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An idea for improved area fire (not spotting/delay issue)


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I noticed something in the spotting and delay threads that have arisen lately. The importance of recon by fire keeps coming up. I think this will be even more important for CM: Normandy, as one of the more successful tactics for overcoming German hedgerow defenses was to treat every hedgerow as a defensive position and give it generous doses of fire (and consequently ammo expenditure in the bocage was enormous). Perhaps the best example would be running a tank up against the hedgerow to create holes for charges and having the tank spray the length of the opposite hedgerow with fire before withdrawaling (or pushing through if so equipped).

But how do we accomplish such a simple command as "spread your fire along that length of hedgerow" in CM? Either we baby sit the unit, issueing new area fire commands on different action spots periodically, or we give a series of waypoints and assign a different target action spot along the hedgerow for each waypoint (and how to do that elegantly with the tank stationary against a hedgerow, I'm not sure).

Likewise, an order to advance using recon by fire is not likely to constitute a series of orders to target individual spots on the ground. Say there is a treeline (or hedgerow, or stone wall) where enemy positions are suspects? Would orders be issued as "target the third oak on the left with the squirrel in it then move 10 feet and shift your fire fire to the bush with the rabbit under 50 feet to the right?" No, if an order was given, it would likely be to bring the whole treeline under fire, but that is extraordinarily cumbersome in CM.

I see a simple solution: adapt the "linear target" command from the indirect fire for area fire. The ability to target a single action spot would not be lost. You simply double click on the same action spot (try it with indirect fire, it works fine), but issue a linear target and your unit would spread its fire between the two endpoints and any action spots crossed by the line that are within LOS of the unit at the time.

This could also work effectively for creating beaten zones with HMGs and would be a realistic method of ordering suppressive fire only multiple positions, or suspected positions with any direct fire weapon.

Benefits I see:

-suppressive or recon fire could be more realistically spread over larger areas, and likely decreasing the volume (and effectiveness) of area fire on a single spot significantly in many situations.

-multiple levels of a buildling could be brought under fire rather than just one (try this with indorect fire. The command works this way also, but seems to have no obvious effect with plunging indirect fire. Might require some refinement so dragging the line in both directions works and so that the bottom story can be targeted.)

-simpler orders and interface, particularly for recon by fire by a moving unit

-less conflict if per-waypoint order delays or penalties were imposed

-for CM: Normandy, standard US hedgerow tactics could be recreated with ease

Double-click for a single action spot area fire:


Click between points to lay fire along a line, here a trenchline:


Click between two points vertically to bring an entire building, rather than a single floor, under fire:



-What happens if intervening points are not in LOS, say if two hill crests with a valley out of LOS in between, or two tall buildings behind a rise are selected as endpoints? Is fire divided between the two points in LOS, or spread along the entire line between them? On one hand, this could waste fire and allow you to unrealistically bring fire on targets not in LOS. On the other, it might allow you to create realistic plunging fire in some situations.

-Should units have a max length (or max degrees of arc created) depending on the weapon system? No ordering an HMG to bring the entire length of the map under fire?

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Yeah, this has been an issue that's come up since the CMBO Beta Demo from what I remember correctly. What I would like to see is an Area Fire Arc, so to speak. The player would set it just like the current Fire Arcs and the unit would basically walk its weapons from one side of the outer most edge to the other. It would aim at the ground of the Action Spots that the further most edge intersects. There is no code support for something like this, but I'm sure that if we bump something off the schedule it could be made to happen. So it's a matter of deciding if there is something less important of a similar development time that can be pushed off Charles' plate. Which isn't looking too good at the moment since his plate is theoretically full for years.

But it is definitely something we want to see so eventually... I'm sure we will.


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Oh yeah... remember that MGs (and all weapons, for that matter) have "beaten paths" while CMx1 had a small fudge for specific weapons that kinda, sorta, just a wee bit approximated that. So if you have an MG and aim it 500m down range, everything in the cone between MG and that 500m max line are (theoretically, anyway) within the beaten zone.

I don't think we should place restrictions on the max ranges. The player will just have to figure out for himself that it's a big waste of ammo in some cases, so better keep it simple.


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I guess I was trying to think of something that could make use of existing commands. The arc concept would be better overall, especially in a circumstance where you are facing an "area" that present two perpendicular lines you'd like to put fire down on, e.g. facing the corner of large (multiple tile) square building. Just so long as fire would be spread vertically on a building within an arc, and the arc would still allow laying firing along a line roughly parellel to the unit's LOS, i.e. this:


versus this:


Sure hope it can be done. Simpler orders + more realism = :)

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Oops, I guess I meant traversing fire to create larger beaten zones.


Targets presented to the automatic rifleman in combat will usually be enemy troops in various formations, which will require distribution and concentration of fire. Targets with width and depth must be thoroughly covered by fire.

a. Point Targets. These require the use of a single aiming point. Examples of point targets are enemy soldiers, bunkers, weapons emplacements, and lightly armored vehicles. Fixed fire is delivered at point targets.

b. Area Targets. These may have considerable width and depth and may require extensive traversing and searching fire. These include targets in which the exact location of the enemy is unknown. The following are varieties of area targets likely to be engaged.

(1) Linear targets have sufficient width to require successive aiming points (traversing fire). The beaten zone effectively covers the depth of the target area (Figure 6-7). Traversing fire is delivered at linear targets.

(2) Deep targets require successive aiming points (searching fire) (Figure 6-8). Searching fire is delivered at deep targets.

(3) Linear targets with depth have sufficient width requiring successive aiming points in which the beaten zone does not cover the depth of the target area. A combined change in direction and elevation (traversing and searching) is necessary to effectively cover the target with fire (Figure 6-9). Traversing and searching fire is delivered at linear targets with depth.

FM 23-14

5) Area targets as discussed in this manual have considerable width and depth, and they require extensive traversing and searching fires. This type target exists when the enemy is known to be in a certain area, but his exact location is not known. A hilltop is a typical area target. The leader designates an area target by indicating to the gun crew(s) the width and depth of the target.

(a) Two guns. The target is divided at the center of mass; the right gun fires on the right half and the left gun fires on the left half. The point of initial lay and adjustment for both guns is on the center of mass. After adjusting on the center of mass, fire is distributed by determining the size of the beaten zones and applying direction and elevation changes that cause the most effective coverage of the target area. Both guns traverse and search their respective halves to the flanks, then return to the midpoint (Figure 6-11).

(B) One gun. A single gunner engages an area target by laying and adjusting on the center of mass, traversing and searching to either flank, then reversing the direction, traversing and searching to the other flank (Figure 6-11).

FM 23-65

And of course WWII HMGs had extensive provisions to set up sweeping beaten zones. (I believe the MG-34/42 heavy mount could even do this automatically by using recoil impulses and a remote trigger.) Here a maximum arc (in degrees) could potentially come into effect based on the HMG mount.

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Yeah, buildings would have to be a sort of concentration point, not a part of a general sweep. That's because in an urban environment it would mean far too great a surface area would be covered AND chances are 90% of what you're shooting at would be uninteresting.

So in thinking about it now, I think if you put the first point of the Area Fire on the ground the second one must also be on the ground. The TacAI will sweep fire all over that particular line, including any first floors of buildings.

To do sweeping Area Fire on the face of an entire building you'd have to use the first point of Area Fire at one end (say the first floor), then Area Fire at the other end (say the roof) with your second point. The TacAI would sweep fire horizontally and vertically, but just of that building.

Perhaps it would be possible to put the first point on a specific floor of one building (say the 2nd) and then apply the second point to the same floor of another building. This would then cause the weapon to sweep along that plane only.

I suggest this because I'm sure the major problem Charles will have with this concept is trying to develop firing patterns. Traversing L/R along the same elevation should be easy. Traversing U/D along the vertical axis should also be fairly easy. What wouldn't be easy is sweeping fire along a horizontal axis and then switching to a higher or lower axis. That would involve some logic coding to make it work right and it would still be prone to not working as intended. Better to keep the suggestion as simple as possible in order to keep the heartburn down to a minimum ;)

Realistically, this seems to cover almost all the bases.

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There might be a point to restrict how small the arc can be. This could really help in solving the destroy the unspotted AT gun by area fire problem. If the minimum arc would be, say 5 degrees, then at 500m the minimum area would be about 40m in width. Not so easy to destroy that gun any more.

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