Smoke and dust

Discussion in 'Command Ops Series' started by john connor, Oct 31, 2015.

  1. john connor

    john connor Member

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    Can't recall, Dave - are smoke and dust modelled into Los calculations, in the desert battles, for example?
     
  2. Dave 'Arjuna' O'Connor

    Dave 'Arjuna' O'Connor Panther Games Designer

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    An interesting question considering I'm looking out through the clear crisp morning air over lake Wakatipu at tbe moment. But the short answer is no. :) 1446409087880.jpg
     
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  3. john connor

    john connor Member

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    Wow. That's incredible. I want to be there.

    But, on a different note, I was reading how during Op Crusader, once battles got going, the smoke and dust was an essential factor as it evened the capabilities of Brit and Axis tanks considerably, as the Axis could no longer use longer range/bigger gun capability, because they couldn't see targets, so had to mix it up close range, which is why the better Axis tanks didn't simply win all the time. This isn't present in the game, though, in any way?
     
  4. ivanmoe

    ivanmoe Member

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    One way to address visibility would be to extend the low lighting conditions associated with dawn and sunset. However, I doubt that the conditions could be localized to an area of the map (rather than the whole enchilada).

    -Moe
     
  5. gabeeg

    gabeeg Member

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    I am more interested in dust and smoke for spotting, that would be an interesting feature (thinking in particular desert).
     
  6. GoodGuy

    GoodGuy Member

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    Actually, artificial smoke played a vital role in WW2:
    In the German Army, smoke rounds were available for almost every artillery piece, including mortars.
    Prior to an attack, if arty was available, and if the CO deemed it to be useful, arty would drop smoke rounds to cover an infantry assault. But even down on platoon level, soldiers would drop smoke to disengage or to drop smoke on open fields, prior to an attack, if it was useful/available.
    German tanks had smoke dischargers ("Nebelbecher" = fog cups, means smoke cups) mounted on the sides of their turrets, basically pipes loaded with smoke rounds that would be dropped at a distance (electric ignition):

    Nebelbecher.jpg

    The first series of Tiger I production models had received these cups, but the main purpose was to launch S-Mines, HE-mines or charges filled with up to 360 metal balls (steel early in the war, steel scrap metal and then even steel cores from AP infantry ammunition [standard rifle AP rounds] at later stages of the war) packed into the outer ring of the case, and with TNT in the larger inner case, to counter close-in infantry attacks, intially, since the Tiger designers envisioned the tank to be a breakthrough tank. Since the Tiger's low speed and finicky clutch and transmission/gearbox didn't really allow for rushing enemy lines, and since the Tigers were then gathered in heavy tank Bns for Schwerpunkt deployments and often used as firebrigade assets, the cups were used for smoke rounds eventually.
    Panzer IV's received these smoke cups, as well.
    Because there were incidents where the smoke rounds got set on fire by enemy small arms fire, where the fire/smoke then sometimes incapacitated crew members, the Germans started to remove the external cups and introduced the "Nahverteidigungswaffe" (might translate to "close-in defense weapon") in the Panther and the Tiger II, which enabled the crew to fire smoke rounds from under the armor. It was basically a shaft under the armor -with an angle/elevation of around 40 or 45 degrees - protected by a hatch on the armor's roof, connecting to the outside part of the cup/"barrel", when the hatch was opened. The shaft was specifically designed for the smoke round's calibre. The crew could also remove the plug, means the launch mechanism/ignition plug and they could then use the open port to fire over-calibre rounds for the Kampfpistole, which was pretty much like the standard issue German Army flare gun (same calibre, pretty much the same design), but which was used to fire several types of HE ammunition (HE or HE frag rounds).

    Demonstration of the Kampfpistole in Russia, 1943:


    Granatpistole_Russland_1943_Waffenvorführung.jpg

    Some same-calibre ammunition even had fin stabilizers that made the projectiles look like little bombs (projectile number 3 is the same as number 4, just without cartridge for the propellant) :

    http://www.custermen.net/nahvert/nah.htm
    (Some info on that site has factual errors, overall it's a good explanation, though. For instance, the same-calibre rounds for the Kampfpistole that are rifled, are not rifled to "fit in the pistol's barrel", but because the accuracy of the pistol was so low - 4 meters spread at a distance of 70 meters, already -, so that the rifling must have been added in an attempt to improve either accuracy or range - or both)

    ammunition-kampfpistole.jpg

    The US Army picked up the idea of having smoke dischargers from the Germans and started to introduce external smoke cups in early 1944, it seems, at least officially (according to the Chief of Ordnance brochure "M4 Sherman Tank modification and upgrades from Army Motors, Maintenance Branch, Office of Chief of Ordnance, Vol. 5, No. 1, April 1944"):

    The Brochure explicitly mentions "smoke bomb throwers" as new feature for the M4 (left side, list of features pointing at the turret):

    how-is-your-sherman-herman.jpg

    It seems like the Brits had adopted it, too (but when?).
    Whatsoever, it's hard to come across footage where you can actually see US Shermans with Smoke Cups on the European theater.
    Interestingly, the following picture shows the 2nd Polish Armored Division in Italy, and the tank in the front has smoke cups (bottom right corner). Most of the other tanks don't have cups , I can see one other tank (if I zoom in, in the second row, the 4th tank in the row with the gap), only, so I am guessing that these new modifications were not widely available, at the time, and that the application did not see widespread use until really late in the war:

    shermany-2-dp.jpg

    That said, some nations/units/tank types had smoke rounds available, which enabled a given tank unit to disengage - under smoke cover - within minutes. Disengaging appears to be really hard in the game, across the board, no matter if it's a wheeled unit or a foot unit.
    Historically, and technically, a tank unit had the possibility to pop smoke. And if say US tanks didn't have the feature, they would open their hatches and just drop smoke canisters/grenades. In city fights in Germany, if tanks could not get past German bunkers, AT emplacements or AT inf, GIs would pop smoke for their tankers, if necessary, to cover the retreat. Allied and German artillery (mostly mortars on the US side, but also common with German mortar units) would also pop smoke, either in front of the friendly units, or on top of the enemy, to "blind" attacking German tanks for a short period.
    Smoke was not just used to prepare assaults.
     
    #6 GoodGuy, Nov 7, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2015
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  7. john connor

    john connor Member

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    Fascinating, Goodguy. Thanks.

    Any chance of smoke and dust being modelled into LOS and spotting, Dave?
     
  8. Daz

    Daz Member

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    Fog could be used as dust in the desert, just by changing its name I would have thought?
     
  9. john connor

    john connor Member

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    But does no one else see contacts disappear as arty lands on them? I target arty on a solid contact and a little after the barrage goes in the solid contact sometimes changes to an empty square (contacts set to 'current'). As if the smoke from the barrage had obscured it. Is that not what's happening, Dave?
     
  10. Dave 'Arjuna' O'Connor

    Dave 'Arjuna' O'Connor Panther Games Designer

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    The unit that was probably undeployed has now taken cover and desperately trying to deploy. These are harder to see.
     
  11. john connor

    john connor Member

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  12. MarkShot

    MarkShot Member

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    I have been playing GTOS and being able to call in smoke makes s huge difference in being able to bug out when you just found yourself outgunned. (The only negative is the wait for the barrage. But I think accuracy for smoke is less important as you are just trying to get the smoke between you and them: 100M, 200M, 500M error range --- what does it matter as long you cannot be seen as you disengage?

    PS: In this series, I always tried to withdraw at night fall.

    Another interesting affect of dust. Not only wind and movement. But have you seen the dust a tank kicks up when it fires its main gun in the desert? It is quite a cloud. I wonder if that effected the non-stabilized guns of tanks which needed to stop and shoot and/or fixed ATGs?

    Meaning: Fire one round and you might reload in 10 seconds, but could you see anything?
     
  13. GoodGuy

    GoodGuy Member

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    Yes, maybe after 20 seconds, and if there is some light wind, probably in less than 20 seconds. For a taller tank (say a Tiger, Tiger II, Panther, etc. ), the smoke cloud was the bigger problem, as the barrel's distance to the ground was greater than the barrel distance on a low profile TD (eg. a Jagdpanther):



    Now, in the Russian steppe, Tiger I tanks could engange fixed / dug-in gun emplacements at distances of 3000 meters (optics allowed for around 4500 meters view range under most favourable conditions (flat terrain, tank placed on elevation, very good weather conditions, according to vet accounts) when using curved trajectory shots, way outside the effective range of Russian AT guns or tanks, at the time, so that it didn't matter whether a Tank would cause a dust or smoke cloud or even both, the tank would reveal its position anyways and which could then be relayed to Russian air units. Chances were high that a given Russian tank crew or AT gun crew would be goners after they had detected the first or second dust/smoke cloud, though.

    A restored Jagdpanther firing on greenland during a demonstration (no dust, but a huge smoke cloud):


    A low profile German 75mm PaK 40 being fired on a firing lane in the desert, the dust cloud is gigantic. This video is particularly interesting, as the guy explains the composition of the gun's shield (two thin shields, to reduce weight, but also to apply the benefits of the spaced armor principle):


    In a modern city fight, rubble and dust in war-torn quarters will create gigantic dust clouds, which do not hamper detection and firing though, as IR devices enable the crews to "see through" the smoke.
    Assad's low profile T-72 tanks engaging rebel positions in Syria (footage from 2014), where the dust clouds would be a problem for tanks without IR devices, indeed. Taller tanks would create smaller dust clouds (and they would also disappear way faster).
    These T-72 tanks have IR devices, though:

     
    #13 GoodGuy, Nov 14, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2015

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