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CM Black Sea - Beta Battle Report - US/UKR Side


pnzrldr

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pnzrldr,

Remember, you've got only 1904 rounds--minus what you've already expended. If Russian 30 mm HE is anything like our 25 mm, the burst radius should be at least 5 meters. Even sans airburst, nothing to sneeze at, especially in the doses you're applying. Turning now to the fearsome fowl aka BMP-3, do you happen to know what type of laser it has installed? The reason I ask is that the visual band stuff can't see through smoke dust, and other battlefield obscurants. It's possible the BMP-3 may be targeting and killing where it can't see to range. Even thermal sights don't solve the problem, for range determination requires a laser rangefinder. You, of course, know these things, but does the game?

Regards,

John Kettler

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As PdPK Borys watched, KPT Antonyuk’s 1st PLT BMPs to his rear moved back up into firing positions to reengage the enemy tracks in the treeline to their front. Their engine whining as they moved, up, Borys’ felt his heart skip a beat as the center BMP’s Konkurs missile launcher flashed smoke and flame, but his burst of excitement died as the missile dove into the ground 200m short of its intended target. As he watched in growing horror, the BMP-3 responded.

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Despite the previous penetrating hit, it appeared unharmed, and it sent an ATGM back at the Ukrainian vehicle in response, a smaller missile launched straight from its 100mm cannon tube. This missile tracked straight and true, actually flying just over the smoke and dust from the Konkurs, and smashing into the vehicle’s front hull. Its warhead detonated, the shaped-charge jet lancing through the BMP’s thin frontal armor, spewing white-hot gaseous metal into the inner compartment, killing the driver and commander, and leaving the vehicle a smoldering horror. A second later, as if to make doubly sure, a solid burst of 30mm fire smashed into the stricken vehicle, spalling chunks of armor and outer kit into the air as it tore through the wreck. Just a split instant later, another GLATGM fired from the BMP-3’s unmolested partner detonated on the 1st PLT BMP-2 who had earlier scored a hit on his fellow. This missile immediately set the Ukrainian track on fire. Borys watched as the two of the three crewmen leapt from their vehicle and sprinted for cover – the driver died where he sat. An airburst round detonated over the track seconds later, hastening them on their way.

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LT Lysenko watched the missiles and beads of fire streaking across the field from his vantage point in the power plant’s control building. He craned his head to see, trying to discern what was happening and who was winning the concussive fight. Suddenly his world turned black, and he was knocked to the floor. Dust filled the room, as the young Leytenant got shakily to his feet, his ears ringing from the blast. I hole had opened in the wall of the room, about a meter above his head. He had no idea where the explosion had come from and wondered whether he had been spotted by as yet unseen Russians’ below. He gave quick mental thanks that it had not been a bigger round that caused it. He raised the handmike he still clutched to his ear to ask his Squad leader in the power plant access control building whether he had seen what happened. Tension on the mike cord caused him to look back to his RTO – “Mish…” the private lay face down on the floor, blood spreading from under his downturned face. He dropped the mike and dug at his combat webbing for a bandage.

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Outside of Krichek, the commander of TG21 gave terse command to his driver, and tensed as he boldly pulled back up to observe hill 347. He knew the T-90 he had hit could easily be focused on his previous firing position, but his new spot was only a few meters offset from it. But he had seen movement on the hillside as they backed down and he wanted to see if they could hurt the unsuspecting Russian invaders from behind. He scanned the hillside with his binoculars, but saw no sign of the Russian tank. A moment later he spotted a BMP-3 – looking straight at the vehicle through the trees near the top of the hill, he was staring right at the thin rear doors. He grinned an evil smile as he twitched his turret override controls to place his gunner onto the target. No more pounding his gunner this time, he calmly asked if he could see the target.

“Yes Sir, I see it. Should I shoot?”

“Kill the Russian dogs!”

The whole vehicle shook as the twin automatic cannons cycled at their cyclic rate of nearly 650 rounds per minute. Two quick bursts, and the distant BMP literally leapt into the air, the heavy rounds tearing through it and detonating its on board ammunition, throwing the flaming hulk three meters high before it smashed to earth in the crater it had just created.

“Nice. Now scan and let us find another one.”

“Sir, how about this to the left. Is that an enemy or friendly vehicle?”

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PFC Keane followed the radio conversation between his section leader, SSG Svendson, and LT Upham as they coordinated their rendezvous to deliver the Javelin. He was sitting in a nylon web sling strapped under the hatch of his uparmored HMMWV peering over the sights of his M2HB .50 caliber machinegun, listening on his headset. Armored glass and steel formed a cupola around him, with a small gap around the gun to allow it to be trained on targets. The gun itself was actually invented by John Browning in 1918. It fired heavy two ounce slugs of copper jacketed lead which could tear through buildings, trees or even light armor. Despite its age, the ‘Ma-deuce’ remained a formidable weapon, and the private was confident he could shoot it with accuracy. He and the Private driving were well trained – they had arrived to the Platoon at FT Stewart, GA nearly six months prior and had been together on the same vehicle ever since. As the US involvement had ramped up, their Battalion had switched to six and then seven day weeks, with the hours stretching longer and longer every day. Short overnight exercises, bled into the full mission rehearsal exercise. Originally scheduled as a rotation to the Army’s National Training Center in the Mojave desert of California, the urgency had cut it to a mere ten days out in the swampy terrain around Fort Stewart. Despite this, their leaders had focused the training on tactical tasks – using and maintaining their equipment until it became routine. Doing the harder tasks over and over. Learning solutions to the problems that hard, heavy armored vehicles pose when broken or stuck. Spending hours on ranges, learning to fire their weapons beyond the basic qualification standards, with nearly unlimited quantities of the usually strictly controlled training ammunition. Now, PFC Keane put that training to the test – he saw the enemy first, catching the movement as a Russian BTR 8-wheeled APC pulled up onto the hill.

“Jason, I see one. There’s lots of movement up there. They are gonna see us for sure. Get ready to back up after I fire…. <Outlaw 16, this is Outlaw 12 Golf, contact, BTR right front, engaging, out.>” He settled behind the spade grips, laying the enemy vehicle directly between the rails of the ladders sight and aligning it with the 600m mark, then braced for the recoil and pressed down steadily on the steel ‘butterfly’ triggers. The gun burst to life, hammering out a short burst. Keane watched the tracers whipping towads the target, and saw sparks fly as the rounds connected with the enemy vehicle, several tracers ricocheting crazily skyward from the BTR’s armor. He fired another burst, then a longer one, willing the heavy slugs to shatter the Russian PC. Each burst hit, showering more sparks and more tracers flying off in different directions. But the Russian vehicle didn’t burn or back up. Keane saw it shift, and then saw clearly the small bubble turret on top rotate in his direction as he fired again. This time the flash of his rounds impacting was accompanied by the muzzle flash of the Russian heavy machinegun returning fire. The rounds zipped past over their HMMWV as Keene fired again, shouting for the driver to back them up. Just as he had been trained, the private backed the HMMWV up, but after thirty meters or so he stopped. Without SSG Svendson to tell him, he did not know from his position if they were now masked by the terrain. “We good?” he yelled up at Keane. Another burst of Russian HMG fire came in, this time connecting with Keane’s cupola, shattering one of the heavy glass windows into a snowflake, and spraying powdered glass all over the front of his uniform.

“Hell NO! Back up!” as the gunner fired yet again. As if to add punctuation to this, a BMP on the hill fired a single round of 30mm HE which detonated against a tree just a few meters in front of their HMMWV. Keane fired again as he felt the vehicle lurch backwards again, and prayed they would make it to cover, as he cursed the unknown decisions that had him shooting a 99 year old machinegun that apparently couldn’t do the job he needed it to after all. Though fixated on the Russian BTR, he vaguely noted the rest of the slope of Hill 347 exploding into fire and smoke as they backed down.

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KPT Antonyuk had no idea what happened to his 3rd Platoon. Deployed in a line on the north side of Hill 347, the LT leading the PLT dismounted and directed his BMPs to follow in a ‘vee’ formation, and support his two squads of infantry, as they had done in training. He had his eye on a slight ridge to his front, with moderate trees and brush for cover, which he anticipated would provide a good spot to contest control of the hillside with advancing infantry. He missed having his 1st Squad the KPT had directed him to dismount back at the ravine, but figured he had enough men with 2d and 3d squads. Unfortunately, the Russians beat them to the ridge. As they advanced, 2d squad had begun to bound by fire teams. They could all hear the engines of the advancing Russian mech teams, but the hillside made estimating the distance deceptive. The team leader suddenly spotted a heavy BMP-3 grinding over the ridge less than 75 meters upslope from him. He quickly unpacked the folding RPG-22 he carried. This older Russian copy of the US M-72 LAW still packed enough warhead to kill the Russian track, if it could find a way past the explosive reactive armor. Perhaps a true long shot, but it was all he had so he leveled it and fired, but as he did, an airburst round from another BMP-3 detonated to his front, dropping a squad mate and ruining his aim. The round slapped a tree branch and detonated short, as the heavy fighting vehicle swung its turret toward the team.

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It opened fire, mercilessly blasting him and his squad with combined heavy and medium cannon fire. The PLT’s northernmost BMP-2 spotted the Russian track and hammered it with a burst of 30mm, scoring a penetrating hit. But the gunner mistook his success for failure as the vehicle showed no outward sign of damage, and began switching to his missile system. Once again the trees played havoc, and the missile crashed and detonated short of the target. But the Russian track now alert to the threat, reoriented its weapons from gunning down Ukrainian infantry and blasted the BMP-2 with 30mm fire, not stopping until smoke rose from the burning vehicle. The other BMP at southern tip of the ‘vee’ spotted and killed a Russian dismount, as the shattered surviving Ukrainian infantry sprinted past his vehicle to the rear, seeking cover. Six of the fourteen infantrymen of the two squads lay dead or incapacitated, as the PL desperately tried to gain some semblance of control, and the Russian BMPs continued to hammer the trees around them with explosives.

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On the other side of the hill, Antonyuk was oblivious to 3d Platoon’s plight, but was keenly aware that 2d Platoon was in dire circumstances. He sent his command track to try and reinforce them, but the position was poor, hemmed in at the base of the hill by the butt end of a ravine which restricted their access to the western slopes where they could contend with the Company of Russians which had popped up to the south. Antonyuk realized this Russian company’s existence when its first cannon round detonated over a 2nd Platoon squad working its way up the slope. The Ukrainians were now literally caught in a crossfire from three directions – nearly a perfect kill sack - as they faced the two BMPs they had unsuccessfully engaged to the east along the treeline, the company of tracks to the south and the elements of the Russian company on hill 347 itself which closed in, curling around the peak to the south and firing down on them from the north east.

It was the lead BMP of this element that faced SGT Cox and his team. The Sergeant was still cursing himself for failing to bring an AT-4, as he silently slithered backwards away from the BMP while its turret quested left and right seeking targets. He backed away, and then turned, low crawling trying to be a part of the ground. He thought they had succeeded, that their camouflage had shielded them from the Russian's thermal sights and they would make it to a defilade, when unimaginable sound engulfed him. It was like enormous sledghammers were pounding anvils on all sides of him. His legs felt like they were on fire and he looked back dazed to see if they were even still there. As he turned to look at his bleeding shrapnel-torn legs, he saw behind him his two teammates, literally blown into pieces, struck by a full burst of the heavy 30mm high explosive fire at point blank range. Shattered ribs and a half an arm jutted from shredded multicam of what had instants before been his closest friend. He also saw the a smoking muzzle of the Russian cannon pointing directly at him. He jumped up and ran, sobbing, his mind shrieking in terror. He sprinted just a short way and dove behind a tree, gasping, staring crazily around in panic, but then steadying, his breath slowing… “Never shall I leave a fallen comrade!” he muttered from the Ranger creed, closing his eyes and biting his lip. He told himself he would probably die. Then he clenched his jaw, took a breath, and began crawling back the way he had come.

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CM is CPU bound. I have a 4GB GTX680 and framerates can be poor at times, it's not because of the GPU. I wouldn't say performance in most of the titles is any better with the 680 than it was with the 1.5GB GTX580 that preceded it, because really it's the CPU Ghz that counts. What CPU do you have?

6300FX is what I have.

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That Bastion missile needs it's model updated so it doesn't look so much like 9k111. :) Great writeup and the addition of the story is awesome. Do you think your Ukrainians would have performed better if you kept them in the urban environment of the pocket? That way the superior sensors on the Russian vehicles would be negated to some degree, and it looks like your units in the pocket aren't taking casualties from the heavy artillery. The downside is that Bil would have almost free passage to your US forces arrival areas. I guess we have yet to see how your Ukrainians perform in urban combat once the battle shifts to the pocket later on. :D

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Stagler,

The Russians already had combined visual and IR blocking obscurants on their tanks and other AFVs as of 1978. I got that straight from the Branch Chief, Target Signature and Image Metrology, Army Foreign Science and Technology Center in 1978 when I gave my first threat briefing at Hughes in that year. By contrast, the US soldiered on with red phosphorus visible band only obscurant until decades later.

pnzrldr,

What an ugly turn and grim, gory reading. What's that? Over there! It's c3k lapping up blood. Again. Insatiable, that one! Why was PFC Keane's .50 BMG not armed with at least some API-T? A load of nothing but ball strikes me as fundamentally insane, particularly in a known armor environment. You'd better hope your tanks get here soonest, while you still have a force to rescue.

Regards,

John Kettler

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Great AAR, i love the stroy telling. It is very immersive, really, and it complements excellently with Bils cold tactical analysis of the game. But could you occasionally post a screenshot from high above the map so we get a an idea of the big picture? Like, every 5 turns or so.

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I'm afraid I have to come down against the story telling. The reason? It takes too much time to read for the quantity of information delivered. The captions on the pics are actually more useful to me, I just wish there were more of those and less "literature". I suppose this puts me in a minority, but I thought my voice should be heard.

Michael

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All - well, as you probably see from Bil's more up to date posting, the wheels are coming off for our poor UKR boys and PdPK Levchenko. Next couple turns C3K will get his wish for more blood, but unfortunately little of it will be Bil's Russians. We will sting from time to time. I am genuinely concerned about having the US reinforcements arrive on map in a 50m duel with T-90s at this point. Noted that we have some who don't dig the story telling - sorry, I am having fun. It is admittedly what is keeping me a couple turns behind in posting, but I made the decision to go with it and so am driving on. I will, however, give a few more situational shots, as the Speed and Power boys get closer. Once they get on map and we systematically annihilate Bil, perhaps I can do a more clinical treatment in the next AAR, rematch for say the first module pack or something? He'll need some revenge after what our Abrams plan on doing to him. ;-)

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I am genuinely concerned about having the US reinforcements arrive on map in a 50m duel with T-90s at this point.

This strikes me as a rather unrealistic element in this battle, although I suppose this scenario might be more about showing off the various units in the game than realism. It certainly won't be boring, but it might be over quickly.

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Yes, it is unfortunately a function of having a H2H match built to order for a committee, not the players involved. It was billed as a US/UKR attack, and I think the design team presumed Bil would happily squeeze Krichek and fight a security zone battle with limited elements in defensive forward outposts against the UKR company and scouts. Unfortunately, he decided (correctly) that Hill 347 represents truly key terrain, and that taking it would best be accomplished with two mutually supporting MRCs - which my current forces on map have/had no hope of stopping. I did think the infantry would have done a bit better up on the hill, but forgot to factor in the APS/ERA on the BMP3s that makes INF AT weapons an even tougher proposition against them. I also underestimated their close range anti-personnel lethality - stupid, since I've inflicted them on Bil in this role before. One thing we are seeing now is that they spot INF in woods much easier than say AFVs in WWII, and this is a factor of the thermal sight modeling you see in CMBS. Modern tanks don't use thermals only at night - they make INF in woods stand out like neon signs, unless they are truly behind strong cover/concealment. Camo is a non-factor, and movement stands out especially strongly. This aspect of modern warfare is something players will have to learn as they play this title. Some will feel it imbalances the game, but truly, modern AFVs are ridiculously lethal if they operate with no real consideration for civilian/collateral damage. The imbalance is actually pretty realistic and something commanders must account for.

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Yes, it is unfortunately a function of having a H2H match built to order for a committee, not the players involved. It was billed as a US/UKR attack, and I think the design team presumed Bil would happily squeeze Krichek and fight a security zone battle with limited elements in defensive forward outposts against the UKR company and scouts. Unfortunately, he decided (correctly) that Hill 347 represents truly key terrain, and that taking it would best be accomplished with two mutually supporting MRCs - which my current forces on map have/had no hope of stopping. I did think the infantry would have done a bit better up on the hill, but forgot to factor in the APS/ERA on the BMP3s that makes INF AT weapons an even tougher proposition against them. I also underestimated their close range anti-personnel lethality - stupid, since I've inflicted them on Bil in this role before. One thing we are seeing now is that they spot INF in woods much easier than say AFVs in WWII, and this is a factor of the thermal sight modeling you see in CMBS. Modern tanks don't use thermals only at night - they make INF in woods stand out like neon signs, unless they are truly behind strong cover/concealment. Camo is a non-factor, and movement stands out especially strongly. This aspect of modern warfare is something players will have to learn as they play this title. Some will feel it imbalances the game, but truly, modern AFVs are ridiculously lethal if they operate with no real consideration for civilian/collateral damage. The imbalance is actually pretty realistic and something commanders must account for.

Before folks get an impression that Infantry are toothless, not so. You just have to adjust your tactics, this isn't WW2 by a long shot. Hiding behind a wall does not provide the same safety, hell hiding behind a hill doesn't. But Infantry AT weapons have a much longer reach and accuracy and they have access to capabilities that are truly game altering.

And every now and then you still get into an infantry on infantry old fashioned firefight.

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And every now and then you still get into an infantry on infantry old fashioned firefight.

Which is orders of magnitude more lethal than the old WWII ones as well. Only saving grace there is your body armor.

Yeah, I didn't mean INF is toothless - wait until I have more than 2 Jav teams on map! But if those BMPs had been T34s assaulting through those woods against PzFaust/Schreck armed PzGrenadiers, they would have gotten eaten alive. Here it is the reverse, despite the UKR INF having both RPG-7VRs and RPG-22s, which are roughly analogous.

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