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some "unfair" Roads to Leningrad scenarios

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I've been enjoying GMT's operational game "roads to Leningrad" and the typical combat situations that result within it strike me as begging for CMBB scenarios. In operational maneuvering the whole point is not to fight fair, and quite lopsided combats can be the rule. But I think the results give a better impression of what 1941 was like and why the Germans did well, than expecting it to emerge bottom up from weapon specs or wheaties eaten by the individual riflemen. So, suitably step reduced for quick playability, here are some scenario situations (not yet full designed scenarios, alas - yet) -

(1) check the batteries

Germans get 2 veteran aufklarung platoons, company HQ, 2 HMG-34, 1 81mm also all vet, 4 trucks and 10 kubelwagens. They also get Me-109 air support, strafing and bombs, regular quality.

Russians have 6 76mm USV guns, one green rifle platoon with 3 squads, 1 jeep and 6 trucks.

Terrain is open farmland with light trees, gentle slopes. Russians start padlocked, set up as follows. HQ in a farm building with jeep parked outside, only command distance to nearest gun position (covered next). 3 gun positions each with 2x76mm, not dug in, all facing same direction initially. Behind each pair a single half-squad in a foxhole. 80m or so behind each, a pair of trucks and the remaining halfsquad, preferably in lower ground etc. Second half squad not dug in either.

Germans set up in a woods area the guns are not facing, and may start "mounted" or not at their option. Place a few roads across the farmland etc. Me-109 support can appear from turn 1, no delay.

Russian mission - save the guns. German mission - kill the guns.

(2) crossing guards

Germans get 4xPz IVE (vet), 8xPz 38 (50mm front variety, regulars), single aufklarung platoon (vet) with HMG-34 attached (vet), 2 trucks and 4 kubelwagen, 75mm FO (4-tube but with 100 rounds).

Russians get reduced green rifle company with company HQ, 2 platoons each 3 squads, 2 Maxim MMG, 2 50mm mortar, 1 45mm ATG.

Terrain is a stream crossing with a bridge, on a major surfaced road. The stream is also foldable. German side of the stream is forested (scattered trees mostly). Russian side is open farmland, marginally higher ground on gentle slope. Russians have foxholes in wheat, no better cover. Germans are in column along the road, any march order they like, FO forward at treeline with view.

(3) elephant hunting

Germans have set up zones on north and south ends of map. A secondary forest road runs north to south through scattered trees, "open" forest. At each end the Germans have a schutzen company (regulars), each with 2x81mm mortar and 3xveteran tank hunter attached, no other heavy weapons. The tank hunters have 2 grenade bundles each. Squads have 1 grenade bundle and 3 rifle grenades each. The south end company also has 4 regular 37mm PAK and 4 kubelwagens, and a 105mm line FO with standard ammo (also regular).

In the middle of the map, the Russians get 2 KV-152s. Green. No infantry of any kind.

The Russian mission is to exit the tanks alive, north along the road preferably, east or west through the broken woods in a pinch. The German mission is to bag them.

(4) Red Custer

The Germans get 2 forces, one starting along the south edge in a wide set up area, mostly covered by wheat and brush. The other set up in a low "hollow" in the northwest corner, tightly grouped. The south edge force has -

4 Panzer IVE (vet)

4 88mm Flak (set up but not dug in, regulars)

4 37mm PAK (as previous) w/ 4 kubelwagen

The northwest hollow force has

4 Panzer 38 (50mm front variety, regulars)

1 veteran aufklarung platoon plus vet HMG-34

8 kubelwagen (motorcycles actually but they work)

German squads all start split, and each get 2 grenade bundles and 4 rifle grenades. They can start mounted or not, up to them.

In the center of the map astride a major surfaced road is a small village on a modest gentle-slope rise, in otherwise open farmland, light tree coverage. In the village is the Russian force, which is

15 green BT-7s (3 platoons of 5 each)

Nothing else.

The German mission is to destroy the tanks and take the village, the Russian mission is to survive and kill whatever they can.

(5) going to town

Germans get

4 veteran Pz IVE

8 regular Pz 38, 50mm front

4 MG armed PSW (4 wheeled, 8mm thick variety)

full vet aufklarung company with 4 HMG-34, 2 81mm for heavy weapons

6 trucks

10 kubelwagen

1 regular Stuka for air support

Russians get

green rifle company, 4 squad + 1 50mm mortar per platoon

green MMG platoon with 4 Maxim

2 82mm mortars also green

3 regular tank hunters with 4 molotovs each

1 45mm ATG. Green.

152mm gun-howitzer FO 40 rounds, green (use for "map fire" target wide, and pray)

The setting is a build up city, nearly all wooden buildings but sprawling, both sides already inside the city limits. A few larger "factory" and stone buildings available for the Russians. Ground is flat and tree cover is light, besides the buildings. No mines or wire, and no sewer movement allowed.

(6) the open road

Germans get

4 Panzer IVE, veteran

8 Panzer 38, regular, 50mm front

2 full companies of regular schutzen

each with 4 HMG-34, 2x81mm for heavy weapons

8 trucks to haul the heavy weapons

1 105mm radio FO, regular

All start in any march order they like along a secondary road through open forest. (Meaning, mostly continous scattered trees with some clearing patches and side trails of one-tile-wide open). One platoon of schutzen may be deployed out to 100 meters or so from the road on either side.

Russians get

one green rifle company, 4 squad, 1 50mm mortar each platoon variety

MMG platoon with HQ and 4 Maxim MMG, also green

3 regular tank hunters with 4 molotovs each

1 45mm ATG. Green.

Russians are deployed astride the road 150 meters ahead of the Germans, and after that as far back as they like.

German mission is to open the road to the other side of the map. They don't need to exit.

(7) situation normal

This one is a slight change of pace from the previous, though not by a lot. It depicts a fight in the operational game that featured good defensive artillery support on the Russian side, and failed coordination on the German side. As a result it ended in a repulse. (The title is a reference to the first two letters of the famous acronym).

Germans get a starting force and a later reinforcement force, whose arrival I will describe below. The starting force gets -

one regular schutzen company w/ 4 HMG-34. No mortars though.

4 20mm armed PSW, veterans (platooned).

green 105mm line FO (use for map fire - must fire target wide on turn 1).

This force sets up along a forested secondary road approaching a stream with a minor bridge. The stream is fordable, and the schutzen's set up zone extends up to the bridge on their side at the start. The PSWs must start along the road and initially back in the woods proper.

The Russians hold a village on a rise on the far side of the stream. To the German left, the woods extend along their side of the stream, while the Russian side is open farmland once past the immediate stream bottom. The village is on a crest, and consists of a modest number of farm buildings etc, with the road passing through it. Open, steppe, some wheat around it, with wood fences etc. Some trees clustered around the buildings as windbreaks.

The German reinforcements arrive on the German side of the stream opposite those woods, not the bridge, about 500 yards away from the bridge. The arrive in this sequence -

turn 15 - 1st regular schutzen platoon

turn 16 - 2nd regular schutzen platoon

turn 17 - company HQ, section leader, 4 HMG-34 all regulars

turn 18 - 3rd regular schutzen platoon

(in other words you get a second company on your left, but they are late and arrive gradually).

The Russians get -

Green rifle company, 3 platoons each 3 squads

each platoon has 2 rifle 41 squads with LMG, green

3rd squad is the 41L pattern with no LMG and conscript quality

each platoon also has 1 green 50mm mortar

green MMG platoon with 4 Maxim MMG, company and platoon HQs

company HQ has +2 morale and +1 command, +1 stealth

1 regular sniper

3 regular tank hunters with 4 molotovs each

1 76mm line FO, regular quality, with 180 rounds

3 TRPs

The Russians are set up in the buildings and in foxholes in the tree cover around them. Sniper, FO, tank hunters, and 2 of the Maxims may be outside the village (tank hunters forward, rest back for flanking shots, also to avoid arty hitting the village etc).

I hope this is fun...

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In summer 1941, the ATR swarms had not been produced and fielded yet. That ramps over the winter and they are there by the May 1942 fighting, and get big by the fall. But in 1941 proper the production rate didn't support fielding huge numbers of them - even in the Typhoon period (Oct to Dec) they'd be scarce. In the summer they just weren't around yet.

As for the lack of medium artillery support, besides the coordination elements being generally lacking (not enough radios, artillery used mostly direct by poorly trained gunners, etc), the Russians were just frequently dislocated. After a breakthrough the guns are often in the wrong place, or get hit directly (see scenario 1), or lose reliable ammo supply, or can't keep up (horse-drawn in a retreat). In a set piece with nice intact stable front lines, no problem. The Russians frequently didn't have those things in the summer fighting. In the operational game I took this particular from, the Russian force was a pure infantry remnant in a defeated formation, retreating northward and blocking a pursuit at the forest-road bottleneck. It was there to delay the enemy, and to cover a vulnerable headquarters and rally point where the larger force was trying to gather.

As for the level of AT defense, the wonderful thing about an operational context is how clear it makes this, and how that brings out the true value of (1) armor (2) general operational mobility and (3) initiative and op-tempo. The Russians have plenty of arty and AT units on the map. The German panzer KGs just have plenty of other vulnerable targets that aren't so lucky. Same for Russian armor. They hit 'em where they ain't, or hit armor only when it is inadequately supported by other arms. Nice solid lines in good terrain with all weapons present in balanced array, arty ready to support and command working properly - just aren't attacked at all. They are left standing there with their mouths open while the fast KGs butcher their less "together" brethren to the right or left. And render those nice positions vulnerable or send them scrambling again to patch a different hole.

So, very often when an attack is actually driven home, the Germans have a full panzer battalion leading a combined arms KG and the Russians have rifle forces only. That is where the holes are, and it is the factory in which they are made and remade.

So very often, the force deserves only the instrinsic AT weaponry of a bare 1941 leg infantry battalion, reduced for scale. Without any assigned "slices" of its higher formation's artillery or AT assets, which are concentrated and elsewhere. Maybe they'd "really" have 2 or 4 pieces but face 3 times as many Germans including tanks. For a road stopper that may be somewhat better, but not seriously so, and the 2nd or 3rd try would still look like this (or worse).

End mystery, if anyone had it, as to why the Panzer 38 was a fine operational-scale battle tank in the summer of 1941...

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P.S. on changing the terrain to be "more interesting" as a village, by all means try that too, but it kind of defeats the purpose of "open road" as a situation. It is meant to show the need for the combined arms the Germans are actually achieving operationally and bringing to the party. The schutzen actually have to do their jobs when the route for the panzers is so narrow (though they can push ahead in scattered trees at some loss of speed and risk of breakdown or close assault, to be sure). The tactical task in that terrain is the point.

Again on Russian arty, notice the variation across the fights. In one they have double ammoed and TRPed 76mm guns firing reactively. In another they have supercharged 152mm but it is falling aimlessly on the whole German assembly area. In a third they have an arty position, just one set up recently for indirect work and taken in flank in a surprise raid. But half the time they've got nothing beyond their organic mortars used on-map, and cooperation between armor and guns is particularly non-existent. (Later in the same operational fight there are examples where it is better, but the above is representative of the early dislocated period within it).

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Too many levels. My examples are from an operational period in the dislocation fighting on the AG North drive. Obviously tons of things aren't remotely working by then, simply because the Russians are in a scramble situation, as to supply and as to fielding new units, deploying them sensibly in a fluid situation against a threat the Germans are deliberately varying in unpredictable "knight's fork" fashion, etc. Coordination breaks down in such circumstances as operational friction, and that part of it has nothing to do with the economy or top level planning. It is an op-tempo race.

But earlier, yes CSS breakdown led to the failure of all the large Russian mech units, and that unpredicted evaporation of a whole branch of the army, and a critical one in terms of its role, made nonsense of the early deployments, plans, and counters the top brass relied on during the invasion, especially its first month or so. That CSS breakdown was largely a coordination issue too, though not fundamentally an economic one. More a readiness and professionalism one. (They weren't ready, they didn't have enough professionals, etc).

The parts that are working fine are in fact (1) the rear area economy, (2) the rail network (3) the army mobilization systems (drafting, equipping, training such as it was, movement to front) (4) the high level staff, though Stalin and the party were sometimes overruling or interfering still (e.g. Kiev recommendations etc) and (5) basic bravery and patriotism in the ranks. The parts that break are the linkages between (3) and the front line forces (logistic bottleneck - once you are off the train, everything goes "primitive"), hierarchically between top staff and grunts (dislocation, confusion, peacetime political peter principle post purge officers etc), and the "tail" part of units.

German units have a lot more tail per unit teeth, everyone recognizes. But that isn't useless fat, it includes the nerves and arteries (command and supply staff systems). Later in the war it was a problem because the front line burnt out. The Russian early war problem is the opposite - plenty of men with weapons at the front, but in the wrong places and unsupported because there isn't enough nerve and artery tissue behind them.

As for the specific failings of the early Russian deployment and opening operational moves up at the "big chess" level, they all make sense if you expect a Russian mechanized corps to perform like a German panzer corps. But it doesn't, it evaporates on contact in less than a week. Take them off the board at set up and the Russians would see holes and their need for reserves. Those formations appearing to be present but in fact being ineffective is the proximate cause of the big gaping holes and in practice non-sensical hold rather than retreat orders that make the early mega-pockets.

Not all the later ones, though. By Kiev the higher pros have adapted and are operating with realistic lower expectations of what their units can perform, and are therefore recommending correct backpeddles and reserve front deployments. But they get overruled as defeatist, or reassigned, etc. When disaster follows they get their reputations back but the armies involved are gone by then.

The actual capabilities of the Russian army of 1941, if assessed realistically, would have put in a better performance than their overestimated abilities. But they still would have lost, just not so badly. They had to actually improve that level of performance, especially for the mech arm, before they could hope to match the Germans. Even before they had a German-level mech arm, though, they could be dangerous using their rifle army bulk more sensibly than they usually did.

Anyway, as I said too many levels at once. Thus the meandering reply...

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Some background for those unfamiliar with the Roads to Leningrad game.

It is a GMT title covering two episodes in Manstein's career in the 1941 campaign, the battles of Soltsy and Staraya Russia. The system is an alternating "chit pull" HQ activation sequence that makes for wild maneuvering. The game has tons of maneuverist touches that stack the deck in favor of the Germans, against which the Russians have generally larger forces numerically. For example, the key German divisions move twice per turn. All units are quality rated with each level of difference worth the equivalent of an odds column. The best units have 7s and the worst have 4s; the Germans have enough of the former to let them lead key fights, and 6s everywhere. Only a few best Russians merit 6s and most are 5s. The Germans are better at coordinating arty support, movement of reaction reserves, retreat before combat, etc. But their main advantage is simply big formations of mobile units that move often in a coordinated fashion to a single plan. In contrast, the Russians are typically activating a single rifle division or tank brigade on one axis, after which it passes until after everyone else has moved, with the net effect of lots of spastic actions aimed at a situation map hours old.

The first fight, Soltsy, features Manstein's corps driving up a road to seize a town and then trying to keep the road to it open against concentric Russian counterattacks - or even if the German player can swing it, keeping the initiative and striking further. Basically on the first day or two the Germans inevitably take the main objective and thereby achieve "central positioning", i.e. get themselves surrounded. Then there is one and only one open supply road up to the spearhead, and they must keep it open.

The German force overall is the 8th Panzer and 3rd Motorized, complete, plus a regiment KG from SS-T (motorized infantry) and one ARKO with artillery brigade. The scale is battalions and companies for specialist units. 8th Panzer has 9 tank company units, 3 Panzer IV and 6 Pz 38, while 3rd Motorized has one StuG company only. They have 4 and 6 motorized infantry battalions, and quite an assortment of effective recon type units (a dozen of them all told). Half a dozen PAK and FLAK and a dozen artillery battalions

round out the force. (SS-T arrives late with 3-4 motorized infantry). They arrive off a line of march with both divisions interleaved, one KG each half-day turn pretty much. The inital force is a single motorcycle battalion (5 company units), tank battalion (3) and heavy Flak battalion (3), lead by the panzer regiment HQ.

Initially opposing them there is only a single Russian tank brigade in widely scattered, uncoordinated locations, and a single rifle brigade sitting on the German objective town but not yet dug in. There is another full rifle division on the map, covering the Russian entry area from the northeast, but it is detraining at this time and takes no part until day 2 (turn 3). A second Russian tank brigade enters in the course of the first day, from north or east as the Russian player chooses.

The initial German force is small but it builds rapidly and its much faster than the Russians (on a good road, speed 6-7 units with 1/2 road movement costs, each moving twice per turn). They get center position and can hit and hurt anything they like. The Russians are well advised to simply put difficult terrain between themselves and the Germans at this stage, to let them hit air, while trying to cover key areas needed for later deployment. The main objective itself cannot hold, and if the rifle brigade that starts there tries to, it will be cut in half or annihilated, depending on how much focus the Germans put on that task.

But the Russians then get 4 rifle divisions over the next couple of days, from northeast, north, south, and one that can choose between south and east. Together these are twice the size of the whole German force, not counting the original Russian mech arm stuff. In armor units the two are even in combat power by factors but there is no real comparison. The Russians lack adequate motor rifle (only 4 battalions, and several of those weak and likely to die early), and their units are much lower quality,

and slower in the case of the majority. (1 BT battalion, 3 T-26 battalions, 1 T-34 battalion useful but smaller, and 3 small KV company units. The T-26 and KVs are as slow as infantry, operationally). And split over two brigade sized formations, each moving only once, instead of gathered into multiple strong KGs that activate together and do so twice. As a result of these mechanics, the Russians cannot rely on their mech arm or pull off any of the German's razzle dazzle.

The best Russian units, individually, are their recon, including armored car, motorcycle, and armored recon companies in the better rifle divisions. They are small units and there aren't enough of them, but they are the best support for the tanks and leaders of counterattack efforts. But the bulk of their combat power comes from the RDs - individually weak, but strong when concentratedinto full regiments and also pervasive and "goopy" in a squirming, infiltrating ZOC-web sense, when spread out instead.

The Germans feel incredible strong when they can concentrate on a chosen sub-piece of the Russian force and hammer it without let up or mercy. The ZOCs are hard for non-motorized but soft for motorized units, so the fast Germans easily slip around the front line positions and cut off the leading units, and destroy them in many-shift attacks after they can't retreat.

But the Germans are weak screening stuff. They don't have any prosaic infantry divisions to hold the long fronts while the mobile ones are doing all of the above. The outer perimeter of the German salient gets very long, as they tend to be fighting in 3 directions

(every direction except west), and they need to hold open their lone supply road. There is a strong tension between their need to concentrate into big KGs forward, hitting relentlessly to maintain the initiative, and the need to cover all the ground already gained

against the incoming tide of Russian rifle battalions, emerging from the woods from all directions, to converge on the long supply road.

It is a fun game, obviously. Quite interesting systems, if a bit maneuver-happy and heavy on the quality modifiers. And also a fertile source of CMBB material.

Incidentally, I believe there is a VASL module for it, if anyone is interested...

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Well I think that is completely wrong. I think you underestimate the role of the operational layer, and I think it is a complete misunderstanding to think trucks confer no extra mobility if the other guy can fire off artillery shells. It shows a fixation on the micro-tactical that is just clueless, frankly. As for the Russian roads, they aren't shut by German air, which isn't much to speak of out at the far end once the panzers go deep, anyway. (Early, sure, in range of the border etc). The issue is that horse drawn wagons trying to supply artillery off a railroad net are hopeless with motorized all arms spearheads 200 miles behind them. But whatever, not worth debating. If anyone is interested in Roads I'll show them; if not, just enjoy the scenario ideas.

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Sure, and by the way I am sorry if my previous sounded snippy.

Trucks provide operational mobility. Operational mobility has tactical combat effects in 3 different ways - (1) it lets you concentrate on specific targets while just screening others thinly, and get back in time to hold any of those screens whenever you like.

You can have a much thinner front when you can put a regimental KG on-site at any threatened point in a matter of hours. That let's you keep the fist strong instead of evenly spread out along the line, and throw said fist at chosen points, to break up the coordination and positioning of the enemy formation opposite. All of that is (1) and it operates on the grand tactical level. The motorized movements are all within your own lines. Your manpower seems to be everywhere at once simply because it is where it is needed when it is needed; in comparison any foot-bound force has huge portions of its strength on inactive sectors doing little, much of the time.

(2) they provide operational-scale dislocation of the enemy force. How so? Every temporary hole in his lines can be turned at will into a major lodgement in his rear areas, very rapidly. Too rapidly for him to react with sufficient speed to keep his unit deployments sensible, in light of the new situation you've created. Meaning, one of his artillery regiments (horse drawn) is at A, and the new fight is at B, 100 kilometers away. You don't need to kill that artillery regiment, it might as well be on the moon. If all the roads are clear of your forces, it can redeploy to the new hot area is oh, 4 or 5 days. By which time you are already elsewhere, and around we go. This forces the less mobile enemy to spread his assets more nearly evenly to have anything anywhere useful, and it thereby divides his effective force. Also in this category are pure "operational kills" - you bypass a formation and it flat can't get away in time to reach its fellows. Armies require integration with the units around them to protect themselves. They require regular resupply. Road marches especially once cut off deplete them (tanks break down, trucks use up their gas, overworked horses literally drop dead). Etc.

(3) operational offensive stance is fully compatible with defensive tactical stance. The dislocated less mobile force has to fight to free itself or trapped components. If it doesn't want to sit there passively getting pounded in sequence by the concentrated fists of the more mobile side, it must attack itself at the places where the enemy is thin or seems thin. Seems because his reserves appear rapidly, his arty fire shifts to the threat, etc. But you have no choice, you have to hit the thin parts to force him to cover his whole front, it is the only force dispersion you can inflict. OK, but that means lots of attacks need to be delivered under unfavorable conditions for them. Attacks by cut off units. Attacks with whatever is at hand because lack of operational mobility prevents reinforcement beforehand. Attacks that must be delivered now to have any hope of dealing with this hole or that threat, and cannot wait on supporting formations, for guns to be repositioned or resupplied, etc. That means lots and lots of tactical situations with poor combined arms, if some odds edge, and then some of those odds edges neutralized by reserves or reversed by a "fist" counterattack.

If you follow the pocket fighting in AG Center for example, the motorized formations form the eastern wall of the kill sacks for a while. Infantry forms the other walls. The Russians hit pretty much every direction but west trying to get out. They run out of artillery ammo rapidly and the tanks have long since evaporated for the CSS reasons already explained etc. So you get unsupported rifle forces attacking defending infantry with guns "wired" and reserves on call. The Germans are not uniformly the ones attacking, tactically. One great part about being behind the enemy is he gets to do that.

So, grand tactically you can keep a "barbell" concentration profile (some fists, very thin screens), each unit with favorable concentration fights many times. Operationally much of the enemy is ineffective. Tactically you get to defend with better combined arms or attack with overwhelmingly superior combined arms plus local odds. All from simply having a motorized army, against a foot-bound one. (Plus, to make the second work, some need to be able to punch local holes to get dislocation going, to be sure. But the tanks give you that when the enemy has no working mech arm).

I'll also explain a bit more about the arty issue, next post.

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When the guy up front calls for fire, he sees the rounds come in and calls in simple adjusts which he states in meters. Seems simple, a child could do it. When the gunner at the actual gun adjusts his aim, he is just given 2 numbers and dials them in to sights on his piece and levels some bubbles. Seems simple, a child could do it. But these are not the steps that actually put the rounds on the target. In between there is another step where the actual intellectual work is done.

A modest piece of that is already present in the FOs initial call for fire, before he sees anything and can call any adjusts - his initial target reference. But most of it happens in the battery's fire direction center, which stands between the FO and the guns, and turns the call for fire from the FO into those two numbers called out to the guns and dialed in by the gunners - the deflection and the quadrant for the shoot.

To get those numbers the FDC needs to know exactly where the target is and exactly where the battery is, and the angle (compass sense, degrees off north) to point from one to the other, plus the distance and therefore the round charge and angle of height to put rounds near that specific location. The angle off noth to point the guns is the deflection and the angle up from horizontal to raise the tube to get the range right is the quadrant. The FDC problem is to turn a "hey they are over there! Shoot 'em now!" desire up on the battlefield into those 2 numbers at the guns.

It does this with surveying instruments and maps. When the battery arrives in position and sets up, its location is surveyed. What does that mean? It means men stand looking through sights at prominent bits of terrain and record the angle to them from where they are standing. Those angles are triangulated on a (hopefully accurate) map (that actually shows those features); where the lines cross is where the measurement was taken from.

The FO could do this too, but rarely has time or the ability to sit motionless at the plotted location for all his called shoots, and must approximate for his first call for fire. He can see the target is, say, about half a mile to the left of that low rise. OK, where is that?

You can try to idiot-proof it by giving him a hyperaccurate map. Air photo quality, showing every building, and as things were 2 weeks ago. Down to 10 meter increments. You could also use GPS, but people did not have such things.

How do you determine how far away something is that you can see but can't pace off?

Trig, that's how. You move a baseline a short distance laterally in a known direction and record the change in the compass angle in the line of sight to the target. From that change and angle and the length of the base you can calculate the length of any other side of the triangle. It is just trig. So if you want to know ranges and distances between things and a god-like map department hasn't already told you for every object on the earth, you do a little trig or you don't have a clue.

Similarly, the FO wants the point of aim adjusted by 400 meters to "the left" and 200 meters "closer". OK, what is that in degrees? You can replot the new point on the map right next to the old one, using a baseline direction you think he is facing. Or you can do a little trig - at 13000 meters a 400 meter adjust is 3% etc.

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Mobility and concentration distributions

Suppose there is a potential frontage for both sides 100 long.

Each side has 1000 force to deploy along this frontage, at the front

or at depth aka in support or reserve.

No assumption is being made that either is actually equal, these are

normalized, 100% of the frontage and 0.1% increments of the available force on either side.

Now the idea is to compare very different spreads of the available

force over the frontage and depth, on either side of the lines. And

to notice how grand tactical mobility works in this context.

One deployment might be all up front evenly spread. So there is force level 10 at each of the 100 locations, front, and 0 at depth in reserve behind each point. Call that "flat front".

Another might vary this only marginally. 25 locations have a front strength of 5 average (tapered actually), 50 have a front strength around 10, and 25 have a front strength around 15, again tapered with some tail touching 20 say. Call that "normal front", where "normal" doesn't mean you are supposed to do this but merely that the distribution has a big bulge around its mean and typical tails. But with everyone in the front line.

Another might use typical 2 up 1 back or more something between that and the previous, but otherwise follow the densities above. The thinner parts have no depth. The thicker ones, from the average force density upward, have a third of the force off the front line. So most locations have 5-7 up front, some have 10 up front. A quarter have no local reserves, most have small reserves, and the top quarter have reserves about as strong as the normal front (5 extra in second line I mean). Call that "normal depth".

If you mobility sucks you are going to wind up in something close to

those distributions. Now here is a typical distribution of a force having a decided mobility advantage.

25 parts of the front have nothing in the front line. 5 positions out of the 25 have forces of strenth 5 in second line, spatially speaking,

but with nothing ahead of them. Total density in this quarter is thus

only 1 per location, 25 total force used, which is 10% the average density.

50 parts of the front line have strength 3 each up front, and every

5 locations another 5, grouped, in second line. Total strength on this half of the frontage is thus 50x3 + 10x5 = 200, which is 40% of the average density.

20% of the front line has 10 each up front, 200 total, plus another 20

in second line every other location. Thus 400 force on 20 locations or

400% of average density overall. These locations form the active frontage where this side attempts to destroy things, maintain pressure, gain ground.

5% of the front line has 25 each up front, and 50 each in second line.

These are the fists. They make holes, and they react to evelopments.

The location of the 5% worth of fists changes rapidly, across the line. They don't sit still, they "swing" to exploit weaknesses and create new threats.

OK, suppose the "normal depth" force faces that concentration profile.

It will not generally be true that each side has its peaks opposite the

other guy's peaks, but there will be a tendency for that to happen.

Whenever the locations of high or low concentration move, however, the peaks on one side will no longer correspond to the peaks on the other.

But the mobile force leaves his empty areas opposite the places where

the less-mobile side is thin, not where he is strong. There the less

mobile side can advance nearly into vaccum - but only hits air, and

extends in places where he wasn't making any real effort and has nothing much to exploit with. The area may be unpromising terrain or otherwise unimportant anyway, that is why it is thinned by both sides.

When the less mobile side nevertheless advances there, the second line forces opposite react to the sites and block routes, and just delay things. The less mobile force is basically invited to extend himself. The mobile side thinks of this merely as a trap - if the enemy overextend where they were thin to begin with, a rapid shift of fists to the area will annihilate the weak and spread out intruders in nothing flat.

On the bulk of the frontage the less mobile side has a numerical advantage. It is around 2 to 1 in the front line. If they push their reserves up they can make that 3 to 1 across wide areas, but the defenders can meet that where it is attempted by using their own second line, bringing the odds back to 5 to 2. And that, only if the less mobile side presses the entire frontage - otherwise the reserves go to the pressed areas and leave the others alone, and you get 2 to 1 or less, only. Not enough to sustain an attack with decision, against typical defender's advantages in terrain etc.

The less mobile and less concentrated side is only realistically going to get off attacks where it can put the top quarter of its concentration

distribution opposite some of the normal frontage of the more mobile side.

Meanwhile on the most concentrated portions of the front, the more concentrated mobile side is at 400% of average concentration and the less is only at something like 150%. Even without the fists, this reverses the 2-3 to 1 odds relationship just described, on the densest and usually most important portion of the frontage. And wherever the "fist" pancake to the front line, they dramatically overload even that average level. 5 and 10 to 1 is achieved at the points so chosen.

That is how better time to front is exploited to achieve tactical odds

by a grand tactical mobility relationship. The concentrated fists of the

more mobile side then fight much more actively than the average force element on either side.

What defeats this approach? I mean, besides matching enemy mobility.

Cycling, reliefs, and losses can. The concentrated fists fighting more

often may be worn out by it, while each element of the less concentrated side fights sometime. Wide front aggressiveness can - the less mobile side takes its 2 to 1 attacks and doesn't care that they don't achieve decision, it just bleeds both lower to turn the thin screen areas into outright holes. Subtract 3 force per location across the frontages described above and you see the effects.

That is what I am talking about when I speak of the Russians still being dangerous if they use their rifle "bulk" intelligently, for its actual long suits.

But the "barbell" concentration of fists and screens will still generate

tactical advantages in the meantime. It is how mobility is "cashed" for a tactical edge.

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Where do you think the angle comes from? The sky? Someone has to figure out the correct number. As for the distance, the whole distance of the shoot also needs to be figured out. All you actually have is "an FO who thinks he is near Grodnoviki says he sees Germans about half a kilometer to the left of the big hill to his north". Turn that into a deflection and quadrant, please.

How do you think distances are determined? Laser rangefinders? GPS hand held devices? Eyeball guestimates? No. A bit of the last for final adjusts. Everything else is a surveyor's instrument issue. If you have god-like maps you can get by with the measured angles, a compass, and a protractor. If you don't, you need to measure distances between things to get your own references. Which in case nobody mentioned it, is how maps get made in the first place, absent godlike photo recon from the air. You measure distances between things with only a surveyor's sight, using trig.

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On why a mobility edge is needed to maintain such a concentration profile, if the slower side tries it he'll get annihiliated. By hypothesis he's left a quarter of his frontage practically naked and he is slower to get stuff there. The faster enemy puts a big force through that area. His second line reserve may simply sit there as it drives by, or maybe those in a very narrow area reach the intrusion site. But are clearly insufficient, overrun and killed. Now the enemy main element is in your backfield and he is faster than your own reserves. He can hit anything he likes.

The barbell concentration is relying on the ability of the heavy bits to get to any threatened point whenever necessary, before the slower side can accomplish much of anything with an attempted intrusion. Reserves can be less local and still effective, thus they support wider sections of front. The only way the slower side can have something, anything, at the point the faster side concentrates, is to start it there or very nearly there. The reverse is not true.

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If the target is registered sure. Yes you can know in general that a charge 5 HE round elevated 30 degrees on flat terrain will land 16400 meters away or whatever the actual figure is. But you don't compute that for every single possible angle. You compute it for a typical set and then you do corrections off that set, to interpolate to angles that you haven't pretested or precalculated. How much does the correction change the range? A multiple of the cosine of the angle before and the angle after. Etc.

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Two issues being conflated, one, and collosal silliness, two.

You are going to memorize every range between 1 and 15 kilometers, in 50 meter increments, in degrees elevation, for every charge type and gun? Laughable compared to what run of the mill gun-bunnies are actually taught.

And you still need to be able to survey to find distances between things and make the impromtu maps. It is not some great esoteric skill, but it has to actual be known by the men concerned.

What you can do and they did do, is *after* a target registration has been fired, chalk the elevation involved right on the gun tube for quick reference, with a registration letter next to it. That helps you get the right initial range not at all, but dealing with typical gunners counts as an important memory device (which ought to tell you how laughable it is to instead expect them to have every range-charge combo memorized).

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