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33LIMA

Steel fury: upcoming StuG/Panzerjaeger campaign

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The stock Steel Fury campaigns are quite decent, and variants exist which change the player's vehicle eg from Panzer IV to Panzer III. Most of the numerous missions later added to Graviteam's excellent WW2 tanksim - many of which are gathered together in the Steel Tank Add-on (STA) mod's mission packs - are in the form of single missions, or small, themed sets of single missions.

 

However, STA modder Lockie is now working on a series of new campaigns, bringing together adapted or new missions, grouped around a storyline. The first of these to become available seems likely to be 'Schuze's Diary', the premise being that they recreate the wartime combats recounted by a long-lost German tanker's diary. The eponymous Leutnant Erich Schuze will be an officer in a Sturmgeschutz Abteilung whose war starts with the Second Battle of Kharkov - Steel Fury's featured theatre - but moves on to different vehicles and battlefields, as the war progresses.

 

When ready, the campaign will naturally be made available via the STA mod's website.

 

Here are some screenshots from the first set of missions, currently under development.

 

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I have been testing some of these missions and fighting in a limited traverse vehicle is proving a whole new ball game!

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Here's a series of screenshots from mission 5 in the campaign. Our Sturmgeschutze platoon, whose short 7.5cm guns are fine for our normal infantry support role but less well-suited to dealing with the attacking Soviet armour we're running into, has been temporarily issued with new Marder II self-propelled anti-tank guns, thinly-armoured but mounting a long Pak 40 A/T gun.

 

Our three panzerjaeger edge right, to link up with an attacking infantry platoon:

 

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Shifting into column formation, we join our grenadiers and turn left, to face the enemy defensive positions, beyond a wooded crest a few hundred metres away:

 

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Perhaps rather unimaginatively, but deciding to attack on the same axis as the infantry, I lead our guns up a track leading directly towards the objective:

 

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Looking behind, I can see that my platoon's formation-keeping is good for once, including the close order I have chosen:

 

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I have noticed something suspicious where the road crosses the skyline so I pull off to the right and order line formation. Ahead, Stukas have been pounding the enemy and our infantry have begun to fan out and engage targets:

 

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The object on the skyline is the shield of a Soviet 45mm A/T gun! I have an AP round loaded but that'll have to do. Unfortunately a grenadier gets directly into my line of sight, firing an MG34 from the kneeling position:

 

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The MG gunner is hit and falls, dropping his weapon to my left. I now have a clear view of the target, while the crest just about screens me from the enemy's barrel. Although my first round flies over the target - too high! - my second will be a hit, wrecking the gun:

 

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Leaving the advancing infantry to deal with the surviving gun crew, I pull over to the left and continue to advance, keeping just behind our leading troops:

 

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As I come up to the crest, I begin to see the enemy trenches. Even as we close in, the last bombs from the supporting Stukas are falling, 'danger close':

 

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Emerging from the treeline, in good line abreast formation, our panzerjaeger cautiously move up to the enemy trenches, which seem to have been cleared of the defenders by our brave grenadiers:

 

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Beyond the crest, the ground begins to fall away again, opening up long lines of sight across a valley. Creeping ahead, I scan anxiously left to right, looking for targets:

 

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Over on the right, one of my guns has turned outwards and is engaging some unseen enemies on our flanks. Steel Fury isn't good at replicating platoon radio traffic, so the gunfire is the only warning I get of this development:

 

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It seems the village that I know lies in the dead ground over on our right has been cleared by friendly forces and the enemy is now withdrawing. I nervously edge over the exposed crest a few metres at a time to see over the convex slope, into the dead ground to my right front. Some T-34s are escaping and I begin to engage them at long range:

 

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I foolishly dally too long on the forward slope, possibly skylined, and am treated to the scary spectacle of one of the T-34s halting and turning to face me. Before I can back up, a 76.2mm tracer flies towards me, dipping as it arcs straight at us. The hit badly wounds my crew and ends our mission.

 

This is the first time I have spent serious time fighting in some of SF's user-made limited-traverse SP guns and especially in the lighter-armoured vehicles, it's a whole new challenge!

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After fighting on the Eastern Front, our hero goes to Tunisia and after a while as an instructor, finds himself in France with schwere Panzerjagerabteilung 654 and its new Jagdpanthers, up against 'S' Squadron, 3 Scots Guards at Hill 226, during Operation Bluecoat:

 

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Thanks Dsawan! Some more pics, this time from a second Normandy mission, which I'm basing on a hypothetical delaying action by s.PzJg.Abt 654 against the 23rd Hussars on 31 July, the day after the real battle with 3 Scots Guards on Hill 226.

 

Moving into a hull-down position in a fold in the ground near St-Martin-des-Besaces, we await the expected enemy attack from Hill 226:

 

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We engage a troop of Sherman Fireflies, as they come over the crest and into our fields of fire:

 

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More Shermans are moving up on the other flank, behind some trees which don't stop our 8.8cm AP rounds:

 

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Back into St-Martin, we counterattack enemy troops reported to have broken through to the town square:

 

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Job done, we disengage and head for the RV point:

 

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Will do! I'm a total newb with the Mission Editor so am still plodding on with missions 9 & 10, the Jadgpanther in Normandy, they're nearly done but still need a few tweaks here and there. Thank goodness most of the stuff is coming from somebody who does know what they are doing (Lockie). Getting there, though I'm going through Shermans and Jadgpanthers at a fierce rate!

 

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Working on the first version of what's likely to be the last mission in the campaign, with our hero transferred to Jagdtiger outfit s.PzJg. Abt 653 in the Rhineland, March 1945:

 

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Some scenes from a more recent test of the Jagdtiger mission!

 

It's late March 1945 and schwere Panzerjager Abteilung 653 is in action in the Rhineland, near Schwetzingen. The Americans have already got across the Rhine at Remagen and it looks like they're about to capture another bridge, in the chaos undefended and not yet wired for demolition. The only hope is my platoon of three serviceable Jagdtiger, tasked with holding on until a kampfgruppe of 17th SS Panzer Grenadier division can arrive, to secure the area properly. But the Amis are closer. After a hasty approach march which we hope hasn't destroyed the zero of our big but sensitive 12.8cm guns, we near the high ground overlooking the bridge. I order the platoon from column into line formation.

 

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As the river comes into sight ahead, I order a halt, driving my own vehicle into a shallow revetment - just in time, for the leading Amis are motoring right to left along the road on the opposite bank. It's a platoon of M8 armoured cars, out on point.

 

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Behind the light armour, the first Shermans pull off the road and turn to face us.

 

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Our cannon have a low rate of fire, but they are pleasantly accurate. With the range set only at a 'battle sight' setting, even crossing targets can be engaged with consistently successful results.

 

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Enemy infantry who have debussed from their half-tracks are working their way towards the bridge...

 

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...covered by yet more Shemans...

 

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As we engage the Shermans, some half-tracks make it over, but they and the Shermans are quickly dealt with....

 

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Reinforcements arrive - unfortunately enemy ones, in the form of M26 Pershings. Under cover of their fire, the leading enemy infantry sprint over the bridge...this is going to be tricky...

 

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Lots more work to be done to this mission yet but so far, I'm enjoying even the testing...there's something to be said for fighting in a big monster of a virtual tank (or tank destroyer) against more numerous but smaller, weaker enemies!

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Here's ome scenes from Mission 11, the final one in this three-theatre campaign and last of the three missions made by me (with a LOT of help from Lockie!).

 

We move out from the Forming Up Place to firing positions overlooking the semi-fictional Hockenheimer Brucke...

 

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The vehicle commander puts the gunner onto an approaching enemy armoured column, so far oblivious to our presence but about to get a rude awakening...

 

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The accompanying Shermans plaster us with 76mm APC and HVAP, but fare little better than the armoured infantry's half-tracks...

 

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Pershings! The 'heavy brigade' has arrived, to rescue their lighter cousins...

 

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But now, it's our turn to be re-inforced, as the 17th SS Panzers line up next to us and open fire...

 

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Anyway, the 'Erich Schulze's Diary' campaign is nearing completion. Having finally 'taken the plunge' with the Steel Fury Mission Editor, my impressions are that the initial learning curve is quite steep, but once yuou're past that (preferably with the much-needed help of an expert like Lockie) it's not very difficult to set up quite a lot of useful or interesting things. It's useful that the ME, with its satellite, 3d view of the game world, will let you start the AI moving following the scripts you have devised for each unit, while you watch from above and zoom in or out. The ME's manual is a bit hard to follow in places, and there's some detailed and tricky work needed outside the ME, in doing the right edits to the right files, following conventions that are a tad arcane, to get things like messages, waypoint markers and all the sundry, lesser-but-important details working. Not to mention the time spent in testing, tweaking and retesting (backing up as you go, against the one edit that will break something so badly even the Mission Editor won't load the mission again). There's a lot to learn and much that I still understand poorly - or not at all! But if you're thinking of having a go, fire away. It can be quite addictive, and nothing beats seeing your creation finally come to life, with tracks rattling, engines growling and shot & shell flying, as the Steel Fury STA mod's world springs into violent and noisy life!

 

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The last mission (#11) in this campaign has been completed and I'll post here when the campaign is released. In the final battle, using Jagtigers, to adapt the comment of a German prisoner in Italy, the main challenge can be not running out of ammo, before the enemy runs out of tanks!

 

Typical engagement from the mission, before...

 

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...and after...

 

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Coming soon, to a gunner's sight near you...

 

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    • By 33LIMA
      The front in Normandy is collapsing - can a handful of Tigers save the day?

      Feeling like a bit of WW2 tank action, I decided to fire up Steel Fury. To be precise, my Steam version, modded with the excellent Japanese Community Mod. This is available here... https://wikiwiki.jp/pzfr/Steel Tank Add-on  ...complete with links and installation instructions (Edge does a fine job translating the site).This is based around version 2.2 of the Steel Tank Add-on (STA 2.2) and is a good free alternative to the donationware ITM mod (itself based on STA 3.4 - I have installs of SF for both).
      The JCM adds many new theatres, tanks, troops and missions to vanilla SF, including some unique to this mod. As well as the British A-13 and Centurion Mk.I...


      ...and the German super-heavy E-100...

      ...there are some 'fakepanzers' which I understand are from a Sony Playstation Panzer game, like this 'E-79'.

      Scrolling through the JCM's long list of missions and campaigns, I decided to go for one that's included in the JCM's own mission pack - 'N158 Highway', with Tigers defending the locality of Cintheaux in August 1944, as the Germans struggled to prevent the Allies breaking out from their bridgeheads.

      The mission briefing doesn't tell me a great deal. I've got two Tigers lined up on the N158 with another apparently independent tank, off to my right, and another, covering our left. There are also some grenadiers in the woods north-west of Cintheaux.

      I decide to push my panzers out to the right, in the hope of reaching a hull-down position on the edge of a low hill, commanding the enemy line of advance.

      We'll be out in the open, but I hope better able to take advantage of our Tiger's long-ranged 8.8cm guns. A bad idea as it will turn out - this is 1944 and there are some enemy weapons more than capable of killing a Tiger.
      Panzer, marsch!

      ...to be continued!
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