(Source: Bohmler, Rudolf "Monte Cassino: A German View" Cassell and Co. Ltd, 1964.)March 15th, 1944:
Starting at 8:30 am, waves and waves of Allied bombers begin carpet bombing Cassino. Seven hundred and seventy-five aircraft--575 heavy and medium bombers and 200 fighter-bombers and fighters-- participate in this aerial operation.
The area of Rocca Janula and Cassino are plastered by over 1,250 tons of high explosives. The abbey itself is not bombed.
The aerial assault ends at 12:30 pm, at which time the artillery of three different Corps--New Zealand, American, and French--join with the British to pound their targets into rubble. By 3:30 pm, 746 guns have fired over 200,000 shells on the town and hill.
The New Zealanders and the Indians, supported by armour and artillery, advance against Cassino and Rocca Janula, where they are surprised to meet ferocious German resistance.
By nightfall, the New Zealand 6th Infantry Brigade, advancing from the north with the 25th Battalion leading, penetrates only 20 yards into the town of Cassino. The New Zealanders do manage to capture Rocca Janula, but the 26th Battalion's attempt to cross the Via Casilina and advance southward has been stopped by Major Neuhoff's 2nd Parachute Battalion.
Based on this information, I conducted a test to determine the effectiveness of SPWaW bombing. After checking a variety of websites regarding the Battle of Monte Cassino, I had the following data to work with:
1. The town of Cassino is about 1km northeast of the Monastery that sits on Monte Cassino.
2. The town of Cassino is roughly rectangular in shape and approximately 1/2 mile by 1/6 mile which equals about 18 SPWaW hexes by 6 SPWaW hexes in size.
3. Rocca Janula is a hill at the northwest corner of the town of Cassino.
4. Of the 575 bombers that attacked the town of Cassino that morning, around 200 of them were heavies and the other 375 were mediums.
5. Defending the town of Cassino was the 3rd Regiment of the 1st Fallschirmjager Division.
6. The 3-hour artillery bombardment from 746 guns and firing 200,000+ rounds works out to about 270 rounds per gun at a rate of about 1 round every 45 seconds.
7. Following the 6 hours of bombardment approximately 50% of the defending Germans had been rendered ineffective (not necessarily killed though).
So I set up a test scenario to see how SPWaW 6.1 would simulate this bombardment. I created a small 30x30 scenario map and placed a rectangle of stone buildings 18 hexes high (north to south) by 6 hexes wide (east to west) centered in the map. I made every hex within this rectangle a stone building to maximize defensive effects.
Using the scenario editor, I purchased 192 heavy bombers (16 formations of 2 units of 6 heavy bombers each), 384 medium bombers (32 formations of 2 units of 6 medium bombers each), 80 P-47C fighter-bombers (40 formations of 2 P-47s each) and 10 battalions of 155mm howitzers (10 formations with 3 batteries each of 4 guns for a total of 120 guns, I was running out of formations). The troop quality for the Americans was set at 70. I set the troop quality for the Germans at 90 to give them elite paratroops and to maximize their defensive survival.
I deployed 12 companys of German Paratroops, 1 company of organic engineers, 1 company of StuG IVs (usually a Fallschimjager regiment had a company of towed antitank, but I wanted to see the effects of this bombardment on some AFVs, too), and 1 platoon of 120mm mortars. Total effectives = 2030 men, 52 pieces of artillery (81mm and 120mm mortars), and 10 AFVs. I entrenched all German units and all were in a stone building at the end of the deployment to maximize defensive benefits.
Next, I plotted the American bombardment. I set the air entry-exit to “east-to-west” so the bombs would fall across the width (rather than along the length) of the town, thus minimizing bombing accuracy. I decided that only 25% of the heavy bombers would actually be able to put their bombs into the target area, so I only used 48 heavy bombers (8 units of 6 heavies each) and didn’t even plot the remaining 144 heavy bombers. I decided that around 30% of the mediums would be useful, so I used 120 medium bombers (20 units of 6 mediums each) and didn’t plot the remaining 264 medium bombers. I decided that even though the P-47Cs would be much more accurate than the bombers that the smoke and dust would obscure much of the target zone, so I only plotted 26 of the 80 P-47Cs I had (and even though 200 were used in the historical attack). I did plot all 10 battalions of 155mm artillery since 120 guns represented only 15% of those used historically (746 guns). I chose 155mm howitzers since they are midway between 105mm and 203mm and since I only had 120 guns instead of 746.
I distributed the bombardment plots as evenly as possible along the centerline of the north-south axis of the town to get as even a bombardment spread as possible.
I set all objective flags under American control so the game would end immediately thereby allowing me to see the bombing results more quickly (it took 5+ minutes to conduct each test even with fast artillery ON).
I conducted 10 test bombardments using the default settings in the Player Preferences (100% artillery effectiveness vs. both hard and soft targets, 100% infantry toughness, 100% tank toughness).
THE RESULTS of the FIRST TEST:
On average, these test bombardments using default settings eliminated 1975.7 out of 2030 men (97.3% casualties), 50.2 out of 52 artillery units (96.5% casualties), and 3.6 out of 10 AFVs (36% casualties). Since this bombardment only lasted 1 turn, the 10 battalions of artillery were not very effective (each gun fired only 3 rounds in the one turn of bombardment they had for a total of 360 rounds fired, nowhere close to the 200,000+ fired historically). In fact, I think that you could remove the 10 battalions of artillery completely and these results would not change much. And that tells me that the big bombs are doing all the damage. The 155mm artillery is insignificant by comparison.
I was shocked and very unhappy with these results since they were so much more devastating than the historical results (and combined with the fact that it happened in 1 turn instead of 6 hours). Historical results should have been about 1000 men, 26 artillery units, and ?? AFVs (I don’t have information about AFV losses in this battle). But these historical results should be after 6 hours (including 3 hours of artillery bombardment) and not after a single turn. Also, note that in the historical battle, the German resistance (after the bombing) in the town of Cassino was so ferocious that the attackers were able to penetrate only 20 yards into the town itself before night fell (see the quote at the top of this post). Clearly there were more than 3% effectives remaining to resist the Allied ground assault.
So I conducted another 10 test bombardments using different settings in the Player Preferences. I set artillery to 30% effectiveness against soft targets, and set German infantry toughness to 250%. I left the artillery vs AFV alone (100% artillery effectiveness and 100% AFV toughness) because I wanted a control to compare against. Given a decrease in artillery effectiveness by a factor of 3.3 and an increase in infantry toughness by a factor of 2.5, I thought that these new test bombardments would be much much less effective. I was wrong.
THE RESULTS of the SECOND TEST:
On average, these test bombardments using the weakest bombardment settings that SPWaW has to offer eliminated 1542.3 out of 2030 men (76.0% casualties), 31.5 out of 52 artillery units (60.6% casualties), and 2.0 out of 10 AFVs (20% casualties). Of interest was the drop in AFV losses even though those settings were not changed. It turns out that since more soft targets were alive following the attacks by the heavies and mediums, then the P-47Cs spent more time eliminating those survivors instead of attacking the AFVs, thus the drop in AFV losses.
1. There is so much overkill built into the destructiveness of big ordnance, that even using the weakest bombardment settings that SPWaW offers does not seriously degrade that ordnance’s effectiveness.
2. Intervening or blocking terrain does little or nothing to impede or degrade the blast effects or the blast radius of big ordnance.
3. Even being entrenched in the best cover available and using elite troops offers no significant improved chances for survival against big ordnance.
WHAT TO DO?
I don’t know right now. I need some time to think about this.