From: Cologne, Germany
Now, I don't disagree that a modern MBT CAN hit a target out to 4000m, rather that it is not quite the effective range of engagement.
You ought to say "not quite the usual range of engagement", as the terrain/environment in populous areas or in woods usually prevents engagements at that distance - unless the particular tank is in the desert, or let's say in low-population areas like in the North German Plains or in flat parts of East Germany, or - last but not least - generally in an elevated position, but the DM53 KE actually delivers a higher max range, due to its velocity exceeding 1750 meters/second, most modern tanks deliver velocities of around 1650 - 1750. Again, the old 120-mm APFSDS-T DM43 round already allows for an aimed max range of 3500 meters.
In that case, if they have the ammunition, no problem, but if they don't have 10000 rounds lying by, with the promise of easy resupply, then I can't see a competent leader allowing his men to blow through a whole lot of ammo real quick that way.
That's why the Small Arms Manual advises to fire bursts of 20 rounds (increasing to 30 rounds for highest distances) and readjust elevation until the rounds hit the target area.
TMO's quote indicates that 11,000 rounds (44 belts with 250 rounds each) per gun were to be taken into action.
The following is an early account (1940) that covers tactical employment, ranges, supply fundamentals, standard configuration of the MMG (ammo), number of 15-cwt trucks per platoon and number of AT rifles per platoon. Due to the reorganization of the MG-Bns later on, Universal carriers had been substituted for the trucks mentioned in the Pamphlet below, and without much doubt PIATs for the Boys AT rifles.
TMO's document rather reflects experiences/demands of combat units towards the end of WWII, but with the following document you get an idea about how the MG Bn was supposed to be employed as early as 1940, without being able to fall back on a whole lot of actual combat experiences (maybe apart from the BEF's adventure, I don't know what month the Pamphlet was printed):
ORIGINAL: Military Pamphlet No. 31, 1940
Notes On The Organization And The Tactical Handling Of Medium Machine Guns, page 8
"1. ..... In direct fire the fire unit is the section. At ranges in excess of 1,400 yards it will normally be necessary to engage with more than one section.
2. Range. - With accurate range-taking, and the correct application of the fire control rules, medium M.Gs. can fire with effect up to 4,500 yards [4114 meters]. Medium M.Gs. ranges are defined as follows:
- i. Close, up to 800 yards. - The range up to which, on level ground, the trajectory is suffiently flat to hit a standing man at all points between gun and target.
- ii. Intermediate, up to 1,400 yards.
- iii. Long, over 1,400 yards. - At these ranges two sections will generally be necessary to produce effective fire.
4. Rates of fire. - Medium M.Gs. use two rates of fire - normal and rapid. At these rates they expend a belt of 250 rounds in two minutes and one minute respectively. A "service burst" is 25 rounds under all conditions, except when firing on fixed lines, or at a moving target, when it is 50.
5. Ammunition supply. - M.G. ammunition is factory-packed in expendable belts ready for firing. Sixteen belts are normally brought into action with the gun; in addition, further belts are carried in company and platoon trucks. Ammunition may be dumped to meet expenditure which can be foreseen.
So even with the 1940 early war-setup, MG crews were supposed to carry at least 4000 rounds (16 belts with 250 rounds each) with the gun, as a minimum. Supply wasn't a problem.
"6. Duration of fire. - The system of ammunition supply, together with the fact that the barrel is water-cooled, enable the Medium M.G. to keep up a normal rate of fire as long as supplies of water and ammunition continue.
9. Indirect fire. - Medium M.Gs. are capable of engaging a target which is not visible from the gun position, but is visible from an O.P. Flexibility is limited, but concealment is more easily obtained, and the chances of guns being neutralized by enemy artillery is minimised.
In cases where the target is not visible from an O.P., or where it has not been possible to range on it in daylight, the necessary data can be obtained from a 1/25,000 map. The accuracy of map shooting depends chiefly on the accurate pin pointing of the gun position and target on the map. Artillery units, who possess methods of surveying, can often be of assistance in this."
The following link leads to a range table (from 1926) for the Vickers 303 MG. The range table lists angles (minutes?) for indirect fire missions up to at least 2800 yards:
A MG range table from 1916, listing angles of elevation (in degree and minutes) for ranges up to 3000 yards:
If you want to get some more manuals, check this site:
Now in terms of the game engine, either the AI and the damage code have to get better, so as to distinguish in game if the MMG is fired directly or indirectly, and to allow the AI to make a decision as to when to use indirect fire, or a compromise is made. If it were up to me, in terms of bang for the buck of limited development time, I'd go for the compromise.
Still, I'd like to point out that the "current" layout of the estabs (in COTA) and/or the compromise currently in place tamper with some weapons' typical applications or ranges of fire, which impacts historical accuracy and the player's decision process regarding tactical deployment and strategy alike.
This whole ordeal ranges from Flak guns with strangely limited direct fire AT capabilities (range), leIG guns not being able to deliver indirect fire at all, a strange "fire" button where the user really doesn't know whether it does anything or not - area fire isn't rendered at least, MMGs with reduced max. range and even to (German) heavy tanks which don't seem to fire any further than 1.5 kilometers, usually. Unfortunately, the game hasn't only difficulties to realistically handle armoured units regarding range, but the game's AI has difficulties to handle motorized movement of formations in general (i.e. Bn or Abteilung), as well: - if one tank company runs out of fuel, the entire Abteilung will be stopped in their tracks. The player then has to detach the respective unit, in order to ensure that the rest of the Abteilung continues to move. If the HQ runs out of fuel, the player has to detach each and every unit under its command, in order to make them move again.
Range: In training ranges, the minimum requirement for Tiger I crews was to hit a given target at distances from 1300 meters to 2000 meters - with their 4th(!) shot). The Tiger I manual ("Tigerfibel") explains how to measure/elevate in order to hit a target (taking an enemy AT gun position as example) at 2400 - 2800 meters, with HE. Btw, I put screenshots of the Tigerfibel online along with a brief translation/explanation, in this thread at Battlefront:
Anyway, I have yet to see a tank firing at targets being 2000 - 2800 meters away, in the game. So, details like the ones listed above are quite some inaccuracies, and I wonder if they'll be present in BFTB (probably).
It goes without saying that games have to employ certain levels of abstractions, although it could be fun to actually interdict the enemy AI's movement of supplies and hunt the supply trucks (if they'd be rendered) , for example.
An abstracted supply system doesn't necessarily take away from the overall realism, though. But the current estabs (as presented in COTA) lack some historical details, details which are actually documented in archives and even spread across the net, and I don't know whether this was the result of an oversight, lack of time or a compromise or not.
Thanks for an engaging discussion so far :)
Thank you too.
< Message edited by GoodGuy -- 8/30/2009 1:00:04 PM >
General Anthony McAuliffe
December 22nd, 1944
"I've always felt that the AA (Alied Assault engine) had the potential to be [....] big."
8th of August, 2006