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Attacking AT bunkers is easy enough - when they're MY AT bunkers being attacked!

The standard response is to get infantry around the back, but in CMAK I've been finding bunkers to be very tough nuts to crack even with several squads pounding at the back door! I don't know how much of this is 'fog of war'. You may be spending several turns furiously attacking an already dead bunker. High ROF AA autocannons do a pretty good job on bunkers as long as they can survive the first couple shots fired at them (first round hits tend to spoil your best layed plans)..

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I'd say in the end it comes to infantry.

I remeber this recent QB where the Germans had an AT pillbox right on top of a hill, overlooking the whole area. I had already lost a Greyhond and had only two HMCs left which where hiding behind a ridge. The only chance to take the bunker out was to use infantry in dirext assault. I tried to use whatever cover was available as much as possible (including cover created by minimal elevation differences) to get them as close to the bunker as I could. But there was still some 150-200 meters open ground to cover. My squads had already taken heavy losses from enemy infantry and there was still some Germans around taking me under fire from heck knows where. decided to use half-squads for the final assault, first because more targets meant an increased chance that at least some could get through and second because fewer men per unit also reduced the chance of being hit by incoming fire for individual men in said unit. I used any support weapon possible to supress detected German positions and had my squads approach in a kind of half circle from both sides of the bunker. In the end, all units that were moving on the right flank where killed either by the bunker or by small arms fire from nearby dug in German infantry. But some of the guys on the left really managed to get around the bunker. Howver it took them several minutes to take it out, resulting in additional losses through some counterattacking Germans. It was a real mess. In the end I lost the battle because I didn't have enough infantry left to drive the remaining Germans out of their holes. :(

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Shoot at the firing slit with small caliber towed guns, from cover. They are stealthy enough at long range the pillbox will only get a sound contact. And they will find the firing slit eventually. That is the best way.

Second best is to figure a route forward to ground dead to the pillbox. You want to get into its side lobes using intervening heights, buildings, double thicknesses of pines etc. Using the "shadow" cast by any of these relative to the pillbox, to close much of the distance.

There is always a part you can't traverse fully in dead ground. That's fine, you just use a mortar or on map gun or tank to drop smoke right in front of the pillbox the turn before the move. You don't try to keep it smoked forever, just while your flankers make it to a new patch of dead ground. You may need to string 2-3 of these shifts together to reach a side lobe, but it isn't all that hard. Direct on map smoke is easier to place exactly and easier to keep up than offboard, which smokes too much area but all compressed in time.

Notice the smoke shooters do not need LOS to the pillbox, only to the ground directly in front of it. Pick an angle that leaves him unable to see you, and you can safely toss in a smoke round every minute you need one.

Infantry can have trouble as your main flankers because other assets pin them while the smoke is up. So a vehicle does the dash for a side lobe best. You can use riders etc. Remember there are likely to be other enemy assets protecting the 'box's flanks. Be ready to light them up from positions the 'box can't see.

The third and worst is to play rotation tag. The way you do this is have a distractor on one side of the pillbox covered arc, and a shoot-n-scooter on the other side. The distractor goes first, scurrying for cover to the right of the pillbox, but visible to it. It will typically rotate to track you. Then your scooter-shooter needs to pop up, take its one shot, and reverse back into full cover. The 'box won't have time to rotate back.

The reason this isn't optimal is it can take a long time to get a firing slit penetration with only 1 shot a minute, alternating from right and left side of the 'box's field of view. In addition, you sometimes get unlucky and lose a distractor. Watch out for unintended long rotations by your scooter, too, as those can leave it in LOS too long.

Of course, if you have a tank thick enough that the pillbox can't penetrate you at some range, the problem doesn't even arise. You just park far enough away and toss shells until one finds the firing slit, in that case. This works e.g. with the very weak allied AT pillboxes, and for some ubertanks (Churchills, Jumbos e.g.) vs. German 75mm variety pillboxes.

What you should not ever have to do it heave a full tank platoon into LOS and just shoot it out. That costs too much and can fail catastrophically.

Incidentally, aircraft, arty, big HE direct etc are all hopeless. Bunkers are killed by firing slit penetrations or point blank shots at the rear door, that is all.

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One technique that I always wanted to try was firing 155mm SPA at them over open sights. It was reported that surviving German solldiers were "severely disoriented and demoralized".
Michael, I know you "warned" me in another thread about Ambrose but I'm giving it another try. I realize this probably isn't a preferred way to take a go at an anti-tank bunker but more aimed towards the mg emplacement etc. Here is a little piece from "The Victors" by Stephen Ambrose taken from the chapter "The Rhineland Battles".

A company, commanded by a certain captain Colby, is ordered to take out about a dozen pillboxes in the Siegfried Line when :

"A self propelled 155 mm gun chugged and clanked up to us. A lieutenant dismounted and walked over. [...] The lieutenat pointed to a pillbox. The gunner lowered the muzzle of the howitzer, opened the gun's breech block, and peered through the barrel at the target. Satisfied with his aim, he told the loaders to stuff in a round. [...] When the breech was closed and all was ready, the gunner yanked the lanyard. [...] The shell struck the pillbox and covered it with a sheet of flame from the explosive charge it carried."

Then a small conversation starts:

"Scratch one pillbox," the lieutenant said.

"It is still standing," Colby retorted.

"Yep. But there ain't anyone left alive inside. If there is, his brains are scrambled."

The piece ends when :

"They fired a round or two at each pillbox out in front of us, then folded their equipment anc clanked away to another scene. When we moved up, we found only dead or dazed men inside the pillboxes."

Mies

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The question with that wasn't about AT bunkers but concrete bunkers of Siegried line.

If you really want to kill an AT bunker frontally, you should mass lotsa gunned stuff at its front, preferably first blinding it temporarily with smoke so that your equipment gets into position. Hopefully, you have enough barrels pointing at the firing slit so that you can achieve penetrations on the first minute. Also, hopefully it won't achieve fatal hits on too many of your units before it is taken out.

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SpitfireXI

I'm with Sergiy 100%

If I'm trying to fight AT Bunkers at standoff distance, I smoke 'em and poke 'em

I'll blind the bunker(s) with smoke, get as much firepower into position as I can and when the smoke clears let them have it with everything I've got. AT Bunkers usually are by far the most immediate threat to armour on the battlefield and if they're in a good (bad for you) position, they need priority attention. If the battlefield is small enough I will smoke em and flank em, but then I'm not engaging at range - and that was your question.

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Originally posted by Mies:

Michael, I know you "warned" me in another thread about Ambrose but I'm giving it another try. I realize this probably isn't a preferred way to take a go at an anti-tank bunker but more aimed towards the mg emplacement etc. Here is a little piece from "The Victors" by Stephen Ambrose taken from the chapter "The Rhineland Battles".

A company, commanded by a certain captain Colby, is ordered to take out about a dozen pillboxes in the Siegfried Line when :

"A self propelled 155 mm gun chugged and clanked up to us. A lieutenant dismounted and walked over. [...] The lieutenat pointed to a pillbox. The gunner lowered the muzzle of the howitzer, opened the gun's breech block, and peered through the barrel at the target. Satisfied with his aim, he told the loaders to stuff in a round. [...] When the breech was closed and all was ready, the gunner yanked the lanyard. [...] The shell struck the pillbox and covered it with a sheet of flame from the explosive charge it carried."

Then a small conversation starts:

"Scratch one pillbox," the lieutenant said.

"It is still standing," Colby retorted.

"Yep. But there ain't anyone left alive inside. If there is, his brains are scrambled."

The piece ends when :

"They fired a round or two at each pillbox out in front of us, then folded their equipment anc clanked away to another scene. When we moved up, we found only dead or dazed men inside the pillboxes."

I don't personally know anything that substantially would contradict this account. What does bother me about it and reduce it in my eyes is the emphasis all the way through on swagger and "can do". I know a lot of readers eat this up and I know exactly why. It's colorful, even thrilling, and that adds up to a powerfully addictive concoction that incidentally sells books.

But I can't avoid the feeling that the actual events tended to play out in a different fashion. Maybe the real soldiers weren't quite so cocksure and slapdash. Maybe they were more aware that they were in the business of killing and so were the Germans, and that the Germans had proven often enough that they were pretty good at it too. You think about that and you begin to draw a somewhat different picture of the same events.

Michael

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I am an Ambrose disliker.

The text Mies offers is a good example why. Beyond the questionable "can do" attitude present in the text, that was probably less than visible in RL, there is the wording itself. Supposedly this is a first-hand account by an eyewitness.

Yet, the alleged recollection uses words like "chugged" and "clanked", which make for great reading, but are not exactly common terms for a WW2 combat vete. With all due respect to U.S. combat veterans, the great majority only had high school educations, and "chugged" and "clanked" would not be common usage for a U.S. high school grad from the first half of the 20th century.

Same deal with "stuff in a round". I'm not saying a U.S. combat vet would never use a term like that, but the expression is much more characteristic of the language of a well-read person with a university education, but no combat experience. I.e., Ambrose; than a guy who has been in a war and watched ammunition get loaded and fired. The natural word for an average U.S. combat vet to use in this context would of course be "load", or maybe even "chamber", if he was an infantryman.

A final nitpick in Ambrose's text would be the term "there ain't any one". Americans with rural backgrounds or limited education, in that context at that time, would almost certainly have said "There ain't no one". That's the standard double negative typical to American slang, and it lives on today. So one wonders how "there ain't any one" - which is a very uncommon turn of speech - made its way into Ambrose's text.

If one was willing to give Ambrose a fair shake, one might well be willing to assume Ambrose got the wording of the story slightly wrong, or the vet allegedly relating Ambrose the story happened to use language atypical for veterans.

But since a good deal of information has come down the pike casting doubt on the solidity of Ambrose's work as whole - i.e., he apparently plagarized at least part of it, and possibly made up more - you get nitpickers like me pointing out problems in Ambrose's writing, and a general sense of doubt about exactly how accurate what Ambrose wrote actually is.

Which is not to say 155SP wasn't a common U.S. Army late war solution to German pillboxes. The tactic is well-documented. The book The Battle of Metz (forgot the author) lays out the technique clearly, and just as clearly cites U.S. Army combat reports as sources. That's the way history should be.

The problem is, of course, the general public isn't interested in history as much as entertainment. Ambrose's success as an author, I think, is if nothing else proof Ambrose understood this reality very well.

Originally posted by Michael Emrys:

</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by Mies:

Michael, I know you "warned" me in another thread about Ambrose but I'm giving it another try. I realize this probably isn't a preferred way to take a go at an anti-tank bunker but more aimed towards the mg emplacement etc. Here is a little piece from "The Victors" by Stephen Ambrose taken from the chapter "The Rhineland Battles".

A company, commanded by a certain captain Colby, is ordered to take out about a dozen pillboxes in the Siegfried Line when :

"A self propelled 155 mm gun chugged and clanked up to us. A lieutenant dismounted and walked over. [...] The lieutenat pointed to a pillbox. The gunner lowered the muzzle of the howitzer, opened the gun's breech block, and peered through the barrel at the target. Satisfied with his aim, he told the loaders to stuff in a round. [...] When the breech was closed and all was ready, the gunner yanked the lanyard. [...] The shell struck the pillbox and covered it with a sheet of flame from the explosive charge it carried."

Then a small conversation starts:

"Scratch one pillbox," the lieutenant said.

"It is still standing," Colby retorted.

"Yep. But there ain't anyone left alive inside. If there is, his brains are scrambled."

The piece ends when :

"They fired a round or two at each pillbox out in front of us, then folded their equipment anc clanked away to another scene. When we moved up, we found only dead or dazed men inside the pillboxes."

I don't personally know anything that substantially would contradict this account. What does bother me about it and reduce it in my eyes is the emphasis all the way through on swagger and "can do". I know a lot of readers eat this up and I know exactly why. It's colorful, even thrilling, and that adds up to a powerfully addictive concoction that incidentally sells books.

But I can't avoid the feeling that the actual events tended to play out in a different fashion. Maybe the real soldiers weren't quite so cocksure and slapdash. Maybe they were more aware that they were in the business of killing and so were the Germans, and that the Germans had proven often enough that they were pretty good at it too. You think about that and you begin to draw a somewhat different picture of the same events.

Michael </font>

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Michael and Bigduke6, you are both probably right to be honest. Not being a native English speaker myself and only being accustomed to "nowadays English" these small language rarities did not strike me as being odd. However in hind side if I would literally translate it to Dutch it would stick out like a sore thumb in a 1944 naritive as well. The thing with Ambrose is that it reads easy, his books are easy to get a hold of and of course he did write Band of Brothers ;) .

Also I'd have to agree to some extend with what Michael said. I realize that tactics like described above weren't s.o.p., but more an in the spirit of the moment kind of thing. Only trying this (taking on an AT bunker with a 155 gun, at short enough a distance to be able to aim by looking through the barrel) in a CM game will show that it would be near suicide.

The way these quotes are put down by Ambrose do make it look like at least some soldiers thought it was good practice to go about business like this. That is if one to some extend can put faith in what is written in books. I wasn't there, I'm only trying to get a picture and understanding of WWII by reading what I can get my hands on and have time for. And then getting trashed for walking into these "fox holes" with eyes wide open. I don't mind, I'm trying to profit from it.

Mies

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Back to bunkers in the game,

I did an aircraft vs bunkers test. German 75mm gun bunker vs P47 Thunderbolts to be precise. The good news is the aircraft will readily attack the bunker, including droppping a thousand pound bomb on top of it. The fighters even ignored some nearby trucks and went for the bunker. The BAD news is a thousand pound bomb exploding 2 feet away didn't faze the bunker. Didn't even 'alert' the crew, despite the thing almost disappearing into a giant crater! If it was a tank it would've at least been shocked & immobilized. Maybe a direct hit would've done the trick, but how often do bombing aircraft score direct hits? :(

So much for my aircraft vs bunkers theory.

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