Thursday, May 15, 2014

Tanks vs Guns - A Short Combat Mission Red Thunder Narrative


You dig it for protection. It gets over you and invades every crevice of your body. It spoils the lubrication of every round of ammo you previously cleaned.

If you are lucky enough, you will see it as a telltale of a tank round falling short and lifting in front of you in prodigious quantities. It will stay put as if defying gravity. One wishes that defiance would last long enough, like ours against the enemy.

There is a macabre calculus that applies to the combat between tanks and guns. If one gun takes two to three tanks, they say, its job is done. We rarely keep tabs of our battle deeds. We are just too busy shoveling in rounds, looking through the sights and staying alive.

A micro, self-made scenario. The enemy (one platoon of infantry and 7 PzIV tanks) is coming from the background. Two Soviet AT guns (green icons near the patch of trees) is waiting protected by the defile provided by a small hill (left) where a Maxim HMG is positioned.

We work our guns in pairs for protection and rate of fire. Those pairs of guns are paired again to provide interlocking fields of fire. Emphasis is made in depth and not on holding a line of guns. Of all things, we want the enemy tanks to enter our sector, sucked in like water into a sponge. Today we hastily assembled near a creek and we were ordered to stop a German platoon of tanks from reaching the water.

Two more AT guns in the right flank of the Soviet sector.
First rounds fired from the Soviet guns. The start of the engagement is auspicious.

A German tank fires back at the Soviet AT guns.
One Soviet AT gun is destroyed.

Less successful than his other brothers in arms, the two Soviet AT guns get destroyed while moving and trying to acquire a better field of fire.
Everyone in the crews is at various stages of fear. But there is only one way out of this and that is to load ammo, aim and fire. The exchange of fire deafens the senses and the initial tank kills push us to work harder. Our guns' positioning pays off and we destroy six out of seven enemy tanks. One gun takes a direct hit and we can see how mangled metal and flesh are flown from it at the same odd deflection angle. An entire pair of AT guns on one flank is destroyed in a quick succession of tank rounds, their crews killed or scattered like quail flying from a shotgun.

A Soviet AT rifle at work.
A German tank hit by a Soviet AT rifle. Arrow indicates the impact point.
The battle pauses. Enemy infantry moves forward in bounds, more harassed by its own doubts than our fire. A lone remaining German tank reluctantly stumbles forward, fully buttoned after being shot too many times by a Soviet AT rifle. Our guns are destroyed by now and only three crews are alive.

We stopped the enemy tanks today and our job is done. We look up to our leaders for what to do with all the expensive ammunition we still have in boxes along the destroyed guns.
Bury it! We will recover some at nightfall ...
Our communion with dirt continues.


Anonymous said...

Really nice one JC. Many forgets the power of Russian AT rifles and ol' 45mm that actually helped to stop many Tigers.
This shows nicely you do not have to destroy a tank - just knock it out.
I remember reading some German tankers memoirs on the Arnhem battle. When you sit in the tank, rounds hitting constantly, you're never sure which one will be the one penetrating. Thus even the Bren fire had an effect on the morale of tankers.
Chris Adamus

Jayson Ng said...

Why no improved positions? Is it not possible in the game?

JC said...

Thanks, Chris.

Jayson: the game features plenty of improved positions. These are very generic and although they do fit the AT guns, they look like and are a far cry from a well-made AT gun pit.


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