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finding "sound contacts"

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Played a game recently where the enemy never gave me a decent target. Lots of enemy HMGs firing from 100m+ away and I never knew exactly where they were. I did lots of area firing with guns and MGs, but was never able to suppress them all or find out where they were. Any suggestions for changing a sound contact into a real contact? I'm only playing with normal fog of war, so I'm surprised how much fog there actually is.

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Main answer - somebody has to get closer.

When you see a sound contact, the position is only approximate. The real place the unit is, might be 100m away in any direction. Firing directly at the sound contact is unlikely to do anything, just waste ammo.

You can do "recon by fire" to find sound contacts, though. It just takes a bit more work and cleverness. First, you want to guess where the shooter is from things like possible cover, what he has LOS to, where he first started firing at your men. Then, fire at the place you guessed, for example with an HMG or tank MGs - something with lots of ammo. If you are right, to within 25m or so, then you may see the shooter *duck*, briefly ceasing fire. That is a sign you are in the right ballpark. If you don't see that reaction, try somewhere else the following turn.

Once you've seen them duck once, try tossing in serious HE to the bits of cover within 25m of your MG aim point, and within 100m of the sound contact, and with LOS to whoever he is shooting at. A few rounds will often get him heads down. If they have no effect and the fire continues, you are probably slightly off. Do more MG probing before trying again.

All of that is an elaborate fall back procedure, though. The main answer is to get somebody close enough for a full ID. Infantry usually does this, but sometimes the right thing is to send a full tank (not light armor), thick enough that stealth things like ATRs and light flak can't hurt it. By send, I mean advance (infantry) or fast move (tanks) to someplace 100-200m from where you think the shooter probably is. If you don't see them at 200m, head for 100m.

How far away you can see them depends on - the number of eyes looking, whether you have binoculars or tank optics, whether you are facing directly at them, unbuttoned for tanks, the caliber of weapon firing, and the kind of terrain they are in. Trenches, heavy buildings, and wooded foxholes are hard to see people in.

Squad infantry you can typically pick up at 150-250 meters, but MGs can be 50m less, ATRs and snipers can sometimes be unspotted to 100m. Light AA the range is typically 200m or so, though it is much longer for the medium stuff (37mm, 40mm) - like 700m. The smaller PAK (37mm, 2 pdr, 45mm e.g.) can also be hard to spot beyond 400-600m.

The closest guy dominates the spotting - but pinned units basically can't spot worth anything. Same for anyone trying to hide. A buttoned tank facing the wrong way won't help either. Once you do pick them up, you will get an actual location. Anybody can then fire effectively.

It is important not to use squad infantry to area fire at mere sound contacts. If you aren't close enough for a full ID, they are too far to hurt things much anyway. And they have limited ammo. It is much better to save it for ranges close enough to hurt, at targets they can actually see. In fact, an attacker can have an edge in ammo remaining in the decisive close in firefights, simply because he hasn't had an opportunity to shoot before then.

Let high ammo weapons like HMGs, tanks, and on map guns (not mortars) carrying the earlier fighting. And when you can, just absorb the enemy's ammo and rally through its effects. Fire at long range pins more than it kills. Pins recover with time. Ammo doesn't.

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