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    GT:OS - Red revenge
    33LIMA
    By 33LIMA,
    Das Reich faces defeat as the Soviets counterattack!  Pavlovka campaign, mission report #3     Despite having only limited forces at my disposal - a mixture of unmotorised and armoured (engineer) infantry - I was, I felt, doing quite well my in battle to clear Pavlovka and secure bridgeheads over the River Mzha. I had destroved some Soviet defenders, left some battered remnants surrounded in my wake, and secured a small bridgehead over a ford to the west of the town, with my 'foot' infantry. To the east, I decided that my panzer pioneers would by-pass the remaining Reds holding Pavlovka on the centre, and secure another crossing to the east. All this went well - until the Soviets decided to do something about it. In fact, they decided to wipe out both my bridgeheads, starting with the one on my left.   Here, my force consisted of two unmotorised infantry platoons, one with a self-propelled AT gun for direct fire support - a Marder II, pictured at top. We still hadn't had time to dig in, but I'd deployed the platoons in depth facing roughly north-west, astride the expected axis of the enemy attack. There was no certaintly the Soviets would comply with our expectations, but I wanted to keep my platoons in decent visual cover in a compact, mutually-supporting grouping. No point in feeding Oxo cubes to the lion, as a British officer said of Arnhem. If the Reds went another way, fair enough, but if they came to get us, well, we'd be ready for them.     Here's the commander of my left-hand platoon, anxiously scanning towards the western edge of the woods. The river is about 50 metres his left.     And here are some of his troops. As it happens, they wouldn't have long to wait, because it was in this platoon's sector, that the Reds would first show their hand.     As usual, I'm playing with labels turned off and avoding a 'God's eye' view of the battlefield. This makes combat look and feel much more realistic - and a lot more suspenseful. GT:OS likes to keep you waiting, rather than pitching you right into the fight - time acceleration is available for the suspense-haters or the time-deficient.   The party begins when my left-hand platoon - the one with the Marder - spots the enemy, moving left to right across its front, towards the river.     I have already enabled firing at will in Initial Orders and it's not long before the foremost sections have opened up. They are ably supported by the Marder, which uses its AA machinegun as well as the Pak.     Some of the Reds are shooting back at us, but it's obvious that others are crossing the river up ahead, turning our left flank. This isn't good, but I have set up with a section back to the left rear, so as to provide us a degree of all-round defence, textbook style. I'm still under attack from the west and I'm not going to split my force to go chasing after the enemy. I have a second platoon to our north-east; but they are covering the right flank of our position and I'm not about to compromise it by redeploying them. I've made my plan and for now, I'll stick to it, rather than dancing to the Soviets' tune.   I take the luxurtyof pushing the camera out to the west and south to the river -not too far, just far enough to get a better view of what my forward troops can already see. It's quickly obvious that some enemies have got over the river, but plenty of them have fallen in the attempt.     My Marder has been shelling the enemy during their crossing, but now switches targets - engaging the enemy in the woods to the west. He fires several rounds, the loader steadily feeding the long 7.5cm rounds into the breech each time. But some of his shells splinter the trees just to his front, causing casualties to my own troops.     I track the camera about a hundred meters to the west, and get a closer view of the enemy advance. There aren't too many of them, but they are coming on, somewhat hesitantly, using fire and manoeuvre.     My Marder cuts into them with an HE round which bursts just in front of an enemy officer, who falls to his knees before keeling over.     However, there are some casualties on my side, too, including those which I believe are down to wood splinters thrown out by the Marder's fire.     At this point, the shooting dies away. The platoon to the north remains unengaged, but any thought of redeploying to sweep up such Soviet forces as have penetrated to our rear ends when GT:OS decides the battle is over, for now. Despite my boys having inflicted much heavier casualties, we are adjudged to have been defeated. Evidently this is because because the Reds have made substantial gains in territory.     I'm not too worried about this. I'm more concerned about preserving both my own forces and the bridgehead, in both of which goals I have succeeded. I don't think the enemy behind us are in any great strength. I am happy to leave the job of mopping them up to other parts of the Division which I know from the briefing are coming up from the west and south - including some heavy tanks. We're still stretched fairly thinly up here, and the critical question is whether we can hold on until the heavy stuff arrives.   ...to be continued!

    Special Announcement
    Skyviper
    By Skyviper,

     
    CombatACE.com is proud to bring you this very special presentation, that will be published here next Tuesday December 13,2016.
    Please watch the video for more details.
     


    So much for chivalry!
    33LIMA
    By 33LIMA,
    Learning a hard lesson in Wings over Flanders Fields!   'Knights of the Sky', they called them, the aircrew of the First World War. They fought their jousts above the battlefield, in personal combat with their foemen, their flimsy mounts often bedecked with the sort of personal markings or colours that would have marked out the mounted warriors of a bygone age - the so-called Age of Chivalry.   Most of us have heard of the fellow feeling sometimes displayed between aviators on opposite sides, notably in WW1, when aircraft were initially unarmed (barring side-arms). When, at first, enemies met in the sky, the encounter was as often marked by curiousity and perhaps a comradely wave, as by hostility and the exchange of gunfire.   Well, that didn't last long, and by the war's end, fighting pilots thought nothing much of gunning down an unspecting foe from behind, whenever they could. Examples of chivalrous or sporting conduct were sometimes still reported, though, like Ernst Udet's famous solo fight with a French ace he believed to be Georges Guynemer, which ended with the latter waving farewell after seeing that Udet's guns had jammed. The less romantically-minded might have concluded that Udet's foe was beset with similar problems, rather than motivated by a chivalrous reluctance to knock down a worthy foe in other than a fair fight. By all accounts, much of the time, things were rather more ruthless; as I was to find for myself, thanks to my latest campaign mission in Wings over Flanders Fields!   The mission It's early on the morning of 14th May 1917, and apart from some clouds, the weather is fine and clear. I'm leader of 'B' Flight in No. 56 Squadron, based at Vert Galand, and this is my third show. It's a Line Patrol up to the trenchlines, in this case slightly south of east, opposite the major town of Cambrai in the German side.   'A' Flight is joining us on this trip, so there are nine S.E.s on the flight line - I'm leading five of them and 'A' Flight has another four. You can see from the picture below that we have several 'historical aces' with us (visible from their machines having a 'skin' of their own, not just the default one for 56 Squadron). And I've decided to pick a skin for myself, from the many avaiable. In fact, I've chosen the markings of Albert Ball - as he was killed a few days before, there should be no chance of seeing a duplicate, today. My machine, A4850, looks unusual because of its white centre section. Here, Ball, in modifying his S.E.5 to his own tastes, had the prominent 'raised teardrop'-shaped gravity fuel tank removed, and a more conventional centre section fitted - a modification copied by the rest of the squadron, and standardised on the production lines. This was how A4850 appeared when photographed in England; I don't know if the white was overpainted in France, but in WoFF, it makes for a nicely distinctive colour scheme.     Amongst the pilots accompanying me in 'B' Flight are two aces. One, with a red crocodile on the nose, is Eric Broadberry. I'm not sure who the fellow with the completely red-nosed machine is, but the other members of my flight are Barlow, Hoidge and Maxwell, all real-life aces, so it's one of these three.   The first excitement of the day comes over the town of Bapaume, about half-way to the front. We're at about eight thousand feet and climbing gently, when I see three specks in a clear patch of sky, about three-quarters left and somewhat higher. They seem to be flying west, deeper into our territory. They could be our people, returning from a sortie, but as I watch them, I notice faint grey puffs in the sky nearby - British AA fire. That seems to settle the matter. These are Huns.     As I watch, one of the Huns dives and comes towards us. The other two stay high, but also turn in our direction. This feels a bit dangerous, as if they are setting us up for a co-ordinated attack. Hun scouts shouldn't really be so far over our side of the lines, but these particular people seem to have their own ideas.     I pull up and bank around as the lower Hun runs in, giving the boys the order to attack as I do so. The Hun flashes past below me, at which point I see that he is in fact a Roland, a two seater. These were fast and advanced machines when introduced during 1916, although back then, the man whose machine I'm flying today rather specialised in knocking down Rolands, describing them as 'the best German machine now'. In mid-1917, they haven't got much longer before being withdrawn from active service on the Western Front. And they should really know better, than to try to tangle with a larger formation of modern single-seaters. Perhaps they mistook us for obsolete B.E.12s. If so, I hope we'll give them a nasty surprise.     But it's me, who gets the first nasty surprise. In my effort to level-turn sharply after the Roland while staying above him, I push my S.E. too hard, and spin out. This gives the Hun the opportunity to turn the tables, which he duly does. By the time I have recovered, he's coming for me.       However, by pushing my nose down as I come around, I manage to get out of his way and then turn inside him. This is more like it!     By this point, I've briefly committed the cardinal sin of losing track of the others. But I go for the Hun, relying on the fact that I have four other S.E's in the air nearby to keep the other two Rolands occupied. In the picture below, you can see two other aeroplanes up above, just left of the drum of my wingtop Lewis Gun. But at the time, I had eyes only for my Hun.     I get my sights onto the Roland and crack out a few short busts. This does the trick. The Roland rolls over...and dives away hard for the ground.     He recovers, and I spiral down, thinking that I'm going to need to make another attack. However, the Hun falls into a series of spins and finally crashes into a cornfield by a railway line, just west of Bapaume.     I pull up in a spiral climb at full power, finally clearing my tail. But the only machines that I can see around me are the other S.E.5s of 'B' Flight.     Soon, all five of us are back in formation. I look around for the other two Rolands, just in time to see two specks disappear into a cloudbank to the north-west, a good deal higher up. I'm slightly miffed that the others don't seem to have had any luck with them, but I'm glad all the same that there have been no friendly casualties.   I decide that rather than get into what's likely to be a long and uncertain tail chase, I'll leave the other Rolands and resume my mission. 'Selection and maintenance of the aim', and all that. I climb back up, and by the time we are nearing the front, we are at just over ten thousand feet, nearly as high as the summits of the big cloudbanks nearby. Reaching the lines, I wheel around and we begin to patrol our beat, up and down above the trenchlines in our appointed sector. So far, so good, but it's early days yet.     ...to be continued!

    GT:OS - second campaign mission
    33LIMA
    By 33LIMA,
    I give myself a fright, in my second Ostfront campaign battle!     Having gained ground on my first mission, in my effort to sieze bridgeheads over the river Mzha at Pavlovka, I'm keen to use my gains as a springboard to get over the river and give the Soviet 104th Motor Rifle Brigade another bloody nose. As a newly-arrived kampfgruppe commander in Das Reich, I'm also keen to prove myself, though anxious not to foul it up, either. And it looks like I am about to be given ample opportunity to make a mess. For some reason, the mission 'briefing' credits us with capturing a bridgehead  - perhaps something is lost in translation here, as the best we have done in my sector is to reach the river on our side, not actually get across it. But my real problem now is that Ivan is reported to be throwing a tank brigade against us, from the north-east. I don't know what sort of tanks they have, but this really doesn't sound good. Nevertheless, if at all possible, I want to throw some troops over the river, before going over to the defensive to meet this counterattack.     I'm hoping that my own heavier armour will have arrived on the scene by now. But my hopes are dashed when I find that they are still not deployable. All I have is the same re-inforced Grenadier (infantry) company to the west of Pavlovka, and the Panzer Pioneers who fought my first battle, now depleted by the loss of one of their SPWs.   A look at the map shows there is a small pocket of Ivans to the south, but I'm more interested in pressing on than wiping them out. Nevertheless, in moving my Panzer Pioneere towards the river, I keep one platoon in reserve, to the east of the little pocket, where it can contain them...or perhaps destroy them, if the opportunity presents itself.   On my left flank, I move my footsloggers west, heading for Pavlovka. In GT:OS, there are limits as to which squares (even within move distance) you can move a platoon onto, and in this case, my rear platoon, near the river bank, is left trailing behind the lead platoons. I can see that these fellows are going to be quite isolated until they can close up with the rest of the company, but I'm in a hurry, and accept the risk. Which I am about to be given cause to regret.   These moves trigger two battles. To the east, a Soviet counterattack is coming in at the point where my Grenadiers and Pioneers have come together. This one doesn't worry me unduly, as it involves infantry only. But on the left, as luck would have it, more bad boys from the 104th Motor Rifles have decided to go for my isolated Grenadier platoon, which has reached a wood to the west of Pavlovka, close to the river. I took a chance, and now I'm going to have to pay the price.     I have visions of the Ostfront equivalent of Custer's Last Stand, a platoon wiped out that I will surely miss later. I put such thoughts aside, and choose to fight this battle first. At least this time it's daylight, and I'll be able to see what I'm doing. Time for the Das Reich to show the Bolshevists what we're made of!   ...to be continued!

    Graviteam Tactics - Ostfront!
    33LIMA
    By 33LIMA,
    A first campaign in Graviteam's classic wargame     Picture it for yourself. It's late winter 1942-43, just after the German disaster at Stalingrad. You've been recalled to the Eastern Front from your cosy staff job in Berlin, and assigned to the command of a battalion-sized battlegroup in your former division, 2nd SS Panzer Grenadier Das Reich. No sooner have you arrived, than you're pitched into the deep end, as your kampfgruppe is already fully committed. Your first mission is to throw the Reds out of a small riverside town and sieze some crossings. So get a grip of your command, study your maps, and make a plan with your staff. And make it fast - there's a war on out here, you know!   That's about how I felt, taking on my first campaign in GT:OS. In fact, my first mission, apart from a couple of quick battles, mainly to try out the modern AFVs in the WW2 battlefields. True, playing Steel Armor - Blaze of War (SABOW) has taught me some basics, but that just scratched the surface of the sophisticated command interface of Graviteam's magnum opus. So it was with a mixture of excitement and trepidation that I approached my first campaign battle.   I confess that I am rather more interested in western front action, preferably including Normandy, or North Africa at a pinch; though I've read my Guderian and my von Mellenthin, Craig's Enemy at the Gates, even Plevier's novel Moscow. And I know well enough my BTs from my KVs. But GT:OS's WW2 experience has remained firmly rooted on the Ostfront. So having picked up the base game and no less than 8 DLCs in an epic BundleStars sale, I knew the time would come when I went east. And this is that time.     The campaign and the mission I know enough about the Eastern Front to be well aware that T-26s and BT-5s or 7s aren't too much of a problem for 1941-era German tanks and A/T guns. But if the Red Army of Peasants and Workers brings along some T-34s or KV-1s, it's not quite so much fun, playing Wehrmacht. So I decided to run with a later campaign, settling on what's described as the 'Kharkov Defence Operation, 2-15 March 1943'. I think this one comes with the base game. The missions ('operations') in this campaign swap between playing for each side, and I opted to start, not at the Soviet beginning, but at the third one - Pavlovka. Its entry featured a picture of Tiger tank, which I took to indicate that I might actually get to play with some of these beasts.     I know that 8.Kompanie, SS Panzer Regiment 2 had some Tigers as early as February, some months before the formation was elevated from a Panzer Grenadier to a Panzer Division. One of 8.Kompanie's Tigers is quite well known from photographs - 812, delivered in 'panzer grey', given a temporary white winter paint job on arrival, and later treated to what's interpreted as dark yellow stripes over the grey. And at some point christned 'Tiki', as seen below.
      According to the excellent Mig Jimenez colour profile book Waffen SS Colors, 'Tiki' is a contraction of 'Tiger kind'  (tiger child) and was inspired when the Kompaniefuhrer said to the new Tiger's crew, 'That is now your child, take care of it!'   As usual, a GT:OS (or SABOW) mission kicks off with the sort of 'operational' level screen shown below. I've chosen to use NATO unit symbols and to colour-code friendlies as blue, enemies as red (the latter all shown as question marks at this stage, as the enemy strengths and dispositions are so far unknown). While at this map, you can, within limits, elect to move any deployable friendly forces  - which excludes those in the grey margins of the map, which are 'arriving' but not yet deployable. the screenshot was actually taken after I had made my moves (indicated by the blue arrows).     The 'briefing' is top left. In armies, commanders are given orders, not briefings, and these typically contain a lot more information than you get in any GT:OS (or SABOW) briefing I've ever seen. It's more of a general directive, which may be adequate in some situations but lacks much of the info I should have as a commander in this situation, like who I am, what forces I have, what artillery and air support is available, what's known about the enemy and so on - Ground, Situation, Mission, Execution, Service/Support, Command & Signals in NATO format. You are left to glean as much as you can of this by studying the map. Which is quite a lot, and thus ok up to a point. And it may be hard to script more formal orders for the dynamic GT:OS campaign. But this rather lacks the sense of person and place which you get from a more role-playing approach to a commander's...well, role.   That being as it may, I was about to discover how, from this so-so start, GT:OS grabs you by the proverbial short and curlies and immerses you neck-deep in an authentic-feeling and beautifully-rendered battlefield, in the role of a company-to-battalion-level commander in a desperate fight against a determined, unpredictable and at time invisible enemy. They told me GT:OS was this good, and I was about to find out that they did not lie.   My mission is to kick the retreating Soviet 104 Rifle Brigade out of Pavlovka and grab some river crossings, which is clear enough. For this task, while the greyed-out oval-in-blue-rectangle symbols to the left in the map above indicate that tanks may be available to me later, for now, my forces are limited. And rather un-concentrated, to boot. On the left, I have five Grenadier platoons (unarmoured), roughly a reinforced company. In my centre, to the south east, I have have three Panzer Grenadier platoons (I have already moved them north-east, and the Grenadiers west, in the pic below, which I'll explain in a moment) . Actually these troops are Panzer Pioneers, assault engineers. If I'd not been in my customary rush, I could have checked out their detailed organisation, but I decided to see for myself, at the deployment phase. Suffice to say that they were, as expected, equipped with SdKfz 251 half-tracked SPWs (Schutzenpanzerwagen=APC), though not of the specialised 251/7 variety usually issued to engineer units, with their little side-mounted bridging sections.     So, to a plan. Sensing that Division is unlikely to be happy if I wait out this turn till the tanks and other forces come up, I decide to launch concentric attacks from east and west, with the forces I do have. On the west, the Grenadiers will advance directly into the Soviet salient south of Pavlovka, with their left flank protected by the river Mzha, while the Panzer Pioneere, starting in my centre, will move north-east then north, from where they can either catch the Soviet salient in a pincer, or drive north towards the nearest Mzha crossings. Yes I know - I'm opening up the gap in my forces, but not by a lot, and I think this is preferable to butting up everything directly against the salient, where the main enemy strength might well lie.   The player having made his initial moves, GT:OS then determines if a battle has taken place, which the player then fights. That is what has happened here - the large, unfriendly red arrow spearing into my freshly-positioned Panzer Pioneere from the Soviet salient indicates a counterattack is expected, and the flame symbol calls me to fight the resulting battle.   Here we go!   ...to be continued!

    56 Sqn - moment of truth
    33LIMA
    By 33LIMA,
    The 'anti-Richthofen squadron' is tested in battle!     My first show with No. 56 Squadron in France, flown in the superlative Wings over Flanders Fields, saw me wounded and hospitalised for nearly two weeks. My recovery complete, it's now 13th May 1917 ('Lucky for some', as they say) and I'm once again leading 'B' Flight. This time, there's three of us - my companions are Dixie and Prince, names it will help to remember if I need to identify witnesses to any victories I may manage (I have WoFF's victory claim form option turned on again). I'm glad to see the weather is once again cloudy but fine, though disappointed that our mission is a patrol behind our own lines, down to the town of Albert a short distance to the south east.     Albert was famous during World War 1 for the statue of the Virgin Mary atop the town's basilica. Knocked askew into a gravity-defying angle by shellfire in 1915, the legend grew that the statue's fall would signal the end of the war. It didn't, but the statue was still hanging on for dear life at the time of this mission, in mid-May 1917       I waste no time in leaving Vert Galand behind and as soon as the three of us are in formation, I begin to climb. I'm following the route indicated on the Tactical Display, which generally throws in some extra waypoints that are not indicated on the in-flight map, seemingly designed to enable you to gain height in a wide spiral before you settle onto your course for the patrol area.     This also helps stay reasonably close - for a while, anyway - to any supporting flight. Which we have on this show, as 'A' Flight is said to be flying top cover. For a while, I see them below and ahead of us, but our paths soon diverge and I'm not sure if we'll see them again. You can just about make out the four S.E.s of 'A' Flight at about eleven o'clock of my nose, in the pic below.     I'm soon turning onto the the last leg of our course down towards Albert, still climbing to the ten thousand feet I want to be at. This will give us a decent chance of spotting any Huns trying to slip in below us, but should be just about high enough to see, and hopefully intercept, any higher-flying customers, like the DFWs I ran into on the last show. In fact I'm rather hoping to renew my acquaintance with these gentlemen, two-seaters on a recce being the most likely trade I will get behind our own lines.     A few minutes more and I see a town ahead and left, which a glance at my map tells me is Doullens. It will be a useful landmark on the way home, too.     Visibility is rather hazy towards the horizon, but not too bad at altitude. Except for the longest hops, I enjoy flying my WoFF missions in real time - none of the WW1 air combat sims I have flown do such a good job of creating the sights, sounds and general ambience of WW1 in the air and the flight to and WoFF, for me, manages to make what in other sims is something I'd prefer to fast-forward through, an experience to savour rather than skip.     My reverie is cut short as I see a small group of specks in the sky ahead, slightly right and at about the same height. I have 'dot mode' turned on, set to 4,000 metres if I recall right. The specks are moving left to right, deeper into our territory. They aren't being shelled, so they could be friendlies, though the ample cloud cover may be the explanation for that.     I turn right and settle onto an intercepting course, keeping them just left of my nose and gaining a little height. It occurs to me that this could be the same five DFWs I met yesterday; if so, this time they'll have the three of us to reckon with, not just yours truly.   As I watch, something odd happens. One of the specks detaches itself from the rest and falls away. I can't work this out. Is it a member of a frindly formation, going down to land? Or an EA ('Enemy Aircraft') making a solo attack of some description?     The other specks hold their course, leaving me a bit worried about what it is the one who dived away is up to. I bank left to watch him but can't pick him out against the ground.     After A second or two I give ip, and look ahead again. Not a moment too soon, for the other specks are specks no more; they are four Albatros Scouts heading straight at us! Crikey!     ...to be continued!

Portal by DevFuse · Based on IP.Board Portal by IPS


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