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Found 143 results

  1. T-34 twosome - part 2

    The T-34-85 goes to war in 'Steel Fury - Kharkov 1942'! 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 views. And here's the mission. It's one of many single missions that come with the packs available for use in the NTA mod, download links and installation instructions being available over at the Graviteam forum, here. Edit, August 2014 - the NTA add-on has been discontinued, but a successor, the Steel Tank Add-on (STA) is now available: http://stasf2008.ephpbb.com/t6-steel-tank-add-on-steel-fury 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)' 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!
  2. Panthers at Prokhorovka!

    From Kharkov to Kursk - a change of scenery for Steel Fury! The battle The fighting at Prokhorovka has gone down in history as one of the biggest and most desperate tank battles ever seen. It was a battle within a battle, fought on the southern front of Operation Citadel, the German offensive against the Kursk salient in July 1943. This was an ill-starred effort to regain some of the initiative lost after the Stalingrad disaster. At Kursk, the Soviets knew the Germans were coming and the offensive soon bogged down amidst well-sited defences, storms of artillery fire and fierce armoured counterattacks. The fiercest was at Prokhorovka on 12 July, when hundreds of T-34s from the 5th Guards Tank Army swept forward in massed waves and ran headlong into II SS Panzerkorps. As its full name indicates, Ukrainian tanksim Steel Fury is centred on the 1942 battles around Kharkov. However, thanks to the modders and mission makers, its scope has been extended well beyond those battlefields and that year. Sure enough, if you install the NTA mod and the associated mission packs you will find that you now have a short series of missions based on the Battle of Kursk - specifically, inspired by the fighting at Prokhorovka. From these, I chose a mission featuring the Panther tank, which the Germans had rushed into service for Kursk, only to find that mechanical teething troubles and limited crew training added up to a very disappointing debut. Would I do any better? There was one way to find out! Edit, August 2014 - the NTA mod has been discontinued but its successor, the STA Mod, is now available: http://stasf2008.ephpbb.com/t6-steel-tank-add-on-steel-fury The mission and the tank Here's the mission briefing. I think it's fair to say that its intention is to recreate the general pattern of the German operations at Kursk on a smaller scale and - as I found out - give the player a taste of the kind of fighting at Prokhorovka, where the Germans were on the offensive but were faced with having to fight off waves of oncoming Soviet tanks. With the briefing panel minimised, you can get a better look at the map, including the disposition of the units, the lie of the land, and the route to your objective. I've got a platoon of three Panthers - the blue diamonds, bottom centre in the map below - and we are in the middle of the attack, with other tank platoons either side of us. Rather than keep us with our parent tank company - which would have been fully equipped with Panthers (those that had not broken down, anyway!) for the sake of variety we have a mix, including the stalwart Panzer IV but also some Tiger tanks and Elephant tank destroyers/assault guns. There's no mention of infantry or fire support in the briefing but as it turned out we had dismounted Grenadiers with us. It's probably no bad thing that they were on foot; there wasn't much hostile artillery or mortar fire and when the German SPWs (half-tracked APCs) do feature in an SF '42 mission, they seem always to suffer especially heavily! Basically, the operation is in two phases. First, we attack and destroy the enemy defensive positions. Then, we pass through and re-group on the other side, presumably in anticipation of a counterattack. Before leaving the map screen, I selected line abreast formation and 'Do as I do! for platoon orders. I didn't fiddle with the default game settings, which would have allowed me to change relative skills for each side and increase or reduce the balance (=the size of the enemy force, relative to mine). I kicked off the mission then as I usually do, in the external view, went to the commander's station and popped open the hatch (F3, P key) then moved to the gunner's station (F2) and loaded an AP round. From this station you can control turret traverse/elevation and do most of what the tank commander can, too, giving orders to driver and loader; so this is how I usually play. And here are our three Panthers, lined up and good to go. Nice to see that they are the correct model for Kursk - the Ausf. D, with the original 'dustbin' commander's cupola and vertical flap on the right of the glacis plate for the hull machine gun, instead of the later ball mounting. Another early feature is the set of three smoke dischargers either side of the turret (non-functional, as I believe SF doesn't simulate tanks popping smoke) Edit - Steel Fury mission-maker and modder Lockie tells me 'SF has smoke grenades. To use them u need sit down on loader place and press "space" on keyboard to fire' . The other units either side of us didn't hang about, but soon shook out into formation and roared off towards the enemy defensive lines, which were more or less in plain sight and not too far off, either. It didn't stay quiet for long, as the air was soon filled with the din of combat. Already, tall columns of smoke arose from the battle's first victims, friend or foe. Everyone else might have been in a hurry but not me. I drove forward a little way into a small fold in the ground, where I halted and started scanning the ground ahead for signs of the enemy. ...to be continued!
  3. Red Storm - T-34 twosome

    The T-34 in Steel Fury and T-34-vs-Tiger Having gone up against T-34s in recently-reported missions in both SF '42 and T-v-T, I thought it was time to see how things looked through the other end of the telescope....through the gunsight of the famous Soviet tank, to be precise. This report is the result, featuring the same tank in both sims, for comparison. T-34-vs-Tiger is set during the period of the Soviet 1944 summer offensive, and the T-34-85 is the playable version. It's a fine replica, evidently an earlier production model with the prominent inverted 'U' turret lifting lugs and the two-piece commander's hatch. This sim also has the previous production version, commonly called both the Model 1943 and the Model 1942; but this isn't playable.This 76mm-gunned model's presence both adds variety and ensures that when playing the Tiger, you aren't always up against the top Soviet medium tank. SF '42 comes with an earlier T-34. To this, the modders have added two later versions: the Model 1942/43 and the T-34-85. All three versions are pictured below. I believe only the stock version (top) has 3-D interiors (second pic). These are certainly nice to have, but non-essential. All the Steel Fury T34s have superior animation to the T-v-T models, with working suspension and crew who open or close hatches as the tactical situation may dictate. The T-34-85 went into action in early 1944, replacing the original 76mm gun with a more potent 85mm weapon in a larger turret, which at last had a 3-man crew, so the commander no longer had to act as gunner, as well. My appetite for the T-34 was recently well whetted after watching 'White Tiger', a modern Russian film to which CA member Snailman had recently posted this link. It's a rather strange and spooky film and the Tiger in question is apparently an IS-2 conversion (seems they built a realistic Tiger replica but ended up using the Stalin tank conversion, which if nothing else certainly emphasises the point that this was no ordinary Tiger). Despite the strange plot and some overly fuel-filled special effects, the visuals are great, the performances strong and the tank action is not to be missed. Anyway, back in sim-land, the missions I chose to play are 'Liberating Krinovichi' from T-v-T's stock single-player 6-mission Soviet campaign and Steel Fury's 'Chernogostie', which is in one of the mission packs which go with the NTA mod. The T-v-T mission, as its name suggests, is offensive in nature; the SF '42 one is defensive. First up, it's T-v-T. Knowing that this sim's main antagonist is no less than the Tiger tank itself, I was expecting trouble, but glad that I'd be meeting it in the latest T-34. I reckoned that woud give me a fighting chance of avoiding ending up like this: ...to be continued!
  4. From the album Airsoft & military

    NTA mod home page: http://graviteam.com/forum/index.php?topic=10944.0
  5. Steel Fury joins the Deutsches Afrika Korps! Graviteam's tanksim Steel Fury - Kharkov 1942, as its name indicates, started out limited to the Eastern front, about a year into 'The Great Patriotic War' between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. However, thanks to the efforts of modders you can now travel a bit further afield in time and space! This mission report is set in the sim's original time frame. But for a battlefield, we're bidding adieu to the Steppes and are off instead to the desert of North Africa. Here were fought some of the war's classic tank battles, between the Germans and Italians on the one side and the British Commonwealth and later the USA, on the other. By mid-1942, the war in the desert had developed into a see-saw battle as first one side then the other enjoyed the advantage. In 1940, Operation Compass saw the British fling back westwards a much larger invading Italian force. The following year the British 'Desert Rats', robbed of troops to prop up the war in Greece, were in their turn flung back east towards Egypt by the Axis forces, now re-inforced by Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps. At the end of 1941, the British Operation Crusader, after some fierce battles, threw the Germans back again. In mid-1942, after a lull, the Afrika Korps was one more on the offensive; once again the British were pushed back well to the west. The mission The mission I'm playing here is 'Gazala', which signs me up with the famous 21st Panzer Division, justly famous for its combat record with the Afrika Korps. As usual, I'm using the latest NTA mod and the current Mission Pack. I also enabled the Africa mod, which I'm assuming is needed to replace the stock SF terrain with something appropriate for (in the words of that RAF song) '...a very pleasant land, where miles and miles of sweet eff-all are covered up with sand.' Full details of all the necessary items you need to get NTA installed with all the bells and whistles are over at the Graviteam Steel Fury forum, here. Edit, August 2014 - the NTA mod has been discontinued but its successor, the STA Mod, is now available: http://stasf2008.eph...d-on-steel-fury This mission starts off with an excellent German newsreel compilation from the theatre, some of it in colour or colourised. The briefing itself is in the stock SF style. This has rather a lot on the regimental/divisional battle picture which is fine, but not much on the company-level operation that you're involved with. The map gives you some idea what's going on but it's no substitute for something in the format of proper 'oral orders' given to you, and the other platoon commanders in your Combat Team, by your own company commander. Despite the 'Gazala' title, the mission is set on 26 June 1942, after the battle of that name. By this time, the victorious Germans and Italians were pressing on east towards the Egyptian frontier, and the date is more appropriate for the fighting that took place around Mersa Matruh. Here's the map for the mission. Basically I am part of a roughly company-strength tank/armoured infantry team, with no air or artillery support. We've to carry out an attack on British defensive positions either side and behind a long minefield of the sort that so often protected the infantry in this sort of warfare. While in the map screen, I called up the orders panel and selected line abreast formation and 'Do as I do', which I interpret as 'Conform to my movements and actions' and should really be default behaviour - Standard Operating Procedure or 'SOP', as it's called. My mount was billed as a Panzer IVF1. This has the short-barrelled 75mm gun more suited to infantry support, its low muzzle velocity limiting its effectiveness in the anti-tank role. For some reason I ended up instead with what the British called the 'Mark 4 Special', the Panzer IV F2 (later renamed as the G subtype). Part of the German response to the T-34 and KV-1, this had a much longer 75mm gun and was a potent tank-killer. Needless to say I had absolutely no objection to being up-gunned in this fashion! I switched to the gunner role (F2) and then toggled on the internal view (F9) and to the gunsight view (Insert). I selected and loaded an armour-piercing round. Then I toggled back to the external view (F9 again) for better situational awareness and to have a better look around at our force. It comprised a mix of Panzer IVs like my own, lighter Panzer IIIs with the short 50mm gun, and some Sturmgeschutze (assault guns) with short seventy-fives. Amongst us were panzergrenadiers in light and medium half-tracked Schutzenpanzerwagens (SPWs). There was even a soft-skinned Opel Blitz truck, living rather dangerously! It was quite an impressive phalanx, each vehicle raising a dark plume of dust as it rolled north towards the enemy. I ordered the driver to advance and joined the throng. As we moved off, orders came over the radio. These were in German and it was helpful to have them spelt out in a text panel atop the screen. The others set a fairly fast pace but I could not keep up. My driver ignored commands to go faster, and I gradually fell behind. Perhaps it was just as well, but my platoon - which I took to be the pair of long-barrelled Panzer IVs which I could see nearby - didn't wait for me. I have no idea why. There is a game setting ''Always obey orders' which i had turned off as recommended for a previous mission; perhaps that was why. Either way, I felt like the Duke of Plaza-Toro in that Gilbert and Sullivan song: In enterprise of martial kind When there was any fighting He led his regiment from behind He found it less exciting. I ended up watching the first phase of our assault through the gunsight. And this is what I saw. In the centre, enemy mortar or artillery fire whacked into our leading elements. Slightly right, some troops debussed from a light SPW which then then rattled on ahead. To my front, some more Panzergrenadiers had also debussed and were crawling ahead. I wondered whether it would have been safer for them to have stayed in their armoured carriers. Other dismounted infantry were being helped forward by other Panzers, like these Panzer IIIs. Feeling rather left out and seeing no sign of the enemy tanks reported on the right, I stopped and rattled off some rounds from the co-axial MG at what might have been an enemy heavy weapon which I could see as a rectangular-looking blob which came into sight above dip in the ground. I walked my tracers onto him until I saw the ricochets sail skywards. My target might just as well have been a rock but the shooting made me feel a little better, if nothing else. What this Panzer IV was doing sitting in the middle of a battle with all hatches open, I didn't know - immobilized and abandoned already, perhaps. The enemy position seemed to be in dead ground ahead of me; I rolled forwards again but I could see nothing of them, apart from the odd tracer whipping past on either side. That the defenders could clearly see at least some of us was obvious from the burning vehicles which began to appear around me as I slowly ground forward, accompanied for a while by another Panzer IV which may have been one of my platoon who had decided to stay with me, after all, By now, I'd begun to catch up with some of my comrades, as they paused to fire at targets which I could not yet see, like this Panzer III ahead and left of me. As that Panzer moved off and swung right, I noticed his turret spin around, as if he were tracking a target. Then I saw it too! A single enemy tank, some way off, was moving quite rapidly from right to left. He looked like a Valentine, a small but heavily-armoured British infantry tank, successor to the famous Maltida that reigned as 'Queen of the Battlefield' until our eighty-eights tore them apart at Halfaya Pass in '41. I knew that the Valentine would be a tough target for the Panzer III's short-barrelled 50mm gun. This one would be up to me! I set the range on my sight and lined him up with the lower right corner of the middle triangle. A little adjustment for his movement and my first round would be on its way. ...to be continued!
  6. Steel Fury - King Tiger!

    Going to war with the ultimate predator - the Koenigstiger heavy tank! For this mission reports, it's back to terra firma - speficically, to the snowy wastes of the Russian Front in World War Two. Our hosts are Graviteam, in the form of their excellent tank simulator Steel Fury - Kharkov 1942. The 'Kharkov 1942' bit of the title is now pretty well redundant, as modders have greatly extended the scope of the sim, not least into North Africa and with many later-war AFVs...including the tank which is the star of this particular show. The tank The mighty Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausfuehrung B - better known as the Tiger II or the King Tiger - needs little introduction. Combining the sloped armour that the Soviet T-34 taught the Germans to apply to tanks with the other design concepts of the original Tiger I, the King Tiger was one of the outstanding tank designs of World War 2; perhaps the most effective tank on the battlefield from the summer of 1944 till the end of the war. Its early transmission problems were dealt with and its reliability was soon adequate. With very thick armour all around and especially frontally, and a powerful gun that combimed deadly armour-piercing capability with extreme accuracy, the King Tiger was a formidable enemy, if you were unlucky enough to meet one in the field. They were not invincible, of course. In Normandy in July 1944, Lt John Gorman of the 2nd Battalion, Irish Guards, Guards Armoured Division, surpised a King Tiger but was perhaps himself surprised when his gunner's first round - they had a 75mm HE 'up the spout' - had little effect. The Sherman's gun then got a stoppage and Gorman ordered his driver to ram, which caused the startled German crew to bail out. Gorman's crew did likewise, one of them briefly sharing a ditch with the German tankers. A 'borrowed' Sherman Firefly's 17 pounder gun enabled the intrepid Gorman to settle the matter permanently. The mission One of these days I will go to virtual war in Steel Fury in a Panzer 38(t) or even a Panzer III. But for now, the prospect of fighting in, rather than against, heavily-armed and heavily-armoured tanks retains, for me, a certain irresistible appeal. So I was glad to find that the modders have not only provided SF with a King Tiger, but some missions for the beast as well. Here's the one I elected to play for this mission report - 'Counterstrike' by Deviator, with adjustments by Lockie and input also from Woofiedog and Tanker. I'm using the latest NTA mod, Lockie's latest mission pack, and the winter weather mod, all enabled via the indispensable Jonesoft Generic Mod Enabler (JSGME). The weather mod by Maleshkin transforms the standard SF environment into a winter wonderland which nicely captures the essence of the Eastern Front at its chilliest. Details of all of these are available over on the Graviteam Steel Fury forum, here. [Edit, August 2014 - the NTA add-on has been discontinued, but a successor, the Steel Tank Add-on (STA) is now available: http://stasf2008.ephpbb.com/t6-steel-tank-add-on-steel-fury ] It's worth mentioning that the this mission has a long video intro consisting of some excellent clips of German armour and other troops in action, including some combat camera footage I had not seen before - from the Deutsche Wochenschau newsreels by the look of it. And here's the mission. The screenie below was taken a little way into the mission itself, by which time my platoon of King Tigers (blue trapezoids) had driven out in front of the dismounted infantry we were supporting. It was early 1945 and the mission itself was a counterattack, by elements of the 3rd SS Panzer Division 'Totenkopf', on the village of Pettend in Hungary, a German ally which was then feeling the full weight of the Soviet steamroller as the red tide swept westwards towards the Reich. I have the orders panel turned off for clarity; incidentally, in-game, I also turned off the 'head up display (ammo load, turret orientation etc) using Ctrl+backspace and could also have turned off the orange diamond/arrowheads (Ctrl+|) that act as target indicators, which you can see in some of the screenshots which follow. The orders in the panel I have turned off tell us simply that our the aim is to seize and hold the village, destroying enemy forces in the area. From the markings on the map, these can be seen to consist of infantry defensive positions in an arc on the outskirts of the village, likely with tank support; I'm not ruling out the possibility that they may also have antitank guns. Our own force consists of our brave grenadiers in what appears to be weak company strength, with just my under-strength platoon of three King Tigers for fire support. Looking at the map, the terrain was fairly open and I contemplated going either left- or right-flanking. From either flank, I could have supported the advancing grenadiers by fire at roughly right-angles to their axis of advance, in the approved manner, perhaps finishing with an assault on Pettend timed to arrive on the objective at the same time as the troops, for maximum shock effect. But after milling about a bit the grenadiers seemed to be in a hurry to get at the Ivans rather than give me time for any fancy manoeuvres. So I formed us up in line formation and decided we would just roll on into the objective, ahead of the infantry, to shield them, and basically shooting anything that looked likely to hold them up. Plan made - time to get busy! I lined myself up and waited for my two other King Tigers to get into position, either side of my own tank. ...to be continued!
  7. Roaring into battle with the famous Tiger tank in 'Steel Fury - Kharkov 1942'! 'Tyger, tyger burning bright In the forest of the night What immortal hand or eye Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?' William Blake, 'The Tyger', 1794 And now, for something completely different. No, not a Monty Python sketch, but a change of pace and scenery: from the clear blue skies and snarling aero-engines of combat flightsims to the solid earth and thundering heavy weapons of perhaps the best available tanksim, from Ukrainian developers Graviteam - 'Steel Fury Kharkov 1942'. The sim My first tank sim was back in the early 1980s, believe it or not. It was played on my younger brother's Sinclair Spectrum and compared to 'Pong', 'Rommel's Revenge' was a revelation, albeit the wire-frame graphics were perhaps not quite what we're used to these days. Fun, though; I was pleased to see that it's been preserved for posterity on Youtube: Turn the clock forward about 15 years, and my first modern tanksim was Ultimation's 'Panzer Commander'. Graphics had come a long way and despite simplified (but very usable) targeting, odd bunker-based anti-tank guns and no infantry at all, this was a great product, with a dramatic musical theme and varied and engaging single-player campaigns covering US, British, Soviet and German tanks and AFVs. It was soon joined on my hard drive by another classic, Microprose's 'M1 Tank Platoon 2', showcasing the US Army's formidable M1A2 Abrams. This also had its vicissitudes, like near-instant deluges of lethal artillery fire which usually killed off any attached APCs early on and a tendency to over-rely for successful gameplay on the simulated IVIS real-time tactical display, where, as one reviewer put it, you could spend the whole battle watching little blue and red squares firing pixels at each other. Still, with high production values (including newsreel-style video intros from 'MPS News' to each of the campaigns) it was a great sim, a classic that, with a bit of fiddling, can be played on modern PCs and is still great fun: Tanksim fans were rather spoiled back in those days. There were other less capable but still fun modern tanksims like Novalogic's 'Armoured Fist 2' and 3 and Interactive Magic's 'Spearhead', soon joined by the original 'Steel Beasts' from eSim, which simulated the mechanics of tanking with unpredecented accuracy. For World War 2 fans, as well as 'Panzer Commander', there was Interactive Magic's 'iPanzer 1944', but the best of all came with Wings Simulation's 'Panzer Elite'. Modders soon appeared who tweaked the original rather cartoonish graphics and by the time the Special Edition arrived, this was clearly the premier WW2 tanksim, and I think still is, in many respects. This is not least due to the continued work of the mod community, notably Aldo and other members of the PE Development Group and BobR and the Ostpak team. PE is still playable on modern systems and well worth it, too, as seen in this 'playthrough' of the Beresov mission from Ostpak: And so to modern times. 'Steel Beasts' is now a grapically-improved professional military training tool with a spun-off version for simmers, and if you want something simpler and cheaper there's IDDK/Crazy House's 'T-72 Iron Warriors/Balkans on Fire'. Although you're often just a single tank driving around and clobbering stuff with little opportunity to co-operate with fellow AI, this looks good, has plenty of detail and plays well: http://store.steampowered.com/app/1670/ For World War 2, there was 'T-34 -vs- Tiger'. Like the same developer's 'T-72', this is a pretty good simulation of the operation of the featured vehicles. Again, you're essentially on your own in missions, with the other AI, friendly and enemy, acting out their scripted functions. Looks and sounds great though: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmyM-WLyd8U Which brings us to Ukranian developer Graviteam's 'Steel Fury Kharkov 1942', which at last puts you in the role of the leader of a platoon/troop of tanks and pitches you right into company-sized combined arms operations on the Eastern Front. While the original release featured a decent set of German and Russian tanks (including the Lend-Lease British Matilda infantry tank, of all things!) it was limited, as the title suggests, to the mid-1942 era. While the sim's mostly still Eastern Front only, the modders have been at work, making AI AFVs playable and adding new missions and vehicles. And unlike other Graviteam titles like the 'Achtung Panzer/Graviteam Tactics' series which are essentially wargames, or 'Steel Armour - Blaze of War' which is an unusual sort of tanksim within a 'strategy' game, SF'42 is a proper tanksim, through and through SF'42 was hard to come by for a while but is now available at GamersGate: http://www.gamersgate.co.uk/DD-SFURY/steel-fury-kharkov-1942 The mods are now de rigeur for anyone wanting to get the best of this sim and the best place to start is I think over on Tanksim.com: http://www.subsim.com/radioroom/showthread.php?t=178218 Edit - since writing this I've discovered that the best place for SF mods is Gaviteam's on forum for the sim: http://graviteam.com/forum/index.php?board=1.0 Use of Jonesoft's Gerneric Mod Enabler is essential and many mods seem set up to use it. Install order is important and as with most sims there are some aspects of modding with which you need to have a bit of patience. But most or all of what you need to know is there on Tanksim.com. And most of the stuff you'll want seems to be on Mediafire, here, courtesy of Godzilla1985: http://www.mediafire.com/?q38nkzaginphq Edit, August 2014 - the SPM mod was used for this mission; the later NTA mod has been discontinued, but its successor, the STA Mod, is now available and I think it's fair to say STA is the latest and most comprehensive mod for Steel Fury: http://stasf2008.eph...d-on-steel-fury Fancying a slice of tank action for a change, I dusted off my old modded install of SF '42 and knowing that it is better to give than to receive - especially if the 'present' is a solid round of 'Armour-Piercing Capped, Ballistic Capped' travelling at over 2,000 feet per second - I decided to start with my favourite tank - the German Tiger. Which by all accounts, is pretty good at both giving and receiving. The tank The Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger I needs little introduction. Its unsloped armour reflects the fact it was designed more for superiority over the likes of the British Matilda and French Somua than the T-34 or KV-1 which so shocked the Germans on meeting them in the summer of 1941. But the Tiger proved an excellent antidote to the superb Soviet tanks and indeed, to the Shermans, Cromwells and Churchills it would meet in the Mediterranean and North-West European Theatres. 'Nuff said, except that I count myself privileged to have met the mighty Tiger 131, now restored to running order and authentic appearance by the Royal Armoured Corps Tank Museum at Bovington Camp, Dorset, having been captured, abandoned, from Schwere Panzer Abteilung 504 at Medjez el Bab, Tunisia in April 1943 after being damaged by Churchills of 48 RTR: The mission Here's the mission briefing; the tail end of it, anyway. It's preceded with other sections which help set the scene, telling me that my platoon of three Tigers is part of a Kampfgruppe of Panzer Regiment 201, 23rd Panzer Division, tasked with following up a successful counterattack. Our Kampfgruppe appears to be a combined arms force of reinforced company size, with artillery and air support. Our mission is in two phases - first to destroy enemy defensive positions along a low crest then to swing left and clear the village of Nepokrytoe. While the briefing has the semblance of military orders it could still be rather better presented. The current NATO format for 'orders' like these - Ground (technically a preliminary to the orders), Situation, Mission, Execution, Service/Support and Command and Signal - would be better. Not unrealistic either, as it is essentially the same as the British WW2 format (with detail differences, eg 'Situation' was 'Information') adopted also by the Americans. Convergent evolution being what it is, the German WW2 format wasn't much different. The SF'42 format doesn't give me as much info as I'd like on the operation, eg the composition of the other subunits my platoon's operating with. And the attack itself could have been better described, more clearly broken down into its two constituent and distinct phases, with the detailed tasks given for each subunit for each phase stated, including my own. As it was, while the narrative didn't provide a clear picture of the composition of our force this was apparent from the map, which showed unit type symbols - diamonds are tanks, the 'pointy rectangles' are infantry in APCs. In our case the APCs are SPWs (Schutzenpanzerwagen) as the Germans called their Hanomag half-tracked armoured personnel carriers. The map itself isn't bad but despite the presence of contours and the occasional spot height, it doesn't make the lie of the land very clear (a vital consideration in ground ops) and it doesn't zoom out enough, so you have to pan around to try to orient yourself properly. The map screen is also were you can issue orders to your platoon, which you can do 'in game' only by calling up and clicking on this map - there are no hotkeys to order (eg) a formation change. The scope for giving orders is pretty low, perhaps better suiting Soviet tanks where radios were limited and hand or flag signals were the norm. The most useful orders are 'do as I do! and basic formation commands, options being line (abreast), column/single file, a sort of 'blob' (as near as you'll get to the common arrowhead or wedge formation) and the ability to order 'spread out!' or 'close in!' I probably need to spend a bit more time on this map/briefing screen to better appreciate its facilities. One other issue is that the map is from the original sim which is for operations in the Kharkov area in mid-1942. While this wasn't the only period when there was fighting around this town, even my mission's date is in May 1942, some months before the Tiger first appeared in action, in the Leningrad sector in September 1942. But this is a modder-made tank in a modder-made single mission which makes the best use of what's available, and I for one am most grateful for the opportunity to fight in a Tiger in a modern sim. From the map, I could see that my platoon was sited to the centre rear of the mission's Start Line, which was a track running across our front. You can see this more clearly below, with the briefing panel minimised. We are the three blue diamonds, roughly bottom centre. To our right are some Panzergrenadiers in their SPWs. To our left are some more SPWs with more tanks, all still in column formation until they reach the Start Line clear of the woods. The latter will evidently be our Kampfgruppe's left-hand boundary. So I will be in the centre, as ordered, with a Panzer Grenadier platoon each side, with some other tanks for a bit of extra firepower. Enough of the preliminaries! Time to get the show on the road. I started the mission, the loading screen helpfully giving me a snippet from a German tanker's manual, this one a warning that stopping after spotting an AT gun close by was suicidal and that only a fast-moving attack with all weapons would do. I'd try to remember that! Soon, I found my virtual self standing tall, hatch open, in the commander's cupola of my Tiger, looking up at the Start Line, which I could make out in the form of a line of trees interspersed with telegraph poles, maybe a hundred meters ahead. Here we go! ...to be continued!
  8. Hell on Wheels - SF '42

    Fighting in the M4 Sherman in Steel Fury - Kharkov 1942! Until recently, I didn't realise that Graviteam's Eastern Front WW2 tanksim lets you sign up as a US Army tanker and fight in the famous M4 Sherman tank. It doesn't of course...at least, not out-of-the-box. But SF '42 is one of those sims which has been much enhanced by the work of that intrepid and talented group of people we call 'modders'. And the 'New Tank Add-on' (NTA) mod - current version, NTA 1.8 - includes a Sherman and missions for it. Keen to go to virtual war in an M4 - and to fight some battles in places whose names I could actually pronounce - this was one tank I had to try out. The mod Jonesoft Generic Mod Enabler is a must for SF '42 and I have it set up so I can play with either the Steel Panzer Mod (SPM) version 2.0 or NTA 1.8. Each has its own install order for the main mod and some recommended or essential extra components. It's not-at-all complicated to get set up; main thing is, use JSGME and enable or disable the mods, after installing them into JSGME's 'Mods' folder, in the right sequence. It's all here: http://graviteam.com/forum/index.php?topic=10944.0 (NTA) ...and here: http://graviteam.com/forum/index.php?topic=11026.0 (SPM). NTA 1.8 is apparently the most recent and complete mod and that's what I'm using for this mission, along with the associated sound mod, mission packs and update. Edit, August 2014 - the NTA mod has been discontinued but its successor, the STA Mod, is now available: http://stasf2008.eph...d-on-steel-fury The tank Like the Tiger featured in my last SF '42 mission report, the M4 General Sherman needs little introduction. Nicknamed rather derisively the 'Tommy Cooker' or the 'Ronson' (after the cigarette lighter's slogan, 'lights first time'), the M4 may have earned an unenviable reputation for burning when penetrated and it mighn't have been a match for some of the later German tanks in a straight fight. But when it appeared in action with the British Eighth Army in North Africa in 1942, it was one of the best tanks in the world. Even in 1944-45, it could do many of the things a tank had to do, as well or better than its opponents. Strong points included a decent dual-purpose gun, reliability and fast turret traverse The NTA Sherman is a late WW2 model M4A3, with the 47 degree, single piece upper hull front with larger driver and radio operator hatches; the T23-type turret with 'vision' cupola for the commander; 76mm gun; and internally, wet ammo stowage to reduce the fire risk. The 76 is of course a better AT weapon than the earlier 75mm, comparable to the German long-barrelled 7.5cm KwK 40 tank and Pak 40 anti-tank guns and able to fire APCR tungsten-cored rounds. The latter gave the Sherman 76 a better chance against the later German tanks at shorter ranges but was reportedly in short supply in tank units, being reserved mainly for the Tank Destroyer force, whose towed and self-propelled 76mm guns were supposed to be the main counter to enemy tanks, in US doctrine. The SF '42 M4A3(76) is a really nice rendition, with a just a hint of the 'gypsy caravan' look from external stowage and extra track sections on the hull front for extra protection. There are no interiors; these are of limited use anyway, as you can play just fine from the third person external view or (in the first-person view) from either the hatch-open view or the gunsight/periscope/vision port view. The mission From the list of available single missions, I chose 'Everything, but the Bridge!' by prolific Ukranian mission-maker Lockie. This is part of mission pack 2.1, which I think is designed for the NTA mod. Like Lockie's other missions, this comes with a neat loading screen, which includes a tantalising excerpt from a report of an engagement during the Battle of the Bulge, the historical setting for this mission. The German Ardennes Offensive in December 1944 is probably familiar to most of us, if only from the well-known Hollywood movie which featured grey-painted Spanish Army M47s acting as King Tigers, M24 Chaffees acting as Shermans, and that famous rendition of the Panzerlied with Robert Shaw. As that French General said on observing the charge of the Light Brigade, 'C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la guerre!' I haven't played much SF '42 until dusting it off recently but in my experience, the typical mission is a deliberate but rather chaotic attack by a combined arms company-based combat team. This one was clearly going to be very different, as I could see from the briefing. Here it is; the mission map anyway. I have minimised the text briefing as it hides a lot of the map and in this case, it told me nothing much, except to defend the bridge: My little outfit is the trio of red diamonds, bottom centre-left. The bridge is in the middle. From the tactical symbols, the defenders - on the left bank apart from one AT gun - comprise some dismounted infantry, some soft-skimmed vehicles, a single tank, and a handful of anti-tank guns, likely the 57mm ones derived from the British 6-pounder, used by US Infantry Divisions. I believe the map is a re-labelled version of one of the Ukranian ones that come with the sim. The terrain itself is fairly level, not what you'd expect for the Ardennes. It might have been a good idea if I had enabled the winter weather mod to produce snowscapes appropriate for at least the later stages of the Battle of the Bulge but I don't know if it's compatible and I stuck with the original. Even though this mission is evidently an ad hoc operation, I'd have preferred a fuller, more immersive 'battle picture' and more scene-setting, in the mission briefing. Here’s how I ended up picturing the briefing, in my own mind: You're a lieutenant in the US Army commanding a platoon of three 76mm-armed M4 tanks from the 66th Tank Regiment, Second Armoured Division, the famous 'Hell on Wheels'. In the confusion following the Division's sudden redeployment to deal with the German Ardennes Offensive, your platoon has become separated from your unit. As you motor uncertainly along a track beside a river, an infantry major and his radio operator step out of the trees to your left and wave you down. The major looks tired but business-like, waving his '45 like he means to use it. 'I'm the Officer Commanding, Company B, First Battalion, 145th Infantry. I don't care who you are or where you're going, but starting right now, you're working for me. Look at this map. There's a bridge over the Roer River here. It's on your right, just a few hundred yards ahead of you. See it? There's also a whole bunch of Kraut tanks and infantry heading straight for it, coming from way over there, on your far left - see those blue arrows on the map? Company B - what's left of us - is in a defensive perimeter, on the near side of the bridge, with a few 57mm AT guns. The Krauts musn't get that bridge. We've to hold it, at all costs. No more bug-outs. Take your three M4s up there and keep the Krauts away from the bridge. Their tanks are your priority targets. Your choice, where you set up. But do it quick. Move out NOW!' They say 'Time spent in reconnaisance is never wasted'. For this mission, as usual in sims and often in real life, my recce would have to be a map one. First job before starting the mission was to take the map and my orders and make a quick Combat Appreciation. For this sort of thing, I used an abbreviated format we were taught by a captain in the RM Commandos - good enough for the booties, good enough for me. It's 'Aim - Enemy - Ground - Plan' and here goes my quick effort for this mission. Aim - the easy bit, to destroy any Germans making for the bridge. Enemy - tanks and infantry in unknown, but possibly company group, strength, shortly likely to cross my front from left to right, headed for the bridge. Ground - looking towards the enemy from the bridge: on the left, a treeline with good cover and some room to manoeuvre; in the centre, a large open space with little cover, which the enemy will likely have to cross, a good killing ground; to the right, a narrow treeline backed by a bend in the river which severely limits mobility that way. Contour lines are few and gentle so the terrain looks rather flat, apart from the rather shallow river banks and a very low hillock to my immediate left. Basically, I'm looking for covered, preferably hull-down firing positions on the enemy's lighter-armoured flanks. Plan - move to positions in the tree line to the left of Company B's defended locality. Fire into the flanks of the enemy as he crosses my front from left to right, heading for the bridge. My tanks to be in a line, set back from the treeline, sacrificing wider arcs of fire for better concealment. Change firing positions every few rounds, as one does. Cover from fire would be nice but accept cover from view if that's all I can get up there, as seems likely. Plan made, I loaded the mission and roared off down the track towards the bridge, trying hard not to veer off and fall into the river, conventional Sherman gun tanks not being noted for being amphibious, notwithstanding the abilities of DD versions. Looking behind me only to see my other two tanks immobile, I realised I'd forgotten to brief them. The F8 key brought up the map again and from its command and control icons, I ordered single file/column formation and 'do as I do'. As they caught up, I pressed on. About 50 meters before the trees on my left petered out, I turned 90 degrees left and rumbled through the woods, some distance inside and parallel to the treeline from which I intended to catch the enemy with flanking fire. As I motored on, the trees thinned out but I was still screened from the killing ground to my right by a decent line of smaller trees. From that direction, the cacophony of sound I could hear above my engine noise indicated that the battle was already in full swing. I'm using the recommended NTA sound mod, which I assume was responsible for the US tanker voices I could hear on the intercom. This mod changes many of the other sound effects too; hard to say from one usage whether or not I prefer it to stock, which is pretty good too. Anyway, I pressed on, more cautiously now. The woods thickened up around me and I swung 90 degrees right, to face the edge of the treeline. Beyond, the enemy seemed already to be advancing, heard but not yet seen through the screen of foliage in front of my tank. I began to edge slowly forward, to the point where I would acquire a narrow line of sight out into the killing ground. As I did so, I ordered my tanks into line abreast, anxiously looking around to see how well my AI Tank Commanders would cope with my series of manoeuvres. The answer, alas, was 'none too well!' ...to be continued!
  9. Tiger I - Steel Fury Kharkov 1942

    From the album Airsoft & military

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