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"Barbed wire, what is the optimum distance to deploy it." Topic

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UshCha13 May 2021 8:36 a.m. PST

This post is in general as I am not really in the know when Barbed wire was first used to support military defense, certainly in WW1 but maybe earlier.

So the question in say, defending a pill box or an earlier similar structure is:- What distance was the barbed wire positioned from the defense and why? Multiple rings as it were, may be addressed, giving the logic for each ring.

I have not given my suggestion so as not to cloud other folks opinions/information.I stress this is a real world question not a rules question, first you need the real world logic before you worry about the rules.

Wackmole9 Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse13 May 2021 8:47 a.m. PST

American Civil war armies Used telegraph wire as trip wire

Fingerspitzengefuhl13 May 2021 8:57 a.m. PST

Must be covered by fire
Must be beyond hand grenade range

Personal logo javelin98 Supporting Member of TMP13 May 2021 9:29 a.m. PST

US Army Field Manual (FM) 5-100, now renumbered 3-34, "Engineer Operations", contains a lot of information about how to deploy obstacles, including concertina and barbed wire.

In short, as Fingerspitzgefuhl stated, you should never leave an obstacle unobserved. US doctrine is to have covering fire and pre-plotted artillery fire on an obstacle so you can light up the enemy when they run into it.

In WW1 terms, that means your wire should probably be within 500 yards of your front lines for rifles, although the machine guns of the day had an effective range of 2000 meters.

RudyNelson13 May 2021 12:12 p.m. PST

Fingers is spot on. As officers back then, we had to evaluate individual soldier proficiency tests. That was on the question list as was mine or claymore deployment. I mention that because starting in the Vietnam era, construction of HAYE bunkers at fire bases became very important.
As Fingers and javelin points out hand grenade range and being covered by fire were key.
However there were other factors such as interlocking fire with both rifles and MGs. Due to the concept of HAYE bunckers, the dead areas were essential when drawing your fire plans. A liberal use of claymores were recommended. Not only for the straight on direction but for bar wire not covered by mgs.

Personal logo PaulCollins Supporting Member of TMP13 May 2021 2:10 p.m. PST

Interesting op and responses. Thanks.

Wolfhag13 May 2021 10:44 p.m. PST

There are a variety of tactics when laying wire depending on how you want it to affect the enemy:

Disrupt: Breaks up the enemy's formations. Causes premature commitment of breach assets. Interrupts command and control
Counters the enemy's initiative and synchronization to
hinder him from concentrating combat power, causing a
piecemeal commitment of attacking units. Interrupts the timing of the attack when coordinating with other units.

Turn: A turn effect manipulates the enemy's maneuver in a desired direction, channelize him into a minefield or kill zone:
First, the obstacle must have a subtle orientation to entice
the enemy to maneuver rather than breach the obstacle.
Second, the bypass must be easily detected to entice the
enemy to it.

Fix: A fix effect slows the enemy within a specified area so that he can be killed with fires. The term does not mean to stop an enemy advance but rather to give the defender time to acquire, target, and destroy the attacking enemy throughout the depth of an engagement area or avenue of approach.

Block: A block effect is designed to stop an enemy's advance along a specific avenue of approach or allow him to advance at an extremely high cost. Blocking obstacles are complex and integrated with intense fires.

Tanglefoot wire can be used in an open area to give a false sense easy maneuver because it can be easy to hide and hard to remove but takes a lot of time to lay. Machine guns are normally set to fire down the length of wire but this can give away their position for offensive prep fires.

For a pillbox you could also lay wire behind you too. I always thought that digging a trench and filling it with concertina wire would be effective because it would be hidden and hard to remove.


Martin Rapier13 May 2021 11:05 p.m. PST

Tbh, it is easier to read some of the field engineering manuals or even some of the infantry tactics primers.

As noted above, the obstacles need to be covered by fire and integrated into the scheme of defence with specific purposes in mind. Just the same as minefields.

ciaphas14 May 2021 3:54 a.m. PST

generally where machineguns (either HMG or MMG even GPMG) can interlink fire so that the enemy while strung up are vulnerable to the fire, whilst those in the defensive position are not vulnerable to as already mentioned grenades etc.

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2021 5:40 a.m. PST

We just cleaned up 50 yards, or so, of barbed wire on our property (small acreage, used to be farm land; came with the farmer's garbage dump for old equipment -- ugh!). It is from the early 1970's… And it is still very dangerous and effective, even though it is largely rusted, but the super-majority is still highly flexible, and sharp! We had to check our medical records to see when our last Tetanus shots were…

In real life, I hate barbed wire. In a game, I love it. Cheers!

gounour15 May 2021 9:46 p.m. PST

spent some summer vacation on the Verdun battlefield, and some barbs are still there, and dangerous, as the pikes that had it standing
Seriously, with the unexploded ammo that regularly comes up, the pikes, the wires, etc…(body parts too…) you DO NO WANDER OF THE MARKED PATHS in those area; it's clearly written on panels everywhere in several languages. You obviously do not touch anything that points out of the ground if you value your limbs or you life…

but as to wire, at that time, the ideas was "redundancy", "overlapping", "fresh", "maze-like" and "map-marked". repairing wire was a everyday task, as cutting/reconnoitring the ennemy's one; it was to slow the ennemy's offensives, and be easily passed by your owns. "Calm day"'s shelling always made a wreck of that, not often really cutting it, but displacing it where it should not have been.

so closest wire was very close, a pair of meters away at most, the Verdun forts are still partially covered in it. there was no "modern" mines, it was still a XVIIIs century siege weapon, and hand grenade making was shoddy with the volume needed.

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