Northeast Atlanta Gaming

August 30, 2010

“Chariots of the Desert”, by David Eshel

I’ve read a number of books about the various parts of this conflict, and I’m looking hard for a first person account of the Six Day War I read as a teen (all I can recall are bits and pieces, though). This book came recommended somewhere. It could be Tanknet, it could just be on the dozens of forums I’ve read looking for tank stats. This book though has to be  the best narrative that focuses on the development of the Israeli Tank Corps. It is particularly useful to the historian or wargamer in its wealth of detail. It lists all the  tanks used by the Israelis and then discusses the tanks they faced. A good appendix covers the T-62, for example.

As far as I know, the book is not in print, but is relatively easy to find as a used copy in the usual places, such as Amazon.com.

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August 24, 2010

1980 British Battalions and Regiments

These are based on Dan Fraser’s TO&E, with some modifications suggested by the Yahoo TO&E group. There are 4 tanks per tank platoon. The anti-tank units are composed of Milan sections. 81 millimeter mortars have been broken down into 3 2 mortar sections, so they can be assigned to individual companies, if needed. FV 432 Cymbelines have been added as an option to artillery regiments (replace Signal and OP transportation with them, if engaged in counter battery fire), and an optional infantry company has been added to the tank regiment.

The British used a wealth of ARVs in their service and it is a total tangle to unravel which ones are used at which level. The wheeled ARV depicted is based on the AEC Militant Mk 3.

80UK Sheet A

80UK Sheet B

80UK Sheet C

80UK Sheet D

80UK Sheet E

August 13, 2010

1980 US Armored Cavalry Squads, Regiments and Helicopters: Plenty of Cobras.

I’m a little inundated by the task of building American armies currently, and normally I publish sheets along with explanations of the same. But I’m into working on mechanized infantry and tank battalions and wanted to just publish the sheets for the cavalry and helicopters and come back with explanatory PDFs after the fact.

These sheets (with the exception of Sheet A version 2) have been prepared with Dan Fraser’s TO&E as amended by TO&Es found in the Yahoo TO&E page. The biggest issue with cavalry is the number of tanks simply didn’t fit. So we added a second unit of tanks per troop to make it work. There were only 6 M109s in the Yahoo TO&E, so only 1 battery of SP artillery, instead of 2.  M113s, whether 3 or 4 are being used, are being treated as the same. M113 ACAV’s (upgunned to 4 vehicles) are given as an option. Dragons on the main sheets are being treated as a reload. The unit that fires them should place the reload under the counter to  be used. The unit can use its own firepower and shoot the reload in the same turn. If you don’t like that, an implementation of Dragons as a section are given in the options sheet.

M60A3s are given as options, but the M60A3 often did not arrive at units until 1981 (and then, often in the TTS version). Stingers first became available in 1981. They are provided as reloads.

According to Sabot Dave, M113-TOWs didn’t appear in his unit until 1981. You can replace the M901s with M113 TOWs if you like. M113 TOWs were actually on the Yahoo TO&E, but I didn’t get that in my first read, or attempt at these sheets.

The Helicopter sheet shows a variety of Cobras, including the generic Cobra of AIW and more specific Cobra versions. My reading of the stats of the AIW Cobra are that it has a minigun and a single hardpoint with 17 HEAT rockets. It is firing these rockets singly, or perhaps in pairs. I’m saying this because the 20 mm varieties of Cobra weren’t available in 1976, and there is no other way to account for the 12 A 6 rating of the stock Cobra. There is no other way to explain, why, when the Cobra has 4 hardpoints mounting 2 TOWS each, that the stock Cobra is claimed to be able to add as many as 6 TOW missiles.

In the middle 1970s, Cobras were being upgraded to provide TOW missile capability. These conversions started roughly in 1976 and were finished in 1981 with the AH-1F Cobra. The AH-1G is the Cobra of Vietnam. It cannot mount TOW missiles. It can mount 2.75″ rockets, either HE or HEAT. It can mount 1 external machine gun, either 20mm or minigun (more causes vibration issues). It has 4 hard points, so 4 extras is the maximum it can have. This could be a M197, a set of HEAT missiles, and two sets of HE missiles. HEAT missiles never run out (a simplification, but in essence my interpretation of the 12 A 6 rating of AIW). HE missiles are fired once and the counter discarded.

For other varieties, the loads can be: AH-1S anything. AH-1P anything. AH-1E anything but 2.75″ rockets. AH-1F anything.

The loadout counters are to be placed under the Cobra/other helicopter to be used. Those of you that are clever can use the loadouts to customize UH-1 Hueys, if you wish. Just be sure to have historic justification for your experiments or your game mates might not be so impressed. The OH-58 can carry a single minigun, if desired.

The Sheet A v 2 was my first cut at Sabot Dave’s actual Cavalry unit in 1980. Consider this an ongoing experiment, where I’ll be posting more sheets as I know more.

Building Units:

To make a regiment, combine 3 copies of Sheet A or Sheet A version 2 with Sheet C. Sheet B contains options for Sheet A. Sheet D are helicopters, and hardpoint mounted arms that can be used to swap out or customize the generics on the Cav sheets.

Note: Sheet D has been updated with a range correction for the 7.62mm minigun. Corrected Sabot Dave sheet is US Sheet Av3.pdf

80USA Sheet A

80USA Sheet B

80USA Sheet C

80USA Sheet D

80USA Sheet Av2

80USA Sheet Av3

August 10, 2010

Early August Notes

On Saturday played two new games. The first was Conflict of Heroes, the second was Wings of War. The first seemed kind of neat, with game flow and control working in ways I hadn’t seen before. Its very luck driven, though, with good rolls and cards counting for a lot. The second was just plain fun.

I’m working on a 1980 era American unit, a Armored Cavalry Squadron. I’m in the late stages of development. Issues to resolve are: 1. M113 firepower. The stock M113 Zelda in AIW is 3 vehicles, 3 .50 cals, 3 .30 cals, and a rating of 5-I-6-5-8. So what would a standard set of 4 M113s be? It’s 4 instead of 3 as the American platoon of the time used 1 M113 per squad and 1 M113 as platoon HQ. And to add juice to the equation, what would 4 M113 ACAVs be ( 4 .50 cals, 8 .30 cals)?

One I have nailed down is the M106 mortar carrier.

This unit differs between Toshach miniatures depiction and Marco Valerio Bonelli’s depiction. Marco’s relies on the mortar in the M106 being the same as the WW II M2 4.2 inch mortar. Thing is, that mortar was replaced in the early fifties by the M30 4.2 inch mortar, which has 3 times the rate of fire as the M2. The M2 is a 10 M 15 2 0 unit in PL terms. The M30, as 4 mortars, would probably be 30 M 27 2 0 in PL terms. Conversion of big mortars from PL to AIW involves dividing by 2 and 2/3. So in AIW terms, a 4 mortar team would be rated 11 M 27 2 0. In the M106 units I’ll be fielding, there are only 3 vehicles and 3 mortars per unit, so you get 8 M 27 as the firepower.

Wow. Exactly what Toshach said. These kinds of results leaves me with a lot of respect for their expansion.

Other items up in the air are firepowers for various Cobra helicopters, the firepower of the OH-58A when armed with a 7.62 inch minigun. A lot of these issues revolve around the power of miniguns and machine guns. Carl Schwamberger says he wrote something about this a couple decades ago; items living from the beginning of the Internet period are easily lost in this day and age.

Oh yes, Byron Henderson has just published an enormous set of DYO documents for every unit on the IMSTRAT and Greg PB boards. It’s an impressive read, in sheer scope and extent. You can get some of it on Yahoo PB/PL, a sister group to Yahoo PB. It’s also complete up on the Consimworld thread.

August 2, 2010

The evolution of the M60A1/3 tank

This isn’t a horribly tank specific article as much as it is a game specific article, focusing on the things that would change the M60 tank as a counter, and those issues that would make the tank available to Western European forces. It tends to more modern history, as I’m not worried currently about scenarios between 1960 and 1962, for example.

To explain the gaming context, for those unfamiliar with the history of the Panzerblitz series of games, the first two, Panzerblitz and Panzer Leader, focused on World War II combat. The third, Arab Israeli Wars, focused on the wars of the Middle East. They published a counter for the M60A1, which has to be regarded as canonical for any stock AIW situation, with stats similar to this unit:

Now, some 3 decades later, we have Alan Arvold’s articles on how the four numbers were derived. The attack factor (upper left hand number) should be the penetration of the standard shell (APCBC in the case of World War II tanks) at 500 meters in mm, divided by a factor we’ll call X. The number in upper right is the range, in 250 meter hexes. Therefore, the range corresponds to 3500 meters. The range should correspond to the maximum effective range of the weapon. The number in the lower left is the defense factor, the heaviest frontal armor in mm, divided by X. The number in lower right is the movement factor, which comes from maximum road speed divided by 3 in Panzer Blitz and Panzer Leader, and 5 in the case of AIW.

Ok, how do we get X? It depends on the country of origin of the weapon and the size of the unit:

  1. For German and Western 5 tank platoons, we divide by 10.
  2. For Russian companies (10 tanks), we divide by 10.
  3. For Russian platoons (5 tanks), we divide by 20.

Now to me, it only makes sense to play Russian companies against Western platoons. Then it becomes straightforward to compare actual numbers and the game has an inherent imbalance between the sides that makes it interesting to play.  AIW, however, decided to use Russian platoons. This, to me, is an actual weakness of the AIW gaming system, but it’s nothing I can fix in the canonical version. The advantage of knowing these rules is it gives us all a way to create our own units from actual numbers.

How realistic are the numbers? Offhand, the range of 14, 3500 meters, seems excessive. To quote Scales in the book “Certain Victory” (1):

A World War II tank required an average of 17 rounds to kill another tank at a maximum range of approximately 700 meters. By 1973 tanks required only two rounds to kill at 1,800 meters.

I don’t see a lot of shooting at 3000 meters until Desert Storm, and the indications are (2) that even with a 120mm M1, engagements were supposed to start at 3000 meters. Second, the Chieftain, a 120mm tank with a much more powerful weapon and a better shell in 1972, is quoted by George Forty as having a range of 3200 meters (3). Third, actual accounts of the biggest tank battle of Desert Storm, 73 Easting (4), suggest that 3000+ yard engagements are still pretty good shooting, enough to brag about it, and what little I can gather from Doug MacGregor’s book on 73 Easting (5), most of the longest range killing was being done by TOW rockets on Bradleys.

That said, if the 105mm Centurion is going to be quoted as having a range of 12, or 3000 meters, then people who have followed AIW with their own custom counters, such as Marco Valerio Bonelli’s Panzerleader ’70, have tended to fix any tank with a 105mm L7 gun with a range of 3000 yards, or 12. Corrections beyond that are in the realm of weapons “range” charts (WECs in the PB vernacular).

By convention, therefore, my units will give the M60 a range of 12.

The armor ranking seems a little light to me. For one, the M60A1 had 250mm of turret armor at its thickest; certainly not reflected in its armor rating of 16. If you believe the Wikipedia’s quoted armor thickness is the glacis (can’t be the turret), the glacis plate was on the order of 150mm, but it was sloped. Data from Jake Collin’s website places the glacis plate of the M60 at an equivalent of 170-250 mm, and a digital representation of the M60 Phoenix project shows the same 230-240mm RHA equivalent front armor (6,7).

I’ve tended to the value of 23 for the defense of the M60A1 and A3.

Max road speed was 30 mph, so the movement of 6 is appropriate.

Firepower depends on the ammo being used. In a PB style game in WW II, the type of armor piercing shell specified is the APCBC shell. After about 1965, I think that using a APCBC shell badly misstates the firepower of the underlying weapon; in any event, the 125mm guns of the Soviets only had APFSDS and HEAT shells. In the absence of a single good paper source, I’ve tended to use Jake Collin’s data (6). That gives us:

Shell Year Type Penetration equivalent RHA approx. AF
M-392 1961 tungsten cap APDS 260 mm at 1 km 26
M-392A2 early 1970s APDS 260 mm at 1 km, 250mm at 1.5km, 225mm at 2km 26
M-728 mid 1970s tungsten APFSDS 320mm at muzzle, 280mm at 1km, 240mm at 2km 30
M-735 1978 tungsten APFSDS 330mm at 1km, 300mm at 2km 33-35
M-735A1 never deployed DU APFSDS 370mm at 1km, 350mm at 2km 37-38
M-774 1981 DU APFSDS 375mm at 2km 37-40
M-833 1984 DU APFSDS 440mm at 2km 44-47
M-900 1991 DU APFSDS 520mm at 2km 52-55

In terms of when versions were introduced, I’m much more interested in the period around 1980 because of my interest in developing opponents to my counter sets of 1980 Soviet regiments. Two tanks were introduced in this period. The M60A3 was introduced in 1978, and was beginning to be supplied to Europe by the middle of 1979.The M1 was introduced in 1980, but only 15 were produced in 1980 and 156 in 1981, not enough to equip major units(8,9). Now, the 1984 US Army Historical Summary makes it clear that only 748 of the original M60A3s were ever produced. Then the comments in the 1980 summary make sense. Production stopped from May to August 1980 to retool for the M60A30(TTS) version (10).By 1981, 1561 new M60A3 tanks had been produced of which 1,260 were delivered to Europe(11). That means a minimum of 512 M60A3(TTS) tanks were in the hands of NATO forces by the end of FY 1981. So 1980 scenarios could have M60A3s without the thermal sight, but by 1981, scenarios with M60A3(TTS) tanks are certainly viable.

So what would Panzerblitz M60A1 or A3 units, set up as representative of the best front line versions of their time, look like? Perhaps something like this:

Evolution of the M60

References

1. Scales, Robert H. “Certain Victory”, Brassey’s Books, 1994, pp 9-10.
2. “Vehicle Recognition Friendly Armor (Part 2) Lesson 1: Tank Identification”, US Army Correspondence Course, Infantry School IN0535, url: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/policy/army/accp/in0535/ch1.htm, accessed August 1, 2010.
3. Forty, George “Chieftain”, 1979, Charles Scribner’s Sons, p. 58
4. Bohannen, Richard M. “Dragon’s Roar: 1-37 Armor in the Battle of ’73 Easting”, Armor, May-June 1992, p. 14
5. MacGregor, Douglas, “Warrior’s Rage”, Naval Institute Press, 2007.
6. Collins, Jake, “Tank Protection Levels”, url: http://collinsj.tripod.com/protect.htm, accessed August 1, 2010
7.  “Modern armor internal arrays & what defeated them or might”, Battle Front forum, p 9. url: http://www.battlefront.com/community/showthread.php?p=1178337, accessed August 1, 2010
8. “Tank production during the Cold War in non-WP countries”, Tanknet forum. url: http://208.84.116.223/forums/index.php?showtopic=27821, accessed August 1, 2010
9. US Army Historical Summary, Fiscal Year 1984, pp 144-147. url: http://www.history.army.mil/books/DAHSUM/1984/ch05.htm#b9, accessed August 1, 2010
10. US Army Historical Summary, Fiscal Year 1980, p 190. url: http://www.history.army.mil/books/DAHSUM/1980/ch10.htm, accessed August 1, 2010
11. US Army Historical Summary, Fiscal Year 1981, pp 30-31. url: http://www.history.army.mil/books/DAHSUM/1981/ch03.htm, accessed August 1, 2010
12. “Development and History of the M-60 Tank”, Patton Mania, url: http://www.patton-mania.com/M60_Patton/m60_patton.html, accessed August 1, 2010
13. “The US M60 Patton Series”, Tank Nut Dave, url: http://www.tanknutdave.com/component/content/article/55, accessed August 1, 2010
14. “M60 Series Tank (Patton Series) Federation of American Scientists website. url: http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/land/m60.htm, accessed August 1, 2010

August 1, 2010

1980 Soviet Motor Rifle and Tank Regiments

Filed under: Counters,Games,Order of Battle,Tactical — foodnearsnellville @ 7:40 pm
Tags: ,

This is a version of the explanatory notes that I posted in the archive on Yahoo Panzerblitz. It describes the archive 1980_Soviet_Regiments.zip

Soviet motor rifle and tank regiments circa 1980

This effort was largely inspired by Viktor Suvorov’s book, “Inside the Soviet Union”, and is a representation, in Panzerblitz/AIW terms, of the motor rifle regiment described by Suvorov on pages 84 – 86 of the Berkeley Books paperback edition.

To note, his depiction creates a number of issues. For one, the automated mortars (the 2S9 Nona) he describes are not thought to be available until 1981, and were not seen by the West until 1985. Therefore, we have added these units as an option.

The Grad-P (BM-21) rocket launchers have not been extensively studied in the Panzerblitz context. They have the same explosive power as the 140mm rockets fired by the BM-14 of Arab Israeli Wars fame, but they have 40 rockets on the launcher as opposed to 12 or 17. So the firepower (AF) could be 21, as it is with the BM-14, or it could be 40/17 times greater. I’ve doubled the firepower of the BM-21 Grad P compared to the BM-14, but any value between 21 and 40/17*21 would be acceptable to me.

Dan Fraser’s TO&E (found in the Yahoo Groups Panzerblitz group file repository) is used to fill in the blanks. This document creates some issues as well. For one, Dan differs in the size of tank battalions (31 or 52, according to Suvorov. Dan’s tank battalions average 45 tanks plus a command tank counter). Very little has been written about ARVs available to the Soviets in 1980. I’ve picked one, created the image by looking at photographs and adding visual elements to a T-55 silhouette, sans turrent, until it resembled the pictures.

CP, Sig and OP counters and transport for these counters are provided for those who wish to use Dan Fraser style command and control variants.

The T-55s shown were upgunned to 1980 standards (3). They just had better AP shells in 1980 than they did in 1960. Otherwise this is a stock AIW T-55. Since the T-62 is not upgunned until a few years later, they have exactly the same stats on paper, and there is little to pick between the two of them at this moment in time.

On one sheet we have provided the T-55 (4) variant, a 4 tank T-55 platoon. This is because according to Steve Balagan, 4 tanks per company would accompany a motor rifle regiment assault. Both references 4 and 5 speak of motor rifle regiments having 2 BMPs per BMP battalion and having only one BMP battalion per regiment. This formation can now be assembled from Sheets E and F.

Heavier tanks (e.g. T-64s, T-72s, or T-80s) would be reserved for a division level independent tank battalion, according to Suvorov (Dan Fraser would call it an anti-tank battalion). Available at this time would be the base T-72 and T-80 and the T-64A (7). T-64s will be the most common “heavy” tank. The T-64B will come into service in 1981.

The number of BMPs presented on Sheet A per company is 3 counters, or 15 BMPs, More than one reference on BMP battalions suggests these brigades only had 10 BMPs per company, or 2 counters (4,5). Some of the company would fight dismounted. This layout is given on Sheet E.

The artillery on Sheet B is provided is as per Suvorov. Dan Fraser’s TO&E suggests the Grad-P’s are divisional assets and uses a pair of mortar counters (with transport) to replace the 3 2S1s and 1 Grad-P launchers (Sheet D and Sheet F). However, any number of Soviet assets formally assigned at one level tend to be distributed evenly at lower levels. You’ll see this repeatedly in references 1, 4 and 5.

Andy Johnson’s OOB (Reference 6), an OOB of real Soviet units circa 1988-1989, tends to support the notion that the Grad P was a divisional asset. You’ll also see, in reference 6, the use of D-30 122mm towed weapons at the regimental level. The 122mm howitzer in AIW is a reasonable representation of this weapon. You could replace the Suvorov style artillery battery at the regimental level with two 122mm howitzer counters and transportation.

SA-7s, for convenience, are managed at the battalion level as sections. RPG-7s are assumed to be mixed in with the infantry, and are treated as assets in the Panzerblitz context by the ability of infantry to direct fire on tanks and elevated attack factors while engaged in CAT.

Optional Units:

You can fill out the tank battalions provided by adding the 3 additional T-55s. You can replace the anti-air SA-7 sections with SA-14 sections, should you desire (SA-14 was introduced in 1976). You can replace the battalion level 120mm mortars and transportation with the 2S9 Nona self propelled mortars as well.

Filling out the tank battalion is useful in the game/scenario context because then you can have battles where each infantry company can have a tank resource for the attack. The use of the regimental tank battalion to supply a tank platoon per infantry company is detailed in reference 5.

Making regiments.

A pure BMP regiment, a la Suvorov, can be assembled from Sheets A and B. A pure BTR regiment can be assembled from Sheets C and D. Sheets E and F are my best representation of the BMP regiments described in  references 4 and 5, and have 4 tank T-55 platoons. Sheets G and H create a typical tank regiment; choose either 3 T-55 or 3 T-62 battalions from Sheet G to combine with Sheet H. Sheet I (could not be added to this archive, because of space) contains division level independent tank battalions, which will have 51 tanks, typically.

Archive Components

Sheet A

Sheet B

Sheet C

Sheet D

Sheet E

Sheet F

Sheet G

Sheet H

Sheet I

Soviet Regiments Circa 1980

References

1.Suvorov, Viktor, “Inside the Soviet Union”, 1982, Berkeley Press, pp 82-95.
2.Fraser, Dan, “The Advanced Panzer Blitz TO&E Book Version 10”, url: http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/panzerblitz/files/, accessed June, 2010.
3.Collins, Jack, “Tank Protection Levels”, url: http://collinsj.tripod.com/protect.htm, accessed July 27, 2010
4.“Cold War BMP or BTR Equipped Battalions”, March 10, 2010, url: http://soviethammer.devhub.com/blog/466945-cold-war-bmp-or-btr-equipped-soviet-battalions/, accessed July 26, 2010.
5.Balagan, Steven and Arad, Mures “Soviet Order of Battle and Doctrine”, url: http://balagan.org.uk/war/arab-israeli-wars/soviet.htm , accessed July 26, 2010.
6.Johnson, Andy, “Warsaw Pact Order of Battle – 1988”, url: http://orbat.com/site/history/historical/nato/warsawpact.html, accessed July 29, 2010.
7.Baryatinskiy, Mikhail “Main Battle Tank T-80”, 2007, Ian Allen Publishing, p 12.

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