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Are any of the AA units useful against tanks?

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All Forums >> [New Releases from Matrix Games] >> Gary Grigsby's War in the West >> Are any of the AA units useful against tanks? Page: [1]
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Are any of the AA units useful against tanks? - 3/19/2017 6:33:36 PM   


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Are any of the anti-aircraft support units helpful for anti-tank? For instance, in a pinch, can an AA auto-wpns battalion effectively substitute for an anti-tank or tank destroyer?

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RE: Are any of the AA units useful against tanks? - 3/19/2017 8:02:11 PM   


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How the game logic would resolve an Allied AA vs Axis tank engagement I can't tell you off the top of my head, but in the real world the answer would be "No Way" due to a number of factors. These include the types of ammunition used at the time and the way AA was allocated, often in the defense of ports, airfields and other rear areas that did not come into contact with axis armor unless everything had already totally gone to hell. I found a great page on the British side of the equation:

Click down to "OTHER ARTILLERY ANTI-TANK" for a good explanation. I also found some supporting info elsewhere that declared that when 3.7 inch AA guns were released for anti-tank duties with AT sights and other conversions in North Africa after a year of begging for them to combat the newly confronted 88's, the troops didn't like them. They cited its high silhouette and heavy backblast that raised a lot of dust and made the gun too easy to spot.

From the webpage:


The question often arises as to why the British Army did not use their 3.7-inch HAA guns in the primary anti-tank role as the Germans used their 8.8-cm FLAK. 3.7-inch was used its secondary anti-tank role on a few occasions but there are probably several reasons why it was not generally used in a primary anti-tank role:

The lowest level that 3.7-inch HAA guns were in the field army was usually in an AA Brigade controlled at Army or higher level. Typically a Corps might be allocated one these brigades, which usually had only one HAA regiment with 24 guns, and was used to defend assets in the corps rear area from air attack. The implication of this was that HAA deployment only rarely placed HAA guns where they might have a secondary anti-tank role and even if deployed in a primary anti-tank role might only provide about 4 guns (a troop) per brigade.
The role of HAA was critical in overseas theatres where ports, airfields and depots were liable to air attack. Furthermore this was not just an army matter, it affected the navy and the theatre's air force commander-in-chief also had a strong interest. Deciding where to deploy HAA was not solely an army matter.
The 3.7-inch HAA gun was larger and at about 9,500 kg almost twice the weight of the 8.8-cm FLAK. Its size and weight made it far from ideal for use in the forward areas. The large Matador tractor required for HAA guns was another disincentive to routine deployment in the forward area.
HAA guns were bigger and more complex than most guns and required more resources so increasing their production for anti-tank purposes during the 'crisis' period 1941-2 would have meant less of something else. Once 6-pdr became available the crisis passed and 17-pdr meant it never returned. Given a choice of 17-pdr or 3.7-inch HAA for anti-tank then only a complete idiot would opt for the latter.
After the war it was demonstrated that firing at the very low, close to zero, elevations needed for anti-tank shooting put stresses on the riveted mounting that led to it failing. It's unclear if this problem was known in 1941-2.
3.7-inch Mk 1 HAA guns did not have telescopes and for the first few years of the war there was neither AP shot nor open sights, although HE would have been effective, at least against anything before the Pz KfW Mk V (Panther). Nevertheless local expedient sights seem to have been developed.
From mid-1943 the anti-tank situation generally favoured the British and there was no need to mis-use HAA guns in this role and when the air threat decreased to the point where HAA was regularly used in the field artillery role there was no shortage of anti-tank guns either.

The general conclusion is that 3.7-inch HAA guns were seldom deployed in areas where they might have a secondary anti-tank role. Using them in a primary anti-tank role might have seemed a good idea to junior officers in the front line. However, the senior officers who actually commanded AA formations and usually 'owned' HAA units had a wider perspective of the war and most likely considered that the air threat was more significant. They were probably right.

I'll suspect American forces had some similar logic and issues, though my very quick search didn't turn it up. You may remember, we were having enough trouble killing German tanks with AP rounds at the time, let alone with anything commonly issued to AA units.

AA units might have been able to confound the light Japanese tanks used in the Pacific theatre but of course WITW doesn't address this wrinkle.

So: IF the game follows what was reality for Allied forces in the 1930's and 40's, the answer is "No".

(in reply to FireDog)
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RE: Are any of the AA units useful against tanks? - 3/19/2017 9:21:03 PM   


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Thanks, That was very interesting.

(in reply to rixtertech)
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RE: Are any of the AA units useful against tanks? - 3/19/2017 10:24:03 PM   

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Actually by late 44 the British were disbanding AA units to free up the manpower to provide second line formations (and in turn shake out their manpower into the front line). This is a good in-game strategy as that is the one allied faction where manpower can bite by the end game.

As to their role in game, I'd say yes they work as tank killers. German light AA units are great as corps/divisional attachments and can do a lot of damage to attacking tanks. I'd keep the heavier stuff back defending the cities though.

With the allied AAA units, its less a case of if they have an effect and more if they are the best Support Unit to use. Without digging in too deep, I'd rate artillery more highly, the disruptions they cause having a greater impact on the battle than the relatively short ranged AA - remember that you can often stop a German attack at distance if you can disrupt sufficient elements.


(in reply to rixtertech)
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RE: Are any of the AA units useful against tanks? - 3/19/2017 11:03:59 PM   


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Thanks, Loki100

(in reply to loki100)
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RE: Are any of the AA units useful against tanks? - 3/20/2017 7:36:01 AM   


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I'd look at the combat reports "ground combat" tab, and check if any of the AA units have done some damage (Personnel and AP)... as far as I know, the Flak 88mm are doing a great job against Allied armor in WiTW

(in reply to FireDog)
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RE: Are any of the AA units useful against tanks? - 3/20/2017 11:42:12 AM   

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IIRC, US Army in Europe disbanded about half of it's AA Battalions in late 1944, to alleviate manpower shortages in infantry. Of course Luftwaffe was not much of a threat anymore, so it was a sound decision. And of course AA soldiers were not too happy about travel ticket to line infantry...


"To meaningless French Idealism, Liberty, Fraternity and Equality...we answer with German Realism, Infantry, Cavalry and Artillery" -Prince von Bülov, 1870-

(in reply to EddyBear81)
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