

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Also, consider: In WW II, a Sherman tank could only have one type of main gun round loaded at a time. Since the primary threat to it would be armor, I think the default round was AP so that the tank could have the quickest possible reaction to an armor contact.

This is pure speculation. The type of round in the gun would be by determined by the local tactical situation. Besides, if you're expecting an ambush it will largely be by leg units.

So if the tank gets ambished by enemy 20mm, another reason to pop smoke and retreat out of the LOF is to give the loader time to put HE up the spout.

In a real situation this is true but since CM doesn't model which round is loaded this is moot.

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This is pure speculation. The type of round in the gun would be by determined by the local tactical situation. Besides, if you're expecting an ambush it will largely be by leg units.

So if the tank gets ambished by enemy 20mm, another reason to pop smoke and retreat out of the LOF is to give the loader time to put HE up the spout.

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God, Ken, you are such a wimp! When I was a kid oh, so long ago, my older brother made me run back and forth along the backyard fence, using my legs for moving BB gun targets. Apparently he was a bad shot, as a fair number of them struck above the waist.

When your boys decide to test with the .22, you may want to throw smoke bombs and beat a very hasty retreat before they begin the test.

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