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  #31  
Old 06-29-2009, 01:18 PM
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Well, you need to be patient and lucky...
I never checked to know if that was legend or truth but Napoleon I when thinking about giving a command to someone was supposed to always ask the same thing:
" Is he lucky?"
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  #32  
Old 06-29-2009, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Mohoender
I have read a lot of interesting point in all your posts but I wanted to point out a few points in the defense of the AT gun (in a T2K setting)....

IMO the twilight war compare more to the Russian revolution or Chinese revolution (may be American Indian wars) than to any other modern conflict (you just have a number of slightly more modern equipments). Your unit has been reorganized to live off the land and the opponents is making the best use he can of its own equipments. Sure AT guns lack mobility but you don't have the mobility to turn that position anyway. As a result, a single AT gun in a well prepared position can definitely stop you (IMO of course). At least, it will slow you for a long time and it has a good chance to destroy your last survivng M1 Abrams (which is in bad shape already).
Bear in mind the context of the original post, Mo. The author wants to explore the fact that by the 1980's NATO had virually eliminated the AT gun from its collective arsenal, while the Pact forces maintained significant numbers of them. If you re-read the original post, the author doesn't even address AT guns in Twilight: 2000, other than to imply that the pre-war arsenals are the foundation of the post-Exchange arsenals.

That much said, I agree heartily with most of what you have written in defense of the AT gun in the Y2k setting. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, context matters. In the context of North Central Europe of 1999 or 2000, the AT gun has almost overwhelming advantages over the ATGM--many of which you have named. I'll offer a couple more:

Following the 1998 campaign season in Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia, the fighting winds down to a virtual standstill. Fuel shortages and lack of spare parts dramatically reduce the ability of both sides to conduct a mobile defense. By the same token, fuel shortages and lack of spare parts dramatically reduce the need for a mobile defense. Both sides now have the luxury of time to site their guns and prepare optimal defensive positions. Although there will be great demands on manpower, it still should be possible to create camouflaged firing positions for the AT guns. Depending on the initiative of the local commanders and the resources available, it should be entirely plausible for the AT guns to enjoy overhead protection, a ready supply of ammunition under cover, and perhaps even an alternate firing position or two. Additionally, it’s entirely reasonable to expect that cantonments will have extensive obstacle belts covered by AT guns, preregistered artillery and mortar zones, and machine guns firing from fixed and camouflaged firing positions. Now we find the AT gun coming into its own. Woe betide the IFV that ventures onto this battlefield.

At this point, the relative ease of manufacture of the AT gun ammunition versus the ATGM becomes a commandingly decisive factor. ATGM will still be in use, to whatever degree they are still available.

NATO will have a substantial body of AT guns available at this point, having captured Pact materiel during the offensives across East Germany, Poland, and western Czechoslovakia. The value of the AT gun in static defenses of great depth will have become abundantly clear during the operation in Poland. (No doubt, the PLA will have tried to pass on their wisdom following their own defensive triumph in Manchuria in 1996. No doubt, the West will fail to take note.) It might even be possible that NATO will see fit to protect its southern flank in (former) East Germany with extensive obstacle belts and captured AT guns. Of course, I could be giving NATO too much credit.

All of this leads me to ask an uncomfortable question: is the set-up for “Escape from Kalisz” even plausible? 5th ID jumps off from its positions in northwestern Poland for a cavalry raid into central Poland. Where are the static defenses? The remnants of the defenses constructed in 1997 should be everywhere. These defenses should have been enhanced between 1998 and 2000. What’s the story?

I should clarify what I mean by static defenses. Minefields backed by machine guns, artillery, and AT guns are at the heart of such defenses. These kinds of minefields are not FASCAM. I’m talking complex minefields with a mix of anti-tank and anti-personnel mines. Covering them would be whatever direct fire and indirect fire weapons were available. Any unit staying in one place for any length of time will improve on the defenses already in place. Bunkers will be constructed of whatever materials are available and sited so that they can cover their obstacles with overlapping fields of fire. Given time, communication trenches will be constructed, covered, and concealed. The trenches will be made at least semi-permanent by having their walls reinforced with wood. The floor of the trenches might have a raised portion to keep soldiers out of the mud during the rainy season. Wire commo will be laid. Backup communications will be established. Command posts will be dug in and fortified. All of this is very low-tech and requires little in the way of electronics or sophisticated tools. If you have the time, some shovels and axes, and the manpower, you can create a very extensive and formidable set of earthworks. (This is me going back to my 12B roots) Time and manpower can be substituted for each other.

Other types of obstacles we should expect to find used extensively in Poland in 2000 include wire obstacles, which are often combined with minefields, and water obstacles. Abatis probably have been used as much as they can be used back in 1997. By 1998, the roads probably have been cleared of all of those downed trees. Crib-style obstacles probably have been used, but they don’t wear well. If I were planning defensive obstacles in post-Exchange Europe (or anywhere, really), I wouldn’t use many crib-style devices. They have their uses, but the real money lies in minefields, wire obstacles, and water obstacles—preferably in combination.

So where are these kinds of defenses when 5th ID jumps off from its starting point?


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  #33  
Old 06-29-2009, 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Webstral
So where are these kinds of defenses when 5th ID jumps off from its starting point?
Good question. I think the answer has mostly to do with troop density. Given the massive casualties sustained by all sides by 2000, there simply aren't enough warm bodies anymore to man anything approaching a continuous front. This development, in part, explains the rise of the cantonment system. Only a few food producing areas and surviving manufacturing centers are worth devoting significant manpower to defending actively. Cantonments would be heavily fortified in the manner which you described. However, there would be large, relatively unmanned gaps between cantonments. These gaps are mostly likely what the 5th ID passed through on its "raid" deep into PACT territory.

Such gaps may have been covered by mines, but without adequate infantry to cover those minefields, they would be fairly easy to traverse. I'm sure that many surviving tanks c.2000 would be equiped with mine rollers or plows or fitted with ad hoc devices designed to do the same thing (I'm thinking along the lines of the Cullen hedgerow cutters of the WWII Normandy campaign). Most gaps would be screened by picket forces or covered by routine patrols but these forces would be tasked primarily with providing warning of enemy offensive operations and perhaps delaying attacking forces while mobile reserves are rushed to the scene.

Anyhow, certain valuable areas would have extensive active defensive works while other areas would be largely undefended or have only passive defenses. I'm sure that there would be miles and miles of old, abandoned trench systems and other defensive works. But without troops there maintaining them, they would be little more than speed bumps.

In a nutshell, there just aren't enough troops to man and defend the sorts of trench systems that were the hallmark of WWI.
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  #34  
Old 06-29-2009, 05:42 PM
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I agree that given the choice, the ATGM is certainly the better option.
However, as the war dragged on and missiles became scarce (not to mentionteh delicate electronics of the various launchers becomeing damaged), the gun is going to retake prominance as the primary AT weapon.

Something else to keep in mind is that engaging targets at a weapon systems theoretical maximum range is nearly never going to happen. The shorter the range, the more likely a hit will be scored, and with a kinetic penetrator (AP rounds) the longer the range, the lesser the penetration.

Even though a TOW (for example, but could use any of the guided systems) had a range of several miles, missiles are fairly slow. During the flight, the operator must maintain a line of sight on the target, all the while hoping the enemy don't respond in kind with HE and machineguns. If the missile has bee fired in less than ideal terrain (rolling hills), there is a chance that the target might even disappear from normal movement before the missile gets close.

AT weapons of any type benefit from being sited close to the target area.

Once again, I'm all for missiles as a first choice, but once supplies begin to dry up and mobility becomes less of a factor, give me the gun.
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  #35  
Old 06-29-2009, 05:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Legbreaker
Something else to keep in mind is that engaging targets at a weapon systems theoretical maximum range is nearly never going to happen. The shorter the range, the more likely a hit will be scored, and with a kinetic penetrator (AP rounds) the longer the range, the lesser the penetration.
Also remember that fin-stabilized rounds are very vulnerable to winds. NATO's advantage in ballistic computers made a ton of difference at longer ranges.
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  #36  
Old 06-29-2009, 06:01 PM
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Something to keep in mind is that minefields are essentially useless unless covered by fire - ie somebody with a weapon is watching over them.
An unguarded minefield is little more than a rather dangerous mine storage area for the enemy as was shown in Vietnam when a (very) large minefield laid by western armies (not sure if it was US or Aus). A few short months later after it had been handed over to the ARVN, there was no minefield - the ARVN had failed to guard it and the VC lifted the whole thing for their own use!
The vast majority of mines encountered for the remainder of the war were from this field.
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  #37  
Old 06-29-2009, 10:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Legbreaker
Something to keep in mind is that minefields are essentially useless unless covered by fire - ie somebody with a weapon is watching over them.
An unguarded minefield is little more than a rather dangerous mine storage area for the enemy as was shown in Vietnam when a (very) large minefield laid by western armies (not sure if it was US or Aus). A few short months later after it had been handed over to the ARVN, there was no minefield - the ARVN had failed to guard it and the VC lifted the whole thing for their own use!
The vast majority of mines encountered for the remainder of the war were from this field.
That was us, in Phuoc Tuy Province. It took a couple of years but the VC ended up with tens of thousands of our mines because we and our allies failed to keep a manned watch over a long, narrow mine field laid south of Nui Dat. And the thing that frustrates me the most about that is that the last Australian soldier to die in the Vietnam War was killed by one of our own mines which had been stolen, quite possibly from the same minefield.
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  #38  
Old 06-29-2009, 10:28 PM
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I served with one of the victims of that minefield - Warrant Officer Lees (Corporal at the time). Lost half a foot, terrible wounds up the legs and lost a testicle to an M16. Still managed to have another son afterward though (served with him too).
http://www.5rar.asn.au/narrative/mines.htm
He served two tours - not sure if that was the first or second.
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  #39  
Old 06-29-2009, 10:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Legbreaker
I served with one of the victims of that minefield - Warrant Officer Lees (Corporal at the time). Lost half a foot, terrible wounds up the legs and lost a testicle to an M16. Still managed to have another son afterward though (served with him too).
http://www.5rar.asn.au/narrative/mines.htm
He served two tours - not sure if that was the first or second.
Well respect to him. I'm guessing you are saying he was a corporal when he was injured by the mine? All the Warrant Officers I've ever met were truly imposing men.
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Old 06-29-2009, 10:51 PM
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Yes, Cpl at the time. Great man and a great drinker too. Spent many a late night with him, his son and about a dozen others around the fire (and bar).

When I first met him he was in the assault pioneer plattoon, ironic since one of their major roles is mine warfare....
Moved on to mortars after that, or at least instructed on the course.
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  #41  
Old 06-29-2009, 11:16 PM
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A couple of other observations:

First, while ATGMs do have a much longer effective range than AT guns, local terrain will likely greatly limit advantage, unless you flatten and clear everything within 3,000 meters.

(OTOH, the ambush factor of an ATGM that finds a commanding view firing at very long range is significant.)

Secondly, AT guns have a useful role against attacking infantry, firing HE or some type of multiple-projectile round.
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  #42  
Old 06-30-2009, 12:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Webstral
Bear in mind the context of the original post, Mo. The author wants to explore the fact that by the 1980's NATO had virually eliminated the AT gun from its collective arsenal, while the Pact forces maintained significant numbers of them. If you re-read the original post, the author doesn't even address AT guns in Twilight: 2000, other than to imply that the pre-war arsenals are the foundation of the post-Exchange arsenals.
Right. I didn't pay attention and have a tendancy to think according to T2K. My fault.
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  #43  
Old 06-30-2009, 02:21 AM
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Disclaimer - This post is made on the basis of complete ignorance.

Would EMP have affected the guidance systems of the fancy schmancy missiles? That could be another big point in favour of AT guns.
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Old 06-30-2009, 07:33 AM
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Originally Posted by TiggerCCW UK
Disclaimer - This post is made on the basis of complete ignorance.

Would EMP have affected the guidance systems of the fancy schmancy missiles? That could be another big point in favour of AT guns.
Not for sure, but I think there would a few, likely several that would have to be written off as malfunctioning due to EMP.
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Old 06-30-2009, 07:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by copeab
A couple of other observations:

First, while ATGMs do have a much longer effective range than AT guns, local terrain will likely greatly limit advantage, unless you flatten and clear everything within 3,000 meters.

(OTOH, the ambush factor of an ATGM that finds a commanding view firing at very long range is significant.)

Secondly, AT guns have a useful role against attacking infantry, firing HE or some type of multiple-projectile round.
Yes, ask any WWII vet who had the misfortune of being on the wrong end of German 88 that were firing at general ground targets, due to the fact there were no Allied Tanks to kill.
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  #46  
Old 06-30-2009, 08:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TiggerCCW UK
Would EMP have affected the guidance systems of the fancy schmancy missiles? That could be another big point in favour of AT guns.
Good question. I also wonder how long some of those pre-packaged ATGMs would last under battlefield conditions (rain, heat, cold, dust) etc. If the last missiles were manufactured in '97, would they function well enough in 2000? What the normal failure rate for an ATGM and would it increase over time?
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  #47  
Old 06-30-2009, 12:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raellus
Good question. I also wonder how long some of those pre-packaged ATGMs would last under battlefield conditions (rain, heat, cold, dust) etc. If the last missiles were manufactured in '97, would they function well enough in 2000? What the normal failure rate for an ATGM and would it increase over time?
Totally anecdotal, but I got to fire a Tow-II when in the NG years ago. I forget the manufacture date, but it was pretty old. Malfunctioned on me (three of the 4 stabilizing fins popped, the observers said), sending the missile flying wildly off into the sky. It didn't respond to the self-destruct command when I let go of the yoke, either (supposed to nose dive into the ground, but I guess when your control surfaces malfunction, all bets are off).

We were told to expect 5% or so failure rate, during good times. No clue how close that is to reality though.
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Old 06-30-2009, 02:45 PM
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Great story, Cavtroop. On a related note, I wonder how well the sighting/targetting and command guidance systems would hold up under battlefield conditions.
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  #49  
Old 06-30-2009, 05:37 PM
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Originally Posted by cavtroop
We were told to expect 5% or so failure rate, during good times. No clue how close that is to reality though.
5%!? That's a woeful failure rate!

Regarding EMP and missiles, that's a very interesting question and one I doubt we're ever going to be able to answer (at least until certain secret and restricted documents are made public).
My guess is that most simple AT weapons should be fine (one the whole) - M72s and the like anyway as there's almost no components in them to be effected. More sophisticated wire guided, or "fire and forget" systems are another matter.

One would hope that exposed systems would be sent back to the unit armourer for testing and repair and so this shouldn't be too much of an issue by 2000 (no nukes in a few years). On the other hand, if a hidden cache of munitions was found.....

Just think of the possibilities for an evil GM!

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Old 06-30-2009, 06:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Legbreaker
My guess is that most simple AT weapons should be fine (one the whole) - M72s and the like anyway as there's almost no components in them to be effected.
Those kind of rockets can even be reloaded (and probably could be in a T2K timeline.) They can also be used as mortars -- it became policy in Vietnam to bring back their expended M-72s if possible, and crush as many as they could under tracked vehicles to keep the Viet Cong from turning them into mortar tubes.
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Old 06-30-2009, 09:46 PM
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Were NATO tube artillery units issued with AP rounds for self defense? If they were, I supposed then they could be used as AT guns in a pinch.
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Old 06-30-2009, 10:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Legbreaker
One would hope that exposed systems would be sent back to the unit armourer for testing and repair and so this shouldn't be too much of an issue by 2000 (no nukes in a few years). On the other hand, if a hidden cache of munitions was found.....

Just think of the possibilities for an evil GM!

This has occurred a number of times in my campaign. The PCs get all excited at having found some guided ATGMs only to discover that they are either dodgy or completely non-functional.
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Old 06-30-2009, 10:31 PM
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Were NATO tube artillery units issued with AP rounds for self defense? If they were, I supposed then they could be used as AT guns in a pinch.
Don't think they have AP rounds, but 155mm guns have a HEAT round available. And of course a CLGP might be able to be used as an antiarmor round in a pinch, there's ICM-DP, and SADARM...
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Old 06-30-2009, 11:44 PM
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I already answered webstral in a private message but it seems that the smilies I chose in my last post brought some confusion. Sorry about that for anyone who founded that I might have been offensive and sorry to web. I truly found his point a good point.

Thanks anyone
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Old 06-30-2009, 11:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mohoender
I already answered webstral in a private message but it seems that the smilies I chose in my last post brought some confusion. Sorry about that for anyone who founded that I might have been offensive and sorry to web. I truly found his point a good point.

Thanks anyone
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Old 07-01-2009, 06:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mohoender
I already answered webstral in a private message but it seems that the smilies I chose in my last post brought some confusion. Sorry about that for anyone who founded that I might have been offensive and sorry to web. I truly found his point a good point.

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