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German mobile division forces in midwar Russia


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I thought newer players might be interested in some sample forces and uses of them, meant to use realistic German mobile division tactics around midwar (1942-3), in CMBB.

Part of the motivation is to illustrate that forces that do not rely on scarce uber armor are viable, even strong, when used right. And also to show there is no need to mix vehicle types as completely as some players do, to get an effective force.

These are not meant to be gamey optimum forces. They should let a relatively new player kick the AI around, and work OK in human games against players of comparable skill using reasonably realistic forces.

Fall 1942 - 800 point armor force type ME.

4 Pz III J late (50L60 gun and 70mm front)

2 Marder III early (76 gun and 50mm front)

1 Panzergrenadier platoon (3xPanzer rifle type)

4 LMG-42

Note - do not take other Marder types thinking you are "saving money". The IIIs (and not "late III") have 50mm fronts, which stop 45mm rounds. And a hull MG (with decent ammo load on the early III). Ability to stop ATRs, AA, 45mm ATGs, and light tanks, is worth plenty. T-34s and 76mm ATGs will still knock you out, so you have to scoot from behind cover to take your shots. But these versions will survive longer than others, and prove much more useful after the armor fight is decided if they are left around.

Typical tasking - The LMGs act as a "dummy" platoon, working with the Marders. They try to set up a base of fire within sight of the objectives, or on them if you can get there fast enough. They are supposed to look like the main effort by advancing sooner and opening fire at medium range. The Marders use "shoot and scoot" from behind cover (a house, thick woods, or hill).

The real platoon rides the Pz IIIs as your mass of maneuver. The Pz's are the real hitting force here. The infantry scouts through woods for them and mops up wooded areas where they have already broken the defenders, and keeps close assaulters away from the panzers. Within the platoon, task the Pzs in pairs (much better chances than engaging alone) and stay behind cover until you have targets. The 50L60 frequently needs flank shots or to close. The 70mm front is good protection at range. But watch your lower hull by trying to stay hull down.

Summer 1943 - 1000 point armor force type ME

5 Pz IVG (with skirts)

1 SPW 251/2 (81mm mortar HT)

2 Panzergrenadier platoons

2 HMG-34

1 20mm Quad Flak

This time your covering force is real rather than a "dummy" made out of LMGs. One platoon gets a single Pz IV carrying both HMGs, and the SPW with 81mm. Its mission is the base of fire. Use the HQ to spot for the 81mm, and use it against any enemy guns in particular (MGs are a fine secondary target). Have one Pz IV get the HMGs into position on or near the flags, then operate behind the cover they are in. Get the platoon up level with them to support the MGs and keep enemies out of the flag area. If you can get them onto the flags great, but the main thing is to have their firepower reach them.

Put the Flak gun back someplace with wide LOS. Its missions are air defense, wide spotting, light armor defense, and suppression fire against infantry in open areas. It will be hard to spot even when firing if the range is long enough (unlike a 37mm or infantry gun), and unlike single barrel 20s can seriously hurt infantry.

Your other platoon and the bulk of your Pz IVs are your mass of maneuver again. Now much harder hitting. The Pz IV is more vulnerable when hull down than when hull up, unlike the III Js. They can kill T-34s from long range; they do not need to close. Still use pairs.

Notice that with the armor force type, you do not need to take a whole company of infantry, nor is strong arty support essential. The core of your force should be a full panzer platoon. If it does well, clearing the field of enemy armor with most of the platoon alive, they will seriously mess up the enemy infantry.

Your own infantry can afford to hang back until this happens. Push with it, on foot or riding, before the enemy is in sight, but after that play it safe until the armor war has largely been decided and the panzers have had a chance to work over the enemy. Only push them again late, when you have several tanks overwatching to shoot anyone who fires at them. You can't take risks with a shoestring infantry force. You will need them to finish off cowerers inside woods, and to hold objectives the panzers have cleared of good morale enemies.

Summer 1943 combined arms 1000 pt ME (rariety off)

Panzergrenadier company

3 Marder III (early)

2 76mm PAK (captured type)

2 SPW-251/1

2 SPW-251/2 (81mm)

Variants -

1. Direct 150mm - trade 1 Marder for a Grille or Hummel, or trade 1 PAK for a 150mm sIG.

2. Air support - trade 2 SPWs (or 1 and a PAK) for a fighter bomber (FW or Me-109).

3. Infantry depth - trade any of the above for a 4th Panzergrenadier platoon.

If you have extra points from these trades you can upgrade the PAK to the German 75mm PAK 40. If you need points you can downgrade to the 75/38 variety.

Tasking - form heavy weapons groups with HQ, 2 HMGs, mortar HT to support with ranged fire. Position PAK on flanks, or one flank and center. 251/1s can help get them into position by covered routes only, and can later help reposition HMGs. Only use their own MGs late, after the whole armor war is played out.

The Marders should be thought of as "linebackers" and should stay in cover until others see things they can kill. Advance their LOS limits cautiously. Your main force is the infantry company this time. But your tank killing abilities are still formidable, with 4-5 heavy guns able to KO a T-34 at range - some of them shooting from hiding, others scooting from behind cover. All of them behind your advancing infantry screen, which spots for them and acts as bait to draw out enemy shooters.

The mortar SPWs need to deal with enemy guns, and help against MGs holding up the infantry. Both will tend to protect your Marders and make it less necessary to expose them. The HMGs have excellent long range infantry FP and ammo depth, making up for the low ammo load of the Panzer Rifle squad type. Save the fire of the regular squads for short ranges by using 150m covered arcs.

The direct 150mm variants have the idea of running the enemy out of infantry strength. Enough 76mm guns alive to fire HE, late, will also tend to do that. Infantry depth tries to get the same effect by just making the enemy need more to hold objectives. Air support is a gambit - but more likely to prove useful than weak 75mm or 81mm FOs. (The more effective 105s and 120s are out of reach, budget-wise, in 1000 pt fights).

I hope this is interesting.

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The motorized PzGr Co of the armored btn has 3 HT 251/1 and 2 HT 251/2. The vehicles come in rather cheap as they get the formation discount rate. Might be a good option for the last force.

Remember that Marders need spotters. These spotters simulate dismounted TCs walking to the edge of cover, so they are not that gamey. The proper procedure in CM:

Select targets/kill zones where you have numerical superiority, surprise and flank/rear shots.

Close the hatches of the armor in the kill zone with snipers, MGs, mortars or HE from a 15cm sIG (if you use DF from guns, make sure you kill all tanks in the kill zone - a towed sIG can't shoot and scoot and will face the wrath of surviving tanks. It might be an option to leave the sIG as bait, getting the T34 to face it and thus offering flank shots for the Marders.).

Do a coordinated move with the marders:

Short ranges, inability to button up all tanks in the target area or exposing your Marders to flank shots from overwatching enemy guns favors shoot&scoot.

Long range where first round hits are seldom (for both sides), a position in the flank of the targets, "fixing" the targets with a bait, numbers on your side so you will kill or stun the targets anyway, high probability of completely surpriing the targets so they don't spot you during the turn favors hunt (to appear in second 40-50) + reverse early next turn. If you have strength in numbers (1.5 shooters per target), surprise and can stun all targets in 20 seconds - use hunt and appear early.

If you master the use marders - the same tactics work as well with every other tank.

Gruß

Joachim

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Um. The SPWs that come with a motorized platoon are 3 with MGs only (251/1) and 1 with a 37mm PAK (251/10) as HQ vehicle. The 251/10 is not a particularly useful vehicle. The gun is weak against anything above an armor car.

The 251/2 is a different kettle of fish - 81mm mortar with a large ammo load, able to fire indirect using an HQ spotter, and easily repositioned. A highly useful vehicle.

As for how to use the Marders, it is really not that hard. Just stay out of LOS entirely by staying behind cover. Wait. When you spot a vehicle, pick a Marder or two to "stalk" it. Pick one(s) that can achieve LOS with short movements and break it again. Pick ones that can approach from a side the vehicle isn't currently facing, or distract it with another target. If you don't see a good match up, wait.

Then you just use the shoot and scoot order. First waypoint just where you think there will be LOS. Second waypoint back behind cover again. The Marder will pull out, take a shot, and reverse back into cover. Often you will miss. If he doesn't get a return shot, so what? You try again.

Every time you set one of these up right, you get maybe a 1/3 chance of killing an enemy vehicle. You run maybe a 1/6 chance of losing a Marder. He runs out before you do. All you need to get that differential or better is the first shot from a blind side. So just be patient. When in doubt about a shot, pass and wait for a better one. You will learn to judge them soon enough.

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Originally posted by JasonC:

Um. The SPWs that come with a motorized platoon are 3 with MGs only (251/1) and 1 with a 37mm PAK (251/10) as HQ vehicle. The 251/10 is not a particularly useful vehicle. The gun is weak against anything above an armor car.

The Co I had in mind has 3 251/1 and 2 251/2 in the wpns plt but no 251/10 which is really rather obsolete. Somewhere in '43 it gets additional 2 Stummel... they come handy sometimes but Marders are better. So once the Stummels are there, ignore that company as it is no longer a bargain.

Early '43 (dunno about the 2nd half) 3 MGs, 3 251/1 and 2 251 at "company rates" vs 4 MGs and 2 81mm mortars at company rates and 2 251/1 plus 1 251/2 at normal rates are a bargain.

As for how to use the Marders, it is really not that hard. Just stay out of LOS entirely by staying behind cover. Wait. When you spot a vehicle, pick a Marder or two to "stalk" it. Pick one(s) that can achieve LOS with short movements and break it again. Pick ones that can approach from a side the vehicle isn't currently facing, or distract it with another target. If you don't see a good match up, wait.

Then you just use the shoot and scoot order. First waypoint just where you think there will be LOS. Second waypoint back behind cover again. The Marder will pull out, take a shot, and reverse back into cover. Often you will miss. If he doesn't get a return shot, so what? You try again.

Every time you set one of these up right, you get maybe a 1/3 chance of killing an enemy vehicle. You run maybe a 1/6 chance of losing a Marder. He runs out before you do. All you need to get that differential or better is the first shot from a blind side. So just be patient. When in doubt about a shot, pass and wait for a better one. You will learn to judge them soon enough.

Hehe... even that 1/6 chance of losing a Marder is too high for me. And I don't see that 1/3 chance of killing (as opposed to hitting) a tank with 2 first rounds from 2 Marders except for short ranges (below 500m) and numbers in your favor. If the enemy bunches up 4-6 T34s, shoot and scoot without preparation might screw the whole affair.

Gruß

Joachim

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Okay, a few question for someone used to gamey stugs.

For combined arms

First of all, when your opponent have spotted your tank destroyers and covering the location with covered arcs, is there anything one can do to push on a attack? This can be a big problem when something like an T-34 is blasting the hell out of infantry while the others are on overwatch.

Second of all, is there a safe way to commit the Marders when being attacked by infantry or needing the HE to break a defensive position?

Finally, what exactly is the SPW-251/1 suppose to do on the list. They seem to have the tendency of blowing up with everyone inside them when being fired upon by most guns and a MG squad is cheaper if one needs more guns.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am no Jason nor Joachim but I would highly advise being careful with Marders in an infantry supporting role. If the T34 is on overwatch you need to carefully move your Marders up while staying out of LOS. Then when the T34 pops up, you need to be there and pop up first. Note that he has a turret and you have to turn the entire vehicle - they will likely get off the first shot if you are moving. If you can SMOKE the T34 this will give you a chance to get into position - then when the smoke clears you can have it out. If you get lucky you will get in a first shot. Beware a human opponent will try to hit your marders w/mortar fire - they are very vulnerable since they are open topped.

In general unless you are a stone pro I would be very careful with Marders - it is very unforgiving to use them because if you make a mistake in LOS they are dead due to their low armor and susceptability to death by HE firing. A tank such as a IV G is much more forgiving. This goes double for the Hornet or Nashorn with an 88mm gun, which is even more expensive making their loss even more heartbreaking. Using the platoon of Marders is a good occasional tactic from using the IV G platoon mentioned above but if you don't know exactly what you are doing the likliest action is that they are on fire, quickly.

My personal recommendation would be to replace the marder platoon with a STUG platoon featuring the 75mm gun. These weapons are much hardier and can withstand HE and arty much better since they are closed-top. You get 3 with a platoon, as opposed to 5 tanks. The STUG is a much more effective weapon on the attack than the marder - on defense using 'shoot and scoot' techniques the marder is more useful. On occasion you can buy the 105mm STUG rather than the 150mm IG - the 105mm STUG moves better, in fact some people point out that it is 'gamey' that the 150mm IG moves at all given the massive size of the weapons and shells.

There are whole threads of what to do with the half track - the short answer is "not much" until the battlefield is clear, or at least nothing in LOS.

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HTs come in handy after you know most enemy assets. Before, they are just transport for me. They have to hug cover to keyhole and as such are better on maps with medium to heavy cover. Hills help, too

Given that there are assault HTs, they must have had some offensive use in RL. Use them behind infantry screens and 200m away from HMGs.

Marders have to switch firing positions often (just like any tank should). They are great for learning the use of tanks. Once you handle a Tiger in '42 like a Marder, you'll probably win almost every armor battle. Use them like HTs. Keyholed, hugging every possible cover and make sure they don't stay up for too long. If you appear twice in the same position, you might face covered arcs and die. Your goal is to move up mid-turn after closing hatches of the enemy tanks in the flank of the enemy tanks and disappear again 5-10 secs in the next turn. This way the enemy has to turn the turret or the tank to face you. He probably won't get a single shot off.

Plt of 4 Marders should fire from different angles. Either simultaneous to ensure some flank shots - or alternating. T1: One pair from the left. Enemy reacts: T2: one pair from the right. T3: pause. Tx: Any pair from another location...

Now to deal with the threat, he has two possibilites:

a) Stay up and use a covered arc. Hopefully allows you to attack from another angle with a 2nd pair.

B) move turret down. Tank has no use then and can't stop your attacking infantry from closing in or support his attacking infantry.

It is a bit of cat and mice who is up when.

Supporting attacking infantry with Marders is very hard. Just like assault HTs, they must keyhole on known enemy positions. They are no overwatch element that can protect your moving infantry. They come up next turn to take revenge.

The StuGs (even the 50mm front variant) are much more forgiving. That's why you learn more with Marders.

Gruß

Joachim

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I agree that you will learn more with Marders. You will also get the stuffing kicked out of you very quickly if you play a human and make any mistakes. My advice would be to start with some STUGS and then pick an occasional Marder platoon. The last few times I have taken Marder's the results have been terrible, once again I lack the finesse of the main posters in this area. Also it depends on terrain - if the terrain is open and you have marders on the attack you are in a difficult position. If the terrain has poor LOS which lends itself to the "keyhole" tactics listed above it is a different story.

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Originally posted by Carl Puppchen:

I agree that you will learn more with Marders. You will also get the stuffing kicked out of you very quickly if you play a human and make any mistakes. My advice would be to start with some STUGS and then pick an occasional Marder platoon. The last few times I have taken Marder's the results have been terrible, once again I lack the finesse of the main posters in this area. Also it depends on terrain - if the terrain is open and you have marders on the attack you are in a difficult position. If the terrain has poor LOS which lends itself to the "keyhole" tactics listed above it is a different story.

We're talking theory here... there are a few pieces that improve your armor tactics in CM.

In practice:

In a recent game vs the AI, I had 4 Marders (green) , 4 PzIIIj (late) (vet) and 4 PzIVg (early) (vet). Defending a city, so lots of keyholes. AI had 75% bonus and was set to regular armor.

All Marders died, scoring 8 tanks. No tank died - the PzIVs scored 30-40 tanks.

The marders usually worked well when I applied my above tactics - even that conscript crew. As soon as I tried to engage the Soviets frontally they died. :D

Gruß

Joachim

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Agreed on theory vs practice. I get sloppier when I am playing with the tanks compared to the Marders. You have to be on your toes with the weak armored open topped vehicles. Sometimes we play late Friday / Saturday night tcp/ip after a few brews and it is SO hard to be patient with your vehicles...

Unfortunately vs my standard human opponent of about equal skills I have NOT been doing well at all with Marders or Nashorns. They are just so SLOW to turn compared to turrets and at night / close range they are at a severe disadvantage.

Every so often just to get even I take a Tiger or Panther and just clean up the joint, because you can just plop them up in a place with good LOS and start brewing up everything in site. But I do that very rarely because you don't learn anything AND it seems gamey because those tanks were rare and usually deployed as a unit, not parceled out "here and there" just to torment an opponent who is used to beating up on regular tanks (and whom I need to seek mental revenge against for recent losses).

Best of luck!

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:D

There's just no satisfaction in beating the AI with Tigers or Panthers (in '43).

Even killing 15 AFVs with a single entrenched ATG is not that rewarding. But beating the AI with a few Marders - that's some challenge.

If I get sloppy, I start losing tanks. Then I know it's time to go to bed.

Gruß

Joachim

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I can't speak for Jason C but these translate nicely into CMAK in the time frames listed.

An early war listing would be great, especially for desert CMAK! Also the Italians!

There is a whole thread on the early war CMBB under the general concept of how to deal with the 1941 T-34 and KV tanks since the German armor is relatively impotent in comparison.

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Dunno what Jason uses, but my armor choice usually consists of:

a) Type 1 that can stand most of the incoming and deal with minor threats

B) Type 2 that can deal with any threat.

c) Type 3 that can kill the enemy's Type 2.

Kind of a rock-scissor-paper selection. Often one type is absent, depending on the possible enemy setup. But if you might face hellcats - have some 20mm autocannon or 37mm AD around.

Stuarts are very good at killing hull down PzIV or Marders - with a higher ROF they hit faster than Shermans. But they die from 20mm at the sides. Even plain ole' 3.7cm PaK reliably kills them... revealing only sound contacts.

Another consideration is having a dedicated overwatch element that needs only frontal armor and something than can move in and take lots of punishment from all sides - or take some punishment but is cheap.

And I try to use common types that operated together. Mixing JagdPanthers for overwatch and Tigers that move in ain't "historically correct".

Gruß

Joachim

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