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"The Model Battlefield 1936" Topic

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808 hits since 11 Oct 2012
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brass1 Supporting Member of TMP12 Oct 2012 8:08 a.m. PST

A brief but interesting British Pathé video of the British Army's state-of-the-art simulation hardware (and liveware) between the wars.

The same site hosts a lot more interwar video.


Nathaniel12 Oct 2012 8:56 a.m. PST


flicking wargamer12 Oct 2012 8:59 a.m. PST

Pretty cool!

MajorB12 Oct 2012 9:06 a.m. PST

I've seen it before but it is rather good, isn't it?

Personal logo Texas Jack Supporting Member of TMP12 Oct 2012 9:26 a.m. PST

That´s so cool! Now if I could only get my wife to get under the table and do that on game days…

Yesthatphil Supporting Member of TMP12 Oct 2012 9:43 a.m. PST

They still had one of those in use at Catterick in the mid 70's

Personal logo Tango 2 3 Ditto Supporting Member of TMP12 Oct 2012 10:48 a.m. PST

What a great clip, thanks so much for posting it LT. Having used something similar in gunnery training many, many times in the 1980s, I found it particularly fascinating.

I apologize in advance for the length of this post, but I thought it might be interesting for some to see how Canada at least (and I suspect many other armies) used pretty much a very similar set up to what's in the video for gunnery practice right up to the mid/late 80s.

The Canadian army was using indoor miniature ranges (IMR) right up to the late 1980s at the armour school and at regimental bases. We didn't have people underneath a table, it was mostly static models. There would be tracks along which a mechanism, looking much like a ski lift, except just going across the huge table, dragging tank models for moving targets.

The tables at the armour school were awe inspiring from a wargamer's perspective (and I had given up wargames and D&D as soon as I was sworn in and did not touch them until 7 years later) – I wish I had taken pictures (in fact, now that I write, I vaguely recall there might have been a prohibition against taking pictures). For the moving targets, they used these heavy rubber models that were only vague representations of tanks. However for static targets, it was very nice HO scale Rocco stuff. The table was, I'm guessing, about 30 – 40 feet wide and stretched back about 40 to 50 feet. It was low at the front, less than a foot off the floor, and rose about 5 feet high over it's length. It was fully terrained (I don't think they used flock except in a couple of farm building set ups here and there).

Anyway, a vehicle would be moved into the building – or in the case of the school, there were actual Leopard or Scorpion turrets mounted in permanent scaffolding – pretty much exactly like you saw in the video with the towed artillery piece. Though we were further away from the range, about 10-20 yards. A laser get up would be mounted on the turret. A wire went from it and was screwed somehow into the gunner's trigger and MG foot pedal. A range tech (an armour NCO) would adjust the angle of the laser and the delay before the laser fired for each shoot where the range changed. So if it was at longer ranger, say over 1000m, the laser would be adjust so that the gunner would need to elevate his gun. As well, the horizontal drift at that range (sometimes messed around with randomly by the operator of the laser to simulate intermittent winds) would be factored in by offsetting the laser. Finally, the time it took for the laser shutter to open was adjusted up or down, depending on the range of the target.

These were very effective get ups and were used to:

1) Practice the crew interaction in fire engagements; and

2) Have the gunner and commander practice BOT (burst on target) corrections and bracketing. BOT was simply the gunner adjusting the lay of the gun calling out his corrections ("left and drop!" for example) and bracketing was following a prescribed amount of meters to add or drop (add 200!). Whenever the commander had to give corrections because the gunner sight might have been obscured by smoke (on the IMR, the NCO operating the laser would cover up the aperture for the gunner's sight) he had to use bracketing technique (at lower ranges, the amount to add drop was much smaller) and mils to correct azimuth.

As far as computer simulation goes, my training crew at the armour school in the summer of 1983, were taken away to sometimes use a new computer simulation where you used a keyboard, I believe, for firing at and making corrections on videos of tanks moving toward you. It was an American set up as the gunnery commands from the computer we responded to as gunners (it was a gunner only trainer) gave American fire orders which we found confusing as we'd been trained and practised in the Canadian gunnery drills. I guess we were part of an experiment and they must have recorded how we did on the live fire range compared to other fellows who had done IMR only.

Later in the 80s, saw our crews (not me, I was posted in Canada at the time) borrowing the US turret mock-ups that had computer monitors for periscopes and included a whole driver simulation on a platform that bucked and heaved with the movement of the tank over digitized maps of ground. That was for the then very prestigious Canadian Army Trophy for NATO gunnery (which we rarely won because of our antiquated equipment).

I expect indoor miniature ranges went the way of the dinosaur by the early 1990s. I wonder what happened to all those Rocco tanks and whatever buildings they used for those ranges? grin

Again, really sorry to go on for so long. But watching that was like going back in time for me to when I was a young soldier and the friends with whom I went through armour school.

Personal logo Rrobbyrobot Supporting Member of TMP12 Oct 2012 11:06 a.m. PST

Texas Jack,
That's just another use for children. If you've a Wife you're half way there. Combine the two of you and, in the fullness of time, you'll have your very own magnet movers.;)
Really is a cool idea. Kind of like a military Etcho-Sketch.

Personal logo Texas Jack Supporting Member of TMP12 Oct 2012 11:16 a.m. PST

Already figured out the kid thing Robby! Got two of them left at home, and three out of the nest!

Tomorrow I start some slave labor with my 18 year old when I hand over to him a regiment of dragoons to paint. It will be his first try, but as I am paying for speed and quality I hope things will end well!

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