Saturday, June 15, 2013

Iron Front Liberation 1944 - D Day DLC - Infantry Anti-tank Tactics Gone Bad

If you ever read Anti-Tank Weapons (Derek Whipp, 1942), you will be shocked at the suicidal tactics the infantry was asked to use against the iron beasts.

Without any doubt, between 1942 and 1944 (the year of this fictional scenario) many things have changed. The sophistication and widespread use of combined arms, which translates into the concept of accompanying infantry, is one of them.

In this short mission report, you will find out how the accompanying infantry turned out to be more dangerous than the tanks themselves.

I made a custom scenario in which 3 German tanks are to pass through a small Norman village. They are supported by 3 squads of scouts. I edited the waypoints and synchronized them so the infantry and the tanks move at the same pace, with the infantry some fifty meters ahead as the entire force approaches the village.

I play as a US Army squad leader and our mission is to delay the enemy or (if possible at all) destroy the tanks. We have three anti-tank rocket launchers, AKA "bazookas", at our disposal.

A panoramic view of the area of operations. A German force (3 tanks plus an infantry recon platoon) is moving through the road directly towards the village.
I planned for the bazookas to have fields of fire on the main street of the village (this street runs from left to right in the image above). I also wanted to strip the enemy force of as many as possible infantry as I could, so I positioned my two BARs with narrow fields of fire on the fields ahead. One of the BARs (position A above) had to be placed too forward in order to protect a nearby bazooka. In turn, the whole concept of a BAR in position A forced me to place two riflemen in position B just to protect the flank of the former. The second BAR (position C) had two alternative fields of fire: one over the street (towards the left in the image above) and the other overlooking position B.

From the beginning of the scenario, I stayed at position A.
We could hear the panzers creaking their way from a long distance. Eventually, we could hear the German officers pulling the troops into the village. The first contact was made at position A and we opened fire immediately.

A brief killing streak by the BAR at position A was brought to an end when the enemy infantry pulled up an MG42 into position. A rifleman falls in a hail of fire ... Our BAR gunner makes a stance and gets some additional kills. I try to help him but enemy infantry is seen in the distance, crossing the street. The BAR gunner falls shortly thereafter.
The sounds of enemy fire on position B distract me enough to get shot by enemy infantry at the street (to my left in this screenshot).
The enemy infantry has crossed the street at many points. The BAR at position C has failed to stop them. In this screenshot I am engaging enemy infantry at our left flank.
The rate of attrition among my troops has seconds instead of minutes in the denominator ... I just can't stabilize the situation. I run across the street and I see an enemy MG in position A. He is taking cover and doesn't move. I fall to an enemy grenade a few seconds later. Never saw it coming ...

I switched to another unit (a rifleman in position B). I try to find the weirdest route of escape (towards where the enemy came from) but I find the tanks sitting comfortably in the outskirts of the village, waiting for the infantry to gain a firm foothold. The enemy closed in and killed every of us.
I failed at multiple levels in this scenario. I didn't use the multiple defiles that the layout of the village offered. No single man in my squad should have been on the far side (i.e. the row of houses directly overlooking the enemy avenues of approach) of the street.

The narrow field of fire of the BAR at position A, intended to engage a limited amount of enemy infantry at a time, was quickly abolished by the fire superiority of a single enemy MG42. Rate of fire matters, it turns out, and the R in BAR stands for rifle ... Not machinegun.



Marco said...

It was bold to try to destroy or even slow down such a heavy column with a squad. Perhaps you could let them enter the town and centered into making killzones in the central zone and the opposite side of the town from the tanks, but then you could get outnumbered by the riflemen instead of overpowered by the MG42. It's kind of a mission with more coffins that medals. Nice history telling and good screenshots when I'm in a firefight I rarely remember to take screenshots with all the exciting and killing stuff around.

JC said...

Hi Marco,
Yes, this scenario needs to be played again. With smarter planning too.