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T-34 vs. StuG at range - a myth

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I saw a report in another thread that claimed T-34/76s start getting kills on StuGs once the range increases to 1200 or more. I highly doubted it so I ran a test. It doesn't happen. I believe the tester was fooled by a way T-34s sometimes win such duels, by accumulating non-killing hits.

The test had T-34s at one end, 1943 model with radio, and StuGs at the other, the 30+50 type everyone takes. They cost 114 points each, exactly the same, incidentally. I leave it to you to judge which is better in practice.

The ranges started at 1000 meters and went up to 1900 meters in 100 meter increments. 10 lanes in all. I ran it just a few times as the results seemed consistent and obvious. The StuGs had all smoke and AP removed in the first two runs, for the third I gave then 10 AP apiece. T-34s had explicit orders to fire despite the "none" kill chance. In the third, the StuGs also had explicit orders to fire, with kill chances reading "good" to "fair" (the last only for the 1900m case).

In the first 2 cases, I let the T-34s fire for 5 minutes straight. With no replies to worry about they accumulated track and gun hits over so long a period. Occasionally they also got a shock result from an upper hull hit while the StuG was CE. In all they KOed 5 StuGs, in every case due to M-kill first, sometimes on a vehicle already GDed sometimes not. 6 other StuGs were left immobilized, 3 GDed, and 2 -1 crew each, while only 4 of the 20 were completely unharmed by 5 continuous minutes of fire.

With only HE and no explicit orders to fire themselves, the StuGs never replied (though clearly doing so would have been effective, even with plain HE - the T-34s fired plenty of HE for their part).

In the 3rd trial the StuGs had 10 AP each and they KOed 9 of the 10 T-34s - 8 in the first minute, 1 in the second minute. The last - which was at 1800 meters - took 8 AP due to 4 misses, 1 turret ricochet, 2 more misses, then a killing hit on the upper hull. The one T-34 that survived did so since it GDed the StuG in the first minute, with its 4th shot, after shocked the CE StuG with its 3rd (both sides missed their first 2 shots). That was at 1100 meters.

Basically T-34s can wreck StuGs with "hail fire" at any reasonable range, if they can accumulate enough hits. The number of shots needed to KO half of the targets may be as high as 50, with damage to half requiring more like 25. But unless the StuGs are "dry", they will kill the T-34s practically all the time, in more like 30 seconds flat (as a half life).

As a result, any large scale test or any real game match up repeated often enough, will show instances of StuGs dying to vehicles that cannot penetrate them. This is not due to arc or slope effects as somebody guessed - the StuGs invulnerability is not dependent on slope and grows with range rather than falling. At long range the T-34 may live longer simply because the StuG misses a larger portion of its shots, that is about all. The StuGs hit chance is always higher - by up to 50% - and if it has AP its hits almost always KO.

It is more than slightly ridiculous that these two vehicles have the same point cost, but then you knew that...

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Originally posted by JasonC:

They cost 114 points each, exactly the same, incidentally. I leave it to you to judge which is better in practice.

I'd say it entirely depends on the situation. The large amount of HE rounds and MG ammo the T-34 carries and the good mobility in difficult ground situations makes it a very nice asset to have around.

Of course, in QB-style matches against cherry-picking axis players the usefulness decreases.

But who plays QBs anyway?


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Hi JasonC, nice trial !

I've played Your tutorial for russian - Russtrain 102 - it is verry nasty that after fights with PzIII L (in tutorial 100 and 101) appears StuG with his deadly 7,5 L/48. All of my 3 T34 KO in first minute :( But with good tactic this turetless SPG has small chance with 3 T34.

But anyway what means M-kill and hail fire ?

[ November 27, 2006, 11:28 AM: Message edited by: Marcin T ]

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I just recently began playing CM, I've finished about 5 pbem games. First I avoided buying Stugs in great number, mainly because I read here they are too gamey, ueber etc. I don't really know what does the point system reflect in CM, but it's clear that Stugs can't be disregarded. Their price and rarity makes it the workhorse of the German armor in this game.

I don't have the experience to argue about the famous Stug balance issue. The slow turning speed in CM and the limited ammo loadout certainly makes them less overpowered.

Since the Russian player always have a horde of T34s what I need to deal with, I find myself picking up Stugs again. It's not that I don't like to snipe with the PzIV, but it's more expensive. In an 1500pt combined arms meeting you have abt 350 battle points for armor which doesn't give you much choice. But a platoon of stugs fits nicely in that price.

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tankibanki translated properly, I will just expand slightly on the meaning of "hail fire".

Hail fire as a tactic means consciously taking on a heavy AFV you know you can't penetrate, with a whole flock of serious AT shooters at once. The idea is to fire with stuff heavy enough to score track immobilizations or gun damage gun hits - not ATRs and the like which just bounce off. And to fire with a full battery or platoon or more against a single target, for a minute or more.

The effect is that 20-40 shells hit the target, and 3-5 of them will wind up being track or gun hits. 1-2 of those will cause damage. In the meantime the constant hits will also cause morale to decline and return fire to slow, as the target tank is repeatedly rung like a bell. And if the guns have even marginal additional damage chances (internal armor flaking, or weak point penetrations etc) then a few of those are likely as well.

When you have 2 unit levels more, hail fire is a reliable and safe tactic. Meaning, a full company or towed gun battalion can wreck any vehicle, even a non-penetrable one, in a couple of minutes of concentrated fire. When used by only 1 unit level more - platoon or battery vs. a single vehicle - it is more of a desparation tactic, and risks losing several shooters for only a chance of damaging the target. But it is frequently better than nothing, and often the only effective way to deal with an enemy "ubertank".

Typical uses are a flock of Pz IIIs vs. a KV in 1941, or a company of T-34s vs. a lone Tiger in 1943, or Shermans vs. a King Tiger in the late war, etc. Sheer volume of fire is the only way to reliably rack up hits to the vulnerable tracks. Note you definitely need a hull up target - serious damage chances decline considerably if only the gun, not the tracks, can be hit.

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Originally posted by ParaBellum:

But who plays QBs anyway?


The same people who have need of a points system for purchases.

It does play less of a role in scenarios as you can give the Soviets their proper numerical advantage and force the StuG to earn its keep, but it still matters since the point values are used in the score.

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