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Finding suitable maps - 8/22/2009 9:11:02 AM   
Merv0728


Posts: 124
Joined: 6/7/2007
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I will probably get some strong answers to this but as I am a newbie to this game please don't be too hard on me.

I think that the one weakness of this game is the difficulty in finding suitable maps for users to create their own scenarios.I have searched the web but have found only one place that has some useable maps,not perfect but can be used at a pinch.
Maybe other members have found a source but I certainly haven't come across them.

The ability to create my own scenarios was one of the reasons I bought this game but it has been a bit of a let down in regard to this map situation.
I am using at the moment a map of Anzio as a trial & learning curve although the map isn't perfect it is useable.

Hope no-one takes offence at this but that is my opinion at the moment.

Alan
Post #: 1
RE: Finding suitable maps - 8/22/2009 2:08:52 PM   
Arjuna


Posts: 17785
Joined: 3/31/2003
From: Canberra, Australia
Status: offline
Alan,

Finding good historical topographical maps, depicting both elevation and terrain, at the right scale has always been a challenge, no matter whether it is for our game or any other for that matter. We are fortunate here in Canberra that we have the National Library with its excellent Map library. They have a fairly comprehensive collection of Australian and British ( GSGS ) WW2 maps with a reasonable though not comprehensive collection of US and German maps. For each game we developed I spend hours in the Library sourcing the right maps. Once locating the right maps we pay the Libray to digitise them for us.

I don't know where you live but I recommend you start searching for the nearest map library. Google "GSGS maps" and you should find a number of links to WW2 series of GSGS maps. There are a number of indexes online. These might be helpful to locate the map reference and then you should be able to request a digitised copy of the map through an appropriate map library.

I hope that helps.

_____________________________

Dave "Arjuna" O'Connor
www.panthergames.com

(in reply to Merv0728)
Post #: 2
RE: Finding suitable maps - 8/23/2009 2:23:29 AM   
GoodGuy

 

Posts: 1506
Joined: 5/17/2006
From: Cologne, Germany
Status: offline
Hi there.

What you can do is to try and get a rough overview regarding what type of maps are out there.

This is a comprehensive list of maps circulating among UK's defense surveyors and teachers, I am not sure if these are available for public use, but some copies might be present in UK's National/Military archives. I use this list to get clues regarding naming/labeling of maps for a given theater, before digging on google or in the National Archive's lists. It lists GSGS maps, both "OR" and "Misc" maps (pls see linked document for explanation). You want to go for GSGS ("Geographical Section of the General Staff") Misc maps.

http://www.defencesurveyors.org.uk/archives/GSGS%20Mapping/GSGS%20Explanation/view

However, the majority of UK's "Misc" maps of the time, or their GSGS maps in general, didn't feature topogrophical information, but they were still used for planning or as reference during an operation. So it's not surprising that some maps are pretty inaccurate or based on fragmented intelligence pieces, some US maps of the Ardennes or West Germany - for example - were the result of a wild mix of early 1930s (official/public) road maps, intelligence data, and fragments coming from friendly forces.
I can imagine soldiers in the field emitting stuff like "How'd that hill get there?", or "crikey, that river shouldn't be here at all", lol.

Here's is a neat example: In the list above, you can find a map that covers the Spanish border, and the region up to Narbonne, France ("26 - Spanish Frontier to Narbonne plage").

The details - describing the map's origin, contents and scale - mention that the Military version on hand is based on the Michelin map, a public and most notably a commercial french road map, most likely from the 1930s, as Germany did not allow to sell/print maps during the occupation, afaik - for security/secrecy reasons). German auto clubs or gas companies for example, did not produce/print road maps after 1942.

So, it's always a good idea, to have a quick check on Google Earth, in order to verify if the general layout of the terrain (deducting modern installments like new Dams, canals or highways etc) is accurate, while taking the military maps as base for the road network and objectives. But since even those military maps were often based on road maps sprinkled with topo information here and there, you can really take original road maps (cheaper too, if you'd want to obtain some)


If you scroll down on this page you'll find the SHAEF Operation Memorandum "Map Co-ordinates", an interesting annex explaining scales of grids and and alphabetical order of grid squares:

http://www.defencesurveyors.org.uk/archives/world-war-ii/maps-and-survey/

If you search for specific small maps, this may help if you want to try and obtain maps from National archives. By searching for respective coordinates or letters (of theater maps) indicating certain parts of a grid, you can quickly find the map you need.

1) There are several map archives out there. An interesting one is this here:
http://www.landkartenarchiv.de/europa.htm (Europe)
http://www.landkartenarchiv.de/frankreich.htm (France)
http://www.landkartenarchiv.de/cgi-bin/landkartenarchiv/europa.pl?nr=esso_westeuropa_1959&gr=3&nord=1.079278&ost=1.453030

There are German road maps from the 1930s to 1942, French maps (Paris area had been put online, other maps are supposed to come soon). The last link leads to a 1959 European road map covering parts of North Africa (which displays that roads and hubs of many African regions are surprisingly close to the road network that was present in the 1940s).

2) Another possibility would be to obtain original military maps on ebay or on sites like these:

http://www.david-archer-maps.co.uk/content/gsgs-gazetteers-1-to-100,000
Disclaimer: I never bought any map there, so I don't know anything about quality/service level.

Just trying to point out possibilities.

Some WW2 maps on ebay are ridiculously cheap, and I was tempted to get one or another of these items, quite some times.

3) The National Archive in Washington provides a scan/CD-ROM service IIRC, the Library of Congress might do the same. The former is the first choice regarding military history. The British National Archive may have a similar collection (not sure if they offer a similar service), the Bundesarchiv ("BA-MA", short for "Federal Archive - Military Archive") in Freiburg, Germany, is an excellent source as well, they offer CD-ROMs with your selection, but they expect that you hit their offices, there is no online support).

There are some maps and documents online - on various websites, but it takes thorough (and multiple) online-sessions to come up with very good historical material, especially if you decide to avoid the NA, obtaining original maps or investing in good books. Military maps are just not floating around in numbers. Maybe PoE has some additional input how he handles the map situation.

< Message edited by GoodGuy -- 8/23/2009 3:15:50 AM >


_____________________________

"Aw Nuts"
General Anthony McAuliffe
December 22nd, 1944
Bastogne

---
"I've always felt that the AA (Alied Assault engine) had the potential to be [....] big."
Tim Stone
8th of August, 2006

(in reply to Arjuna)
Post #: 3
RE: Finding suitable maps - 8/23/2009 8:54:51 AM   
Merv0728


Posts: 124
Joined: 6/7/2007
Status: offline
Hi Dave & GoodGuy, thanks to you both for the very informative replies.

Well,I did say I was a newbie.The only time I played this type of game was way back in the 80's on an Atari, "Eastern Front" it was called. I didn't like the hex format nor the turns system so I never tried another game.Then I stumbled upon COTA which is a much better sytem altogether.

By the look of things I will be spending more time searching for suitable maps than playing the game. I am nowhere near a suitable library so will not be able to visit to find things.BTW I am in the SW of England. I did find the British Library/Map Library which has links to the National archives but in the short time I had the items had very brief descriptions & no way of having a sample view. I will have another look when I have more time & dig a bit deeper if that is possible.

Dave,you mention military maps a lot,is it necessary to have military just for the topographic map making ?

Anyway, thanks again to you both,

Alan

(in reply to GoodGuy)
Post #: 4
RE: Finding suitable maps - 8/23/2009 9:28:01 AM   
Merv0728


Posts: 124
Joined: 6/7/2007
Status: offline
The last question in my previous reply should have been addressed to GoodGuy not Dave, sorry about that.

Alan

(in reply to Merv0728)
Post #: 5
RE: Finding suitable maps - 8/23/2009 9:30:30 AM   
Arjuna


Posts: 17785
Joined: 3/31/2003
From: Canberra, Australia
Status: offline
Alan,

No it's not necessary to use the military maps. It's just that I know what they offer and it's suitable for the purpose. Others have simply used modern day maps and made adjustments where they knew that things were different back in WW2. I'm not sure around Anzio, but being coastal I imagine it has changed quite a bit. BTW by father in law fought at Salerno with the British 46 ID.

It all depends on just how authentic you want your terrain. I for one have no problems if you design a map based on non-military sources. Just state that in your intro so people know. In the end it's about having fun here.

_____________________________

Dave "Arjuna" O'Connor
www.panthergames.com

(in reply to Merv0728)
Post #: 6
RE: Finding suitable maps - 8/23/2009 11:09:59 PM   
GoodGuy

 

Posts: 1506
Joined: 5/17/2006
From: Cologne, Germany
Status: offline
quote:

ORIGINAL: Merv0728

[GoodGuy],you mention military maps a lot,is it necessary to have military [ones] just for the topographic map making ?



No. Especially if you keep in mind that quite some of them featured a collection of inaccuracies and outdated details.

Example:
The US maps covering the Hürtgen Forest area displayed a route (road) down to and through the Kall valley (Kall gap), which made the US HQ think the "Kall trail" would be a suitable road for supply traffic, and even more important, a suitable route to get tanks to the frontline. The road turned out to be a track only that was too narrow to hold the supply traffic - in a terrain that wasn't a bit tank-friendly, neither the Kall trail itself nor the forest tracks could be used by tanks, maybe except for some rare strips.

Few other vehicles could use the trail, but mortars couldn't be used in these dense woods, and the few clearings that could have been used turned out to be death-traps, as either German arty and MG posts had them zeroed in or they were mined and packed with booby-traps. Guns and supplies had to be manhandled by the infantry, mostly, but Kall trail and forest tracks had been contested by the Germans on various spots, and even the scarce flow of supplies had been interdicted by artillery fire. The Germans had similar problems regarding supplies, but they were the defenders, and they could rely on horses, to some extent.
US Infantry units moving forward in the woods were stopped or slowed down and demoralized by German artillery using air bursts (grenades set to detonate in the air instead of on impact on the ground), delivering an evil amount of flying parts (shrapnels and wood splinters), often rendering them unable to progress due to missing tank/APC support, lack of supplies or heavy weapons. At later stages, in November (the operation started in September) US engineers blasted paths through the woods and rough terrain, to improve the transport problem and to allow for tank support.
US Army sources document that the US 9th division made 3,000 yards into the forest until mid-October at a cost of 4,500 casualties. The 28th US Inf Div., which replaced the 9th on 26th of October, performed probably one of the most costly actions, namely after taking the towns Schmidt and Kommerscheidt, during the German counterattack, which drove the surviving US troops back to Kommerscheidt. In mid-September, the battered 28th had to be pulled out of the frontline, as the unit had over 6,000 men casualties, due to the fact that the Germans committed 3 divisions, where one of them was the 116th Panzer-Division. The Germans needed the Hürtgen "hinterland" for the build-up of the Ardennes offensive. MacDonald states that the US overall loss in the Hürtgenwald area, after the several battles (i.e. "All souls battle" and Operation Queen), amounted to around 32,000 men from September to early December 1944.

Most of the US troops participating in the battle were highly trained, but they were not trained for trench warfare or fighting in woods. In turn, the Germans could draw upon 2-3 years of experience fighting either in similar terrain or under similar conditions in Russia, the Balkans, or Finland (attack towards Murmansk)/Norway.

All that trouble and the massive amount of casualties just because the Allied HQ trusted the map material on hand, although they could have verified it with recon missions. The US thought the Germans in this sector were ready to withdraw and that the roughly 5,000 Germans (initial number) wouldn't put up significant resistance, so they considered this area to be a perfect spot to contest the left flank of the German defenders covering the Aachen and Eifel area.

Quite contrary, the Allies had good map material covering the Overlord area for example, since their aerial recon and the French resistance delivered vital additional infos, but US and UK cartographers couldn't come up with accurate/up-to-date data for quite some Belgian or German regions.

Another example:
Although Allied maps included "Hill 400" in the Hürtgenwald area, the Allies did not consider it to be an important target, and the maps didn't include the bunker installations residing on that hill. The Germans put up staff HQs on that hill, namely the HQs of the 1055. Grenadier-Regiment (89. Inf. Div) and II. Bn/980. Grenadier-Regiment (272. VGD), using bunker installations and observation posts that had been erected as parts of the westwall, so the Allied intelligence didn't rate this as priority target.
But the most important detail here was the fact that a German artillery obs. post was coordinating the artillery missions (a detail unknown to the Allies), as this post could monitor the entire battlefield and probably a third or even more of the entire Hürtgenwald (the Hürtgen forest was a plateau with a size of 140 square-kilometers, covered with dense woods). The US could not pinpoint the location of the German artillery in this sector (some 150 guns in October/November), because the Germans kept shuffling them around, with the observers being the only fixed unit for the whole time. The Germans even put up guns right on or next to the hill on one or another occasion.

US troops didn't attack the hill until December 7th (months after the operation began), after taking the town Bergstein right below the hill, on the 5th. The attack on hill 400 is depicted in a mission in the game "Call of Duty" (Bergstein?).
It seems like US troops thought the Germans would just use the hill as AA strongpoint and like US HQs initially considered the installations on the hill to be a rather useless set of ancient ruins (remains of a castle) and AA guns.

That said, military maps aren't necessarily more detailed (as they often left out details - as explained above), nor do they always contain topographical info.

But if they contain topo infos, it's the easiest way, as you just have to "paint out" contour lines of the map underlay with COTA's height layers and road lines.

I'd recommend that you try to get some historical road maps OR actual maps (ebay, internet, library books) covering your area of interest, in case you can't get military maps.
The next steps then are:


  • to use Google Earth as base for the topographical details.
    You can prepare (means cut) map scans/images in a DTP program, and then put the map parts in Google earth as overlay (with like 20-30% transparency) ... using almost the same technique which is being used for the underlay function in COTA's map maker. An overlay in Google can be used to double check or gather the terrain layout.
    You basically just match the road map and the 3D-terrain in google earth. All maps usually contain captions explaining the scale, so you just have to make sure that one kilometer on a given map matches 1 grid square (= 1 km) in COTA, when taking the maps or screenshots from Google Earth as underlay.

  • to move the mouse pointer over any given point, which should give you a halfway accurate height info in the status bar (in meters or feet)


Another excellent way of getting infos about hill formations is to use Google maps and switch to "terrain" instead of maps. Google maps provides a pretty accurate 2D top-view that way, helping to identify ridges, plains, plateaus and coast-lines, a great way to understand and accurately render the terrain. Then you can just use Google Earth to get the height values.

< Message edited by GoodGuy -- 8/24/2009 6:37:46 AM >


_____________________________

"Aw Nuts"
General Anthony McAuliffe
December 22nd, 1944
Bastogne

---
"I've always felt that the AA (Alied Assault engine) had the potential to be [....] big."
Tim Stone
8th of August, 2006

(in reply to Merv0728)
Post #: 7
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