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The smoke screen was still forming so the upper floor of that building was not yet blocked by smoke when the screenshot was taken.  Below is a screenshot of the tank that won the bottle of schnapps. 

Now part two: As all that gunfire was going on with the two American half-tracks, two more half-tracks were coming up the road behind them, making four in total. Right when the first firefight wa

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Second Platoon HQ Sgt. Ecklund waves forward the 50 cal MG team.  Corporal Lafer yells at his team to get the lead out and they start dashing towards the building edge, about 45 meters ahead, with Corporal Williams cradling the 50 cal like a baby in his huge arms.  They make it and realize that Ecklund was running his HQ team right behind them.  They are all panting from exertion.

The two units drop down by the wall and immediately look to their right, as Germans were firing at one of their tanks a moment ago.  Their reason for rushing forward now is to clear the corner of Germans so that the tanks can advance and support their next push into a set of U-shaped farm buildings.  An earlier rush on this position cut up the breach team.

Shots ring out from the courtyard where the enemy is suspected.  Ecklund cries out and is down, bleeding and semi-conscious.  Corporal Benson yells to the men to open fire.  They have a limited view to shoot at because a Sherman is partially protecting them with its bulk.  Benson momentarily wonders how Ecklund got hit but then opens up on the grassy courtyard with the others.  Ecklund will have to wait until it is safe to treat him.  Benson hopes Ecklund isn’t bleeding out too fast.

Lafer is frantically setting up “Da Choppa” as rounds wing past his team.

 

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Sgt. Justice can just barely see where the Germans are holed up – his limited visibility from the command position of his Sherman isn’t helping any.  He yells “Fire MGs, 2 o’clock” through his intercom.  His green crew start blazing away with the bow and turret machine guns.  He thinks his bow gunner is screaming something in anger at the enemy but he can’t be sure as the noise inside the tank is deafening.

Justice knows these are the same Germans who opened fire on them moments ago, causing his driver Parelli to slam the tank into reverse without being ordered to.  He will have to instill more discipline with his crew to follow his orders.  They are all new at this, so he is willing to forgive some panic among the crew as they season.

“Krauts down” calls the gunner.  He has seen the spurts of blood as the machine guns cut the enemy apart.  The gunner kicks the bow gunner in the back to get his attention.  Michaels was busy wasting rounds, caught up in the fear and excitement of the moment.

 

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Capt. James Leach believes that the corner has been cleared by Justice’s tank crew.  He calls Justice on the radio net and orders him to swing around the corner and engage possible enemy positions in the far side of the U-shaped building to their 10 o’clock.  At the same time he orders his driver, to advance slowly and take up a position right at the corner of the building to their right.  This should allow them to cover Justice’s tank.

Sgt. Justice orders Parelli to cut right and then swing around to the left, pushing past their former spot to take the lead and engage the enemy on the far side of the building.  Parelli acknowledges the order and the tank lurches hard to the right and then jerks forward, throwing the crew around.  There is loud cursing and yelling from the crew as Parelli struggles to control the steel beast. 

“Left, left you idiot,” yells Justice, as they are clearly moving too far to the right.  “We are taking the lead.”

Parelli mumbles an apology of sorts and jerks to a stop, then clutches out too fast and lurches to the left.  Justice sees the Captain’s tank roll smoothly across their bow and he curses loudly.  “Parelli, you bozo, you just let the Captain pull in front of US!!  Now HE has the lead.”  Parelli says nothing but gamely tries to swing the tank to the left.  He misjudges again and now there is no chance to correct his mistake.  Parelli pulls through a hedge and stops short, right behind the Captain’s tank.

 

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Sgt. Cannon has seen the earlier dilemma that Justice’s tank had with the enemy to the right flank.  He and his corporal, Jimmy Wilson, have advanced ahead of Justice’s tank, and now are almost run over by the Sherman as it lurches and stumbles past them.  Cannon and Wilson advance to the edge of a low hedge, stopping amidst several dead Germans that were cut down by the other Sherman to their right.  He thinks it is the Captain’s tank, judging from all the antennas on it.

Gunfire rips the hedge around them, coming from the farm building to their left.  Before he can yell a warning, Cannon hears Jimmy yell “I’m hit!”  Cannon hits the deck almost as fast as Jimmy does, and they are pinned in place.  “Bastards” he yells to no one in particular.

Captain Leach’s driver, Benny Edwards, has smoothly geared up from neutral into first when he suddenly calls out “Bodies ahead!” 

“Kraut bodies” is the Captain’s retort.  “Drive over them.”  Edwards’ reply is strained.  ”What…if they are wounded?” he stammers.  “F’ em,” Leach roars, “those are the guys that were gonna ram a faust up our a$$ a minute ago.  DRIVE!!!” 

Edwards hasn’t slowed, despite his reluctance at driving over bodies.  He imagines that he can hear their bones cracking as he rolls over the enemy, but of course he can’t hear anything over the roar of his V8 engine.

Jimmy sees what is happening and despite his pain he screams “Stop the F’ing Tank!!!”  He sees a gush of blood splatter the tank treads as one of the Germans is crushed by the 31 ton monster.  He knows there is no way the driver will hear him and he knows with sickening certainty that he is going to be crushed to death by one of his own side.  “STOOOOOP!” he shrieks.

Jimmy feels his body being yanked sideways as the treads come crushing towards him.  The ground is shaking and the bushes waving wildly.  His mind can’t process anything as he is paralyzed by his wounds and his fear.

“Shut up, Jimmy-boy.  Quit yer squallin.  I got ya.”  Sgt. Cannon is yanking him aside.  Jimmy is shaking uncontrollably but stammers out his thanks, over and over again.  The tank treads are inches away from him as the tank towers above.

Edwards has no idea he came inches from crushing one of his own.  He stares ahead in grim concentration.  He sees movement in the building to his left.  “Capt’n, movement in the farm building,” he reports.

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Leach is now painfully aware that that idiot Sgt. Justice has manage to swing his Sherman directly behind Leach’s tank.  They are blocked and can’t maneuver.  He starts to try to raise Justice on the net.  At the same time he orders machine gun fire on the building face to suppress the enemy and maybe allow the infantry to bring guns on that building too.

Leach is staring at the building windows that are barely 60 meters away.  He thinks he sees a slight billow of smoke from the window to the right of the door…that can’t be, he thinks to himself.

Benny screams out “There, 11 o’clock, it’s a…!”

Leach cuts him off, yelling “Shut up Benny, I see it too!”  Leach knows what it is – it is death in the form of a panzerfaust warhead.  He doesn’t want the rest of the crew to freeze in fear or panic if they know they are about to be blown up. 

“Pour it on, boys,” he shouts.  “Really hose down that building.”  The roar of the machine guns is continuous.

 

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Leach sees the panzerfaust round slowly arcing up and then dropping.  It is as if it is in slow motion.  He senses a slight breeze brushing his neck from behind and he whispers Wings of an Angel to himself, unaware that he still had the intercom button depressed.  Only the loader hears him, because the loader has nothing to do right now.  Benny is frozen with fear, and his gunner and bow gunner are happily blazing away with their machine guns.

 

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Leach imagines he can see the damn warhead heading directly for his face, but he can’t turn away.  He can’t even close his eyes.

In the midst of this horror, Benny now yells “Capt’n, there’s another…”

Leach just keys the intercom to cut off Benny.  He saw the second panzerfaust being launched through the open door of the building.  He feels nothing…

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…and the first panzerfaust rips past, only a few feet above his tank, to explode against the building to their right with a loud roar.   

Outside Leach’s tank, Jimmy yells to Cannon that everyone is still shooting at them.  Cannon yells back at Jimmy to keep his head down because everyone is not shooting at them – they are shooting at the freaking tank that is right beside them!!!

Out of the corner of his eye Cannon can see yet another panzerfaust warhead heading for them.  He knows that if the tank blows, then he and Jimmy are goners.

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Leach sees the second warhead dropping faster than the first.  He now feels cold inside.  There is no way they will be missed by two rounds.  Their luck is up.

 

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The round hits the dirt by their front left main drive sprocket, shaking the entire tank.  A gout of dirt and flame flies up from the side of the tank.  Leach can’t believe it.  They just had two panzerfausts fired at them and both missed.  He remembers the slight breeze brushing his neck…

“Keep firing, boys,” he shouts.  “We can’t back up and we sure as Hell can’t advance.  Suppress those bastards!!!”  Their tracks or wheels might be damaged.  They might be dead in the water, for all he knows, but they can still dish out some pain.

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Now Benny shouts out “They are running…see?  They are hightailing it.”

Leach sees the German soldiers running out the door and trying to get to a different doorway, one that is not covered as easily by his tank’s machine guns.  “I see ‘em,” is all his gunner says.  The turret makes a slight adjustment but the machine gun fire never diminishes.  The bow gunner keeps his stream of tracers on target.

 

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About five Germans rush into this new building – none are hit.  Leach is amazed at this.  There was a frigging hail of machine gun rounds tearing up around them.

And then a curious thing happens.  Moments after the enemy soldiers have rushed into the next building over, some of them start to run back out.  They must have panicked or realized they were trapped, Leach thinks.  Why else would they take their chances again?

 

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The first enemy soldier makes it through the machine gun hail, turns the corner, and keeps on running, showing them the hobnails on his boots.  The second runner doesn’t make it.

 

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None of Leach’s crew sees the new threat.  Behind Leach’s tank, Justice’s crew is just as blind.  A German soldier now emerges from the building on the right side of Leach’s tank.  This building was supposedly cleared but apparently this is not the case.

Way off to the left, Corporal Benson’s attention is still on the corner of the building.  He has seen the panzerfaust rounds blasting all around the command tank.  He thinks to himself that he would never want to be penned up in that stinking steel coffin.

Just as he starts to think about treating Ecklund, he sees movement just past the front of the tank.  The uniform color is all wrong…”Kraut by the front of the tank!” he shouts.  “He’s got a panzerfaust!”

 

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The survivors of the HQ unit take up his cry and open fire.  They are too late, as Benson’s rounds have stopped the German cold, throwing him backwards to the ground, the panzerfaust falling from his lifeless fingers.

 

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Sgt. Cannon has been lying next to Jimmy, trying to staunch his wounds.  He hears rounds whining past the front of the tank and through the gaps in the tank road wheels beneath the tank he sees movement – the boots of an enemy soldier. 

Cannon raises quickly to a firing position but now he sees nothing.  The enemy soldier is down. 

 

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He starts to say something to Jimmy and suddenly another German is rushing from the building.  “Where the hell are they all coming from?” he yells, while lining up the sights of his rifle on the torso of the enemy and caressing the trigger of his Garand.  He feels the familiar buck of the rifle as he rips off several rounds.

Cannon hears a grunt and the enemy soldier drops to the ground.  He isn’t sure if he got the man or if Ecklund’s bunch did, but he doesn’t care.  He keeps watching for the next one to pop out.

 

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Leach involuntarily looks at his watch.  “Has it only been a minute since we moved to this position?” he wonders out loud.  A minute.  Sixty frigging seconds.  Leach can hardly believe their luck.  They were stalked by death again and they were saved by the wings of an angel…twice!

Leach has no idea that they were saved several more times over by the angels in olive drab huddling only feet away from the outside of his steel beast.

 

The war goes on…

 

Heinrich505

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Seedorf81,

  Thanks for the compliments.  Always appreciated.

  I think it isn't so much the computer as it is the alterations of the screenshots.

  My computer is probably a bit on the long-tooth side.

      Dell XPS 8700  Intel i7-4790@3.60 GHz   RAM 16.0 GB  64-bit    NVIDEA  GeForce GTX 750 Ti

  I have many mods, most recently Worghern's , and lots of the others for uniforms and vehicles.

  Probably it is the use of my other program that really makes the difference.  I take the screenshots with FRAPS, and then I transfer the shots to Corel Paintshop Pro X6.

  I've been involved in photography from way back when my father and I used to take 35mm shots and then develop them ourselves in the darkroom.  I never went on to do anything professional, but I've kept my eye for certain types of shots.

  I am sure this has helped me try to find the particular compositions for the screen shots.  Then I can bring out some of the dramatic by altering the visual effect with filters or backlighting.  I can't take much of the credit as the Corel Paintshop program is what highlights the presentation of the shot.

  Glad you like them.

Heinrich505

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The tank comes crashing through an opening in the hedge.  It has been causing mayhem in the small village and now has broken through the defensive line.

Ludwig has been hiding in the grass, listening to the approach of the steel monster.  His squadmates say he has ice water in his veins.  That is why they gave him the only panzerfaust for their squad.

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The moment it appears, Ludwig steadies the weapon and tenses for the recoil.  He doesn't even notice that the position of the turret is facing him.

 

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Ludwig grips the trigger - there is a roar and the tube bucks in his arms.  The warhead is away.

 

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The tank is still moving.  Ludwig knows he led the moving target just enough...

 

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Smoke envelops Ludwig, giving away his position to the enemy.  He drops the empty panzerfaust tube and takes up his assault rifle.  He also sees, with grim satisfaction, that his aim was true.  The question remains - is it a killing shot?

 

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Ludwig begins to drop for cover.  A billow of flames signals the end of the steel monster.  Ludwig can clearly see the point of impact on the flat side of the Sherman.

 

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A second explosion occurs, the final nail in the steel coffin.  Ludwig is now hugging the ground for cover.  He is way too close to the inferno brewing inside this tank.

 

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He can hear screams from inside the tank.  Incredibly an enemy tanker is scrambling from the inferno.

 

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The tanker drops from the turret, uniform scorched from the flames, into a cloud of smoke. 

 

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Ludwig suppresses the urge to cough, blanketed as he is in the smoke from the burning tank.  He can't see the tanker any more.  He glimpses yet another survivor clawing his way to dubious safety and dropping to the other side of the tank. 

 

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The smoke clears somewhat, and now Ludwig can see the tanker, running for his life.  The man is groaning from the agony of his burns but has the presence of mind to have his weapon out and ready.  It is an easy kill - practically point-blank.  Ludwig refuses the shot.

 

The war goes on... 

Heinrich505

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