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"Hitler Hated the Nazi Assault Rifle" Topic


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©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Tango0119 Jul 2018 9:46 p.m. PST

"By 1944, the Third Reich pulled out all the stops when it came to technological marvels. It was the year of the Wunderwaffe, the "wonder weapon" – devices born out of a combination of science and desperation that Nazi Germany hoped would knock the Allies back on their heels.

The V-2 intermediate range ballistic missile, the V-1 cruise missile, the Me-262 jet fighter are the weapons that most often come to mind in the Wunderwaffe category.

But there was another super weapon that had been around before that watershed year but still had 1944 in its name. Inspired by the Germany's experience with urban combat on the Eastern Front, it was a firearm that used an intermediate round that was larger than a pistol cartridge but shorter than the standard rifle cartridge used by the German army…."
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Amicalement
Armand

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP20 Jul 2018 1:14 a.m. PST

The myth of Hitler's opposition, the madman who doesn't see a good thing because he was irrational.

Hitler is the German term for "We failed and because we don't want to take our share of the blame we'll blame it all on the guy who's now got a reputation for being mad anyway." Or in some regional diaclects "I would have won the war if Hitler hadn't ruined all my perfect plans."

First of all we have to do some mlitary logistics and technology 101.

It may be the world's most tired cliché, but yes amateurs talk tactics and weapons, professionals talk logistics.

When Hitler as leader of Germany made certain military decisions he did refer to his generals in fact you can trace the paper trail up until 1944 and into 1945 where we see that Hitler, despite the claims that he had taken over as sole commander and was now single-handedly micro-managing the war and when we do look at the actual minutes of these conferences and not the memoirs and "official narratives" by people like Manstein and Halder. We see that Hitler not only has the generals present the logistics people are also present and Hitler is often highly concerned that the Generals tend to ignore the warnings of the logistics people that they can only guarantee proper supplies up to this point or that date, after that you're on your own, and we get the guarantees by the generals that their plans are watertight and Hitler does defer to his generals and when it goes well they take full credit in their memoirs, when it goes absolutely wrong, it's all due to Hitler interfering.

Now Hitler spent a huge amount of time keeping an eye on Germany's resources. He was fully aware that Germany had only so much oil to go round with and it had to be distributed over an army that consumed more oil than it could replenish so Germany would face a critical shortage of oil around 1942 if they operated on full war steading and wanted all the planes, ships and tanks to be fully active.

But that is a matter for another discussion, by 1944 the situation is dire for Germany, countrary to the belief that the bombing of Germany hardly put a dent in the system since all the trains and factories kept running, it never looks at the money, resources and manpower that is being used and wasted to keep the system going. And all these reports end up on Hitler's desk (And be aware that Speer is hard at work trying to fix the numbers to personally look good in Hitler's eyes so the situation is actually worse than Hitler is lead to believe.)

One of the main problems is that replacement equipment and parts are given less priority in favour of ammunition, fuel, tanks and planes. Stuff like new uniforms to replace worn ones, new rifles, webbing, helmets etc are considered not vital and at this point the engineers come up with a new rifle design and present it to Hitler and when you expect him to go crazy and insist it be buried, he starts to make up the balance. This is an advanced weapon that is not yet in full production, but it has a huge benefit that it is not that hard to make. In fact it is easier and cheaper to make than a bolt-action rifle. But when he asks when it will be ready for mass production and introduction on a mass scale they reply that it would take about a year or so to work out the bugs and fully implement it for proper mass production. Meanwhile they produce small numbers of pre-production models a very labour intensive process that allows weapons to be field tested before the design is readied for mass production.

It is critical to understand that all new weapons have lead times, having a working prototype doesn't mean going into production is merely a snap of a finger away. It can take years for engineers to translate a hand-built one-off prototype into something that can be mass produced and it may be that some features simply can't be replicated for production because they are too complex, require special materials and tools etc.

Hitler likes the new weapon, his troops like it and he keeps a close eye on the design, attending several demonstrations, rather odd for a weapon that was allegedly hidden from his attention …

The problem comes from the fact that Hitler wanted to introduce the weapon on a mass scale and wanted to see four million of them, (production barely hit 450k of which only 100k actually saw action) he was aware that a trickle to the troops from the factories would be useless and he opposes this, waiting for the moment the weapon is being mass produced. This opposition seems to have become a visceral hatred because apparently he had fought in the trenches, used the colour blue in his paintings or had to eat a ham sandwich instead of a lettuce sandwich one afternoon in 1931 or whatever reason people want to come up with to make themselves appear like geniuses that could have won the war if not for Hitler's gross mismanagement.

The biggest irony is that about 450,000 were made, only 100,000 were actually distributed to the troops, the remainder never left the factory and they were snapped up after the war to equip various Soviet Bloc allies in the immediate post war era until they had fully converted to Soviet designed equipment or local weapons. They were sold on to allies and friendly countries as surplus.

The fact is that the Sturmgewehr was a new weapon, with great potential and Hitler understood this very well, but he was also concerned with the logistics and making sure the weapon was ready for production and ready to be distributed on a wide scale unlike other "super weapons" which turned out to be "white Elefants" and trickled to the front lines without being able to have a real impact.

And the narrative shifts ever so gradually in the big telephone game. Concerns become opposition, opposition become resistance, resistance becomes dislike, dislike becomes hatred and hatred becomes a headline.

And then there is the tired old narrative that a particular new weapon would have been the big game changer. A piece of kit that was so radically new that the enemy could only have stared at it with open mouth until somebody would ask what to do next, for everybody to collectively shrug and be bowled over by the new weapon and be utterly defeated.

Except that never happened. Even the atom bomb did not force Japan to surrender. It made them pause, and they were already planning to have everybody in Japan dig shelters deep enough to survive a bomb impact.

Consider the huge radical game-changers : longbows, percussion caps, minié balls, revolvers, smokeless powder, hand-cranked machineguns, barrel rifling, aircraft, poison gas, aircraft carriers, tanks, helicopters, missiles, the maxim machinegun, the 75mm Modele 1897, the MG-34, the pilum, hardened steel etc.

Now name the one that instantly won a war and left the enemy not only devastated, but utterly baffled as to what to do next for the rest of eternity.

There is a big "What the hell is going on ?" maybe some confusion and then people start to figure out what can be done against it. This happened in 1916 when they first saw tanks and the surprise lasted a few weeks until people figured that explosives and artillery could kill them, just hit it hard enough and it dies using the means you already have and that's the same problem with the Sturmgewehr, it gives you an advantage, it does not automatically make you invincible or immune to a less advanced design or renders the other weapon utterly inert.

One of my favorite examples is to imagine that the MG-34 was never put into production and after the war they came across the plans, I am absolutely convinced that everyone and their dog would be tempted to claim that it would have totally changed the war. The impact would have been so huge it would have utterly baffled Germany's enemies have had such an amazing impact it would retroactively win WWII around the 17th century.

My answer is that if you were the guy with a Lee Enfield fighting CQB with a guy with a Sturmgewehr you had a problem, though if you had a grenade and he didn't … But it made no difference to the guy in the Lancaster or HMS Rodney. Montgomery or Churchill wouldn't have to look over their shoulder in case "the men with the Sturmgewehr are coming !!!"

The US GI had a clear advantage over the German soldier with his Kar 98 because of his Garand and he still had to fight for four years to get it done.

Even if they could have equipped every German with such a weapon overnight I doubt that it would have beaten standard statistic deviance let alone win the war.

Fred Cartwright20 Jul 2018 2:21 a.m. PST

The US GI had a clear advantage over the German soldier with his Kar 98 because of his Garand and he still had to fight for four years to get it done.

Actually the operational research suggests the Garand didn't have a clear advantage over bolt action rifles. It didn't matter what rifle the troops were armed with they performed the same. The main killers were MG's and mortars. The slight advantage an assault rifle is it gives a soldier a SMG and rifle in one weapon, so you can fire bursts when needed or single shots.

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP20 Jul 2018 2:30 a.m. PST

Thanks for making my point.

Keith Talent20 Jul 2018 2:50 a.m. PST

"Only 100,000 saw action"
Probably far more exist in BA armies than that……
Interestingly, in one of his many books on the Bulge, Danny Parker makes the claim that it was the most commonly carried infantry small arm during that campaign. Assuming this to be the case, even then it made little appreciable difference.

surdu2005 Sponsoring Member of TMP20 Jul 2018 2:59 a.m. PST

Fred Cartwright, what is your source for that information?

Starfury Rider20 Jul 2018 3:20 a.m. PST

A Volks Grenadier Div was only authorised 55 Stg44 per Rifle Coy (including the Fus Coy or Fus Bn), so could be considered fully equipped in this respect with less than 1100 or 1200 assault rifles on the books. In theory it would take less than 100,000 to fully equip 75 Divs on that scale, but that doesn't take into account actual availability and wastage.

Gary

Frontovik20 Jul 2018 6:46 a.m. PST

Nothing is ever really a surprise.

link

link

Legion 420 Jul 2018 7:04 a.m. PST

Bottom line IMO … I'd rather be packing an M1 Garand or Stg 44 than any bolt action rifle. E.g. '03, 98K, SMLE, etc.


Actually the operational research suggests the Garand didn't have a clear advantage over bolt action rifles. It didn't matter what rifle the troops were armed with they performed the same. The main killers were MG's and mortars. The slight advantage an assault rifle is it gives a soldier a SMG and rifle in one weapon, so you can fire bursts when needed or single shots.
As I have said many times before, the weapon is only as "good
" as the trooper/crew behind it.

Regardless, having used a 98k [I actually own one], '03 Springfield, and M1 Garand, I'd rather have a weapon that is semi-auto than bolt action.

And of course I've also use an M14, M16, and AK-47 … I think the Assault Rifle concept is the way to go … But again, it's all about the "quality" of who is using it.

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP20 Jul 2018 7:05 a.m. PST

Actually the operational research suggests the Garand didn't have a clear advantage over bolt action rifles. It didn't matter what rifle the troops were armed with they performed the same. The main killers were MG's and mortars. The slight advantage an assault rifle is it gives a soldier a SMG and rifle in one weapon, so you can fire bursts when needed or single shots.

Of crouse, most soldiers just fired in the general direction of the enemy, fear, and adrenaline take over, even if you statistically have very little chance of hitting the enemy, you feel safer by shooting back. So naturally, it doesn't matter much if you shoot 8 unaimed shots in very high volume or 5 or 10 unaimed shots in somewhat lower volume.
The law of great number says that the higher the number of bullets thrown in the general direction of the enemy, chances are a few random bullets will hit.
But given in the end, in a 5-minute firefight, it would be about the same number of rounds expended be it a Garand or an Enfield. The law doesn't apply.

28mm Fanatik20 Jul 2018 7:42 a.m. PST

Don't read too much into it. "War is Boring" is notorious for its sensational, scandalous headlines that stretches (if not demolishes) the truth. WiB also claimed that "eating too much rice" was the reason why the Japanese navy almost sank: TMP link

It's shameless click-baiting, nothing more. Tango's been scouring WiB for its best articles today.

shirleys painting20 Jul 2018 11:01 a.m. PST

My husband shoots AK74 pattern rifles, of which we have 3. An ARSENAL(my sons(15 years old)rifle), a RedJacket(my rifle) and a Molot VEPR(my husbands). All are in 545x39, and have no real recoil.

He was telling me he "captured" a stg44 over in Afghanistan(kunar province) and he wanted to get it home.

The Army did'nt like that idea…

Tango0120 Jul 2018 11:02 a.m. PST

Great thread Patrick!…

Amicalement
Armand

Legion 420 Jul 2018 1:54 p.m. PST

He was telling me he "captured" a stg44 over in Afghanistan(kunar province) and he wanted to get it home.
I have heard of such "finds" there, including some very old AFVs

Thomas Thomas20 Jul 2018 2:57 p.m. PST

Actually US troops did seem to notice the increase in German small arms firepower and it may help explain at least the initial success of the 18th VG, and the stubborn efforts of the 26th VG and 5th FJ. All of these formations were using badly under trained personnel and reduced size organizations. Its hard to tell how many STG44s reached these formations, on paper about 1/3 of their "rifle" strength should have had them. "The Gun" an excellent history of the AK47 and small arms in general argues that assault rifles do help to compensate for training at least to some degree.

No single weapon – certainly not an infantry rifle is going to single handedly win a war. For one thing the other side may also have an excellent weapon system though of a different type as a counter weight. Nevertheless a wise army seeks advantages where it can find them even marginal ones. That all armies now use assault rifles more or less in the mode of the Stg44 indicates its effectiveness. But in no way was this weapon in limited numbers going to allow the decimated Wehrmacht to break through to Antwerp (no weapon could have done so). This does not make it an insignificant weapon system. It did probably make the Bulge a tougher battle and may have contributed to the very high allied casualties incurred in stopping an exhausted but still game German army.

TomT

Katzbalger21 Jul 2018 5:03 a.m. PST

TT--well, the Dreyse Needle Gun went a way towards giving the Kaiser a winning arm in that tussle between Prussia and Austria back in the 1860s. But I suppose that might be the exception that proves the rule?

Rob

Lee49421 Jul 2018 7:35 a.m. PST

Had every German soldier been equipped with the Stg-44 in 1943 it still would not have altered the outcome of the war. It just would have increased allied casualty rates. And perhaps extended the war a couple of months giving Berlin the honor of opening the Age of Atomic Armeggedon

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP21 Jul 2018 10:25 a.m. PST

The funny thing is that a few years later the French had a superior weapon to the Dreyse, and they were beaten. The Dreyse had little to do with why the Prussians won and more with superior tactics and better artillery.

catavar21 Jul 2018 11:57 a.m. PST

Kinda funny that this project got sidelined while the Ferdinand got the Ok.

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP21 Jul 2018 1:39 p.m. PST

The firepower increase by the end of the war was not solely due to the use of the Sturmgewehr.

The Germans had the "advantage" of having to fight a defensive war and thus could afford to use weapons that were quite suitable for them, most notably machineguns.

To relieve the manpower shortage, they not only reduced the size of the average squad, they made into two MG groups that could mutually support each other, the standard practice of issuing a single MP to a squad was revised and some would have two or three and as many semi-automatic rifles and eventually STG-44 were issued in the final months.

The result is that the Germans could indeed lay down huge amounts of firepower.

The Americans responded by adding an extra BAR to the support team in most squads and added extra SMG's and rifle grenades as well as making use of SCR 536 and SCR 300 to call in artillery support or make use of the available tanks or TD's for extra support. The US army may not have had a superior MG, but they fought with combined arms that could overwhelm the rather relative advantage of automatic weapons.

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP21 Jul 2018 3:11 p.m. PST

Guns don't mater strategically. The Germans could have equipped each soldier with a portable mini gun and 50 000 rounds, they would still loose and about as fast. They were simply out gunned (in airpower, artillery and armor) and outmaned to the extreme.
Guns only matter to the grunts that are getting shot at and shooting back. Strategically it doesn't much matter if they are using bren guns or MG42 or Mausers or garands.

Tacitus22 Jul 2018 7:18 p.m. PST

If only Hitler got in on the Sturmgewher Kickstarter a little earlier. Maybe the stretch goals would have turned the tide in his favor…

Legion 423 Jul 2018 6:43 a.m. PST

Had every German soldier been equipped with the Stg-44 in 1943 it still would not have altered the outcome of the war. It just would have increased allied casualty rates.
Very much so … The Allies [US, USSR, etc.] had more of everything … troops, tanks, FA, aircraft, ships, etc. And the logistics to support all of it, generally …


But again as a Cdr, on a tactical level all things being equal I'd rather have all my troops armed with Assault Rifles than Bolt-Action or maybe even just Semi-Auto, e.g. an M1, either type, i.e. M1 vs. M16/M4 or AK-47AKMS.

Thomas Thomas23 Jul 2018 10:20 a.m. PST

And since we are wargammers, we concern ourselves with "even" battles and the effect of weapons systems. This caused me to have to work out an advantge for platoons primarly armed with STGs in Combat Command – but was careful to not make it too great as fire participation, LMGs, training etc also have to be taken into account.

By the time of the Bulge the Germans had started to create the modern squad structure: an effective SAW, an effective LAW and grunts armed with assualt rifles. But this is just one of many many factors that would determine who would prevail in a battle the size of the Bulge. It could have an interesting impact on smaller battalion scaled actions – which are the types of games I run and design for.

(And yes the Franco-Prussian war in another example of one size having the more modern weapons the other a better mobilation scheme which produced a preponderance of assets.)

Thomas J. Thomas
Fame & Glory

Mark 123 Jul 2018 2:35 p.m. PST

One way of thinking about this subject is that questions of infantry weapons, such as StG-44 vs. Garand M1 vs. Kar-98K, or MG-34 vs. Bren vs. BAR, are questions that affect the infantry fight.

I think StG-44s, compared to any other infantry combat rifle of WW2, when in the hands of troops trained to use them in a doctrine that takes advantage of them, would be a significant advantage in the infantry fight. Just as I would think that the Garand M1 provided an advantage (over the Kar-98K or SMLE), or the MG-34/42 provided an advantage (over the BAR).

But in the greater scheme of things in WW2, the infantry battle was perhaps of less significance than in many prior wars. It was the first war in which airpower played so significant a part, and in many aspects the naval war was a very significant part.

And even in the case of the ground war, it was no longer so clearly a ground war dominated by the infantry fight. Tanks (and other AFVs) played a great part in the ground war, and even in the infantry contribution to the war it was not only about infantry fighting, but also infantry mobility and logistics.

Was a Landser with a StG-44, marching along, supported by horse-drawn logistics, really more productive than a Legionaire with an MAS-36, riding in the back of an M5 halftrack within a fully motorized army?

Interesting to consider ….

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

Legion 423 Jul 2018 4:15 p.m. PST

when in the hands of troops trained to use them in a doctrine that takes advantage of them, would be a significant advantage in the infantry fight.
Yep … a weapon is only as good as the troop/crew behind it and it's leaders that command them …


not only about infantry fighting, but also infantry mobility and logistics.
Very much agree …

Was a Landser with a StG-44, marching along, supported by horse-drawn logistics, really more productive than a Legionaire with an MAS-36, riding in the back of an M5 halftrack within a fully motorized army?
Unless the Landser can out run a Halftrack … evil grin And that Halftrack was usually armed with a .30 or .50 cal … huh? I know he can't out run a burst from either of those MGs …

Mark 123 Jul 2018 5:17 p.m. PST

Kinda feel odd quoting myself, but I feel I might not have done a good or complete job describing one or two of my own points on this topic.

I think StG-44s … would be a significant advantage in the infantry fight. … It was the first war in which airpower played so significant a part, and in many aspects the naval war was a very significant part.

So let's say, conceptually (no, not claiming this as a mathematical proof, just using numbers to illustrate a concept), that a StG-44 (with doctrine and training) gave the infantryman a 25% edge over his adversary. I think we would all agree that this is a substantial edge, maybe even a decisive edge. Clearly, I would want MY soldiers to carry such a weapon.

But then we say the air battle was 1/3 of the war, and the naval battles were 1/3 of the war, so the ground war is actually only 33% of the whole war. Now all of a sudden the impact of our 25% edge is diluted to an 8.25% advantage.

And even in the case of the ground war, it was no longer so clearly a ground war dominated by the infantry fight.

So now maybe we have diluted our edge by another 2/3, and we are down to about a 2.75% advantage.

From a wargaming perspective yeah, having that StG-44 is a real boon. In terms of the war, the advantage is so small its kinda hard to see.

Was a Landser with a StG-44… really more productive than a Legionaire with an MAS-36, riding in the back of an M5 halftrack …?

I think that the so-called "motorized" divisions were easily twice as effective as foot divisions, and in the case of "mechanized" divisions (meaning not only on wheels, but with cross-country mobility and armor) they were probably 3 or 4 times as effective.

So do we say man-for-man, at equivalent levels of training and skill the guy riding in the halftrack is going to be 3 or 4 times more effective because he is mechanized?

OK, I would want my guys to have StG-44s, but I would much rather have my guys in halftracks with MAS-36s (or Kar-98Ks, or Mosin M91/30s), and have trucks bringing me ammo, and hauling my arty (and ITS ammo), then have my guys walking around with StG-44s, with mules or horses (or hiwis) bringing ammo and hauling the big stuff.


-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

Lion in the Stars23 Jul 2018 6:25 p.m. PST

Well, if we're going to get to major what-ifs, I'd rather have my infantry in halftracks with M1 Garands and T24 GPMG (MG42 but in .30-06), but with the German MG doctrine. And with trucks or halftracks bringing all the ammo I'm burning through.

Legion 424 Jul 2018 6:29 a.m. PST

So do we say man-for-man, at equivalent levels of training and skill the guy riding in the halftrack is going to be 3 or 4 times more effective because he is mechanized?
Yes, probably at about that level. But as we know for many missions Paras, Commandos, etc., can be very effective depending on the mission, terrain, etc.

However, your point should be well taken in the consideration of the overall war effort. It is really a very much a combine arms endeavor. By not only "Service", i.e. Navy, Airforce, Army, etc., but "Branch" e.g., Infantry, Armor, FA, CEs, ADA, Medics, etc., etc. Including QM, Ordinance, Transportation, etc., i.e. "Bean & Bullets", etc., …

But again, we'd all probably rather have an Assault Rifle than Bolt Action. Killing more of the enemy efficiently, effectively, frequently and in larger numbers. On a tactical level, is what you as a PL, Cdr, etc., strive for. Or should. Generally your enemy will most likely [hopefully] run out of bodies, and bullets to arm those bodies, etc. And lose the will to fight, even if that means most of the enemy forces no longer exist.

Even for home defense, I have an AR-15 and Colt. 45 LW. And as a "collector" a PPK[my father brought home from WWII] a 98k and SKS. You probably know what my first choice would be to use if an intruder(s) is coming thru my front door. evil grin

Andy ONeill24 Jul 2018 8:56 a.m. PST

I would have said the guys riding in the half tracks were slightly more effective because they were riding and somewhat protected from artillery fire.
It was quite a risky business trying to use a ww2 half track like an IFV.
It's the machine gun on the half track which (IMO) made more difference.
In German units they got an extra mg 42 and another on the ride, in US they get a 50 cal.

Machine guns were a much more significant weapon than rifles carried by the conscripts riding in the back.
There's very little difference in effectiveness from one rifle to another for ww2. Garand or popgun. Almost doesn't matter.
The Germans worked that out and focussed on the machine gun.

The problem is that the vast majority of riflemen couldn't manage to inflict casualties until the combat was very short range.
Which is where the smg came in and why smg companies managed to be very effective in ww2 despite the logic that says their rifle wielding enemies should just shoot them to bits at long range.
And of course the assault rifle is a sort of smg – rifle cross.
You can loose full auto at that short range when infantrymen can be expected to hit something smaller than the size of a barn.
In addition you can lay down some reasonably effective suppressive fire at longer range.
Those 1% or so of riflemen who could perform on the battlefield to effectiveness approaching the rifle range could also shoot to maybe 200 yards effectively.

This is my understanding anyhow.
Part of the reason I feel fairly confident on this is the US army estimate rating one mg42 as equivalent to 20 garand armed riflemen.

Mark 124 Jul 2018 10:59 a.m. PST

I would have said the guys riding in the half tracks were slightly more effective because they were riding and somewhat protected from artillery fire.
It was quite a risky business trying to use a ww2 half track like an IFV.
It's the machine gun on the half track which (IMO) made more difference.
In German units they got an extra mg 42 and another on the ride, in US they get a 50 cal.

Not meaning this to sound like a criticism of any particular individual or poster … but this sounds to me like the perspective of one who games at the skirmish level.

Make your game boards more than 5Km on a side and you'll get a different view.

Just try … just TRY, to get some productive use out of foot infantry against forces that are motorized on a 5Km x 8Km board. You start a company marching across a field, and three enemy companies who were spread over 4Km of frontage move in front of you, and are in cover waiting for you to get into effective range, before you get half way there. Assault rifles vs. bolt actions means a little, but being able to concentrate your forces in space and time better than your opponent means a lot. It has very little to do with whether a halftrack was a good IFV. It has everything to do with whether a halftrack was a good battlefield taxi.

If you want to play skirmish level, so you can see all those assault rifles at work, then use the rule that the guys with the motorized infantry get to make up the scenarios however they want. Choose two roughly equal forces, and let your opponent set up all over the objectives first. You attack at 1-to-1 (or better yet 1-to-2) odds, because the other side is so much more efficient with their forces … so much more able to put troops where they are needed, when they are needed.

If you like combined arms, then just try to keep up with tanks with your foot-bound infantry. I see all these game AARs (with lovely pictures, to be sure!), where there are two Shermans and an M10 fighting against a Panther and a StuG in a town on a game table is only 250m across. You'll never get any insight into the value of the various tanks in that approach. Put 54 Shermans and 12 M10s on an 8Km table facing 7 Panthers, and just try, just TRY to make foot-bound infantry relevant. If any tanks get to 250m range of each other, or if your infantry can do anything to support your battle other than sitting and waiting for the other guy to come to them, I'll buy you lunch*. Either your tanks are on their own, with no infantry support within useful range, or your tanks are stuck at the pace of advance that allows every AT weapon on God's green earth to be concentrated along their main route of advance.

After all of that, if the infantry is behind armor that is barely bullet proof while they are moving to take up positions, or not, makes little difference. Yes, it gives them some protection from the odd artillery barrage, and lets them roar through squad-strength outposts. But even if they are on motorcycles, if you make your battlefields bigger than rifle-range distances, you'll quickly discover how much more effective motorized / mechanized infantry are.

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

*Note: Actually, I'd probably be happy to buy you lunch in any case, if we get to chat about wargaming while we eat.

Andy ONeill24 Jul 2018 12:53 p.m. PST

I don't know about your table, but ours would start with no defenders visible.
You can use that mobility out on the open steppe maybe. Even then, there are folds and whatnot.
It's easier to see enemy if you move slow and stop.
Hare about and you can take losses and have no idea why.

Legion 424 Jul 2018 1:38 p.m. PST

But even if they are on motorcycles, if you make your battlefields bigger than rifle-range distances, you'll quickly discover how much more effective motorized / mechanized infantry are.
True …

Again it comes down to terrain & situation, as always. E.g. an SMG with it's limited range does not do well in Open Terrain. Like … say … the open desert. But in Urban/Closed Terrain it can be very useful.

Dismounted forces obviously don't move as fast as mounted. But once in Closed or Mixed Terrain. They can be used effectively … if you know what you are doing. E.g. Ambushes, etc.


Those 1% or so of riflemen who could perform on the battlefield to effectiveness approaching the rifle range could also shoot to maybe 200 yards effectively.
On US ARMY rifle ranges the max target of a human from @ the knees up is 300m. And that is down right tiny.

Stats also say most firefights take place at @ 250m or less …

Lee49424 Jul 2018 3:53 p.m. PST

Mark 1. Consistently impressed with your posts. Would love to buy you lunch. What corner of this planet do you hail from?

Mark 124 Jul 2018 5:04 p.m. PST

I don't know about your table, but ours would start with no defenders visible.

Quite agree about the hidden forces, Andy. But I might add that your attackers should not be visible either, until they wander into visibility of the (hidden) defenders.

That's how I run my games.

Makes a big difference. A really big difference. Gives you a whole new appreciation for recon when you are desperately hungry for information on the enemy's disposition. Suddenly they are not just light forces that die first, like a warm-up act before the real battle.

I am fully addicted to hidden forces. Would not even consider running a miniatures wargame without it anymore. Haven't for more than 10 years.

You can use that mobility out on the open steppe maybe. Even then, there are folds and whatnot.
It's easier to see enemy if you move slow and stop.
Hare about and you can take losses and have no idea why.

So I'll let you chose the terrain. Place yourself in Northwestern Europe: France, Benelux, Germany, whatever you prefer. Mixed, fairly close terrain. Low ridges, a few streams, some small clusters of farm buildings, some larger villages, some hedges, some small copses of woods.Or place yourself on a flat expanse like the steppes or the western desert, flat as a table if you prefer, or with some outcrops or gullies if you like.

We'll set up a battleboard that is 5Km wide. So long as we agree that we are not crossing the Rhine, or climbing the Vosges, I'll let you build it out as you see fit.

You get a battalion of infantry with assault rifles on foot. I get a battalion of infantry with bolt-action rifles in halftracks, or trucks if you prefer, or even on motorcycles.

If I am attacking, I guarantee you I will win. I will punch through your lines and either hold open my breach against any counters you can offer, or carry forward to your edge of the table, or both.

If I am defending, I guarantee you I will hold you to an advance of no more than 1Km into my lines, and will have you fully contained by that point.

How will I do this? I'll use my mobility to concentrate my force in space and time. If I'm attacking I'll push two companies against a single one of your platoons. If I'm defending I'll set up an outpost line and get two companies into position in front of you wherever you threaten to break through. If you concentrate your force against me anywhere I'll contain you, and send my reserve platoon around to eat your HQs and supply lines.

If it's an off day for me and I play really poorly, and the gods of the dice are against me, you have maybe about a 5% chance of fighting me to a draw.

And I say this not because I think I am some great wargaming genius, but because that is the advantage mobility conveys -- it is a force multiplier. If I gave you the trucks, and I put my troops on foot, I would expect no less advantage on your side. Unless you had no idea how to use your mobility, which I doubt, but I suppose is possible, I would expect you to eat my lunch.

If we make the density of forces a bit higher the advantage is less absolute. If we put one battalion each on a 1Km wide table, it gets a little harder. But not much.

This is what I have discovered in my own gaming, which tracks very well to my readings. I build a battle board which is several Km per side. With all that space, the critical fight (or sometimes several critical fights) take place in a small village, or a small area around a bridge, or the edge of forest near a crossroads … or wherever. The side that concentrates forces better, that brings more of what they have to that critical 250m square space at the same time, is the side that wins.

If you have a significant advantage in mobility you get to choose which 250m square piece of the battle board will be the critical 250m square piece. If you are on foot, you don't. You have to hope the other guy chooses to apply his force where you are already positioned enough of your force to make a fight of it, because you simply won't have time to reposition before the battle is over.

Unless you don't understand how to apply mobility to concentrate your forces, and instead just decide to hare around. Which you can do if you want to. But I don't.

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

Legion 425 Jul 2018 7:40 a.m. PST

Yeah … this Mk 1 is a pretty smart guy ! thumbs up

And yes, I generally agree with your TTP in those scenarios Mk 1 … gold star

The Cliff Notes: Mk 1 said, "Unless you don't understand how to apply mobility to concentrate your forces, and instead just decide to hare around. Which you can do if you want to. But I don't." thumbs up

Andy ONeill25 Jul 2018 9:38 a.m. PST

With that frontage to cover, you could just walk up and concentrate pretty much as well.

Or infiltrate through.

Bear in mind in nwe the allied mech jnfantry did not just carve straight through german infantry.
I'm not suggesting there is no advantage to increased mobility. It's just nothing like the claimed advantage in common nwe terrain.

UshCha25 Jul 2018 9:41 a.m. PST

We tend to play a different way, perhaps only a company in attack frontage wide but several km deep. Again the gain goes to the guy with the mobility. The defender can only chose to fight in one place. His ability to bring in reserves or re-delpoy are minimal if only on foot and/or horse. Even if on the first assault the mobility side suffers more casualties, as they move up they can re-deploy faster and keep up the momentum and hence keep down casualties.

One of the problems with classic wargames is that they do not really get even the basics right, on the basis of some bizzare traditionthat we have always done it this way. A mobile army even at a low level can deploy Machine guns far faster motorized. An MMG platoon only had jeeps, that was fine as real MMG platoons never normally got within rifle range of the enemy and the jeeps could be a good 250m from the actual gun to provide ammo. Ther effectiveness would be out to perhaps 1100m perhaps a bit more. The MG42 armed platoons often only had a horse and cart for the ammo. Not good if you had to re-deploy.

UshCha25 Jul 2018 9:51 a.m. PST

The other thing is how much better is one given weapon. The Bren vs BAR is an example. The Bren is a more capable Weapon re-rate of fire particularly as it had a fast change barrel. The BAR was a much @handier weapon@. Even now the battle rages on, the Modern US army is going to a weapon closer to a BAR, handier and more accurate but agreeing that it is less effective at suppression.

The automatic rifle is a bit better but not war winning as its ability at longer ranges is less. To some extent rate of fire has to be countered by available ammunition. Just because you can fire 600 rounds a min, does not bestow the ability to do so for anything more than a few seconds.

At short ranges the effectiveness of a better Automatic weapon can be offset by rifle and hand grenades so the overall benefit is not huge as the close in fighting is not just with automatic weapons.

Legion 425 Jul 2018 3:42 p.m. PST

With that frontage to cover, you could just walk up and concentrate pretty much as well.
Or infiltrate through.
If the terrain permits it then yes. I always favored a dismounted night attack, but as always, it depends on terrain & situation …

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