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What effect did the stabilized MG have on rifles?


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Adam - those are large portions of the earth's surface and ones not unused by armies. Ergo, you should be able to point out to me many instances of the phenomenon you expect, in which the exposed side, on a company to battalion scale, was shot down to the last man due to lack of cover. Name 3 such occasions.

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You guys would do exceedingly well in a seminar such as this:

http://www.kcl.ac.uk/kcmhr/postgrad/handout.pdf

The bibliography from page 4 onwards is exceptional.

Speaking of that bibliography, do any of you regard Stouffer's Studies in Social Psychology in World War II Combat and Its Aftermath as worthwhile or lending any new insights into this topic? I've not read it so I cannot comment one way or the other.

Regarding number of rounds fired to produce casualties...

General B.P.Hughes in his Firepower: Weapons Effectiveness on the Battlefield, 1630-1850 claims 0.2% - 0.5% of bullets in that time period found thier mark, equaling roughly 200-500 rounds fired per "hit", I believe.

Rory Muir in his Tactics and the Experience of Battle in the Age of Napoleon pretty much gives the same numbers.

Where either got those figures I do not know, and obviously, the data is from combat in the previous century..but it is data and it may be a starting point for more research.

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I see 2 strands here. To simplify--

0. Premiss: in war people do not get gunned down with 100% losses to 100% accuracy.

1. JasonC: this is because in real life, human behaviour means that people break off etc, so 100% slaughter doesn't happen.

Adam: OK, but in CM, it *should* occur, if troops force attack over certain types of terrain-. THe consequence is that the CM player would be forced to behave like real life ("no way we're going over the top sarge", "that's just suicide"). In other words, by implementing the possibility of 100% slaughter, CM would mercilessly simulate what never happens in real life, and for good reason.

2. JasonC: 100% slaughter doesn't happen because, even in best terrain, there is no "rifle range accuracy" or "fps accuracy", people shelter behind dead bodies or lie down behnd their packs or get lucky. [i would add: maybe all those combat psy studies show that people are so scared or hyper in combat they just don't shoot v. well, even Boers with Mausers, even Germans with MG 42s ranged, etc. ]. So CM shows this OK.

Adam: that I find difficult to believe, that there isn't terrain where tactically, any kind of advance would be wiped out. It just can't be the case that, in real life, you can CM-advance in *any terrain at all*.

JasonC: we need to prove this.

*****

Apologies for putting words and thoughts to interlocutors.

On strand 1 I agree with Adam, on strand 2 I agree with JasonC. Not sure where that leaves me.

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60 yards, you might get somewhat higher figures than the average. Very small actions, infantry is essentially defenseless, again you cannot scale it.

60 yards is not a particularly untypical range for small-arms fights; and, even so, the reported shots-per-casualty rates are not far off 1,000.

I don't understand the remark about "very small actions, infantry is essentially defenceless".

You might as readily say "a cop shot a perp using 4 rounds in Chicago yesterday, so clearly..."

I understand that the rounds fired per hit for US Police Officers using handguns is something like 6 -- also a much poorer performance than one might think from first principles, and at ranges so close that you'd think halitosis would be effective, but only about one order of magnitude worse than range shooting instead of the two that British OR folks regard as normal for combat.

Look at whole battles or campaigns and you will see the real average figures, which are far lower than single firefight cases. (A readily accessible example - Poles took 200,000 KIA and WIA, at least 1/2 and probably more like 3/4 HE caused; Germans expended just under 400 million rounds of 7.92mm ball doing it. Elapsed time one month).

What was that you were just saying about "you cannot scale it"? When discussing CM, it is the "single firefight" case that is the applicable one. It should be tolerably obvious that the number of rounds consumed divided by the number of losses suffered over a whole campaign is going to tell you next to nothing about the likely hitting rate of rifleman Kowalsky engaging attacking infantry at 300 metres.

I suspect that there are not many after-action reports where one has an accurate accounting of SAA expenditure and casualties inflicted and a reasonable chance of untangling the small-arms rom the other casualty-causing agents. It would be nice to know of any such that people might have lying around.

Operationally, we know that average hits per round fired are materially lower for modern rifled firearms than they were for smoothbore muskets, by 1-2 orders of magnitude. The technologically focused, as opposed to the tactically and morale-ee focused, can't tell us why.

The "technologically focused" should perhaps explore the exciting possibilities offered by a useful battlecraft skill called "hiding".

As for who is claiming rifle range like accuracy, in this thread the supposed "evidence" from *first person shooters* of the survival or lack thereof, of exposed infantry at combat ranges, is being advanced as evidence, that the exposure ratings of open ground in CM are far too low.

Sorry, my eyes must have glazed over and I missed that part of the thread. In the days before people stopped going outdoors, I would have suggested taking a bunch of energetic friends, and practicing this "hiding" and "stalking" stuff on one another in a piece of countryside near you.

Tobruk sucked, Squad Leader ruled. There is a reason. Adam hasn't figured it out yet.

Yeah -- John Hill was a brilliant game designer, and Hal Hock wasn't. However, SPI's "Firefight" takes a crazily techno-centric approach and produces a great game, while AH's "Firepower" takes a supposedly motivation-centred approach and sucked like an Avon in reheat -- because Jim Dunnigan and Irad B Hardy could design good games, and S Craig Taylor couldn't. Except for "Machiavelli".

All the best,

John.

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I was kind of curious as to the reported 400M bullets also. I could not actually see a necessarily direct link between claimed ammo expenditure and casualties providing a lethality index. Even after extracting HE casualties.

However be that as it may it does raise two questions/points:

With the old fashioned rifle/musket the ability to hose the surrounding countryside did not exist. It was fortunate therefore that everyone did the decent thing and stood up - most of the time.

I was curious out of the claimed 400M bullets how much had actually been aimed at anyone in particular, or was suppression the majority use. Suppression both of live targets and potentially dangerous trees. I suspect that the Germans were not necessarily overly trigger happy but it is an interesting area if one were to equate bullets fired to casualties.

Furthermore, with the US demonstrating how to lose $1billion dollars of military equipment in Iraq [http://cbs3.com/national/Pentafgon.Iraq.missing.2.604470.html], I was wondering how accurate records are in war zones.

I trained in auditing once and in my minds eye I can see an ammunition train in a siding somewhere in Germany whilst the factories confirm their bills for payment and the army in Poland audits what stock they have left. Of course eventually the ammo will be discovered, perhaps one or two trains worth, and that will go into use some months later - possibly in Greece.

Judging from what my ex-Army elders say Army record keeping could be flexible if a formed required a quick response .........

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Adam - no, infantry did not avoid Omaha beach. Needing to cross it, they crossed it, and they did not take 100% casualties doing so nor did the movement attempt fail. No, infantry did not avoid the open ground approach to Boer held ridgelines in Black Week. That is what made it Black Week. They learned that week to avoid frontal approach to such positions and to shell them with artillery and turn them instead, but in Black Week they had not yet learned this and they walked entire brigades into ranged rifle fire in billiard table open ground. Fact. And they took 7% causalties doing it, with lossing reaches up to 33% in the hardest hit units, but never 100% losses.

You are simply wrong. Until you acknowledge that your imaginary picture of what *should* happen is not what *does* happen, you can post or run away or pick bananas if you like, but you have *no* case that CM is wrong, at all, in its depiction of the consequences of advances over open ground.

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Well the first thing will be shoot the MG gunners as they are obviously standing up. Show me a picture from 12" above ground and we shall see how far they might be able to be effective.

Elevation is important for observation but it does have drawbacks if you can be fired at from many points - I am thinking of your previous photo across the valley of the sheep : )

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Adam - in CMBB, if a single regular platoon tries to use advance drills and packet movement to cross 300 meters of featureless open to close with 2 HMG 42s, they were fail completely with 33-50% casualties, coming apart at 200-150 meters depending on things like MG jams and HQ morale bonuses, and will not succeed in mussing the hair of the defending MGs in the slightest. The casualties will *not*, however, be 100%. They aren't in reality, either. The men will not make the movement, they will break it off and refuse, losing heavily. This is correct. Your apparent belief that you can just cross it under fire by using "advance" is false, as to CMBB behavior.

John - what I meant by infantry defenseless in very small scale actions is that modern (WW I and after) combined arms systems are designed for full scale units in position, with all their various supporting arms etc. In that whole scheme of weaponry, the infantry arms themselves have definite roles and range windows they are meant to handle, and expectations about force to space, flanks, etc. With MGs handling a longer range window than the personal small arms, etc.

Well, instead make the units tiny squads or single platoons at the most, isolated them from all the remaining weaponry, and drop them in a jungle, and you are instead knife fighting with small arms almost exclusively. Most of the factors preventing close approach of infantry to infantry at small arms range have been removed in that situation. In other words, the situation itself selects for much higher than normal reliance on small arms and lethality per shot for those small arms, compared to the rest of the arsenal. This matters because the physical separation and dispersion of the infantry is driven by the total danger level the two armies present to each other. They remain farther apart, more dispersed, and less focused on shooting each other at point blank with their rifles, in realistic tactical situations for Europe world war stuff, than in small unit actions, unsupported, in jungle terrain.

Since the function of the whole combined arms package it to protect the front line force from the danger of close approach by enemy infantry, stripping that away by situation selection, amounts to picking the least defended cases of infantry combat. In which they two sides will brush closest, with maximum proportions of both sides in small arms fire contact, etc.

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Highlights of the ammo consumption - besides just under 400 million rifle caliber bullets, they fired off 1 million smaller caliber HE (75mm and 81mm), 1.5 million of the main div arty caliber 105mm HE, and 325,000 HE 150mm and larger, the vast majority of it again from div arty. Of course the Luftwaffe also contributed a large bomb tonnage, particular that dropped onto Warsaw.

Polish losses included 400,000 PWs but only 200,000 KIA and WIA.

If one assigned HE shell effectiveness ratios of 1/2 for the smaller than 105, 1 for the 105, and 2 for the 150mm and up stuff, the "105" equivalents thrown are about 2.65 million shells. If those inflicted about half the Polish KIA and WIA (leaving nothing for the Luftwaffe). This gives an average of on the order of 25 heavy shells fired per artillery casualty caused. This is a believable figure from other campaigns - figures as high as 40-50 fired per man hit can be found e.g. in the late war west, and the most effective situations it easily runs 10 heavy shells per man hit.

Naturally most of the 395 million ammo expenditure must come from the machineguns, probably 90% of it and maybe even 95%. That still leaves a heck of a lot of rifle fire. The MGs probably got 3/4 of the bullet caused casualties. This gives upper bounds on the achieved accuracy of the rifles near 1000 rounds, with the MG effectiveness another order of magnitude above that. In specific tactically effective situations I can imagine seeing those better by a single order of magnitude, but those are the best outliers and not the average expenditure case.

All, obviously, rough. But when one is just bracketing the right factor of 10, rough suffices.

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Well the 400million figure appears to be exceeding strange if derived from the figures at: http://www.sturmvogel.orbat.com/GermAmmoPoland.html

which gives the figures from 1st April to 1st September which means they end as the Polish campaign starts. I am therefore taking a guess and a hope that the figures are for the 31st? September or 1st October and that someone has not done a mighty screw-up.

However it does raise doubts and if one were to assume that the dates ARE correct and recorded amounts are those at the main ammunition dumps AND also assume that the German mobilisation during the summer lead to vast amounts of ammo being drawn for the new divisions and the artillery etc then you could argue that would explain the figures.

A million men into arms with 100 bullets each gives a 100 million draw without any being fired. One might think they ought to have more.

If the figure does cover to the 30th September and does cover fighting we cannot still take the figures as amounts fired. I am making an assumption that the German Army did not ask all soldiers/platoons/battalions/divisions to make returns of ammo held on that date.

Speaking as an auditor there were only some things you would expect an organisation to keep track off and I doubt sincerely that 7.92 ammo would have been a reportable item at local level though it would have been an automatic re-stock. Overstocking at front line level might be anticipated.

I am not a military man so I imagine the divisions need to know that there local ammo dump has sufficient for their anticipated needs and they order for delivery on anticipated need. Ditto the local dump draws from Army level resource. You will appreciate that the lost railcar/train can easily exist in this system as it will be counted as produced and if not recorded at a depot will go into the category of fired.

The figures provided without the underlying detail of how they were originally gathered, and how or if front line ammo was reckoned, mean that any claim of 400million rounds expended in the Polish campaign needs some examination. Possibly it is true but I would certainly like better information before believing that much was expended in action.

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Highlights of the ammo consumption - besides just under 400 million rifle caliber bullets, they fired off 1 million smaller caliber HE (75mm and 81mm), 1.5 million of the main div arty caliber 105mm HE, and 325,000 HE 150mm and larger, the vast majority of it again from div arty. Of course the Luftwaffe also contributed a large bomb tonnage, particular that dropped onto Warsaw.

Polish losses included 400,000 PWs but only 200,000 KIA and WIA.

If one assigned HE shell effectiveness ratios of 1/2 for the smaller than 105, 1 for the 105, and 2 for the 150mm and up stuff, the "105" equivalents thrown are about 2.65 million shells. If those inflicted about half the Polish KIA and WIA (leaving nothing for the Luftwaffe). This gives an average of on the order of 25 heavy shells fired per artillery casualty caused. This is a believable figure from other campaigns - figures as high as 40-50 fired per man hit can be found e.g. in the late war west, and the most effective situations it easily runs 10 heavy shells per man hit.

Naturally most of the 395 million ammo expenditure must come from the machineguns, probably 90% of it and maybe even 95%. That still leaves a heck of a lot of rifle fire. The MGs probably got 3/4 of the bullet caused casualties. This gives upper bounds on the achieved accuracy of the rifles near 1000 rounds, with the MG effectiveness another order of magnitude above that. In specific tactically effective situations I can imagine seeing those better by a single order of magnitude, but those are the best outliers and not the average expenditure case.

All, obviously, rough. But when one is just bracketing the right factor of 10, rough suffices.

Lets consider at this point the ammo usage during Winter War. The Fininsh army artillery usage (at http://www.winterwar.com/forces/FinArmy/FINartiller.htm#shellsituation ) which come down to total of 508 966 shells and the casualty rates of the Red Army (at http://www.winterwar.com/War'sEnd/casualti.htm#soviet ) which come down to roughly ~87 000 KIA (counting in the DOW and not counting in the ~39 000 MIA) and 264 908 WIA (not counting in the sickness cases). I did not dig up the Red Army artillery ammo expenditure but if we allow 20 times the Finnish expenditure the total would be in the order of 10 million shells for 26 662 KIA and ~43 000 WIA.

In this example the writing is on the wall in favour of defenders using mainly small arms against deliberate assault causing heavy casualties to the attacker. (Even when disregarding the actual tactics used in executing the assaults which contributed to the casualty rates).

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Hmmm! I see something I thought I had cancelled was eventually posted - rubbish connections today.

Anyway most of my previous message was written on the basis that the link "proved" expenditure of 400 million rounds. In fact it is simply quoting the 400m figure back to prove the military were not short of ammo. Where the 400M figure comes from I do not know.

However the points about where the counting was done - at ammo dump or unit is still interesting. Did issued ammo on mobilisation reduce the apparent production numbers deduced by Panzerkeil from comparing the April and September 1st figures.

Interestingly enough and by strange coincidence :

A total of four times the basic load of ammunition (a specified amount to be carried by the troops or in unit transportation) was to be made available. One load would be carried by individuals (pistol, rifle, and submachine gun ammunition) and in the trucks, wagons, and trains of the unit (machine gun, mortar, and artillery ammunition). A second load would be available for issue from the army ammunition depot, and two more loads would be stored on rail sidings and moved forward as the situation necessitated. Every rifleman required 90 rounds, every light machine gun 3,750 rounds, and every division artillery piece 300 rounds, for each of the four loads. Third Army, drawing on depots in East Prussia and separated from the Reich, was to have a total of six loads available, and would store four extra loads for those Fourth Army units Bock planned to move to East Prussia once a junction was effected across the Polish Corridor.

Roughly extrapolating the ammo issued for the forces involved in Poland would be a figure not unadjacent to 400million rounds. Coincidence?

Interesting, in a bizarre way.

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The April to September period is not for use it is for production, part of the poster's argument that ammo use in the Polish campaign did not forbid a fight in the west at an earlier date. It has nothing to do with the expenditure in the campaign itself --- his point was merely that the production ramp right before the war readily covered most of the (high) expenditure of the campaign etc. They really did use nearly 400 million bullets and 3 million artillery shells. Note that Germany used 200 million artillery shells in the war as a whole, counting only the important 81mm, 105mm, and 150mm calibers. Let alone rifle bullets...

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