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Subject: Artillery smoke in 1989 rss

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oystein eker
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I am playing Totaler Krieg ftf with a friend at the moment, but back home I may spend a few hours of the excellent PC game

Flashpoint Campaigns (Matrix Games)

http://www.matrixgames.com/products/592/details/Flashpoint.C...:.Germany.Reforged

Warsaw Pact assault on W. Germany 1989.

I am not sure how to use arty smoke. Guess there are some very good target sensors on both sides. Is it just waste? As Western player should I put on top of my Challenger - between Challenger and T-80 or top of T-80?

The same mech infantry.

Or is it effective only during own retreat/move into position?

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Mark Russo
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Near the enemy unit, not near your own units.
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Carlo Marinozzi
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Interesting, as I'm totally ignorant about battlefield tactics - especially modern ones - I tought it was better to shell near your units, believing that the enemy can bypass the smoke more easily if you target him instead
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Seth Owen
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Carlo M. wrote:
Interesting, as I'm totally ignorant about battlefield tactics - especially modern ones - I tought it was better to shell near your units, believing that the enemy can bypass the smoke more easily if you target him instead


If you are attacking, placing smoke near the enemy obscures his line of sight to the greater degree while bothering your own shooters less. But many exceptions exist. One might drop smoke to obscure an avenue of approach you plan to use, for example.


A defender won't usually want to move from their previously prepared positions to 'bypass' a smoke screen.
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Martin McCleary
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smoke rounds are also usually very limited in a given basic load. The wind / weather plays havoc with it and conditions must be just right for it to be effective.

For a NATO attacker in this setting you want it between you and the bad guys, Russian equipment generally did not have a thermal capability and I don't think they add them to the models for this game but it's been a while since I've played it.

NATO units, especially tanks and IFV's, had a thermal capability and could see thru it to a degree making it a less effective tool for the Russians against NATO - but enough of anything coupled with the stuff that an HE mix would put in the air can do the job. In general in the game NATO units will just fire away.

One other thing: smoke attenuates laser range finders so it may be possible to see into it but you can't get an accurate range return so your fire control solution is bad. At that point you have to estimate range and do manual adjustments like they did during WWII.

That said not all smoke is equal you may want to look at thermal defeating smoke rounds if you are curious. Again I don't think they modeled them in the game but not positive.

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CJ
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I don't know how it is modelled in the game but smoke can be effective as part of a deception plan by focusing attention to a feint or deceive. It's more effective the smaller the engagement and mortars at Coy/Bn level would be an obvious opportunity but there's no reason why it can't be delivered by guns at a larger scale.
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Jason Cawley
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Tactical games always overmodel the effectiveness of smoke, and players consequently invent whole doctrines based on it, that never work that way in reality.

On a single day battle scale, major smoke missions sometimes support efforts like opposed river crossings. They aren't a matter of a few units putting shells just where needed, when needed, but of industrial scale use by dedicated smoke means or massive artillery preparation plans, or both. They have a very spotty record of effectiveness even at such a scale - and basically no record of any effectiveness at smaller scales.

As a small tactic, all modern tanks are equipped with smoke dischargers meant to help get a tank out of a sticky spot, if it is engaged either by superior forces or without being able to locate the shooter to reply. Pop smoke and reverse into cover being the drill. This is a fine idea, but frequently the enemy doesn't give it a chance to work, because the initial engagement is what does the damage.

Masking specific parts of the enemy or single enemy weapons to allow one's whole firepower to engage others, is a nice idea, but rarely works as advertised. Smoke isn't instant enough to deploy or even enough in its dispersal for such "scalpel" use. It is normally faster and more reliable to get this effect by exploiting permanent cover, to "keyhole" on selected enemies by short friendly force movements, hiding from other enemies in permanent LOS "shadows" cast by buildings, woods, ridgelines, etc.

The tactical player's idea that every movement is covered by smoke, or every weapon with smoke rounds available acts first of all by blinding enemies to neutralize their fire, and the depiction in games of this as perfectly reliable and higher in neutralizing firepower than shooting killing weapons straight at his positions, is just a game inaccuracy of depicting smoke.
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Jason Cawley
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Martin re "thermals", there is considerable misunderstanding on the subject. Wargamers seem to think if you have infrared optics, smoke doesn't exist and you see as much as on a noon day whether there is any or not. This isn't how 1989 era IR vision systems worked. Visibility through them was way better than not seeing in the dark or through smoke, but you might see 400 yards, or dimly twice that. 1.5 to 2.5 kms through smoke with a 1989 era IR system? Not a chance.
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oystein eker
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This is operational scale. Each turn (cycle) varies for each side from approx 12 minutes and upwards (depending on friction and chaos). But things happen every minute, attacks, pre-planned movement, ammo consumption.

No doubt a lot of calculations are running behind the graphic (pure hex&counter). Guess there are units retreating behind own generated smokescreen within a hex. Calculated by % defense value - or similar..
 
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Tony Doran
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Hate to tell you, but nothing with12 minute turns can reasonably be called operational.
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oystein eker
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narodynot wrote:
Hate to tell you, but nothing with12 minute turns can reasonably be called operational.


It is certainly not tactical either.

In my ongoing game there are too many platoons/company/brigades that I am bother to count.

My next cycle will be in 21 minutes and then I can give only 10 orders. This will deteriorate significantly when I encounter the enemy. It takes several hours to push a fraction of the army in the direction you want.
Sacrificing scouts are part of the game.


 
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Martin McCleary
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JasonC wrote:
Martin re "thermals", there is considerable misunderstanding on the subject. Wargamers seem to think if you have infrared optics, smoke doesn't exist and you see as much as on a noon day whether there is any or not. This isn't how 1989 era IR vision systems worked. Visibility through them was way better than not seeing in the dark or through smoke, but you might see 400 yards, or dimly twice that. 1.5 to 2.5 kms through smoke with a 1989 era IR system? Not a chance.



The thermals in my M60A3's (TTS) would see clearly quite a distance. They were better than those in the period M1/M1A1 series (TIS) due to having more "channels". Thermal effectiveness varies at range and weather conditions; sometimes you get only a hot spot not a clear picture of the target but it's good enough to shoot assuming you know it's a bad guy. Modern FLIR systems are far better now, the stuff in the M1A2SEP and beyond would blow you away.

Again the issue I recall with smoke was not so much its blinding effect but its degradation of the fire control solution but yes generally we weren't going to see thru 2km's of the stuff; mixed with airborne dirt thrown up by moving vehicles it was even more effective.

My experience was that it was limited in availability and conditions had to be just right. It was really only effective when you had lots of it and could build it continuously in favorable weather conditions. Mortar or arty immediate suppression missions to put it out for cover were all but useless.

BTW: are you in Tucson?
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oystein eker
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Great read -guys.

Thanks.

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Jason Cawley
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Martin - north Phoenix, not Tucson.

On 1980s era IR systems, what I remember is that beyond modest ranges one couldn't readily pick things out of the background. It wasn't that you saw nothing, it was that you saw too much, too faintly and indistinctly. At 400 yards things were clear, at twice that range big hot things were clear. At long range, in a background that isn't an open desert, with lots of varied stuff - no the not moving enemy vehicle isn't blaring like a foghorn saying "I'm right here". Yes the modern systems are way, way better. Back then, it was more like what you got on a gen 1 or gen 2 personal optic. The US had more of it than the Russians did, or frankly than the rest of NATO did. None of it just made smoke transparent or was as good as a mark 1 eyeball through clear glass on a sunny day.
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