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Found 17 results

  1. From the album Combat Sims

    East of Presles scenario, Op Bluecoat, 4 Aug 44. 3 Troop, A Sqn, 23rd Hussars moves east with 2 Troop on its right. Improved Sherman models not yet available.
  2. From the album Combat Sims

    East of Presles scenario, Op Bluecoat, 4 Aug 44. 3 Troop, A Sqn, 23rd Hussars attempts to flank whatever has burned the Shermans of 2 Troop, on its right. Improved Sherman models not yet available.
  3. First peep at a new mission for a new mod for an old tanksim! If anyone's been wondering what's stifled the flow of mission reports for several weeks, this is the answer. As in, working with Panzer Elite guru 'Brit 44' Aldo on a new mod for that sim. You may wonder why, precisely - pure nostalgia apart - anyone would want to put time and effort into a simulation first released about eighteen years ago. Well, the answer of course is that several people are, because good old 'PE' is still one of the very best tank simulators you can play today. As well as adding to the considerable scope and content of the original, several available mods improve the original rather brash, almost 'cartoony' graphics to the point they are still quite serviceable, if little competition in the eye candy stakes for newer products like the excellent Graviteam Steel Fury - Kharkov 1942 and Steel Armor - Blaze of War. Recent work has adopted the latest core code files developed by Aldo, known as PE-x, and which over time implemented a whole range of improvements ranging from accurate time of flight/ballistics with proper tracer effects, better tank and infantry AI, and better visuals including an extended maximum view range and fogging with distance. Slomo's PP2-x has been out for a while, and featured many much-improved tank models, like the US Sherman and German Panther pictured below. And just recently, Daskal released Ostpak Redux, a makeover of the full game to PE-x standards but also building in the famous Ostpak Eastern Front mod and other, additional campaigns which add the early Blitzkrieg of 1939-40 and the Western Desert to the original three stock campaigns - Tunisia, Italy and Normandy. Along with Michael Y's 'Monty v Rommel' mod, my PE favourite was always Britpack '44, which replaced the US Normandy kit with a very comprehensive set of British AFVs, soft-skins, guns and troops - heck, there was even a Sherman DD 'swimming' tank... Sadly, Britpack '44 never got updated to PE-x standards. But this work is now under way, with Aldo doing the heavy lifting/smart stuff, and myself trying to break it (aka testing) plus adding new missions. The original Britpack '44 - introduced with Panzer Elite Special Edition, 'PESE' to its friends, in 2001 - made minimal changes to the stock US Normandy missions, beyond replacing the US kit with British stuff. The battles were all US bocage ops from July-August 1944, complete with original 'briefings', usually given by what sounded like a private soldier from the Bronx irritatingly laying out the law to, or even chewing out, his superiors. Back in the day, I recorded a British Voice Pack, still available, so that at least once you were playing, you didn't have to pretend that you were in a Canadian unit every time. This time, while I am adapting the stock mission maps to save time, all the operations are entirey new, and feature realistic mission orders (incorrectly called 'briefings') delivered in an appropriate format and (except for single troop/platoon missions) given by your company commander to all his troop leaders, not just to the player. Apart from the first mission - there will be at least twelve - all are set during Operation Bluecoat, which was fought next to the US sector in Normandy and in similar bocage country, just a few miles east of the actual historical battlefields so accurately reproduced in the PE Normandy campaign. All I have done is re-label a few towns - and replace the 'cartoon' mission maps with the real c.1944 alternatives, scans of which were very helpfuly included by developers Wings Simulations with the project files in PESE. So instead of something like this... ...you get something like this... ...complete with the contours you need to be able to get a decent picture of the all-important lie of the land. You can see where I have crudely edited in new placenames to suit the mission, the map having been chosen to portray at least some of the topography relevant to the actual battles. And by 'actual battles' I mean that the missions - 'scenarios' in PE Speak - are, like the stock PE ones, scaled down or localised representations of actual historical actions. The original plan was to create a set following the career of an individual unit but as any tankie memoir will show you, they spent significant periods out of the line. So to fit in with Bluecoat's relatively short duration - and to showcase the variety of British vehicles available - I have settled for featuring different historical units. Unlike PE, which doesn't tell you which unit you're serving with, in my missions the player is an actual named participant in a named unit which fought in the real battle. For example, in 'Dickie's Bridge' you are Lt Dickie Powle of 2 HCR whose armoured car patrol famously secured the bridge he gave his name to, well behind German lines (porous as they were) on Day 2 of the operation. We don't have the correct Daimler Armoured and Scout Cars it's now known he used, but the Humber Armoured Car we do have makes a nice substitute, clad in modder and artist Geezer's fine, well-muddied textures. The first mission is 'South of Hill 112', whch I started on over 20 years ago (!) but gave up on getting working in the version of PE then available (well short of the PE-x we have now). Also a casualty back then was a planned 'Yankeepak' of additional US missions, which foundered in circumstaces now lost to fading memories. The first thing I did on retrning to the fray was fix Hill 112, which is still not perfect but now functions much more reliably, and as the sort of reasonably authentic portrayal of a real tank-infantry action that I thought PE's stock missions didn't represent terribly well, seeming to play out like a platoon drive in the countryside, rather than a proper company-level operation. After this scenario, the action switches to Bluecoat, at the end of July 1944, This was a much more successful operation than the famous and costly tank action of Operation Goodwood which preceeded it to the east of the Normandy bridgehead. Ian Daglish's excellent Pen & Sword Battleground Europework on the Op is my main source, and provides good unit-level descriptions of the actions I'm attempting to recreate now for Britpack '44-x. 'Enter the Tigers' I'll illustrate this piece next with a short report on the scenario I'm currently working on. This action was fought on 2nd August, by which time the British advance had pressed well south from their Start Lines near Caumont, past St Martin des Besaces and Hills 309 and 226 nearby - the latter being where 3 Scots Guards's Churchills were famously mauled by the Jagdpanthers of sch.Pz. Abt 654, a battle I have already completed for Britpack '44-x. This next action was also fought by Churchills of 6 Guards Tank Brigade, this time by the Coldstream Guards. My version of the battle sends a squadron of that unit's Churchill Mk IVs to re-inforce the Seaforth Highlanders on Hill 309, who are being flayed by enemy mortar and artillery fire and facing a counterattack by elements of 21 Panzer Division, supported by some King Tigers from 3 Kompanie, sch, Pz. Abt. 503. The real attack was intended to cut off the British drive by severing the spear near its base, but floundered in the face of stout tank and infantry resistance backed up by torrents of British artillery fire, of the sort said to have resulted in at least one German prisoner asking to be allowed to see the infamous British wonder-weapon, the belt-fed, multi-barrelled 25 Pounder gun. The mission's not completed yet, but from the playthroughs so far, it's just as well that I am equally well supported by artillery! We'll have a look at some scenes from the battlefield, next, before I mention what else to expect from Britpack '44-x, and when. ...to be continued!
  4. 'We're the D-Day Dodgers, in sunny Ital-ee...' It's an eloquent testimony to both exceptional design and the skill of its mod community, that Panzer Elite, first released in 1999, is still one of the best tank simulators you can play, sixteen years later. Sims like WW2 Battle Tanks (despite the awful AI) and Steel Fury (the only other WW2 tanksim in the same class as PE) can boast much better graphics and some other points of superiority. But good old PE still beats them all, in some important fields. Not the least of these are decent representation of both radio and intercom traffic; very good platoon command and control facilities; and a superb, linked set of single player campaigns, which enables you to start in Tunisia, move on to Italy and then finish off in Normandy, fighting for either the US Army or the Wehrmacht. And that's before the modders added France 1940, Libya 1941-2 and the Eastern Front, plus new playable nationalities like the British and Red Armies. Modder Slomo's Panzer Pack 2x (PP2x) has recently been enhanced by the addition of a vehicle update, which you can get along with the mod itself, via the links here, on the PE Development Group PP2x subforum. The update adds new M4 Shermans, which have 3-d wheels and suspension and better animation, including tank commander figures which can close hatches. There are 75 and 76mm-gunned versions and if you want something that will keep out more of the German weapons, there's a 'Jumbo' M4A3E2 heavy version, too. The 'x' in 'PP2x' signifies that the mod uses Brit44 Aldo's new PE executable, whose latest version adds smoother movement of vehicles to the other improvements, the most significant of which is probably proper 'time of flight' and ballistic trajectories, so that you can see your tracers arc towards the enemy, and more to the point, see their tracers arecing towards you! It's hard to over-state the improvement this mod brings to PE. Anyhow, to try out the Shermans, I decided to join 'the D-day Dodgers', as the Allied troops in Italy sardonically referred to themselves. You can start off a PE campaign in any of the three 'sub-campaigns' (as well as playing any individual campaign mission, via the 'Single Mission' option) so you don't have to play all the way through the Tunisia segment, if you want to begin 'in sunny Ital-ee'. As I did. In fact, the first missions are on Sicily, where the British and Americans first landed. As usual in PE, you start at a nice rendering of your platoon waiting to move up, here set in a typical Italian plaza. PE often starts you with a mix of vehicles for your platoon, but here, I have already replaced an M5 light tank and an M10 tank destroyer with Shermans. I chose a mix of the round-hulled M4A1 and the original M4, which would have been found in the same units as they had the same engine. Seventy-six millimetre-gunned versions didn't arrive until Normandy, so we've all got 75s, as you can see. The little white dog visible between the water trough and the right-hand Sherman is fully-animated! Truly, they don't make sims like this any more. At this screen you can do things like check out your crew skills and move people around; add any available modifications to your tanks (like in some cases radios, or extra armour) and adjust your ammo supply. When you're ready, you click on the trestle table (behind the two and a half ton truck) and that starts the briefing (or more accurately, your orders) for the mission. So that's waht we'll look at, next. ...to be continued!
  5. The old girl's back at the front! Wing's Simulations' Panzer Elite - not to be confused with the later 'arcade' tank game Panzer Elite Action - was the doyen of tanksims for many years and in many ways, she still is. With the classic Panzer Elite Special Edition (PE-SE), which included a series of major mods, you could fight your way through campaigns in Libya, Tunisia, Italy, North-West Europe and Russia with British, German, US and Soviet forces, fighting from a great variety of tanks. Artillery support, infantry, A/T guns, light armour and soft-skinned vehicles were all there. Briefings were accompanied by animated maps and voiceovers. Platoon command and control was second to none and better than nearly everything else. Radio and intercom traffic was pretty thoroughly represented. You could swap around crew members with different skills and, within some limits, choose your ammo loadout and some optional extras for your tanks. The years passed and better-looking tanksims appeared, good and not-so-good, but some of PE's talented modders didn't give up and improvements continued to be made, notably time of flight for projectiles and better graphics. This mission report is my first serious outing with a new PE mod, still in beta but already showing the way ahead for PE - Panzer Pack 2-X, or PP2-X. The original Panzer Pack by the Lenort brothers was one of the original big mods for the sim, geared towards multiplayer. Its latest incarnation is by modder Slomo, based on a new PE .exe from fellow modder Brit44 'Aldo'. Main visible improvements include some much better tank models, with 3-dimensional and better-animated wheels and track, which had been 2-dimensional, even on previously-improved models. The latest version of PP2-x also includes more recent work by Aldo which pretty well eliminates the tendency of PE tanks to teeter sometimes like they were made of cardboard, as they moved on uneven terrain, which makes for a big improvement to my eye. Many tank and other models are still the originals from PE-SE, but these are gradually being replaced as work on the beta progresses. As things stand, PP2-x is a mod for the basic sim, so doesn't add Eastern Front, Libyan or other campaigns; to play these in their latest versions, you'll need a different mod, BobR's PE3, which I used in my last PE mission reprot, fighting the Sherman Firefly.. Details of PP2-X are available here: http://pedg.yuku.com/forums/52/PP2X#.VG0pTcnHSRE. Graphics and animations are still not up to the latest standards but especially with the new tanks, are a tremendous step forward from the originals and they really give this fine sim a new lease of life. Having installed PP-2x (latest version 1.2) in my 'mods' folder and enabled it using the JSGME-like Mod Enabler that comes with PE-SE, I decided to play for the Wehrmacht, starting with the first mission in the Normandy campaign, 'St Lo - 3 July 1944', a mission which all the PE old hands will know well! Here's the screen that greets you when you start. Your platoon awaits you! You can see your allocated tanks, parked up in front of a slightly-knocked about farmhouse. In the centre stands your 'adjudant', in practice your platoon sergeant whose animated figure, when clicked on, will open up the options that your industrious second-in-command will be able to organise for you, as befits the abilities of the professional Senior NCO that you, a mere Lieutenant, will be glad to rely upon. Click on the tanks and you can choose to replace them (which I usually do, if only to get a platoon that is realistically equipped with the same model of tank). You can also choose to move crewmen or add realistically-available features, like skirt armour ('schurzen') for German tanks. Long-time PE players will recall that the cow moves and moos! It's been a lo-o-o-ong time since sim developers put this kind of care into creating an immersive front end. In the pic below, I have replaced my Panzer IIIN (short 7.5cm gun) with a late model Panzer IV to match my other tanks - a mix of Panzer IV H and J versions, all with long-barrelled 7.5cm guns, the J model being a late war 'economy' type with manual-only turret traverse and other simplifications. I am also adding available upgrades - some extra protection, including spaced armour for both turret and hull sides, as normally carried from about mid-1943 (hull spaced armour was frequently lost, but the turret 'skirt' generally stayed put). Having already set my realisim options to my taste (via the 'adjudant'), it was time to kick off the mission briefing. Here is the basic mission map. The voiceover and map markings, which appear one after the other, talk and walk you through the mission - again, a touch that few other sims have equalled, before or since. Basically, our 4-tank platoon has formed up at the hamlet of la Corbierre and is to move a short distance to the north, to la Croix de Pirou, to help defend that village against imminent, concentric US Army attacks. We are supporting some Panzergrenadiers in that place and are ourselves supported by two other platoons which will follow us, plus others on the flanks. As usual in PE, your side's little battlegroup is a mix of different platoons with often unspecified but varied equipment, when a more coherent, more homogenous force, with slightly less variety and tied more closely together in what they are doing, might be more realistic. Here's how the briefing looks when it's stopped playing through. The green arrows are the expected, concentric US attacks, while the blue markings indicate our (German) positions and movements. If we can't hold la Croix de Pirou, we have been told we can fall back to la Corbierre, whence we came, and if it goes really badly t*ts up, then St Giles to the south is where we must make our stand, with a platoon of anti-tank guns already there as a last line of defence. I clicked the icons on the right to review advice, weather etc and then had a good look at the map, to choose my firing positions. These I intended to occupy at once, rather than waiting for the enemy to appear, in this fairly close country, where lines of sight and fire were rather short and nasty surprises could creep up on you rapidly. On the left, the ground was fairly level, with open terrain ahead of the village. This open area looked like a possible killing ground but fire positions in that direction lacked hard cover, just limited cover from view amongst some shrubbery and little scope to 'shoot and scoot' under cover, from fire position to fire position. In the centre was the village itself, an obvious target for enemy artillery and while providing some cover from direct fire, this would also limit my own arcs of view and fire, while separating my tanks from each other. On the right was higher ground, with a fair bit of soft cover and some countours which suggested better fire positions, possibly hull down, from which I could shoot and scoot, while possibly firing from the advancing enemy's flank, as they came into that open ground. Plan made - I'd move out wide to the right in column formation, turn back left when just ahead of Croix de Pirou, and then go into line abreast, edging the platoon, in that formation, into our initial fire positions. My plan made and the mission loaded, I ordered my tanks into column and we roared off to the right. Here we go, boys! Let's see if we can teach these impertinent Amis a thing or two, about what German Panzers can do! ...to be continued!

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