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Question on artillery or mortor fire


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Why is artillery and mortor fire so inaccurate or am I just not doing something wrong.  Even when I adjust fire it doesn't improve anything.  Now my mortor teams themselves are very accurate but when fire is called in they are way way off.  

 

Is there a trick to getting it to hit at least on the darn map.  

Edited by Lee McLaughlin
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There are a number of errors that can creep into any artillery mission that come from different sources of both technical and human error. Unlike today where artillery can be laser guided, all WWII artillery was "dumb" and thus could not correct for any errors from the spotter, the gun itself firing the round or wind or any other number of issues. Here is a quick summary of some of the main errors for guns/mortars that would be in use in CMFI:

1) Range - this was the best guess of the observer and the spotter, who could often be several miles/km away from each other. 99.9% accurate means that a gun firing at something 10 km away will still be off by 100m even if everything else is perfect. Also remember that both the observer and spotter may have been under fire and/or had their vision obscured.

2) Wind - the longer the range, the longer wind can affect an artillery/mortar round and hence the greater chance for error. Wind at the ground level can and does vary greatly from wind at altitude where the projectile is firing both in direction and speed. Thus if the shot was fired thinking the AVERAGE wind of 20 km/h from exactly North and ended up being 30 km/h from 10 degrees off, this could easily cause the round to miss the target by a large margin. This is particularly true for mortar rounds since they are fin stabilized and thus the fins can catch more wind.

3) Map and Survey errors - the maps used in Italy were notoriously erroneous and caused a large number of errors. Again, combine this with human error in estimating precisely where they are on the map and it would be easy to be off by 100m or more (no GPS precision). If the start point and end point are in error, only luck results in the round actually landing on target.

4) Quality control and consistency - Guns, rounds and their gunpowder charges were being mass produced and were then shipped overseas under fairly rustic conditions. Humidity, scratches, some damage would add to inconsistencies from manufacturing to once again create more errors. Similar to election polling results which are +/- 3% 19 times out of 20, artillery has a similar consistency/probability control assigned to it. If the error was similar to these polling results, then 19 out of 20 rounds, on average, would land somewhere within 300m of the intended target even if everything else was PERFECT! Now, toss in extra humidity which slowed the burning or a barrel that had fired hundreds of rounds and was significantly worn from a factory fresh version and the round would be slower, resulting yet again in more error.

These are but a few of the errors that are possible and the most common/significant. When mortars are firing with a direct line of sight, it is far easier to correct for all errors since the range is much shorter and they can quickly and easily adjust for any error and the errors that do occur are far smaller in scope (i.e. a 3% error at 200m is only 6m whereas it is 300m when the gun is 10 km away from the target). Hope this helps.

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With regard to improving in-game accuracy there are a couple items that may help:

1) Use the best observer - the quality of the observer and their command link will be given when you click on them so try to use the best you can. Usually, a FOO is the best, followed by higher HQ and then down to platoon HQ.

2) Use longer/less intense missions - this allows you to correct the observed fire once the rounds start falling. As an example, rather than firing a heavy, 4-tube mission for a quick/short period of time, try light/medium with 2 tubes for a long time.

3) Keep the observer from being seen and/or suppressed - as you can imagine, it is really hard to worry about observing and correcting fire when you are dodging bullets/shrapnel yourself so try to keep your observers of fire missions out of harm's way if you can.

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Note also that "Adjusting" the mission will not inherently make it any more accurate. All the accuracy possible has been dialled in during the "Spotting" phase.

 

In the end, artillery isn't accurate in the WW2 setting. It's an area plastering, even on "point" missions. But throw enough shells at a "Point" mission and there won't be much left in the impact zone.

 

Your observer needs to be able to see the fall of shot. He can be hiding in defilade of the impact area during the "receiving" and "preparing" phases of the mission but should be heads-up and eyes-on during the "spotting" phase. If your observer has a dodgy line of sight to the intended target area (and the splashes of the ranging shots), you'll get a less accurate mission. Trying to hit an area or line where you can only see the two opposite points you clicked to define the line risks shells falling where they can't be seen, for example.

 

We could answer your question more accurately if you had a specific example, with screenies or a savegame, preferably. You might be doing something wrong, or you might simply be expecting too much from the technology of the period.

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Thanks guys.  womble,  If I knew how to do screenies or savegame I would but at the moment haven't ever tried but will check into it.  I think I'll doing it properly as far as the FO having sight to the area.  It may just be the technology like you say but I will practice some and see if it can do better.  

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Savegames are easy: you just go into the menu and save the game. I think you can directly attach the file to a post here, or if you'd rather, set up a DropBox folder (useful to have a DB anyway) and share a link.

 

Screenshots, you'll probably have to download a 3rd party piece of software; FRAPS is free for screenshots and 30s watermarked video capture.

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Making effective use of offboard arty during a game (as opposed to pre-planning it during the setup phase) is, to me, one of the most difficult things to do in CM. TRPs help tremendously.

 As it should be.  It is devastating when on target.

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All the explanations of the inaccuracy of indirect artillery are, of course, correct. Still, isn't it the case that the version 3 engine introduced a noticeable reduction in accuracy from previous versions? To me it was immediately noticeable, and I think I remember (at my age who remembers anything for sure?) others commenting that they noticed the same thing.

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Long story short: Usually it's about the spotter not seing the spotting rounds. He'll eventually call fire for effect no matter if he sees anything or not. If he doesn't see the spotting rounds, the barrage will go wildly off course.

 

Solution 1: Only call missions on targets where you have LOS to much of the surrounding countryside. It's sometimes pretty impossible in bocage terrain.

 

Solution 2: Pre-plan the barrage during setup.

 

Solution 3: Call in very slow fire missions, so if you see the bombs starting to fall one by one in the wrong spot, you can cancel the mission and try again. It's time consuming, and even if you get it right, you'll still have a long wait to actually deliver all the shells, as you can not change the tempo of an on-going fire mission.

Edited by Bulletpoint
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  • 3 weeks later...

Lee McLaughlin,

 

During the early 1980s, the US Army mounted a comprehensive study, reported, I believe, in Field Artillery magazine, of the FO's own position locating error and found the average amounted to a rather shocking 300 meters. This provided the impetus for a whole series of technological changes which today allow the FO a simply astounding read on his own position, in turn, greatly facilitating the delivery of accurate fires. Pretty much says it all on that matter as applied to WW II.

 

Regards,

 

John Kettler

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Thanks for the replies.  I have given up even trying to use arty but if I can figure out how to save screen I'll try to post it and let you guys see what I mean.  

 

Offboard arty is difficult to make effective use of in the the WW2 games.

 

I mostly use it to soften up the defender when my forces are attacking, via pre-planned missions. Having said that, pre-planned arty missions are generally frowned upon for the defender in an attack scenario/QB or for either side in a meeting engagement.

 

The bigger the map, the more useful you will find it. On a Huge size map, even the defender can often make good use of offboard arty, especially with TRPs.

 

Now, onboard direct mortar fire is a different matter, and can be very effective in around a minute if the mortar team can see the target, or even as area fire close to the target.

 

I might be giving away some secret CM Kung Fu knowledge here. If I disappear in the next day or two, the forum Sensei's sent their assassins.....

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TRPs certainly make using off-map arty a lot easier. Having FOs to call it in with improves call times, a bit, too. On the attack, missions called on-the-fly are best used to hit static targets like ATGs when you identify them. Depending on the terrain, this can mean you suffering a delay in your tempo while you wait for the stonk to come in, but that's often better than losing a crowd of pTruppen and can be mitigated by keeping your FOs in good positions to call fires. Using it defensively is trickier because the attacker has the initiative and would be intending, generally, to have advanced out from under a barrage before it actually arrives. So what you have to do as the defender is call your fires early and then hold the attacker still so they can land. The axiom "MGs pin, HE kills" holds true whether the HE is provided by direct fire, direct lay or off-board support. The game between Method Gamer and IanL which they're showcasing for edumicationalising purposes in the BN forum has a good example of the use of an 81mm strike to disrupt an attack: MG has barely any contact with Ian's advancing troops when he calls the mortars, which means he's starting to get firm contacts when the mortars actually arrive. You need to try and predict a little bit. If the enemy is slow getting to where you're going to hit, you can Adjust the mission to delay it a couple more minutes.

 

Never forget that a pre-planned barrage, set on a low RoF and firing a reduced number of tubes can go on for many minutes (up to 50 or so, for the example of a German 150mm module firing Light with 2 tubes), and can be adjusted to hit new targets as the observer who called it originally moves forward.

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Thanks for the reply everyone.  I have a much better idea of how and when to use atty.  Seems like experience ( mine ) helps a lot in how effective it is.  I will continue to use it as for one thing it's pretty fun watching the damage it can 

do to the enemy and on occasion it really is disrupting to the bad guys on a good day (mine ).  

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The axiom "MGs pin, HE kills" holds true whether the HE is provided by direct fire, direct lay or off-board support. 

 

Never forget that a pre-planned barrage, set on a low RoF and firing a reduced number of tubes can go on for many minutes (up to 50 or so, for the example of a German 150mm module firing Light with 2 tubes), and can be adjusted to hit new targets as the observer who called it originally moves forward.

 

+1  This can work really well.  I have never started this with pre-planned fire.  I always moved the F/O to a good spot and then called for the fire and moved F/O and adjusted fire as necessary.  I think I will give this a try by starting it with pre-planned.  Maybe using the 5 minute pre-planned delay on a likely OpFor position along the Avenue of Approach.  Then when the lead squad with the F/O get to the general area (usually in 5 to 7 minutes) the F/O can begin adjusting as needed.   

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+1  This can work really well.  I have never started this with pre-planned fire.  I always moved the F/O to a good spot and then called for the fire and moved F/O and adjusted fire as necessary.  I think I will give this a try by starting it with pre-planned.  Maybe using the 5 minute pre-planned delay on a likely OpFor position along the Avenue of Approach.  Then when the lead squad with the F/O get to the general area (usually in 5 to 7 minutes) the F/O can begin adjusting as needed.   

The good thing about starting it with pre-planned is you can drop some initial softening-up on targets out of sight of the setup zone. Similarly with adding some TRPs to the mix.

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I think I will give this a try by starting it with pre-planned.  Maybe using the 5 minute pre-planned delay   

 

If I recall correctly that delay get applied every time you adjust - probably not what you want. 

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If I recall correctly that delay get applied every time you adjust - probably not what you want. 

Y'know, I've never tried that... Does the mission keep falling while the delay and adjustment are applied? Cos it might not be too bad at the 5 minute delay; with light fire you probably want the mission to stay in the same place for a few minutes at least... But I suppose a 5 minute delay plus the 3 minutes or so it takes to adjust is a similar sort of time to the initial call delay on mortars... Though probably still faster than anything heavy.

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  • 4 weeks later...

psssh forget airstrikes or precision arty in BS wait for the satisfaction of an intense 25lber battery barrage or 105 or 155 barrage penetrating and KOing a Tiger or Pz IV. Ive seen that and a Panther as well. And a couple Shermans.Very rare but it can happen. its most satisfying when the TC is unbuttoned and a you get hit penetration into opening with an arty shell. new meaning to down the hatch :D That happened with my 105 fire to am opponent on his tiger he was furious lmao..catastrophic explosion

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Coming late to the party but you already nailed it. Experience, lots of it. Set up a neat hotseat game and start plowing away at the unlucky other side. Repeat some more and then you will start to see when a mission is going to be on target or not. Observing the other end of the wrath of the gods also helps understand, what can and cant be done under a barrage. A good sign for failure usually is when all the spotting rounds are way off. Doesnt really matter if the FO can see the impact or not( in this specific case, not generally!). Also, dont be shy to simply cancel a mission right away in that case. I found that a bad mission is more often than not corrected incorrectly.

 

If firing into a dense target like a bunch of woods, it sometimes pays off when you start the mission clearly out of the woods and when its on target, walk it in.

 

Obviously, the observer wants the best possible look on the target area. The higher, the better.

 

In the end, artillery was the main killer on the ww2battlefield and it is accordingly terrible effective in the game, when used effectively. So dont panic, train it. :) Never forget, there a few things as satisfying as seeing an enemy counterattack falter under a 105mm barrage... B) 

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