The Corridor, New Scenario.

Discussion in 'CO2 - Scenarios' started by john connor, Jan 11, 2015.

  1. john connor

    john connor Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2014
    Messages:
    1,917
    Likes Received:
    102
    I've put together a smaller, more manageable detail of the crucial day at Prokhorovka. The map is brand new, not just cropped from my other Prokhorovka scenario. It's more detailed. Once again, I've used Chris's EF estab. Many thanks to Chris!

    This scenario deals with the right flank of LAH - the so-called corridor area - and the map is much smaller. The forces are those that were there historically. For the Axis this is part of LAH and a smaller part of TK. For the Allies 2 Rifle regiments and the 18th Tank Corps. About 260 plus Soviet tanks against around 60 Axis tanks.

    I've put together 3 scenarios - one for play as Axis v AI, one for play as Soviets V AI and one for H2H. The H2H version isn't tested.

    To install just see the instructions in my thread for the larger Thunder at Prokhorovka scenario.

    You can get the files here:

    In the LnL Resources section

    All comments very welcome!

    Peter

    This is the map:

    24.png

    24.png

    As you see, it's only 8 by 6 km
     
    #1 john connor, Jan 11, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2015
  2. CapHillRat

    CapHillRat Command Ops Scenario Designer

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2014
    Messages:
    75
    Likes Received:
    12
    Fantastic Peter. Going to dive in possibly tonight. Map is awesome.
     
  3. john connor

    john connor Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2014
    Messages:
    1,917
    Likes Received:
    102
    Thanks Chris - and thanks for trying it! Balancing is still a wip, in fact - and I keep uploading up to date files to the dropbox folder as I update each bit. It's very difficult to (a) put historical forces and force levels in historical places, (b) try to get the AI to choose historical tactics and (c) at the same time set it up so that a roughly historical result ensues. The AI is not as aggressive as a human player, but seems to mimic historical behaviour quite well, perhaps, providing you take care to set it up right - but this means that usually a human player can beat it easily and a roughly historical result doesn't follow. In this battle the mix is very challenging because one side had a 3 to 1 superiority of men and materiel, yet (in fact) lost (on a headcount, as it were). A smaller number of high quality Axis forces were able to stem a massive soviet attack with only moderate losses, and then go on the offensive. I have ended this scenario at midday, which was the point at which the huge soviet counter-attack stopped in smoke and wrecks, but during the afternoon the Axis, somehow, went on the offensive (though they didn't get far either). I'm considering extending the scenario length to allow time for that also, but it's difficult, as - though, for example, my Axis v AI scenario plays out roughly historically at the moment, up to midday (see screen shot below) - my Axis forces are all then trashed and battered and I can't see them really putting together an offensive! The missing factor, of course, is the arty. The Axis had brought up masses of arty and it was the arty rather than the tanks that really halted the soviet attack. But I've cut down the arty available because in the game it really does crush gameplay (I suppose it crushed offensives in real life...). So I've given both sides less arty. But I might have to put a bit more into the Axis mix to get it closer to the real life result.

    This was a fairly careful run-through by me, as Axis, on slow speed all the time.

    4.png

    4.png

    It's roughly historical. 2 to 1 losses in armour with the fighting taking place mostly where it did take place historically! The Axis figure includes, of course, many personnel carriers. I counted around thirty tanks lost. All those soviet AFV losses are tanks, however.
     
    #3 john connor, Jan 12, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2015
  4. john connor

    john connor Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2014
    Messages:
    1,917
    Likes Received:
    102
    I have now changed the Axis v AI scenario in the dropbox folder. The length is extended to 20:00 to allow time for the Axis to counter-attack in the afternoon, if they have the strength available. Historically, the massive soviet attack had ended in ruin by 11am, roughly, and then the Axis started to put together their own thrust, but they didn't, in fact, get far. As the Axis arty had stopped the soviets in the morning, so the soviet arty stopped the Axis in the afternoon. The soviets started historically (and in this scenario) with around 260 tanks in this sector and lost around half. The Axis start with 77 tanks deployed in this part of the battle in this scenario (roughly accurate, historically) and I have found in play testing that they lose typically more than the LAH actually lost on the day. In real life the LAH lost only 17 tanks to the soviet's one hundred and thirty plus - a remarkable disparity. The AI in game typically loses around twenty-five, I've found, but this result is very close to history, and a tribute to the game engine, I think.
     
  5. CapHillRat

    CapHillRat Command Ops Scenario Designer

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2014
    Messages:
    75
    Likes Received:
    12
    Hi Peter. Will try today over lunch!
     
  6. john connor

    john connor Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2014
    Messages:
    1,917
    Likes Received:
    102
    Look forward to your report!
     
  7. john connor

    john connor Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2014
    Messages:
    1,917
    Likes Received:
    102
    By the way, Google street view, via Google Earth, is particularly good for Prokhorovka. The car seems to have driven over all sorts of farm tracks right into the midst of the battlefield. Amazing. So for instance, here's a shot in-game from my present run-through. Around 6am and I have selected TLOS for the unit you see:

    3.png

    The Unit's view is precisely THIS view, below:

    2.png

    The distance to those furthest tanks to the right (in the game pic), just coming down into the shallow gully (I wonder what these landscape features are called?) is about 1.7km, as you can see from the photo. The Axis greater range and better optics would clearly come into play!

    In the photo, the line of land just visible above the tree line straight ahead up the road is the southern edge of Hill 222.6 across the other side of the Psel - the area where theTK bridgehead was.
     
    #7 john connor, Jan 12, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2015
    GoodGuy likes this.
  8. john connor

    john connor Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2014
    Messages:
    1,917
    Likes Received:
    102
    Dropbox files updated. All the scenario files changed slightly for play balancing purposes.
     
  9. john connor

    john connor Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2014
    Messages:
    1,917
    Likes Received:
    102
    DROPBOX FILES UPDATED:

    AXIS VERSION: I've changed, tweaked and improved the (play as) Axis version, now called 'The Corridor (Axis)', following feedback on balance. It works really well now, I think. A challenging fight playing Axis against the AI Soviets.

    H2H VERSION: The H2H version has also been expanded and tweaked and now plays much better, I think. NOTE: This plays well against the AI too (as either side) though it is then an easier fight for the human player (whichever side you choose). Playing the Axis v AI choice using this H2H scenario produces the most consistently historical results I've got so far. If you want to see roughly what happened in this sector of Prokhorovka then you can play this as Axis against the AI and play it with historical tactics - ie; defend until 11am then go for the objectives. At least, that's how it's panned out when I've tested it.

    ALLIES VERSION: The 'The Corridor (Allies)' version makes a more challenging, shorter fight for the Soviet human player against the AI - a real race to get to deep objectives. You have massive superiority in men and machines, but the SS units facing you are challenging, even with the AI behind them.

    Any feedback very welcome!
     
    #9 john connor, Jan 13, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2015
  10. john connor

    john connor Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2014
    Messages:
    1,917
    Likes Received:
    102
    Screen shot from the end of a run-through of the H2H version with me playing as Axis against the AI, as mentioned above. It's an easy fight for the human player, and I didn't have to do much. It's only a Marginal Victory though. A Decisive Victory could be achieved with a little more care. The distribution of forces and wrecks is amazingly historical for around 5pm in the real battle!

    5.png
     
  11. CapHillRat

    CapHillRat Command Ops Scenario Designer

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2014
    Messages:
    75
    Likes Received:
    12
    I have played through the Axis side twice now. Beautiful map. Great OOB and well researched scenario background. This snippet of the larger battle is intense. Watching the mass of Soviet armor roll down the Corridor is very exciting and Peter imo has managed to capture the moment from the actual battle and represented it well in his CO version. Very good!
     
  12. john connor

    john connor Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2014
    Messages:
    1,917
    Likes Received:
    102
    Files for a smaller replacement scenario (Axis only) now in the Resources section here at LnL.
     
  13. GoodGuy

    GoodGuy Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2015
    Messages:
    218
    Likes Received:
    24
    Erm, ...... no.

    Between 110-140 German AFVs became inoperable (disabled or damaged) between the 12th and the 13th of July.

    The 1st SS-Panzergrenadier-Division lost 3 tanks (2 Pz.IV, 1 Tiger), Karl-Heinz Frieser claimed 5 tanks in 1993, in his Book "Die Ostfront 1943/44 – Der Krieg im Osten und an den Nebenfronten" ("The Eastern Front 1943/44 - The War in the East and (at) the secondary fronts." - My rough translation).
    One of the Pz.IVs next to Ribbentrop's tank (he commanded the Pz. Coy comprising of 7 Pz.IV tanks, which acted as initial showstopper for the Russian surprise mass attack) was hit and had caught fire, the other Pz.IV might have been abandoned and demolished by its crew.
    But the vast majority of the tanks that had become inoperable or immobile could be retrieved and repaired within hours or days, so that on 16th of July the II. SS-Panzer-Korps had almost the same amount of tanks as right before the offensive:
    20 German halftracks were destroyed during the Russian mass tank attack down the hill 252.2, where some were destroyed during their attempts to ram the T-34s to keep them from overrunning Ribbentrop's Coy.
    EDIT: Halftracks had to be listed in German strength reports, but different anglo-american authors seem to deliver different total numbers when it comes to AFVs, as say a halfrack with a 75 mm-AT gun, a mortar, AA guns or even MGs is considered to be an AFV by most authors, but considered to be an armoured personnel carrier (APC) or support vehicle by other authors, so that authors who want to present more precise numbers for armored formations rather add up "tanks and [self propelled] assault guns" than referring to (a total number of) AFVs. That said, the Germans lost quite a number of those halftracks after the battle of Prokhorovka, during the retreat later on, if I am not mistaken.
    It would be desirable to summarize tank + SPG losses and separate them from the APC and AFV (halftracks) losses in the game's statistics, btw.

    On the 12th of July, right before the battle,
    • the "Leibstandarte" (1st SS-Panzergrenadier Division) had 77 tanks (including assault guns [AG]),
    • the 2nd SS-Panzergrenadier-Division "Das Reich" 95 tanks (incl. AG),
    • the 3rd SS-Panzergrenadier-Division "Totenkopf" had 122 tanks (incl. AG),
    • amounting to a total of 294 operational tanks.

    Between the 13th and the 16th of July
    • the Leibstandarte had reported 3 total tank losses (74 tanks remaining),
    • the 2nd SS reported 103 operational tanks (incl. AG),
    • the 3rd SS reported 121 operational tanks lost (incl. AG),
    • amounting to a total of 298 operational tanks (incl. AG).

    The higher number of tanks (after the battle) indicates that the Germans were able to retrieve and repair most of the tanks within days, and other tanks that were inoperable (and not used in the battle, as they were under repair before and during the battle) were returned to the field units on July 13, obviously.
    On the 11th of July, according to German Strength Reports, German units in the area employed 8 captured T-34s, on the 13th of July 11 (!) and on the 15th of July 13 operational T-34s, so it's obvious that they had been retrieved, repaired and incorporated into their ranks, which would also explain the higher number on July 13, actually. Ten Tiger tanks became inoperable during the battle, but all of them could be repaired. Only 15 Tigers were present in the area.

    In Demolishing the Myth: The Tank Battle at Prokhorovka, Kursk, July 1943: An Operational Narrative (2011), Valeriy Zamulin describes that the Russian 5th Tank Army had produced a paper on the 17th of July, which listed

    • 222 T-34, 89 T-70,
    • 12 Churchill tanks,
    • 8 Su-122 and
    • 3 Su-76s,
    • as well as 240 support vehicles as total write-offs,

    as, according to the document, these were declared to be irrecoverable losses (337 tanks and assault guns, excluding "support vehicles" - whatever that description refers to).

    The same document also listed damaged vehicles, which were "still under repair":

    • 143 T-34,
    • 56 T-70,
    • 7 Churchill tanks,
    • 3 SU-122,
    • 3 SU-76

    where a number of these vehicles could have been damaged shortly before the battle of Prokhorovka, but where a fair number must have been damaged during the clash at Prokhorovka.

    Zamulin also suggests that the German were not caught off-guard and that, due to superior intelligence, the Russian movements were known/discovered and the direction of the imminent Russian push guessed (correctly) by the Germans, beforehand.

    EDIT: This adds a twist here, of course, as it allows for delivering a fair explanation (if not excuse) for the high amount of Russian tank losses during the 5th Tank Army's attack. Other Russian sources stress that the battle was much less a mobile battle between tank formations, but an encounter of a "myriad" of prepared German AT ambush positions (which they had occupied/set up when forward observers had reported mass movement on Totenkopf's left flank, means probably less than 1 or 2 hrs before the Russians actually attacked, indeed, but not "myriads"), supported by tanks and (especially) German tactical bombers. All these infos have to be taken with a grain of salt, as quite some of the German documents covering the German losses - which could either contradict or backup Russian claims that the Germans had suffered high troop and tank losses in the Prokhorovka sector - are still residing in the Kremlin's own archive, with quite a number of them still being rated as top secret. Glantz and some German authors were granted access to some of the documents, but the German strength reports found in German and NARA archives contradict such claims (of high German tank losses at Prokhorovka), as all of the 110-140 damaged/immobilized/knocked out German tanks could be retrieved and repaired, except for 3 that had to be written off.
    So in fact, he demolishes a smaller part of the myth (where -prior to the 1990s - some Western authors put the Russian total losses as high as 500-700 tanks), but seems to put a "cloak of silence" over the German strength reports covering their extremely low total tank losses (means write-offs) at Prokhorovka.

    Zamulin also seems to come to the conclusion that German losses (including tank losses) during the entire southern push of the 2nd Panzerkorps were high, as he includes events prior to the 12th of July, but I am sure that his thinking doesn't include the fact, that the Germans, besides suffering of fair troop losses during the entire southern pincer operation, were able to retrieve and repair almost all inoperable tanks that were damaged during the Battle of Prokhorovka. The rather low amount of losses (some 842 troop casualties on 12th of July and follow. - SS-Panzer-Korps) in the Prokhorovka area actually allowed the Germans to go on the offensive again, after the 12th of July.

    Kolomiets and Spirin (1998) suggest 680-720 operable Russian armoured vehicles on the 10th of July, and 408-432 operable Russian armoured vehicles on the 15th of July, which would suggest that a realistic number of losses would range from 272-312 (complete write-offs), where the latter number would be near the range of Zamulin's number (337 AFVs).

    Before the Russians attacked, German Panzergrenadier units had occupied tank ditches (which had been prepared by the Russians to slow down or stop German tanks) and did then use them as trenches. When the Russians rushed down and towards the German positions, besides German heavy tanks engaging from afar and the few German medium tanks commencing medium and close combat initially, a good number of AT guns, AT weapons and rifles from those positions then fired at the incoming Russian tanks. Where some Russian tanks had reached the tank ditches, German Grenadiers engaged in a bloody right-in-the-face combat using their magnetic hollow-charges to knock out these Russian tanks, shortly after the aforementioned halftracks had commenced their suicidal attempts to ram the tanks.

    While the Russians were ordered to fire on the move (with Russian paras mounted on these tanks) during this attack from hill 252.2, the German Luftwaffe also provided close air support (Luftflotte 4's Hs.129s and Stukas), as their fighters kept up air superiority in that sector, attributing to a good amount of tank kills (in this sector, but also in other sectors), and German artillery slowed down Russian tank and inf movement, and even immobilized or knocked out a number of tanks, while the Russians artillery in support of the attack had run out of ammo quickly, due to a major supply failure (for several reasons, according to Zamulin). While the Germans could freely cross the tank ditches via little bridges and crossings built by German engineers, and go back and forth, Russian infiltration was denied by the Germans, for a while, because SS Grenadiers had dug in on hill 252.2, which contained bunkers and trenches, as it was the center of the German line.
    The Germans then used the Russian trenches, which offered reversed/reduced protection only (as they were designed to offer protection from German fire from the other side), whereas the surrounding terrain (flat, slightly sloped terrain, with grass that just offered concealment to say a platoon, but not Bns or divisions) featured no protection for infantry at all.

    EDIT: Eventually, at the Leibstandarte's position, (according to German veteran accounts collected by FRIESER) the Leibstandarte's tanks lined up behind one of the largest tank ditches, which resided in a terrain depression (or at the end of a downward slope), where then the Russians tanks had to overcome 2 obstacles: the tanks of the Leibstandarte and the tank ditch, which had not been included (or considered) in the attack plans for 5th Tank Army.
    In an attempt to cross the only available crossing (just prepared by German engineers, obviously) that was bridging the massive (and deep) tank trap (meant to keep off the Germans :p), the Russian tanks rammed and/or hampered/handicapped each other, turning each other into sitting ducks or easy targets, and many tanks actually drove into the ditch, where quite some of them even turned over (flipped over? wording?), according to German eyewitness accounts. This whole incident seems to have turned the tide, even though Rotmistrov subsequently committed more and more forces, but which experienced high losses as well and no territorial gains at all.

    The German "tank-trap defense" and the evolving and almost unbelievable Russian "tank-trap incident" must have contributed to the high number of Russian tank losses that day.
    Understandable, that such details don't make it into books of Russian authors covering the Battle of Kursk, and that such accounts are kept in the Kremlin's archive, as they would distract from - and in a way lessen - the strategical victory the Russians had achieved at Kursk.

    Recent (German) studies suggest that Prokhorovka was not a massive clash of mobile tank formations, but - in the main - an aggressive (if not careless) Russian push towards a mostly stationary defense German defense, where some defensive positions were makeshift positions, and where a number of them were hastily prepared ambush positions (filled either by AT guns, SPGs or tanks), blended with trenches and bunkers (on and around hill 252.2), foxholes and rudimentary communication trenches used by the Grenadiers.
    Interestingly, all the actual tanks-vs-tanks engagements in the open (in a manner that would actually qualify to be called "mobile tank warfare", and as boasted by Russian propaganda and post-war books) were carried out by rather small groups of tanks (of both sides), in fact.

    Tactically, the entire Battle of Prokhorovka can be seen as a tactical victory for the Germans, mainly due to the high Russian tank losses. Strategically (operationally), the whole Operation Citadel was a major victory for the Russians, of course. Even though there was no chance that the units, which were pulled out of the Kursk operation and sent to Italy, could have reached the Italian theater in time to contain or destroy the forming Allied bridgehead. Since the Germans also stripped the southern group by removing the air support and parts of the artillery support, further operations were impossible.

    An interesting what-if could explore what could have happened, if the Germans would have "ignored" the landings in Italy and stripped vital parts of the (already thinly defended) shore lines in France, as well as Norway, in order to send these units to bolster the failing Northern pincer, and if Hitler would have supported to go on with the offensive.

    That said, if you want to create historical settings, support from dug-in German AT guns has to be fair (maybe there are fixed gun AT gun emplacements in the ESTABS, if not they should be added to simulate concealed or makeshift AT gun positions), amount of German artillery has to be considerable and aggressive, and German air strikes numerous.
    EDIT: Artillery contributed to a fair amount of Russian losses, Russian artillery was absent after some time (hrs? would take some research to verify). While Hoth and others complained about the lack of air support around the 9th of July (due to rainy weather with low clowds = bad conditions for tactical bombing), most sources indicate favourable weather on the 12th of July. Prior to the 12th (and after?) German advances were slowed down by muddy terrain (caused by the rainy weather).

    I have edited and added stuff a few times, so you might want to re-read the sections that are marked with "EDIT".
     
    #13 GoodGuy, Jun 21, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2015
  14. GoodGuy

    GoodGuy Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2015
    Messages:
    218
    Likes Received:
    24
    That's a good picture, as it displays the slight slope of the terrain. I also like this picture taken (from a Tiger tank it seems) near Prokhorovka, which seems to feature a smilar slope:

    Bundesarchiv_Bild_101I-022-2950-15A,_Russland,_Panzer_im_Einsatz-nahe_Prokhorovka.jpg
     
    #14 GoodGuy, Jun 21, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2015
  15. john connor

    john connor Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2014
    Messages:
    1,917
    Likes Received:
    102
    Thanks Goodguy. I haven't looked at this scenario for a long time as it's only for CO1. So I won't be tampering with it anymore. Balancing roughly historical dispositions to get a roughly historical fight against the soviet AI was my main headache in putting together the scenario, not because I didn't know the history (I too have many sources and have spent a long time researching the battle) but because getting the AI to behave as the soviets did was a considerable struggle! Beefing up the Axis (player) side in any way (as you will probably already know from trying to balance custom scenarios yourself) whether with more arty or air or fortified AT positions was not the issue. The thing you have to struggle with when balancing this kind of historical scenario in this game (where, roughly, a superior quality numerically smaller force successfully fights a numerically superior but qualitatively inferior force) is that the human is always at a big advantage compared to the AI, and this is especially so as the scenario gets bigger and the limits of - if you like - the 'strategic' level to the AI planning become apparent. I was more or less pleased with the results in the end, though to get roughly historical results meant (especially) compromising on the historical quality settings.

    Your info might be very useful, if anyone else wants to try putting together a Kursk scenario for CO2. I would add (for anyone interested), that from the point of view of actual unit dispositions etc, in detail, then I found Schrank's work Thunder at Prokhorovka to be very poorly written (maybe it was a bad translation, I'm not sure) but packed full of detail.

    Love the Tiger pic, but are you sure it's Kursk? Where exactly? Somewhere in this forum I was once persuaded to do an article based around this or one of my other Kursk scenarios, and there were a number of photos there showing the actual lie of the land.

    The points made about the German superior optics (usually) are all very interesting, I think, since if you read about the battle it's clear that most tank engagements took place at actually quite close range.
     
  16. GoodGuy

    GoodGuy Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2015
    Messages:
    218
    Likes Received:
    24
    Yes. Since the fights in the Northern pincer area were pretty bloody and costly, the propaganda companies surely had better looking photo subjects in the southern sector, where the Germans advanced successfully for a while . In the North the German forces met well prepared positions/opposition, so that Tigers had to be used as breakthrough vehicles, while in the South they were less numerous in some sectors and were rather used as medium to long-range showstoppers, afaik.

    It should be a picture taken in the sector where the southern pincer push occured. Some of the German descriptions state "near Prokhorovka", "Battle of Kursk", or just "Zitadelle" in German. There is a whole series of pictures stored on wikimedia from say 2-4 photographers (of so-called "propaganda Coys", namely photographers Wolff, Altvater and Kipper) and sorted by authors, but every entry of the several series in the wikimedia either insists on "June 1943" or "21st of June 1943" as date of creation. This must have been either entered by mistake by the wiki uploaders, or by the guys at the (German) Federal Archive. Even though some of the pictures were obviously staged for propaganda purposes, some of the pictures show engagements and advances, which were not carried out before "Citadel" started. It's also possible that some pictures were taken during the build-up (in late June or end of June) for the operation, but the Federal Archive's descriptions explicitly mention either Prokhorovka or Citadel.

    Some pictures show the commander of the 6. Panzer-Division (which was deployed in the South, if I am not mistaken), Generalmajor Walther von Hünersdorff, who had received a graze wound by friendly fire from German bombers in the morning of 13th of July, where he refused to go to a field hospital, and who was shot in the head by a sniper later - the same day. He died on the 17th of July in a hospital in Charkov, so the pictures must have been taken on or before the 13th of July.
    Most pictures taken by Wolff and Altvater have been combined to "Wolff-Altvater" in the wikimedia and they carry the misleading date of creation, the few separate Wolff and Altvater collections carry "8th of July" or "July" as date of creation, which looks more realistic, and which would match the caption "near Prokhorovka" of the picture I posted above, showing the slope.

    EDIT: Most (if not all) of the pictures were taken by members of the Propagandakompanie 637.
    I just looked up the deployments of that Coy:
    The Propaganda Coy was employed in Poland (1939) and at the Westwall during the Phony War (1940).
    Sidenote:
    Propaganda Coy 670 was using Trucks with loudspeakers borrowed from the Nazi Party, to entertain the Frenchies ;) , during the Phony War in 1939/1940, so it wasn't like they were just filming and taking pics, they were also employed in a psychological warfare role:

    Bundesarchiv_Bild_101I-036-0175-16,_Oberrheinfront,_Lautsprecherwagen.jpg

    The picture above shows members of PK (Propaganda Coy) 670 preparing a propaganda truck on the right bank of the Rhein river, at the "Upper Rhein", and it was taken in 1939.
    This map shows the Upper, Middle/Central and Lower Rhein areas ("Ober" = Upper, "Mittel" = middle/central and "Nieder" = Lower/Nether Rhein), so 670 was deployed in the South Eastern border Region, where the left bank was part of France and the right bank part of Germany, the red dotted line shows the border ("Grenze"):
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/53/Flusssystemkarte_Rhein_02.jpg

    Propaganda Company 637 was then attached to the German 6th Army in the Lille - Tours - Bruxelles - Rennes sector in 1940, until around 1941, and was then ordered to accompany the 6th Army during its onslaught when Operation Barbarossa started. It was then employed in Kiev, Charkov and Stalingrad (where parts of the Coy were destroyed/captured in the Stalingrad pocket).
    Its remaining troops were then reassigned to the German 8th Army (which was created by renaming Army Group Kempf on 15th of August). For the remainder of the war, the Propaganda Coy 637 stayed with the 8th Army and retreated via Moldavia - Hungary - Austria.
    That said, it must been with the southern Army Groups (Army Group South, Army Group Don, Army Group South Ukraine, etc. etc.) from 1941-1945, so it can be ruled out that the pictures were taken elsewhere.

    I really like the following picture, as it shows that it took 1 or 2 special Sd.Kfz 18 t - halftracks (these were designed to serve as towing vehicles for heavy artillery and Flak guns), if a Tiger tank retriever ("Bergetiger") was not at hand. The halftrack in front (unlike the 2nd halftrack) does not have a huge tow barsystem connecting the 2nd halftrack, but it looks like (doesn't it?) there's either a thinner tow bar (for towing cars), a chain or a rope connecting the halftracks.
    The caption reads "Sowjetunion.- "Unternehmen Zitadelle". Panzer VI ("Tiger I"; Turmnummer 114) wird von 18 t Zugkraftwagen abgeschleppt; PK 637" = "Sovietunion - Operation Citadel. Panzer VI ("Tiger I"; tank (turret) number 114) is being towed by an 18 t towing vehicle, propaganda company 637", and the pic is dated "July 1943" in wikimedia:

    Bundesarchiv_Bild_101I-022-2926-11A,_Russland,_Abschleppen_eines_Tiger_I.jpg


    A German Tiger in an ambush position, its crew is trying to cover up the track trails:

    Bundesarchiv_Bild_101I-022-2935-19A,_Russland,_getarnter_Panzer_VI_(Tiger_I).jpg

    Pictures made by Kipper detail the repair of a Tiger I, particulary either the repair of the gun mantlet or the complete replacement of the turret (it's not quite clear if it was a repair or just a an exchange of turrets) in a field repair shop that seems to use installations (a crane) of a Russian factory:

    https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:photographs_by_Kipper,_PK#/media/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_101I-022-2922-19,_Russland,_Reparatur_Panzer_VI_"Tiger_I".jpg

    If you switch through the pics (to the right) you can find the last pic of the Tiger series, showing the propped up damaged turret, which hints towards a turret replacement. The second last pic shows a soldier sleeping on the shells, which must have been removed from the tank prior to the repair. Dark (black) uniforms were usually issued to tank crews (Army and SS), but the guys in dark uniforms repairing the tank should be mechanics. Since blouses/uniforms of tankers didn't have pockets (a design requirement issued by Guderian, to avoid that say loaders' or gunners' pockets would get caught on levers and clips etc. inside the tank), the guy sleeping on the shells may be a mechanic or a messenger. Leather bags like the one next to him were used for maps or to protect binocs.

    The guys sitting on the gun are supposed to create a counterweight with their bodies, so that the crane can position the turret over the tank chassis:

    Bundesarchiv_Bild_101I-022-2922-32,_Russland,_Reparatur_Panzer_VI_'Tiger_I'.jpg

    Yes. At hill 252.2, the Russian tankers were ordered to rush in to get as close as possible, as a Russian staff report had estimated that the German 2nd SS-Corps could field 100 Tigers and Ferdinands in the southern Kursk sector on July 12, so they were told to get to a range below 500 meters, as the T-34s' crews could not even hope to penetrate the turret face or glacis of a Tiger or a Panther above that range.

    According to Robert Forczyk, in "Panther vs T-34 - Ukraine 1943" (Osprey 2007), "Panther gunners could theoretically engage targets out to 3,000 meters", with their TFZ12 sights, "although commanders usually forbade firing at very long ranges in order not to waste rounds."
    Interestingly, the Russian tanks also had difficulties to penetrate Panzer IV Ausführung G and H tanks (Ausf. actually means "execution" or "layout", but is also an old fashioned term for "version" or "model"), because the G and the H model had received upgrades to the glacis plate and nose plate, which consisted of additional welded 30-mm armor plates, and Model H had received a thicker turret roof, to add protection against dive bomber attacks. Some pictures of Panzer IVs show riveted (bolted?) plates, but the factories did actually weld them, so these could have been additional measures to make sure they wouldn't fall off, or they were makeshift upgrades applied in field repair shops. Starting with Model G, a new additional aux. turret swivel drive was installed, speeding up turret rotation to 16 degrees/second.

    According to Robert Forczyk, the T-34/76 "had a traverse speed of 30° per, or 12 seconds for a full rotation, which was five times faster than the Panther Ausf. A. and 50 percent faster than the Panther Ausf. D."
    The Pz.IV's turret rotation speed was around 5 times slower, 16° per second according to German sources, so that it took 1 minute for a full rotation (roughly the same speed as the Panther A's turret traverse speed, I guess).
    The T-34/76 Model 1941 was criticized by american engineers (Major-General of Tank Armies, Khlopov, 2nd Department, Evaluation of The T-34 and KV Tanks By Engineers of the Aberdeen Proving Grounds USA, Main Intelligence Department of the Red Army (n.d.) in a 1942 report about the Aberdeen testings) when they evaluated the design at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds, as the limited space led to a cramped environment, and it seems that even Russian criticism started to grow:

    "The Americans couldn't understand how our tankers could fit inside during winter, when they wear sheepskin jackets. The electrical mechanism for rotating the turret is very bad. The motor is weak, very overloaded and sparks horribly, as a result the device regulating the speed of the rotation burns out, and the teeth of the cogwheels break into pieces. They recommend (to) replace it with a hydraulic or simply manual system."

    Only the introduction of a new electrical swivel drive and a bigger turret (with more space for the crew) in the T-34/85 could correct these problems. That said, the Russians only choice was to push hard, ignore their own losses, and attempt to get to the German tanks' sides, where then their higher turret traverse speed proved to be a major advantage for the Russians. But even even if a T-34 got that close, the result often looked like this:

    Bundesarchiv_Bild_101I-022-2935-24,_Russland,_Treffer_an_Panzer_VI_(Tiger_I).jpg

    Looking at the size of the "dent", I'd say that either a Russian 76-mm or a 85-mm grenade had failed to prenetrate that Tiger's side armor (80 mm of armor on that upper part of the side, 60 mm on the lower side [tracks, wheels]). The picture was taken by Wolff or Altvater during Operation Citadel. It was easier to penetrate the particularly weak side armor of a Panther, obviously.

    Btw, the 2nd SS-Panzer-Corps had 15 Tigers, where 10 of them were attached to the Totenkopf-Division, the Leibstandarte had 4 Tigers, the "Das Reich" had 1 operational Tiger only.

    As usual, check the time stamp of the last edit and re-read additions and edits, in case you were reading this when I was editing.
     
    #16 GoodGuy, Jun 22, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2015
  17. john connor

    john connor Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2014
    Messages:
    1,917
    Likes Received:
    102
    Great pics, Goodguy. Many thanks for sharing. I keep thinking I will get inspired to do the whole scenario again for CO2, but I think Caphillrat might have one in the works anyway using his own Kursk maps, and the uptake on my CO1 scenarios wasn't so great. In truth to fight the Prokhorovka battle (whether in Command Ops, or the JTS Kursk PB game, which has, at least, an excellent OOB and a moderately accurate map) is a bit of a dull slog for the Axis, I think, predominantly a defensive, static fight. It's more exciting for the soviets, but I had really MAJOR problems putting together an 'Axis as AI version' because you cannot, at present, script the AI at all, and the first thing it does is move all its units from the scenario designer's carefully chosen defensive positions and groups them around the objectives according to its own logic, which leads to a very easy fight for a human as soviet, even if you turn the soviet quality right down and make the Axis into supermen. I gave up with that in the end and hope that Dave will make it possible in future to script at least some starting positions for the AI (starting defensive positions, and starting attacks would be a huge improvement), otherwise it's difficult to get battles like Prokhorovka (where there is a real imbalance in force numbers) to play anything like historically.

    Peter
     
  18. GoodGuy

    GoodGuy Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2015
    Messages:
    218
    Likes Received:
    24
    It's been a while since I've worked on scenarios, but you do have a couple of options to avoid massive (unwanted) AI redeployments.
    Since, in the main, the Germans were actually just securing the territorial gains, and taking a break to consolidate forces for a day (from 11th - 12th of July), until that Russian attack at hill 252.2 (and elsewhere), it might be a good idea to start the scenario During the last hrs of the 11th, in order to give the German AI the opportunity to redeploy and prepare forces.
    If the Russians are supposed to be commanded by the player, then the German AI needs a number of really small "defend"-objective circles, to simulate that the Germans "feel" that something is going on in the sector, and that they have move to makeshift positions and Russian trenches/tank traps and ditches.
    For instance, say a tank Coy with 5-10 tanks or an AT gun unit is the direct subordinate of say a Korps HQ or a divisional HQ unit, the AI will be tempted to pull it back to reserve, well behind the front and near the HQ, so you should place units in a way that ensures that coverage of the map sectors complies with the organic structure of say a Regiment, for example. If units were rather mixed historically (for instance, in 1943 German situational Korps and Army level maps showed that in the XXIX. Korps pocket divisions had "borrowed" elements from other divisions, where these elements were either single (complete) Bns or parts of other regiments), renaming and rearranging the OOB will solve this problem and will keep the AI from moving such units. Even if such unit layouts/command structures won't reflect the historical textbook layout of say a Regiment (with an "X" amount of Bns and "Y" amount of Coys), they would reflect historical proceedings in the German army, where units were reassigned, borrowed and lent quite often, which led to sutations where Divisions had say 4 instead of 3 Regiments, or where Regiments had 4-5 Bns, instead of 3 Bns, temporarily.
    Such Bns were used to fill gaps in the frontine, but they were also used to relieve frontline Bns when they were exhausted/mauled and they served as divisional Reserves (rare in late 1943 and follow. yrs, due to the general lack of reserves/troops).
    During my research regarding some details of the XXIX. Korps pocket (initially a large area including Taganrog at the coast in the South, see Taganrog thread) I figured that the German 336. Infantry Division had - in addition to its 3 organic Bns - an additional amount of 5 Infantry Bns and 2 Coys (employed as divisional assets, it seems, 1 was an AT Coy, the other one an Inf or heavy weapons Coy) from other Divisions attached to it, temporarily.
    The divisional supply column had to feed (and supply) all these guys, and the Div HQ had to coordinate their efforts, of course.

    Now, in the game, this will put more "load" on the Div Command HQ, but it will also make AI defense efforts more realistic for the player, as the AI won't be able to rush units back and forth, as it will struggle (to some extent) with the command load.

    EDIT: So, let's say you let the scenario start during the last hrs of the 11th of July, you can "time" the objectives (by editing objective/mission start and end time stamps) in a way, that say the German forces have to DEFEND objectives lined up behind the railroad tracks, but then DEFEND objectives (which become active later on, on July 12) right in front of the railroad embankment (say hill 244.8 on your map, and other little elevations) to give the AI lead elements a clear LOS/LOF, with the focus still being on the defend objectives behind the railroad tracks (you can achieve this by assigning more AP points to the defend objective in the rear, so that the bulk of the AI force will keep its defensive stance).
    That said, by adding a number of really small Defend objectives in front of the railroad tracks (with less AP points), the AI will try to position only small amounts of units inside these objectives.

    If you place say the main elements of a Bn behind or inside such a frontline objective, and if you set a couple of them to "fortified" in the ScenarioMaker, there are chances that the AI will be tempted to leave them (or a portion) there, to comply with mission objectives (takes some testing, it's all about starting the Scenario on 11th, to give the AI time to allocate units to the several objectives, in case it wants to shuffle units around). If units are then set and dug-in prior to the player's attack, this would then simulate dug-in German units and the generally (historical) defensive stance. With the main weight of AP points on the rear objectives, the AI would keep its arty assets in safe locations (well, hopefully :p).

    I don't know if that makes sense, map designers with more scenarios under their belts may have better solutions.


    EDIT: Here's what I would do:
    • Exempt the German AI from orders delay at start, and set orders delay at start for the Russians.
    • Do not set reinforcements for the Germans, but field ALL German units at map start.
    • Experiment with the units' "deployment" settings (ie. fortified, dug-in) and place units inside forward DEFEND objectives, the German AI may leave some forces inside those objectives, as I think that the AI weighs the deployment level now while it's deciding about a redeployment.

    EDIT: Like I said, despite the absence of real scripting for the scenario designer, timed objectives will bring you near the desired goal. If you let Secure AI (German) objectives (where you want the AI to advance) become active way later on the 12th (eg. 4 pm), and if you edit the AP points for those objectives accordingly (you don't want the whole German unit pool to rush to those secure objectives, but you don't want the AI to send a Coy or a single Bn only, either), then you will have a situation where the German AI will defend the inital defensive line(s) or points first, and where it will then go on the offensive, just as desired.

    Check the EDITs. :)
     
    #18 GoodGuy, Jun 23, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2015
  19. john connor

    john connor Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2014
    Messages:
    1,917
    Likes Received:
    102
    Thanks Goodguy. Yes, I did all that (bar one thing - see below). I'm tempted to say 'obviously' I did all that - after all, I spent two weeks messing around trying to get it to work. It was a significant investment in time, testing and re-testing, for sure. The points you mention in the second last edit ('what you would do') were all the obvious things, I guess, that I went through and they didn't achieve the desired result at all - as soon as the scenario began the AI upped sticks and shifted around all over the place, often ending up defending some of the objectives I wanted it to defend, but with completely different units! You can't stop this by giving it more time, for example starting the night before, because it will only move minimally at night (even if you set 0% fatigue levels, which is highly unrealistic anyway, though one of the things I tried too) and then starts again at dawn if left to itself, and besides you would have to then cripple the human player with a truly massive fatigue and orders delay penalty to make sure it wasn't possible to anticipate and simply attack at night, early (I tried all this too, believe me....). Digging-in or fortifying, also, has very little effect on the AI plan, even when the fortified units are placed on objectives that are themselves on fortified terrain!!! In any event the main issue is the lack of scripting that would allow you to set the AI to maintain a roughly historical defensive positioning. You just cannot do this at all, because (as you are aware) the AI can only group itself around objectives at present, in what are fairly tight defensive formations (over which you have no control), and thus you can get nowhere near the sort of historical lines that existed, with fairly large spaces between units. As I said, the struggle was to get it to look historical, not necessarily to get a good fight or game out of it. This you can do, but it just won't resemble the actual battle very much and the constraints and opportunities that existed on the day. So setting smaller and smaller objectives carefully and cleverly is the closest you'll get, but on a map this large, with those forces available this will result in the AI placing its defence so that it looks nothing whatsoever like the starting positions at Prokhorovka - in particular there will be masses of space (to exploit, very easily for the human player) between AI positions. And placing many tiny objectives in a line doesn't work either (in all sorts of combinations, believe me - I tried it all) because the AI is clearly structured to try to place a certain strength on the most important objectives and if there are too many for that calculation it will just ignore the lesser ones and group on others. Etc. Etc. Try it! You'll see what I mean. the solution is certainly to have some kind of initial scripting.

    BUT - one thing out of all the things you suggest I did not try and it might just be very useful - so many thanks for that idea! - namely, messing around with the OOB to make sure that units were properly attached in groups that reflects their geographical placement. Of course, they were placed already in Regimental structure (because I copied as best I could the historical OOB and unit placement, as given in various source volumes), but I wonder if some creative licence with AT assets and such like (attaching them lower down the chain) might prevent some movement of them back towards higher parent HQs. Possible. I'll certainly bear that in mind next time I try to do a map and OOB, though, as I said, I won't be revisiting this scenario now.

    It should be noted that the AI can fare much better when not dealing with this kind of specific historical situation - namely, one side with a big superiority in numbers but an inferiority in quality such as allows the other side to at least draw despite the lesser numbers. Outside that kind of situation, and on less wide-open terrain, the AI can do a very competent job. And no doubt about it, it's still the best AI out there.

    Thanks.

    Peter
     
    #19 john connor, Jun 24, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2015
  20. GoodGuy

    GoodGuy Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2015
    Messages:
    218
    Likes Received:
    24
    I need some rest, so I may answer more detailed when I get back, but the quoted part above caught my attention:
    Sure, scripting would be a whole new world. But also a debug version of the game for community scenario designers (to reveal and see enemy movement "live") could do the trick already as it would just take say 1 or 2 days, instead of 1 or 2 weeks to fine-tune a scenario. When I worked on scenarios, I tinkered with objective duration (and start time, of course), and especially the AP (victory?) points. Dave introduced culling of objectives (at some point, IIRC) and then re-adjusted the culling one or another time, if I am not mistaken. But culling really means dropping here, so it's quite possible that an AI map boss decides to abandon an objective, if it's clear that there is either not enough time or no "chance" to garner enough points say at a remote objective, and then forces will be re-allocated (not sure how that works, maybe across the board, but maybe just partially to bolster forces [with "unemployed" units] say at secondary objectives).
    So timing and a well-tuned distribution of AP/Victory points can change a lot. You can also try equal level objectives and see what the AI comes up with, if there's no focus on a single objective, and if you then just use the time-method.

    For instance, divisional AT Coys will be pulled out of the way (and back to HQ reserve) at the start of the scenario, right away, I don't think that there is a special "assets" code yet (would be a nice additon, btw). Experienced players will detach them and park them in ambush positions or they will put them near or behind the main front line, to provide AT power where it's needed. For the AI, you can simulate this by attaching such asset to a Bn HQ (which will then probably stick with the HQ until the HQ commits it as reserve, once an attack is endangered to fall apart or once the masterplan has been changed. So it's still tricky.
    There should be a unit pool for "special purpose"-units, which the map boss could employ as single Coys and as its direct subordinates, pretty much like the historical independent Coys all nations had used in WWII. For US AI, such pool could contain TD Coys or platoons, or AT platoons/Coys.
    Btw, I noticed that small units (platoons) get smaller counters now, if you zoom out, so that you can grasp easier/quicker where the small units are, if you look at the big picture. Nice feature. Now, if the ScenMaker would allow for attaching say an AT platoon to an Inf line Coy in the OOB (!), means a subordinate to a Coy (!), such assets would be actually fielded by the AI where they are needed: behind or with the line unit, and at the front !
     

Share This Page