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Improvised 'Indirect' fire

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Don't know if this has been discussed before, and some people may disapprove, but here goes:

In a recent CMBB game I got an IS-2 to do what is virtually indirect fire. I targeted a hilltop in the expectation that some of the shells would overshoot the hill and come down in a certain enemy-occupied area. The key, I think, is to target the most distant point possible on the hilltop.

The IS-2 fired three shells from about 600 meters away. Two hit the hilltop and exploded uselessly. One passed over the hill, travelled about 80 meters, through some trees, and hit a small house. The 122mm shell destroyed the house, knocked out one halftrack, killed the gunner of another, and likely did other damage to Panzergrenadiers trying to assemble in the area. (Some of my infantry could see into this area, but I was unable to get an HE shooter within LOS of it.)

Some might say this kind of shooting requires a level of command and control not available in real life in 1944. Maybe so.

But it's not too hard to imagine a quick radio exchange like the following-

Soviet commander: 'Heavy tank platoon! There is a mass of German light armor in the lower end of the village! Destroy them immediately!'

Tank platoon leader: 'I'm still in the valley and I can't see $#!* in the village!'

Commander: 'Listen, they're near the trees just west of the double column of smoke. Fire as far into the village as you can and let's see what happens!'

The technique depends upon estimating the trajectory of the shell, the steepness of the reverse slope, and upon luck. The big shell from the IS-2, for example, flies surprisingly flat for a long way. If no hill is available, you could try firing (lower velocity guns) at the very edge of a 2 story building whose ground floor is not in your LOS. Some shells should fly past the building.

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Try a 150mm field gun. You can get them to drop fairly steep slopes, and can deny cover with the size of the blast.

Try push it up roads when you forget to buy a prime mover - you can find positions for the dropping shots, it just takes a practiced eye (as you've developed with the JS2).

Reverse slope ambushes can become reverse slope graveyards, particularly if he's cleverly hidden in forest - and if you can't be seen, it's difficult for the other chap to get you with his mortars.

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Hello Aco,

Hope you still remember me, think we played one or two CMBB or CMAK games awhile ago. Still interested in playing further PBEM games, using some House Rules ( Think you might have a version of it already ).

Actually in the time frame of the game, I doubt you would have that kind of communition between the Inf and Armor ( especially Russian, vs. Western Allies ). Also, it simply would be a waste of HE Ammo load that would be better suited for direct area fire that you actually see some of its affects. However, you could always have an excuse and say that your JS2 is area firing some woods in front, because of suspected enemy units ( even thou your real intention is in hopes that some shells land further back and hit that house that you cant see ).

Like Costard mentioned, that roles is better suited for field guns and mortars.

Hope to hear back from you soon.


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I don't think the tactic is gamey - howitzers were designed for plunging fire, as are their shells. Fine result.

With indirect fire you're actually aiming at a point in the air. I can only set an aiming point on a surface in CM, so I have to use an approximate point in direct line, and factor in some error giving me the actual desired result. This results in wastage of HE, but with the correct judgement of curve this result can be ameliorated.

Any chance we can get a dial-able elevation on field guns? - the game would change...

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This was a case of necessity (a lack of alternatives) being the mother of invention. Based on his location, the IS-2 was unlikely to get LOS to any other HE targets for the rest of the game, so I was willing to use up the HE shells. And concentrated in the target area was the enemy's last functional offensive force, about to launch an attack.

True, Joe, the severe limits of communication between radioless units are not shown in the game.

I note that an on-board gun will never get a treeburst, no matter how far the shell passes through trees.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised the IS-2 shoots so flat, as it is has a gun similar to modern MBT's in bore and length.

Thanks for your comments, all.

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I've done it both accidentally, as during ROW in Melon Valley vs. Ace Pilot when one of my AFVs, firing directly, missed, landing a smoke round practically in his setup zone and near nothing useful and on purpose, as in Tiger Valley vs. NG cavscout where I managed to get a fair number of rounds into a town by targeting the ridge edge in front of it and praying for overs. Sadly, it wasn't anything impressive like a siG 33. Am somewhat surprised about no DF guns getting treebursts, because bazooka shells emphatically will do just that. Moreover, I've seen combat accounts of, for example, a U.s. infantry platoon at a woodline's being torn to pieces in minutes by a single 2 cm Flak, with treebursts and casualties from falling limbs and splinters being prominently featured.


John Kettler

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