Loki may face some real life delays, so, as per tradition - analysis of something we've been chatting with over e-mail.
Truck Bombing - The Final Frontier?
There is a bit of conventional wisdom in AARs that bombing trucks is a high pay off strategy, cutting the legs out from under the Germans sometime in '44. And while the underlying logic that less trucks = bad news for the Heer is pretty incontrovertible, the question is whether strategic bombing is the means to do it. Somewhat unintentionally we've set up a one experiment on the matter by how Loki and I have approached the truck problem.
We'll be using T38 files for each of these; I'm on a different computer, but found the old e-mail from last game for comparison.
Anyhow, lets start with production:
The Germans have a theoretical plant based production of 539 truck points (each is, in fact, 10 trucks if all goes well; talk about confusing my initial estimates) a week as of T38; given major foreign plants start falling in '44, this 5,390 is a reasonable enough per turn estimate. Or that's the theory at any rate - but does it hold up in practice? Between T38-T48 in my old game the truck plants were running at an average 93% undamaged. This produced 18.5k trucks in 10 turns.
WOAH. Not at all what pure theory tells us to expect. That'd be 19.9k trucks every 10 turns if left unmolested, or just under 2k per turn. Hence my delay for editing.
In addition, the German repair services funnel many trucks back. Back of the napkin says that as of T38 they were sending in 1,500 a week.
So, 3,500 trucks a turn and only 2k of that is bombable. This is pretty close to what I built last game, though that number is a bit lower than it could be, because of course Loki bombed trucks up front. In comparison, with Loki's truck offensive in full swing, the first 9 turns of the last game saw 13k trucks built in plants (not repaired) as compared to 18k - a state which existed through fall '43 - so there may be another ~10k built over the course of the game I'm not seeing. Still, it's a helpful guide if not 100% reliable.
And if you are playing with the EF off, only 40% of it is routed west by default. So a true per turn production of 1,400 (possibly 1500?), of which 800 is bombable.
In other words, even if not one truck factory ever got seized (they will be) there'd be ~144.4k west bound trucks in a game, and only ~86.8k of them are up for being bombed out of production.
What can strat air do to that?
Let us run three possible bombing campaign scenarios:
Scenario 1: The Wildly Unrealistic Perfect Campaign. Let's say you crushed every truck plant for all 95 turns of the game that matter: 86.8k trucks of westward production would be stopped. That's a lot of trucks. Vast amounts of trucks. And if my tactical losses last game are a guide, a little over half of the tactical losses the Germans suffer. Completely unobtainable, but that's the upper bound.
Scenario 2: Ruthless bombing of the core. The top 6 factories cover about 50% of German truck production. If you made their constant attack your highest priority in the air campaign while still earning VPs, maybe you could keep them at say, an average of 75% destruction at the cost of less VP focus and ignoring many other materiel targets. At some point your recon is going to fail you or weather will intervene, so 75% is nicely optimistic. That's 33.2k trucks. Hmm. That would be quite a chunk - but both games have shown higher losses in Italy.
Scenario 3: Partial priority. By contrast, Loki had less than 10% (7.9%, specifically) of the truck production off line by T38 in our old game, with some higher numbers in good weather and the early game less and less focus as the game progressed. What started as an initial bomb out the core effort got swamped in the realities of V-weapons, tanks, VPs, and trying to break the German depot network. I think we can agree that Loki is quite good at bombing things, and paid a fair amount of effort to trucks when he thought he could afford to. I had produced (not repaired) 61k trucks by that point - against a theoretical max of 76k. Applying the old "Russia gets everything" effect, that means 6k trucks never made it to my brave pixeltruppen in Italy.
As the game progressed, this fell off because there are lots of calls on the bombers. If we say he held at 7.9% (he didn't) for the rest of the game by sending what he could when he could, he'd destroy another 2.8k trucks headed west. For a game total of 8.7k denied production.
What IS a lot of Trucks?
For comparison, in our old game where I was the baddies, I had lost 48k trucks by T38. I had an active pool of 8.5 trucks and another 10k in depots left at the time, for 18.5k ready to go.
In our current game, Loki has figured out much better than I how to commit mech to Italy, and has lost 58k trucks. I'm also running some interdiction experiments that may affect that, but it's a pretty consistent given that when the Germans move heavy units, trucks suffer. We might extrapolate that the 6k trucks I never received, well, he did. So lets call it ~14.5k in the kitty since he is very sensibly not telling. If I'm right, the ground game was worth more than a reasonably focused strat air campaign in '43. Hopefully he'll chime in when we're done to see if I'm laughably off or not.
And to further the issue the truck feedback loop won't be seen until NWE kicks off and the Germans commit enough forces to really strain the stocks needed for supply and heavy division movement. In our previous game, I entered the invasion with pretty assured movement for the panzers. Only the utter slugfest in Picardy really brought the issue up, and frankly they retained enough MP to be locally dangerous until we were fighting on the banks of the Rhine. How much of this is proving a negative - they would have been 50 MPs and 20 CV if more trucks! - versus the natural result of panzers being your go to formations that get pounded, interdicted, and called forward at every real fight, well that's an unknown.
The conventional wisdom on this one is mathematically right - you CAN seriously affect trucks - but to pursue it to a point where it outpaces the delta that might occur as a result of different ground action requires a very high dedication on the part of the air campaign. Like most things from the air in WitW, it's viable to do some touch up on the cheap, but to really be outstanding you need to go all in.
And this is a good thing. Because it means that to truly get results, the allied player really needs to make a decision and follow through. In this case almost certainly at the cost of VPs not taken, tanks not bombed, and depots unmolested.
< Message edited by GloriousRuse -- 4/19/2020 12:38:30 AM >