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Soviet on-map big guns in the module for historical accuracy


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New module will cover time span where Red Army was involved in bloody assaults and sieges which don't limited only Berlin operatin. Poznan, Kenigsberg, also more early operations in Lithuaniua, Western Ukraine - in all these operations Soviet troops encountered with extremaly strong buildings and heavy field fortifications, which successfully resisted to all types of heavy infantry support guns, even 152 mm. Thus, Soviet command was forced to use for direct fire in urban combats and positions breaktrough high-power artillery of High Command Reserve.

Beacuse of this theme summoned discussion,  I am opening separate thread and transfering my previous posts here. I hope BFC will follow historical developments and will include at least 203 mm  B-4 howitzer in the game as well as super-strong modular buildings and fortifications, almost invulnerable for infantry support guns.

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B-4 on the Berlin street, towed by Voroshilovets heavy artillery tractor

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Edited by Haiduk
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I have conducted some research about B-4 heavy guns in Berlin assault, so 102nd, 104th, 120th and 124th high-power artillery brigades were involved. In street fights for direct firing were used 38 B-4 guns of theese brigades. They turned out single weapon system, wich could defeat extremely strong stone buildings in the Berlin center. Germans also blocked streets with heavy barricades, built with massive blocks, so for its destruction also used direct fire of 152-203 mm barrels. If direct fire with heavy guns wasn't possible, 280 mm Br-5 mortires (34th sep.high-power artillery battalion, 6 barrels) and 305 mm howitzers mod.1915 (322nd sep.high-power artillery batalion, 6 barrels) were coming to game. Was enough 1-2 305 mm shells to collapse heavy fortified building. 

As told memories, using of heavy guns for direct fire also had a next reason - artillery spotters often could't see places of indirect fire shells impact because of high density of tall buildings and couldn't ajust fire. Indirect firing also couldn't supress enemy strongpoints on lower floors of buildings. Also bad communication between infantry and artillery, fast changing of tactical situation caused Soviet artillery and rockets often hit with indirect fire own troops, sufferng to them heavy losses and foling further advance.

Here some examples:

1. Assault group in 80 SMG gunners and riflemen, having in support 4 tanks, 6 76 mm guns, 4 45 mm guns, 4 120 mm mortars, 4 82 mm mortars, 2 152 mm howitzers had a task to advanse in Alexanrowplatz area from the crossroads of Fridenstrasse and Lansbergstasse. During advansing the group encountered that crossroads was blocked by heavy barricade and main buildings turned out in fortified positins. In the night B-4 has arrived and set up in front of barricade road block. On the morning the 20 minutes artillery barrage was conducted on nearest deep of enemy defense. Under artillery cover, part of the guns, appointed for direct fire, rapidly moved forward. B-4 with several shells wiped out the part of barricade. In the hole Soviet infantry rushed, supported by tanks, arttillery pieces moved with infantry by pairs  - all forces mutually covered each other.

2. Rifle unit couldn't take a heavy fortifierd building. All attempts to blow up the walls by sappers failed, because from the deep of the street this building covered by MG nests and snipers. B-4 has arrived. Infantry moved two regimental guns, which opened fast fire along the street in direction of MG nests. The street LOS was closed by smoke and dust and in that moment loaded B-4 moved to the street and hit the building.

3. During the fighting in Warshauerstrasse area, Soviet infantry was stopped by heavy resistanse - Germnas turned out dozens buildings in deadly fortress. Artillery of assault groups was useless. Even support fire of 122 mm barrels didn't give anything. Then four B-4 were moved there and they during 20 minutes from 200 m distanse complitely destroyed 11 buildings - infantry moved further.    

4. One Army, which operated in Berlin on the front of 3 km, used during several days for street fights and direct fire 14 203 mm howitzers, 34 152 mm guns and 12 152 mm howitzers, not counting barrels of less caliber.  

In most cases big guns were taking own positions after meticulous recon and as a rule under the cover of darkness, rarely in the daylight when it was extremely needed. Before opening fire, guns covered behind the buildings, covering by its walls. In some cases guns deployed in rubbles, behind ruined walls (its height adjusted if needed by crews and sappers). Range of using was 150-300 m, rarely 500-600 m. For the covering of guns infantry commanders detached special groups. Guns almost didn't fire in spotted targets, they often fired in middle part of buildings, causing severe destructions. As a rule about 7-10 203 mm shells was enough to destroy heavy building. More strong churches and stone buildings demanded 9-12 shells. 

Though were single fortifications in Berlin, which couldn't be crushed with no one of Soviet heavy artillery system - that are Flack-towers. Their walls has 2,8 m of thick, overlaps had 4 m, windows had steel plates 50-100 mm. For example flack tower in Tiergarten (Zoo-tower) was shooting out with 152 mm and 203 mm guns from 200 m but shells left only dents in the walls! 

zoo-flak-tower-39729355-c646-4539-a951-2

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One limitation of BIG guns in the game is the lack of suitable transport to haul them so they're effectively stuck in place at startup. You won't be packing up your monster Pak44 and driving it off any time soon. CMBS does field a moveable MT-12M 100mm anti-tank gun but that title has big Ural trucks and MTLBs for hauling, not the dinky little Gaz MM.

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Posted (edited)

Here is report of 120th high-power artillery brigade commander about actions of brigade's batteries during 29-30th April during Berlin assault. Short translation:

29th April.

Our units came to the line of Potsdam railroad station.

The brigade was condicting fire for elimination of the enemy weapon emplacemants (WE) in Tiergarten and Reichstag areas.

Commander of 5th battery sen.lt. Pavlovskyi fired directly for elimination of enemy WE in stone buildings. 39 shells have wasted, 30 direct hits fixed. 5 WE destroyed.

Commander of 6th battery cpt. Marchenko fired for elimination of enemy WE in stone buildings. The fire has conducted by spotting of explosions. Two stone buildings destroyed, under ruines about 20 enemy soldiers burried.  

Total destroyed by brigade: 11 WE, 17 buildings with WE, eliminated 70 soldiers and officers of the enemy.

According to the order of the commander of 18th artillery breakthrough division, two batteries of the brigade were deployed for direct fire.

Losses: heavy wounded and moved to medical sanitary battlion - 1 sergeant, 5 privates. Light wounded and stayed in service: 2 sergeants, 5 privates. Losses in technic: no.

 

30th April

Our units seized Reichstag. The brigade conducted fire for elimination of the enemy WE in the area of Potsdam railroad station

Commander of 5th battery sen.lt. Pavlovskyi fired directly for elimination of enemy WE in stone buildings. 60 shells have wasted. 9 WE destroyed.

Commander of 9th battery lt. Morgunov fired for elimination of enemy WE in stone buildings. The fire has conducted by spotting of explosions. 10 shells wasted, 4 direct hits fixed.

Total destroyed by brigade: 20 WE (among them 13 with direct fire), 3 trucks, 23 buildings with WE, eliminated 40 soldiers and officers of the enemy.

Losses: after artillery shelling of firing positions of the guns, deployed for direct fire 1 private KIA, 1 sergeant and 3 privates WIA, 3 guns taken out of service 

 16715621_original.jpg

Edited by Haiduk
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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, MikeyD said:

One limitation of BIG guns in the game is the lack of suitable transport to haul them so they're effectively stuck in place at startup. You won't be packing up your monster Pak44 and driving it off any time soon. CMBS does field a moveable MT-12M 100mm anti-tank gun but that title has big Ural trucks and MTLBs for hauling, not the dinky little Gaz MM.

I have a document, which says howitzers moved or rotated manually with steel hawsers by crew and possibly infantry. This is big, but exclusively interesting document, I will translate it page by page. Though if B-4s will be included, then their heavy tractor Voroshilovets also should be added.

Edited by Haiduk
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15 minutes ago, Wicky said:

Set up times would be interesting to know -  if it's measured in minutes or hours...

Set up times pointed "45 minutes...2 hours depending of season and  ground conditions". But looks like this is time for deployment with full preparation of firing position. In conditions of urban combat it could be less, but as you read higher, B-4 as a rule moved to the firing position at the night and crews have a time to set it up. So, maybe MikeyD have a sense, when said such gun should "already stuck in place at startup" with possibility for crew to move it manually.   

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The whole point of that monster tracked carriage was to minimize the setup & emplacement time on a gun with such heavy recoil.

Also there's a big difference in the degree of setup & emplacement required for the gun to fire directly at what is effectively point blank range, compared to conducting a sustained indirect fire barrage.

Edited by Sgt.Squarehead
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I noticed that on some videos, the gun recoil pushes the carriage back -- and on others it stays still. Does it say anywhere if the gun was used partially set-up in urban direct fire roles?

Also, wasn't the tracked carriage self-propelled? I remember reading that it was -- this would make relocation in-game much simpler.

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Well, here is a document "Сombat report of 4th battalion commander of 122nd high-power brigade 14.04 - 1.05.1945. For Russian speakers I am just posting a link: https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=451667467&backurl=q\120-я габр БМ РГК::begin_date\16.04.1945::end_date\31.05.1945::use_main_string\false::group\all::types\opersvodki:rasporyajeniya:otcheti:peregovori:jbd:direktivi:prikazi:posnatovleniya:dokladi:raporti:doneseniya:svedeniya:plani:plani_operaciy:karti:shemi:spravki:drugie::page\2

For other I will translate as much per day as can ) 

1. Action of the artillery.

Control platoons of the battalion have entered to Berlin city in 19-00 Apr.23th. Observation points were chosen in close proximity from forward units of our infantry. At the first onset it turned out insufficient opportunity of close support of infantry with artillery fire from closed positions because of presense of tall buildings in front of the enemy defense line, hence there was a possibility of scraping of storeys by our shells. And therefore, in such case, the fire from closed positions could be fired only at targets, located in the nearest depth of the enemy, that of course couldn't play a major role for advancing of our infantry on contact line. 

Except for the above reason, there was a difficulty in fire adjustment in the firing from closed positions, because of tall buildings hide bursts. 

For effectve support of infantry it was necessary to put forward a part of own artillery for direct fire. This kind of firing  is most appropriate to use in conditions of street fights in the large city, thanks to the great fire effect, small ammunition waste, opportunity of fast fire affection at aliving and new appearing targets, at which is possible to provide firing from already occupied firing position.

To be continued...

Example of the page:

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Edited by Haiduk
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Posted (edited)

... Battalion commander received a task of bringing forward one battery for direct fire on 24.04.1945 at 8-00. According to this 11th battery was put forward. Battery commander cpt. Frolov was attaced to disposal of artillery commander of 416th Guard rifle division, which put tasks to him. Firing positions chosen on crossroads of the streets, where was an opportunity to deploy the system. The fire conducted at the buildings along the streets. With the advance of the infantry, due to the lack of the ability to turn around, the guns were towed on the hawsers with barrels forward. Due to the great destructive force of 203 mm shell, the using of high-power howitzer for direct fire gives exlusively great effect. The buildings, affected by our guns were taken whithout firing a shot, if actions of the infantry coincided with the moment of our ceasfire. 

The disadvantage of our system is its bulkiness, especially in conditions of Berlin city, where the streets are semi-piled with debris of ruined buildings and with bricks. Hence there was no way to roam with gun and the latter often could not be moved out after firing from own position and was exposed to fire from the enemy side. Hence big losses in personnel and disabling of the material parts [means guns] and tractors. Moreover, by deploying our gun amidst the street, we bloked the pass for smaller [gun] systems and tanks. The latter were forced to stay behind of our gun and to be idle. If smaller systems were in front of our howitzer, then we couldn't fire, because form the flight of the shell, the gunners of those guns scattered [shell flight wave caused short-time panic among gunners ahead], and the dust form the explosions and shots coveres the target for a long time. It was not possible to choose a separate firing position. For six days of direct firing, 96 shells was wasted by one gun of 11th battery 

... to be continued.

Edited by Haiduk
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57 minutes ago, Haiduk said:

The buildings, affected by our guns were taken whithout firing a shot, if actions of the infantry coincided with the moment of our ceasfire. 

The disadvantage of our system is its bulkiness, especially in conditions of Berlin city, where the streets are semi-piled with debris of ruined buildings and with bricks. Hence there was no way to roam with gun and the latter often could not be moved out after firing from own position and was exposed to fire from the enemy side. Hence big losses in personnel and disabling of the material parts [means guns] and tractors. Moreover, by deploying our gun amidst the street, we bloked the pass for smaller [gun] systems and tanks. The latter were forced to stay behind of our gun and to be idle. If smaller systems were in front of our howitzer, then we couldn't fire, because form the flight of the shell, the gunners of those guns scattered [shell flight wave caused short-time panic among gunners ahead], and the dust form the explosions and shots coveres the target for a long time. It was not possible to choose a separate firing position. 

... to be continued.

If anyone was left alive I am pretty certain that you would be combat ineffective. 

While a scenario or two would be interesting to see this in action I personally would not waste time on implementing for the game.

Just my 2p.

Certainly as ever great to see the info and get a better understanding of the actual fight. Thanks for the information. 

🙂

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Holien said:

While a scenario or two would be interesting to see this in action I personally would not waste time on implementing for the game.

All was not so easyly with synchronization between 203 mm shot and infantry attack - about this will be told further in this document. So, this wasn't easy walk and wunderwaffe. Historical facts say, even several Germans with MG and fausts, positioned in strong building could delay advance of whole battalions, supported with tanks, guns and SP-guns. And Soviet troops had two solutions - either sappers with HE boxes (or better assault-engineers of High Commande Reserve with HE and flamethrowers ), which blew up the walls, but suffered big losses, or heavy howitzers on direct fire, which saved hundreds lifes.  

Sappers pulling boxes with HE to destroy the building, Strasse der S.A., Breslau

 

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Fighters of ШИСБР (ShISBR) - Assault engineer-sapper brigades of High Command Reserve, equiped with steel breastplates during assault of Berlin

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Edited by Haiduk
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On 4/6/2020 at 5:18 PM, Haiduk said:

I hope BFC will follow historical developments and will include at least 203 mm  B-4 howitzer in the game as well as super-strong modular buildings and fortifications, almost invulnerable for infantry support guns.

Haiduk, I suport your well-documented suggestion.

And, I would like to add that I would like to see a revamp of the various types of buildings, bunkers, and trenches to better reflect the actual cover they provided in real life, and to make sure that specialised weapons such as heavy assault guns and flamethrowers had a real purpose in the game.

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2 hours ago, Bulletpoint said:

Haiduk, I suport your well-documented suggestion.

Thanks, I think I also will open separate thread about Soviet assault actions specificity and about troopers of ShiSBR, which played major role in all breakthroughs and fortified cities assaults during 1944-1945. Their contribution in success is exclusive and maybe even larger, then high-power artillery. I hope, engineer-assault battalions will be represented in this module. 

But well, I am continuing translation:

... 2. The character of actions

The main type of combat were the actions of assault groups of infantry, reinforced with guns of direct fire and with tanks. It should be noted the lack of specific leadership and organization of interaction on the side of assault group commander between attached assets and infantry. So, for example, on 30.04.1945 on Kommendantenstrasse street near the fork with the Neistrasse street in the corner house several faust-shooters and SMG gunners of the enemy [Soviet memories and reports often named all German infantry like "avtomatchiki" - i.e."SMG gunners" - this borned a mith, popular in Soviet Union, that all Wehrmacht infantry was armed with MP-40, what widely was reflected in Soviet GPW films]. They didn't give an opportunity to move along liberated part of  Kommendantenstrasse and to cross it without endangering. To the corner house was moved the tank, which wasn't covered with fire of infantry's small-arms and therefore without firing a shot it was hit with impunity by the faust-shooter from the window of the above house, and its crew was injured. 

To be continued....     

Edited by Haiduk
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I think the main thing here is that during the war, a lot of times, infantry was able to hold out in fortifications. Houses, trenches, bunkers, etc. And that's why all sides invested in assault artillery more powerful than 75mm. But currently, this is not shown properly in the game.

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To be fair, self-propelled assault artillery is quite well represented in the game.....It's just these big guns that we are lacking.

Quite apart from their role as described here, artillery pieces would make great objectives for small unit actions.

Edited by Sgt.Squarehead
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15 minutes ago, Sgt.Squarehead said:

To be fair, self-propelled assault artillery is quite well represented in the game

Yes I know they are in the game, but my point was that they are not really necessary. The job they were designed to do was to knock out heavy fortifications. But there's no fortification in the game that cannot be destroyed by a couple of 75mm HE shells.

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ISU-152 ain't nothin' to sneeze at. I just performed a little test. ISU-152 vs the largest modular building with no windows or doors. I took two shots to knock down a wall. There's a new large independent factory building in the module. It took 4-5 rounds to knock down a wall.

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3 hours ago, MikeyD said:

ISU-152 vs the largest modular building with no windows or doors. I took two shots to knock down a wall. There's a new large independent factory building in the module. It took 4-5 rounds to knock down a wall.

The fragment of book "Artillery in Great Patriotic War". Chapter 14. The last assault

So, on one of the streets of Berlin, the enemy fortified himself in the round form building with the walls up to 1,5 m thick. During a long time 152 mm guns fired at this building, but couldn't destroy it. But this building it was necessary to destroy as quick as possible, because MG- and SMG-shooters of the enemy, who were settled in it, delayed the advance of the whole battalion with their fire. For the destruction of this building, turned by the enemy in strong point, it was decided to attract a battery of 203 mm guns. With ten shots of 203 mm howitzers, brought to the target at a distance 250 m, the building was partially ruined and set on fire. The assault group burst into the burning building and completely destroyed the enemy that strenghtened in it.     

This module, which reflects last stage of the war, where huge amount of assaults of heavy fortified positions took place, needs new heavy fortified buildings, much more stronger than this "new large independent factory building". Else very important layer of developments and warfare will be thrown out. 

Edited by Haiduk
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