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A Tiny AAR


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In another thread discussing the merits of the German Hetzer and its pricing, another fellow said in passing that "against infantry they are nearly worthless". By that I took him to mean, since they only have 1 MG, a modest HE load, don't carry troops, etc. But it struck me as less than exhaustive, and so I decided to torture the AI a little on the subject. The result was this AAR.

I kept it small, 400 points and 20 turns. It was set in December 1944 as a German attack, armor force type, against a US infantry defense. The historical idea was early stages of the Bulge, with German VG troops supported by Hetzers attacking a US infantry defense in a small village. I did not use SMG infantry because the test was the effectiveness of Hetzers as armor support, but I did give them decent artillery, as the attackers.

The Germans bought -

3 Hetzer

2 VG Rifle Platoon

1 HMG

1 Schreck

1 120mm Mortar FO

The US was the computer, so I didn't know its forces until the end. It took -

1 Rifle 45 Platoon

1 Weapons Platoon

3rd MMG

4th Bazooka

Roadblock, Wire, etc.

All forces were regular quality. The terrain was village, moderate woods, small hills. A single large objective flag marked a 2 story stone building near the back of the village, with other buildings just ahead of it masking it from the direct front but not the flanks. Another complex of buildings and woods was near the center of the map, slightly lower than the approach terrain - a natural blocking point. The north flank was a broken woods approach, with a few buildings.

Notice that the US infantry outnumbers the attacking Germans 11 to 8. On the fire support front, the US has about twice the MG firepower, but only 3x60mm mortars vs. 50 rounds of 120mm. On the armor and anti-armor front, it is 4 zooks, maybe the 50 cal if it can get a flat side shot, and whatever rifle grenades they have, vs. 3 Hetzers.

If Hetzers were ineffective against infantry, this should be a tough fight for the attackers. But it was anything but tough. The Germans rolled over the defending Americans with only 5 casualties, winning 97 to 3.

The Americans got 2 bazooka hits in the course of the fight, at 105 and 80 yards respectively, both hitting the upper front hull. One caused interior flaking but left no lasting damage, the other did nothing at all. The Hetzers took on zooks, MG teams, blasted occupied buildings, and cut off retreating broken men here and there.

The initial break in was accomplished by using 2/3rds of the 120mm ammo on the center sunken buildings and woods area, just after the left infantry platoon got to about 80 yards from its forward edge. The other platoon worked its way forward through the northern woods, knocking out AT teams, MGs, and a mortar in the process. Once the crust was broken and the first few zook teams taken out, the Hetzers were able to KO remaining points of resistence with HE, walking the left infantry platoon onto the objective. One holdout zook did get a hit late in the day, but without effect, and the infantry made short work of him once spotted.

I recommend the match up for anyone who thinks lack of a 2nd MG, or of 60 HE shells each, is some crippling drawback in an AFV when supporting infantry against infantry. I think you will find that is not the case. What matters in that role are (1) being invunerable in infantry weapons, whether achieved by standing off at range, or only presenting good front armor to weak zooks and (2) having an HE chucker than will put down any point infantry target you need it to, with about a minute of firing.

Of course, if what you want is a sporting fight, take the Americans...

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You should have picked a larger battle, the Hetzer's limited ammo doesn't play a factor in such a small fight. I think a typical battle will put one Hetzer against two or three platoons of infantry, not quite the odds you had there.

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LOL, yes it is true the AI is weak. And the AI is clumsy enough attacking that I about duplicated the performance going the other way - 96-4 with 8 men lost, as the Americans. The challenge, incidentally, is not to win but to do it cheaply - for those interested in playing this sort of thing out.

But does that comment mean I have a volunteer to take the American force above against the German one, in a PBEM?

As for what is "typical", any armor force type would have about the same ratio of items. If you use Pz IVs, you just only have 2 AFV with 2 platoons, instead of 3. If you use vet Panthers, you'd only have 1. That is sort of half the point - cheaper means more, if you go with the Hetzers. The 3 Hetzers cost the same as 2 vanilla infantry platoons.

[ 10-21-2001: Message edited by: JasonC ]

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That was me with the hetzer comment, by the way.

About this test: Um. If you got rid of the hetzers entirely, you should still be able to roll right over the americans with that set up. Especially against the AI.

In my experience, the hetzer has enough HE to take out one strong point (by which I mean a gun or squad). After that, all it's going to do is irritate the opponent with it's unkillability (and keep the enemy armor down.) Also, it's not just the lack of a second machine gun that hurts, it's the low ammo on the machine gun it has. The low rof on the main gun doesn't help either, if what you are looking for is to suppress.

Ok, so maybe not entirely worthless, but in my opinion an afv that doesn't have armor or AT stuff threatening it should be able to destroy at least its point value in enemy infantry, and it should be able to do this in typical combat conditions against a competent opponent. The sherman can, the StuH's and StuGs can, all german turreted tanks can, the hetzer can't.

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i think thats the main problem people have when choosing thier units from what i have seen playing against people, they don't know too much about the vehicles strenght and weakneses and where to best deploy it, also, the last place you want to fire a bazooka as at the front armor of any tank, try for a side or rear shot if you can for better results. and i agree about the ai, it is good, but it is much more fun playing a human, where it becomes more unpredicatable. also keep in mind before complaining about some of the sherm,an models, is that the us military doctrine at the time decided tanks should be used in infantry support, wich the shermans are great at, try using the tank destroyers against the panzers

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I'd have to agree that the Hetzer is not very useful against infantry... it is one of my favorite vehicles to use, and I play human opponents almost exclusively... it's a tradeoff. I choose it because it is cheap effective anti-tank power, but by the end of my battles it is not too useful as it's HE is always expended... I'm not saying it's useless, but it's definitely not as useful as other vehicles.

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i think thats the main problem people have when choosing thier units from what i have seen playing against people, they don't know too much about the vehicles strenght and weakneses and where to best deploy it, also, the last place you want to fire a bazooka as at the front armor of any tank, try for a side or rear shot if you can for better results. and i agree about the ai, it is good, but it is much more fun playing a human, where it becomes more unpredicatable. also keep in mind before complaining about some of the sherm,an models, is that the us military doctrine at the time decided tanks should be used in infantry support, wich the shermans are great at, try using the tank destroyers against the panzers

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<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by JasonC:

.

But does that comment mean I have a volunteer to take the American force above against the German one, in a PBEM?

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I must say I am interested in how this will turn out, go ahead and send me a setup.

[ 10-21-2001: Message edited by: Speedy ]

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Speedy and 109 Gustav have their games, as the Americans. I randomized the map for each occasion (so it isn't something I know better than anyone else), but otherwise the games are the same. Should be fun.

As for SurlyBen's comment that the Germans should "roll right over" the Americans even if the Hetzers weren't part of the attacking force, I rather doubt it against human players. The AI might well be dumb enough to get it to work, but the US force is not as weak as you might think. 4 MG teams and 3 60mm mortars make a decent 2nd platoon for a dug in defender. In manpower terms the match up is 66 vs. 86 men, or roughly 4:3 favor the defenders. The 120mm FO is an important equalizer of course, but it won't win the battle all by itself.

But if he thinks otherwise, I invite SurlyBen to take 2 VG Rifle platoons, 1 HMG, 1 Schreck, and a 120mm FO against my American defenders with 1 Rifle platoon, 1 Weapons Platoon, 3rd MMG, 4th Zook, and a few fortification counters (roadblock, 2 wire, 1 AT mine which won't do much against a pure leg force). Those odds are even in point terms. SurlyBen can show me how armor support is not necessary for such an assault to succeed, if he is willing.

And then my plate will be full - LOL. I encourage others to try these little fights, (against each other, the AI, whatever you like). They go quite fast and are a lot of fun, because you worry over every incident and decision.

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I've never considered the Hetzer particularly poor anti infantry weapon. Some might consider my thinking assbackwards, but the slightly lower amount of ammo doesn't matter so much, when the rate of fire is also slow. smile.gif

I'm mostly concerned of the tanks ability to provide a constant durable threat. Most good players won't leave their men under 75mm fire, allbeit slow rated.

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I've never considered the Hetzer particularly poor anti infantry weapon. Some might consider my thinking assbackwards, but the slightly lower amount of ammo doesn't matter so much, when the rate of fire is also slow. smile.gif

I'm mostly concerned of the tanks ability to provide a constant durable threat. Most good players won't leave their men under 75mm fire, allbeit slow rated.

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