Northeast Atlanta Gaming

August 11, 2010

Machine guns, helicopters and more

There is an ongoing discussion about the power of machine guns in the PB/PL/AIW context. I see J Smith of Consimworld, Byron Henderson, Daniel Escobar and Gary Exelby all weighing in. PL tends to minimize machine guns and infantry. AIW has to pay more attention to it because the “blitz” in tanks disappears if tanks aren’t part of a combined arms team in the post 1967 period. The portable shaped charge weapons like the RPG-7 and the LAW pretty much ensure that. The vehicle causing me the biggest issue is the M113:

This unit has 3 vehicles, and 6 machine guns, according to The General. It doesn’t specify which kinds, but the only photo I have of a 2 MG M113 Zelda shows 1 .50 caliber and 1 .30 caliber. My call would be to rate the .50s as 3 I and the .30s as 2 I. So, since US platoons use 4 M113s each, what is the firepower of that unit?

Maybe something like this.

And a 4 vehicle M113 ACAV unit might look something like this.

But given how loose the definitions of ‘I’ type weapons are, all of these three could still be the same 5 I 6 5 8 unit. Not easy to say.

To summarize what I know, we have that normal .30 MGs are 2 I, in a bunch, unspecified, and .50 MGs are 3 I, in a bunch, unspecified. My gut feeling about .30 miniguns is that they are 4 I with plenty of ammo and 2 I with limited ammo. No one cares how fast you can fire if you only have 50 bullets.

20mm cannon (see for example, the Mark II German tank) have been a 2 A for a long time, unless you’re a Corsair, in which case they are a 4 A. I suspect the M61 Vulcan is about 4 A. I suspect the three barreled 20mm cannon on the AH-1 F is a 2 or 3 A. Probably 2. Someone might be able to argue 3 or 4 for me, if he can point to better armor penetration in later rounds.

The GAU-8 30mm Gatling gun on the A-10 is a 30 A 5, according to Toshach miniatures.

The 25mm and 30mm chain guns are 6 A/H 8, according to Toshach miniatures. Since these later weapons have DU penetrators and high explosive shells, that all seems reasonable. They can switch very rapidly from one load to the another as well; this is clear from combat reports, such as the book “Warrior’s Rage: The Great Tank Battle of 73 Easting”, by Doug MacGregor.

Now, the take home is that the 12 A/* 6 of the AIW Huey Cobra is not derived from on board guns, but rather the 2.75 inch rockets the early AH-1Gs used. And it must have this kind of firepower, else you can’t explain the results of the fighting in An Loc in 1972. An AF of ’12 A’ gives it the ability to take on and defeat a T-55. And it’s justified as the rockets can have a HEAT explosive head.

It’s important to know where the combat values of the generic AIW Cobra are derived, since the AH-1E variant of the Cobra does not mount 2.75 inch rockets and cannot be represented by the generic Cobra counter. The AH-1E can mount TOW missiles, though, so it’s hardly defenseless.

I think ungenericized AH-1s would look more like this:  4 I/* 6 for the AH-1G, S, and P. 2 A/* 6 for the AH-1E and AH-1F. Typical * loads could be 12 A 6 for rockets and 50 G 12 for TOW missiles in this era. Please note that TOWs improve markedly over time, and that the rockets can be used as HE delivery systems. By 1972 the rockets have switched to the Hydra 70, or Mark 66 rockets, which have a wide variety of warheads. Range is enhanced too for the Hydra system, maximum effective range being reported as 10,000 meters (40 hexes).

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