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Did armoured car crewmen regularly leave their vehicles on a recon mission in order to scout ahead? I'm asking because they seem not to be equipped for this infantry-style action. Wouldn't it be better if they had rifles and some kind of camouflage dresses? Then they could both cover long distances and have a cautious look over the next ridge, and needn't be accompanied by motorized infantry.

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Actually, I would expect it to be relatively common for at least the crew commander to dismount to scout ahead. You can be a lot sneakier on foot than in a vehicle. Especially for looking through or around hedges, ridge lines, or bits of woods.

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If even a Tiger commander like Wittmann leaves his vehicle to scout on foot, I'd bet AC crews left their vehicles to scout, too.

ACs are not armored to withstand any threat. ACs are a means to travel fast and protect from small arms fire. If your task is to check whether there is traffic on a crossroads: Would you drive to the crossroads - or drive near the crossroads, dismount and peek around some corner? Which method will ask for more incoming in case you find something?

There were small arms in many vehicles. There are many other occasions where the crew has to leave the vehicle and needs them. But if you want to move stealthy, side arms are enough. The crew member leaving the vehicle is likely covered by the weapons of the AC.

Gruß

Joadchim

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I've seen several photos of panzer crewmen on patrol (in their black uniform) with infantry. Alos there are a lot of references in training documents stressing the importance of recces (on foot) of possible attack areas.

Re A/C crews Panzertaktik has a few photos of crewmen dismounted and standing on roofs of houses/barns etc spying out the terrain ahead.

The Osprey book Armoured Cars and Reconnaissance Half tracks has some very good eyewitness accounts of recce missions by A/C crews.

Personally I would love to see recce vehicle crews have the ability to dismount (at least one of the crew anyways) and go have a wee look around the next corner. Save the recce by explosion bit. A wish for CMX2! smile.gif

Cheers fur noo

George Mc

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I don't doubt that armoured car crews, or at least a member of the crew, were able to dismount and take a peak around the next corner, but think about how often this was probably done. My guess is next to never. It would defeat the purpose of motorized recon to have the crew jumping out and sneaking around the countryside every time there was a possible ambush.

The reality is that scout vehicles were far more often than not targets of unseen weapons. Crappy for the scouts, but really a fact of life.

I can picture a scenario in which someone will jump out of an armoured car, run up a short ways and maybe look around with binoculars from the top of a hill, but to have someone running and checking around every corner would take forever and in all likelihood would not decrease the danger even a little.

Far more likely would be the death or capture of that crewmember(s).

Well, my opinion anyways.

Cheers

Paul

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"the cavalry groups were almost never called to perform their primary duty: Later analysis showed that pure reconnaissance missions accounted for only 3 percent of their activities. The remaining 97 percent of missions assigned included: defensive operations (33 percent); special operations "including acting as mobile reserve, providing for security and control of rear areas, and operating as an army information service" (29 percent); security missions "blocking, screening, protecting flanks, maintaining contact between units, and filling gaps" (25 percent); and offensive operations (10 percent)."

The US experience...

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Originally posted by jacobs_ladder2:

I don't doubt that armoured car crews, or at least a member of the crew, were able to dismount and take a peak around the next corner, but think about how often this was probably done. My guess is next to never. It would defeat the purpose of motorized recon to have the crew jumping out and sneaking around the countryside every time there was a possible ambush.

The reality is that scout vehicles were far more often than not targets of unseen weapons. Crappy for the scouts, but really a fact of life.

I can picture a scenario in which someone will jump out of an armoured car, run up a short ways and maybe look around with binoculars from the top of a hill, but to have someone running and checking around every corner would take forever and in all likelihood would not decrease the danger even a little.

Far more likely would be the death or capture of that crewmember(s).

Well, my opinion anyways.

Cheers

Paul

They would not scout behind each and every corner. But I strongly doubt they'd just drive along to where they should go, have a look from the car and drive home.

If the AC gets ambushed at 30m by squad inf or by an MG at a decent angle up to 200m it is most likely dead. An ATR might kill it from farther away. So look out if there is something strange above. Slowly advance likely positions for the enemy. Better slow than dead - but time is short. Look out from where you have good LOS. But don't park your AC in good LOS - no sense in telling the enemy you are there. Park it just a little bit behind your intended lookout point.

Mission:

Scout the next village/supermarket if a group of your friends is there. If they see you first, you lose. If you find them and/or their car first, you win. You have your car and binos available. What is your tactic?

I guess we would use similar tactics. Guess most people would use similar tactics.

Gruß

Joachim

[ March 27, 2005, 12:03 PM: Message edited by: Joachim ]

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Originally posted by Joachim:

They would not scout behind each and every corner. But I strongly doubt they'd just drive along to where they should go, have a look from the car and drive home.

If the AC gets ambushed at 30m by squad inf or by an MG at a decent angle up to 200m it is most likely dead. An ATR might kill it from farther away. So look out if there is something strange above. Slowly advance likely positions for the enemy. Better slow than dead - but time is short. Look out from where you have good LOS. But don't park your AC in good LOS - no sense in telling the enemy you are there. Park it just a little bit behind your intended lookout point.

Mission:

Scout the next village/supermarket if a group of your friends is there. If they see you first, you lose. If you find them and/or their car first, you win. You have your car and binos available. What is your tactic?

I guess we would use similar tactics. Guess most people would use similar tactics.

Gruß

Joachim

Like I said, in wide open spaces, this tactic could prove somewhat useful I suppose. Wartime experience would seem to indicate that far more often than not the scout vehicle wound up a target anyway, but dismounting did in all likelihood save some lives. My guess is that it would all depend on how much time you had and the kind of area you wanted to cover.

In urban areas or other types of terrain with numerous hiding spots, if you were not supported by infantry, my guess is that you did not leave your vehicle except under exceptional circumstances.

You see there are problems with ACs. They make noise, they have small crews and they are easily penetrated (as does/is my car :D ). In all likelihood, in urban or forested areas, your enemy will hear you coming and will be ready/hidden in ambush.

In other words, if you can stay far enough away from the enemy that he can't hear you and still have decent LOS than great. In all other cases, I'd say it would be either suicide or highly inefficient to dismount.

Cheers

Paul

[ March 27, 2005, 02:59 PM: Message edited by: jacobs_ladder2 ]

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You are just guessing and the guess is wrong. They regularly dismounted. AARs show it is so, there is no need to guess. The car would be parked in full defilade and 1-2 men would get out and look over or around the cover being used.

Moreover, the idea that if you can be heard you will find an ambush is not accurate. Recon covers large areas completely devoid of enemies. And when they do make initial contact, it is not usually with a full defense but with small roadblocks or observation posts or infantry patrols.

The reason is, defenders want advanced warning when sides are not in contact, as much as the advancing side does. So they screen wide areas with thin outposts, trying to get this information and to deny enemy scouts easy access to their main positions. Elaborate ambushes to grab two jeeps and an armored car are not efficient.

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Originally posted by JasonC:

You are just guessing and the guess is wrong...

I am and it very well might be. smile.gif

Moreover, the idea that if you can be heard you will find an ambush is not accurate. Recon covers large areas completely devoid of enemies. And when they do make initial contact, it is not usually with a full defense but with small roadblocks or observation posts or infantry patrols.

The reason is, defenders want advanced warning when sides are not in contact, as much as the advancing side does. So they screen wide areas with thin outposts, trying to get this information and to deny enemy scouts easy access to their main positions. Elaborate ambushes to grab two jeeps and an armored car are not efficient.

Sounds like good reasoning to me. I guess (there's that word again :D ) it would all depend on the situation.

Cheers

Paul

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Dismounting and scouting by foot was (and remains) a natural part of armoured recon. Armoured car or MCV/Halftrack. Armoured car crews of the German army - surely of other armed forces also - had infantry training.

It is impossible to locate any enemy who does not want to be located from a moving AFV in want of infrared, ultraviolet and ground radar. You see very little, and hear and smell nothing at all. Even with a modern Luchs you can easily drive right through a company position without noticing anything.

From a stationary AFV, engines turned off, you might notice moving enemy infantry. But you will not identify static ditto avoiding detection. A wheeled vehicle will be largely roadbound, and infantry tend to not deploy over or near roads.

So unless escorted by armoured infantry, you really must exit regularly. A recon run scouting the advance route ahead of the mother unit would (the standard task of armoured recon, then and now) consist of a defined number of stops at suitable locations as decided beforehand (behind hills, short of roadbends, short of villages etc), between which they would advance rather rapidly by bounds. At the end of the series of predecided stops the unit gathers again, to plot the next run.

I think the UK colleagues used the term SOLO - Stop, Observe, Listen, Often. At least we thought they did and copied it, in that language.

Recon units of the German army had (and has) the task of preventing hostile gathering of information. Thus a "recon" task might be to hunt down and destroy enemy intelligence gathering patrols within a given area and time. This task was taken very seriously indeed, judging by manuals (1933, 1941, 1944), and the use of (divisional MP) dogs was encouraged (we no longer use dogs for this). The prime danger facing recon patrols on the move was thus hostile recon patrols (no it wasn't, it was mines - but in terms of human intervention it was). However, one should not envisage armoured car crews ambushing enemy infantry groups using pistols and smgs on foot.

Armoured cars belonged to divisional reconnaissance (in the German army) and numerically, the vast majority of recon tasks were given to the battallions of the line, being as they were responsible for the recon needs in their immediate surrounding. Regular infantry patrols, using machineguns and panzerfausts and the works, carried these ambushes out.

In addition to the outright hunting of hostile recon, any defensive position would have an outer layer of outposts, including ambush positions of more or less elaborate scale. The intent was (most often) not to eliminate recon units, but to create an illusion of a MLR, forcing the enemy to deploy for battle prematurely, and hopefully spend a lot of artillery in all the wrong places. Conversely, force reconnaissance or a major effort of battle reconnaissance would also serve as a spearhead of an assault, and such units would get caught in an ambush of this type. Lending some legitimacy to the saying that a good scout is a dead scout (since by his death he has located the enemy).

This will probably be the background of the seemingly general impression that scouts always ended up in ambushes, I imagine. But the vastness of empty space between friendly and enemy lines, as well as between enemy positions, provided ample sea for these fish to swim in. It is not uncommon to read of patrols ending up very deep inside hostile territory simply because they have failed to identify the enemy MLR and continued unhindered. Even in the cramped circumstances of the Normandy battle this happends again and again.

Finally, a few AFV crews did indeed have camouflage pattern uniforms, though only SS as far as I know. Most German AFV types had at least one smg mounted inside. But most of them still wore black uniform to hide the oil spots and the smg was for use when evacuating the vehicle - i.e. fighting their way home to friendly lines only.

Recon is a fascinating component of the WWII battle and a part of the simulation which I feel could improve a lot, but not really in the firefight department.

Cheerio

Dandelion

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Originally posted by Dandelion:

Dismounting and scouting by foot was (and remains) a natural part of armoured recon.

Indeed so.

The initial designs put forward by the consortia bidding for the (now cancelled) US/UK TRACER/FSCS project had to revise their designs considerably when it was patiently explained to them by The User that, for all the super-duper radar-onna-stick sensor packs and Klingon cloaking devices their designs included, people were still going to get out of their cars and take a shufti in person.

I believe it was the Colonel in charge of British recce efforts in Bosnia who said something along the lines of "Vehicles don't do recce, people in vehicles do recce".

All the best,

John.

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I wish there were a good scenario or OP for recon-- on wheels or foot-- one side has to locate enemy MLR, for an arty strike, or for an attack on the seam between two units, one side has to patrol aggressively to try to kill off any sneaky enemy recon. All this should take place on a huge map, undermanned.

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Dismounted recon was the SOP - the AC pulls up behind a crest, the commander gets out and crawls up to the crest, observes enemy units with binoculars while prone, and then eventually slithers back to the AC and makes a report. The AC serves more as transportation and a radio carrier for the recon units - which is why the US was able to use the jeep for recon in a lot of cases. Although it's nice to have an AC if you run into enemy recon units...

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Well here's a quote from Guderian's Achtung! Panzer that may shed some light on at least the doctrine:

It is sometimes said that the crews of armoured reconnaissance vehicles are effectively blind and deaf. That simply is not true. When they are close to the enemy the reconnaissance forces advance by bounds from one observation post to the next, keeping their eyes and ears open all the time; if necessary they will drive up to good viewpoints, and they will leave their vehicles if this helps them to catch sounds better, especially at night.

Then again, later in the paragraph Guderian asserrts that

The engines of modern tanks make no more noise than the clatter of hooves,

Hmmm...

Still I think the point about getting out of their vehicles holds true.

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Really interesting posts, thank you lads. In the CM Scope I use lMG Teams mounted on recce vehicles frequently, snipers might do, too.

Works fine... but as said before, the modelling of recon missions is quite limited due to the scope of CM, isn't it?

If anyone knows a nice scenario modelling motorised recon, I'd love to down load it.

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  • 1 year later...
Originally posted by Cannon-fodder:

Well here's a quote from Guderian's Achtung! Panzer that may shed some light on at least the doctrine:

</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />

The engines of modern tanks make no more noise than the clatter of hooves,

Hmmm...

Still I think the point about getting out of their vehicles holds true. </font>

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somewhat relative with the topic

Sometimes German scouts used tricks to trigger fire from a suspected position other than recon by fire which is not always suitable during recon missions.

One of the intelligence reports mentions the following.

The german vehicle approaches woods .

It stops at some distance ,stays there for a while and then retreats back at full speed.

The idea was to give the impression that enemy activity was detected and force the enemy to actually open fire thinking wrongfully that he was already detected and reveal his position for sure.

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