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"Walking fire" with the Browning?


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Sorry to be that guy who just won't shut up :) But I was reading about the Browning Automatic Rifle on Wikipedia, and it says something about a doctrine of "walking fire" - allowing the gunner and his squad to advance towards an enemy position while firing at a steady rate to keep the enemy down. Basically a 1-team fire and maneuver.

Is this something I can do in the game, and if so, what's the best way to go about it?

My guess is it would ideally work something like this:

1: Suppress from cover

2: Issue a walking move order towards the enemy position, while keeping a fire order on that spot

3: Watch as your BAR-team casually walks up to the suppressed squad and kills them all.

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Moving infantry will, sometimes, stop to engage spotted targets. I don't think I've ever seen an infantryman fire their weapon "mid-stride". Your best bet for simulating this "doctrine" is probably, as you've suggested, but break the movement order into lots of short waypoints. That way, while the team is "regathering" itself at each waypoint, there's a chance the stationary members who reached the waypoint earliest will fire upon spotted targets.

However, I'm not sure it would be very effective in-game. For starters, your troops are liable to break into a run if they spot an enemy while "Move"-ing. Better would be to have actual Pauses at waypoints, with Quick, Fast Slow or Hunt movement between them. The benefit of having a pre-waypoint fire order is that it remains in place if Hunt cancels the following waypoint.

That said, I'm not sure I'd be terribly happy to be marching towards an armed foe, with only a 20round mag to keep the suppressure on... They'd have to be pretty close to get to them before I had to change mag, and who knows if they'll pop up and nail me while I'm slapping in a fresh box.

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I don't know if what you describe is currently possible in the game, but if it is it should also apply to other LMG like the BREN or MG42. Come to that, walking fire, especially with semi-automatic rifles or SMGs was also an available tactic in all armies that I am aware of. It doesn't seem to have be practiced a lot though. Alternating fire and movement was the preferred method, with one team/squad providing suppressive fire while another advances.

Michael

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...Your best bet for simulating this "doctrine" is probably, as you've suggested, but break the movement order into lots of short waypoints. That way, while the team is "regathering" itself at each waypoint, there's a chance the stationary members who reached the waypoint earliest will fire upon spotted targets.

However, I'm not sure it would be very effective in-game. For starters, your troops are liable to break into a run if they spot an enemy while "Move"-ing. Better would be to have actual Pauses at waypoints, with Quick, Fast Slow or Hunt movement between them. The benefit of having a pre-waypoint fire order is that it remains in place if Hunt cancels the following waypoint.

...

Trouble is, the guy with the LMG is usually the slowest, thus the last to arrive at each waypoint and will be the guy spending the least amount of time firing. :(

Probably will work better with SMG troops.

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Trouble is, the guy with the LMG is usually the slowest, thus the last to arrive at each waypoint and will be the guy spending the least amount of time firing. :(

Probably will work better with SMG troops.

Yeah. That too. I reckon there's probably a reason "fire and maneuver" survived into the modern infantry playbook as a standard approach, while "walking fire" didn't, really.

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The manual says that the Browning was designed for "walking fire" in WW1 but suggests that it was not used that way. I don't think I've ever read that such a thing was normal is WW2.

No, it wasn't for at least a couple of good reasons. One was that it slowed down the soldiers engaged in it, which meant that they were exposed longer to any return fire. The second is that it wasn't as accurate as fire from paused troops. At close range with automatic weapons that might not matter too much as walking fire was not expected to cause casualties, but to keep the enemy's heads down. But in order to cause suppression, the bullets have to be landing close enough to convince the enemy it is not worth popping up to take a look.

Michael

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Hmm, memories. About 30-35 years ago I was watching some WWII movie set in the ETO with my Dad (well, I was watching, he was mostly napping) and the typical all-American dogface squad was performing something akin to walking fire toward a German position. I asked him if he ever did anything like that (he was a BAR gunner/27 Div/PTO), 'cause it seemed both dangerous and fairly stupid. "Ehhh, once or twice, when we were pretty sure there were no Japs* around."

I don't know if he was BS-ing me or what.

*sorry, he was not a big fan of the Japanese

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Hmm, memories. About 30-35 years ago I was watching some WWII movie set in the ETO with my Dad (well, I was watching, he was mostly napping) and the typical all-American dogface squad was performing something akin to walking fire toward a German position. I asked him if he ever did anything like that (he was a BAR gunner/27 Div/PTO), 'cause it seemed both dangerous and fairly stupid. "Ehhh, once or twice, when we were pretty sure there were no Japs* around."

I don't know if he was BS-ing me or what.

*sorry, he was not a big fan of the Japanese

Thanks for asking straight at the source (although indirectly!). After reading more about the maneuver, it does seem like something dreamt up from behind a desk far behind the front lines...

Can't help but laugh thinking about your father snoozing at the cinema, that war movie must have seemed a thin cup of tea compared to being there himself :)

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The Designers notes to the innovative AH cardgame UpFront mentioned that late war US infantry facing minimal opposition (snipers) used a primitive recon by fire tactic called "March Fire", enabled by their M1s and BARs. It basically meant hosing down possible enemy positions as they advanced, presumably in skirmish line. No idea of their source material, nor would I defend this practice, but I wasn't there.....

Recon by fire in dense terrain, as well as poor marksmanship skills, were part of the impetus behind the introduction of the M16 to replace the M14, I have heard anecdotally. But there too, season those "facts" to taste....

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Recon by fire in dense terrain, as well as poor marksmanship skills, were part of the impetus behind the introduction of the M16 to replace the M14, I have heard anecdotally. But there too, season those "facts" to taste....

Hadn't hear that one before. What I have heard is that the M16 was a lighter weapon using lighter ammunition, which was appreciated by troops who had to lug it all around in a hot muggy environment. It also had a lighter recoil, which was appreciated by smaller troops, such as many of our allies to whom we were supplying arms at the time.

Michael

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