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"How to use transport?" Topic


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743 hits since 29 Apr 2018
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP29 Apr 2018 3:05 p.m. PST

I'll apologise straight up for my ignorance.
We used to very occasionally game late war Europe WW2 several years ago but other projects got in the way. I certainly can't claim any depth of knowledge of the period unless watching "Hogan's Heroes" as a kid counts.

I have a fair pile of figures, vehicles, guns & armour for British, German & US forces. I kept buying some even when gaming stopped. They all need re-basing, some aren't painted, weathering etc on some: general touching up to bring them to where I want them.

So how should you use trucks, jeeps, bren carriers, kettenkrads & motorcycles, half-tracks etc in WW2 wargame? I have lots of these vehicles & need to understand how they're used. The concept of "battle taxis" is just wrong? Have they a role on the table top? Or just eye candy?

Any advice is welcome. I plan to work on this over the next several months & get a game going for my pals after Christmas.

wrgmr129 Apr 2018 3:24 p.m. PST

Anything vulnerable to small arms fire, trucks, jeeps, kettenkrads, M/C and jeeps etc are used to bring troops up and drop them off to move forward on foot. Or tow A/T, Inf, flak guns up to unlimber.

Brens and halftracks can withstand a certain amount of smalls arms but really do the same purpose as above. They are vulnerable to A/T fire, with subsequent loss of personnel.

Kangeroos, turretless tanks, usually a Sherman type chassis are for moving up with tanks under fire then de-bussing troops.

In many games people tend to use trucks and halftracks in more vulnerable situations simply they don't care if they are lost. In reality, officers and men do not want to loose their transport. Thus counting these vehicles towards victory conditions is a good way to prevent it.

zoneofcontrol Inactive Member29 Apr 2018 3:46 p.m. PST

Also, hidden movement/spotting as well as overwatch/interrupt could change. If you are going to drive right up to the enemy's front door, chances are he will hear you even before he can see you.

deephorse29 Apr 2018 3:48 p.m. PST

In my experience the rules you use will inform you how best to use your transport assets. Yes, you could try to drive a softskin truck full of your finest infantry into the heart of the enemy's position, but what protection does the truck give to that infantry within the rules you are using? None? Well there's a clue how best to use your softskin trucks.

So examine the characteristics of your transports within your rules of choice.

rvandusen Supporting Member of TMP29 Apr 2018 3:51 p.m. PST

If you're gaming a conventional front line battle, then one should not be seeing softskin transports. There were usually left well behind the jump off points.
Lightly armored vehicles, OTOH, were sometimes used to bring out wounded or bring up spare ammo.

It was rare to fight even from armored half-tracks. If I recall correctly, the Germans were most likely to use their few Hanomag vehicles in assaults, but the grenadiers still fought dismounted, covering the vehicles as they moved from cover to cover, or vice versa.

In less conventional games, airborne assaults, commando raids, etc, trucks might find themselves in action. A good example of this is Market Garden, when many German softskins fell victim to wandering allied airborne troops during the first few hours. Also that Brandenburger raid to capture a bridge during Barbarossa. The Germans used captured Russian trucks and uniforms to deceive the defenders.

Legion 429 Apr 2018 3:55 p.m. PST

That all sounds pretty much about right … thumbs up

In reality, officers and men do not want to loose their transport. Thus counting these vehicles towards victory conditions is a good way to prevent it.
And yes, in reality no one wants to lose their transport. You lose your mobility and a modicum of protection if armored.

And yes for gaming purposes make sure the rules don't make transports expendable. Just like in the real world …

If it can be seen it can be hit … if it can be hit it can be killed.

If you dismount too soon you lose your mobility … dismount too late you give the enemy a 2 for 1 shot. I.e. with one shot both the transport and the troops inside can be killed.

Keep everything under cover and concealment at all times if possible.

Dismount behind the nearest covered and concealed position closest to the Objective.

Use suppressive and supporting fires on known and suspected enemy locations/positions.

Timbo W29 Apr 2018 5:02 p.m. PST

Worth noting that indirect artillery or mortar fire was more survivable in an armoured carrier or halftrack than a jeep or truck, as the light armour provided some protection from shrapnel. Of course equally unfortunate if hit dead on but that was rare.

ecaminis Supporting Member of TMP29 Apr 2018 6:22 p.m. PST

I personally don't think trucks were used much to transport infantry. i know an old infantry man who claimed to have had a nice walking tour of Europe in WWII. I think his was the usual experiance.

Lion in the Stars29 Apr 2018 6:26 p.m. PST

Yes, the armored halftracks are nominally proof against artillery fragments. So you could ride in them up to the jumping-off points without too much risk of losing the troops inside.

Softskins really only see a lot of use in the Desert, IMO, and I have a single combined pool of trucks I use for all sides. It's a mix of US Lend-lease, British, and German trucks. Need more Italian trucks.

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP29 Apr 2018 7:06 p.m. PST

Thanks for the expert advice, gentlemen.

We used the Blitz Krieg Commander rules in the past & I'm inclined to keep to them.

saltflats192929 Apr 2018 8:19 p.m. PST

Except in BKC i believe transport is expendable (ie, they don't count towards total force loss)

advocate29 Apr 2018 11:17 p.m. PST

Ecaminis, the British certainly used trucks extensively in north west Europe 1944-45 to transport infantry. Just not close to the enemy, so there was still a fair amount of walking.
I'd be surprised if the Americans were not the same.

Wherethestreetshavnoname30 Apr 2018 12:00 a.m. PST

The Russians also used trucks as troop transports. The ZiS5 was produced in huge numbers and could carry 24 troops.

UshCha30 Apr 2018 2:46 a.m. PST

One of the problems on using such items as Bren carriers are that the rules themselves for whatever reason, often lack contact with reality. A Bren carriers with a Bren gun, in reality in combat situations, is as effective at 400m as its is ever going to be. That means it is perfectly capable of operating outside rifle range and short Range ant-tank wepons like the Panzershrek. It is just about possible to take it out with a Heavy machine gun or suppress it with lighter machine guns. This means diverting very specific weapons to elminate it.

Similarly Half tracks certainly before reliable airbust. can get troops through an artillery barage with minimal risk. Again if provided with a Machine Gun can provide effective support from outside rifle range.

Soft vehicles are not useable in that many games as has been said, they need to be in basicaly unthreatened areas. Tecnicaly an Americam Medium Machine gun needs to be within 500m of its support vehicle typicaly a jeep and trailer (ammunition supply) but it should still be located away from effective smallarms fire.

Legion 430 Apr 2018 5:49 a.m. PST

the British certainly used trucks extensively in north west Europe 1944-45 to transport infantry. Just not close to the enemy, so there was still a fair amount of walking.
I'd be surprised if the Americans were not the same.
Yes, you have a much better chance of survival if you are dismounted and using every bit if cover & concealment than riding in truck, etc., … as I mentioned. " If you dismount too soon you lose your mobility … dismount too late you give the enemy a 2 for 1 shot. I.e. with one shot both the transport and the troops inside can be killed. " …

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP30 Apr 2018 6:29 a.m. PST

Another thing many forget is that for some units their transports were also their "home". American armored infantry tended to have dedicated half tracks for a unit. Infantry would leave packs, overcoats and many personal items with the half track after unloading. Tends to make one very protective of ones transports!

I dont really do point type games but for victory try counting each transport lost equal to 2 tanks and see what happens. Also, for rules like Rapid Fire, which have a roll for heroics (in other rules use morale rules) a die roll can be used prior to risking any vehicle primarily used for transport.

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP30 Apr 2018 8:40 a.m. PST

The lightly armored or light unarmored vehicles
('cycles/kettenkrads, etc) are excellent recon
assets and were so used by allies and Germans alike.

Legion 430 Apr 2018 1:46 p.m. PST


Another thing many forget is that for some units their transports were also their "home". American armored infantry tended to have dedicated half tracks for a unit. Infantry would leave packs, overcoats and many personal items with the half track after unloading. Tends to make one very protective of ones transports!
Yep … Each of my Mech Squads had their own M113. Like an "armored" RV !
And generally no Grunt would walk when he could ride. Again, based on the tactical situation.

The lightly armored or light unarmored vehicles
The Jeep in US/Allied service was also used for this. They may not be armored, but they are small and easy to hide. Even in '84 our Bn Mech Scout Plt had @ 7 M151s "Jeeps" … Until '85 when they got the standard Mech Scout AFVs 3 M113s & 3 M901 ITVs.

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