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Subject: On strategy and unit counters rss

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Gianpaolo Dorigo
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"Black Horse 1-0, Black Horse 1-0, here Spade 6. We shall engage. Over."

These are the first lines of the novel "The Third World War: august, 1985", by general sir John Hackett. The book was released in 1978, and I had this radio talk in my head as a teenager, while I positioned my M-60A2 tanks from 11th Cavalry on river Main valley, to stop the soviet invasion of Western Europe. That’s Scenario One, Wurzburg, brazilian edition in 1979.

For Scenario One, my opening game was always the same: as the american player, I initially positioned the 3 squadrons of 11th Cavalry (3 x 3-3-12 units) around the town of Kitzengen. This apparently meant giving up the control of Wurzburg (the ultimate objective of first scenario), but: a) the soviet doesn’t have movement points enough to cross the river downtown on first turn, and that left the southern part of the city still in my hands; b) I’ll have a powerful force threatening the soviet left, with easy access to his rearguard through the clear terrain east of Wurzburg.

Scenario One is the most attractive of the game. The other 3 scenarios are also challenging, but easily developes as fast-paced "attrition" battles, as more and more troops poured in the area and artillery fire becomes the decisive weapon.

I described the 3-3-12 units as M60A2 squadrons (battalions), but many players doesn’t agree. First, BGG’s Robin Le Bon depicts 3-3-12 as M-60 and 3-2-12 as M-48 in his custom made counter sheet. Al Hattlested note that 3-3-12 should be M-551 and, in fact, the cover of american edition shows a Sheridan tank. Second, the other customized countersheet that appears in the gallery, shows 3-3-12 as M-60 and 3-2-12 as M-551, and that puts a lot of Sheridans in the battlefield, which seems historically inaccurate.

So, my solution is 3-2-12 as M-60A1 and 3-3-12 as M-60A2, the higher defensive value due to their anti-tank missiles. If Sheridans were in the game, they should appear in small numbers and should be depicted as 3-2-12 (the higher defensive values lessened by its fragile aluminium alloy construction).

Soviet units also poses some troubles. Both 1-2-12 and 3-2-12 are clearly depicted in the game as BMP vehicles, while 4-2-12 are tanks (T-64 ? T-72 ?). Custom counters deal with this in two ways: a) Robin Le Bon uses BTR-50 (1-2-12), T-64 (3-2-12, changing the counter silhouette) and T-72 (4-2-12); b) the gallery countersheet uses BTR-60 (1-2-12, more plausible), T-64 (3-2-12, also changing the silhouette) and T-72 (4-2-12).

In fact, the soviet units should be read and depicted as follows: a) 1-2-12 are motor rifle battalions, equipped with BMP; b) 3-2-12 are tank battalions, with BMP and T-64 (my choice for front line soviet tank of this era; note that tank battalions in motor-file regiments were very well balanced units); c) 4-2-12 are tank regiments, with huge numbers of tanks (95 tanks). I think that tank battalions should be depicted with tank silhouettes and tank brigades with DOUBLE tank silhouettes (in both cases T-64s).

One last remark, concerning artillery units. American units are obviously M-109 (1-2-12/2-12), M-107 (2-1-13/1-12) and M-110 (2-1-12/1-12). Soviet units are:

- 3-1-7/1-9: 122mm D-30 field howitzers;
- 3-1-11/1-9: 130 mm M-46 field guns (with its 27 km range)
- 4-0-8/1-9: 122mm BM-21 rocket launcher battalion
- 4-1-8/1-9: 122mm BM-21 rocket launcher brigade
- 5-1-7/1-9: 152mm D-20 gun howitzer
- 7-2-7/1-9: 180mm S-23 field gun.
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Ian Raine
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There is an article in S&T 55 which sets out the 'toe' of the counters.

3-3-12 - cavalry battalion (squadron) - has a battalion's worth of cavalrymen (ie mech infantry infantry) mounted in M113s, plus 17 M551. Gives it the extra attack strength point.

3-2-12 is either M60A1 or A2, but it and the 2-3-12 seem to assume some cross attachment of companies.

1-2-12 is a standard Soviet category one Motor Rifle battalion with no tanks attached. The 3-2-12 is an MR Btn with a battalion of MBTs attached - T55s or T62s at that time - from the divisions tank regiment. The 4-2-12 regiment is as you say probably T62 or 72 at that time (the T64s were in limited use too) with IIRC only 1 company of infantry included.

SPI seemed to miss out the new Soviet SP Arty (2S1, 2S2) that was entering service with the category 1 divisions in the 8th Guards Army around the time the game was produced. But they were probably still 'classified' back then.

Edit: see new post.


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Gianpaolo Dorigo
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Great. This solve many questions I've been chewing on for three decades.

Thanks a lot !
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Ian Raine
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The T72 was never deployed in GSFG - the T64A started to be deployed in the late 70s, after Wurzburg's time, but never completely replaced the 55s and 62s. The T80 started arriving in about 1983 or 4 and eventually GSFG had enough T64s and T80s for its divisions. They also kept a lot of the older tanks on hand for training, and because the T64s were unreliable and prone to shedding tracks.

Much of this info comes from a Russian website authored by some former GSFG tankers:

http://www.otvaga2004.narod.ru/otvaga2004/0tanks.htm&usg=ALk...
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Robert Wesley
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Re: On strategy and unit counters and "VERBOTEN!" sometimes
We were actually "VERBOTEN!" on playing this within the actual CITY by their Mayor, at the 'time' that I was 'stationed' in West Germany! soblue
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Marc B
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Trying to devine the date for this game is a real effort.

Ian is correct on the T-72 not being in the GSFG - S Zaloga says in "Tank War Central front", there were a handful of T-72 Battalions in the NVA(DDR), Czech and Polish armies by 1989, but fielding was slow because almost half of production was sold each year for hard cash. Russia had T-72's in the Baltic Military District.
The T-64A was highly unreliable and production was replaced by the marginally better T-64B which also fired the Songster AT-8 missile. The B version was fielded starting 1982 at one company per Tank Battalion - the other 2x companies remained T-64A's. The T-80 was fielded starting 1983 to the 1st GTA then 8th GA. Many MRD's remained with T-62's in their Tank Regiments until the mid 80's. By 1979 each GSFG TD had 1x Rgt T-64A's & 2x Rgt's T-62's.
What's got me stymied is the BTR-50; these were replaced by the BMP-1 fairly quickly, with the BTR-50s going to Arab clients and Warpac allies - by 1973 Egypt & Syria had bought 1500 BTR-50s plus a thousand BTR-152's & by 1980 the BMP-1 was in all tracked MRR's with the BMP-2 fielded starting 1981; so where are the 1x Rgt of BMP & 2x Rgt's BTR-60/70's?(or their portions)
D Isby's "Wpns of the Soviet Union" states in 1978 only 17% of the GSFG Divisions had SP artillery - Tank Div's first. Not quite half of the GSFG Divisions had 2S1/2S3's by 1985. The BM-27(9P140) was first fielded in late 1977, reaching operational status in 1978. The declassified CIA report 'GSFG Restructuring, 1983' says the Carpathian MD & Byelorussian MD got the BM-27 first, so it was not fielded in the GSFG 34th Gds Arty Div(Army level) until 1979.

Based on the Soviet OOB, it seems like 1979 to 1981, though the BMP issue makes that questionable.

What's interesting is the US/NATO side of the equation; the M-1 was first fielded in late 1980/early 1981 with 2x battalion sets to 3ID right there near Wurzburg @ Schweinfurt. Then in late 1981 the rest of 3ID & both ACR's got them. They replaced the ACR M551's & M60A2's & by December of 1981 the Sheridan's and 'Starships' were gone from Europe; why this is important is that the AH-64 in the counter-mix was not fielded until 15 Mar 1985 in 4th Bde/3ID right there in Wuerzburg - and they were the first to get them. So the M551's and M60A2's were long gone, yet they are in the mix. The first BFV's were fielded in 1981 to 3ID. The M107 was withdrawn from 7th Army in 1978.

Errr.....

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Ian Raine
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Wurzburg is set in 1975, so you still have M551, M107, and some M60A2 btns. The M110 is the short calibre 203mm version, not the longer ranged A2 that replaced the M107, along with the MLRS (a counter battery and massed tank killing device, designed to release one salvo and scoot before the nuke arrived by return mail).

The 75 time frame explains the corps having one independent AH1 company (not AH64), with some spread around the ACAV squadrons. In about 77/8 they brought this up to a battalion and then as more TOW/Cobra arrived (?AH1Q) started equipping each division with a battalion (squadron). All that happened after the Tri-cap trial was terminated, the 1 Cav converted to armor, and the 6th Air Assault Brigade was separately established. In the 1986 TOE reorganisation this was increased again to 2 squadrons in the aviation brigade.

The Soviets had some SP arty coming into the units in 75, but it was issued first to the tank and MR regiments to keep up and provide close support (replacing towed guns, mortars etc) with batteries following each battalion. The division (and army asset) artillery was pretty much all towed then.

The other point is that when the T72 was first introduced, the group of tank armies in the second echelon got first issue, with the still older equipment passed on to the Category C divsions (division depots, more like it). By the time the teething problems were sorted, the GSFG got new stuff like artillery. The T64A was a bit of a secret weapon (and apparently an unreliable one), but on that Russian site there is reference to a Soviet based unit (Baltic District) transferring its T64s to GSFG when it got its T72s.

The CGF eventually got some T72s, by then the GSFG was getting T80s.
 
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Cassandra Harbinger
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When the Soviet's get T-72s the U.S. was getting M-1s. Given the results of the 1991 Gulf War that would be a major advantage for the U.S..
 
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Ian Raine
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cassandraharbinger wrote:
When the Soviet's get T-72s the U.S. was getting M-1s. Given the results of the 1991 Gulf War that would be a major advantage for the U.S..


The version of the T72 exported to Iraq was the inferior "Monkey Model" - it didn't have the same optics, and the armour was missing the 'secret' ceramic layers. Having said that the vanilla M1 with the 105mm gun was still superior to the Soviet issue T72. The real difference maker is the TTS. You can't hit what you can't see and the TTS was a significant advantage.
 
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Mike Robel
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Well, I am coming to this way late, but here goes.

The 11th ACR was in V Corps and stationed in Fulda. The 2nd ACR was in VII Corps and Headquarterd in Nuremburg.

I was in the 11th from JAN 1977 - DEC 1979.

At that time, the 11th was organized with three cav squadrons in Fulda, Bad Kissingen, and Bad Hersfeld.

CAV SQDN
HHC
3 x CAV TRP: 1 M113 for CO, 3 PLTS with 3 x M113, 6 M551, 3 M106
Tank Company: 17 M60A1
HOW Battery 6 x M109A1

Later, the CAV PLTS got 4 M60A1 and lost the 6 Sheridans.
Still Later, the Mortars were moved to the Troop Level

As I recall we also had a Maintenance Cmopany (15th), Engineer Company (58th), What I remember as the command and control squadron with 1 Attack HEL Company 9 or so AH-1, an Air Cav Troop OH-58s I think, and a Support Troop (Air) with UH-1s

As I left in 1979, we got M60A3s and each cav PLT got 2 x M901s.

Much later the CAV Troops got an M1 as I recall, 2 platoons of 4 M1s, and 2 platoons of 6 M3s. 2 M106 mortars, later 2 M1068 120mm Mortars.

Now of course, they're gone and they are OPFOR at the NTC and organized as a tank brigade.

Mike

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