This happened : AP137 Fear Naught Turn 3 of 6.5 (AAR)

AP137-003-Brits Jan 04 01 copy

AP137 Fear Naught Turn 3 of 6.5

German Turn

  • Panther G slid over into the view of my Churchill (where the 8-0 and “Motion” counter is) and stopped, spending only 2 MP in my LOS.
  • Panther G TK23 vs Churchill’s front AF14
  • Churchill crew woke up! Popped Smoke Mortar – got it. Rolled for Motion .. got that too!! Spun the tank around, ready to leave in my turn coming up.

My Turn

  • Moved a squad into the house next to the Panther, survived the vehicle MG shots.
  • Ran the 457 to the front of the Panther, the Panther shot and malf’d its MA!!
  • The panicking Churchill saw what happened, turned back around, went into bypass next to the Panther G. Rolled for ESB to stop (‘cause bogging will stop me anyway).
  • The other Churchill in Q1 went into position up on Level 0.

My Advancing Fire

  • Churchill in bypass shot and HIT! TK14 vs AF6. DUD!!!
  • Churchill on Level 0 shot, NO HIT!

Advance & CC Phase

  • Both squads passed PAATC.
  • First one went in with a Streetfight bonus, NO KILL!!
  • POW!! The German snooglewoofer got stuck!! We live!
  • Second squad attacked, NO KILL!!

FOUR ATTEMPTS AND NO KILL!!

German Turn

The dang Panther turned around.

  • Churchill in bypass went for DI shot, need a 7, NO HIT!
  • Churchill up top went for a DI shot, NO HIT!
  • Piat went for a DI shot, NO HIT!

Meanwhile 2 German snakes + a 4 on a DC toss vaporized 3 British squads and a 9-1 …

… and it’s only the fourth day of the year ..

The game’s fantastic, my opponents divine

caleb-jones-Nj0mCM6nikI-unsplash

Photo by Caleb Jones on Unsplash

In 2019 I completed 25 games :

  • Playtest 7
  • Win 7
  • Lost 11
  • PBeM 6
  • Live VASL 19
  • Carrying 9 games to 2020
  • Played 13 opponents (incl games carrying over to 2020 & games dropped/on hold)
  • 50% of my games are played with of my 2 opponents

I want to play more scenarios from Dispatches from the Bunker & Friendly Fire, which I achieved.  I want to try Carl Nogueira & David Lamb’s Dien Bien Phu, I did 2.  I want to try scenarios from Time on Target, I did 1.

In 2020 I’d like to continue playing through :

  • Dispatches from the Bunker
  • Friendly Fire
  • LFT14 Italians
  • Action Pack 14
  • Complete a play thru of BFP Operation Cobra
  • Get started with the Forgotten War (Korea)

I’d also like to eat right & to sleep tight so as to stay healthy for as long as possible so that I can play as much of my scenarios as possible. I wish the same of my opponents.

The game’s fantastic, my opponents divine. It’s a real privilege to be in touch with all of these gents regularly through the year. I love the weekly chats and I love getting emails that are not newsletters, alerts or bills.

I should also mention the designers I work with, I learn sooooo much from them. Good Lord, are they knowledgeable!

I wish you and yours the absolute best.

Katz: Designer’s Response to the Desperation Morale Review of Forgotten War

Kenneth Katz is a member of the designer team for MMP’s groundbreaking Korean module – Forgotten War.  This is Ken’s response to Mark Pitcavage’s extensive critique of MMP’s Korean module – Forgotten War.  I find it so interesting by its own right that I asked Ken’s for his permission for HKWG to carry it.  While you can certainly read Mark’s critique first, I am sure you will get a lot out of this even if you read it as a “standalone”.  I certainly did.  These two learned gentlemen certainly make our ASL lives richer with their exchange.

ThumbnailOn behalf of the Forgotten War design team, I want to respond to Mark Pitcavage’s recent review of that module on his highly regarded ASL website Desperation Morale. Obviously, we have a protective attitude towards Forgotten War. Its development dominated much of our free time over the years (for some over 18 years!) and Mark’s critical review is less than pleasing to us as a team. However much we disagree with elements of the review, we want to commend Mark for his thorough critique.

The Forgotten War core design team consisted of Mike Reed, Ken Katz, Paul Works, Andy Hershey, and Pete Dahlin. Each brought a very strong skill set to the team and our differing styles and capabilities meshed well. The Forgotten War extended team included approximately thirty additional participants from across the globe; all such participants were included in the Korean War ASL Yahoo Group and had access to all development material, to include the rules. Any intimation (or direct statement) that development was done in isolation is false.

Mark’s discussion of the history of the product is generally correct up to a point but does not accurately describe the relationship between Forgotten War and the Kinetic Energy ASL module which was never published. It is true that one of the co-designers, Mike Reed, worked with Mark Neukom on the Kinetic Energy design and we are certain that earlier work influenced Mike’s contributions to Forgotten War. Personally, my only connection with the Kinetic Energy design was a 5-minute glance at it. The major design elements of Forgotten War, including Steep Hills and the CPVA rules that we created, did not come from Kinetic Energy. This is true for all the other core Forgotten War team members as well. Furthermore, the Kinetic Energy style did not mesh well with MMP’s vision for ASL, so a new design was necessary since a primary of objective of this project was to design a product that would become “official.” MMP put the product under contract in 2011. It then waited in MMP’s development queue for several years, with intensive work resuming around 2015 and publication in late 2017.

Steep Hills and Semi-Geomorphic Mapboards 80-83:

Korean terrain had a tremendous influence on the conduct of the Korean War. Through research, it became apparent that the existing variety of ASL terrain types did not represent the tactical effects of much militarily significant Korean terrain. The result was the Steep Hills rules (W1.3), which could be described in a nutshell as doing to Hills what the Dense Jungle terrain does to Woods. The essential requirements of Steep Hills were to deny off-road movement for vehicles, burden infantry movement particularly by heavily laden troops, and provide some protection because the terrain is broken. Note that such terrain is not unique to Korea. Terrain with such characteristics can be found in places as diverse as Afghanistan, Italy and Israel. The use of Steep Hills terrain puts a premium on infantry and greatly restricts the use of heavier support weapons and vehicles, which is accurate for many Korean War battles. The mapboards not only represent the hills and valleys which were the sites of many Korea War valleys, but the topography of those mapboards combined with the Steep Hills rules mean that there are ample opportunities for an attacker to infiltrate and withdraw while being protected from enemy fire. Using Forgotten War boards and Steep Hills terrain, a defender cannot just sit on peaks with a MG and sweep the hill clean of attackers, and that was very much the intent. Taken as a whole, the rules and mapboards provide the “design for effect” that was intended and reflected the team’s research.

Chinese People’s Volunteer Army (CPVA):

Probably Mark’s most serious objection to the Forgotten War design is the CPVA. Before addressing the finer points of the CPVA rules (W7), we should preface our responses with several “big picture” points. The CPVA was a major combatant that fought in distinctive ways that deserves distinctive nationality characteristics. All nationality characteristics are exaggerated stereotypes, but that does not mean that they don’t have a significant element of truth. The best way to appreciate the CPVA in Forgotten War is not to focus on each rule but to see how the totality of the CPVA rules, the scenario orders of battle, and the scenario victory conditions combine to incentivize the CPVA player to fight the CPVA in accordance with its distinctive doctrine and tactics. The portrayal of the CPVA in Forgotten War was based on extensive research that utilized a wide range of sources. These included numerous historical books/narratives by Western (U.S., British, Canadian, French, Belgian, etc.) authors using multiple original sources; U.S. Army historical documents, to include multiple, previously-classified documents; U.S. Army operations research books/documents that included analyses of operations and interviews with CPVA personnel; South Korean historical documentation; and multiple books by Chinese authors. The CPVA’s representation was available to the entire, extended Forgotten War team. Scenarios and Chapter H content were informed by a Chinese-speaking team member that had access to additional Chinese-language source material.

The intent of the portrayal of the CPVA in Forgotten War was to represent several characteristics of that force: its mass, its willingness to tolerate very high casualties, the primitive nature of its communications and logistics, and its tactical doctrine which emphasise closing with the enemy. The latter both leveraged the strengths of the force and reduced the ability of its enemy to use its superior artillery and airpower. In the interests of brevity, we won’t take a deep dive into every rule, but we believe that to those who understand the CPVA and the CPVA rules in Forgotten War, the logic behind the rules makes sense. Needless to say, far from denigrating the CPVA, the Forgotten War rules and scenarios in combination show the CPVA to be a formidable foe.

CPVA Step Reduction:

The following represent the primary reasoning elements we used to select Step Reduction (W7.21) to represent the CPVA. Taken individually they are evidential and indicatory. Taken as a whole, and leveraging existing ASL rules constructs, Step Reduction was the answer.

  1. Prisoner ratio. Using estimated casualty numbers, we have the following historical percent-of-casualties data (i.e., these percentages show the percent of total casualties that prisoners represented): Allies WW2 (Pacific Theater) 24%; Japanese WW2 2.2%; CPVA KW 2.8%. Although more than moderately suggestive, these estimates do not address a number of related considerations (such as the huge number of Chinese troops freezing to death vice being combat casualties).
  2. Numerous personal narratives from KW participants about CPVA troops weathering huge amounts of firepower and still coming. Sort of like being berserk in ASL, except they were not berserk and could change what they were doing when commanded to do so (i.e., they did not just always charge right toward the nearest enemy).
  3. Accounts of many CPVA soldiers, who would begin a charge/human wave (HW) unarmed, picking up the weapons of their dead/wounded comrades and continuing forward. Some similar accounts appear in descriptions of Russian HWs (in Stalingrad, for example); in the CPVA case, however, the descriptions do not describe large numbers of Chinese troops breaking. Going to ground and melting away, yes. Large groups of them breaking and running away (like what can result in a standard ASL HW), no.
  4. The political indoctrination and presence of POs in even the smallest units had a major impact on how the CPVA troops behaved. They were more motivated by such indoctrination than typical Russian troops and were motivated as such to continue on in the face of significant casualties.
  5. Step Reduction is an existing ASL rule that will be familiar to most intermediate- and advanced-level ASL players.

Initial Intervention:

CPVA Initial Intervention squads represent troops armed with weapons obtained from the Nationalists (GMD) and the Imperial Japanese Army. The Soviet-Armed squads represent troops armed with Soviet weapons, primarily “burp guns,” which is what Americans called the Soviet-supplied PPSh submachine gun and its Chinese-manufactured version Type-50. The dates given in W7.12 and W7.13 are a simplification; the Soviet-Armed squads will not be available before April 1951, but the Initial Intervention squads obviously do not all instantly disappear or rearm after that date.

The CPVA that intervened in late 1950 in Korea lacked any significant amount of radios and motor transport. In general, CPVA troops on the front line during that period suffered terribly from cold, hunger, and lack of ammunition, the latter being exacerbated by the wide range of ammunition types used by the variety of weapons in the CPVA arsenal. That primitive and deficient CPVA communications and logistics generally caused the effects portrayed in W7.11 is no surprise. Nor is the absence of OBA during that time period surprising, given that artillery is particularly dependent on good communications and ammunition supplies. Of course, a scenario designer can add an SSR when these generalisations did not apply.

Leadership:

The CPVA leadership model in Forgotten War (W7.3) is not a slight against the quality of CPVA leadership any more than similar leadership models are intended to denigrate Finnish and Japanese leadership. Again, look at the big picture rather than each element of the module in isolation. The leadership model that was chosen by the designers works well with the rest of the rules for the CPVA.

CPVA AFVs:

Later in the war, the CPVA did have a significant armored force in Korea. However, the only evidence of which we aware that claims this force (as opposed to the odd captured UN AFV being used) was actually engaged in combat with UN forces is traceable to one Chinese claim. We discovered no American after-action reports that describe losses to American armor caused by Chinese AFVs (one suggestive original source claims that Chinese tank guns were firing at U.S. troops; but after care examination of related sources, it is appears these “high-velocity rounds” were from direct-fire artillery). It’s axiomatic in military history that measures of one’s own losses are usually more reliable than claims of losses inflicted on the enemy. We disagree with Mark that including counters for vehicles that were present in theater but never saw combat is a good use of a finite number of countersheet spaces. If a scenario designer chooses to portray CPVA armor in a scenario, he can use Russian T-34/85, JS-2 and SU-76M counters. In addition, MMP informed us that if a counter did not see action it does not go in the box.

CPVA AA Guns:

As the war progressed, the CPVA became well equipped with AA guns. Such AA guns rarely were present in the front line within the scope of a typical ASL scenario. If a scenario designer chooses to portray CPVA AA guns in a scenario, he can use Russian 37mm and 85mm AA guns. Again, finite countersheets forced choices.

Night Rules:

It is true that Forgotten War has a lot of night scenarios for the simple fact that the Korean War had a lot of night actions. The US Army today likes to say that “We Own the Night” because of its excellent technology and proficient use of that technology. But during the Korean War, that technology did not exist and the Communist enemy preferred to fight at night because it tended to negate American advantages in artillery and airpower. Mark does not like the current night rules in E1 and laments that the Night rules were not revised in Forgotten War. But there is an unwritten but very real policy in “official” ASL that new additions to the ASL system must be backwards compatible with the existing system, including counters, rules, and scenarios. Making general ASL changes was simply outside the scope of Forgotten War.

Searchlight Combat:

Searchlight operations played a major part in the later stages of the Korean War. As mentioned previously, the CPVA used massed night attacks to mitigate American firepower and were very effective. The longest retreat in U.S. military history (U.S. Eighth Army in late 1950) was a direct result of effective CPVA manoeuvre and envelopment…at night. Searchlights took that advantage away from the Chinese.

Our research uncovered that searchlight tactics used against the Chinese were so effective that searchlight-equipped M46 and Centurion tanks became primary artillery targets, especially during the Battles for the Hook. Hide and seek tactics were developed. Tanks operating in pairs or groups. Shutters that could be opened and closed very quickly to minimize highlighting/silhouetting. We worked very hard to replicate these tactics in the rules. Searchlights are certainly chrome. That said, leaving them out or oversimplifying them would have been neglected a tactically significant aspect of the Korean War.

Two-Tone Counters:

Mark doesn’t like two-tone counters. De gustibus non est disputandum (“In matters of taste, there can be no disputes”), but we have been around the ASL community for 25 years and have never been aware of a significant group of players who don’t like two-tone counters (as opposed to the vocal opponents of overlays and terrain altering SSRs). The problem is that the sorts of colors that suit ASL counters (various shades of brown, tan, green, blue, and gray) are already taken, unless you want to either use minor and nearly indistinguishable variations of shade (which some find difficult to see) or use colors which just don’t seem to fit the game. Lavender counters, anybody? Furthermore, the use of two-tone counters has other advantages. ROK and Other United Nations Command forces were equipped by the US. Since their counters have a green border like American counters, they easily can use American SW, Guns, and Vehicles. The CPVA counters have a brown border like Russian and GMD counters, and they can easily use both Russian and GMD SW, Guns and Vehicles. In fact, MMP requires designers to fit their numbers of counters within a finite number of countersheets, and two-tone counters for some nationalities reduces the requirements for counters.

Small Forces: Rangers, American Paratroopers, Royal Marine Commandos, and Korean Marines:

Rangers, American Paratroopers, Royal Marine Commandos, and Korean Marines are unabashed chrome. These all were interesting forces that can be represented with very little rules overhead. Mark doesn’t seem to like this kind of chrome. The Forgotten Wars designers disagree. Judging by the plethora of obscure yet fascinating things in the system, so do most ASL players. Rangers and Royal Marine Commandos were true elite special operations troops, and their capability in Forgotten War are indicative of their training. The 7-4-7 American paratroop squads in World War II imply that those troops had a high percentage of submachine gun-armed soldiers. American paratroopers in the Korean War were armed with the M1 Garand rifle and not many submachine guns, hence the 6-6-7 value.

Rules Pertaining to Bayonet Charges and VT Fuzes:

Bayonet Charges were in fact occasionally used by UN forces in the Korean War. The inclusion of the rule in Forgotten War is simple and appropriate. Variable Time (VT) Fuzes for field artillery were first used by the U.S. Army in the Battle of the Bulge. They had an important effect on that battle and were very valuable in Korea when defending fortified positions against massed infantry attacks. Again, the rule in Forgotten War is simple and appropriate.

Rules Pertaining to HEAT and Bazookas:

The ASL armor penetration rules (C7) are fundamentally flawed and unrealistic in that they significantly misrepresent the actual interaction between ammunition and vehicle targets. Unfortunately, it is wildly impractical to do a wholesale overhaul of those rules, given the imperative of “backwards compatibility” and to maintain relative simplicity (if anyone has ever played the fun but very-detailed Tractics they know the issue). But the Forgotten War designers had a problem. The BAZ45, which equipped US Army and ROK troops in 1950, is somewhat effective against the T-34/85 in ASL. However, in 1950 Korea, the M9A1 launcher and M6A3 rocket which are represented by the BAZ45 counter were notoriously ineffective against that target. This is not an issue of chrome. The difference between ASL and historical performance greatly affected certain scenarios and had a real-life tactical impact. As a result, the Forgotten War designers chose to use rules W.8 and W.8A to model this important effect while avoiding an undesirable revision to C7.

Errata:

Players will observe that the astonishingly small amount of errata for Forgotten War is a testament to the combined efforts of the designers, the playtesters, and MMP.

In Conclusion:

The designers of Forgotten War remain confident that they have created an accurate, playable, and high-quality portrayal of ground tactical combat in the Korean War that fits well in the ASL system.

Kenneth Katz

Listen to Kenneth Katz’s interview on the 2HalfSquads: Episode 187 Kool Katz in Korea

Paul Weir : Did the 1st SS at The Battle of the Bulge have any Tiger Is?

One of the rockstars in the GameSquad ASL forums is the resident armor super-genius human Chapter H, Mr. Paul M. Weir. Mr. Weir has gratefully allowed the publication of his posts here.

pzvibThe Tiger II that accompanied 1SS belonged to 101/501 SS sPz Abt (heavy tank detachment). 101st got renumbered to 501st about Sept. ’44. 501st was a corps level unit (1ss Pz Korps), though originally built around the former 13th sPz Komp of 1SS Pz Rgt (1SS Pz Div). At full strength 501 had a HQ of 3 Tiger II and 3 14 Tiger II companies for a total of 45. At the start of Wacht am Rhein only 30 of the 45 took part in the initial offensive, the remaining 15 arrived after Peiper’s drive had long died, due to transport difficulties.

1SS had a Pz Regt with 2 Abteilungen (detachments/battalions). The 1st Abt should have had 76 Panthers and the 2nd 76 or 96 Pz IV with 3 Panthers and 5 Pz IV in Regt HQ. The Germans were only able to scrape up close to 37 Panthers and 34 Pz IV. That was sufficient for an Abt HQ (3 Panthers) and 2 each 2 companies of 17 Panther/Pz IV respectively. I can’t be arsed to check but I think it was 1st & 2nd (Pz IV) and 6th & 7th (Panther) that made up 1 Pz Abt. So they only had a single Abt’s worth of their own tanks and were loaned 501 SS SPz Abt to stand in for the missing 2 Pz Abt. 1SS Pz Div also had 21 Pz IV/70 aka JgPz IV L/70 but no StuGs, Marders, Wespes or Hummels. They did have SP 7.5cm (SdKfz 251/9) and 15cm sIG 33 on SdKfz 138/1 Grille.

pzvie1SS did get issued a company’s worth of Tiger I early in ’43, I think just during/after 3rd Kharkov. These were used through Kursk and until 1SS got sent home and rebuilding. The genesis of 101 SS sPz dates to the removal of 1SS, for West rebuilding, diverted to Italy. The 3 SS Pz divisions each had a Tiger I company but as 1SS and 2SS were withdrawn 3SS Totenkopf was the only one to retain Tiger I. Totenkopf and the Heer’s Grossdeutchland were the only divisions to finish the war with any type of Tigers and also both Tiger I not II. So 1SS had not had any Tiger on the books by the end of ’43. The SS Tiger I in Normandy belonged to 101 sPz SS Abt and 102 SS sPz Abt.

The only Tiger Is that I can think in WaR of belonged to sPz 301 (Fkl) which had 31 rebuilt Tiger I acting as command vehicles for RC demolition vehicles (Bogward IV) and that was a Heer (army) unit.

So 1SS only had the loan of Tiger II in 501 SS sPz Abt and had had no Tiger I since leaving Russia.

Were there any ‘Ferdinand’ TDs in the battle, at Bastogne, with Peiper, or at St. Vith? What TD or AG or SP, which looks most like a Ferdinand TD, was deployed with the VG divisions?

While I can’t recall the details, I’m fairly certain that KG Peiper was doomed by the time the last 15 arrived. With the demise of KGP, the 501 SS sPz Abt was in need of rebuilding. After the dregs of KGP escaped the 1SS withdrew for reorganisation and eventually reappeared near Bastogne. By that time 501 SS sPz Abt was no longer rigidly attached to 1SS and had reverted to being a corps unit, though obviously strongly associated with 1SS. So post KGP time would have been spent regathering scattered vehicles and repairs, including the 15 latecomers.

I don’t have a good number for the Tiger II losses in the initial offensive, but have a vague memory of only about 7 Tiger II pocketed with KGP. The buggers were just too slow to keep up and be pocketed. Allowing for recovered breakdowns 501 should have had about 2/3 of its official strength at least recoverable if not yet fit for combat by the time of the end of KGP.

pzjgNo Ferdinands/Elephants in Wacht am Rhein (WaR). The source of the confusion might have been the presence of sPzJgrAbt 654 which was one of the original two Elephant battalions, was in WaR but equipped with Jagdpanthers and the other, sPzJgrAbt 653 was involved in Nordwind and had Jagdtigers.

The VG divisions had a PzJg Abt with a towed 7.5cm PaK 40 battery (9, usually 12 guns), a SP light FlaK company (12 x SdKfz 10/5) and a SP battery with 10 (HQ 1, 3 platoons of 3) or 14 (2, 3 x 4) Hetzers or StuG III. All WaR divisions might also have had support from corps and army level StuG (usually 31 StuG, though up to 45) and sPzJg (45 Hetzers or 30-31 Hetzers and 14-15 Jagdpanthers) units. They also had either a Füsiliere (recon+assault) company or battalion which was mainly bicycled infantry and a few armoured cars (if they were lucky).

Pz IV/70 aka JgPz IV with 7.5cm L/70 gun were only issued to Panzer divisions PzJg Abt, typically 21 Pz IV/70 and 12 towed PaK 40.

Marder I/II/III usually equipped Pz and PzGren divisions but by then had practically disappeared, being replaced by JgPz IV and Pz IV/70.

StuG III could be in nearly anything; anybodies PzJg Abt, StuG Abt/Brigades or even Pz Regt, replacing the by now scarce Pz IV.

Paul M. Weir

(Note: I added the counter art, any error’s all mine.)

Paul Weir : What types of M4 Shermans did US forces use in Europe?

One of the rockstars in the GameSquad ASL forums is the resident armor super-genius human Chapter H, Mr. Paul M. Weir. Mr. Weir has gratefully allowed the publication of his posts here.

M4M4A1M4: The original design with radial petrol engine, M4A1 had the same engine but a cast hull, so I will deal with them together. Initially the preferred engine, both M4 and M4A1 (75) saw service from Torch to war’s end. They would have been the sole combat models until late ’43, early ’44 and between the two would still just have been the largest percentage of M4’s by VE day. Both later got better front hull armour (thicker at 47° vs older 56° from vertical). From early ’44 the M4A1 got the 76mm while some of the M4 were 105mm armed. From memory of photos the 105mm M4 always had the later 47° hull whilst many of those late 75mm M4 had a cast front (aka composite hull). A composite hull M4 would be a M4A1 in ASL terms. The 76mm M4A1 first saw service in Operation Cobra. Not sure when the 105mm M4 saw combat, but I suspect late French campaign. The British fitted 17lbr to M4 but not to M4A1. What looks like a 17lbr M4A1 is actually a 17lbr M4 (composite hull).

M4A2M4A2: Diesel twin engines. Starting with 75mm and 56° hull, they progressively went to 47° hull and finally 76mm. Used by the US for training, saw US combat service only with the USMC. Most LL to the USSR, Britain and France, in order of priority, indeed one of the USMC batches was “stolen” from a USSR allocation. Only the USSR used the 76mm versions.

M4A3M4A3: Ford petrol twin engine. Had all the variations of the M4A2, but also had a 105mm version. Indeed it is quite difficult to tell the 2 apart, only the different horizontal engine decks are a good guide. Though some may have been used mid-Italy campaign, it was really D-Day onwards when they would have seen much service. 75mm, 47° hulls, I suspect Cobra+ and the 76mm and 105mm versions only becoming common by the end of the French campaign. The USMC eventually switched to the M4A3 from the M4A2. The US switched from considering the M4/M4A1 engine as the preferred one to the M4A3’s Ford.

M4A3E2M4A3E2: Doled out in handfuls to (mainly) M4A3 battalions. I think they were preferentially given to separate tank battalions allocated to infantry divisions, though some saw use in armoured divisions. NW Europe only.

shervaM4A4: 5 car engines fused together!!! US training only, LL to Britain and possibly France. Only 56° and 75mm, though the British fitted their 17lbr.

M4A5: Not a Sherman, but a type designation for the Canadian Ram tank.

M4A6: Diesel radial engine. Training/development only.

Italy: M4 & M4A1 throughout the campaign. M4A3 starting to appear mid-’44, likely as new battalions fed in.

Northwest Europe: Initially mainly M4 & M4A1 with some M4A3. In the immediate post invasion many separate and armoured division battalions were shipped straight from the US. These seem to be mainly M4A3 variants.

Mixing: M4 and M4A1 were practically interchangeable, so while many units would have started as pure M4 or M4A1, replacements could have been either. Naturally the USA preferred that M4/M4A1 were not mixed with M4A3 but there were times like very late ’44 when the USA was running short due to losses. The British either offered or gave the USA some of their Shermans at that time. So you would see awkward mixes, especially when allocating 76mm and 105mm variants. The US could readily support logistically such less than optimal mixes.

Gun Mixes: From Cobra+ expect to see no more than 20% 76mm, the rest 75mm. By Bulge 40% 76mm and by VE 60%+ 76mm. The problem was that was not uniform. From memory, one of the post D-Day, direct from the US shipped armoured divisions came entirely equipped with M4A3(76) whilst most active M4A3 battalions could only dream of them.

105mm: Initially issued as a 3 tank platoon per tank battalion, later 1 was additionally added to each 17 tank M4-whatever company. So for 54 M4-? (75mm/76mm) tank battalion you could have 3 or 6 105mm M4/M4A3 in addition. They did not replace 75mm/76mm gun tanks. Production of M4A3(105) was roughly twice that of M4(105).

56° vs 47°: The early M4-? had 2″ at 56°, later upgraded (except M4A4) to 2.5″ at 47°. While almost the same effective horizontal line of sight thickness the 47° hull was a single plate without the driver/assistant driver hatch excrescences of the earlier 56° hull multi plate front, thus stronger. The 47° hulls also had bigger hatches allowing easier bail out.

As an addition to the above information I might as well complete the US battalion organisation by mentioning the light tanks and other lesser creatures.

A typical US battalion

The original OoB had a tank regiment with 1×3 company light tank battalion and 2×3 company medium battalions, each with 17 tanks/company and 3 in battalion HQ. The Battalion HQ had a 3 vehicle assault gun platoon and often a 3 vehicular 81mm halftrack MTR platoon. The assault gun platoon started with the likes of the T30 HMC (USVN 35), then the M8 HMC Scott (USVN 43) and finally by mid-late ’44 the M4(105) or M4A3(105) (USVN 17). The MTR platoon used the M4, M4A1 and M21 halftracks. That organisation was in effect until mid-late ’43 and indeed the 2nd, 3rd Armoured continued to use that “heavy” organisation until war’s end. In practice light and medium companies were often swapped to give 3 equal battalions with 1 light and 2 medium companies. A US “heavy” Armoured Division had 6 light and 12 medium companies total in 2 regiments. During ’43 the heavy organisation was replaced by the light version. That abolished the tank regiment and instead had 3 tank battalions. Each battalion had a similar HQ and 1 light and 3 medium tank companies, like before with 17 or 18 tanks for a divisional total of 3 light and 9 medium companies. The upside was the infantry component got beefed up at battalion level.

The light tanks started with M3 and M3A1 but by Sicily they started to or had been replaced by M5 and M5A1. By Wacht am Rhein tiny numbers of M24 had appeared but took some time to displace the M5A1s.

Now be aware that all the above is just an overall broad sweep picture. For designing scenarios always use AARs, TO&E unit details where you can lay your hands on them. You will undoubtedly find exceptions but the above should not lead you too far astray.

Paul M. Weir

(Note: I added the counter art, any error’s all mine.)

PS For more on Shermans, Witchbottles recommends the article “Wheels of Democracy” by Jeff Petraska from Avalon Hill Game Magazine vol 25 issue 3

A Tank Destroyer Christmas

Want a cool M36 Tank Destroyer t-shirt for Christmas?  I put one together for myself and left the design up in case you want one too, for yourself or your opponent.

This classic “Banzai” t-shirt is of course, still available.

 

Old, Fat & Lonely in Bangkok

I worked in Bangkok for more than 6 years.  Thai people are unfailingly nice but even for all of you who are young and slim, there are times when you can’t help but feel a little lonely.

There are times when you would wonder, as exotic as this city is, perhaps you’ll find a wargame store?

I found one : Battlefield Bangkok

I am going to tell you how to get there.  I am nice like that.

Bangkok has an elevated rail system [ElRR B32.1] called the “BTS Skytrain”.  Everything’s in Thai & English so it’s not hard to navigate.  Get to a station called “E11 Punnawithi”.

punnawithi

Once you get off the train, head towards the south exit, marked “Exit 6”.  You will find yourself walking along an elevated walkway under the elevated train tracks.  This keeps you away from the busy streets.

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When you see this, you should be ready to get off the elevated walkway and to make a left turn down the street.

You will see local food stalls and lines of motorcycle “taxis” as you walk eastwards.

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Don’t you feel at least a slight twang of excitement finding yourself walking towards the “Golden Pearl Hotel”, named like a bad 70s Hollywood movie?  Oh, if street food is not your thing, you will be happy see a courtyard of restaurants on your left.

Tourney

This is the Golden Pearl Hotel.  Go up those stairs.

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This is Battlefield Bangkok.

Once you push through the door, remember one thing [ALERT! ALERT!]: take your shoes off and put them on the rack.

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It’s a nice and airy place, with plenty of tables for people to game.  There seems to be another room behind doors where folks were playing.  I could only hear them.  Either that or they were unsuspecting victims of some sort.  I am rather happy about it either way because I was scouting this place out as an Advanced Squad Leader tournament venue!

Tourney

This guy here seems to be the owner.  I asked him for permission before I started taking photos and then I was too busy looking at the racks.  They have board wargames but it’s mostly miniatures.

Tourney

So here you go.  Please let me know if you have any questions or if you have made it here as well!