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"Travelling "Fast' UNBUTTONED" Topic


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1,066 hits since 12 Jul 2018
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

UshCha12 Jul 2018 10:15 a.m. PST

It's ten years since we published and so we have been reviewing the rules in the light of experience and better knowledge.

One question that arrises is, if a tank is travelling at 20mph (32 km/h) or faster when would it be required to travel Un buttoned. Clearly in a flat open terrain of known good going it's possible to travel buttoned up as there is not much to look out for except other vehicles in the formation. Bendy roads of dubious quality with high hedges probably needs the bosses head out to get good situational awareness. Can anybody think of a useful and susinct way of describing such terrain. Currently we require tanks travelling at high speed at all times to be un buttoned and gun either forward or back to avoid hitting lamp posts, trees, buildings and parked vehicles. It would be better if we could write a comprehensible way of defining terrain which travelling fast buttoned up would be an acceptable risk.

BattleSausage12 Jul 2018 10:15 a.m. PST

Painted this Front Rank miniature

link

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP12 Jul 2018 11:43 a.m. PST

Old tanks I knew, we really would only go fast with commander watching to avoid dangers ( losing a track, turning over) especially if fast.
In western Europre except on roads you would have very few flat open terrain that cannot be having ditches, stone walls, dpressions etc, that would be hard to see from a distance.
Modern long guns are also very much a risk s you said. Hitting something might end up mashing up the crew inside.
Either you have detailed taerrain or better use a die roll for high speed. If low means the guys hesitate or see some stuff you don't have on the table.
Looks you are into very look scale one to one things.

Wolfhag12 Jul 2018 12:20 p.m. PST

Let them do whatever they want but with a chance of a SNAFU if they are pushing the envelope or attempting to do something stupid.

Wolfhag

Vigilant12 Jul 2018 12:47 p.m. PST

Why would you be buttoned up when driving fast? Can't comment on other nations or periods, but from my reading of books by British tank crew during WW2 they pretty much stayed un-buttoned except when under artillery/mortar fire.

Legion 412 Jul 2018 2:42 p.m. PST

Speed has nothing to do with whether or why you button up. E.g. as Vigilant noted.

You rarely button up. As being "unbottoned", i.e. Name Tag Defilade, you have a much better LOS, etc.


Short answer: when you start taking "effective" fire, direct or indirect, you button up, generally.
As is effective fire, i.e. when stuff starts blowing up around/near you. Hopefully some of the stuff blowing up around/near you is Not any "friendlies" …

UshCha12 Jul 2018 3:46 p.m. PST

Wolfhag, while you could do it by die rolls you need to first ascertain certain the probable level of risk in all cases. In addition for small games this level of risk and reward takes play time and with the statistics of small numbers can take the game out of the set of interesting/usefull games. It is quicker and more productive to simply limit the player to an array of plausible responses without invoking risk by random die rolling.

Legion 4 sounds like our first attempt was proably an acceptable one. Fast travel unbuttoned and then slow up and button up.
Jcfrog, the issue is valid for any game size, at larger scales roads would need to be identified in some way as to the practical speed it could be traversed. This is is no different than when playing on a real map, the need arises to define the weight limits for all he bridges on roads and the cross ability of rivers. This cannot be left to simple random as the results may well be incompatible with the real world.

Mobius12 Jul 2018 4:53 p.m. PST

You rarely button up. As being "unbottoned"
Speak for your own army.
link

This seem to imply the Russian did not fight while buttoned up. But, observed first unbuttoned then engaged and buttoned up. Though the author has found exceptions.

I could not find it but they had another article of regs for early war telling tank commanders to button up while fighting.

Wolfhag12 Jul 2018 6:23 p.m. PST

Mobius,
Nice find.

Check it out: The Russian KV-1 could not be unbuttoned while firing or the TC would be crushed by the recoil. The early T-34/76 with the large turret hatch would have been very hard to open and keep open while moving. Then there is the 2-man turret that the TC is the gunner or loader and must stay inside. French tanks made it hard for the TC to unbutton one-man turret.

So is "peeking over the hatch" qualify as unbuttoned? Does popping in and out count? I've read of Germans buttoning up when the range gets close. When the lead starts flying you are going to button up.

Start the video at 41:36 to see how easy it would be for a T-34/85: YouTube link

I like the risk-reward idea. In the admin phase, any tank with an unbuttoned TC can be shot at by MG's within range or hit by artillery falling nearby. Players like rolling the dice to "snipe" German TC's so I let them have at it. Sure, an extra die roll but still fun and entertaining.

The detailed gunnery rules we use allow plotting the rounds dispersion from the aim point over a 2D scaled image of the target. On a number of occasions, we've had German TC's take an 85mm APC round to the face or a near miss that forces him to duck down. Great fun!

To answer your question, I'd think undulating terrain (hidden features and depressions) and built up areas. I've seen pictures of tanks that nosed down into a ditch or depression and buried their gun but could not tell of their status.

Wolfhag

goragrad12 Jul 2018 8:35 p.m. PST

As to buttoned up or unbuttoned, I have seen terrain here in South-western Colorado that would call for a ground guide for anything above low speeds.

Nice flat expanses of 3ft or so tall sagebrush that have gullies from a couple of feet to 20ft wide and of similar depth cutting across that appear with minimal warning.

Always thought it would be amusing to put those in a scenario – give a note to the effect that there were potential hazards in the terrain at the start and turn the players loose.

RudyNelson12 Jul 2018 8:39 p.m. PST

In the Armored Cav of the 1970s and early 80s. TheM551 deployed in the unbottoned or open position. Even the loader popped up and searched the left with glasses. The TC searched the right and front. The TC had an A-Cav which varied in height but went to chest high when the TC fired the .50 cal.
These had become standard in Vietnam and we continued to use them. The loader had dirt filled ammo boxes around the left side of the hatch.

Legion 413 Jul 2018 7:32 a.m. PST


You rarely button up. As being "unbottoned"
Speak for your own army.
link
This seem to imply the Russian did not fight while buttoned up. But, observed first unbuttoned then engaged and buttoned up. Though the author has found exceptions.
I was speaking about my own Army, I was not in the Russian army, but studied them in detail. evil grin And as I said, "YOU RARELY BUTTON UP", so I think that means in almost all cases you don't. Regardless of what Army you serve in.

As Wolf noted, and I alluded to "So is "peeking over the hatch" qualify as unbuttoned? Does popping in and out count? I've read of Germans buttoning up when the range gets close. When the lead starts flying you are going to button up." … Yes, not only a good idea … BUT common sense.

Legion 4 sounds like our first attempt was proably an acceptable one. Fast travel unbuttoned and then slow up and button up.
Yes, I would say that … again as always depending on terrain & situation …

Mobius have you even been in an AFV ? Just asking, as if so you'd probably understand what I was saying ?

As to buttoned up or unbuttoned, I have seen terrain here in South-western Colorado that would call for a ground guide for anything above low speeds.
Very much so, terrain is a very big factor. And Ground Guides were used often if possible. Even with you sticking out of the TC hatch up to your waist or more, being high above the ground. Your LOS may still be obstructed, etc.


E.g. one of our CAV M113s in the Mojave, the TC using NVGs at night. The TC was "unbuttoned", had his driver move forward on what looked like flat ground. Well as many of us know with NVGs you lack depth perception, etc. And the 113 flipped over crushing/killing him. I don't remember what happened happened to the rest of the crew.

Even the loader popped up and searched the left with glasses. The TC searched the right and front. The TC had an A-Cav which varied in height but went to chest high when the TC fired the .50 cal.
Yes, the more eyes you have observing, the better you are. As you know Rudy.

Even the tactic of "Sagger Watch", developed by the IDF, IIRC, and used by everyone since. With one or two of the AFVs' TC(s), loader(s), etc. looking specifically for the signature of a Sagger missile launch/firing. And calling over the net to immediately take "evasive actions". E.g. maneuvering rapidly and irregularly, plus opening up with your MGs etc. Anything to make it harder for the Sagger gunner to keep the missile on target.

ScoutJock13 Jul 2018 8:13 a.m. PST

Even on roads traveling too fast can bite you. During the Thunder Run to Bahgdad, an M1 was taking MG and RPG fire so the crew buttoned up. They went under an underpass and caught the main gun on one of the bridge abutments which ruptured the hydraulic lines and spun the turret for 20 revolutions and ended up with gun tube ripped out of its mount.

The tank lost the column and the crew had no choice but to press on with only the loader's M240 for protection. The .50 cal was ripped off during the turret spin and the coax was disabled along with the main gun. They were totally lost after making a wrong turn but fortunately found another tank that strayed from the column to stay behind and suppress Iraqi forces. That tank was able lead them both to the rally point.

Wolfhag13 Jul 2018 10:25 a.m. PST

ScoutJock,
Interesting story. Thanks.

Here is the situation I'm working on:

Your tank is in a poor tactical situation and two enemy tanks just fired at you and barely missed. They have the advantage and initiative and are inside your decisions loop. Your only option is to get behind a building and out of LOS that is 75m away.

Evaluation: If I'm moving at 40kph I'll get to that building in 6-7 seconds. There is a good chance the enemy may not be able to reload, aim and shoot in that time but I may hit an obstacle. Moving at 25kph would be the safe bet to get behind the building safely but that would take 11-12 seconds most likely allowing 1-2 more shots at me.

Here are your options:
1- Unbutton and proceed with caution at 25kph so that you don't bog down. The downside is you'll be fired at more often and most likely get hit.
2- Button up and haul ass at 40kph and evade to get behind the building and do your best not to bump into something. The downside is you could crash into an unseen object. You could stay unbuttoned while moving at 40kph but you may get hit by small arms fire and at 40kph any warning to the driver may be too late and increase your time to safety.

Let the player evaluate the chances and Risk-Reward options. I think it's more interesting than an artificial rule that "forces" a player to perform an action.

Wolfhag

Legion 413 Jul 2018 2:03 p.m. PST

Even on roads traveling too fast can bite you. During the Thunder Run to Bahgdad, an M1 was taking MG and RPG fire so the crew buttoned up. They went under an underpass and caught the main gun on one of the bridge abutments which ruptured the hydraulic lines and spun the turret for 20 revolutions and ended up with gun tube ripped out of its mount.
Like said and as many of us know … buttoned or unbutton … our LOS may still be obstructed, etc. Depending on terrain & situation. In the M1's case in your example ScoutJock moving too fast and unable to see enough to have good situational awareness. And they were a little unlucky that day, I'd think. evil grin


Wolf in your scenario, I'd might just button up, haul ass/keep moving quickly and start shooting … evil grin Shock value/"shock & awe" !

Somewhat based on our dismounted patrol training as attacking into a near ambush, i.e. @ 20ms or less from the ambusher. You could take as many or more losses trying to break contact at that range. Just start shooting, running toward the enemy and yelling !

Wolfhag14 Jul 2018 2:34 p.m. PST

Legion,
Yes, I remember the countless drills of assaulting the ambush. They wanted us to react by instinct, not order (or activation). Suppressing in the kill zone only gets you killed. I've seen games where you get shot and suppress in the middle of a road!

The only time I ever got shot at in an ambush I didn't have a weapon and had to di di mau out of the area. However, when running I did "shoot back" with my middle finger.

Wolfhag

Legion 415 Jul 2018 7:17 a.m. PST

Yep, we did a lot of battle drills too, as you said, to react by instinct not order. A second or two could be too long …

And with many of our instructors being Vietnam Vets, we heard the term " di di mau" often … that and "Beaucoup" ! evil grin

AICUSV16 Jul 2018 7:52 a.m. PST

Back in the day – our training was to use the coax to force the other guy to be buttoned up.

Wolfhag16 Jul 2018 8:22 a.m. PST

AYCUSV,
What was the effective range of the coax to suppress/button him up? I'm using the coax and bow gun to do the same thing to the German TC's but I'm not clear on an effective range.

I know the gunsight for the Russians and Germans showed 1000m-1200m and I'm figuring the bow MG for 500m.

Wolfhag

Legion 416 Jul 2018 8:33 a.m. PST

AICUSV … yep, as we have been saying, "buttoned up" you lose some situational awareness … And that would give the other guy an edge. thumbs up But yes, Tankers, Mech Guys, Grunts, etc., like us were trained and knew this type of stuff ! wink


Wolf I'd say @ 600ms or less … But I'd have to research that now … old fart Short answer, in many situations all buttoned up … you can't see for Bleeped text

UshCha16 Jul 2018 8:49 a.m. PST

Un buttoned, we take it as anything from the chieftan commander we talked to, who had a wooden chock to hold open the hatch a small amount, at one extreme to half out firing a pintle mount. We could go for more detail but it's just one issue in what can be a mixed company battle group, so it's all about getting a passable approximation which is quick and adequate.

Wolfhag, my take would be to clog it and get out of the way. Buttoning up takes a valuable second, so move first and hope the well shielded driver position deflects the odd round if it comes the drivers way. He will get the crew out of harms way even if the TC the does not make it.

We ten generally to let players decide when to button up or Un button. To be simple a buttoned up tank commander is considered as vulnerable as troops in a fighting position with overhead cover as much for simplicity as anything else. Unbuttoned the commander has the ability to engage targets over a 180 deg arc centered on the gun. Buttoned up the rack is less than 45 deg centered on the gun so it is risk reward. It does force tank platoons to adopt formations if buttoned up to keep all the terrain they would whish to keep under observation.

The modern German axiom is observation over preservation.

Legion 416 Jul 2018 3:49 p.m. PST

Un buttoned, we take it as anything from the chieftan commander we talked to, who had a wooden chock to hold open the hatch a small amount,


Yes again … as Wolf noted, and I alluded to "So is "peeking over the hatch" qualify as unbuttoned? Does popping in and out count? I've read of Germans buttoning up when the range gets close. When the lead starts flying you are going to button up." …

Yes, not only a good idea … BUT common sense. I.e. you only have to open up the hatch only as far as you need to see what you "want" to see, etc. But at "Name Tag Defilade" or more you can obviously see better, have better LOS, etc.

Lion in the Stars16 Jul 2018 7:57 p.m. PST

Honestly, if someone starts shooting at me, I'm going to be moving with what you might call 'alacrity' to get the hell out of the area.

I'd expect standing orders for a tank crew under fire to be to move as fast as possible to cover, whether the TC is exposed or not.

Wolfhag16 Jul 2018 8:47 p.m. PST

Lion,
I'm on board with that but then look at how the Israeli's did their fighting with their Tank Commanders staying out and suffering high causalities. In the Golan, there was nowhere to run to.

Quote from Otto Carius, Tigers in the Mud
"Unfortunately, impacting rounds are felt before the sound of the enemy's gun report, because the speed of the round is greater than the speed of sound. Therefore, a tank commander eyes are more important than his ears. As a result of rounds exploding in the vicinity, one doesn't hear the gun's report at all in the tank. It is quite different whenever the tank commander raises his head occasionally in an open hatch to survey the terrain. If he happens to look halfway to the left while an enemy anti-tank gun opens fire to his right, his eyes will subconsciously catch the shimmer of the yellow gun flash. His (the tank commander) attention will immediately be directed toward the new direction and the target will usually be identified in time.
Everything depends on prompt identification of a dangerous target, usually seconds decide.

I'm leaving it to the players but they'll know exposed TC's will draw fire.

We have a player that specializes in attacking with T-34/85's (must fight buttoned up) and he doesn't care about being buttoned up. When German fires and misses he stops and does a "Scoot & Shoot" moving out before being shot at again. He moves from one blocking terrain to another while evading until he gets to within 700m-800m. At that range, he knows he's almost guaranteed a hit on the first shot and is close enough for the precision aim rule to target the turret and penetrate it. His bow mg gunners open up forcing the Germans to button up taking away some of their advantages. He normally wins but we do give him a historic 2 or 3 to 1 advantage.

Wolfhag

Legion 417 Jul 2018 8:08 a.m. PST


"Unfortunately, impacting rounds are felt before the sound of the enemy's gun report, because the speed of the round is greater than the speed of sound. Therefore, a tank commander eyes are more important than his ears. As a result of rounds exploding in the vicinity, one doesn't hear the gun's report at all in the tank. It is quite different whenever the tank commander raises his head occasionally in an open hatch to survey the terrain. If he happens to look halfway to the left while an enemy anti-tank gun opens fire to his right, his eyes will subconsciously catch the shimmer of the yellow gun flash. His (the tank commander) attention will immediately be directed toward the new direction and the target will usually be identified in time.
Everything depends on prompt identification of a dangerous target, usually seconds decide.
Yes … and e.g. the IDF suffered many TC loses staying exposed. But you have to have a good LOS and at the same time try to survive. I.e. survive = you & your crew/AFV.

Short answer = kill them before they kill you …

But generally nothing is 100% guaranteed in a conflict, from what I can tell …

Or as some of my NCOs used to say, "Sometimes you get the bear … sometimes the bear gets you … "

Lion in the Stars17 Jul 2018 6:37 p.m. PST

Yeah, the Golan is what I'd call a very nice shooting gallery. For both sides. Hell, the Israeli experience of the Golan Heights was the primary reason the Merkava has that rear door for ammo resupply without getting too far out from under armor!

RudyNelson17 Jul 2018 7:57 p.m. PST

In November 1976, I attended a presentation given to Armored officers attending the Armor school. One of the speakers was an Israeli Colonel who had commanded a battalion on the Goan heights during the Yom Kippur War.
All of the speakers presented comparison data on the M60a1 and the Soviet T55 and T62 tanks.
The Colonel data and kill ratio was amazing. His position allowed the M60 to lower the gun tube and engage the Syrians while the Syrian Soviet tanks were unable to raise their tubes high enough to hit the Israeli. Something you do not see in many wargame rules.

Legion 418 Jul 2018 7:35 a.m. PST

IIRC, the IDF also had a number of "Super Shermans" on the Golan, I've heard kill ratios were as high as 13-1. The old M4 "soldiers" on …

But once again, we see the advantage of taking the high ground …

while the Syrian Soviet tanks were unable to raise their tubes high enough to hit the Israeli.

Another good point :

Something you do not see in many wargame rules.

UshCha20 Jul 2018 8:48 a.m. PST

We don't have tank specific elevation limits, we could but its too much detail for the size of the game we aim at, best left to tank only games.

We do have generalized limits but they are applied universally to all @typical@ tanks. Only vehicles with exceptional elevation (eg. 45 deg up) are exempt.

ScoutJock20 Jul 2018 9:19 a.m. PST

I don't recall seeing it in any miniatures rules but I have seen tactical board games where western tanks have a more advantageous hull down bonus than Soviet tanks.

UshCha23 Jul 2018 7:44 a.m. PST

well I think this one has run its course. I think it has convinced me that what we have at the moment is a good model as can be expected at the level of detail we want to use. It could really only improve with more rules and that is not an acceptable solution for our current game design.
Thank you all for your input it is much appreciated.

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