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Found 28 results

  1. SABOW - M60 day attack!

    An uncertain turn of events in a later round in my Iran-Iraq War campaign! My first M60 campaign in SABOW is proving to be something of a roller-coaster ride. And an expensive one! Back in daylight after the opening mission during the hours of darkness, we seemed to be doing quite well in mission #2, playing our part in the Iranian counter-offensive against the invading Iraqis. The culmination of my plans in that mission was a combined tank-infantry attack on a Iranian defended locality. With no artillery support and therefore no chance of a smokescreen, the risky part was a final dash over a stretch of open ground, to reach the objective. We had got about half-way across, when a tracer round zipped in from our right. Next thing you know, our little force is being torn to bits by fire from an enemy T-55 platoon, which had decided to flank attack our flank attack. No matter how many times you have read accounts of battles like Operation Goodwood, it's still shocking just how fast a formation of tanks can be converted to scrap metal, But that's what happened. Most of the APCs survived the subsequent fire-fight, but most of our tanks didn't. Though the surviving Iraqi tanks withdrew and our objective was gained, it was at considerable cost. Despite all that, the next mission, also in daylight, started promisingly enough. Overall, it seemed that our Iranian counterattack was going well and my formation, the 3rd Armored Brigade, was playing its part. The next battle was a bit of a teaser, though. Intelligence apparently indicated that the enemy had decided to counterattack our counterattack, which of course they are perfectly entitled to do. This intention is shown by the large, triangular ,blue enemy arrow, pointing north-north-east. However, from the red, friendly arrow going the other way, it seemed we were also expected to attack, in the opposite direction, towards the enemy position marked 'Babylon1' - generating a meeting engagement. The smaller red and blue (more rectangular) arrows to the right apparently denote pre-battle moves, during the prior 'operational' phase, though why there are both enemy and friendly moves starting and ending in my territory, I do not know. Anyhow I decided to try to box clever, resulting in the dispositions you can see above. I would stand on the defensive first, and destroy by fire from covered positions the anticipated enemy attack as it crossed the relatively open ground to the north of the central irrigation channel. After that - or if the enemy didn't attack, after all - I would then go over onto the offensive. This plan seemed more sensible than driving forward to meet an advancing enemy somewhere in 'no-man's land'. I always like to start a battle with a plan, even if it may be a bad plan and even if it doesn't survive contact with the enemy. They say that a bad plan is better than no plan at all. I tend to agree. I had just three platoons, two of tanks and one of mech infantry. I put the latter in the woods to the west, to cover my right flank where the battle lines ran north-south. A tank platoon with three M60s I set up in the same woods, further east, placed so as to fire out over the open ground towards the expected enemy advance. Not very subtle but we had a key point, 'Xerxes 2' in that spot and I was determined not to lose that. The more subtle part of this plan was the placement of my other platoon - which had five M60s - in a strip of wood over to the east. Their position had an irrigation channel to its rear whose banks might provide them with cover to move north or south if need be; but above all else it had a good overlapping field of fire with the other tank platoon, covering the open ground in front of 'Xerxes 1'. An enemy force attempting to advance across that ground would be destroyed by concentric tank fire from 'Xerxes 1' and from its right flank. As usual I had no artillery or air support, so this battle would be won or lost by the marksmanship and battle drills of my eight tanks. I felt reasonably confident that the combined fires of eight 105mm guns would make life very difficult for any Iraqis who ventured into my chosen killing ground. I had made my plan and deployed my troops. Now, it was time to wait and see what the other guy had in mind. ...to be continued!
  2. SABOW - M60 night attack

    On campaign in the classic US Main Battle Tank! Having throughly enjoyed fighting in SABOW's Iran-Iraq War campaign in a T-62, I decided it was time to swap sides and have a crack with the M60A1, fighting now for the Iranians. The latest (May 2015) patch adds some graphical and other improvements, including some new training missions. Such is SABOW's considerable and admirable depth as both tanksim and tactical wargame, I'm still a relative novice and in particular, have had little 'tread time' with the elegant US MBT. This is something which the recently-once-more-expanded set of training or single missions would have allowed me to rectify. But no, impatient as always, I decided to jump in at the deep(er) end and go straight on campaign! The SABOW Iranian M60 campaign is actually chronologically ahead of the Iraqi T-62 one I played first. Both take place during the battle near Sousangerd, where, in difficult terrain, the Iranians mounted a large-scale armoured attack designed to roll back the Iraqi offensives which had started the war. This was ultimately unsuccessful, but that is yet to come. For now, the ball is in the Iranian court and we are about to launch the big counter-offensive. The campaign opens with the player in command of strong Iranian tank forces, massed to the east of the Iraqis. And my first battle in this new campaign was to be a night action! On the map below, the green tank icons represent playable M60 platoons, the red ones other player-controllable friendly forces, and the pink ones (actually yellow, against a pale red background) denote friendly, non-player-controllable units. The blue areas and icons represent Iraqi (enemy) territory and forces. As yet, the lack of markings on the enemy side indicates that we know little or nothing of the forces arrayed against us. The blue circles I believe mark 'key points' which, depending on their relative importance, represent points (in the other, scoring sense) that will contribute to determining who is winning, depending on who is left in possession of the positions they mark. SABOW allows you some scope to move units about at this 'operational' stage but there seemed to be little need here. Besides, the SABOW wargame element was already offering me two imminent battles on the map and I decided to accept one of them now - the more westerly one, IIRC. The map screenshot below was actually taken after the battle, because I I forgot to take one beforehand; but the dispositions it shows are essentially the same, as far as I can recall. In SABOW, you have the option of disabling night battles. Although I’m not especially scared of the dark, I do like to see what I’m doing! But I had resisted the temptation to turn off night fighting. It’s an important part of the SABOW campaign experience, groping around in the dark with only first generation night fighting aids. There’s none of the modern thermal imaging (aka passive Infra Red, forming images from the heat emitted by vehicles or personnel) which makes night-fighting in sims like M1 Tank Platoon II or Steel Beasts relatively easy. In SABOW, you have instead active IR: headlights or spotlights whose light, invisible to the naked eye, can be seen by anyone – friend or enemy! – with an IR-capable sight. And whose range is much more limited than thermal imaging. Having selected a prospective battle on the operational map, I entered SABOW’s tactical phase. This zooms you into a smaller section of the map, with a correspondingly smaller sub-set of the your forces on it, at your disposal. This smaller, tactical map starts in ‘Unit deployment’ mode, presenting you with a set of icon-based commands which you can - and should - now use to adjust the starting position of the platoons to whom you can give orders – in this case, no less than four platoons of M60s and two armoured recce platoons with APCs. After a quick Combat Appreciation, I decided my aim, consistent with our Armoured Brigade's declared mission, would be to take and hold the enemy position marked as ‘Abbasides 1’. to achieve this, I would mount a concentric attack by my tank platoons, while the recce troops would watch and guard our flanks, about which I was rather nervous. 'Time spent in reconaisance is never wasted' they say; but our Brigade's mission, if not also our violated country's honour, seemed to call for early offensive action at all levels. 'One engages, then one sees', as Bonaparte reputedly said. Ever noticed that there seem to be military axioms or bons mots in support of most potential courses of action? Anyway, to business. working from the map (rather than the relatively new 3-d option) I dispersed my platoons in covered positions, out of line of sight of the enemy, distributing them over an arc from the north to the east, like a concave mirror focussed upon the objective. And with a watchful recce platoon at each tip of the arc. You can skip most or all of this next bit if you're getting bored waiting for the first rounds to be fired; but looking at the map below and working clockwise, from the top: the group of 'pointy rectangles' left of our position 'Mithradates 2' (note the green/white/red Iranian flag) is one of my two mech infantry/recce platoons, in M113 APCs. Clustered either side of 'Mithradates 2' itself are six red diamonds, representing my two right-flank M60 platoons, backed into the same woods and also facing south, ready to jump off. To their east, concealed in a patch of scrub nestling in a right-angle bend of an irrigation channel, are the five red diamonds of my strongest tank paltoon, near our position 'Xerxes 3' and also facing south. South-east of them is my fourth and final tank platoon, facing east from a strip of wood on the eastern margins of a larger forest, the green triangle amongst the red ones denoting that's the tank I will occupy when I start (which I forgot about). And finally, to their south-west, marked in orange because I have currently selected their unit icon (seen bottom centre of the screen) is my second mech infantry platoon. Ok pay attention again now, please. Here's how my plan was going to work. As is done in real life, I tend to divide these things into successive phases. In Phase 1, the recce platoons would sit tight and watch the flanks. The two tank platoons to the west and north-north-west of ‘Abbasides 1’ had further to go to that enemy position, so they alone would start moving. Phase 2 would kick in when the first two tank platoons were roughly half-way to the objective, having perhaps drawn the attention of the enemy in their direction. At this point, the other two M60 platoons to the north, closer to the objective, would begin their attack. I intended that all four tank platoons would hit the objective at roughly the same time. I had further decided to play the tactical phase mainly from the platoon to the north-north west. This was the one with five tanks, rather than the usual three and as it neared the objective I intended to slow it down. Its role would be primarily as a reserve, uncommitted and therefore ready to deal with anything unexpected; but also ready to provide a base of fire, to cover the other three platoons as they closed in on to the objective. This was the bit where things were most likely to go awry, and so it proved. In Phase 3, with ‘Abbasides 1’ occupied and the defenders destroyed - I hoped - my tanks would ‘go firm’ on the objective while the recce troops, in their thinner-skinend APCs, moved up to rejoin and provide some 'boots on the ground' to help us hold onto the key point we had just secured. For whatever reason, in all the missions I’ve so far played in the Iran-Iraq campaigns, I have yet to see or be given any air or indirect fire support, which seemed to be absent tonight, too. Artillery and aircraft icons remained resolutely greyed out, on the tactical map. I would have quite liked to put in some artillery preparation and perhaps lay some smoke to cover open flanks, but it this option was anywhere available, its presence eluded me. SABOW has a good set of tools to give units their orders, but I’m not sure to what extent you can ‘layer’ these. In M1TP2, for example, you could give each platoon quite elaborate sequences of instructions, like ‘Move fast from here to there; on arrival, face this direction, fire at will and wait for 60 seconds; then move over there, face that way and halt’. Quite capable, but co-ordination between units could be tricky, even though you usually had only between one and three platoons to worry about. Anyhow, for this SABOW mission I decided I would issue each unit's orders at the start of each Phase. 'Keep it simple, stupid' often works quite well for me, for some reason I've never really paused to ponder. As for tools for marking up the map with your planned moves and actions, I may be wrong but I don’t think SABOW allows me to draw phase lines or place other markers on the map, as if on an overlay, the way the Steel Beasts Mission Editor does for its scripted missions. However, it would have been helpful if, having clicked on a spot to designate it as the objective or a waypoint, it didn't just flash briefly; I'd have liked it if both the target and the unit's route there were marked on the map, so you could see the paths you had set for each unit. Maybe this can be displayed and I have somehow or other turned it off, I’m not sure! Something to check, ahead of next time. Ok, ok, it's getting boring again. H Hour. Tme to cross Start Lines, marked or not, and get the show on the road. I kicked off Phase 1 by giving my two left-hand tank platoons the order to attack. Everyone else would wait in cover, for now. The tanksim element now loaded up and I found myself in the command tank of the left-hand platoon, not the other, 5-tank platoon that I had decided to concentrate on. It being pitch dark, it took me a little while to notice and switch to the 5-tank platoon. See anything in the screenshot below? No? Neither could I, hardly. But there are at least two M60s in that shot, one right in the middle. They are from my left-hand platoon, seen before I switched to the 5-tank platoon, further north. That platoon now needed to advance south-south-west alongside an irrigation channel, then swing right at a right-angle corner in the channel and attack ‘Abbasides 1’, due east from there. Lots of good landmarks en route equals less scope to get lost in the dark. As I‘m not sure how to set up routes with a dog-leg or intermediate waypoint(s) and didn’t want to use the faster but less cautious, less tactical ‘Move’ order, I ordered this platoon to attack their intended ‘waypoint’ first, at the corner of the irrigation channel. When they got there, I’d re-direct them, to the east. I was keenly conscious that I might be setting myself up to be smack in the middle of some careful co-ordination of platoons right about the time the enemy might decide to make a bid for some of my attention. But I decided to crack on. To be sure, in the 3-d world I could see diddly much of the time. But various tank noises - and the fact that the little vehicle symbols in the map view started almost impreceptibly to come to life - suggested that Phase 1 had in fact begun. It was time to check out the view through my active IR systems and see (hopefully literally) how things were panning out, on the ground. ...to be continued!
  3. Swings and roundabouts...with tanks! My first Iran-Iraq War campaign in Graviteam's rather excellent & recently-relaunched wargame/tanksim Steel Armor - Blaze of War (SABOW) had been a bit experimental, not least as I only discovered some quite useful aspects of the wagrame interface towards the end of my assigned eight turns. My final battle had been inconclusive, resulting in a drawn campaign overall. So I decided to replay it from the get go, rather than move on to the other available campaign in that war, which is from the Iranian side in an M60. No, I decided to stick with my trusty T-62. With my new-found knowledge I would fling my platoons across the battlefield with the verve of a Rommel and the cunning of a Montgomery. At least that was the idea. Needless to say, it didn't work out quite like that...to begin with, anyway. Reasonably enough, it seems that each SABOW campaign starts off with the same tactical situation, based on the real-life battle - in this case, with an Iranian salient (red) having been driven into Iraqi territory (blue in the map below - I have reversed the Soviet-style SABOW colour convention in the options menu). What makes each campaign run-through different is (i) the different moves made by the AI in the 'wargame layer' (which AI controls all enemy units and those friendly ones the player can't give orders to) and (ii) the moves you the player make, with the platoons you do control. Last time, I had spent a lot of time in 'wait and see' mode, mostly in a defensive posture - let the enemy come to me, if he dared. Which of course he did dare, though in his own sweet time. On this occasion, I decided that I would call the shots. I waited for the first part of the turn to play out, during which the enemy's movements are made. Having discovered that I could then pre-position my units in the initial map, shown below, I shifted my troops - three tank platoons plus the tank company HQ element. I moved them north-west, along the tracks shown by the little blue arrows. Basically I laid the company out so as to be able to advance 'two up' - two platoons leading, roughly side-by-side, with the third platoon 'in depth' to the rear, along with Company HQ. My intention was to drive north-west, cutting the shaft of the enemy spear, somewhere behind its tip, where I hoped most of its offensive strength (tanks!) would lie. As expected, these dispositions caused SABOW to offer me a battle, in my chosen sector. So it was off to the Unit Deployment screen to...well, to deploy my units, what else? I didn't seem to have air or artillery support available and the available infantry were evidently fully occupied defending on the other side of the battlefield. Our tank platoons were the only forces available in my sector so we would have to be thown into battle alone. The nasty red arrows on the map above showed that we now had intelligence that the enemy was expected to attack in our sector, coming in roughly from the oppisite direction to my planned offensive. If I'd had that particular piece of 'int' earlier, I might have sat and taken them on from defensive positions. But I'd made my plans and decided to stick to them. The 'int' might be wrong. Even if it wasn't, we might catch them while they were forming up. It was not yet daylight and I had confidence in the night-fighting abilities of my T-62s, not to mention our stabilised 115mm smoothbore guns. If a meeting engagement developed, so be it. I was up for it. I quickly switched to the orders screen. A few clicks and my platoons had their orders - attack towards the north-west! Fire at will! My experience so far has been that enemy attacks in SABOW take time to develop. But not this time. I had no sooner begun scanning through the commander's sight of one of my platoon leader's T-62s when the shooting started. I switched to the gunner's sight and picked up an M-113 APC coming straight at us, coming into and out of sight amongst intervening clumps of vegetation. This was not a good time to discover that I hadn't bothered to learn the gunner's night sight. Which of its markings represented my point of aim, for the APFSDS round I had loaded? I struggled to remember my brief perusal of the manual's description, but failed. I took aim, fired, and missed. I only knew that I had missed, because when the gun came back into firing position after the usual T-62 reloading cycle, the M-113 was still on the move and my commander didn't announce a hit. I had no idea whether I was over or short, because the elevation of the gun to reload took my gunsight skywards, with it, before I could see the fall of shot. This T-62 characteristic is bad enough in daylight, with a sight you are used to. In near darkness with an unfamiliar one, it was a recipe for disaster. Disaster duly showed up. My tank commander called out a more pressing target. A Chieftain tank. Two of them, in fact. The was a dull ringing, thumping sound which tailed off into a sort of buzzing. My view slipped down and off the gunsight, revealing bloody bodies in the turret. The tank brewed up rapidly as further AP rounds slammed into us. I think no-one got out. I changed tanks several times. Those Chieftains seemed to be able to knock out my tanks, about as fast as I could occupy them. Their 120mm APDS rounds hit home and red-hot sparks flew. As if to spare my blushes, SABOW decided enough was enough and ended the battle. Apaprently there are set conditions which trigger this, like one side calling it a day and retreating, or a truce being offered and accepted (an odd feature, which I haven't used yet). I considered myself lucky, that the fight was adjudged a draw. It didn't seem so, from where I had been sitting. Day was breaking and the enemy seemed to be ranging freely over the battlefield, just to rub my nose in it. So, the Chieftains had had their revenge, for such indignities as my T-62s had been able to inflict, in previous missions. Where had I gone wrong? For one thing, I'm not yet fully accustomed to the scale of the SABOW maps, which are not huge and limit your elbow room for deployment - not unreasonably in my view, as you are commanding a tank company in a battlegroup not a Panzer Armee or a fleet at sea, with wide boundaries and considerable freedom of movement. Still, I had set up my forces just a little too close to the enemy. And when I discovered they were attacking, I should have been a bit more flexible and changed to a defensive posture, moving onto the offensive after I had let the enemy waves break. This wasn't over, though. The Chieftains had got some pay-back. Now, it was my turn. ...to be continued!

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