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Need for an "attack hunt" mode?????


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This being my 100th post and all I thought I'd pull out all the stops and write a doozy. While I don't know if the game needs such a mode (more on this later) I thought it would make for an interesting discussion if nothing else. Also, I've so much enjoyed the book that I've been reading that I thought I would share some of the truly incredible stories about the 1st SS Panzers Heavy Tank Co (later Battalion) related therein. Including one about German tank ace Michael Wittmann.

First though, let's take a look at what started this. The following is taken from Fionn's post in the "Some assistance is required thread"

"Hunt: This is a very slow movement but once it spots the enemy it will halt and engage it until the enemy is destroyed so proper usage of these various commands would result in exactly what you are describing."

Having read this post in addition to also currently reading a book called, "Michael Wittman and the Tiger Commanders of the Liebstandarte" has got me thinking (by the way simply an outstanding book, I'm only 1/4 of the way through it and it just keeps getting better and better. Highly, highly recommended). I hope that I don't go too much off the deep end here, so bear w/ me. If nothing else maybe I can win the coveted all time longest post award here at BTS smile.gif And, at the same time relate a couple of astonishing stories of the achievements of the Liebstandartes 13th Heavy Tank Co. (all Tiger I's) in Russia.

First to business, I'm beginning to think there needs to be another mode in the game that I'll call "Attack Hunt". While I'm hopeful that the game will allow (maybe already indirectly does???) something akin to what I'm about to describe with its existing command set and orders structure, I'm not sure that it does (maybe with the 60 second turns it won't be too difficult to achieve the type of results that I'm about to describe by issuing various changes in orders to the tanks during each turn). Part of what "worries" me here is the statement above (I'll assume it's true for now) that the current "hunt" mode is a slow and methodical form of advance. While this is fine in theory and most certainly would be appropriate in many cases in terms of advancing into enemy territory depending on the given tactical situation, it definitely stands in sharp contrast to many of the accounts that I've read so far in the aforementioned book which occurred on the Eastern front in '43 and early '44 in terms of actual German armor tactics. In fact the book mentions time and again how German panzer units on both attack and counterattack missions advanced anything but slowly and methodically, often times against a far numerically superior force, and wrecked absolutely havoc among the enemy forces causing them considerable losses.

While I realize that in some ways CM / west front and the east front are different. Trust me, I couldn't see what I'm about to relay to you as described in the book taking place in the boccage of Normandy for example. However, there are plenty of other places all over France, Belgium, western Germany, etc. similar in terrain and military situation where such things could have and probably did occur (haven't gotten that far in the book yet so I don't know for certain).

So what am I blabbering about anyway? Well here are two excerpts of actual combat occurrences described in the book which, to say the least, are extraordinary. However they also help to illustrate what I mean by "attack hunt". Furthermore, trust me when I tell you this that the book relates dozens of other action accounts by German units in attacks against very well dug in Russian infantry, tank, and AT forces, where time and again similar (not nearly as extraordinary though) results were obtained from using the exact same tactics of quick advance, momentarily stop, fire, quick advance, stop, fire, and so on. The more I read, the more obvious it becomes that the Germans had the art of tank warfare and tactics honed to a very fine level in comparison to any of the Russian or Western Allied powers they faced.

This first excerpt from the book starts on p.77 and relates the story of a single Tiger I tank during the battle of Kursk in summer of '43. Note that in the interest of time I'm leaving certain "non-critical" bits of the story out.

"SS-Unterscharfuhrer Franz Staudeggar of Wendorff's IInd Platoon was unable to take part in the attack by his company on the morning of the 8 July as his Tiger had suffered mechanical breakdown. He therefore stayed behind in Teterevino. A few hours later he was told that a group of about 50 to 60 Soviet T-34's was approaching from the northeast.

Without hesitating for a second, Staudeggar used all the means at his disposal to make his Tiger derivable again, then set out alone in the direction of the reported enemy tanks. On the way a grenadier advised him that five Soviet tanks had already broken into the German positions (all infantry formations).

Shortly thereafter, he saw the infantry knock out two of the T-34's. He was able to dispatch the remaining three in short order. Then, suddenly, two T-34's appeared on the railway embankment. Direct hits destroyed both in a matter of seconds. He then drove through the infantry positions into no mans land, completely on his own, one man against 60 enemy tanks (several already destroyed of course). Then he saw them. Five more tanks emerged from a wood beyond the railway embankment. He issued his instructions to the crew. Immediate Heinz Buchner took aim at the first and put a round into its turret, whereupon it exploded. The other T-34's now opened fire on the Tiger. Staudeggar fired repeatedly and destroyed all five Soviet tanks in this incredibly difficult fire fight.

Then more T-34's poured out of the woods and Stuadeggar immediately took up the fight. He directed a stream of orders at his gunner: aim, fire, hit! The hardest work was done by the loader Walter Henke as he heaved shell after shell in the breech of the 88. Herbert Stellmacher kept the Tiger constantly in motion (between firings), skillfully changing positions in front of the mass of enemy tanks so that they were unable to zero in on the lone Tiger (first evidence of need for an "attack hunt" order IMO). The green T34's with the red star were not far away. The Tiger's solo battle lasted for two hours, by which time Stuadeggar had destroyed a total of 17 tanks!

The Tiger had taken hits but they had inflicted no damage. The enemy finally realized that there was not getting through there and withdrew. However, Staudeggar wasn't ready to just pull back to the security of his own lines. He wanted more. Throwing caution to the wind (well sorta) he set his Tiger in motion to track down the enemy tanks. It was a daring decision (and perhaps none to wise IMO) whose chances of success were limited, for the danger of walking into a Soviet trap was great.

The big Tiger rolled forward slowly; its commander's attention focused on the terrain (great example of "hunt" mode being employed here, but we shall see that they quickly shift gears to an "attack hunt" mode momentarily). An AP shell lay in the breech and Buchner sat a the telescopic sight, senses taut. Then, suddenly, he saw them; the enemy tanks had regrouped in a gully. The Tiger's engine raced as it approached (going into what I call "attack hunt" mode here), then halted abruptly and the first shell left the long barrel and struck its target. The Tiger fired shell after shell and Stuadeggar picked off 5 more T-34's from the middle of the mass of tanks. With its AP ammo expended, the Tiger began firing HE rounds. Four additional T34's were seen to be hit.

The Soviets were completely dismayed, the Tiger seemed invincible. The survivors took flight in panic in hope of avoiding total destruction…."

IMHO, it is plain to see that in this admittedly incredible action, that the commander used a combination of both "hunt" and "attack hunt" modes of operation. BTW the next day infantry patrols confirmed the kills and Staudeggar was recommended for the Knight's Cross. In case you lost count he destroyed 22 enemy tanks in just this one action! One day after that it was awarded to him for his incredible bravery in stopping the Soviet thrust.

My next example starts on p.161 and I'll try to keep a little shorter in the interest of time. It concerns the actions of our old friend tank ace Michael Wittmann in Jan. '44. Early on the morning of the 13th, the Soviets launched a major attack. They breached the German MLR (main line of resistance) and advanced to Chesnovka. Wittmann and several other Tigers were ordered to advance there and stop them.

"Michael Wittmann and his crew quickly climbed aboard the tank; the commander gave the command "panzer march!" and the Tiger set itself in motion.

Wittmann concentrated on the terrain in front of him, searching for the Soviet AT guns he so respected. Sitting at his feet was Bobby Woll; the gunner slipped on his headset and throat microphone. He checked his equipment and released the safety in order to be ready to fire immediately. An AP round already lay in the breech. It was quiet inside the tank ; the only sound was the rumbling of the tanks motor as it approached the enemy positions.

In staggered positions behind Wittmann were several other Tigers of the 13th company. Woll was adjusting the range scale, when suddenly he heard Wittman's voice on the headset: "Attention, tank at two o'clock." Woll immediately trod on the pedal and the Tiger's turret began to rotate in the assigned direction. With his left hand he set the range on his telescopic site, while with his right he turned the elevation wheel. Soon the first T34 was in his sight. As soon as the pointed-post reticle was superimposed on the tank he fired. It was a direct his which blew off the Soviet tanks turret. Wittman's driver pulled away immediately and drove on (more of what I would call "attack hunt" mode quick movements,stops, firing, moving, etc.). Wittmann spotted the main body of the enemy tanks. He gave the order to fire, but Woll had already targeted the nearest tank. His shot struck it in the side. Woll immediately took aim at the next; the sound of the 88 firing and the impact of the shell were one. Gunner Woll worked with uncanny precision. His forehead pressed firmly against the telescopic sight's headrest. One tank after another fell victim to Wittman's Tiger. The tank remained constantly in motion so as to not offer a stationary target to a T34 or lurking AT gun Wittman maneuvered skillfully in front of the Soviet tanks, stopping only briefly to fire (again, perhaps a mixture of "hunt" / "attack hunt" modes). The other Tigers had by now joined the battle, their 88 mm guns barked sharply. Suddenly a fountain of earth rose up in front of Wittmann's Tiger. Wittmann saw a Soviet heavy assault gun. Two hits were sufficient to disable this new foe. The loader immediately inserted another round and the Tiger moved off. Then another firing halt and once again an AP round struck home. There were burning T34's everywhere in the snow covered landscape, but several Soviet tanks were still driving about and firing wildly. Wittmann knocked out several more tanks before the furious battle ended. Exhausted and emotionally drained, he set out for home.

In the action described above, together with action the previous day, Wittman had destroyed 16 T34's and 3 assault guns. Raising his total kills to date to eight-eight! Wittmann, already a Knight's Cross holder was recommended for and received the addition of the "Oak Leaves" to his KC. Woll was recommended for and received the Knights Cross, having previously received the Iron Cross."

Needless to say, another simply amazing story. I never knew the details of how the German's actually fought their armored battles before reading this book. It is simply incredible. Also take note of how both officers took full advantage of only momentarily stopping to fire, then quickly darting off to some other spot to once again stop and fire. Over and over again you see the same thing described in battle after battle that this unit took part in 1943 - 44 Russia. It is relatively easy to ascertain that other German tank units used similar tactics as well. Other accounts tell much the same story when the Germans were on the attack. Take for example how commander Jochen Pieper used mixed armored (halftrack) Panzer Grenadiers, with Tiger's (and other tanks lent to his PG's for the attack) in the spearhead to dauntlessly (very well planned out before hand I might had) rush a village and take it by storm. It describes how the PG's in their HT's stormed ahead w/ guns blazing right along w/ the Tigers (again using what I would call "hunt attack" mode to quickly advance before the enemy could react.). Supporting follow up troops and Pzkw IV's and V's were not far behind in support of the attack.

In any event, I hope CM's command set and orders structure supports such tactics and actions as they are quite evidently a very major part of the German tank and combined arms tactics. And if the ability to somehow achieve an "attack hunt" mode is not in the game I would most certainly think that it should somehow be directly or indirectly implemented. Hopefully it already is.

By the way, do I win the award for longest post???? If nothing else, I hope everyone enjoyed the stories from the book. I know that I have. smile.gif

Regards,

Mike D

aka Mikester

[This message has been edited by Mike D (edited 08-22-99).]

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Guest Big Time Software

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>By the way, do I win the award for longest post????<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

No award, but you certainly "won" the contest smile.gif

But after all of that... there is no need for an "Attack Hunt" order. What you have to keep in mind is that these battle descriptions are compressed timewise. The action of taking out 3 tanks in "short order" probably took 5-10 minutes (or longer). That is 5-10 turns in CM scale. Could of even happened quicker if the enemy tanks were bunched up and in open ground with a really good gunner.

Point here is that you can do combos of drive fast, halt, hunt, move, etc. in 5-10 turns quite a bit. You can even do combos within ONE turn. Drive your tank full speed (Fast) to get to a good clearing, then order it to go into Hunt mode and advance towards the enemy's flank, then pehaps change back to Fast.

What you did NOT see in WWII combat was a tank driving full speed ahead whacking stuff while still on the move. Because of the gun systems and turrets of the day, such shots wouldn't likely hit the broadside of a barn. Some American tanks had stabilizers, which helped out, but still did not really do much when driving at high speeds over anything but flat pavement.

So, CM reflects WWII combat very well as is. You drive fast to get into a good spot, then get into a firing position, shoot at the enemy, then move on. Our Hunt order allows you to tell a unit to stop and fire on the fly as the situation dicates. Units will also fire while doing Move and Fast orders, but much less likely so (especially for Fast). Hunt is designed to have the vehicle cease movement and concentrate on killing stuff.

Hope this is clear smile.gif

Steve

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"No award, but you certainly "won" the contest"

Darn, I was hoping to get a free copy of the game! smile.gif

"What you have to keep in mind is that these battle descriptions are compressed timewise. The action of taking out 3 tanks in "short order" probably took 5-10 minutes (or longer). That is 5-10 turns in CM scale. Could of even happened quicker if the enemy tanks were bunched up and in open ground with a really good gunner."

Steve, while in general I would agree with you, I think that in some instances (perhaps not very often though) at least a couple of tanks could be knocked out within a single 60 second period.

"Point here is that you can do combos of drive fast, halt, hunt, move, etc. in 5-10 turns quite a bit. You can even do combos within ONE turn. Drive your tank full speed (Fast) to get to a good clearing, then order it to go into Hunt mode and advance towards the enemy's flank, then pehaps change back to Fast."

Being able to issue combinations orders utilizing waypoints, etc. to combine rapid short movements with fire / hunt orders is exactly what I wanted to here you say. Hopefully you can do this to some degree even within a given order plot phase? If this is already possbible in CM then there is no need for a special "attack hunt" order. How many move / fire and/or hunt orders can be strung together and issued to a single tank for a given turn???

"What you did NOT see in WWII combat was a tank driving full speed ahead whacking stuff while still on the move. Because of the gun systems and turrets of the day, such shots wouldn't likely hit the broadside of a barn."

Absolutely not, I'm totally in agreement w/ you here.

"So, CM reflects WWII combat very well as is. You drive fast to get into a good spot, then get into a firing position, shoot at the enemy, then move on. Our Hunt order allows you to tell a unit to stop and fire on the fly as the situation dicates. Units will also fire while doing Move and Fast orders, but much less likely so (especially for Fast). Hunt is designed to have the vehicle cease movement and concentrate on killing stuff."

Sounds good to me. Will experienced tank crews suffer less of an accuracy penalty employing these move and fire, move and fire, type of tactics?? I would certainly think that would be the case.

"Hope this is clear."

100% clear, and thanks for the response. Sounds like you guys have this base covered just like all the rest. smile.gif

Mike

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