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    Mission report - 'T-34 twosome - part 2'!

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    33lima
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    Mission report - 'T-34 twosome - part 2'!

    Post by 33lima on Mon Feb 23, 2015 11:43 pm

    The T-34-85 goes to war in 'Steel Fury - Kharkov 1942'!

    (from the original article on combatAce - part 1 is on the T-34/85 in WW2 Combat Tanks - T-34 vs Tiger and is http://combatace.com/topic/82852-red-storm-t-34-twosome/)



    Ok, so we've put the late-war version of this iconic Soviet tank through its paces in 'T-34 -vs- Tiger'. Now, it's the turn of 'Steel Fury'. The T-34-85 is one of many vehicles which SF '42's small but talented, active and dedicated modding community has given us, extending the sim beyond its focal year into 1944 and beyond. The tank itself doesn't have 3D interiors but no matter, it can be played just as well from the external, open hatch and gunsight/binoculars view.

    For this mission I'm also using a simple game file edit that increases fire effects, suggested by long-time tanksimmer Frinik. The mission is part of Mission Pack 1.1 and its full name is 'v.Chrenogostie, 26th June 1944y. 13:30 (T-34-85)'.

    And here's the mission briefing. It's one of many single missions that come with the packs available for use in the STA mod, download links and installation instructions being available on this site: http://stasf2008.eph...d-on-steel-fury



    My orders are rather short and doubtless lose something in the translation. But it's not hard to understand that it's June 1944 and my task is to prevent a breakout by encircled German forces. Specifically, I am to provide tank support for the defenders of a blocking position, around the village of Chernogostie.

    With the briefing panel removed, you can see more clearly the lie of the land and the disposition of the defenders (red). Our Red Army forces appear fairly well sited for all-round defence, though concentrating on arcs facing east, from two low hills on the eastern side of the village. Chernogostie itself seems to lie in a dip at a crossroads, surrounded by these low hills. The enemy is evidently expected to launch concentric attacks on our positions (blue arrows to the right; not sure what the arrow pointing north indicates - perhaps the German's next move?).



    There appear to be four tanks in my platoon (red diamonds), though when the mission started, only three seemed to accompany me; perhaps the fourth was just in the area by accident, or he fell away early on for some reason I didn't see. Anyway as usual while in the map screen, I selected the order to conform with my movements ('Do as I do') and chose line (abreast) formation.

    Still looking at the map, I made a quick Combat Appreciation, using an abbreviated format I was taught long ago.

    Aim - to destroy enemy forces attacking Chernogostie.

    Enemy - likely armour and infantry, headed from Chernogostie from points east, if our 'int' was to be believed.

    Ground - wooded and slightly undulating, with slightly higher ground in the centre-left at Chernogostie, and lower ground on the near left and the far right.

    Plan - right flank is rather too far away and likely facing stronger enemy attacks, so stay left and use cover - of the trees to my front, that little finger of higher ground I can see, and any folds in the ground - to move the platoon, by bounds, to fire positions on the left (north) of Chernogostie. From there, destroy enemy forces crossing the open ground to attack Chernogostie, starting with their right flank and working my way around in a clockwise direction. Take the German 'arrows' in the flank, one at a time, or even come in behind them.

    Would my plan work? I'd soon find out. I launched the mission, loaded AP and settled down in the gunner's station, while surveying my surroundings in the external view, relating them to what I could see on the map. Here we go!




    ...to be continued!
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    33lima
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    Re: Mission report - 'T-34 twosome - part 2'!

    Post by 33lima on Mon Feb 23, 2015 11:47 pm

    Za rodinu! Za Stalina!

    ('For the Motherland! For Stalin' - Red Army battle-cry, seen painted on tanks)

    Accompanied by two other T-34s, one either side, I rolled towards the copse of trees I'd seen on the map. I had planned to make that copse the limit of my first bound. In 'real life' the group of trees looked a bit sparse and the ground beyond seemed still clear of the enemy, so I kept on going, with Chernogostie hidden from me, apart from a few rooftops, by the low hill to our right.

    Listen in, now. I'm going to give you a reference point, to assist orientation as we move out on the next bound.

    'Reference point - three hundred - right - low, sparsely-wooded hill - will be known as Chernogostie Hill - seen?'



    Beyond the copse, I halted the platoon. Behind me, an SU-85 self-propelled gun trundled across our path, on a little mission of his own. I was covered to my right by Chernogostie Hill itself and half-right, by the spur of ground that sat out from this hill, where I'd planned to take up our second fire position.



    At this point, battle was joined, but not by us. Firing broke out on my right, with friendly forces in the area of the village exchanging direct fire with enemies who were still out of sight, around the other side of the rising ground to our right front.

    Skirting the trees on the edge of Chernogostie Hill, I moved off again, nervously. My plan was still to circle clockwise around the open ground surrounding Chernogostie, catching attacking enemy forces in the flank. With said enemy forces apaprently engaged with the village's defenders, this seemed to be a good time to catch them out.




    ...to be continued!
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    33lima
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    Re: Mission report - 'T-34 twosome - part 2'!

    Post by 33lima on Mon Feb 23, 2015 11:50 pm

    Into action!

    Edging forward and scanning ahead through my gunsight, all I could see at first were some dead Germans - sorry, I mean, dead fascists. The unit's Commissar doesn't like it unless we refer to the hated aggressors in terms more appropriate for any true son of our glorious proletarian revolution.



    More slowly now, I trundled forward, watching out for whatever might come into view as I circled around Chernogistie Hill. Shooting was still going on and I was getting increasingly anxious that I could still see nothing of the battle. But I didn't have to wait much longer! Into view came a Panther, no less, out in the open, at close range and side-on to us. This was exactly what I had in mind, when I'd made my little plan!



    Of course, I let him have it, right in his thin side armour, with the AP round I had 'up the spout'. I even took the trouble to aim at the side of his turret, intending to kill the turret crew and score a quick victory. A cloud of muck rose and a shower of sparks flew, as my round whacked into him.



    In fact I put a couple of rounds into him, joined by one of my other tanks. The Panther took no action so I judged that we had got him; realistically, in SF '42, there are no Hollywood fireballs to let you know a tank is dead.

    So far, so good!


    ...to be continued!
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    33lima
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    Re: Mission report - 'T-34 twosome - part 2'!

    Post by 33lima on Tue Feb 24, 2015 12:01 am

    Into Chernogostie!

    No sooner had we put a few rounds into the Panther, than I noticed through the gunsight the grey shape of a Panzer IV, driving into a hull-down position to the left. I quickly laid my gun onto him and started shooting. After a couple of rounds, there was no reaction. At that range, I was confident of the ability of my 85mm AP rounds to have inflicted the damage the Panzer's inaction suggested that he'd suffered.



    I ceased fire, scanned left and right, then moved on. T-34 275 had edged slightly ahead of me, looking most businesslike when he loomed in my gunsight as I scanned. Soviet tankers generally seem to have fought buttoned up so like me, his tank commander had left his hatches firmly shut.



    I pressed on with my circuit to the right, hoping now to catch the attacking Germans in the rear. Nearing the Panther, I put another round into him, just to be sure. This time, the results left no room for doubt.

    http://combatace.com/uploads/monthly_05_2014/post-66801-0-95761600-1401474324.jpg

    There was still some shooting going on and also above the noise of my tank, I now heard the drone of aero engines. I was relieved to see that the source was a pair of aircraft which I quickly identified as friendly, IL-2 Sturmoviks no less. As I watched, they made firing passes in shallow dives, aiming at targets somewhere over to my right. It was beginning to look like the German attacks had all gone in very quickly, taking them right up to Chernogostie while I was busy carrying out my planned wheeling movement, around the low ground on its outskirts. I had evidently caught some of the stragglers. If I didn't get cracking, the flyboys would catch the rest of them, it seemed.



    Pressing on, I next came upon a hull-down enemy half-track, the other side of the same big ploughed field as the Panther. I lobbed an AP round onto him but he was almost certainly already dead. By this time the Panther was blazing merrily.

    http://combatace.com/uploads/monthly_05_2014/post-66801-0-00869700-1401474586.jpg



    More dead fascist troops littered the fields. Together with the knocked-out vehicles and the lack of any other targets, this tended to confirm that my arrival had been a tad late. Apart from a few hangars-on, the party seemed to be over.



    Moving on, I edged nearer to Chernogostie, where several fires were burning brightly. Were they friendlies? Or enemies who had penetrated the defences? Hard to say. If our positions had been over-run while I'd been moving into position...not good!



    At last, as per my original plan, I finally came upon the rear of one of the German attacking formations…or rather, what was left of it.



    The Panzer IV sitting perched just short of the crest, next to a battered pillbox, seemed to be immobilised but looked undamaged, so I put a round into him, aiming at the top of his turret. At this range I reckoned one such well-placed shot would be enough; if he wasn't already dead, he would be, after that.



    Incidentally, while German vehicles and suchlike kit switched from 'panzer grey' to dark yellow in early 1942, and the NTA mod replaces many grey schemes with 'transitional' ones so they suit both mid- and late-war periods, this tank is still grey. I think that's because I have forgotten to turn off a further mod ('Return of Panzergrau' does what it says on the tin). As for the tank itself, by this stage in the war Panzer IVs should have 'schurtzen' skirt armour, at least around their turrets. Likely, this one doesn't because the mission was made before SF '42 acquired a late-war Panzer IV, like this one:



    You can't be too careful with these Fritzes, though. Whatever the Commissar says about their nefarious ways, we all know that they didn't get to be masters of large swathes of Europe and Mother Russia by being bad soldiers. On we rolled. Carefully.



    Apart from the dead infantry, the open ground in front of Chernogostie was clear. So I tightened up my wheeling movement and headed up a little gully which ran between two of the low hills which ringed Chernogostie. 'Drive as the water flows' is an old tanker's motto, apparently. Stay low; keep off the high ground, and in particular, avoid skylining yourself. Makes sense, no?





    By this time I had lost track of the T-34 on my right, number 274. One moment he was there; a little while later, no sign. The remaining tank, trusty old 275, was still on my left. I should perhaps have ordered him into line astern before heading up the gully. But he was just below the crest so I left it at that. We were roughly in echelon left and that would give us a decent arc of fire to the front, better than if he'd been right behind me and I was masking his frontal arc.



    On we went, with the rattle of MG fire and the occasional tank or anti-tank round being the only remaining signs of battle. The Sturmoviks were still droning around but no longer attacking and the Germans seemed to have come and gone, too. This seemed confirmed, when I got the 'Mission completed!' message. We'd won!



    I opted to play on, feeling that our ever-watchful Commissar might have something to say about my socialist credentials, if not also my military ardour, in view of the rather limited part I had played in this, our glorious victory.

    To my complete surprise an SdKfz 250 light armoured half-track suddenly rattled right past me, coming from somewhere behind us. By the time I had picked him up in the gunsight, he had turned sharp right up the bank, as if to escape over the crest, only to be clobbered by my other T-34.



    Recovering my composure, I rattled on. Slowing down, I rolled into the village of Chernogostie, halted, and scanned cautiously left and right. Some German armour was burning on either side but the place seemed deserted. I moved on a little further, then stopped and scanned again. There were still some ragged, intermittent bursts of MG fire from somewhere up on the high ground to my right, but that was it.





    I knew from the map that most of our defensive positions were up there, on top of the little hillock to my right, from where the firing came, with some more on two other similar hillocks. Now what?




    ...to be continued!
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    33lima
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    Re: Mission report - 'T-34 twosome - part 2'!

    Post by 33lima on Tue Feb 24, 2015 12:08 am

    Dasvidanya, Tovarich Commissar!



    I guessed that since MG fire was all I could now hear, then there was likely no heavy armour about. This sounded like it was now an infantry versus infantry affair! So, I would just mosey on up there, see who was shooting whom, and join in with my big, bad tank, quickly settling matters in favour of the Red Army of Peasants and Workers. I turned right and diagonally climbed the hill.



    I hoped that I'd be able to see what the score was, before rolling up onto the top of the hill and possibly skylining myself. But it was an unusual shape, with low but fairly steep sides which quite sharply levelled off, onto a sort of plateau. Nothing else for it, but to go 'over the top'.

    Which is what I did. There wasn't much to see. But I did locate the source of the firing. It was a single machine gun, a Soviet one, it must have been. He was firing out across the open country beyond the little ring of hills around Chernogostie. A quick look around showed that there were no intact enemies lurking nearby. So all I had to do now was locate the gun's target and knock it out for him. Then off to see the CO and the Commissar; perhaps this time I'd get that nomination for the Order of Lenin, or better still, a ration of some decent vodka for me and the boys to celebrate our success. At least, that was the plan.



    Alas, as the great Scots poet Robbie Burns put it - or would have put it, had he been a tankie - the best laid plans of mice, men and tank commanders gang aft awry. My own plan's rapid demise was signaled by a noisy hit on the front of my tank, followed by a second one, at which my poor T-34 brewed up.



    All I had noticed was that the rounds that hit me seemed to have come from some distance away, across the low ground, possibly from whence I came, as if a crafty fascist had been stalking us, while we staked his comrades. Consoling myself with the thought that we had won the battle, I used the SF '42 battlefield review facility to find out who had laid us low, and generally 'have a nosey' around the battlefield.

    This was the culprit. A Tiger, no less. The Soviet MG had been rattling off some long-range bursts at him, it seemed, but he had disdained to fire back until he had something better to shoot at...me.



    Tabbing around, our defending forces had taken casualties, but many were still in place. Evidently, the enemy onslaught had been stoutly resisted.











    The Germans had definitely come off worst, though. The terrain around Chernogostie was littered with knocked out armour. It was quite a mixture; Panthers, two types of Jagdpanzer (Marder II and Hetzer) and at least one Sturmgeschutz. There was also a small convoy of Opel Blitz trucks, who had paid the ultimate price for trying to break out in the middle of a serious armour/infantry firefight.













    As for my own platoon, T-34 275 had survived, evidently in dead ground to the Tiger, who seemed to be the only surviving German vehicle and either unable or unwilling to close with the surviving defenders.



    Tank 274 - the one that had fallen behind, before we had turned in towards Chernogostie - had been burned. The position of his turret suggested that he had been caught from behind. Had he perhaps been stalked by the Tiger, and died defending our rear? It seemed possible.



    There were some other T-34s on the battlefield, 76mm-gunned versions. They, too, had not fared well.



    So it had been a rather bloody affair, all round. As a mission, I had found it quite realistic, tense and fun, with lots of activity, even if I didn't see much of some of it. SF '42 missions often get off to a fast start but having presented me with the scope to make a nice little tactical appreciation at the outset, I would have preferred if this one had delayed the German attacks a little, to give me more time to play out the battle tactically. Make a more active contribution without having to cast caution to the winds. As in that other old Scots saying, no man hastens to a market where there is nothing to be bought but blows. Great stuff, though, even if I escaped my reckoning with the Commissar the hard way!
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    Re: Mission report - 'T-34 twosome - part 2'!

    Post by Atlantis_Risen on Sun May 24, 2015 6:04 pm

    Great read, thanks! I was curious though, what is the "simple game file edit that increases fire effects, suggested by long-time tanksimmer Frinik"...??
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    33lima
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    Re: Mission report - 'T-34 twosome - part 2'!

    Post by 33lima on Sun May 24, 2015 8:38 pm

    Thanks! This is Frinik's post about tweaking the fire effects:

    http://graviteam.com/forum/index.php?topic=9688.0
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    Re: Mission report - 'T-34 twosome - part 2'!

    Post by Atlantis_Risen on Sun May 24, 2015 9:50 pm

    33lima wrote:Thanks! This is Frinik's post about tweaking the fire effects:

    graviteam.com/forum/index.php?topic=9688.0

    Thanks!  I appreciate it.
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    33lima
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    Re: Mission report - 'T-34 twosome - part 2'!

    Post by 33lima on Sun May 24, 2015 11:20 pm

    I like your avatar. But it is mirror image, the wrong way around!

    If you have Robert Boscawen's book 'Armoured Guardsmen' you will know that the author is the tank commander in the photo and the story behind it. The photo was taken at Christmas 1944 at Namur on the River Meuse. Boscawen, who was then a Troop Leader in the Coldstream Guards, Guards Armoured Division, explains, 'Back at the Hotel I saw more trouble from the window. Down the street an American was being marched up to me by one of the Guardsmen. An official photographer from Cincinnati, he wanted to make a picture of the 'Lootenant' [Boscawen] and crew sitting on a tank. So out and posed for him with Sergeant Bastone's crew on the Firelfy with the river behind, "Lootenant Boscawen of Truro, England and crew defending the Meuse against crack Panzers", he would call it, he said.'
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    Atlantis_Risen

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    Re: Mission report - 'T-34 twosome - part 2'!

    Post by Atlantis_Risen on Sun May 24, 2015 11:47 pm

    33lima wrote:I like your avatar. But it is mirror image, the wrong way around!

    If you have Robert Boscawen's book 'Armoured Guardsmen' you will know that the author is the tank commander in the photo and the story behind it. The photo was taken at Christmas 1944 at Namur on the River Meuse. Boscawen, who was then a Troop Leader in the Coldstream Guards, Guards Armoured Division, explains, 'Back at the Hotel I saw more trouble from the window. Down the street an American was being marched up to me by one of the Guardsmen. An official photographer from Cincinnati, he wanted to make a picture of the 'Lootenant' [Boscawen] and crew sitting on a tank. So out and posed for him with Sergeant Bastone's crew on the Firelfy with the river behind, "Lootenant Boscawen of Truro, England and crew defending the Meuse against crack Panzers", he would call it, he said.'

    Thanks! I actually reversed the image myself, because I thought it would be more asthetically pleasing to have the tank facing right, towards the posts. Very Happy
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    Re: Mission report - 'T-34 twosome - part 2'!

    Post by kapulA on Mon May 25, 2015 1:39 am

    Hahah, maybe I ought to reverse mine as well Laughing

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    Re: Mission report - 'T-34 twosome - part 2'!

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