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20 Commandments for the Panzer Grenadier Company


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This is the translated (with comments from a military historian) handbook from mid 1943 on how to run a Panzer Grenadier Company. Though oriented to the main German Theater of Operations (Russia), this was the book, if you will, for all the PG units at that time. Though it's CM heresy, the German tactics evolved from early war dismounted attacks as the norm to fighting mounted while on the evasive more and using short halts, save in exceptional conditions. 
 

Regards,

John Kettler

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14 hours ago, John Kettler said:

This is the translated (with comments from a military historian) handbook from mid 1943 on how to run a Panzer Grenadier Company. Though oriented to the main German Theater of Operations (Russia), this was the book, if you will, for all the PG units at that time. Though it's CM heresy, the German tactics evolved from early war dismounted attacks as the norm to fighting mounted while on the evasive more and using short halts, save in exceptional conditions. 
 

Regards,

John Kettler

I think its 30 commandments John.  There is another thread several months old on this same information and links to an additional video.  All excellent information and very interesting.  I used a modified version of the commandments for a CMRT mini-campaign I'm working on (mostly just waiting for Fire and Rubble to release).  Below, I attempted to take a screenshot from the briefing where the "Modified for CM" commandments are displayed. 

Jd5dpkgh.jpg

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24 minutes ago, com-intern said:

Its interesting that they recommend only dismounting for AT guns. My experience in CM is that halftracks are absolutely death traps except under very specific circumstances.

While generally realistic, in CM there are some limits to what tactics you can use, and how much you can use various weapon systems like in reality.

I believe you cannot really use German halftracks in the agile way they were meant to.

Just off the top of my head:

 

1: The pixeltruppen don't take cover inside the halftracks properly.

2: They are obviously not that smart or situational aware. You have to babysit them.

3: The WeGo system makes it difficult to be tactically flexible - often, the first incoming shell will miss the halftrack, but you have to wait up to a minute to back down behind a hill to safety.

4: The MG gunner is placed too high and doesn't benefit fully from the gun shield.

5: It takes way more bullets to suppress a target in CM than in real life. Like half a minute of MG fire on a building before the defenders start to duck down.

6: In the game, you can't use one MG to suppress several locations at the same time. In real life, you'd be able to tell the gunner to suppress a couple of close buildings at least.

7: There are some targeting limitations that make it difficult to put suppressive fire on target. This affects both the MG halftracks and the ones that fire HE.

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This comes up all the time, and I think questions like "should you fight mounted" require a bit more context or nuance than it's often granted.

Firstly, correct procedure: 

With halftracks, and facing nothing other than small arms, it is possible to use the German halftrack as an effective fire support tool. The two important tips are: maintain distance (at least 200-300m, I'd say, but ideally more) and frontal facing to the target (which narrows the incoming angle of fire, and allows the gun shield to do much more work), and do not issue an "Open Up" command, since that dangles the gunner out for unnecessary risk. If you do not Open Up, the gunner will still stand up to man the gun, but will sit down when he's done firing, minimising return fire.

Secondly, grand tactical considerations:

If you look at that panzergrenadier training film, the most important part of that "fight mounted" advice is "do not disembark too early". If you disembark as soon as possible, you're losing any advantages in mobility that your vehicle gives you. From a grand-tactical point of view - units move at the speed of the slowest element, so dismounted panzergrenadiers become infantry, and can't flank, take advantage of distant terrain, react to unexpected events, etc. From a company or battalion commander point of view, you lose a lot of tactical flexibility with too-early dismounts.

Thirdly, context:

As has become the case with IFVs in the modern era, the quantity and type of anti-tank weapons will dictate the use of light armoured vehicles. In CM we don't have any early war games, and are instead pushed into periods where anti-tank weapons are embedded into a large percentage of squads.

These were written in 1943, and earlier than anything in the CMx2 lineup. In 1943 CMFI, infantry AT weapons are rare, and semi-fixed AT guns are king. Point 25 should be seen in this context, I believe - you don't want to run your halftracks in front of an AT gun, but you're more or less safe doing when faced with small arms.

It's quite correct that CM doesn't let you do everything that you'd do in reality, but this doesn't mean that the halftrack is useless - just that it lowers in value as the war goes on. Indeed, the experiences from both sides in the Ukraine have caused a similar trend with IFVs. To quote:

 

Quote

• Troop losses are so high soldiers on both sides prefer riding on top of the vehicle as opposed to riding in it

• Assaults tend to be conducted with dismounted rather than mounted infantry

• The vehicles mounting the automatic cannon tend to be used in an over-watch suppressive fire role rather than exposed forward

-- “Lessons Learned” from the Russo-Ukrainian War Personal Observations Dr. Phillip A. Karber


I think this is broadly as true in CMBS as it is in CMBN or CMFB - a shift towards effective AT fire means that lightly armoured vehicles become much harder to use effectively, especially when they're intended to be a fighting platform of some kind.

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On 8/12/2020 at 10:00 AM, domfluff said:

It's quite correct that CM doesn't let you do everything that you'd do in reality, but this doesn't mean that the halftrack is useless

I'm not saying halftracks are useless. I'm saying they are much less useful in the game than they would have been in the real war.

In CM, just like WW2, mortars are one of the biggest threats to infantry. And WW2 AT weapons were nowhere near as deadly as modern ones.

Does that mean WW2 halftracks were wonder weapons? Of course not :)

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I think the first mission of the German campaign in CMFB is a pretty good example of the tactical use of Halftracks, and why dismounting early is a problem. You're clearing out a crossroads, and you have a tight timescale. The AI is doing a fighting withdrawal, and if you don't get on with it, they'll just run away.

I think the best use of at least one of your halftrack platoons is to use their mobility to bypass the defensive position, and set themselves up as a blocking force, preventing their retreat, before the main attack goes in - if the blocking force had dismounted too early, they would lose the chance to perform their primary role.

 

That's the kind of thing I think point 25 is actually talking about (or at the very least, the useful application of that), more than chaps standing up in the back and using the halftrack as a fighting platform to shoot small arms from. I imagine that this can work, but it's incredibly risky. I don't have a good feeling for how plausible that would be in reality, but I definitely don't think it's a good idea in CM, and I especially don't think it's a good idea with bazookas flying around.

 

The modern comparison was more to indicate where things are, relatively speaking. Clearly a BMP-1 has a lot more armour and armament than a Sd.Kfz 251, but the point I was trying to make was that each vehicle has faced an evolution of AT weapons over their lifespan - the context in which the vehicle was created and doctrine designed is significantly different to the current situation, and that means that usage has to adjust. Using an asset differently in the field is easier than changing doctrine, which itself is typically easier than changing hardware.

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5 hours ago, domfluff said:

I think the first mission of the German campaign in CMFB is a pretty good example of the tactical use of Halftracks, and why dismounting early is a problem. You're clearing out a crossroads, and you have a tight timescale. The AI is doing a fighting withdrawal, and if you don't get on with it, they'll just run away.

Hmmm this actually came up before on these forums... that the enemy in that mission are supposed to be withdrawing. I've completed the Peiper campaign twice, and with several goes at the first mission in order to try different approaches etc. and I've never seen the US forces withdraw or even move in that scenario. Also, I don't remember the time scale as tight.

Maybe I was just lucky to get the same AI plan each time? Or am I confusing the campaigns?

Edited by Bulletpoint
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What always sticks out to me is that the animation for firing from half-tracks overly exposes the crew. Since exposure = death a better animation would improve the utility of the HTs. I played around a bit with the animation files (after getting inspiration from the animation mod) and was able to get folks in the HT to not stand when firing and they were much less likely to be killed. Unfortunately it broke other things.


Any a future update a change to firing stance from vehicles would be nice.

Edited by com-intern
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11 minutes ago, Bulletpoint said:

  

Hmmm this actually came up before on these forums... that the enemy in that mission are supposed to be withdrawing. I've completed the Peiper campaign twice, and with several goes at the first mission in order to try different approaches etc. and I've never seen the US forces withdraw or even move in that scenario. Also, I don't remember the time scale as tight.

Maybe I was just lucky to get the same AI plan each time? Or am I confusing the campaigns?

Huh. I mean, that's the one. They've withdrawn every time I've played it. Might just be a randomised AI plan thing, of course, but in any case I think it's the right way to approach it - you need to send a platoon to the rear to prevent them withdrawing, because they might.

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3 minutes ago, domfluff said:

Huh. I mean, that's the one. They've withdrawn every time I've played it. Might just be a randomised AI plan thing, of course, but in any case I think it's the right way to approach it - you need to send a platoon to the rear to prevent them withdrawing, because they might.

It's this mission, right? (not my video)

 

 

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10 minutes ago, domfluff said:

Yup, just opened the scenario as Scenario Author Test, and ended the turn a bunch. After about 30 minutes they started withdrawing by themselves.

I'm just tried the same. They also retreat here. I just never saw that happen, since apparently I have been playing in a less careful way and destroyed them before they could get away. Mystery solved :)

 

Edited by Bulletpoint
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I remember arguing years ago that the Germans would fight mounted in the backs of their halftracks, yet people thought it was complete heresy to suggest such a thing. Of course you can't really do it in CM, but it seems like they would be pretty good firing platforms in reality. Only your head would be exposed, you can duck down if you take fire, you can brace your weapon against the halftrack's hull for accuracy, you're in an elevated position with a good view, and you would be a moving target. I mean, there are videos from Syria where they do just such a thing with the DIY halftracks they make. The Germans also had flamethrower halftracks so I don't think they would have been shy about getting in close to the enemy with those things.

 

11 minutes ago, Bulletpoint said:

I'm just tried the same. They also retreat here. I just never saw that happen, since apparently I have been playing in a less careful way and destroyed them before they could get away. Mystery solved :)

Yeah when I played that one, I tried being super careful, advancing very slowly and cautiously, trying to scout out their positions and so on, but when I finally launched the assault, I just ran into a bunch of empty foxholes and then lost the battle. Very frustrating! I wish they were more clear on that in the briefing.

On 8/11/2020 at 10:03 AM, Bulletpoint said:

4: The MG gunner is placed too high and doesn't benefit fully from the gun shield.

Funny thing is that they used to be placed even higher. They lowered him a bit in one of the patches or engine updates, I forget which one.

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59 minutes ago, Bozowans said:
On 8/11/2020 at 5:03 PM, Bulletpoint said:

4: The MG gunner is placed too high and doesn't benefit fully from the gun shield.

Funny thing is that they used to be placed even higher. They lowered him a bit in one of the patches or engine updates, I forget which one.

Yes, I recall that. But they are still too high when you look at where their eye level is compared to the weapon sights. Same problem is seen with the gunners of many other vehicles. I've logged some bug reports about some of them but it doesn't seem like it's high on their list to fix.

Also when you look at deployed HMGs etc. The weapon is too low compared to the guy firing it. So you get a guy too exposed and a gun maybe too low to get LOF.

Edited by Bulletpoint
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First off, let me say that I agree that halftrack gunners and tank commanders are too vulnerable. I’m of the opinion that it is a small arms accuracy issue in regards to TC’s as opposed to an animation issue. As others have correctly pointed out, the positioning of TC’s in turrets has been tweaked. 
 

I cannot speak to WWII German doctrine as to fighting mounted or not, I can speak to modern US doctrine. Stryker mounted infantry are meant to dismount and walk towards the point of expected contact, and many times they dismount as far as 10km away from expected contact. Bradley’s are slightly different, but the mech infantry are still meant to dismount prior to contact being made if the objective calls for it. 
 

@MOS:96B2P great resource you put together there! Looking forward to that campaign you’re working on as well. 

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24 minutes ago, IICptMillerII said:

First off, let me say that I agree that halftrack gunners and tank commanders are too vulnerable. I’m of the opinion that it is a small arms accuracy issue in regards to TC’s as opposed to an animation issue. As others have correctly pointed out, the positioning of TC’s in turrets has been tweaked. 

Tank commanders is a separate issue though, and I think they behave so much better now though, compared to some years ago. They duck down much faster when taking close small arms fire. Most if not all tank commanders are now placed so that only the head pokes out of the turret.

However, the same cannot be said about many halftracks and other more open vehicles.

Here's an example. Notice the small black tube close to his elbow. That's the gun sights. His eye should be looking into that.

980693368_CMFinalBlitzkrieg2020-07-0218-31-41-83.thumb.jpg.faf5f2198e5ca548ae535ca3be10799c.jpg

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1 hour ago, IICptMillerII said:

First off, let me say that I agree that halftrack gunners and tank commanders are too vulnerable. I’m of the opinion that it is a small arms accuracy issue in regards to TC’s as opposed to an animation issue. As others have correctly pointed out, the positioning of TC’s in turrets has been tweaked. 

Fundamentally your exposure == your chance of being hit. Its pretty clear that everyone in a HT has too much exposure regardless of any other issues. Reducing the exposure would directly result in reduced casualties.

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