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Russian Training Scenario 201

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Greetings Comrades!

Managed to get a minor victory in 201 this afternoon. Lost one tank to the AT Gun but destroyed him with the 82mm mortar. The infantry attack up to the rocky knoll got there but was fairly well pinned down by the MGs on the left. Managed to get some sections forward in the deadground to the right of the knoll but did not make the end of the barbedwire. Killed a lot of enemy sections in the ground around the barbedwire and the centre tank destroyed them as they came out of the wood. The right hand support section seemed to come under fire from the MGs on the left which pinned a maxim and the 120mm spotter (he never did get to fire)But the artillery spotter got the barrage on the woods in move 10 and the other weapons were able to flank the Germans as they came foward. The two sections and the tank cleared the house to the front and then brought flanking fire on the infantry in the main wood. They did well as they destroyed 3 recce sections around the house.

The left hand support unit knocked out the AT Gun and the maxims shot up German infantry in the centre but the mortars were unable to silence the MGs on the left. So the 2 sections split and went forward to scout out the position. They got within 100m of the trenchs and were able to direct the 82mm onto one machine gun and the centre tank came forwards towards the end of the battle to put direct fire onto the trench. They knocked out one machine gun, supressed the other and a mortar in the rocks.

Disappointed that the centre infantry did not get into the woods but the artillery and mortars did well against the AT amd MG defences. The 120mm would have been a big help against the MGs but spent most of the battle pinned down.

So what is the proper approach to use?

Also what do you do about the MG position because you only ever get sound contacts and you cannot seem to supress the fire with mortars onto sound contacts?


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The 120s will not in fact help against the MG position (with HE - on using them for smoke, see below). Indirect fire is very inefficient against men in trenches, and here there are just 2 small teams in them that count. You might suppress the 81mm or the HQ, but that does not help appreciably.

The only way to take out HMGs in a trench is to get a full ID and then put on map HE on them, from the 82mm mortar or from a tank. In the next scenario (which is actually 201, you are reporting results from 200) you have on map 76mm guns instead of tanks, and those will work as well.

The easiest way to get an ID is to first take out the PAK, and then move a T-34 close to the MG position. In the all-infantry version, that approach is "out". You can work infantry closer through the shellhole field on the left.

Or you can simply shy away from the MGs and take the pain they dish out. While quite annoying, 2 MGs do not have enough sustained firepower at middle to long range to break your whole company. They can slow it significantly, to be sure, and panic a squad or two, pinning others. Proper intervals can reduce the aggregate amount of pin they inflict.

In the first scenario of the 200 series, you have only 3 tanks. If the PAK outperforms, you may not be left with one to help silence the MGs. In the last, you have far more tanks, but much less in the way of infantry support weapons (and infantry itself). In that one, killing or completely avoiding the PAK will work.

The MGs are hardest to deal with in the middle one, with lots of FO support but only 2 on-map guns in place of tanks. As a benefit, though, the PAK itself is much less of an issue in that one, while the far stronger artillery can do more of the work against the main German infantry positions in the center.

You can also smoke them briefly, to get some temporary relief e.g. if the infantry have an HQ panic crisis or during a key move forward. You can also try advancing infantry close enough for a spot on the MGs themselves, during a smoke mission e.g. from the 120s. The smoke won't last long, but if 2 squads run to shellholes within spotting distance while it does, after the smoke clears and the MGs resume fire your on map guns and mortars can hit them.

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Tried 202 Mech Force I as found an earlier post about using this type of force. Everything went really well. The tanks advanced and shot up any infantry that tried to pick off the riders and they in turn cleared the woods. Captured both flags and the Germans only had the mortar and 1 section left. Lost one tank to the PAK but the return fire by the other tanks knocked him out the following turn.

What are the distances that you need to keep tanks away from the trees? In 1943 I think it is 50m but is is greater when the panzerfausts appear?

Also what is the proper use of the T-70? I used him to drive up to positions to spot enemy infantry so the T-34 could blast them. But in '43 the Russians had large numbers of T-60/70, which they used in infantry support?


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Fausts don't make you stay farther, really. Their range is quite limited until the 100s come out in 1945. Even those are much more likely to be fired inside 80m or so. Basically, the earlier 60s let German infantry "close assault" more readily out to 40-50m range.

But you are standing off farther than that by then. It is the schrecks that are the real threat. Those can fire 200m but don't hit at such ranges. At 150m they might occasionally, if a whole passel of rounds can be fired. But generally the replies silence the shooters after 1-2 shots, which makes feasible ranges more like 80m for first ambush, or 100-125m when they already know something is there.

So the tanks have to start standing off at more like 100-150m from cover, once schrecks become common. That is still close enough to see trenches and to ID firing machineguns, which is what you really need to do to fight the Mech way. When you can pull in to 50-75m instead, the drop off of SMGers is easier and the tank MGs more powerful, though. So schrecks being around to get the Germans something.

As for T-70s, they can be used for lots of minor utility roles. Scouting is one, distraction, flanking runs, cutting off one body of cover from another by putting an MG across open between them. You can also just treat them as "squads" and fight platoons of them against platoons of enemy infantry, hitting each with a pair of them.

But they are underpowered compared to T-34s, no question. 45mm HE for 2-3 minutes pins, whereas 76mm HE can break in 1 minute. Of course, that is why you can afford 5 for less than the price of 2 T-34s.

The reason the Russians made them was production side stuff - their lighter automotive factories could make small lights but not full mediums. They decided in 1943 that they were too undergunned, though, and switched the chassis production to SU-76s.

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Speaking of SU-76s, any pointers or sources on historically realistic tactics for the "Beotch" in an offensive infantry close support role? Clearly you can't use them like T-34s.

The scenario I'm thinking is a Fall '44 infantry battalion attack vs. German blocking positions in some godforsaken patch of marshy pines on the Polish-Baltic frontier (what a bloody awful place to die, eh?).

The otherwise highly amusing "Colombina" memoir doesn't shed much light -- the only offensive CS role described is shooting a German AC (and then getting brewed up in turn).

I notice most "in action" photos show SU-76s lined up in arty position, wheel to wheel, e.g. Russian Warrior - SU76, although this may be posed.

Full disclosure: I have a childhood score to settle with "Suka", having had to sift through mounds of hideous orange SU-76 counters in the SL Cross of Iron module to find AFVs I actually wanted to fight with tongue.gif

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Please see John Milsom, RUSSIAN TANKS 1900-1970, pp. 65-72 for the information you seek. For general purposes, though, the information there says that the scale of issue was an SAU battery per rifle battalion, frequently broken down to an SAU platoon (or whatever the term is) per rifle company (pp.69-70). On page 70, we learn that there were numerous operational instances in which tank shortages led to the use of SAUs in the spearhead role, frequently with severe losses in consequence. SAUs are deployed in two lines, with

100-200 meters between lines and lateral vehicle spacing within a line of at least 25-50 meters. The Milsom book has some photos of SU-76s deployed in this manner. The title pages of Zaloga and Grandsen's THE EASTERN FRONT: Armour Camouflage and Markings have a two page spread of SU-76s in the attack with infantry inside the AFV formation and on foot.

Also, I suggest you see what's in VIZh at www.redarmystudies.net Am sure there are several relevant articles in the online back issues.


John Kettler

[ March 31, 2006, 01:03 AM: Message edited by: John Kettler ]

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LLF - first learn to attack in the Russian infantry force type manner. Then the use of SU-76s is obvious.

A Russian infantry force type uses a few towed guns as part of its overwatching heavy weapons line. Those can be 45mm ATGs, 76mm ZIS-3s, 76mm infantry guns. In CM, the mountain gun is a particularly good buy for this, much cheaper than a ZIS-3 (also a lot more HE ammo depth) and better AT performance than a 45mm or infantry gun. Naturally they also have lots of 82mm mortars, Maxim MGs, and ATRs, and the occasional sniper and 76mm or 120mm FO.

When a position in heavy cover is encountered, the right HE delivery mechanism pins it with a minute or two of fire, then MGs try to keep it pinned. Infantry companies advance to discover such positions (by being shot at, mostly) and finish them off by closing to SMG then grenade range.

Enemy platoon positions in woods get FOs, bunkers and buildings get hit by the on map guns, mortars do trenches and lone MGs in woods, etc. The infantry advances to the edge of the stuff the overwatch weapons can see. Then those overwatch weapons displace slightly to lengthen their field of view (cross one field to see into the next e.g.), with the squad infantry holding the stuff taken. This combination acts as a ratchet to clear ground, and is repeated as often as necessary.

The pure infantry force type in CM doesn't even get any vehicles, so the guns are strictly pushed. (Pushing is also quite slow in CM, much slower than in reality). Add a few MG carriers, jeeps, or M3 scout cars to help reposition the guns, if you can take any vehicles. You don't need one per gun, one for 2-3 is fine, since all won't be repositioning at once and the moves are made in dead ground. If there are still enemy you can see, it is too early to move them.

After fighting that way several times, switch to the combined arms force type, and replace the on map guns with SU-76s. Instead of taking 2-4 towed guns and 1-2 small vehicles to help move them, now you take 2 or 4 SU-76s.

All other tactics remain precisely the same. The only difference is, now you don't have to push the blighters or juggle tows to get them into reposition, or need 2 minutes to set up after getting there. Downside, the SUs aren't as stealthy as the guns. They still use cover, firing from keyholes rather than inside tree patches.

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Thanks, gents, for the advice and links. A few highlights from my reading so far include:

- Numerous difficulties arose in correcting artillery fire, observation was limited... Shells embedded deeply in the swampy soil... Offensive movement was fraught with great losses [by treebursts].

- Infantry support weapons were widely employed down to company level.

- In inaccessible areas, infantry operated ahead of the tanks... which fired from a halt before the infantry emerged from the defiles between the swamps.... [Against pakfronts], the tanks and SAU carried parties of submachine gunners.

- Troops had great difficulties with the mixed minefields and wire obstacles.

- Special detachments were sent out to limit enemy attempts to destroy or block roads.

And this more or less flanges with your advice on tactics.

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Thanks for asking this LongLeftFlank, that was my next question. I presume that the SU-122 and SU-152 are used in the same way as the SU-76 especially for assaulting prepared defences. But how were the SU-85 and SU-100 used - mobile AT Guns? Did the Russian distinguish between the various SU types or just use them all in more or less the same way? I was going to replay 201 with SUs to see what the result was.

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The SU-122 is used as mobile field artillery, yes. A bit more likely to be fired indirect too, but not much. The SU-152 is a similar story only more versatile, since it has serious tank killing ability as well. The low ROF makes it best in an HE chucking, assault gun role. But it was also called upon to kill German cats, especially relatively early (1943).

Thing is, the formations that typically got the bigger gun SUs were the mech ones, not the rifle divisions. Even more true of the improved ISUs - bigger, on Stalin chassis - in 1944 and 1945.

The SU-85 and SU-100 were dedicated tank destroyers and used as such. In CM, the SU-85 is unhistorically neutered in the fall of 1943, however. The ammo modeling is so crappy they won't even kill a 30+50 StuG from the front. This makes them essentially useless in the game. By the time the ammo modeling improves, in 1944, the turreted T-34/85 is out, superior in every respect. The window in which the SU-85 was the best armed vehicle available historically, it is useless in the game.

In reality, the SU-85 had a key role in the period between Kursk and the 1944 offensives, as the best mobile tank killer in the field, even if in eggshell with hammer format. But in CM, the designers simply took that away by fiat, so forget about them. There is no point whatever in paying SU-85 prices for 76mm AP performance. In the fall of 1943, take an SU-152 instead, or a T-34/57.

As for the SU-100, it is a true superior AFV and properly modeled as such. The front armor is well enough sloped to be useful against serious guns. Its own gun is dangerous to all German tanks, and it does not suffer the ROF problems of the contemporary 122s and 152s.

Both were used in separate SU regiments (of 16 vehicles) almost always attached to mech formations - tank or mech corps typically had one each. That isn't many for so large a formation, but it gave them a mobile cat-killing ability early on. Before that, they used special battalions of 85mm AA.

For an attack like 200, you'd see SU-76s not anything bigger. Mech formation attacks (e.g. 202) might have improved SUs, though plain T-34s were far more common.

If you want to see late war Russian mech attack methods, go to the last fight in the series, I think it was numbered 402. Battalion scale attack by 1944 Russian mech. That is the sort of situation in which the better SUs (and in 1944, ISUs) would appear.

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Thanks for the information, I have always been a fan of the SU-85 so it is disappointing to hear about the poor game performance in '43. Will look forward to using them in the 400 series but for now I am stuck in the woods of the 300 series but will start a new thread when I have finished them all. This is great information and a big help as it difficult to translate what you read on the history books into "what do I do this turn" in the game.

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