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Fhaolan
2010-02-23, 12:51 PM
Wait, what? Casting a sword? I call bull****.

Historically, some steel swords were cast as well, especially in the areas currently known as Turkey and Spain. These areas have access to high-quality steel which can allow for this. It's casting blanks for material removal. i.e. cast a lump of metal of the right dimensions and grind away everything that is not sword. It still needs a lot of forge-work for tempering and annealing, but it does work. Only if you can start with that high-quality steel, of course.

Philistine
2010-02-23, 01:14 PM
I believe that most E-variants had a pair of 20mm cannon, and most later variants had a single nose mounted one (although I think sometimes 15mm and 30mm could be used). I'm not sure if I would call that under-gunned. Also later variants were sometimes fitted with a pair of extra cannons under the wings.

The Bf109E was already being replaced by the Bf109F by the time of Barbarossa, and the Bf109F was massively undergunned with 2x 7.92mm MG and 1x15mm or 20mm cannon (depending on the exact mark). The Bf109G was by far the most common version of the aircraft, with the G-5/G-6 models by themselves accounting for 12000+ units (nearly half of total production of the type); most Gs were armed with 2x13mm MG and 1x20mm cannon. Better than the F certainly, but still awfully light by 1943 standards. Additional 20mm could be carried under the wings, but these had a very adverse effect on performance and were not popular.

fusilier
2010-02-23, 02:08 PM
The Bf109E was already being replaced by the Bf109F by the time of Barbarossa, and the Bf109F was massively undergunned with 2x 7.92mm MG and 1x15mm or 20mm cannon (depending on the exact mark). The Bf109G was by far the most common version of the aircraft, with the G-5/G-6 models by themselves accounting for 12000+ units (nearly half of total production of the type); most Gs were armed with 2x13mm MG and 1x20mm cannon. Better than the F certainly, but still awfully light by 1943 standards. Additional 20mm could be carried under the wings, but these had a very adverse effect on performance and were not popular.

Sticking with the G-model for now. Light compared to what? 2x20 mm cannons? I mean American fighters in 1943 might sport 4 or 6 .50 caliber mgs (rarely 8). British fighters typically carried 2x20mm cannons plus maybe 4 .50 or .303 mgs, all in the wings. I don't know what was typical on Russian fighters at the time, though. Anyway, the thinking is that it's generally better to have a bigger gun, than more smaller guns, but this isn't always practical. Outside of the P-38 and P-39 (both designed as bomber interceptors), the US generally felt that 4-6 .50 brownings was sufficient, rather than have to deal with exploding 20mm ammo. Bigger guns tend to have a slower cyclic rate, and if they are synchronized this problem can be exacerbated.

I've heard that pilots of the (later model) 109's liked the fact that the armament was all concentrated in the nose. Convergence ranges weren't nearly as important as an aircraft with the armament in the wings. (Convergence ranges are still important because of the different ballistics of the 20 mm cannon and the 13 mm guns, but it's not as drastic as the convergence range for wing mounted weaponry).

The extra cannon pods were usually fitted (to the best of my knowledge) for taking down the big bombers, although I suppose they could also be useful for ground sorties. You are right that the extra weight and drag affected the performance.

To the best of my knowledge, the heaviest armament on most fighters would be 2x20mm cannon, plus some number of mgs (I know some of the late war Italian aircraft might have 3 cannon, ground attack Hurricanes could have 4). I think the nose mounted armament probably helped compensate for the reduced weaponry. It may have been a bit weak for taking down large bombers, but for dealing with other fighters, it was probably sufficient.

Hurlbut
2010-02-23, 10:04 PM
Hm? Whatever happen to the 30mm cannon for the 109G?

Fortinbras
2010-02-24, 12:36 AM
Does anyone know anything about the Jewish Infantry Brigade Group or the 400 Jewish volunteers who fought in Libya in the battle of Bir-el Harmat.

Daosus
2010-02-24, 02:44 AM
My real problem was, that the 1sp per day wage seems rediculously low. But as 10g coin of solid gold does not sound quite right either, I thought about changing all the item prices into sp while keeping the amounts the same. Which I know think I'll really do.
15 days wages for a simple laborer to buy a sword doesn't sound that far off, and 32 gold pieces for a masterwork weapon is also rather okay. Of course still not realistically accurate, but much better than having a 15 year old 1st level rogue start with a bag of gold coins for which he would need to work for 3 years without spending anything. :smallbiggrin:


The real problem is that you're trying to apply a modern paradigm to a historic period which does not follow that paradigm. You are used to having and using money. Most people during the medieval period which gaming is based on did not have access to money. They operated on a very localized barter economy. Farmers would literally trade food for goods and services they needed.

In DnD, money is used as a measure of character power, and is essentially divorced from its economic function in the game world. If you really want to have an equivalent for money, use "pound of wheat" as the measurement, and set it at something like 0.01-0.1 cp. Then, extrapolate the prices. The price lists in the game books are anachronistic and don't make sense if you think too hard.

Galloglaich
2010-02-24, 09:10 AM
Sword makers were highly paid, high-standing members of the community ... and normally wouldn't be paid by the day but by the weapons they produced. In most cases they would be part of a powerful guild.

The whole economic and currency system of DnD is ridiculous.

G.

Galloglaich
2010-02-24, 09:31 AM
Because the weight of additional guns and armor was negligible compared to the weight of the ammunition (which was being used up in the course of the mission, thus presumably restoring the aircraft's performance to better match its unladen bomber brethren), I take it?

Fusilier addressed this one pretty well already I think.



Adding weight - whether armor, fuel, or whatever - decreased performance. Add enough weight of armor, and the performance drop makes you so much easier to hit that it doesn't matter how many hits you can take. That's assuming you still can still squeeze out enough range/payload to perform the mission at all at that point - because if not, you might as well have been shot down for all the damage you're doing to the enemy.

Of course there is a tradeoff. And yet as the war went on and battlefield experience increased, they added more and more armor to aircraft. So obviously they felt that there was a good reason for it.

One of the chief advantages was in protecting aircrew. Since aiir combat rapidly turned into a type of attrition warfare, a small performance hit from armor which meant that your trained aircrew would survive a high percentage of shoot-downs, meant that you would have many more pilots six months or a year down the road than your opponent. This was the lesson the Japanese learned the hard way (and too late) in the Pacific Theater. The Wildcats and P-40s they faced were arguably marginally inferior in terms of overall performance, but the Allied pilots had a 200% or 300% higher likelihood of surviving being shot down or damaged in combat. This paid big dividends.



With all due respect, I think it's you that's missing the point. Where did I say, or even suggest, that aircraft should be armored against tank weapons? What do you think I meant by "own-caliber"? Why do you think I specifically mentioned protecting against fifty-cal and twenty mike-mike, which by 1942 were the predominant weapons of fighter aircraft?

The armor on these aircraft was good protection against .50 and 20mm, and the big armor plate behind the pilot deflected most of the bullets shot at fighters in particular (from the six o'clock) and protected the most vital systems (the pilot and the engine). The self-sealing fuel tanks were equally important.


aircraft that were hit and survived did so not because of their armor, which most hits never impinged upon, but because of other factors - most notably strength of airframe, but also size.

You are incorrect. The armor played a huge role in the survival of the pilot (especially), without which the aircraft would not fly. Strength of the airframe was important but didn't matter much of the pilot and the engine were riddled with bullets.



Meanwhile, you seem to be basing your argument on the Il-2;

No, the Il2 is just one of the more extreme examples of where armor was increased well past the point of affecting performance which still paidd off; but that was due to it's role as a ground attack aircraft. It's spectacular success was almost entirely due to the armor, but it was hardly unique for aircraft in that role.

The armor on standard fighters and bombers, while less extensive, was primarily designed to cope with air-to-air gunnery, and also proved effective (and absolutely vital for any combat aircraft)

I would liken the difference to that between an EOD ordinance removal crewman (armored head to toe) and an ordinary infantryman (armored with torso body armor and helmet). Just because the latter doesn't cover the entire body doesn't mean it isn't tactically significant.


but the Il-2 is a) hardly representative of the general case, b) still vulnerable - especially to engine, radiator, and pilot hits,

Not very, the pilot, radiator and engine were heavily protected in the Il2. Especially the pilot who was surrounded by a 'bathtub' of steel armor and bullet proof glass.



but also to general airframe damage, and c) seem to have been primarily opposed by Bf109s, the most common marks of which were significantly under-gunned.

Fusilier addressed this, the Me 109 was not under-gunned. Only certain marks of the Franz were somewhat light, but 20mm cannon in the prop-spinner is always a very lethal weapon, and the E carried two 20mm in the wings and the G combined 20mm with 13mm Machine guns and / or extra 20mm in the wings; many marks even carried the ridiculous 30mm.

Also, the Il2 was contemporaneous with the Fw 190 which was one of the most heavily armed fighters in the war.



Apparently this is going to come as a shock to you, but I actually do have some slight familiarity

I'm glad, but if you have read the first hand accounts of pilots like Galland, Boyington, Rudel, Clive Caldwell, etc. etc. you will have read many accounts of the armor protecting thhe pilots. Of course it never seems like enough, but it made a huge difference.


Lastly: flight sims, even "realistic" ones, inevitably reflect the prejudices of the games' designers rather than reality.

I know I'm standing on quicksand to defend a flight sim in this context, but there are flight simulators and then there is Il2. All I can say is, if you try that game out, (and it aint easy, it will take you weeks just to learn to takeoff and land most of these aircraft in full-realism, let alone fight online against human opponents) I can guarantee you will learn a lot about flying and WW II aviation. The ballistics and damage model are particularly remarkable.

The game is popular with a lot of WW II veterans, it's the only flight sim that really was as far as I know.


By the same token, the fragments also will not necessarily hit the aircraft from behind - which is the only direction from which most of the crew received any armor protection at all.

From behind is where most damage from fighters is likely to occur.

G.

Galloglaich
2010-02-24, 10:17 AM
Historically, some steel swords were cast as well, especially in the areas currently known as Turkey and Spain. These areas have access to high-quality steel which can allow for this. It's casting blanks for material removal. i.e. cast a lump of metal of the right dimensions and grind away everything that is not sword. It still needs a lot of forge-work for tempering and annealing, but it does work. Only if you can start with that high-quality steel, of course.

Do you have any sources for casting iron or steel swords ? In what time period are you talking about?

My understanding was that the blast furnace didn't appear in Europe until the Medieval period, and I'd never heard of cast steel weapons in the pre-industrial era.

G.

Galloglaich
2010-02-24, 10:38 AM
Fusilier I think you have a good analysis here, I'm just going to add a few points.



Sticking with the G-model for now. Light compared to what? 2x20 mm cannons? I mean American fighters in 1943 might sport 4 or 6 .50 caliber mgs (rarely 8). British fighters typically carried 2x20mm cannons plus maybe 4 .50 or .303 mgs, all in the wings. I don't know what was typical on Russian fighters at the time, though.

British fighters usually 2 x 20mm plus either 4 x .303 OR 2 x 12.7mm

Russian fighters almost all had a small number of large guns with very little ammo. Typical is one 20mm gun in the prop-spinner and maybe 1 or 2 machine guns, originally 7.62 later 12.7mm. The later marks of the La5 family had 2 x 23mm in the engine cowling. They liked to shoot from very close in, part of how they fought. This system incidentally really paid off by the second half of the war (1943 onward) in which they had a qualitative advantage over the German fighters.

They also had a very fast firing (kind of like a gatling gun) 7.62 MG which was used on some of their early fighters (I-16) which allowed more of a 'spray and pray' tactic.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ShKAS_machine_gun



Anyway, the thinking is that it's generally better to have a bigger gun, than more smaller guns, but this isn't always practical. Outside of the P-38 and P-39 (both designed as bomber interceptors), the US generally felt that 4-6 .50 brownings was sufficient, rather than have to deal with exploding 20mm ammo. Bigger guns tend to have a slower cyclic rate, and if they are synchronized this problem can be exacerbated.

This is true, the bigger guns (cannon) are shorter ranged than the .50s. It's a different approach to marksmanship. German and Russian fighters tended to shoot a small number of heavy cannon rounds from very close range. Their guns shot a few rounds (2 or 3 round bursts) but were very accurate being mostly in the nose.

Most US fighters by contrast had a lot of heavy machine guns in the wings (4-6 12.7mm as you pointed out) which had a longer range but far less accuracy, but also a lot of ammunition. They became particularly effective when the right mix of armor piercing, tracer, and incendiary bullets was discovered.

This is one of the things you can clearly see in Il2 which is borne out by WW II stats and pilot accounts. The wing mounted .50's reflected a more 'spray and pray' tactic, the wing-mounted guns have a much wider dispersion, and used larger bursts (7-8 rounds per gun, instead of 2-3, with six guns maybe 40 or 50 rounds downrange, but often only a few rounds hit). This was actually pioneered by the English with their 8 wing mounted .303s, (later 12 in the Mk IIb Hurricane). Both approaches were effective. The 12.7mm round, particularly with AP ammo, was better at punching through pilot armor and punching holes in engines, the 20mm cannon were better at destroying the aircrafts structure (tearing off wings or blowing the tail off etc.)

It's not surprising the P-39 was popular with the Russians, since it's heavy nose-gun armament suited their fighting style.



I've heard that pilots of the (later model) 109's liked the fact that the armament was all concentrated in the nose. Convergence ranges weren't nearly as important as an aircraft with the armament in the wings. (Convergence ranges are still important because of the different ballistics of the 20 mm cannon and the 13 mm guns, but it's not as drastic as the convergence range for wing mounted weaponry).

Agreed 100%, this is again very evident in Il2. Guns in the nose, especially the prop spinner, means a higher percentage of each burst lands on target.



The extra cannon pods were usually fitted (to the best of my knowledge) for taking down the big bombers, although I suppose they could also be useful for ground sorties. You are right that the extra weight and drag affected the performance.

There were many, many different options for arming the Me 109s, including the nose guns which could also be changed in the field. They also had the Mk 108 (30mm) available in the G model.



To the best of my knowledge, the heaviest armament on most fighters would be 2x20mm cannon, plus some number of mgs (I know some of the late war Italian aircraft might have 3 cannon, ground attack Hurricanes could have 4). I think the nose mounted armament probably helped compensate for the reduced weaponry. It may have been a bit weak for taking down large bombers, but for dealing with other fighters, it was probably sufficient.

Basically yeah. The Hurri IIC had four 20mm, which was a first (though very little ammo) as did the Typhoon and Tempest. The on paper small armamenet of the P-38 was considered very strong in the war, because all the guns were in the nose. The P-47 famously had 8 12.7mm which was very strong. The P-39 had a very powerful 37mm which only the Russians seemed to figure out how to use.

On the Axis side, the BF 110 had two 20mm plus four 7.92mm MGs, all in the nosoe, which was quite strong armament, the Fw 190A had the four 20mm in the wings and nose plus machine guns, the Fw 190D had two 20mm plus two 13mm (in the nose) which is also quite strong. Some versions of the Me 109G had the Mk 108 30mm, which was devestating. Several of the excellent but rare late model Japanese fighters like the N1K1 "Shiden-Kai" and J2M "Raiden" had four 20mm cannons. The superb but even more rare late war Italian fighters like the Fiat G55 "Centauro" had the very heavy armamement of 3 20mm and 4 12.7mm!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kawanishi_N1K
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiat_G55

The most powerful single seat day-fighter armament I know of was the four 30mm on the Me 262, though several of the 'heavy' fighters and night fighters had multiple cannons and even 50mm guns etc.

G.

Fhaolan
2010-02-24, 12:44 PM
Do you have any sources for casting iron or steel swords ? In what time period are you talking about?

My understanding was that the blast furnace didn't appear in Europe until the Medieval period, and I'd never heard of cast steel weapons in the pre-industrial era.

G.

Crucible furnaces for casting steel is mentioned in Islamic writings since at least the 8th century. [as published in several papers by A. Feuerbach around 1997 or so, based on archeological research from Merv, Turkmenistan], and apparantly there is something written by a Jabir ibn Hayyan in the 8th century that indicates that crucible steel was used for casting blades. [as published by B. Bronson, 1986: The Making and Selling of Wootz, a Crucible Steel of India]. I, personally, can't make heads or tails out of the original documents as I can't read arabic.

It looks like I was mistaken about the Spain bit, I had misremembered a document that had talked about crucible technology being brought to Spain during the Muslim occupation from 711-1234. It did not, however, mention sword blades being cast from those furnaces, just that the steel was used to *make* swords. My oppologies. :smallsmile:

Galloglaich
2010-02-24, 02:27 PM
Crucible furnaces for casting steel is mentioned in Islamic writings since at least the 8th century. [as published in several papers by A. Feuerbach around 1997 or so, based on archeological research from Merv, Turkmenistan], and apparantly there is something written by a Jabir ibn Hayyan in the 8th century that indicates that crucible steel was used for casting blades. [as published by B. Bronson, 1986: The Making and Selling of Wootz, a Crucible Steel of India]. I, personally, can't make heads or tails out of the original documents as I can't read arabic.

It looks like I was mistaken about the Spain bit, I had misremembered a document that had talked about crucible technology being brought to Spain during the Muslim occupation from 711-1234. It did not, however, mention sword blades being cast from those furnaces, just that the steel was used to *make* swords. My oppologies. :smallsmile:

I think I can explain this, the crucible steel in question is ultra-high carbon wootz or ukku steel from India and Sri Lanka. It was actually used in Spain before the Reconquista, so you are not misremembering. It actually goes back to the 3rd Century BC, it's not cast it's a very special method of smelting while infusing a higher than the normal amount of carbon, this is the same steel which is today called "Damascus" steel because Damascus Syria became a center of sword production using this steel which had been imported from India. Wootz steel was the most sought after metal for making weapons for over 1000 years, and was traded in billets all around the Mediterranean, Eastern Europe and Asia, including to Toledo in Spain where it was used to make the finest quality swords that they could manufacture.

Wootz steel is a complex subject in it's own right, but the wiki gives you a good start:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wootz_steel
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crucible_steel

Many people around the world used Wootz steel, when they could get it. It has been found in Viking weapons, Russian weapons, Japanese weapons, Chinese, Persian, Arab and Moorish / Spanish and even Indonesian and Filipino weapons. It didn't really get to Wesern Europe outside of Spain and Scandinavia until the Renaissance, when it became very popular for a while and influenced the popularity of 'watered' or 'damask' fabrics. Later it was used for gun barrels.

Modern tests on wootz steel swords revealed that they had carbon nano-wires and nano-tubes in them.

They apparently lost the ability to make it in the 18th Century..

G.

fusilier
2010-02-24, 05:55 PM
This is one of the things you can clearly see in Il2 which is borne out by WW II stats and pilot accounts. The wing mounted .50's reflected a more 'spray and pray' tactic, the wing-mounted guns have a much wider dispersion, and used larger bursts (7-8 rounds per gun, instead of 2-3, with six guns maybe 40 or 50 rounds downrange, but often only a few rounds hit). This was actually pioneered by the English with their 8 wing mounted .303s, (later 12 in the Mk IIb Hurricane). Both approaches were effective.

I think the important thing to stress about wing mounted guns is that they are set to converge at a particular range (the pilots typically adjusted it to suit themselves), if the target isn't at that precise range, your going to have a lot more spray.


The superb but even more rare late war Italian fighters like the Fiat G55 "Centauro" had the very heavy armamement of 3 20mm and 4 12.7mm!

There was a version with 5 20mm cannons, but I don't know if it was produced in any significant numbers. The Germans considered building that plane under license, because its thick wing form could support a large number of cannons. It was also one of the few fighter airframes that could be adapted to the powerful DB 603 engine (the Fiat G56), but it was never produced.

Italian 12.7mm guns must be treated somewhat carefully. While the Breda machine gun itself was based on the Browning .50 caliber, the cartridge was based on the British Vickers .50. This is a weaker round (shorter cartridge = less propellant), so it's armor piercing qualities aren't as good. The Italians used a mix of tracers, ap, and an exploding 12.7mm round (using a PETN I think). Some sources are dismissive of it's capability, but the Italian pilots liked to use the exploding round in a ratio of about 1-to-4 IIRC. Also I think the Breda gun was slower firing then other .50 caliber guns.


Agreed 100%, this is again very evident in Il2. Guns in the nose, especially the prop spinner, means a higher percentage of each burst lands on target.

Targetware is good about this too. I remember flying early war scenarios in various Italian fighters, and using those nose guns to ping faster allied fighters at long range. :-) It wouldn't hurt them, but it may cause them to break and turn back on me so I had chance of catching them. The early war Italian fighters only had a pair of 12.7mm Breda-Safats in the nose, but lots of ammo for them, and ammo counters.

Zom B
2010-02-24, 10:02 PM
Another sword question: What does a stance like this one (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kenjutsu_at_the_Japanese_Garden.jpg) do for you? It seems like it would be too predictable where your sword is going first: straight down in a chopping motion or in an awkward slice. Also, leaving your chest wide open seems strange to me.

Fortinbras
2010-02-25, 12:04 AM
What are the relative merits of the Fairbairn Sykes compaired to, say, the K-bar.

Telok
2010-02-25, 01:53 AM
Another sword question: What does a stance like this one (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kenjutsu_at_the_Japanese_Garden.jpg) do for you? It seems like it would be too predictable where your sword is going first: straight down in a chopping motion or in an awkward slice. Also, leaving your chest wide open seems strange to me.

Watch Kurosawa's "The Seven Samurai" to understand that match. Alternately, go to your local college and take some kendo classes.

In modern fencing, yes, that stance would be a death wish. In kendo it's a very confidant pose. I'm at work so I can't do the proper links or a long discussion, but it is a legitimate set up.

Galloglaich
2010-02-25, 08:22 AM
Another sword question: What does a stance like this one (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kenjutsu_at_the_Japanese_Garden.jpg) do for you? It seems like it would be too predictable where your sword is going first: straight down in a chopping motion or in an awkward slice. Also, leaving your chest wide open seems strange to me.

That stance is equivalent to Vom Tag in German fencing. It's an offensive stance, and one of the most versatile guards, you can attack from below, from above, from either side, and in every case your attack can also be a defense, either simultaneously (single-time counter, like a zwerchau) or in a two-beat move (double-time counter, like a krumphau)... or you can immediately transition into a defensive guard and set-aside an attack (absetsen). In fact all of the Miesterhau (Master Cuts) in the German system can be made from Vom Tag.

This type of stance has the advantage of making it harder for the opponent to judge the distance.

It's probably slightly more versatile in European fencing since you have two-edged swords and can attack with the false edge, but in Japanese fencing (which has almost all of the same opening attacks) you just turn the blade to reverse your attack.

When I have some more time I'll find some sparring videos so you can see how this type of stance works.

G.

Galloglaich
2010-02-25, 09:43 AM
Watch Kurosawa's "The Seven Samurai" to understand that match. Alternately, go to your local college and take some kendo classes.

Yeah the duel from seven Samurai is a good example,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PuqwtFwJ7V4

that cut is exactly the same as a "Zornhau" in German Renaissance fencing, same triangle or slope step (to step offline) same cutting from guard to guard and everything. There are a lot of similarities between European longsword fencing and Japanese fencing.



In modern fencing, yes, that stance would be a death wish. In kendo it's a very confidant pose. I'm at work so I can't do the proper links or a long discussion, but it is a legitimate set up.

Yeah, it's a very confident pose in any fight if you are using a sword you can cut with, not just in Kendo. In modern olympic-style fencing you wouldn't use that stance, there are actually some guards like that in rapier but most are point-forward since it's heavily thrusting oriented.

G.

Galloglaich
2010-02-25, 09:48 AM
Another sword question: What does a stance like this one (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kenjutsu_at_the_Japanese_Garden.jpg) do for you? It seems like it would be too predictable where your sword is going first: straight down in a chopping motion or in an awkward slice. Also, leaving your chest wide open seems strange to me.

Here is a clip of some skilled HEMA fencers doing German longsword techniques, you will see both of them using that Vom Tag ('from above') guard effectively, and you can see the interplay between that guard and other guards.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bZWuNd-tqY&feature=PlayList&p=725069FDF4978132&index=0

G.

Galloglaich
2010-02-25, 09:56 AM
Targetware is good about this too. I remember flying early war scenarios in various Italian fighters, and using those nose guns to ping faster allied fighters at long range. :-) It wouldn't hurt them, but it may cause them to break and turn back on me so I had chance of catching them. The early war Italian fighters only had a pair of 12.7mm Breda-Safats in the nose, but lots of ammo for them, and ammo counters.

Those early Italian fighters can be a lot of fun in those Sims... somewhat under-powered and under-armed, but as you say, those 12.7mm nose guns hit hard, they are also agile and retain E well, they can dive and... germain to the conversation, they have a lot of armor especially for an early war fighter.

In Il2 I find the Macci M.C. 200 can be a pretty lethal if you know how to fly it (and how to aim those nose guns) the Fiat G.50 seems even more under-powered and more twitchy in the handling but it turns better, and retains E very well... it's more of a challenge to fly but in the hands of a good pilot who knows the aircraft it can be very effective as well. The Finns did pretty well with it.

The CR 42 on the other hand seems like one of the worst of the biplanes, it's wings are so short it doesn't turn well.. what is the point of a biplane that turns like a bus? The Gladiator and the I-153 both seem to own it (especially the latter)... but it does have those heavy-hitting 12.7mm guns which, maybe not as good as an American .50 cal but they hit harder than any of those early war rifle caliber machine guns most of the other 1939 / 1940 era fighters have. You don't want to go in a head-on pass with a Cr 42 in a Gladiator.

G.

Britter
2010-02-25, 10:05 AM
Though the Seven Samurai duel is a great sword moment, to be fair the winner starts off in a waki-gamae (I believe the WMA folks call that a "tail guard", but I could be wrong. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waki-gamae) and moves through jodan/Vom Tag as he cuts.

The longsword clip posted earlier is a great example of how much interplay there is between postures in an engagement. You don't hang out in a particular guard, you adjust based on the opponent's actions and your intentions. It was a very good clip.

endoperez
2010-02-25, 10:13 AM
Another sword question: What does a stance like this one (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kenjutsu_at_the_Japanese_Garden.jpg) do for you? It seems like it would be too predictable where your sword is going first: straight down in a chopping motion or in an awkward slice. Also, leaving your chest wide open seems strange to me.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HC5FIyfI8TA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kj4Ng6DBfrg
Here are two of my favourite longsword videos, and both have several examples of a this stance in use, and many more where the stance is similar. You can see the fighters constantly shifting through stances that aren't that different from the example - the sword held to one side instead of in the middle, or not nearly as far back, or crouching down. These could be variations of the same stance, but I'm not a practitioner and that's just a guess.

Britter
2010-02-25, 10:40 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HC5FIyfI8TA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kj4Ng6DBfrg


Those guys are spectacular. Anyone who thinks the Japanese have a monopoly on excellent and interesting sword work needs to watch those videos, because they are great examples of the depth and intricacy of Western MA.

Dervag
2010-02-25, 11:06 AM
The impact of german flak during WWII was questionable - fighters were much more effective. Heavy concentrations could defend a few key points, but the effect was more psychological - it put air crews off rather than preventing the attack, and for morale of the people on the ground. I read somewhere (Heinz Maenheimer I think) that a German report at the time showed they shot down approximately 1 bomber per 16,000 88mm rounds fired with the Flak 36. After 1943 the improved Flak 41 model brought this down to 1 per 8,000 rounds. I would argue those 88mm rounds would've been better expended on battlefields than shot into the air.I wrote a paper on this once in college, but I'm not sure I have a copy anywhere.

One point to bear in mind is that for every bomber shot down by flak hits, some number of bombers were damaged by flak. Sometimes that slowed the bomber down and made it an easier target for fighters; invariably it meant having to repair or write off the aircraft after it landed. I'm not sure how weighing that factor affects the flak's performance figures.


How popular was what I call the "reverse grip" (holding the weapon by the handle, but with the blade end coming out of the bottom of the grip, such as wielding a knife for stabbing) for larger-than-knife weapons? I've seen it in movies (oh yeah, great source of historical accuracy there), and while it seems awfully handy for stabbing or defending against an opponent that is beside you, it seems unwieldy. I mean, to block a blow coming at your head or neck (as a lot of blows tried to come), you'd have to either raise the sword way over your head to get the blade in line for the strike or at an awkard position in general.Also, it's a great way to slit your own wrist. Honestly, I doubt that this was ever all that common...

Eldan
2010-02-25, 11:08 AM
And the archaic german between the different stances and strikes is just funny :smalltongue:

fusilier
2010-02-25, 02:20 PM
Those early Italian fighters can be a lot of fun in those Sims... somewhat under-powered and under-armed, but as you say, those 12.7mm nose guns hit hard, they are also agile and retain E well, they can dive and... germain to the conversation, they have a lot of armor especially for an early war fighter.

In Il2 I find the Macci M.C. 200 can be a pretty lethal if you know how to fly it (and how to aim those nose guns) the Fiat G.50 seems even more under-powered and more twitchy in the handling but it turns better, and retains E very well... it's more of a challenge to fly but in the hands of a good pilot who knows the aircraft it can be very effective as well. The Finns did pretty well with it.

The CR 42 on the other hand seems like one of the worst of the biplanes, it's wings are so short it doesn't turn well.. what is the point of a biplane that turns like a bus? The Gladiator and the I-153 both seem to own it (especially the latter)... but it does have those heavy-hitting 12.7mm guns which, maybe not as good as an American .50 cal but they hit harder than any of those early war rifle caliber machine guns most of the other 1939 / 1940 era fighters have. You don't want to go in a head-on pass with a Cr 42 in a Gladiator.

G.

Sounds like il-2 doesn't have a good flight model for the Cr. 42. While it wouldn't surprise if the gladiator could out-turn it, the Cr.42 should be much more agile (roll rate), and faster. Don't know about the I-153, but it was a pretty impressive biplane, and roughly a contemporary of the Cr.42. The scenarios in targetware where the Cr.42 went up against a Gladiator were few, and, while I wouldn't say that the gladiator owned it, it did provide a good challenge.

Not sure the twitchy handling is right, captured aircraft were often described as pleasant to fly. I mostly agree with everything else. The Macchi 200, beats the Fiat G.50 hands down. It's lighter, and I believe had a slightly more powerful engine. The Italians decided in the late 1930s to switch to robust radial types for economic reasons (less maintenance), and as a result their engines in the early war period were somewhat underpowered. However, the engines are tough, and run very cool. I found that allowed me to outrun faster opponents on occasion. All the early war fighters seem to have had good acceleration, maneuverability, and agility. They were not well armored, a bit underpowered (slow), and typically somewhat under gunned.

A captured Macchi 200 was compared to a Kittyhawk (P-40), a Hurricane Mk.II, and a Spitfire (Mk.V I think -- I found this report online a couple years ago, and haven't been able to find it again, so I'm going off memory). The Macchi was slower than all the aircraft but only slightly slower than the Hurricane (and the pilot it believed that it was faster than a Mk.I). It could out climb the Hurricane and the Kittyhawk, and could out-turn all of them! On the whole, the report was very positive. This is pretty typical of reports of captured Italian aircraft . . . Allied propaganda probably made a lot of test pilots think they were climbing into piece of junk, and they often sound impressed and surprised by the abilities of the planes.

As for the effectiveness of the 12.7mm Breda-Safats, in targetware, I found that I had to put a good number of shots into a hurricane at close range to take it down. Most that I shot down, was because I would get them low and slow, and out-turn them. British pilots tend to think that their planes can out-turn anything -- not true when it comes to the Italian planes :-) Also the hurricane had strange behavior, if you got it really slow in a turn, it would stall without any shudder. So my tactic was typically to ping them a couple of times, and just keep turning until they stalled and crashed into the ground! The better pilots knew how to avoid that situation, but I still garnered a bunch of kills that way (until the concept of using landing flaps to increase maneuverability spread among the allied players).

One more thing about the Fiat Cr.42 biplane. It didn't always have two 12.7mm guns. In the 1930s one of the best fighter aircraft was it's predecessor the Fiat Cr.32 (this was *the* fighter that won the war on the Nationalist side in the Spanish Civil War). It was armed with two nose mounted 12.7mm guns. One revision however, introduced an extra pair of 7.7mm guns in the wings. The added weight wrecked the maneuverability of the plane, and they were often removed. The designers at Fiat "over-learned" this lesson. Many of the early Fiat Cr.42's had one of their 12.7mm guns replaced with a 7.7mm, to lighten the plane and increase it's performance. The first test of this design was the Battle of Britain (technically it was the Blitz). The pilots complained that it wasn't worth it, they would rather have the extra firepower! Also, the first Fiat Cr.42's to see combat were Belgian! The few that managed to get off the ground (their field was hit by dive bombers) made some claims against 109E's.

P.S. The Finns did well with almost anything. I think this is the result of very dedicated training.

Galloglaich
2010-02-25, 02:55 PM
Fusilier, you should really try Il2 1946. It's several orders of magnitude more realistic than Targetware. I know several people who used to fly with Targetware, which is a cool project, but it's just not in the same league in terms of the flight models etc. It's much less user friendly to get running and up to speed on, but once you do you'll never go back.


Sounds like il-2 doesn't have a good flight model for the Cr. 42. While it wouldn't surprise if the gladiator could out-turn it, the Cr.42 should be much more agile (roll rate), and faster. Don't know about the I-153, but it was a pretty impressive biplane, and roughly a contemporary of the Cr.42. The scenarios in targetware where the Cr.42 went up against a Gladiator were few, and, while I wouldn't say that the gladiator owned it, it did provide a good challenge.

Faster, yes, better roll rate, yes, but turning is key with Biplanes, since the fastest biplane is still slow. I'm sure you are familiar with the terms "Boom and Zoom" and "Turn and Burn" in dogfighting, the Cr. 42 is basically a BnZ fighter against other biplanes, and given the poor E-retention of all biplanes that is a very tricky tactic to be successful with.

That said if I was tasked to shoot down bombers I'd much rather have a Cr 42 than a Gladiator.

Good roll rate is very nice but it's not extremely helpful for dogfighting unless you can turn as well. Aircraft which can roll and turn well are the most maneuverable. This was trait of the Ki-43, the Spitfire, and most Soviet fighters.



Not sure the twitchy handling is right, captured aircraft were often described as pleasant to fly. I mostly agree with everything else. The Macchi 200, beats the Fiat G.50 hands down. It's lighter, and I believe had a slightly more powerful engine. The Italians decided in the late 1930s to switch to robust radial types for economic reasons (less maintenance), and as a result their engines in the early war period were somewhat underpowered. However, the engines are tough, and run very cool. I found that allowed me to outrun faster opponents on occasion. All the early war fighters seem to have had good acceleration, maneuverability, and agility. They were not well armored, a bit underpowered (slow), and typically somewhat under gunned.

They both turn well, the MC 200 turns better, but the Fiat has eccelent E. retenton, if you get a good head of steam up (dive from a good altitude) you can really do things with it.

The radials do run cool.



A captured Macchi 200 was compared to a Kittyhawk (P-40), a Hurricane Mk.II, and a Spitfire (Mk.V I think -- I found this report online a couple years ago, and haven't been able to find it again, so I'm going off memory). The Macchi was slower than all the aircraft but only slightly slower than the Hurricane (and the pilot it believed that it was faster than a Mk.I). It could out climb the Hurricane and the Kittyhawk, and could out-turn all of them! On the whole, the report was very positive. This is pretty typical of reports of captured Italian aircraft . . . Allied propaganda probably made a lot of test pilots think they were climbing into piece of junk, and they often sound impressed and surprised by the abilities of the planes.

This is a common error though, since in combat turning was typically done using the flaps to increase turn radius. Turn rate also depends on the speed nd altitude, but a P-40 or a Hurri both can out-turn an MC.200. The P-40 would be using a partial flap setting (P-40's slaughtered MC.200s in combat). The Hurri could turn very tight but cannot hold the turn as well (or reverse etc.) because it's not as agile and has a poor stall envelope.



As for the effectiveness of the 12.7mm Breda-Safats, in targetware, I found that I had to put a good number of shots into a hurricane at close range

That probably depends on the ammo mix they are trying to model, if they were using AP ammo they should not have trouble shooting down a Hurri from quite long range, 400 meters or more (if you can hit).



Also the hurricane had strange behavior, if you got it really slow in a turn, it would stall without any shudder. So my tactic was typically to ping them a couple of times, and just keep turning until they stalled and crashed into the ground! The better pilots knew how to avoid that situation, but I still garnered a bunch of kills that way (until the concept of using landing flaps to increase maneuverability spread among the allied players).

That sounds correct, like I said the Hurri has a poor stall characteristic, (the thick wings) and lousy acceleration, the MC.200 can ride a stall for a long time and accelerates well enough to keep turning and turning. That is how you make the most of it.

The fun part of these games is learning the flight envelope of your aircraft and taking advantage of that.



One more thing about the Fiat Cr.42 biplane. It didn't always have two 12.7mm guns. In the 1930s one of the best fighter aircraft was it's predecessor the Fiat Cr.32 (this was *the* fighter that won the war on the Nationalist side in the Spanish Civil War).

I think the Condor Legion had a signficant effect, as did the embargo and lack of effective (or sincere) foreign support on the Republican side. But I gather the I-16s (which the Republicans called "Moscas" and the Nationalists called "Ratas") and I-15's did pretty well against the Cr 32s.

The I-16 is a ball to fly in Il2, pretty tricky but very fun. Plus you get rockets even very early in the war. No Spanish Civil War scenarios though sadly.



P.S. The Finns did well with almost anything. I think this is the result of very dedicated training.

True that. But part of their success was that they found and exploited thhe strengths of aircraft that other people couldn't do anything with... and figured out how to make them effective. The most extreme case being the F2A.

G.

fusilier
2010-02-25, 05:09 PM
Fusilier, you should really try Il2 1946. It's several orders of magnitude more realistic than Targetware. I know several people who used to fly with Targetware, which is a cool project, but it's just not in the same league in terms of the flight models etc. It's much less user friendly to get running and up to speed on, but once you do you'll never go back.

Probably not going to happen, because it doesn't run on a PPC Mac. Nonetheless, many of the people who flew in targetware, didn't care for the flight models in Il-2 . . . so, there's probably some individual preferences there, that reflected a fundamentally different approach to simulator design. I've known of people who seemed to have not liked simulator A, because it's Spitfire didn't behave like simulator B's Spitfire. On the other hand, Targetware was really a beta, and there were some bugs in the source that couldn't be modded around.



Good roll rate is very nice but it's not extremely helpful for dogfighting unless you can turn as well. Aircraft which can roll and turn well are the most maneuverable. This was trait of the Ki-43, the Spitfire, and most Soviet fighters.

Roll rate can allow a less "maneuverable" plane (i.e. one that cannot turn as tight) to escape a more maneuverable plane. I believe that FW190 pilots would use this tactic. They would roll 270 degrees before beginning their turn, and typically by the time they started a turn to, let's say the left, their opponent had only rolled 90 degrees and was setup to go to the right.



This is a common error though, since in combat turning was typically done using the flaps to increase turn radius. Turn rate also depends on the speed nd altitude, but a P-40 or a Hurri both can out-turn an MC.200. The P-40 would be using a partial flap setting (P-40's slaughtered MC.200s in combat). The Hurri could turn very tight but cannot hold the turn as well (or reverse etc.) because it's not as agile and has a poor stall envelope.

Actually that's a common mistake, brought on by a confusion of design principles. I have never, ever read of P-40 pilots using their flaps to turn better. I have read that the P-40 had good high-speed turning. I know that the P-38 and P-51 had "combat flaps" or a "maneuver setting" on their flaps. This was because their designs were compromises -- speed, long range, etc., resulted in a less maneuverable aircraft, so they attempted to make up for that by adding maneuver flaps. A few other aircraft had these (Reggiane 2000). Most didn't. P-40s would have slaughtered Macchi 200's because they would use zoom-n-boom tactics against them, had heavier firepower, and their pilots probably overestimated the number of their kills. ;-)

The only time I've heard of flaps being used during combat, on aircraft that lacked combat flaps, are in very rare cases, and usually an attempt to "put on the brakes" in order to get an enemy diving on them to overshoot (they may even drop the landing gear to get as much drag as possible). There is one other exception, that's the crazy german pilot who would descend into an enemy lufberry circle with his flaps to keep his plane going slow and tight . . . but that was rare, and I'm not even sure how often he pulled off that maneuver (it may have only been once).

If the flaps weren't built for use in combat, it was very difficult to properly manage them. Remember the pilot had to be doing a lot of other stuff. Some early war aircraft even lacked constant speed propellers, and the pilots were constantly having to adjust the prop-pitch during combat to get maximum efficiency and prevent over-revving the engine. Targetware, is very good at representing these aspects, and I've heard that Il-2 is a bit more game-like in that sense.

Over-speeding with non-combat flaps would lead to jammed flaps (that would stick permanently down), or, if they were designed to, they would auto-retract, meaning the pilot would have to keep resetting them. Combat flaps were designed to be flown at high-speeds, and were typically safe from these sorts of problems. However, they were usually only a few degrees (on the P-38 I know it was 8 degrees, I think it was 10 degrees on the P-51, but I'm not certain). Even this could drop it's top speed significantly. A P-38 pilot who got in a low altitude dogfight with several different german fighters in France, was forced to bail out of his plane, when a shell jammed his flaps in the maneuver position, and he couldn't "run away."

Also, some aircraft, like the Spitfire, only had two settings for their flaps "up" and "down."

If you have any sources which say that flaps were used in combat, on aircraft that weren't designed to do so, I would be interested in seeing them. Better yet, would be instruction manuals, and directives, that instruct the pilots to do so. I have not seen any (excepting of course, planes that were specifically designed with combat flaps).


That probably depends on the ammo mix they are trying to model, if they were using AP ammo they should not have trouble shooting down a Hurri from quite long range, 400 meters or more (if you can hit).

I could actually change the mix myself. As I pointed out there were some issues with the damage models. For example, knocking out a big American plane with 20mm shells was pretty realistic, it took a few of them to take it down (unless you got really lucky). On the other hand, a single shell hitting a Macchi or Spitfire typically would blow off an entire wing. I'm not going to go into the details of the damage model as to why this would happen, but it could be worked around in a fashion that would make smaller caliber ammo almost useless against the wing. Targetware is generic. It wasn't designed for a particular war, and so it's difficult to adjust things. A (very) long anticipated new version is due out soon, and there may be more detail available in the damage models.

However, there's another issue that I noted. Some players were under the impression that just getting a few rounds of ammo on target (or a 2-3 second burst), should be enough to bring down any plane. I disagree, but evidence is tricky to come by. I used to respond by saying, "we all can't expect to be Rene Fonck."


I think the Condor Legion had a signficant effect, as did the embargo and lack of effective (or sincere) foreign support on the Republican side. But I gather the I-16s (which the Republicans called "Moscas" and the Nationalists called "Ratas") and I-15's did pretty well against the Cr 32s.

There's a lot of Anlgo-German bias against Italy, that typically causes them to be ignored/overlooked/underrated. This is a perfect example. It was Italy that supplied the Nationalists in Spain with equipment: weapons, tanks (ok, tankettes), aircraft. The German commitment was much smaller, but usually gets all the attention. The vast majority of Nationalist fighters were Fiats. The Republicans claim that the I-15s and I-16s could deal with the Fiat Cr.32's easily, the Nationalists claim the opposite . . .

Korean war stories comparing the Mig-15 to the F-86 are pretty much the same. The American pilots claim that the F-86 outperformed the Mig-15 in almost every respect; the Russian pilots say they sometimes felt sorry for the Americans in their F-86's.

If you base your info off of one side's claims, you're going to have bias. Then there are problems with flight engines (they just can't realistically model every aspect of aerodynamics), and sometimes just a lack of information. This is why I think Philistine was right to be wary of flight sims as good representations of the relative (or absolute) historical performance of combat aircraft. Ultimately the games are also suppose to be fun too.


The I-16 is a ball to fly in Il2, pretty tricky but very fun. Plus you get rockets even very early in the war. No Spanish Civil War scenarios though sadly.

I always thought that time period was interesting. I just like the aircraft of that period for some reason. The lack of cannons also meant that air combat took a bit more skill, and you needed to get more rounds on target. More WW1 style furballs, but with aircraft that weren't so primitive.




True that. But part of their success was that they found and exploited thhe strengths of aircraft that other people couldn't do anything with... and figured out how to make them effective. The most extreme case being the F2A.

This is what I suspected. They took the time to figure out the strengths of each plane and adopted their tactics to it, rather than have some sort of generic tactics that they used for all aircraft.

fusilier
2010-02-25, 05:59 PM
This is a common error though, since in combat turning was typically done using the flaps to increase turn radius.

I assumed you meant decrease turn radius?

Galloglaich
2010-02-25, 06:00 PM
Probably not going to happen, because it doesn't run on a PPC Mac. Nonetheless, many of the people who flew in targetware, didn't care for the flight models in Il-2 . . . .

We'll have to disagree then, but I believe the flight models in Il2, at least for the Russian and German planes, is light years ahead of Targetware; it was a more flexible engine to begin with and has been tinkered with and checked and double checked for ten years. But I don't expect you to take my word for that.



Roll rate can allow a less "maneuverable" plane (i.e. one that cannot turn as tight) to escape a more maneuverable plane. I believe that FW190 pilots would use this tactic.

Most BnZ fighters (like the Fw, also the P-47) have good roll rates, but it won't give you much advantage if you don't A) have excellent e retention (which the FW has in spades) or B) can also turn.


Actually that's a common mistake, brought on by a confusion of design principles. I have never, ever read of P-40 pilots using their flaps to turn better. I have read that the P-40 had good high-speed turning. I know that the P-38 and P-51 had "combat flaps" or a "maneuver setting" (snip) few other aircraft had these (Reggiane 2000). Most didn't. P-40s would have slaughtered Macchi 200's because they would use zoom-n-boom tactics against them, had heavier firepower, and their pilots probably overestimated the number of their kills. ;-)
Beg to disagree... this has been debated to death on all the fighters in Il2 and the original flight manual and pilot accounts have been dug out and etc..

First: P-40s' didn't use BnZ much against Italian fighters because the Italian fighters had a better climb rate (paticularly the Mc202)

As for the flaps. The P-40 had a switch on the control stick which let the pilot control the hydraulic system during flight easily, even when pulling G. There was a control on the pilots left side, below the throttle and mixture controls which let you switch the hydraulics from the flaps to the wheels, the external fuel tanks, the cowl radiator controls etc. The stick control worked like a dimmer switch, which let you set the control in question at whatever level you wanted. This was how they used the flaps. I'll try to find a photo when I have more time.

This was used in combat and was described by numerous P-40 pilots (including 10 kill USAAF Ace Robert DeHaven, and 20 kill RAF / RAAF ace Clive Caldwell), and is also in the flight manual. They also used a 5% flap setting to sustain climb rate under certain conditions.

Almost every mid to late war WW II fighter had either an explicit flap setting or the ability, like the P-40, to adjust flap settings. The Spitfire was one of the few which didn't (it had "all up" or "all-down" flap settings, for landing only)



The only time I've heard of flaps being used during combat, on aircraft that lacked combat flaps, are in very rare cases, and usually an attempt to "put on the brakes" in order to get an enemy diving on them to overshoot (they may even drop the landing gear to get as much drag as possible). There is one other exception, that's the crazy german pilot who would descend into an enemy lufberry circle with his flaps to keep his plane going slow and tight . . . but that was rare, and I'm not even sure how often he pulled off that maneuver (it may have only been once).

Most versions of the Me 109 had two combat flaps settings, also a seperate takeoff and landing flaps setting. They also had an audible alarm which lets you know when the flaps are deployed, which is very helpful (so you don't get them stuck by flying too fast while they are down).



If the flaps weren't built for use in combat, it was very difficult to properly manage them. Remember the pilot had to be doing a lot of other stuff. Some early war aircraft even lacked constant speed propellers, and the pilots were constantly having to adjust the prop-pitch during combat to get maximum efficiency and prevent over-revving the engine.

[quoteTargetware, is very good at representing these aspects, and I've heard that Il-2 is a bit more game-like in that sense.

Lol... you are wrong mate ;) The prop pitch controls vary from plane to plane, there is whole subculture of using them properly for different circumstances with various aircraft.

Actually some aircraft had automatic pitch on the propllers (linked to the throttle) some had manually adjusted pitch, and some had constant pitch.



Over-speeding with non-combat flaps would lead to jammed flaps (that would stick permanently down), or, if they were designed to, they would auto-retract, meaning the pilot would have to keep resetting them.

Yes the flaps could only be deployed when the aircraft was at a certain velocity. On some aircraft, like the Wildcat, they will auto-retract when you are going too fast, on others they remain stuck which is much more of a problem. On some like the P-38 they will automatically deploy in a dive (to alleviate compressibility) which is the only high -speed use I know of, on others like the P-38J / L, the Japanese Ki-43 and N1K1 they will automatically deploy in turns, based on the indicated airspeed, degree of bank, and Gs.



Combat flaps were designed to be flown at high-speeds, and were typically safe from these sorts of problems. However, they were usually on a few degrees (on the P-38 I know it was 8 degrees, I think it was 10 degrees on the P-51, but I'm not certain). Even this could drop it's top speed significantly.

All the combat flap settings were 5-10 degrees. None of them were designed to be deployed at high-speed, the speed is usually below 220 kts depending on the specific aircraft.


Also, some aircraft, like the Spitfire, only had two settings for their flaps "up" and "down."

Yes it was one of the few that was.



If you have any sources which say that flaps were used in combat, on aircraft that weren't designed to do so, I would be interested in seeing them. Better yet, would be instruction manuals, and directives, that instruct the pilots to do so. I have not seen any (excepting of course, planes that were specifically designed with combat flaps).

All this was hashed out years ago on the Il2 forums, if I have some time I'll see if I can find some links.

I have a few more comments ,but it's 5:00 time to drive home, I'll chime in more later...

G.

Galloglaich
2010-02-25, 07:10 PM
There's a lot of Anlgo-German bias against Italy, that typically causes them to be ignored/overlooked/underrated. This is a perfect example. It was Italy that supplied the Nationalists in Spain with equipment: weapons, tanks (ok, tankettes), aircraft. The German commitment was much smaller, but usually gets all the attention. The vast majority of Nationalist fighters were Fiats. The Republicans claim that the I-15s and I-16s could deal with the Fiat Cr.32's easily, the Nationalists claim the opposite . . .

I think there is a lot of bias... Italian planes don't get the credit they deserve. 80% of the WW II history I have been able to find (and I've been a WW II history nut since I was around 8 years old when my father did an interview of some guys from the Confederate Air Force) is written by English academics, and they bring a huge bias to what they cover which is not always apparent particularly to Americans. Which means specifically with aviation, not just Italian but also Russian planes are almost completely left out of most military aviation books, despite the fact that they had some of the best fighters... almost nothing is written about the G.55 or the MC. 205 or the Yak 3 or the La-5 FN, and meanwhile you'll get a beautiful 3 page spread on the Westland Lysander or the Fairey Fulmar, and learn of how it performed "Sterline Service" as a target tug for three years.

The other reason is that you have a lot of military history people in the US who are just into German kit, aesthetically or ... on a somewhat more questionable political basis. These kind of folks will always praise German kit above all others no matter what, I call them the Uber people.

But that said, I think the general consensus is the I-16 out performed the Cr 32 in the Spanish Civil War.



Korean war stories comparing the Mig-15 to the F-86 are pretty much the same. The American pilots claim that the F-86 outperformed the Mig-15 in almost every respect; the Russian pilots say they sometimes felt sorry for the Americans in their F-86's.

That may be true, but the statistics are available, the MiG 15, though largely acknowledged to be the better fighter overall, was slaughtered by the F-86. This may have been due to the North Korean and Chinese pilots being inadequately trained and many of the US pilots being WW II veterans (including several aces), and it may be that the handful of Soviet WW II veterans who also fought in the Korean war directly did very well in them, but while the famous 10-1 kill ratio may have been exaggerated, all the stats and analysis I've seen says the F-86 came out ahead at least 2-1.


If you base your info off of one side's claims, you're going to have bias.

Needless to say, I try to read every source I can get my hands on. Most of the data which has come out recently on the P-40 for example has come from interviews with former Soviet pilots.



Then there are problems with flight engines (they just can't realistically model every aspect of aerodynamics), and sometimes just a lack of information. This is why I think Philistine was right to be wary of flight sims as good representations of the relative (or absolute) historical performance of combat aircraft. Ultimately the games are also suppose to be fun too.

Like I said before, I know I'm standing on quicksand to say this, but Il2 is more than just a flight sim game. Actually it's a really lousy game, I think it's value as a game pretty much petered out about 6 or 8 years ago. People into it now are mostly hard core WW II nuts.

They don't make it accessible, if you don't spend hours patching the software which 1C cannot even be bothered to update on the disk they still sell you'll end up with essentially the 2002 version ... but it's really quite a good simulation given the current state of the art, again especially for the early war Russian and German aircraft (the ones which have had flight models out the longest).

It has it's limitations of course, but if you ever play around with it I think you will find as I did (and as numerous surviving WW II pilots did) that it really illuminates WW II air combat in a unique way.



I always thought that time period was interesting. I just like the aircraft of that period for some reason. The lack of cannons also meant that air combat took a bit more skill, and you needed to get more rounds on target. More WW1 style furballs, but with aircraft that weren't so primitive.

Yes agreed, I like the very early war through the middle war period, after that it's all 2000 horsepower engines and multiple cannon, it's not as interesting to me. I don't use the Sim much any more though, I go through phases when I'm reading WW II literature.


This is what I suspected. They took the time to figure out the strengths of each plane and adopted their tactics to it, rather than have some sort of generic tactics that they used for all aircraft.

They also modified their aircraft in the field quite a bit, adding or removing guns or fuel tanks or armor, adjusting the engines, the controls etc.. All countries actually did this, the Finns just did it much faster than most others. One of the interesting things about WW II is how each country, under the pressure of the threat of annihilation, gradually ditched their own bad bureaucratic and cultural habits, and learned to do what worked. The British had a lot of problems with their aristocracy in the military and their bizarre armaments industry... and resentment of the yanks; the US had a lot of problems with profiteering and their own hubris; the Soviets struggled with their totalitarian system and (literally) stifling bureaucracy. All adjusted and streamlined their fighting machines into deadly-efficient armies by the end of the war.

I think the main problem the Italians had is that they had already been under a fascist government for a long time when the war started, and they had already become too corrupt (and lost the trust of their own people enough) to face the colossal challenge of war on that horrific scale. This same problem almost finished the Soviets at the beginning of the war, but they were able to bounce back, largely due the Germans making it clear to their citizens that surrender was not an option.

G

fusilier
2010-02-25, 08:58 PM
I think there is a lot of bias... Italian planes don't get the credit they deserve. . . .

Yeah, there is a lot of that to go around. The French are also looked down upon, even though they had some fairly good fighters, and some of the best tanks in the world in 1940!



That may be true, but the statistics are available, the MiG 15, though largely acknowledged to be the better fighter overall, was slaughtered by the F-86. . . .
Are those statistics American statistics, or North Korean statistics, or both? (I honestly don't know, but I've learned to ask that question). Who had the "preponderance" of fighter aircraft in the engagements? Even a good pilot in a good plane, may get overwhelmed. There's a lot of things that can affect these statistics, that have nothing to do with the superiority of the plane:


. . . This may have been due to the North Korean and Chinese pilots being inadequately trained . . .

Like that! :-) There's a lot factors to take into account, and to simply look at statistics and say, plane A was better than plane B, could be totally misleading. (It's actually ok to look at such statistics if you trying to make a high-level wargame . . . all the factors can be rolled into the total effectiveness.)




It has it's limitations of course, but if you ever play around with it I think you will find as I did (and as numerous surviving WW II pilots did) that it really illuminates WW II air combat in a unique way.

If I could get the chance, I would try it out. Unfortunately it's probably not going to happen. If TargetWare2 comes out (and give the modders some time to make the mods), then I would suggest you try it out too. However, from the talk on the forum, it was clear that some people saw the Il-2 as the gold standard, and anything that deviated from that was *wrong*!




Yes agreed, I like the very early war through the middle war period, after that it's all 2000 horsepower engines and multiple cannon, it's not as interesting to me. I don't use the Sim much any more though, I go through phases when I'm reading WW II literature.

Yeah, I would agree with you, and I don't play Targetware much any more either, the developers touted that version 2 was coming out soon, a year and a half ago, and that caused many of the modders to stop development for the current version, and things have just stagnated. (Although the word is that the new version is imminent) And, I need a new joystick.




I think the main problem the Italians had is that they had already been under a fascist government for a long time when the war started, and they had already become too corrupt (and lost the trust of their own people enough) to face the colossal challenge of war on that horrific scale. This same problem almost finished the Soviets at the beginning of the war, but they were able to bounce back, largely due the Germans making it clear to their citizens that surrender was not an option.


I think you pretty much nailed the problem on it's head. Fascism was really the cause. By the time WW2 broke out, Mussolini was firmly entrenched (and people were sick of him), but also his power was firmly tied to the military. To reform the military, required being able to criticize the military. Criticizing the military, meant criticizing il Duce! By the mid 1930s, the military commanders were all sycophants. Many were actually quite competent, and were capable of modifying the system when they needed too, but weren't willing to tell Mussolini in peace time that it was necessary. All the lessons learned in the Spanish Civil War, were not applied, and had to be "relearned" during WW2. Germany in the meantime was newer to fascism, and was actually just starting the process of rebuilding its military when the Spanish Civil War broke out. Combine this with other factors, like the fact that Italy had a smaller population, fewer resources, and was less industrialized, and the situation becomes even more bleak. Not helped by the fact that Mussolini was trying to build a much bigger military than Italy could support (that's why state-of-the-art fighters like the cr.42 were being sold to Belgium, to generate desperately needed cash). Finally, WW1 left deep scares in Italy (I just finished reading the excellent "White War"), Mussolini was never that popular, and Italians were being asked to fight against their old allies, for their old enemies . . .

fusilier
2010-02-25, 09:21 PM
We'll have to disagree then, but I believe the flight models in Il2, at least for the Russian and German planes, is light years ahead of Targetware; it was a more flexible engine to begin with and has been tinkered with and checked and double checked for ten years. But I don't expect you to take my word for that.

Most of the same is true for Targetware, so I think we'll just have to agree to disagree. :-)


Beg to disagree... this has been debated to death on all the fighters in Il2 and the original flight manual and pilot accounts have been dug out and etc..

I'm interested to see, and also to see what deflections were typical. 5-10 degrees is believable to me, and it would not surprise if (later models) of the P-40 received maneuver flaps. It wasn't until the F model of the P-38 that it got maneuver flaps. The problem in Targetware, was people using 20-30 degrees of flaps. I don't know if that was problem in Il-2. But I am interested to know which planes had these features, it seems to be overlooked.


Actually some aircraft had automatic pitch on the propllers (linked to the throttle) some had manually adjusted pitch, and some had constant pitch.

Yeah, some simply had a "constant-speed" propellor (referring to rotation speed). You can set the the prop-rpm, then adjust the throttle, at certain settings, though, the engine wouldn't be able to keep up (i.e. if at full-rpm setting, you closed the throttle to idle, the rpms would drop).



I have a few more comments ,but it's 5:00 time to drive home, I'll chime in more later...

G.

Thank you. I'm very interested to hear more about flaps. The flaps issue also went around on the Targetware forums, and there seemed to be evidence on both sides. I think most Italian aircraft (except perhaps the Reggianne series), didn't use maneuver flaps, like most British fighters. On the other hand, the 109 flaps were rated for combat, although I've heard the flap control wheel was in something of an awkward location. Although they also had automatic leading edge slats. I did know that some of the late war Japanese aircraft had auto-extending flaps (as did the Italian Bomber SM.79). Another question is were they used in aircraft like a P-38 to make it a superior "turner" compared to an Macchi 202, or simply to give it a fighting chance? I can recall some pretty surprising first-person accounts, like a P-38 out turning an Oskar! But I advise caution before deriving anything significant from that story. The pilot of the P-38 himself stated that it only happened, because the Japanese pilot didn't expect it.

Galloglaich
2010-02-26, 12:21 AM
I think with the flaps, it depended on the control systems, but most fighters had some kind of way of deploying at settings suitable for combat, and yes I think typical combat flaps settings were somewhere around 5%-10%. Typically they would only use them for a few seconds in a turn, then go clean as soon as possible.

20% is a takeoff flaps setting though conceivably that could also be used in an emergency, it would make you much more likely to lose control and drop speed below stall speed.


Another question is were they used in aircraft like a P-38 to make it a superior "turner" compared to an Macchi 202, or simply to give it a fighting chance?

In the case of the P-38, I'd say to give it a fighting chance. But in other aircraft, like the Ki-43 Hayabusa "Oscar" they were added to take the aircraft from very maneuverable over the line into ridiculously maneuverable (actually to make the turn performance match that of earlier aircraft like the Ki-27 which were half the weight).

Keep in mind there is a big difference between the automatic deploying combat flaps, the fowler type flaps with combat settings, the standard manual combat flaps, and systems like on the Spitfire which could only be put in landing mode (all down) or all - up. Most WW II fighters had the manual type, a few had the automatic or the fowler type, and a few couldn't use flaps in combat or had no flaps at all (especially the very early war aircraft like most of the biplanes)

I thought the P-38 J or L had the automatic type combat flaps...? I could be wrong on that though.


I can recall some pretty surprising first-person accounts, like a P-38 out turning an Oskar! But I advise caution before deriving anything significant from that story. The pilot of the P-38 himself stated that it only happened, because the Japanese pilot didn't expect it.

Not sure about the Ki-43 but the A6M didn't turn too well at high speed and it could barely roll above 300 mph IAS. This was also true of the Me 109, the elevators start to lock at high speed and the engine torque meant that it was difficult to turn any direction other than right in a steep dive. Which makes a split-S an excellent maneuver to escape either one of those fighters (this was fairly quickly learned by Battle of Britain pilots), and it's also why 109 drivers like to point their nose up for vertical turns, the way Marseilles famously did.

So I'd say, that anecdote may have been possible if they were both flying at high speed .... but it does sound kind of unlikely.

Robert DeHaven (who flew both P-38s and P-40s) described how they were able to out-turn zeros in P-40s using low yo-yo turns to keep the speed up. Above around 275 mph IAS or more the P-40 could out-turn it. Somebody read this anecdote from an interview and starting trying this in Il2 and it worked. Of course that is just a game :)

G.

Galloglaich
2010-02-26, 12:24 AM
Found a good reference on the P-38

http://kazoku.org/xp-38n/articles/p38info.htm

Dervag
2010-02-26, 01:51 AM
Like that! :-) There's a lot factors to take into account, and to simply look at statistics and say, plane A was better than plane B, could be totally misleading. (It's actually ok to look at such statistics if you trying to make a high-level wargame . . . all the factors can be rolled into the total effectiveness.)Though at that point, doctrine and logistical support really ought to dominate over small incremental changes in fighter quality. A lot of wargames seem to spend too much time fiddling around with "was this tank gun as good at punching through armor as this one?" when they should be worried about "Did this side actually field tanks in meaningful numbers in a significant fraction of its X-level battles?"

I've heard complaints about WWII games in particular in this context, with the German tanks dominating play against enemies that outnumbered them in armor at 5:1 or 10:1... at the very least, you'd expect the Allies to have tanks more often, or vastly cheaper, than their German counterparts

Subotei
2010-02-26, 05:01 PM
One point to bear in mind is that for every bomber shot down by flak hits, some number of bombers were damaged by flak. Sometimes that slowed the bomber down and made it an easier target for fighters; invariably it meant having to repair or write off the aircraft after it landed. I'm not sure how weighing that factor affects the flak's performance figures.

True - thats a fair point, however bringing down a few bombers leaving the target is small consolation for having a wrecked submarine pen/ball bearing plant/oil refinery etc. Air defence should focus on preventing and/or breaking up attacks - one major thing the RAF got right during the Battle of Britain.

fusilier
2010-02-26, 07:27 PM
20% is a takeoff flaps setting though conceivably that could also be used in an emergency, it would make you much more likely to lose control and drop speed below stall speed.

Yeah, and this was the problem in Targetware, flaps didn't create enough drag, so they could be really abused.




I thought the P-38 J or L had the automatic type combat flaps...? I could be wrong on that though.

To the best of my knowledge it was manually set, with a "maneuver stop" on the flap controls.



So I'd say, that anecdote may have been possible if they were both flying at high speed .... but it does sound kind of unlikely.

Nope, he came out of it going 90mph, and after 360 degrees he was on the tail of the Oscar. On the P-38, you could reduce throttle on the inside engine in a turn, and it would turn a little better. The pilot said the plane shuddered the whole time. However, what's important to note is why the pilot thought it worked: 1. He never would have attempted it if they didn't outnumber the Japanese 12 to 2, and therefore knew if the Oscar got on his tail that somebody would be there to chase him off. 2. He figured it worked because nobody expected it. That's to say the Oscar pilot wasn't turning nearly as hard, because he didn't expect the P-38 to attempt it.


Robert DeHaven (who flew both P-38s and P-40s) described how they were able to out-turn zeros in P-40s using low yo-yo turns to keep the speed up. Above around 275 mph IAS or more the P-40 could out-turn it. Somebody read this anecdote from an interview and starting trying this in Il2 and it worked. Of course that is just a game :)

G.

This was the tactic that the clever Allied pilots were starting to use against me, just before they all started using large flap deflections. Yo-yo's don't allow you to "out-turn" your opponent per say. Instead by adding a vertical component to the turn a wider circle will intersect a smaller horizontal circle, at a couple of points. Giving the yo-yo'ing pilot a couple of points where he can take shots. That's my understanding of how it works anyway. From your description, it sounds like during the descent the plane was able to build up enough energy to maintain a tight turn behind the Zero, for long enough to tail it for a while, and get more than a short burst off. Sounds plausible. But keeping that tight turn will bleed energy, energy needed to climb quickly and start the yo-yo again. Otherwise you had better take that zero down, on the first try.

It was used against me in Targetware, and I was impressed, apparently the counter is to start yo-yo'ing yourself. In Targetware I did find it very effective to fly the P-40 in the vertical, rather than trying to turn (unless I had a lot of speed). With lots of jack-knifes, loops, and half-loops, I actually outmaneuvered a Bf109 long enough that the guy's engine overheated and he had to ditch -- I didn't get the victory because I never once fired my guns! Limitations of computers . . .

Oh, something I forgot to mention earlier. The dive-flaps on the P-38, were more like dive-brakes (although they didn't actually slow the plane). They weren't part of the fowler flap system.

fusilier
2010-02-26, 07:29 PM
Though at that point, doctrine and logistical support really ought to dominate over small incremental changes in fighter quality. A lot of wargames seem to spend too much time fiddling around with "was this tank gun as good at punching through armor as this one?" when they should be worried about "Did this side actually field tanks in meaningful numbers in a significant fraction of its X-level battles?"

I've heard complaints about WWII games in particular in this context, with the German tanks dominating play against enemies that outnumbered them in armor at 5:1 or 10:1... at the very least, you'd expect the Allies to have tanks more often, or vastly cheaper, than their German counterparts

Yeah, I was thinking of very high-level strategy games, where the designers can say "how effective was a German Armor Division in 1944" -- those kinds of games can use statistics. I have seen what you are talking about at smaller scales, though.

Galloglaich
2010-02-27, 10:33 PM
Nope, he came out of it going 90mph, and after 360 degrees

Interesting story, and it has the ring of truth. The late model P-38's were good fighters a good pilots could push the limits with.



This was the tactic that the clever Allied pilots were starting to use against me, just before they all started using large flap deflections. Yo-yo's don't allow you to "out-turn" your opponent per say. Instead by adding a vertical component to the turn a wider circle will intersect a smaller horizontal circle, at a couple of points. Giving the yo-yo'ing pilot a couple of points where he can take shots. That's my understanding of how it works anyway.

That is essentially it, cutting the chord so to speak, but the other key factor is that pointing your nose-down keeps your speed up, especially in that particular plane which picks up speed fast in a dive. It's really simple math, if your speed is above about 275 mph or whatever it was, you can out-turn a zero. Especially with 5% flaps but that will drop your speed faster. If you keep your nose down you can keep the speed where it needs to be, assuming you have enough altitude to play with.



From your description, it sounds like during the descent the plane was able to build up enough energy to maintain a tight turn behind the Zero, for long enough to tail it for a while, and get more than a short burst off. Sounds plausible. But keeping that tight turn will bleed energy, energy needed to climb quickly and start the yo-yo again. Otherwise you had better take that zero down, on the first try.

You can only go around as long as you still have altitude to play with, if your speed drops or you make a mistake, you simply Split-S and dive away, the Zero will not be able to catch you and probably wont' be able to follow your vertical turn unless it's a very good zero driver. Regardless, you can get away.... unless you are too low to dive. So it's all about the altitude.

Above about 3000 feet, I'm glad to attack a zero in that game, even if they have an altitude advantage, because I can dive and pick up speed and zoom climb etc., I can basically get to decide when to engage and when to disengage, which is a huge advantage. I'll play with him until I like the way things look and then go in for the kill. (It's similar in a P-38, except you use a high-speed shallow climb to get away, and you have to BnZ more carefully, but you have even more of a speed advantage and can quickly get above them)

Anything below 1500 feet, I'll avoid unless we are co-alt and I have a good head of steam up. Below 500 feet tangling with a zero in any American fighter is certain death, if you get slow and low with them they pwn you. Damn all this talk is making me want to fire up Il2 right now....:smallmad:



It was used against me in Targetware, and I was impressed, apparently the counter is to start yo-yo'ing yourself. In Targetware I did find it very effective to fly the P-40 in the vertical, rather than trying to turn (unless I had a lot of speed). With lots of jack-knifes, loops, and half-loops, I actually outmaneuvered a Bf109 long enough that the guy's engine overheated and he had to ditch -- I didn't get the victory because I never once fired my guns! Limitations of computers . . .

I think that is a limitation of Targetware, in real life a P-40 could easily out-turn any version of the Me 109 in a horizontal turn. The only variant that can be dangerous in certain E-states is the 109G-2.

This was reported by many British, US, and Australian pilots, but it wasn't really accepted as fact until a whole bunch of interviews came out from former Soviet pilots in the 1990s. They all said the P-40 could easily out-turn the Me 109 in the horizontal plane, but recommended not to use vertical turns so much because the 109 was better in the vertical.

In Il2, you can use nose-down vertical turns in a P-40 but never nose-up. The 109 climbs very well, if it gets above you, it can be dangerous. It's best to Split -S and dive away.... :) (the 109s problem with their control surfaces at high speeds makes a split S almost a guaranteed way to evade pursuit)



Oh, something I forgot to mention earlier. The dive-flaps on the P-38, were more like dive-brakes (although they didn't actually slow the plane). They weren't part of the fowler flap system.

Ah I see, they were a separate flap? I know they were to break them out of a compressibility dive but I wasn't aware they were a different system from the Combat flaps.

G

fusilier
2010-02-28, 12:16 AM
I think that is a limitation of Targetware, in real life a P-40 could easily out-turn any version of the Me 109 in a horizontal turn. The only variant that can be dangerous in certain E-states is the 109G-2.

I don't know about that. A 109 E was a pretty maneuverable plane, and could on occasion keep up with a spitfire. What I have heard was that a P-40 at high-speed was actually a good turner. A bigger problem with some of the planes in Targetware was that they seemed to bleed speed too quickly in turns. For the Pacific mod somebody came in, and carefully recalculated the drag coefficients for the Flight models, and came up with flight models that didn't lose speed as quickly. Unfortunately, some aircraft were more difficult to fly (like the Zero -- it's nice to have a good performing aircraft, that's easy to fly for the newbies), and there was this other weird problem: In a level turn, I couldn't get an aircraft like the Zero to drop below about 150mph, it would just shudder and refuse to fly any tighter, or slower. So that P-38 going through a turn at 90 mph was out of the question! However, that story about the P-38 also demonstrates how quickly you can lose energy just by turning. (Although, I'm not sure how much energy he had when he began the turn, but it couldn't have been too low for him to attempt it.)



In Il2, you can use nose-down vertical turns in a P-40 but never nose-up. The 109 climbs very well, if it gets above you, it can be dangerous. It's best to Split -S and dive away.... :) (the 109s problem with their control surfaces at high speeds makes a split S almost a guaranteed way to evade pursuit)

I haven't heard too much about the 109 having problems in a dive, although I may have heard a little. I think the Spitfire was worse, and that was accurately modeled in Targetware. Some of the late versions (before they changed the wing design), could apparently suffer aileron inversion in high-speed *level* flight! In a Spitfire, in Targetware, I once tried to follow a P-47 in a high-speed dive . . . that didn't work at all! P-47's could really dive!

The first kill I got in Targetware was a P-47. At fairly low altitude, I was in a Reggiane 2001, with cannon pods. I was trying to catch up to faster Axis planes (mostly Macchi 205s), when I suddenly realized they had all been shot down, by large gaggle of American aircraft. I turned to run back to base, but was too slow, and had to turn to fight. One of the P-47's made a mistake, and turned away from me. I got right on his tail and followed him through several tight turns, but wasn't close enough for a good shot. Finally, he did what he should have done, and entered dive. I tried to follow but he rapidly extended, I figured that was it, and I should just continue my dive and try to get back to base. However, the P-47 pilot made his second mistake, when he reached the deck he immediately went into a zoom climb. I had been much slower in the dive, so still had plenty of altitude. As a result I was able to close on him, and follow him in the climb. Just as I got both cannons on him, I heard bullets pinging my aircraft . . . by flying in a straight line his friends had been able to line up on me. I knew I wasn't escaping from this situation, so I pumped cannon rounds into him until the P-47 exploded, then bailed out before my plane could do the same! :-)




Ah I see, they were a separate flap? I know they were to break them out of a compressibility dive but I wasn't aware they were a different system from the Combat flaps.

I think they were two small flaps on each wing, that opened top and bottom (like a dive-brake, but didn't actually brake the plane).

I want to play Targetware now too!

fusilier
2010-02-28, 12:53 AM
Ah, I just played around a bit in Targetware, and you are right:

The Messerschmitt 109's controls get *heavy* at high speed and can be unresponsive (I remember reading about that now). On the other hand, a good way for 109's to escape British fighters in 1940 was to perform a "push-over." That's diving by pushing the nose-down. (As opposed to diving by rolling the plane upside down, and pulling back on the stick) British engines would cut out under negative g's.

Dervag
2010-02-28, 01:22 AM
Yeah, I was thinking of very high-level strategy games, where the designers can say "how effective was a German Armor Division in 1944" -- those kinds of games can use statistics. I have seen what you are talking about at smaller scales, though.Thing is, in that case you have to factor in that the German Panzer divisions generally had far fewer tanks than their Allied counterparts (Hitler kept subdividing his tank force smaller and smaller because for some reason he had a fetish for the number of divisions). Also that their logistics was starting to come apart, that sort of thing.

So at that point the "gun versus armor" stats start mattering less than the "how much did these guys actually have to work with" stats. If a Russian tank division outnumbers a German one by three to one, I don't care how deadly the Panther or Tiger is gun-to-gun and armor-versus-armor. The numerical odds should still show up in the statistics (say, with the Russian division having vastly more "hit points" to reflect its greater ability to absorb casualties.

fusilier
2010-02-28, 02:53 AM
Thing is, in that case you have to factor in that the German Panzer divisions generally had far fewer tanks than their Allied counterparts (Hitler kept subdividing his tank force smaller and smaller because for some reason he had a fetish for the number of divisions). Also that their logistics was starting to come apart, that sort of thing.

So at that point the "gun versus armor" stats start mattering less than the "how much did these guys actually have to work with" stats. If a Russian tank division outnumbers a German one by three to one, I don't care how deadly the Panther or Tiger is gun-to-gun and armor-versus-armor. The numerical odds should still show up in the statistics (say, with the Russian division having vastly more "hit points" to reflect its greater ability to absorb casualties.

Exactly! That's what I was trying to say. With such high-level simulations, all these factors are usually accounted for.

Hurlbut
2010-02-28, 06:45 AM
One thing that the P-38 had going for it in turning is that both of the propellers rotate in opposite directions instead of one common direction like the single engined and many twin engined planes have. So it become easier for a skilled P-38 pilot to exploit his plane's neutral torque against his opponent plane's torque that tend to favor one or other direction.

Dervag
2010-03-01, 09:06 PM
Exactly! That's what I was trying to say. With such high-level simulations, all these factors are usually accounted for.It varies. I've heard people object that a lot of combat simulators in WWII favor the Germans... and the guy doing most of the complaining is a professional nuclear war planner with something like thirty years of experience, whose main hobby is historical research.

fusilier
2010-03-02, 02:23 PM
It varies. I've heard people object that a lot of combat simulators in WWII favor the Germans... and the guy doing most of the complaining is a professional nuclear war planner with something like thirty years of experience, whose main hobby is historical research.

This may very well be the case. Historical simulations can be backed up by available statistics, and historians will raise heck when the numbers don't match. Unfortunately, a lot of this breaks down at smaller levels, and it becomes difficult to generate meaningful statistics. You could, for example, attempt to compile statistics on how likely it was that an American 76mm tank gun would puncture the side armor of a Tiger II, but how accessible or accurate that data is can be questionable. A lot of these smaller games, also try to make each side "equal" by assigning point costs to different units. Decisions as to how many points a particular unit is worth can be arbitrary. While I understand the desire to make sure each side in a game is "equal", personally I've never cared too much for it.

As a result smaller scale games are probably more inclined to bias, and it wouldn't surprise me if there tends to be a bias towards the effectiveness of German units. This can also creep into larger scale simulations, when simplifications are made, or certain variables are over-weighted: e.g. the tactical superiority of German tanks may be over-weighted, compared to their smaller numbers, and lack of supply.

Oslecamo
2010-03-02, 02:38 PM
It varies. I've heard people object that a lot of combat simulators in WWII favor the Germans... and the guy doing most of the complaining is a professional nuclear war planner with something like thirty years of experience, whose main hobby is historical research.

Considering that the germans managed to slow down the allied forces for one year despite being horribly outresourced, outnumbered, and their main leader diving deeper and deeper into madness and making horrible strategic decisions , I believe that kinda shows the germans had indeed superior training and equipment. And heck, most WWII war books I readed agree with that. The war in Africa was won mainly because the allied used their air superiority to cripple the supply lines of the germans, meaning they ended up running out of fuel, ammo and spare parts.

Germans do have a reputation for always trying to build high quality stuff after all.

If it wasn't for such high quality stuff, the allied would've easily rolled over the german lines and ended the war much sooner.

fusilier
2010-03-02, 03:50 PM
Considering that the germans managed to slow down the allied forces for one year despite being horribly outresourced, outnumbered, and their main leader diving deeper and deeper into madness and making horrible strategic decisions , I believe that kinda shows the germans had indeed superior training and equipment. And heck, most WWII war books I readed agree with that. The war in Africa was won mainly because the allied used their air superiority to cripple the supply lines of the germans, meaning they ended up running out of fuel, ammo and spare parts.

Germans do have a reputation for always trying to build high quality stuff after all.

If it wasn't for such high quality stuff, the allied would've easily rolled over the german lines and ended the war much sooner.

I don't really want to get into a debate about the effectiveness of the German military in WW2. However, just because they were more effective than their adversaries, doesn't mean that their effectiveness is not over-stated. I've heard that if you look at the casualty statistics, the Germans inflicted more casualties than they took. Also, their reputation for high quality stuff is well founded but sometimes misleading. The Americans could make artillery that was just as effective as German artillery, but with something like 1/6th the number of parts. Russian tanks are another example of effective, but simple. German designs tended to be more complicated than their opponents, and therefore cost more resources to make, and they had fewer of them. So you could say, if it wasn't for all their complicated stuff, they would have had more of it and could have held out longer? I'm not saying that's the truth, because I believe that there are other mitigating factors, but it's a response to your argument.

Another thing to consider is that German weapons, simply looked futuristic (like the MG42). So people think they look cool, and therefore conclude they must be better (and people do do this). Basically, because the Germans did well, there's a kind of reinforcing bias that exaggerates their effectiveness. Other biases come into play though, and there seems to be an acknowledgment of general Anglo-German bias in English language sources.

You can see the opposite with the Italians: They had well made rifles, decent and innovative machine guns, possibly the best sub-machine gun of the war, their tanks were usually a match for the light British and American tanks that they encountered in North Africa (British seemed to have no qualms about using captured Italian Tanks), effective and modern artillery (in small numbers), excellent acoustic torpedoes, a navy that created panic in the Mediterranean every time it put to sea, . . . I could go on for a while. But as far as most historians are concerned all Italian equipment was garbage! As a result of bias, and a combination of an overall poor showing in WW2 and Allied (mainly British) negative propaganda, Italy is often underrated -- this even occurred during the war, and you will see the occasional reference to something like "the Italian divisions gave unexpected resistance."

I think there's a general attitude to look at technological superiority as a deciding factor in most contests. So what's probably a small technological advantage (in the grand scheme of things, how much superiority does an MG-42 have over a M1919 Browning?), gets exaggerated in our analysis. Other aspects which may be even more important (how economic a weapon is for example) tend to be overlooked. Throw bias into this, and the whole thing gets very confused.

Karoht
2010-03-02, 03:58 PM
This may very well be the case. Historical simulations can be backed up by available statistics, and historians will raise heck when the numbers don't match. Unfortunately, a lot of this breaks down at smaller levels, and it becomes difficult to generate meaningful statistics. You could, for example, attempt to compile statistics on how likely it was that an American 76mm tank gun would puncture the side armor of a Tiger II, but how accessible or accurate that data is can be questionable. A lot of these smaller games, also try to make each side "equal" by assigning point costs to different units. Decisions as to how many points a particular unit is worth can be arbitrary. While I understand the desire to make sure each side in a game is "equal", personally I've never cared too much for it.Bingo. It tries to equate two items that in reality were never intended to be equal. I highly doubt the goal of the Axis or the Allies was to 'create a weapon precisely on par with the weapons on the side of the (insert faction), in order to compete fairly with our enemies of (insert faction again).' The goal in all scenarios is almost always superiority, the exception is when one side has to play catch up, or has to go with a 'make do or do without' solution.


As a result smaller scale games are probably more inclined to bias, and it wouldn't surprise me if there tends to be a bias towards the effectiveness of German units. This can also creep into larger scale simulations, when simplifications are made, or certain variables are over-weighted: e.g. the tactical superiority of German tanks may be over-weighted, compared to their smaller numbers, and lack of supply.As far as game balance in historical scenarios go, they tend to, well, not be. At least, if they are going for realism. If they have creative license they might unbalance things for challenge purposes, or for ease for the player. I'm reminded of one of the WWII first person shooter games (the name escapes me at the moment) which portrays the Nazi shock troops running around with miniguns and body armor. I don't know if this game strayed into fantasy or not, but I guarantee you that the guy with the minigun and body armor is, typically, in no way remotely fair against the guy with a bolt action rifle or repeating rifle, or heck, even a tommy gun, much less balanced. For reference, I'm pretty sure that this game was made fun of on Zero Punctuation, on www.theescapist.com

In regards to vehicles, the balancing tends to go that the Germans had better toys in just about every respect, but the Allies had better numbers. I am not an expert in that I do not know if either were true at any point during the war, other than the end.

Karoht
2010-03-02, 04:10 PM
Germans do have a reputation for always trying to build high quality stuff after all.

If it wasn't for such high quality stuff, the allied would've easily rolled over the german lines and ended the war much sooner.

Now I thought, after playing DnD and other such games, it's not what you got, it's entirely all about how you use it. And the Germans were quite good at using what they had available.

Then again, I am no expert, I couldn't begin to tell you if the quality/superiority of equipment really provided an advantage or not. Especially in a war where people died by the thousands. It becomes difficult to equate specific deaths or lost battles to specific causes such as 'the superiority of this standard infantry weapon was to be the telling detail' outside of things like major artillery.

fusilier
2010-03-02, 05:20 PM
Bingo. It tries to equate two items that in reality were never intended to be equal. I highly doubt the goal of the Axis or the Allies was to 'create a weapon precisely on par with the weapons on the side of the (insert faction), in order to compete fairly with our enemies of (insert faction again).' The goal in all scenarios is almost always superiority, the exception is when one side has to play catch up, or has to go with a 'make do or do without' solution.

I have seen some games (like the original Battlefield 1942), just make everything equal (a Tiger tank had the same performance as a M4 Sherman). However, what I was referring to are games that attempt to enforce some kind of equality of forces by assigning point values. So a Sherman might be worth 100 points, and a Tiger worth 500 points. So in a game where both sides have 500 points, the Allied player could have 5 Shermans, and the German player 1 Tiger. Various options for different weapon load-outs could change the point value, but the basic idea is that if both armies are built to the same point value then they should be evenly matched. I'm not too sure how well it works out in practice, but plenty of newer miniature war games are built around this concept. Generally speaking, I just want to see as many miniatures on the table as possible. ;-)


I'm reminded of one of the WWII first person shooter games (the name escapes me at the moment) which portrays the Nazi shock troops running around with miniguns and body armor. I don't know if this game strayed into fantasy or not, but I guarantee you that the guy with the minigun and body armor is, typically, in no way remotely fair against the guy with a bolt action rifle or repeating rifle, or heck, even a tommy gun, much less balanced.

Sounds like Wolfenstein perhaps? Which has always been pretty fantastic.


In regards to vehicles, the balancing tends to go that the Germans had better toys in just about every respect, but the Allies had better numbers. I am not an expert in that I do not know if either were true at any point during the war, other than the end.

The Germans were quick to adopt anything they could get their hands on. The Czech M38 tank, many French tanks and trucks were pressed into service, captured Russian T-34's, after 1943 all-sorts of Italian equipment, etc. The German army, like most armies during WW2, still relied primarily on horse transport. Only the US and Britain were able to have completely mechanized armies. When and if German materiel was superior to their Allies is debatable. Even during the Battle of France a large number of the German tank force were Panzer II's. Whereas the French had excellent medium and heavy tanks, well armored and armed. It was the doctrinal use of tanks that varied and is believed to give the Germans the advantage. They concentrated their tank force, whereas the allies parceled out their numerically superior tanks as infantry support. I'm not even sure if this theory is entirely correct, the French cavalry seems to have concentrated their tanks. They ran their tank force to Belgium, just before the Germans launched their attack through the Ardennes. By the time they had run them back, it was too late and their tanks were worn out from the rapid redeployment. So a clever bluff, and an attack in an unexpected area may have been more important to success than superior doctrine.

Mike_G
2010-03-02, 06:35 PM
...in the grand scheme of things, how much superiority does an MG-42 have over a M1919 Browning?

It was a lot more portable, being 5 lbs lighter, and could be fired from a bipod, instead of the heavy tripod for the M1919, further reducing the weight a soldier needed to hump. It could serve as a squad automatic weapon, like the BAR, and it was a billion times more firepower than a BAR, with it's 20 round magazine. The BAR also had a fixed barrel, so it couldn't be changed out, like the MG42, thus restricting how much sustained fire it could do.

As a fairly stationary gun, like the role played by the .30 cal M1919, it was comparable, but when you realize that the average German gunner could just throw the thing over his shoulder and keep up with the riflemen, it combined the firepower of the 1919 with the mobility of the BAR. As an old grunt, I can tell you that is an absolute winner.

It did burn through ammo too quickly for my tastes, but it was a very good gun.

Karoht
2010-03-02, 06:48 PM
Sounds like Wolfenstein perhaps? Which has always been pretty fantastic.Nope, way more modern.

fusilier
2010-03-02, 09:32 PM
It was a lot more portable, being 5 lbs lighter, and could be fired from a bipod, instead of the heavy tripod for the M1919, further reducing the weight a soldier needed to hump. It could serve as a squad automatic weapon, like the BAR, and it was a billion times more firepower than a BAR, with it's 20 round magazine. The BAR also had a fixed barrel, so it couldn't be changed out, like the MG42, thus restricting how much sustained fire it could do.

As a fairly stationary gun, like the role played by the .30 cal M1919, it was comparable, but when you realize that the average German gunner could just throw the thing over his shoulder and keep up with the riflemen, it combined the firepower of the 1919 with the mobility of the BAR. As an old grunt, I can tell you that is an absolute winner.

It did burn through ammo too quickly for my tastes, but it was a very good gun.

If I can supply three times as many M1919's as MG42's, then what would be better? Having a somewhat more portable MG, or more of them? Remember we're talking about all out warfare here, not minor conflicts where governments can spend lavishly on a relatively small army.

The Vickers, Hotchkiss, and Maxim Guns of WW1 were very popular and very heavy. The German "light" Machine gun M1908/15 weighed something like 50 pounds, very heavy compared to a British Lewis gun, but it was the Germans who "perfected" infiltration tactics. In the grand scheme of things the tactical differences between the M1919 and the MG42 aren't that great, certainly not at the strategic level. Also what you just hit upon was a difference in tactical doctrine. The Germans centered their platoons around a single general purpose machine gun, defended by riflemen, typically armed with bolt-action rifles. Whereas the Americans centered their platoons on riflemen with semi-auto rifles, backed up by a couple BARs. (With some smattering of sub-machine guns on both sides). Further backed up by the occasional M1917 and M1919 medium machine guns.

I'm not talking about which may have had a tactical superiority in an evenly matched fire-fight. I'm trying to point out there other factors that can weigh heavily on which side wins, and the differences in weapons tends to be over stated.

The Chaco War is an example where one side spent money on the best and latest and lost, whereas the other side used older, cheaper weaponry and won. It's not like we're comparing an MG42 to a spear. We're talking about weapons that at a high-level aren't that different. At which point strategy, tactics, and availability(economy) can become the deciding factors.

@Kahrot
Return to Castle Wolfenstein? Or even more modern?

Karoht
2010-03-02, 09:35 PM
@Karoht
Return to Castle Wolfenstein? Or even more modern?More modern. I want to say medal of honor, but I'm certain that can't be correct.

Mike_G
2010-03-02, 09:56 PM
If I can supply three times as many M1919's as MG42's, then what would be better? Having a somewhat more portable MG, or more of them? Remember we're talking about all out warfare here, not minor conflicts where governments can spend lavishly on a relatively small army.

The Vickers, Hotchkiss, and Maxim Guns of WW1 were very popular and very heavy. The German "light" Machine gun M1908/15 weighed something like 50 pounds, very heavy compared to a British Lewis gun, but it was the Germans who "perfected" infiltration tactics. In the grand scheme of things the tactical differences between the M1919 and the MG42 aren't that great, certainly not at the strategic level. Also what you just hit upon was a difference in tactical doctrine. The Germans centered their platoons around a single general purpose machine gun, defended by riflemen, typically armed with bolt-action rifles. Whereas the Americans centered their platoons on riflemen with semi-auto rifles, backed up by a couple BARs. (With some smattering of sub-machine guns on both sides). Further backed up by the occasional M1917 and M1919 medium machine guns.

I'm not talking about which may have had a tactical superiority in an evenly matched fire-fight. I'm trying to point out there other factors that can weigh heavily on which side wins, and the differences in weapons tends to be over stated.

The Chaco War is an example where one side spent money on the best and latest and lost, whereas the other side used older, cheaper weaponry and won. It's not like we're comparing an MG42 to a spear. We're talking about weapons that at a high-level aren't that different. At which point strategy, tactics, and availability(economy) can become the deciding factors.


I'm not disagreeing that logistics and doctrine matter more in many cases than equipment. Clearly if you can supply more guns, even if mine are a bit better, you have an edge.

I was just saying, comparing the MG 42 to the M1919 is only half fair, as it wasn't all that much better, but it was far better than the BAR or Bren. The MG 42 was not issued 1 to a platoon, but 3 or 4, and worked as part of the squad, which placed it in the same role as the Bren or BAR. The link to German infantry organization can be found here: http://www-solar.mcs.st-and.ac.uk/~aaron/WW2ORG/ger.html

I've heard the argument of differing doctrine that you cite, but I think that's vastly oversimplified. I'm less well versed on the US Army, but the Marines built the fire team around the BAR, so it wasn't a question of riflemen supported by machineguns, as much as it was an important part of the maneuver element of the squad. I don't think the Germans, known for aggressive tactics, sat back and "defended their machine guns" with their Mausers as much as they probably used very similar squad bounds using fire and maneuver, as it seems each squad had an LMG.

fusilier
2010-03-02, 10:40 PM
I'm not disagreeing that logistics and doctrine matter more in many cases than equipment. Clearly if you can supply more guns, even if mine are a bit better, you have an edge.

I was just saying, comparing the MG 42 to the M1919 is only half fair, as it wasn't all that much better, but it was far better than the BAR or Bren. The MG 42 was not issued 1 to a platoon, but 3 or 4, and worked as part of the squad, which placed it in the same role as the Bren or BAR. The link to German infantry organization can be found here: http://www-solar.mcs.st-and.ac.uk/~aaron/WW2ORG/ger.html

I've heard the argument of differing doctrine that you cite, but I think that's vastly oversimplified. I'm less well versed on the US Army, but the Marines built the fire team around the BAR, so it wasn't a question of riflemen supported by machineguns, as much as it was an important part of the maneuver element of the squad. I don't think the Germans, known for aggressive tactics, sat back and "defended their machine guns" with their Mausers as much as they probably used very similar squad bounds using fire and maneuver, as it seems each squad had an LMG.

You are right, it was squads not platoons, my mistake, and yes it is a simplification. My understanding is that German tactics focused on the proper placement of the squad MG, and the riflemen all revolved around that. This doesn't rule out an assault to secure a good position, or deny it to the enemy, just that this was done to better position the MG.

Anyway, we could talk tactics all day long (if you want an example of aggressive tactics take a look at Italian doctrine, and Japanese practice). My point (and I think we are in agreement), was that while these little technical differences are interesting, in the big picture they're not that important.

Galloglaich
2010-03-03, 12:31 PM
I think the German kit gets hyped, I think it's testeament to Goebles. They had a very good fashion sense, very nice uniforms, lots of fashion designers among the original Nazis.

But maybe we need a little reality check.

Fusilier has pointed out some of this pretty well already, but here is my $.02

Small arms

Russians had the PPsh by 1942, against Germans with bolt action rifles. Huge advantage in urban or any close combat which cost the German dearly.

US had the M1-Garand, very effective semi-auto .30-06 which could also reach long range... and the Thompson from the beginning of the war.

The Germans were using the Mauser K-98, essentially a WW I bolt-action, good in certain respects, but hopelessly inferior for close combat. They came up with some good SMGs and Assault Rifles by the end of the war, but they tended to be overly expensive (difficult to make) and came too little, too-late.

Aircraft

The Me 109 was a brilliant deisgn in 1940, but by 1944, it was out-classed. It was a short-ranged interceptor which was a huge operational liability, and inferior in maneuveability to the Spitfire and most of the Russian fighters, and vastly inferior in range to the P-51.

The Fw 190 was very good, but it's strictly a 'Boom and Zoom' fighter, and bega to be owned by Soviet fighters by the end of the war.

Those two fighters were the only two effective front-line designs the Germans fielded through the war.

The Stuka, revolutionary and a critical part of the German war machine in the early days of the war, was obsolete by 1941 and yet, remained their primary tactical bomber. Their other (medium) bombers ranged from average (Ju-88) to mediocre (He 111) in quality by international standards. They never developed an effective heavy bomber.

The Spitfire consistently proved marginally superior to it's chief competitor, the Me 109, and ultimately much more versatile as it remained a viable airframe even in 1945, by which time the Me 109 had exceeded it's design limits.

The Germans evaluated the Italian Fiat G.55 and the Macci C205 and decided they were superior to their own fighters, they were actually going to start production but it turned out to complicated to arrange as Italy collapsed.

By the second half of the war, the Soviets had the Yak-3, the Yak-9, both of which were arguably superior to both the Me 109 and the Fw 190. The Luftwaffe in fact ordered German fighter pilots in 1944 not to engage the Yak-3 below 5,000 meters altitude on pain of courts-martial. The LaGG-5FN and LaGG7 also out-classed the German fighters.

The Japanese N1K1, Ki-84, and Ki-100 were superior to the German fighters.

The best ground-attack aircraft of the war was the Il-2 Sturmovik, bar-none. The best bomber was probably the British Mosquito.

Artillery
Fusilier already pointed out, US artillery was actually better and also turned out to be more accurate, than German artilllery. And on most battlefields the Americans had heavier artillery available (this is the major balancing factor missing in many tactical simulation games). This was for example the 'secret weapon' of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, all the artillery from like 5 divisions was concentrated in Bastogne.

The Russians also invented the Katyushka Rocket and fielded it in huge numbers right out of the gate. It was a critical part of the victory at Stalingrad.

Tanks

Until the mid war, the german tanks (Pz II, Pz III, Pz IV) were good but really not that great. Their main advantage was in having radios As Fuslier (?) pointed out the French tanks were better in many respects, and the Wermacht was relying on Czech tanks early on which I thnk were 1/4 of their armor during the invasion of France (a terrible irony).

By 1942, the T-34 and KV "Pwnd" the Pz III and the PZ IV, which was the reason for the development of the Tiger and the Panther. The Tiger had a deserved reputation for being a tough contender, but it had very poor mechanical reliability, (ironically the US tanks were by far the most reliable) and it was quickly out-matched by the Russian heavy tanks and tank destroyers which answered it, the Joseph Stalin II, the Su-100, Su-122 etc.

The Panther was a great tank, but it was much more vulnerable than the Tiger, initially very unreliable (they used to catch on fire when you started the engine) and the expense which was equivalent to 5 medium tanks did not equate to their survivability on the battlefield.

The Germans did have some very nice tank destroyers. And the best anti-tank gun bar none, the Pak-43 (88 mm)

The US Grant and Sherman actually dominated the Pz III and most marks of the Pz IV initially in North Africa. Their appearance requried the up-gunning of the Pz IV leading to the so-called "F2 Special". They had no real answer to the Tiger or the Panther though, which was trouble by the end of the war... except they tended to rely on artillery and air-support which some people (gamers) seem to percieve as 'cheating'. But they did have tank-destroyers which are usually left out of most pop history, the M-10, M-18, and M-36 which had a gun as powerful as that on the Tiger.

The British modified the Sherman as the Firefly which had a gun (17 pounder) that could take out Panthers or Tigers.

The German super-heavies (King Tiger, JagdTiger, Ferdinand etc.) look cool and very tough on paper, but were actually pretty useless operationally, they performed poorly because they couldn't be deployed, constantly broke down, and due to their huge size were vulnerable to air attack etc. Meanwhile the cost of production was equivalent to like 10 or 20 medium tanks.

Machine guns

I think the MG42 was the best LMG and MMG of the war (it could be configured as an LMG, an MMG or an HMG) but the US had the very ubiquitous M2 .50 cal, on almost every vehicle, and the Germans were scared of this weapon, for good reason. The M2 was the best HMG.

G.

Thiel
2010-03-03, 12:51 PM
Machine guns

I think the MG42 was the best LMG and MMG of the war (it could be configured as an LMG, an MMG or an HMG) but the US had the very ubiquitous M2 .50 cal, on almost every vehicle, and the Germans were scared of this weapon, for good reason. The M2 was the best HMG.

G.

The fact that both guns are in widespread use amongst modern armies with only a few modifications is rather telling, I think.

Galloglaich
2010-03-03, 02:35 PM
Exactly.

Check out the PPsh-41: (imagine dealing with these in Stalingrad when you have bolt action rifles)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1VQpJj1TF7M&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggS-UZIpezs

The Russians were making 3,000 of these per day by 1942

G.

Thiel
2010-03-03, 03:08 PM
While we're on Soviet small arms, does anyone remember what that wacky ground attack plane that had the entire bomb bay filled with SMGs was called?

fusilier
2010-03-03, 06:19 PM
The Me 109 was a brilliant deisgn in 1940, but by 1944, it was out-classed. It was a short-ranged interceptor which was a huge operational liability, and inferior in maneuveability to the Spitfire and most of the Russian fighters, and vastly inferior in range to the P-51.

This isn't entirely fair, by 1944 Germany certainly needed a short range interceptor. Also the Spitfire was starting to hit it's own design limitations by that time. Although on the Eastern Front, the 109's shorter range may have been more of a liability. Most people feel that the Fw 190 was superior (along with derivatives like the Ta-152), but Messerschmitt had always "played ball" with the Nazis, so they tended to get preferential treatment.

The Stuka was a very serviceable plane even if outdated, it proved difficult to replace for some reason. While the Germans controlled the air they could operate them. The old bi-plane ground attack Henschel Hs 123 gave very good service on the Russian Front (being able to operate from rough fields, and in all sorts of weather). The German air force was built around tactical support of the army. So, long range strategic bombing was something it was not really prepared for. This problem first showed up during the Battle of Britain.

I think that Japanese air force was also designed as providing tactical support (to the army and navy), but due to the nature of the Pacific had better long-range capabilities. (I'm not too sure though)

The Italians, totally lacked the means, but did seem to have more of a strategic bombing mindset. They launched a very long range bombing raid on oil-fields in the Persian Gulf in 1940(?). They had to use long-range transports as their 4 engined bomber crews were still in training (something that took an unusually long amount of time).


The best bomber was probably the British Mosquito.
I've always had trouble classifying the Mosquito. It was also a night-fighter, reconnaissance, ground attack, partially a tree . . . ;-)

I can see it as an excellent light bomber. Although the B-26 was a very good medium bomber.



I think the MG42 was the best LMG and MMG of the war (it could be configured as an LMG, an MMG or an HMG) but the US had the very ubiquitous M2 .50 cal, on almost every vehicle, and the Germans were scared of this weapon, for good reason. The M2 was the best HMG.

G.

Guns like the MG34 and MG42 are referred to as "general purpose machine guns", because they can be configured as LMG's or MMG's.

Stephen_E
2010-03-03, 09:24 PM
By 1942, the T-34 and KV "Pwnd" the Pz III and the PZ IV, which was the reason for the development of the Tiger and the Panther. The Tiger had a deserved reputation for being a tough contender, but it had very poor mechanical reliability, (ironically the US tanks were by far the most reliable) and it was quickly out-matched by the Russian heavy tanks and tank destroyers which answered it, the Joseph Stalin II, the Su-100, Su-122 etc.

.

The only part of your post I'd quibble with is the claim that the Tiger/Panthers were quickly out matched by the soviet heavies and tank destroyers.
All the soviet guns were low velocity which meant their AP perormance quickly fell off. The Tigers and Panthers could, and did, shred them givin any sort of range.

What the Soviets did have was numbers. Lots of numbers.
And numbers have a quality of their own. The TDs and heavies didn't have to be better, they merely had to be good enough, i.e. in the ballpark, and numbers would do the rest.

1 remaining quibble. Re: creatures like the Tiger II. The real point with them is that very few were ever built. Something like 500 Tiger 2s were built in the war. At that point it's hard to judge their operation effectiveness. The sample is to small. (this is aside from your very valid points regarding the economics of building them).

Stephen E

Galloglaich
2010-03-03, 11:48 PM
What German AFV can stand toe to toe with the Su-100?

I would argue that the Soviet AFV's were better all-around.

Germans:

Pz IVs, Panthers, and a few (very few) Tigers and super-heavies.

Soviets:

T-34/85 (far superior to all versions of the Pz IV), large numbers of JS-II and JS-III's, backed up by Su-100's and ISU-122's etc.

Also, as for the King Tiger et al, the Schwer Panzer companies were never large, there weren't a lot of Tiger I made either, they were always meant to be a kind of fire brigade. They had enough of the Tiger II's to be tactically significant, Joachim Pipers force in the Ardennes Offensive were mostly Royal Tigers, and though they did well for a few days, they rather predictably ran out of gas.

Here is a video of Tigers in action against T-34s and Js-2s, with some pretty cool footage I'd never seen before:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DaF34wCdF88

G.

Galloglaich
2010-03-03, 11:53 PM
You could, for example, attempt to compile statistics on how likely it was that an American 76mm tank gun would puncture the side armor of a Tiger II, but how accessible or accurate that data is can be questionable.

The data is available, actually, in detail. That is what they used to make the penetration tables in the board game Advanced Squad Leader, which in turn is what a lot of the armor based computer games were closely based on (like Steel Panthers, Combat Mission, and Command and Conquer)

G.

Galloglaich
2010-03-04, 12:13 AM
I don't know about that. A 109 E was a pretty maneuverable plane, and could on occasion keep up with a spitfire.

The P-40 gets a bad rap, due to poor quality aviation journalism after the war (largely due to a profiteering scandal with Curtiss Aircraft Company). The cliche is that it wasn't as maneuverable as the zero so it was clumsy, it wasn't as fast as the Me 109 so it was considered slow. Actually the P-40 was one of the tightest turning allied fighters in the war, and it was the fastest in the Pacific and the CBI, until about 1943 when P-38's arrived in some numbers.

Like I said, the P-40 could out-turn of the 109, it could also out-roll most variants, this is attested to by combat veterans who flew the aircraft from all over the world; Australia, Soviet Union, UK, USA, and Canada.

That didn't mean it was a better fighter all-around, since most variants of the 109 could still out accelerate and out-climb it, making them better at altitude fighting, and the effective ceiling of the P-40 was only about 16,000 feet so the 109 could always have an altitude advantage if the weather conditions permitted. (In the Eastern Front, the cloud ceiling was often very low so most fighting was at low altitude, which is one of the reasons the Soviets did well with the P-40 and (especially) the P-39).

But the 109E in particular was so outclassed by even the earliest P-40 (RAF designation Tomahawk) that the arrival of the latter aircraft in the North African Theater accelerated the retirement of the 'Emil' and it's replacement by the 'Franz'.

The 109F2 restored parity briefly, and the 109F4 was sufficiently superior to the Tomahawk in speed and climb rate that the Luftwaffe regained a qualitative edge, but this was rebalanced by the arrival of the faster, heavily armed Kittyhawk (P-40E) in 1942. The pendulum swung back again with the eventual arrival of the Gustav (109G), but by then Spitfires had begun arriving in Theater and the Axis was collapsing in North Africa.

Consensus among pilots was that the P-40 was more maneuverable than the 109, but a little slower, equal in the dive but inferior in climb. There are about 5 recent interviews with Soviet pilots which go into a lot of detail about it, also comparing numerous other allied fighters, here:

http://lend-lease.airforce.ru/english/articles/kulakov/index.htm

G.

Galloglaich
2010-03-04, 12:32 AM
Speaking of which, on an earlier topic, I found this cool interview with a former Soviet pilot who fought against the Americans in the Korean war:

http://lend-lease.airforce.ru/english/articles/index.htm

Stephen_E
2010-03-04, 02:34 AM
What German AFV can stand toe to toe with the Su-100?

Define "toe to toe".




Germans:

Pz IVs, Panthers, and a few (very few) Tigers and super-heavies.

Soviets:

T-34/85 (far superior to all versions of the Pz IV), large numbers of JS-II and JS-III's, backed up by Su-100's and ISU-122's etc.

Yes, the T34/85 was superior to all versions of the Pz IV, until it broke down. The chassis was designed to handle the 85mm and the stress shortened the life of the vehicle considerably. But yes it was still a magnificiant AFV.
JS-II came in service Apr 44, the JS-III never saw service in WW2 as far as can be autehticated.

Soviet AFVs also had a common flaw for most models in that they were cramped for the crew (cramped by AFV standards) which resulted in slower fire rate amongst other things.


Also, as for the King Tiger et al, the Schwer Panzer companies were never large, there weren't a lot of Tiger I made either, they were always meant to be a kind of fire brigade. They had enough of the Tiger II's to be tactically significant, Joachim Pipers force in the Ardennes Offensive were mostly Royal Tigers, and though they did well for a few days, they rather predictably ran out of gas.

Running out of gas was rather predictable because by that time the entire german war machine was running on the smell of an oily rag! That's not something you can lay on the Tiger II as a design flaw.


Stephen E

Stephen_E
2010-03-04, 03:03 AM
And I note that the SU-100 went into mass production sept 44.

So lets compare it to the Tiger II that came out around that period.
I'd rather be in the Tiger II. I have little doubt who had the advantage in 1 on 1 combat.

Of course by war end 2300 SU-100's had been built compared to less than 500 Tiger II's.
It's like Tiger I's vs T34/85. I there favoured field of war the Tiger would eat a T34/85, but it wouldn't be facing a single T34/85. As a general rule of thumb the soviets would have significant numerical advantage, combined with varying terrain conditions, sooner or later the T34 would get close enough to get in the kill range, or simply get a lucky hit.

Stephen E

PS. Thanks for the video link.

Stephen_E
2010-03-04, 03:10 AM
Germans:

Pz IVs, Panthers, and a few (very few) Tigers and super-heavies.

Soviets:

T-34/85 (far superior to all versions of the Pz IV), large numbers of JS-II and JS-III's, backed up by Su-100's and ISU-122's etc.


Interesting use of language :smallwink: -
"a few (very few) Tigers "
1347 Tiger 1, 492 Tiger II
"large numbers of JS-II and JS-III's"
3,800 IS-II, 0 IS-III.

Stephen E

Subotei
2010-03-04, 04:38 AM
Germans do have a reputation for always trying to build high quality stuff after all.

If it wasn't for such high quality stuff, the allied would've easily rolled over the german lines and ended the war much sooner.

Not necessarily so - British intellegence got a good picture of what german radar capabilities were, because captured radar equipment showed engineering refinement much greater than needed to do the job they were currently being employed to do, allowing countermeasures to be developed in advance: good enough is just as good as best.

The german war machine was an odd beast, whilst their finest units were second to none in terms of equipment, 90% of the army was unmechanised, essentially World War One standard, with a few improvements. This meant that whilst they had a cutting edge, in a long war their advantage very quickly fell away once industrial might of the allies was fully engaged.

Personally I don't think the war could've ended much sooner than it did, purely for logistical reasons - until the western allied forces were engaged on the ground in large numbers, Hitler could've held out against the Soviets - it was the concerted action in June 44 by the allies on the Eastern and Western fronts which finally broke the back of German resistance. Therefore I think the biggest constraints on the end date of the war was (1) tackling u-boats and (2) building ships to carry US arms and troops to Europe in sufficent quantities to sustain the fight, rather than quality of particular weapons systems.

Subotei
2010-03-04, 05:08 AM
The Stuka was a very serviceable plane even if outdated, it proved difficult to replace for some reason. While the Germans controlled the air they could operate them. The old bi-plane ground attack Henschel Hs 123 gave very good service on the Russian Front (being able to operate from rough fields, and in all sorts of weather). The German air force was built around tactical support of the army. So, long range strategic bombing was something it was not really prepared for. This problem first showed up during the Battle of Britain.

The Stukas suffered heavily in the Battle of Britain as they were effectively obsolete with modern fighters around - they particularly suffered due to the fact they were too slow for 109s to escort them effectively - 109s had to fly slow and zig-zag which made them more likely to be bounced by the British fighters. Losses were so high they had to be kept back from the battle - they were the only air weapon likely to be effective against the British fleet, and so sufficient numbers needed to be available for protection of the invasion fleet.

109s and 110s of Erprobungsgruppe 210, delivering low level pin point attacks, were much more effective, though thankfully few in number.

Yes the lack of a strategic bomber was a hindrance to Germany, but effective tactics could've overcome this perhaps - they were not intending to bomb Britain into submission, only suppress air defences to allow the invasion to go ahead.

'The Most Dangerous Enemy' by Stephen Bungay gives a good account of the battle and the effectiveness of the planes and tactics employed. I recommend it to anyone who is interested.

Dervag
2010-03-04, 12:51 PM
Considering that the germans managed to slow down the allied forces for one year despite being horribly outresourced, outnumbered, and their main leader diving deeper and deeper into madness and making horrible strategic decisions , I believe that kinda shows the germans had indeed superior training and equipment. And heck, most WWII war books I readed agree with that. The war in Africa was won mainly because the allied used their air superiority to cripple the supply lines of the germans, meaning they ended up running out of fuel, ammo and spare parts.Yes, and a good WWII simulation (tabletop or computer) should reflect that. Logistics should matter, close air support should matter. Superior training and equipment should matter too, but if the Germans get statistical advantages in a sim because of their superior training, the Allies should get advantages for superior numbers (like units with more hit points because replacements are easier to find, or because an Allied armored division has more tanks than a German panzer division, and so on).


Germans do have a reputation for always trying to build high quality stuff after all.

If it wasn't for such high quality stuff, the allied would've easily rolled over the german lines and ended the war much sooner.The problem comes when the Germans perform ahistorically well in the games if you give them their historical order of battle.

The German reputation has been greatly enhanced by the tendency (in both East and West) to build them up as the Great Terrible Monsters that Our Heroic Ancestors only just barely managed to stop before they Conquered The World.

They were tough, but they weren't quite that tough.


You are right, it was squads not platoons, my mistake, and yes it is a simplification. My understanding is that German tactics focused on the proper placement of the squad MG, and the riflemen all revolved around that. This doesn't rule out an assault to secure a good position, or deny it to the enemy, just that this was done to better position the MG.This is fairly reasonable; heavy weapons make up most of an infantry force's firepower even today.


Anyway, we could talk tactics all day long (if you want an example of aggressive tactics take a look at Italian doctrine, and Japanese practice). My point (and I think we are in agreement), was that while these little technical differences are interesting, in the big picture they're not that important.The Japanese are famous for it; could you expand on Italian doctrine?


Small arms...
The Germans were using the Mauser K-98, essentially a WW I bolt-action, good in certain respects, but hopelessly inferior for close combat. They came up with some good SMGs and Assault Rifles by the end of the war, but they tended to be overly expensive (difficult to make) and came too little, too-late.MP-40?


The Stuka, revolutionary and a critical part of the German war machine in the early days of the war, was obsolete by 1941 and yet, remained their primary tactical bomber. Their other (medium) bombers ranged from average (Ju-88) to mediocre (He 111) in quality by international standards. They never developed an effective heavy bomber.Their doctrine never called for an effective heavy bomber; Germany never really tried to build up a strategic bomber force beyond the Napkinwaffe level, with reason. Their main opponents at every step of the way were their neighbors on a continental land mass, so land warfare and the aircraft to support it trumped strategic bombing.


The best ground-attack aircraft of the war was the Il-2 Sturmovik, bar-none. The best bomber was probably the British Mosquito....Best bomber for what, though? For precision raids, yes, very much so. For flattening strategic targets too extensive to be taken down in a lone raid? Not so sure.


By 1942, the T-34 and KV "Pwnd" the Pz III and the PZ IV, which was the reason for the development of the Tiger and the Panther.I'm not sure it was that so much as that they had qualitative parity (or marginal superiority)... combined with quantitative superiority. Also, this analysis neglects the large number of Russian light tanks (the BT-7 does not get nearly enough respect, in my opinion).


Personally I don't think the war could've ended much sooner than it did, purely for logistical reasons - until the western allied forces were engaged on the ground in large numbers, Hitler could've held out against the Soviets - it was the concerted action in June 44 by the allies on the Eastern and Western fronts which finally broke the back of German resistance. Therefore I think the biggest constraints on the end date of the war was (1) tackling u-boats and (2) building ships to carry US arms and troops to Europe in sufficent quantities to sustain the fight, rather than quality of particular weapons systems.Hmm. Are you sure? The Germans were already falling back alarming far and fast by spring 1944. While action by the Western Allies was probably necessary to give the Soviets an opening, I'm not sure a direct invasion of continental Europe was.

On the other hand, the only other major offensive-boosting efforts the Western Allies took were the campaign to support Russia with American-made goods (which probably hit full speed in 1942-43, I... think), and the air offensive, which wasn't going to be ready until 1944 any more than the Normandy landings were.

Galloglaich
2010-03-04, 02:10 PM
Define "toe to toe".

I'll quote from the Wiki:

"The SU-100 quickly proved itself to be among the best self-propelled anti-tank guns of World War II, able to penetrate 125 mm of vertical armor from a range of 2,000 metres and sloped 85-mm front armor of "Panther" from 1,500 metres. This was quite capable of defeating any German tank in service, for which Soviet soldiers gave it the obscene nickname "Pizdets vsemu" ("F-------g end to anything")[1]."

Also front armor was 75mm sloped, equivallent to the hull armor on a Panther, and like most Soviet AFV's, it was much faster than all the German tanks, the Su-100 was particularly fast, about twice as fast off-road as any German tank except the Pz II.

G.



Yes, the T34/85 was superior to all versions of the Pz IV, until it broke down. The chassis was designed to handle the 85mm and the stress shortened the life of the vehicle considerably. But yes it was still a magnificiant AFV.

The T-34 / 85 was much more reliable than German tanks, especiall the Tiger!



JS-II came in service Apr 44, the JS-III never saw service in WW2 as far as can be autehticated.

True on the JS-III, my bad.



Soviet AFVs also had a common flaw for most models in that they were cramped for the crew (cramped by AFV standards) which resulted in slower fire rate amongst other things.

The Soviet tanks also had less ammo typically, and fewer of them had radios and the radios weren't as good, and they had inferior sighting systems and rangefinders.

But on the other hand, vastly superior cross-country mobility, usually better armor. And in the case of the Su-100, T-34 / 85, and Js II, much more powerful guns than their equivalent opponents. The mobility, armor and the guns proved ultimately more important than crew comfort.

G.

Galloglaich
2010-03-04, 02:22 PM
The Stukas suffered heavily in the Battle of Britain as they were effectively obsolete with modern fighters around - they particularly suffered due to the fact they were too slow for 109s to escort them effectively - 109s had to fly slow and zig-zag which made them more likely to be bounced by the British fighters. Losses were so high they had to be kept back from the battle - they were the only air weapon likely to be effective against the British fleet, and so sufficient numbers needed to be available for protection of the invasion fleet.

Agreed. Exactly. A bomber which requires total local air superority to operate is a pretty lousy bomber. The Fighter-bombers used by the Western Allies were far more effective both for tactical and operational missions... p-47, P-38, Typhoon, Tempest et al. Long range, fast, good enough performance to get in and out without being interecepted, capable of defending themselves if they were.



Yes the lack of a strategic bomber was a hindrance to Germany, but effective tactics could've overcome this perhaps - they were not intending to bomb Britain into submission, only suppress air defences to allow the invasion to go ahead.

Not just a lack of a Strategic bomber, since Strategic bombing was of questionable value actually in much of the waar, but lack of an Operational or Theater bomber to effectively interfere with enemy supply lines and communications near the battlefield was a major problem; meanwhile their own supply lines and communications were being severely disrupted. This was a big setback for the Germans from the mid part of the war onward.

An aircraft like a Mosquito, a Pe-2 'Peshka', or even an A-20 or B-26 would have been of immense value to the Germans by 1942. The JU-88 wasn't quite there, and it's replacements Ju-288 and Ju-388 had design flaws and production problems which ultimately prevented them from being effective replacements. The Stuka wasn't even in the ballpark.

As a specialized dive-bomber, the Stuka was out-classed by both the Japanese Aichi D3A and the US Dauntless, IMO. Generally fighters seem to have made the best tactical bombers. The Germans did use the Fw-190 this way somewhat, and it was quite effective in the 'Jabo' role, but utlimately they needed them all for air-defense.

The Germans finally developed a decent specialized ground attack aricraft in the Hs-129

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hs_129

Another interesting bomber, the Italian tri-motor torpedo armed Sm 79, very long range, maneuverable, pretty fast, and reasonably well protected.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Savoia-Marchetti_SM.79

G.

Galloglaich
2010-03-04, 02:41 PM
The problem comes when the Germans perform ahistorically well in the games if you give them their historical order of battle.

I think in the relativley accurate games (Combat Mission, Steel Panthers) they did account for this well enough, it's not just numbers but other allied advantages like having more mechanised troops, more mobility in their AFV's (which combined with things like gyrostabilizers actually gives US tanks something of an advanntage in close fighting scenarios) artillery and etc., and the firepower of the allied infantry (especially US)



The German reputation has been greatly enhanced by the tendency (in both East and West) to build them up as the Great Terrible Monsters that Our Heroic Ancestors only just barely managed to stop before they Conquered The World.

They were tough, but they weren't quite that tough.

I think that is a good point. We need to keep in mind the Germans haven't won a war since the 1880s.


MP-40?

I'll quote from the Wiki:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MP-40

"Despite the impression given by popular culture, particularly in war films, MP 40s were generally issued only to paratroopers and platoon and squad leaders;[citation needed] the majority of German soldiers carried Karabiner 98k rifles. However, later experience with Soviet tactics - where entire units armed with submachine guns outgunned their German counterparts in short range urban combat - caused a shift in tactics, and by the end of the war the MP 40 and its derivatives were being issued to entire assault platoons on a limited basis."



Their doctrine never called for an effective heavy bomber; Germany never really tried to build up a strategic bomber force beyond the Napkinwaffe level, with reason. Their main opponents at every step of the way were their neighbors on a continental land mass, so land warfare and the aircraft to support it trumped strategic bombing.

Per above... there is a distinction between having a Strategic bomber force and an Operatinal bomber force; having obsolete bombers which can only operate within the (very very short) range of your fighters is a huge weakness.



...Best bomber for what, though? For precision raids, yes, very much so. For flattening strategic targets too extensive to be taken down in a lone raid? Not so sure.

best overall bomber. Mosquitos could fly from UK to Germany with 4,000 bomb load with a cruise speed of 370 mph!!! They were used to do heavy 'strategic' type bombing range, many special precision raids like hitting prisons and gestapo HQ etc., marking targets for heavy bombers, and also tactical bombing and day and night intruder missions, disrupting communication etc.

They carried a lot of bombs by WW II standards, they were so fast that they were hard to kill, they had considerable precision in their strikes (much, much better than the Strategic bombers), and they had incredible range.

The Mosquito was many orders of magnitude superior to any German bomber.



I'm not sure it was that so much as that they had qualitative parity (or marginal superiority)... combined with quantitative superiority.

That is probably a fair statement I think. But also, when comparing armor and guns, where it may be parity, you also have to consider things like off-road mobility where the Russians were clearly superior, and mechanical reliability.



Also, this analysis neglects the large number of Russian light tanks (the BT-7 does not get nearly enough respect, in my opinion).

I like the BT-7 too (it has an interesting design history!), and even the T-60, but i don't think they were hugely better than their German equivalents, they were faster and the BT-7 had a bigger gun but IIRC poor armor and apparently difficult command and control due to their small turrets...? they were also used more in the early part of the war (before the T-34 etc.) I think (?) which was when the Soviet army was still much inferior to the Germans in organization and discipline etc.

BT-7 is a cool tank though, I want one for my daily commute

http://www.armchairgeneral.com/rkkaww2/galleries/T-26/4/T_26_and_BT_7_cut.jpg



Hmm. Are you sure? The Germans were already falling back alarming far and fast by spring 1944. While action by the Western Allies was probably necessary to give the Soviets an opening, I'm not sure a direct invasion of continental Europe was.

On the other hand, the only other major offensive-boosting efforts the Western Allies took were the campaign to support Russia with American-made goods (which probably hit full speed in 1942-43, I... think), and the air offensive, which wasn't going to be ready until 1944 any more than the Normandy landings were.

Well put. The Germans didn't really win a major battle after Stalingrad in 1942. I think the most impotant US contribution was in arming the Soviets, particulalry with tanks and fighter aircraft which played a major role during the key pivotal time in the middle of the war, during Stalingrad and the siege of Leningrad etc. and with Trucks. Having relatively mobile armies was a huge advantage for the allies.

G.

Galloglaich
2010-03-04, 02:46 PM
1347 Tiger 1, 492 Tiger II
"large numbers of JS-II and JS-III's"
3,800 IS-II, 0 IS-III.

Stephen E

Yes but the Tigers were being used in three theaters, Italy, Western Europe, and the East, so you can (very roughly) divide that number by 3, and they lost a lot more tigers, (especally tiger IIs) to mechanical failure or being unable to drive over bridges etc. than the Soviets did with the JS-II.

I think if you compare the numbers operational in the Eastern front at any one time it's a much sharper disparity. A couple of thousand JS-IIs, a couple of hundred Tigers.

Also the T-34/ 85 could actually kill Tigers, weras the PZ IV had no chance against a JS II.

According to the film clip i linked to, General Manteuffel himself said that the JS II was superior to the Tiger I, he beat them through superior generalship. Unfortunately for the Germans the gap in quality of their officers was narrowing rapidly as the war progessed as well as the ratio of quality of their AFV's.

I'm not trying to bash the Germans, they had outstanding equipment, I just think the history we get through military history enthusiasts and mainstream education tends to really downplay the role of the Soviets in the war generally, and the remarkable quality of their armor and fighter aircraft in the last two years of the war in particular.


G.

Subotei
2010-03-04, 02:54 PM
Hmm. Are you sure? The Germans were already falling back alarming far and fast by spring 1944. While action by the Western Allies was probably necessary to give the Soviets an opening, I'm not sure a direct invasion of continental Europe was.

On the other hand, the only other major offensive-boosting efforts the Western Allies took were the campaign to support Russia with American-made goods (which probably hit full speed in 1942-43, I... think), and the air offensive, which wasn't going to be ready until 1944 any more than the Normandy landings were.

Yes, I think so. In the East the Germans had space and time to conduct defensive manoevers and counter-offensives, and also could call on reserves from the West. Once they were engaged in Normandy, they couldn't afford to fall back there, as the allies would be into the key industrial heart of Germany within weeks, and so had to commit forces to battle. Neither could they then release reserves to shore up the East when the Soviets attacked later that June. D-day made further prolonged resistance impossible, as from then on German forces were spread too thin.

I have read somewhere that the strategic bomber offensive wasn't worth the effort - if the resources were put into ship building (which the allies were always chronically lacking) and air logistical support, the war could've ended quicker. Not sure I agree with that though, for a number of reasons I wont go into.

fusilier
2010-03-04, 02:58 PM
The data is available, actually, in detail. That is what they used to make the penetration tables in the board game Advanced Squad Leader, which in turn is what a lot of the armor based computer games were closely based on (like Steel Panthers, Combat Mission, and Command and Conquer)

G.

Are these proving ground conditions, or results from battlefield studies? Both of which can suffer from different flaws. If enough data is available, you can put this together, but a wargame designer has to a.) find the data if it exists, or b.) make it up if it doesn't (and you can try some sort of mathematical analysis, but even that requires a ton of data), and c.) put it into a game framework that works. ASL certainly works, but that doesn't mean everybody wants to play it . . .

At higher levels of simulation, it's typically easier to abstract all this information into a "total unit effectiveness" value. Leading to a game that is both easier to play and accurate. At more detailed levels, I assume that various bias can and will more easily creep into the game design.

Galloglaich
2010-03-04, 03:00 PM
Good points Subotoi

Galloglaich
2010-03-04, 03:05 PM
Are these proving ground conditions, or results from battlefield studies? Both of which can suffer from different flaws. If enough data is available, you can put this together, but a wargame designer has to a.) find the data if it exists, or b.) make it up if it doesn't (and you can try some sort of mathematical analysis, but even that requires a ton of data), and c.) put it into a game framework that works.

With gun ballistics, it's pretty straitforward. This type of gun penetrates this many milimeters of armor at this range with this ammo. Sloped armor is equivalent to x number of more milimeters of thickness etc. At a given range, the gun will or wont penetrate.

Your point is valid though in that there are a lot of other areas which are much more subjective, like weapon accuracy, or effective rate of fire, or the training levels or morale of given troops, the skill of leadership.



ASL certainly works, but that doesn't mean everybody wants to play it . . .

Thats why Steel Panthers and Combat mission and Cose Combat were all essentially ASL the computer game... much easier to play when the computer does all the hard work.



At higher levels of simulation, it's typically easier to abstract all this information into a "total unit effectiveness" value. Leading to a game that is both easier to play and accurate. At more detailed levels, I assume that various bias can and will more easily creep into the game design.

Maybe. I'm not sure. I think the problem with a lot of the lower (tactical) level computer games is that they tend to be more arcade game oriented, I think computer games are generally more and more dumbed down... (personal opinion) while operational or strategic level games appeal more to hard core grognard types so they tend to uphold the older legacy of accuracy from thhe glory days of table-top wargames.

G.

Subotei
2010-03-04, 03:20 PM
Well put. The Germans didn't really win a major battle after Stalingrad in 1942. I think the most impotant US contribution was in arming the Soviets, particulalry with tanks and fighter aircraft which played a major role during the key pivotal time in the middle of the war, during Stalingrad and the siege of Leningrad etc. and with Trucks. Having relatively mobile armies was a huge advantage for the allies.

This really backs up my point that one of the biggest constraints on the war end date was shipping - as well as the western build up a hell of a lot was dedicated to supplying the Soviets.

fusilier
2010-03-04, 03:21 PM
The Stukas suffered heavily in the Battle of Britain as they were effectively obsolete with modern fighters around - they particularly suffered due to the fact they were too slow for 109s to escort them effectively - 109s had to fly slow and zig-zag which made them more likely to be bounced by the British fighters. Losses were so high they had to be kept back from the battle - they were the only air weapon likely to be effective against the British fleet, and so sufficient numbers needed to be available for protection of the invasion fleet.

Yes, but they continued to use them for a long time on other fronts. In 1943 there was even a request to have the Henschel Hs 123 put back into production. So while you're right that requiring total air superiority to operate a dive-bomber is a poor requirement, the Germans were able to continue to operate these planes for sometime . . . when the conditions allowed it. While they may have been withdrawn during the Battle of Britain due to high losses, they were still used in North Africa. (Furthermore they were very effective at anti-shipping attacks in the channel.)

I'm not saying it was some sort of wunderweapon, but that the Germans found it useful enough to continue to use it, and they did so effectively. Germany's highest scoring pilot was a Stuka pilot! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans-Ulrich_Rudel

Although by the end of the war he was flying a Fw190 on ground attack missions too.

A lot of ground attack aircraft in use after WW2, seem to suffer from the same complaints leveled against the Stuka. So perhaps good ground attack requires air superiority? Otherwise, one must resort to fighter-bomber style aircraft?


Yes the lack of a strategic bomber was a hindrance to Germany, but effective tactics could've overcome this perhaps - they were not intending to bomb Britain into submission, only suppress air defences to allow the invasion to go ahead.

My point was that the lack of a strategic bomber, is due to the lack of strategic thinking within the air force. The luftwaffe was designed to support the army in a tactical role. Strategic bombing was never really considered during its initial development.

fusilier
2010-03-04, 03:27 PM
Yes, I think so. In the East the Germans had space and time to conduct defensive manoevers and counter-offensives, and also could call on reserves from the West. Once they were engaged in Normandy, they couldn't afford to fall back there, as the allies would be into the key industrial heart of Germany within weeks, and so had to commit forces to battle. Neither could they then release reserves to shore up the East when the Soviets attacked later that June. D-day made further prolonged resistance impossible, as from then on German forces were spread too thin.

Many observers thought the war would end shortly after the Battle of Kursk (I think) in 1943. However, that may have been the case in WWI, the fanaticism that was present during WW2 meant the war would drag on for about 2 more years.

In Russia, it is Kursk, and not D-Day, that is considered the turning point of the war.

Subotei
2010-03-04, 03:35 PM
Yes, but they continued to use them for a long time on other fronts. In 1943 there was even a request to have the Henschel Hs 123 put back into production. So while you're right that requiring total air superiority to operate a dive-bomber is a poor requirement, the Germans were able to continue to operate these planes for sometime . . . when the conditions allowed it. While they may have been withdrawn during the Battle of Britain due to high losses, they were still used in North Africa. (Furthermore they were very effective at anti-shipping attacks in the channel.)

True - I was only stating what happened in the Battle of Britain. It was a poor plane to face what was probaly the most sophisticted air defence system in the world at that time, but thats not to say it didn't have successes in other theatres - Eastern Front, Africa etc where air interception was a lot, lot less effective.


My point was that the lack of a strategic bomber, is due to the lack of strategic thinking within the air force. The luftwaffe was designed to support the army in a tactical role. Strategic bombing was never really considered during its initial development.

Very true - the Army ran the show in Germany and effectively they wanted and got flying artillery, whereas the US and British Air forces had developed the down the strategic bombing path, which cost the allies dear on the ground until they got their act together later in the war.

fusilier
2010-03-04, 03:37 PM
I think that is a good point. We need to keep in mind the Germans haven't won a war since the 1880s.

Which war was that? The last major war I can think of Germany winning would be the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 (and I think it is fair to say that "Germany" won that war).



The Mosquito was many orders of magnitude superior to any German bomber.

I think this is an example of the hyperbole that encourages an overstatement of the effect that technology has on warfare.

Many orders of magnitude superior to a German WWI Zeppelin. Ok, I'll except that. But I doubt it was that much superior to a late war Ju-88, which was used in a very similar manner.

Subotei
2010-03-04, 03:55 PM
Many observers thought the war would end shortly after the Battle of Kursk (I think) in 1943. However, that may have been the case in WWI, the fanaticism that was present during WW2 meant the war would drag on for about 2 more years.

In Russia, it is Kursk, and not D-Day, that is considered the turning point of the war.

Have you read "Barbarossa" by Alan Clarke? He thought the strategic failure of the initial 1941 campaign was the turning point - after that the Germans had no chance of achieving a military outcome, and the industrial power of the USSR would ultimately tell. Each of their subsequent offensives became less massive and less effective. After Kursk they didnt have the manpower to mount summer offensives and the initiative passed to the Soviets, so I guess yes that would be a good place to call the turning point from the Soviet perspective.

I wasn't really asserting that D-day was the turning point, just that the war wouldn't have ended sooner without D-day, and the constraint was shipping.

To me the Battle of Britain is the key turning point of the war - for Hitler this was his one chance to win the war quickly. Once he called off the attack - well if you realise can't defeat your enemy, should you carry on with a war?

fusilier
2010-03-04, 04:03 PM
The Japanese are famous for it; could you expand on Italian doctrine?

Certainly, if I remember it all correctly:

The Italian platoon was divided into two sections (this gets confusing when reading English sources that I think refer to a platoon, or squad, as a section).

Each section was divided into two squads. One squad had two LMG's with riflemen carrying extra ammo. The other squad was armed with rifles and bayonets. While advancing, the LMG's would be at the front of a kind of column. Once contact with the enemy was made, the LMG squads would pin down the enemy, while the rifle squads would rush in with offensive grenades. The idea was that the assault should be quick, and the troops always maintain forward momentum. Defensive positions were supposed to be temporary, before launching the assault again.

It's probably a development of Arditi tactics from WWI. In theory it sounds very aggressive, with the "maneuver squad" not really doing much maneuvering. In practice, I don't actually know what was done, because info is so scarce, but it sounds like they were more cautious.

Also in theory, a total of 4 LMG's in the platoon gave it decent firepower in 1940, a little more than a British platoon. However, there were very few submachineguns, although in Russia it looks like at least the sergeant in each platoon had one. There were probably more smg's distributed, but they were likely to be the M1918 beretta, which, I believe was used more as a semi-auto carbine, than a proper smg.

Note that in the Spanish Civil War the Italians had the chance to put their theories to the test, and after a little tweaking they seem to have been successful (it should be further noted that this was done on a fairly small scale, something the Italians could afford from a logistics stand point). The problem is that nobody in Italy, really cared to remember the fascists, the Republicans in Spain wanted to make a big deal out of the fact that Italian expatriots defeated Mussolini's forces at the Battle of Guadalajara, and the Nationalists didn't want to admit that they needed foreign aid. As a result, there's very little info on the Italians during this time period that's easily accessible (or positive for that matter).

fusilier
2010-03-04, 04:10 PM
I wasn't really asserting that D-day was the turning point, just that the war wouldn't have ended sooner without D-day, and the constraint was shipping.

I didn't mean to imply you were asserting that D-day was the turning point, I was just trying to add some further info. Western sources seem to see D-Day as the beginning of the end, whereas Russians, see kursk as that point.


To me the Battle of Britain is the key turning point of the war - for Hitler this was his one chance to win the war quickly. Once he called off the attack - well if you realise can't defeat your enemy, should you carry on with a war?

Ah, the "end of the beginning" -- you can really keep turning things back like this in hindsight. I was involved in another discussion about WWI, and people claimed the Battle of the Marne in 1914 was the turning point! I think humans naturally look for causal chains, and of course the decisions taken at any one point are usually based upon what happened before. The inevitable result is that you will essentially get close to the beginning of any war. Then of course even before the war it can be a foregone conclusion. I personally, tend to think that looking to one factor or event that won the war is not really the correct way to go about it. These are very complicated events, and a lot of factors had to be in place for one side to win.

Subotei
2010-03-04, 04:42 PM
Ah, the "end of the beginning" -- you can really keep turning things back like this in hindsight. I was involved in another discussion about WWI, and people claimed the Battle of the Marne in 1914 was the turning point! I think humans naturally look for causal chains, and of course the decisions taken at any one point are usually based upon what happened before. The inevitable result is that you will essentially get close to the beginning of any war. Then of course even before the war it can be a foregone conclusion. I personally, tend to think that looking to one factor or event that won the war is not really the correct way to go about it. These are very complicated events, and a lot of factors had to be in place for one side to win.

Mmm Ok yes I see where you're coming from on this. Its fair to say that from that point Britain wouldn't loose the war militarily (not that there weren't any disasters), though collapse from starvation could've occurred if Hitler had really gone for a concerted blockade effort. However the German economy wasn't set up for a long war, neither were his forces, and I still think the Battle of Britain was the event which turned it from a quick war to a battle of attrition. Most likely it would peter out into a stalemate until someone developed the A bomb. A bit of a moot point anyway given Hitlers intent to attack the USSR. To attack the USSR whilst Britian was still in the fight was his most stupid decision (followed closely by declaring war on the US).

Galloglaich
2010-03-04, 04:44 PM
Yes, but they continued to use them for a long time on other fronts. In 1943 there was even a request to have the Henschel Hs 123 put back into production. So while you're right that requiring total air superiority to operate a dive-bomber is a poor requirement, the Germans were able to continue to operate these planes for sometime . . . when the conditions allowed it. Yes, when they had total air-superiority or there was zero threat of enemy fighters ... which is a severe limitation.



While they may have been withdrawn during the Battle of Britain due to high losses, they were still used in North Africa. (Furthermore they were very effective at anti-shipping attacks in the channel.)

They were mediocre in North Africa and on the Russian front, and very reliant on fighter cover... which was a particular problem for the Germans due to their principle fighter, the Me 109 being so extremely short-ranged. This effectively limited the Germans to being able to bomb only in a shallow area of a given front.



I'm not saying it was some sort of wunderweapon, but that the Germans found it useful enough to continue to use it, and they did so effectively. Germany's highest scoring pilot was a Stuka pilot! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans-Ulrich_Rudel

Rudel was a great pilot, albiet a rabid nazi long after the war, but just because he was an amazingly good pilot doens't mean the plane was amazingly good.... at least not past 1938... I mean, they sunk Battleships with the Fairey Swordfish but it was still a hopelessly obsolete bomber. An obsolete aircraft is still better than nothing, but with a modern one you are much better off.



A lot of ground attack aircraft in use after WW2, seem to suffer from the same complaints leveled against the Stuka. So perhaps good ground attack requires air superiority? Otherwise, one must resort to fighter-bomber style aircraft?

It wasn't supposed to be a ground attack aircraft actually, it was a dive bomber, it got pushed into the ground-attack role which it wasn't very good at, being poorly armed, poorly protected and not particularly agile. That is why the German army wanted the Hs 123 back and why the Germans eventually developed the HS 129, because of the huge advantage the Il2 Sturmovik gave the Russians (i.e. having a real close air support aircraft insteead of an obsolete stop-gap)

As for 'resorting' to a fighter-bomber, I think that is the wrong way to look at it. It simply turned out that fighter-bombers were the most effective tactical bombers. The Americans and British figured that out quickly... the Germans took a little longer, past the point when it was already too late.



My point was that the lack of a strategic bomber, is due to the lack of strategic thinking within the air force. The luftwaffe was designed to support the army in a tactical role. Strategic bombing was never really considered during its initial development.

One of the lessons of the war was in flexibility. Part of why the Allies won was that they ultimately proved better at adapting to the conditions of the war in a more flexible way, wheras the Germans, Italians and Japanes seemed to become more sclerotic, secret super weapons notwithstanding.

G.

fusilier
2010-03-04, 05:14 PM
Dive bombers aren't ground attack aircraft?

All the qualities of a good dive bomber, are what make it ideal for ground support. A norden bombsight might be great for bombing factory complexes, but if you're trying to knock out a particular tank, you need the precision of a dive bomber. Or, you need some kind of auto-cannon (which late models of the stuka were fitted with). Aircraft dropping bombs in a shallow dive at low level are probably decent enough, but will be exposed to AA for longer periods of time and still lack the accuracy of a dive bomber.

A very overlooked aircraft is the A-36 Apache (or Invader). A dive bomber variant of the P-51A which was very effective in this role. I would hard pressed to say that wasn't a ground attack aircraft. The Allison engine was fine at the low altitudes they typically operated at, providing a kind of fighter/dive-bomber. Even they began to suffer large losses as ground defenses improved.

Galloglaich
2010-03-04, 07:58 PM
Dive bombers aren't ground attack aircraft?

All the qualities of a good dive bomber, are what make it ideal for ground support. A norden bombsight might be great for bombing factory complexes, but if you're trying to knock out a particular tank, you need the precision of a dive bomber.

I certainly wouldn't advocate high-altitude level bombing for close-air support :)


Or, you need some kind of auto-cannon (which late models of the stuka were fitted with). Aircraft dropping bombs in a shallow dive at low level are probably decent enough, but will be exposed to AA for longer periods of time and still lack the accuracy of a dive bomber.

Actually for tanks, what turned out to be most effective were rockets. For infantry, thickened gasoline or what later came to be called napalm.

Heavy guns were good too, especially if you could aim them, but the 37mm gun-pods they stuck on the Stuka were less than ideal.

There is overlap between dive-bombers and ground attack aircraft but they are not the same thing. Dive-bombers are ideal for a small number of high value targets, like ships or critical gun emplacements. Close-air support aircraft need a long loiter time, easy handling, to be extremely sturdy and well protected, heavy armament, a stable gun platform, and a very large payload.



A very overlooked aircraft is the A-36 Apache (or Invader). A dive bomber variant of the P-51A which was very effective in this role. I would hard pressed to say that wasn't a ground attack aircraft. The Allison engine was fine at the low altitudes they typically operated at, providing a kind of fighter/dive-bomber. Even they began to suffer large losses as ground defenses improved.

It's a fighter bomber. Most fighter-bombers could dive bomb actually, they also did high-speed low-altitude level bombing attacks.

Mustangs were used in this role long after the A-36, but they were not ideal as due to their weight and laminar flow wings they were a little 'twitchy' at low altitude, and being an inline-engined plane with an unprotected radiator in the middle of the fuselage, vulnerable to even small caliber AAA. That is why they preferred to use the Corsair during the Korean War.

G.

fusilier
2010-03-04, 09:50 PM
I certainly wouldn't advocate high-altitude level bombing for close-air support :)

The USAAF tried that once . . .




Actually for tanks, what turned out to be most effective were rockets. For infantry, thickened gasoline or what later came to be called napalm.

Heavy guns were good too, especially if you could aim them, but the 37mm gun-pods they stuck on the Stuka were less than ideal.

According to the wiki entry for the il-2, rockets were so inaccurate that they were difficult to use against tanks, so they preferred to use cannon. Although, it also classifies the plane as a dive bomber. So I am under the impression that they would probably use up their bombs first, then switch to guns/cannons/rockets. (I suspect most pilots don't want to be taking any more AA with a bombload than they need to).



There is overlap between dive-bombers and ground attack aircraft but they are not the same thing. Dive-bombers are ideal for a small number of high value targets, like ships or critical gun emplacements. Close-air support aircraft need a long loiter time, easy handling, to be extremely sturdy and well protected, heavy armament, a stable gun platform, and a very large payload.

Ok, I can accept that, but I'm not entirely sure I agree with your delineation between dive bomber and ground attack. At least I know what you mean.

Referring to the A-36

It's a fighter bomber. Most fighter-bombers could dive bomb actually, they also did high-speed low-altitude level bombing attacks.

For example, this plane was classified as a dive-bomber by the US Army (most fighter bombers retained P classifications). Although the A classification could be used on a wide range of aircraft, basically light-bombers to ground attack. At the very least it shows that dive bombers were considered ground attack aircraft in the USAAF.

The wikipedia entry for the il-2 also states that it suffered from heavy losses. Although it then says that the rear gunner was introduced to help combat this, it doesn't say how effective it was. I think any ground attack aircraft is going to have difficulty when it comes up against organized enemy air-defense (in both ground based AA, and enemy aircraft). I don't think A-10s (tough as they are) would be terribly effective without at least a measure of local air superiority.

Galloglaich
2010-03-05, 01:02 AM
I think you are right about close air support aircraft, like the Junkers JI.1 in WW I, the Il2, the Hs 129 in WW II, the A-1 Skyraider in Korea and Vietnam, the A-10, the Sukhoi Su-25, and our various helicopter gunships today. They are specialized purpose-built close-air-support aircraft. They have a lot of things in common that define this specialization, long loiter time, good armor protection, durable construction, easy handling, heavy payload.

A good plane, to me, is either an aircraft that is either very good as a specialist (as an interceptor, a night-fighter, a recon or close-air-support plane) or as a general aircraft, i.e. a fighter, a light bomber, a medium or heavy bomber, etc., should be good in several roles. Like the mosquito which was excellent as a night-fighter, as a night-intruder, as a recon plane, as a precision daylight bomber, and as a fighter-bomber. In every case with a high survivability, extreme range, good high altitude performance, and high cruising and combat speed which gave it an edge.

By say, 1942, I just don't think the Stuka, as much as you may like it, really qualified as a front-line aircraft. By 1944 it was a death-trap.

Just like the P-40, I like the plane a lot in 1942, but it was obsolete by 1943. They still got good use of it in the CBI into 1944, but it was obsolete. Or the Corsair. It was a tough fighter in WW II, it was obsolete in the Korean war, they found good use for it as a ground-attack aircraft but it wasn't really suited to the task. The A-1 Skyraider was better suited.

Rockets were generally preferred to kill tanks I think, for the Western allies as well as the Russians, but there were many ways to skin a cat (or a panther)

I found this interview with an Il2 pilot who claimed cluster bombs worked best.

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=79&t=79862

G.

Ozymandias9
2010-03-05, 01:38 AM
In my (admittedly limited) experience with European swordsmanship, it doesn't make an appearance in any major manuscript.

It's actually an incredibly crappy way of using a sword. You're not making use of its full length and cutting ability, and you have next to no ability to generate power.

A couple pages old, but since I just saw it: I do recall some references to a reversed grip in early renaissance swordsmanship, but mostly in a second hand for purposes of parrying. It was replaced, handily though: the trident dagger provided a more sophisticated option, combed sword-breaker daggers provided a simpler one, and lined cloaks provided a flashier method.

Dervag
2010-03-05, 04:57 AM
The Mosquito was many orders of magnitude superior to any German bomber.Now, I don't disagree that the Mosquito was very good. However, I must question whether it was "many orders of magnitude" better. For example, was one Mosquito worth 1000 Stukas? I think not. And yet that is only three orders of magnitude, and "many" is traditionally defined as "more than three."


That is probably a fair statement I think. But also, when comparing armor and guns, where it may be parity, you also have to consider things like off-road mobility where the Russians were clearly superior, and mechanical reliability.OK, but at that point you're getting into details. The Germans had superior... we need a word for tank equipment equivalent to "avionics" for aircraft, for instance. Hence, near-parity, with different advantages on both sides- while the Russians had a truly overwhelming quantitative edge.


I like the BT-7 too (it has an interesting design history!), and even the T-60, but i don't think they were hugely better than their German equivalents...Yes. That's the point. It's biased to cite German weapons and then compare them only to the enemy's superior weapons, without bothering to mention the cases where an enemy used a comparable or inferior weapon.


they were faster and the BT-7 had a bigger gun but IIRC poor armor and apparently difficult command and control due to their small turrets...? they were also used more in the early part of the war (before the T-34 etc.) I think (?) which was when the Soviet army was still much inferior to the Germans in organization and discipline etc.The BT's remained in service until 1944, but that was mostly because in wartime you never throw away a tank until it's destroyed in battle or so useless that it's guaranteed to be destroyed in battle the next time you try to use it.

Autolykos
2010-03-05, 05:34 AM
A couple pages old, but since I just saw it: I do recall some references to a reversed grip in early renaissance swordsmanship, but mostly in a second hand for purposes of parrying. It was replaced, handily though: the trident dagger provided a more sophisticated option, combed sword-breaker daggers provided a simpler one, and lined cloaks provided a flashier method.Yeah, for defense purposes (or disturbing the enemy) that's somewhat plausible. In Escrima it's quite popular to keep the scabbard of a machete in your off-hand after drawing it (so the scabbard is kinda in a reverse grip). It can be used to confuse the enemy (here the unusual grip is probably an advantage), and it protects the off-arm which (for example) gives a chance to close in, drop the scabbard and try to disarm the enemy - also arms and hands are prime targets in Escrima since they are most exposed.
For the main weapon I don't see any advantage in a reverse grip (except for knives, but that's another story - and even there a sword-like grip is usually the better option IMHO).

Yora
2010-03-05, 06:00 AM
I didn't mean to imply you were asserting that D-day was the turning point, I was just trying to add some further info. Western sources seem to see D-Day as the beginning of the end, whereas Russians, see kursk as that point.
Germans remember D-Day only because of american movies. In light of the battles at the eastern front and on german territory, France is remembered rather as a secondary theatre, and few people in germany even know about any invasion of italy. Ask any German, and Stalingrad will be claimed to be the point where things went downhill. I don't know if it was of any real strategical importance, but psychologically it was a massive disaster and the beginning of the end. Which is probably exactly the same reason why americans remeber D-Day and russians remember Kursk. I don't think more than 1 in 10 germans born after 1940 even know heard about Kursk.

Galloglaich
2010-03-05, 09:22 AM
Yeah, for defense purposes (or disturbing the enemy) that's somewhat plausible. In Escrima it's quite popular to keep the scabbard of a machete in your off-hand after drawing it (so the scabbard is kinda in a reverse grip). It can be used to confuse the enemy (here the unusual grip is probably an advantage), and it protects the off-arm which (for example) gives a chance to close in, drop the scabbard and try to disarm the enemy - also arms and hands are prime targets in Escrima since they are most exposed.
For the main weapon I don't see any advantage in a reverse grip (except for knives, but that's another story - and even there a sword-like grip is usually the better option IMHO).

Yeah I don't know of any Reniassance fencing manual where you hold a sword in a reverse grip.

Using the scabbard for defense does exist, as does using a cloak, (very popular in the 16th-17th C. manuals) a dagger, various other implements.

G.

Galloglaich
2010-03-05, 09:27 AM
Now, I don't disagree that the Mosquito was very good. However, I must question whether it was "many orders of magnitude" better. For example, was one Mosquito worth 1000 Stukas? I think not. And yet that is only three orders of magnitude, and "many" is traditionally defined as "more than three."

You are right I was misusing the term 'orders of magnitude'. I think a mosquito was probably worth maybe 10 Stukas, because it could attack unescorted, it was effective for recon and night-fighting, because it had much longer range, because it was much faster. However many orders of magnitude that means.

It would be interesting to compare their loss-ratios. An aircraft which can fly 50 missions before being replaced (or losing an aircrew) is at least five times as good as one which can fly 10 missions before being lost. In theory at least, for a bomber, an aircraft which can hit targets 500 miles away is twice or three times as good as one which can only hit targets 100 miles away. An aircraft which can fly 80% of the missions you need it to (because it doesnt require fighter escort) is more valuable than one which is limited to 10% because it does (and you have limited fighters to fly escort missions).



OK, but at that point you're getting into details. The Germans had superior... we need a word for tank equipment equivalent to "avionics" for aircraft, for instance. Hence, near-parity, with different advantages on both sides- while the Russians had a truly overwhelming quantitative edge.

I think that is reasonable in a very general sense, but it's also somewhat misleading by the last say six months of the war the Russians were fielding tanks and tank destroyers which on the main factors, i.e. armor and main gun, were significantly better than what the Germans had available. T-34 / 85 is probably twice as good as a Pz IV, JS - II is at least half again as tough as a panther, and marginally better than a tiger. Su - 100 was arguably half again as good as a Tiger.



Yes. That's the point. It's biased to cite German weapons and then compare them only to the enemy's superior weapons, without bothering to mention the cases where an enemy used a comparable or inferior weapon.

Well I just don't think light tanks were that significant.



The BT's remained in service until 1944, but that was mostly because in wartime you never throw away a tank until it's destroyed in battle or so useless that it's guaranteed to be destroyed in battle the next time you try to use it.

Interesting, I thought most of them were destroyed by 1944.

G.

Galloglaich
2010-03-05, 09:36 AM
Germans remember D-Day only because of american movies. In light of the battles at the eastern front and on german territory, France is remembered rather as a secondary theatre, and few people in germany even know about any invasion of italy. Ask any German, and Stalingrad will be claimed to be the point where things went downhill. I don't know if it was of any real strategical importance, but psychologically it was a massive disaster and the beginning of the end. Which is probably exactly the same reason why americans remeber D-Day and russians remember Kursk. I don't think more than 1 in 10 germans born after 1940 even know heard about Kursk.

I think for most military historians Stalingrad was the major turning point of the war in Europe. This was also the key point when the Yak-1B, the T-34 and KV tanks, the Katyushka Rocket and the PPsh submachinegun were introduced en-masse. This was a major change in how war went on the Eastern front from that point onward, and it never let up... the Russians had never fielded more than a few platoons of T-34s until their big effort to isolate the 6th Army at Stalingrad, when they introduced 800 of them all at once. Same with the Katyushka rockets, it went from a few dozen at any one time to a couple of thousand all at once. It was all timed perfectly to coincide when the winter was hitting hardest and the Germans were stretched beyond the superhuman breaking point. The Russians have a word for this type of decisive counterpunch, I can't remember it now...

As for national memories, D-Day and Ardennes Offensive were probably the most signfiicant for Americans, as well as Anzio in Italy; Battle of Britain and El-Alemain for the British.... and Market Garden though they would rather forget it.

G.

Galloglaich
2010-03-05, 09:39 AM
The USAAF tried that once . . .

They actually tried it over and over, and it was a disaster almost every time.

G.

Mike_G
2010-03-05, 12:09 PM
Germans remember D-Day only because of american movies. In light of the battles at the eastern front and on german territory, France is remembered rather as a secondary theatre, and few people in germany even know about any invasion of italy. Ask any German, and Stalingrad will be claimed to be the point where things went downhill. I don't know if it was of any real strategical importance, but psychologically it was a massive disaster and the beginning of the end. Which is probably exactly the same reason why americans remeber D-Day and russians remember Kursk. I don't think more than 1 in 10 germans born after 1940 even know heard about Kursk.

The Normandy invasion was a major factor in that it did open another front, tied up a lot of German units and put the Allies very close to the German homeland. Losses aside, how many divisions, and how many gallon of gas were tied up trying to stop the Americans and British in France and Holland?

The Eastern Front was where the bulk of German resources were concentrated, and probably where they lost the war, but one cannot discount the effect of turning France from a place to rest and refit units for deployment East to a drain on manpower, tanks, ammunition and fuel that could have been used to hold back the Soviets and perhaps buy a negotiated peace that didn't involve T43's rolling through Berlin and Russian soldiers extracting payback from the citizens of Germany.

Dervag
2010-03-05, 01:21 PM
Germans remember D-Day only because of american movies. In light of the battles at the eastern front and on german territory, France is remembered rather as a secondary theatre, and few people in germany even know about any invasion of italy. Ask any German, and Stalingrad will be claimed to be the point where things went downhill. I don't know if it was of any real strategical importance, but psychologically it was a massive disaster and the beginning of the end. Which is probably exactly the same reason why americans remeber D-Day and russians remember Kursk. I don't think more than 1 in 10 germans born after 1940 even know heard about Kursk.Strategically, Stalingrad was where the Germans stopped winning. The winter counterattack (which is how the 6th Army was cut off and destroyed) was when the Germans started losing. Kursk, meanwhile, was where the Germans lost the ability to win.

At Kursk, the Wehrmacht concentrated everything it had, threw all its reserves at a valuable target... and failed completely, because the Russians saw it coming a thousand kilometers away and piled up more force than the Germans could possibly beat. After Kursk, no one really believed that the Germans being able to do anything other than retreat and lose the war.

However, you can make an excellent case for Stalingrad being the turning point, precisely because it had such an enormous effect on German psychology and cost them a large amount of assets that set them up for defeat all along the front in 1943.


You are right I was misusing the term 'orders of magnitude'. I think a mosquito was probably worth maybe 10 Stukas, because it could attack unescorted, it was effective for recon and night-fighting, because it had much longer range, because it was much faster. However many orders of magnitude that means.One. "Order of magnitude" is sciencese for "factor of ten."

I'd question even that; it's a quantity/quality thing. If the Germans had replaced their entire Stuka force with 10% as many Mosquitos, for example, it is very unlikely that they would have done better, and they probably would have done much worse.


It would be interesting to compare their loss-ratios. An aircraft which can fly 50 missions before being replaced (or losing an aircrew) is at least five times as good as one which can fly 10 missions before being lost.But that depends heavily on combat conditions. Imagine both sides use identical aircraft, but one side has twice as many of them and therefore has air superiority. The guys with the small air force lose a plane after X missions; the guys with the large air force lose a plane after 2X (or, more likely, 4X missions). Does that mean that the same plane is two or four times better in Bigistani service than it is in the Ducal Air Force of the Duchy of Littleburg?


Well I just don't think light tanks were that significant.Obviously you are not looking at the war from an infantry perspective...

As a reference, the only thing I can suggest is this discussion thread (http://www.tboverse.us/HPCAFORUM/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=4823&sid=b354c63e45d2a0be2f9fb2c90409e5f5) on another forum (if you can't view it, I'm sorry and will edit this post accordingly). The issue of how tank numbers matter compared to tank firepower and armor protection came up in the context of the Sherman.

The most relevant bits are (spoilered for length):



The infantry did not mind waiting a couple of hours for artillery, tanks, air or anything else to bust a couple of bunkers. Having your Shermans make repeated direct hits on the armour of Panthers or Tigers lowered morale and caused great lost of life. Even upgrading to the 17 pounder would have make the tank battles much cheaper in lives and tanks lost.Please excuse but YES WE BLOODY DO When are pinned down with butt in the mud we want support and want it now. Not in two hours or one hour or ten minutes but now. If we must wait for two hours then do not bother to send support for will be nobody left alive to support. To be pinned down by bunker fire is only the start. Once we cannot move defenders will bring down artillery and mortar fire on us until there is nothing left. Why you think infantry units have mortars?

Also point of Sherman was there were enough so were around when needed. American infantry battalion commander ask for Sherman tank support he gets it. German infantry battalion ask for Panther tank support his commander roll on floor laughing then give him urine test. This is key thing. Sherman was there when needed. Panther was not. And for infantry support critical thing is HE round not AP. Then can use HE fire to suppress bunkers while we get moving to penetrate defense. Do not think there was 17 pounder HE round.

Sherman was best tank of WW2. Were 52,000 of them.


But please do not be to hard on(Person without Combat Experience). Few civilians understand what a firefight is like. They think they know but do not. Those who play wargames are perhaps worst of these for they know enough of theory to think they understand what is happening but do not understand the real. (War Planner without Combat Experience) is same. He know all about theory of what happen can talk command control can talk technology can talk how to make decisions. But he have no idea how all these work in battle at small unit level. (WPwCE) would be great general but very bad lieutenant :smallbiggrin:. Must apologize to (Other Person) now for mentioning this again but once was in hasty defense when were two tanks on other side. Comets. With 17 pounders. Think is 17 pounder? Anyway they were upriver from us shelling position on other side. (WPwCE) ask why nobody use LAW or RPG on these our infantry have both. Have to tell him that just was not possible. For sure we have these in theory but reality of situation is cannot use. Too much covering fire. Was only when platoon of M41s of ours move up that situation change. Important thing of this one was how small number of tanks dominate action. Two on their side four on ours. Yet we cannot force decision until their tanks are driven off. And both M41 and Comet are much weaker than main battle tanks used today.

(Screen names removed for privacy's sake)

This is an example of what I'm talking about. Even for a semi-modern infantry force liberally equipped with antitank rocket launchers, the presence of a pair of enemy tanks- fragile tanks compared to the available weapons- was decisive... and the arrival of a quartet of even lighter friendly tanks turned what was shaping up to be a decisive defeat into a victory.

This kind of thing would be even more common during the Second World War, when many infantry forces were still without useful antitank weapons. Any tank, by virtue of acting as a machine gun and cannon platform immune to small arms fire, will have a major effect on what is by default an all-infantry battle.

The tank in question might be a flimsy joke by the standards of great tank battles like Prokhorovka. But on the strategic scale, the widespread availability of light to medium armor for infantry support is likely to be at least as significant as the narrowspread availability of a handful of tanks that can individually kill any enemy tank on the field... in the few locations where one of them can be found.

So ignoring the Soviet light armor might not be such a good idea.


Interesting, I thought most of them were destroyed by 1944.Well, that would tend to explain why they stopped using BT-7s in 1944...

Tyndmyr
2010-03-05, 02:00 PM
A couple pages old, but since I just saw it: I do recall some references to a reversed grip in early renaissance swordsmanship, but mostly in a second hand for purposes of parrying. It was replaced, handily though: the trident dagger provided a more sophisticated option, combed sword-breaker daggers provided a simpler one, and lined cloaks provided a flashier method.

Is not Florentine style one sword held normally, and one reverse? I admit, I don't know how frequently it was used, but it wasn't just for parrying. If it were, it would be immediately eclipsed by sword and board, since a sword used only defensively is a very poor shield, covering much less area.

Hades
2010-03-05, 02:10 PM
It's my understanding that "Florentine style" doesn't actually exist, historically. What you could have were a "case" of rapiers (two rapiers used at once, both held normally), but this was pretty rare, perhaps more of an exhibition sort of deal (look how awesome this fencer is!).

Tyndmyr
2010-03-05, 02:29 PM
I'd heard it was a normal fighting style, but a sword and a dagger was much more common than two actual swords. The term itself is probably modern, though. Terminology with regards to medival fighting often is.

Granted, dual wielding was fairly exceptional at all back then...most people weren't likely to even own two swords. Plus, not having a shield left you essentially a sitting duck for archery.

Edit: I wouldn't be surprised if an oriental style existed in which a reverse grip was used at some point, given that they tended to experiment with a decent variety of stances and styles, but it'd also be rare there...certainly not what we think of as a normal samurai style.

Britter
2010-03-05, 03:03 PM
Using a katana with a reverse grip is a great way to invalidate all of the advantages of the weapon, honestly. There are a few exceptions, I am sure. The two that I have personally trained in both come from techniques where you draw with a reverse grip. One of those is at close range, drawing with a reverse grip and cutting the opponents throat, while the second involves drawing with a reverse grip to thrust into the foot of someone who is holding you by an arm or shoulder. In both cases, the followup movement is to esthablish a normal grip and exectue a finishing cut in a normal manner.

Now, with shorter weapons, such as knives/daggers/tanto and truncheons/jutte, you will see the reverse grip used, but those weapons are operating on different ranges and principles, and could be considered more versatile than a katana.

In my experience, within the context of Japanesse swordsmanship, the reverse grip as a primary method belongs in Zatoichi movies and ninja fiction. It looks pretty cool, but you would get butchered if you tried to fight that way.

Edit: here's some video that shows the use of katana, jutte, and short sword. This might help show how a shorter weapons being used in reverse grip makes some sense. I don't train in this style, but it is taught by a very well respected and competent fellow, and he also happens to be one of the fastest swordsmen I have ever seen.

Here is an example of katana used against katana.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVuGDcggm44&feature=related

Katana used against truncheon. You can see the use of reverse grip as a disarming device and as a way of reinforcing what would otherwise be weaker blocks

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zx5uAAY6_UA&feature=related

JaronK
2010-03-05, 03:19 PM
Florentine style just means dual wielding. Reversing the grip has nothing to do with that word, as I understand it.

And reversing the grip, from what I know, is more about throwing something surprising into your style that your opponent doesn't know how to deal with. It's weaker than holding your swords normally, but it's a bit unexpected, so it's something you can try against experienced opponents if you really want. I wouldn't really recommend it as a main style though. It limits your range, forces you to almost exclusively actively block with that hand (as opposed to simply holding the sword where it protects you), and limits your attack options. It's just not necessary.

JaronK

Subotei
2010-03-05, 03:21 PM
At Kursk, the Wehrmacht concentrated everything it had, threw all its reserves at a valuable target... and failed completely, because the Russians Ultra saw it coming a thousand kilometers away and piled up more force than the Germans could possibly beat. After Kursk, no one really believed that the Germans being able to do anything other than retreat and lose the war.

Got that one for you :smallwink:


The most relevant bits are....

The tank in question might be a flimsy joke by the standards of great tank battles like Prokhorovka. But on the strategic scale, the widespread availability of light to medium armor for infantry support is likely to be at least as significant as the narrowspread availability of a handful of tanks that can individually kill any enemy tank on the field... in the few locations where one of them can be found.

So ignoring the Soviet light armor might not be such a good idea.

An excellent point - well made, Sir. Quantity has a quality all of its own, I believe Stalin said. Tank Vs Tank the Sherman may have been inferior, but lets not forget 90% of the German Army was infantry, and in war its not meant to be a fair fight.


Well, that would tend to explain why they stopped using BT-7s in 1944...

More likely they had enough T-34s to go round by then, and it would simplify logistics by not having different spares, ammo etc.

Galloglaich
2010-03-05, 07:36 PM
I'd question even that; it's a quantity/quality thing. If the Germans had replaced their entire Stuka force with 10% as many Mosquitos, for example, it is very unlikely that they would have done better, and they probably would have done much worse.

But that depends heavily on combat conditions. Imagine both sides use identical aircraft, but one side has twice as many of them and therefore has air superiority. The guys with the small air force lose a plane after X missions; the guys with the large air force lose a plane after 2X (or, more likely, 4X missions). Does that mean that the same plane is two or four times better in Bigistani service than it is in the Ducal Air Force of the Duchy of Littleburg?

Lets break this down a bit further.

Lets say Bigistani has 100 Stukas in Theater at the start of a Summer offensive. The DAF has 10 Mosquitos.

Both are flying 5 missions per month, per aircraft, a very moderate number, in support of their armies. Both nations have roughly the same production capacity and can send one aircraft per week to the front lines in this sector as a replacement.

Now according to these websites:
http://www.2worldwar2.com/bombers.htm
http://www.dhmosquito.com/
http://www.rodanair.ca/mosq.html

...the Mosquito had the lowest loss rate of any Allied bomber (and the highest precision). The actual percentage, according to this book (http://books.google.com/books?id=6nbDN5fUkyMC&pg=PA58&lpg=PA58&dq=mosquito+bomber+loss+rate&source=bl&ots=1aLe30bhe_&sig=LiqClssHk4OCX2hbKAJZg6aX6XU&hl=en&ei=bpqRS6CnCMiY8Abfv4lW&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CBsQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=mosquito%20bomber%20loss%20rate&f=false) was 0.63%.
Now we know by comparison the Stuka had a high loss rate. I found some discussion threads which had estimates between 7.9% and 21% (at the height of the Battle of Britain). But lets say 5% average.

So to crunch the numbers. 5 missions per month, per aircraft...

May
In the first month Bigistani flies 500 missions, losing 25 aircraft. They get 4 replacements. They now have 79 left.

DAF meanwhile has flown only 50 missions, but only loses 1 Mosquito (actually 0.315), and gain 4 replacements. Now they have 13.

June

Bigistani flies 395 missions, losing 20 aircraft (19.75). With their replacements they now have 63 Stukas remaining.

DAF flies 65 missions. Lose 0 this month (averaging for the last month) and gain 4, now they are up to 17 Mosquitoes.

But by now, the DAF has located all the Bigistani bases. They are able to devote 10 of their missions to raids on Bigistani airfields. These raids are able to destroy an additional 5 Stukas. Now Bigistani has 59 Stukas remaining.

The DAF bases of course, are positioned outside the range of the Stuka so Bigistani cannot retaliate.

July

Bigistani flies 295 missions, losing 15 aircraft (14.75). They gain 4 replacements but lose another 5 to Mosquito raids again, bringing them down to 43 Stukas.

DAF flies 85 missions, losing 1 aircraft. Adding 4 replacements brings them up to 20 Mosquitoes.

August
Bigistani flies 215 missions, losing 11 Stukas (10.75), they gain 4 replacements but lose another 5 to air raids. They are now down to 31 Stukas.

DAF flies 100 missions, losing 1 aircraft. 4 replacements brings them up to 23 Mosquitoes.

September
Bigistani flies 155 missions. 8 Stukas are shot down. They get 4 replacements and lose 5 aircraft to raids. They are now down to 22 Stukas. Morale has begun to decline in the Stuka air-wing which has lost many of it's skilled aircrew during the summer offensive...

DAF flies 115 missions, still losing only 1 aircraft. Their 4 replacements bring them up to 26 Mosquitoes. They now outnumber Bigistani in bombers.

Now Bigistani flew an impressive 1560 missions, while the DAF flew only 350. The Duchy's armor and infantry divisions took a pounding from the Bigistani Stukas, and lost a lot of ground over the summer. But winter is coming now, and the DAF airforce now out-numbers Bigistani in this Theater, and they also have a higher morale in their bomber forces. What's more, they have been able to fly many more types of missions, disrupting communications and supply lines, even deep raids all the way back to the Bigistani capital. They can fly unescorted, which means they can use more of their fighters for air-defense, to attack Bigistani Stukas, and as fighter-bombers.

Bigistani meanwhile has been essentially limited to close-air-support and some shallow raids near the front. They have lost more fighters to the DAF because escort missions are dangerous. Many of their crew are dead, others are losing morale, except for Hans Ulrech Rudel who is becoming a fanatical stuka experten and still flies despite severe injuries, with two wooden legs. But he alone cannot carry the squadron.

I think Bigistani has blown it's wad, they were tough right out the gate with their so-called "krieg-blitz" tactics, but they were very rough to the Littleburg civilians and resistance has stiffened. Some people think the tide of the war is turning, and Bigistani is now going to start losing ground. Over time, if they stick with the Stuka, they may be in serious trouble. In fact if the war drags on another year or two, the 10 Mosquitoes may turn out to be a much wiser investment than 100 Stukas. Maybe even by another order of magnitude...

G.

Dervag
2010-03-06, 12:05 AM
An excellent point - well made, Sir. Quantity has a quality all of its own, I believe Stalin said. Tank Vs Tank the Sherman may have been inferior, but lets not forget 90% of the German Army was infantry, and in war its not meant to be a fair fight.Thing is, "quantity has a quality all its own" is so often imagined as meaning "Our ten thousand tanks will overwhelm their two thousand!" In practice, it's at least as likely to mean "Our ten thousand tanks mean that in hundreds of battles, some of our tanks will physically show up, while none of the enemy's tanks will be there at all!"


More likely they had enough T-34s to go round by then, and it would simplify logistics by not having different spares, ammo etc.Could be both. For a force of 5000 BT-7s, it's worth maintaining the spares and ammo for them. After heavy attrition in years of intense combat, you're down to a much smaller force... at which point you start thinking seriously about retiring the last few hundred, or however many are left.


Lets break this down a bit further...Galloglaich, forgive me, but this scenario strikes me as... well, painfully contrived. Reasons:

1)You're using the loss rate for Mosquitos that historically flew many of their missions against relatively soft targets (deep precision strikes) or in friendly airspace (night fighters), against an enemy whose fighter force was vitally needed elsewhere. And comparing it to the loss rate for Stukas that historically went after heavily defended targets over the front lines, in the thick of enemy fighter activity. If Mosquitos had been used for close air support, you can bet that a lot more Mosquitos would have been shot down.

2)You're giving a nation which somehow amassed 100 Stukas identical ability to replace Stukas as a nation which could only amass 10 Mosquitos to replace Mosquitos. This artificially inflates the qualitative advantage by making it trivial for the Ducal Air Force to replace their (rare) loses to their small force: they have to suffer 10% casualties to lose one plane, and you're giving them the ability to replace 40% casualties a month, while the Bigistanis get the ability to replace 4% casualties a month.

That's not a reasonable comparison: if one Mosquito is worth ten Stukas, then getting one Mosquito delivered to the front should be worth getting ten Stukas delivered to the front, and the DAF should still come out even if the Bigistanis can build Stukas ten times faster than the Duchy can build Mosquitos.

3)You're neglecting the same factor that arises with tanks that I pointed out earlier: as often as not, it's not a question of whether to get a good bomber or a bad bomber, but of whether to get any bomber or no bomber. Littlebergian troops who want close air support and generals who want targets fifty kilometers behind the front destroyed will get virtually none of what they want from the Ducal Air Force, which is flying an average of about 1.5 sorties a day. Bigistani ground forces are far more likely to get the support they need, because their nation's air force doesn't consist of less than a dozen planes optimized for heavily planned deep penetration air raids.
_______

All told, this strikes me as an extremely contrived scenario, one that was, if not intentionally rigged, unintentionally biased to optimize the Mosquitos' simulated capabilities while ignoring the effect of the Stukas on the tactical and operational levels, and the impact of that effect on the overall war. So I'm not convinced.

Galloglaich
2010-03-06, 12:43 AM
Galloglaich, forgive me, but this scenario strikes me as... well, painfully contrived. Reasons:

1)You're using the loss rate for Mosquitos that historically flew many of their missions against relatively soft targets (deep precision strikes) or in friendly airspace (night fighters), against an enemy whose fighter force was vitally needed elsewhere. And comparing it to the loss rate for Stukas that historically went after heavily defended targets over the front lines, in the thick of enemy fighter activity. If Mosquitos had been used for close air support, you can bet that a lot more Mosquitos would have been shot down.

I never said the Mosquitos would be used exclusively for close air support. I think because they had a lot of versatility, they would do a variety of missions, some CAS some intruder missions, some raids etc., flying at a much higher speed and therefore safer (much like the fighter bombers the Allies used to such excellent effect). Speaking of which, because the Mosquito can fly many unescorted missions, the DAF fighters can be used for CAS missions as well as fighter-bombers.

The bottom line is, the Mosquito had a reputation for being very good at surviving missions, including bombing missions in some of the most dangerous and daring raids of the war. The Stuka had the opposite reputation. The Stuka was simply too slow to be safe in an unescorted bombing raid.



2)You're giving a nation which somehow amassed 100 Stukas identical ability to replace Stukas as a nation which could only amass 10 Mosquitos to replace Mosquitos. This artificially inflates the qualitative advantage by making it trivial for the Ducal Air Force to replace their (rare) loses to their small force: they have to suffer 10% casualties to lose one plane, and you're giving them the ability to replace 40% casualties a month, while the Bigistanis get the ability to replace 4% casualties a month.

I think it's you that is bending things here. Why would you assume that the production rates would be drastically different? The 10 to 100 odds were simply to illustrate a point. The math would have been even harsher for the Stuka side if they had started out with equal numbers (which in fact was the case since the Germans were fighting against much larger economies).

In this scenario, the other 90 Mosquitoes could have been used for Strategic bombing, recon, or on another front. Or maybe they had just gotten a slower start at producing weapons (as in fact was the case in the war) and had to catch up.

The point is, all things being equal, a factory can produce only so many aircraft once the war has started. The mosquito in fact was made from non strategic materials (wood!) to be cheaper to produce. It was quite cheap to produce by WW Ii standards. The leaders of each nation choose whether to produce an obsolete bomber (a Stuka) or a modern one like a Mosquito.

I just checked the wikis. Interesting facts:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Havilland_Mosquito

Total Mosquito production was 7781 of which 6710 were built during the war

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Junkers_Ju_87


An estimated 6,500 Ju 87s of all versions were built between 1936 and August 1944.

Not saying it proves anything, there were many factors, the British had financial and material support from the US, but the Stuka was also in production for much longer. All in all I think it equals out but you may disagree.



That's not a reasonable comparison: if one Mosquito is worth ten Stukas, then getting one Mosquito delivered to the front should be worth getting ten Stukas delivered to the front, and the DAF should still come out even if the Bigistanis can build Stukas ten times faster than the Duchy can build Mosquitos.

I really can't follow this logic. Why would a Stuka be built ten times faster? I don't think that is realistic. Even if you said the Stukas came out twice as fast, the higher loss rate would mean the Mosquito would eventually be the better bet. Actually I think Stukas were a big waste of materials, they kept putting larger and larger engines in them in the forlorn hopes of improving performance (the same engines which could have gone into high performance fighters, 1400 hp and more), but it never helped.



3)You're neglecting the same factor that arises with tanks that I pointed out earlier: as often as not, it's not a question of whether to get a good bomber or a bad bomber, but of whether to get any bomber or no bomber. Littlebergian troops who want close air support and generals who want targets fifty kilometers behind the front destroyed will get virtually none of what they want from the Ducal Air Force, which is flying an average of about 1.5 sorties a day. Bigistani ground forces are far more likely to get the support they need, because their nation's air force doesn't consist of less than a dozen planes optimized for heavily planned deep penetration air raids.

Yes, in the scenario above the Stuka side has the advantage initially, but due to the higher attrition rate, the Mosquito side will ultimately win out because there will be more Mosquitos than Stukas, not to mention more trained aircrews. This is exactly in fact what happened historically in WW II. Both the Japanese and Germans had qualitative and quantitative advantages in aircraft in the beginning, especially with fighters, but they failed to modernize fast enough, thinking they could rely on their old designs, while the Allies modernized as quickly as possible. This left them with increasingly obsolete designs increasingly manned by quickly (badly) trained crew.



All told, this strikes me as an extremely contrived scenario, one that was, if not intentionally rigged, unintentionally biased to optimize the Mosquitos' simulated capabilities while ignoring the effect of the Stukas on the tactical and operational levels, and the impact of that effect on the overall war. So I'm not convinced.

I'm not surprised you aren't convinced, nobody wants to be wrong in an argument me included.

But it's not contrived. It's just an effort to show you (and others reading the thread) how attrition can effect the overall numbers. I just took the example you created and ran with it. Yes, quantity has a quality all it's own, as Stalin famously said, but with technology there is a limit to that where you start to get diminishing returns. With aircraft and tanks especially. (more on the latter in another post)

And for the record, I respect your knowledge on WW II aviation, and Fusiliers as well. It's nice to find people who are informed on these subjects, as they are fascinating. We all have our opinions formed over years of pouring over books etc., and we are bound to disagree, but I don't take it personally (and I'm ok with people thinking my theories are blinkered). But I'm also going to defend my points, because they are not just made up out of thin air.

G.

Mike_G
2010-03-06, 12:45 AM
I would like to add that, as an infantry Marine, I would be thrilled to get support from a hot air balloon if I were pinned down by superior numbers of enemy infantry.

Light tanks or obsolete planes that couldn't take on the best enemy tanks or fighters can still keep the screaming Chicom hordes from overrunning your perimeter.

It's all about where you sit. I'd rather be in a Tiger than a Sherman, since better armor and a bigger gun make tankers feel happy, but I'd rather carry a rifle in the army where any tank, even a Stuart or Pzkw Mk I could be depended on to show up at my call.

I'd rather be a general in the army with the best logistics and supply, since more plentiful resources mean I can make up my losses faster than the enemy, but being a humble front line soldier in the army where the General feels comfortable he can replace you easily doesn't give you a warm fuzzy feeling.

So, I guess I'm saying that the right answer on which equipment is best all comes down to who is asking the question.

Galloglaich
2010-03-06, 12:51 AM
The flipside of the Sherman / Tiger analogy is the Zero / Wildcat / Hellcat analogy.

The Zero had an incremental edge over the Wildcat initially, and there were more of them. The Japanese figured they had a good thing going so only made minor improvements to the Zero, while the Americans invested in a new design and came up with the Hellcat.

They also made both the Wildcat and Hellcat heavily protected and implemented an aggressive pilot rescue program so retained much more of their trained aicrews.

As a result, the attrition rates skyrocketed for the Japanese by the time the Hellcat arrived. The Hellcat had a significant edge over the zero.

By the end of the war, the Japanese grunts were fighting with no air-cover, the Americans had bombers and fighter-bombers available in every battle.

G.

Galloglaich
2010-03-06, 07:45 PM
Anyway we all got our pet theories about WWII, it's a very complex subject, the Stuka is kind of a pet peeve of mine but there is room to interpret the data different ways. I just have a different perspective on it than a most people. I think a lot of the German equipment was terrific quality, but alot of it was also kind of crappy, and the Russian, Italian, and Japanese gear tends to get downplayed more than is realistic. Even some of the US and UK kit.

But who knows maybe I'm just crazy. I definitely think about all that stuff too much.

G.

fusilier
2010-03-07, 03:57 AM
Hmm, I've been out of the loop for a little while here, so I'm just going to jump in here quickly.

Galloglaich:

I think the stuka was cool plane in it's day, but dusk was falling by 1941. My point wasn't that it was some great airplane, but even after it was "outdated", the germans still found it useful. That's not to say that it was still a super plane, or that something else wouldn't have been more effective, but simply that the plane continued in service in a useful manner. (This is why I shy away from the terms "obsolete" and "outdated" -- to me they connote uselessness).


Actually I think Stukas were a big waste of materials, they kept putting larger and larger engines in them in the forlorn hopes of improving performance (the same engines which could have gone into high performance fighters, 1400 hp and more), but it never helped

You need to be careful here, very few Axis fighter airframes could be readily adopted to take the powerful DB 603 engine (the Fiat G.55 was one of the few -- the G.56 prototype). So those more powerful engines couldn't have gone into fighters, at least not into any fighter design that the Germans could get into production quickly. That's not to say that the materials couldn't have been used more effectively elsewhere, but the Germans didn't seem to have a satisfactory ground attack/dive bomber design available to them -- so it may simply have been the best thing that they could produce to fulfill that role. (Also, don't forget fascism, they had a tendency to "reward" those companies that played ball with them).

The Axis were wholly out-produced by the Allies, so the fact that there were more Mosquitos than Stukas is hardly surprising.

Also why are you comparing loss rates between the Stuka and the Mosquito? While they both provided ground support, to my knowledge the Mosquito didn't enter the war in significant numbers until the Allies had wrested air superiority from the Germans. So it's not entirely fair. I do think the Mosquito was an awesome plane, but I'm not sure why the comparison is being made. It's significantly more modern.

It looks like most tactical support aircraft suffered from higher loss ratios, that I think it's just to be expected when air superiority is lacking (and probably to be expected when good ground defenses are in place). As for the Mosquitos, their speed would certainly help them, but they couldn't "loiter" long if they lacked local air superiority (they could run though). Also, they performed a bunch of different missions, not just low level support, which may skew their losses. While, I'm not certain, I have the impression that low-level missions were typically more dangerous.

All this aside, the more primitive nature of the Stuka may have actually helped its longevity by allowing it to operate in conditions where other planes couldn't (this is reported to be the case with Henschel Hs 123's in Russia). The ability to operate from rough fields in all kinds of poor weather, when other planes would be grounded could be very beneficial. Today, helicopters would probably fill that roll, but at the time that's what they needed.

fusilier
2010-03-07, 04:55 AM
Anyway we all got our pet theories about WWII, it's a very complex subject, the Stuka is kind of a pet peeve of mine but there is room to interpret the data different ways. I just have a different perspective on it than a most people. I think a lot of the German equipment was terrific quality, but alot of it was also kind of crappy, and the Russian, Italian, and Japanese gear tends to get downplayed more than is realistic. Even some of the US and UK kit.

I agree with you. German equipment tends to get overhyped, and that of other nations' often underrated. I think there's also a lensing effect that takes place (which is what I was trying to get at earlier), and that's relatively minor technological superiority gets inflated in our evaluations of the effectiveness of certain weapons. Often I think many people get bogged down in the details and fail to look at how these things fit into the bigger picture.


But who knows maybe I'm just crazy. I definitely think about all that stuff too much.

On this board, you're among brethren. ;-)

Galloglaich
2010-03-07, 09:07 PM
Hey! I'm glad to be among bretheren :)

G.

Dervag
2010-03-07, 09:33 PM
I would like to add that, as an infantry Marine, I would be thrilled to get support from a hot air balloon if I were pinned down by superior numbers of enemy infantry.

Light tanks or obsolete planes that couldn't take on the best enemy tanks or fighters can still keep the screaming Chicom hordes from overrunning your perimeter.This is kind of my point.


It's all about where you sit. I'd rather be in a Tiger than a Sherman, since better armor and a bigger gun make tankers feel happy, but I'd rather carry a rifle in the army where any tank, even a Stuart or Pzkw Mk I could be depended on to show up at my call.Well... a Panzer I might be a little too light, because it has no cannon and therefore can't bunker-bust or take out enemy tanks worth a damn. A 10% chance of Tiger (or Sherman) support really might be better than a near-100% chance of Panzer I support. But even then, it's chancy.


I'd rather be a general in the army with the best logistics and supply, since more plentiful resources mean I can make up my losses faster than the enemy, but being a humble front line soldier in the army where the General feels comfortable he can replace you easily doesn't give you a warm fuzzy feeling.In this case, being the humble front line soldier in the army with good logistics means always having plenty of ammo (and if that doesn't give you a warm fuzzy feeling you've probably had your warm-fuzzy feeler surgically removed). Also means more reliable armor support, because the tanks always have fuel. Which I know gives you a warm fuzzy feeling; see above.


So, I guess I'm saying that the right answer on which equipment is best all comes down to who is asking the question.Since armies still rely primarily on their infantry, I'd say that asking the infantry is a good idea, bearing in mind issues that are simply outside their scope because they don't see the big picture. Or, better yet, telling them the big picture.


I never said the Mosquitos would be used exclusively for close air support.No, they won't. That's the point. Even making liberal assumptions about the proportion of DAF Mosquitos sorties dedicated to close air support, they are providing effectively no CAS, while the Bigistani Napkinwaffe* is providing quite a bit of CAS.

Moreover, the Mosquitos will be hard pressed to inflict damage faster than the enemy can repair it; their force is that small. Remember that destroyed targets are rarely if ever permanently put out of action; if you can't put enough explosives on target per unit time to "keep the grass mown," the effectiveness of your bombing raids declines rapidly.


The bottom line is, the Mosquito had a reputation for being very good at surviving missions, including bombing missions in some of the most dangerous and daring raids of the war. The Stuka had the opposite reputation. The Stuka was simply too slow to be safe in an unescorted bombing raid.Yes, you've said this, and I don't deny it. But the idea that this makes the ratio of "quality" so lopsided in any real sense is absurd. It's as unreasonable as the people who claim that, say, one German Tiger was worth ten Shermans. Even if one Tiger could often kill ten Shermans in direct combat before being killed itself, this would not make up for the inferior quantity. You'd still be faced with the fact that one Tiger can only be in one place at a time, affecting the outcome of one small battle, while the Shermans can be in half a dozen places up and down the line, affecting the outcome of several small battles. The Tiger might paint a huge number of kill stripes on its gun barrel, yes, but what good does that do if your army's infantry line has to keep falling back for lack of armor support?

Likewise, the Mosquitoes of 6.33 Squadron may have the greatest battle record in the history of aviation... but that only carries them so far in a war against overwhelming numbers, even overwhelming numbers of second-rate opposition.


I think it's you that is bending things here. Why would you assume that the production rates would be drastically different? The 10 to 100 odds were simply to illustrate a point. The math would have been even harsher for the Stuka side if they had started out with equal numbers (which in fact was the case since the Germans were fighting against much larger economies).You, not me, were the one that asserted that one Mosquito was worth ten Stukas. However, to prove this, you came up with a case that was based on some very bad assumptions: chiefly that while on Mosquito on the front lines is worth ten Stukas, one Mosquito fresh from the factory is worth only one Stuka.

You could equally well have tried to show that zero Mosquitos were worth a hundred Stukas that way, by having the DAF start with no Mosquitos and have to start building their force at four aircraft a month in March or April. This would have made little difference to the outcome of your calculations, but the conclusion would be absurd- it is impossible for zero aircraft to be worth more than anything.


The point is, all things being equal, a factory can produce only so many aircraft once the war has started. The mosquito in fact was made from non strategic materials (wood!) to be cheaper to produce. It was quite cheap to produce by WW Ii standards. The leaders of each nation choose whether to produce an obsolete bomber (a Stuka) or a modern one like a Mosquito.To be sure. And a Mosquito is better than a Stuka... but not better than ten Stukas, because that would be ridiculous. However, this does not make Mosquitos less economical than Stukas, since the cost ratio isn't 10:1.

I am not asserting that the Stuka was superior to the Mosquito, or cheaper, or more cost-effective. I am merely asserting that the Mosquito was no so devastatingly superior as to make it worth ten Stukas. I think you'd have to go well into the Jet Age to find an aircraft that was worth ten Stukas by itself. Or any other aircraft of the era, for that matter. This isn't because Stukas were good; it's because it is very hard to build one aircraft that, by itself, is worth a squadron of the enemy's.


I really can't follow this logic. Why would a Stuka be built ten times faster? I don't think that is realistic. Even if you said the Stukas came out twice as fast, the higher loss rate would mean the Mosquito would eventually be the better bet.The logic is purely meant to address the proposition that the Mosquitos are better than the Stukas at a 1:10 Mosquito:Stuka ratio. If that were true, then replacing Mosquitos and Stukas at 1:1 ratios would be ludicrously lopsided and would effectively rig the test in the Mosquito's favor, and the replacement rate would cancel out the point of the test.

The reason is simple: as I note above, you could equally well use the same math to prove that zero Mosquitos are better than 100 Stukas, assuming equal replacement rates. Because at four Mosquitos a month the DAF will eventually have a Mosquito force of a few dozen planes, while at four Stukas a month and with a flat percentage of its aircraft lost per month, the Stukas have no chance of staying anywhere near replacement rate.


I'm not surprised you aren't convinced, nobody wants to be wrong in an argument me included.

But it's not contrived. It's just an effort to show you (and others reading the thread) how attrition can effect the overall numbers. I just took the example you created and ran with it. Yes, quantity has a quality all it's own, as Stalin famously said, but with technology there is a limit to that where you start to get diminishing returns. With aircraft and tanks especially. (more on the latter in another post)I submit that you made some very questionable assumptions in the process of running with my example. Without those assumptions, your argument would probably have to be pared back, to the point of estimating the worth of a Mosquito as equal to... well, somewhat less than ten Stukas. I'd guesstimate at two or three, myself. Maybe as high as five, even. But ten is so extreme as to defy plausibility.


Anyway we all got our pet theories about WWII, it's a very complex subject, the Stuka is kind of a pet peeve of mine but there is room to interpret the data different ways. I just have a different perspective on it than a most people. I think a lot of the German equipment was terrific quality, but alot of it was also kind of crappy, and the Russian, Italian, and Japanese gear tends to get downplayed more than is realistic. Even some of the US and UK kit.Of course. I only object to taking this peeve of yours to the point of rhetorical excess.

Galloglaich
2010-03-08, 11:37 AM
Dervag, I thought this was obvious from the example, but I guess it wasn't so I'll spell it out.

Given a higher attrition rate, a large number of obsolete aircraft is going to rapidly deteriorate while the modern aircraft low-attrition rate (which can keep up with production) will gradually build up in numbers.

In other words, in the example above, if you kept going another 3 months, the DAF would have a huge numeric advantage of (better quality) bombers than 'Bigistani'.

So while 'Bigistani' has more aircraft initially, which theoretically translates to a battlefield advantage, by the time 3 or 4 months have passed they have lost their numeric superiority and within 6 or 7 months they will be badly outnumbered. So if the DAF can survive the first few months they will ultimately come out ahead. This actually mirrors hat happend in the war, the Russians, British and Americans gradually produced better aircraft than the Germans and Japanese had (this discrepancy most exxagerated in the case of the Stuka) and this ultimately led to a victory in the Attrition war and more numbers on the battlefield. (It was not just a matter of higher production capacity because the Germans were producing a huge number of aircraft)

You can quibble about the actual rates of attrition but I think there is no denying the Mosquito has a better survivability rate than the Stuka, an aircraft with a realistic tactial speed of 180 kts is much more vulnerable than one with 300 kts.

As for loitering, the loitering for Close Air Support is done a few minutes away from the battlefield not right in the 'hot zone', the aircraft come in when they are needed (airstrikes are called for by Forward Air Controllers.) this was the system originally pionnered by the RAF in North Africa, and refined by the USAAF in 1944:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forward_air_control#World_War_II

As for the production rates, we know that historically, the Stuka and the Mosquito were produced at a similar rate in fact. You could argue it would take more money, time etc. to develop a new aircraft, but once production starts the payoff is in a lower attrition rate and therefore, ultimately higher numbers on the battlefield (plus better quality aircraft capable of a wider variety of missions). That is the key difference between something like a Mosquito and a Tiger tank, the Tiger was much more expensive to produce than ordinary tanks, the Mosquito was specifically made to be quick and relatively cheap to produce.

Hopefully that is clear and you don't thnk it's "Rhetorical Excess".

G.

Galloglaich
2010-03-08, 11:51 AM
I think this excerpt from the Wiki on Close Air Support is a good summary of my point:


Soviet front
[edit] VVS RKKA
The Red Air Force was not slow to recognize the value of ground support aircraft. Even as far back as the Nomonhan incident, Russian aircraft were given the task of disrupting enemy ground operations. This use increased markedly after the German invasion. Purpose-built aircraft such as the Ilyushin Il-2 Sturmovik were highly effective in blunting the activity of the Panzers. Joseph Stalin paid the Il-2 a great tribute in his own inimitable manner: when a particular production factory fell behind on its deliveries, Stalin sent the following cable to the factory manager: "They are as essential to the Red Army as air and bread."

German CAS reached its peak on the Eastern Front during the period 1941-1943. Their decline was caused by the growing strength of the Red Air Force and the redeployment of assets to defend against American and British strategic bombardment. The introduction of improved Soviet tanks, the T-34 and KV-1 reduced the effectiveness of close air support, even after the adoption of 30 mm cannon and shaped-charge bombs. While German procedures for CAS led the way, their loss of air superiority and technological advantage, combined with a declining supply of aircraft and fuel, crippled their ability to provide CAS after 1943.

G.

Galloglaich
2010-03-08, 12:53 PM
Hmm, I've been out of the loop for a little while here, so I'm just going to jump in here quickly.

Good points fusilier a few small comments.



I think the stuka was cool plane in it's day, but dusk was falling by 1941. My point wasn't that it was some great airplane, but even after it was "outdated", the germans still found it useful. That's not to say that it was still a super plane, or that something else wouldn't have been more effective, but simply that the plane continued in service in a useful manner. (This is why I shy away from the terms "obsolete" and "outdated" -- to me they connote uselessness).

Like I said before, they still got use out of the Fairey Swordfish long after it was clearly obsolete. A lesser term is 'obsolescent', which probably categorizes the second tier aircraft the Finns used to such good effect in their early battles with Russia. P-40's were still useful in the CBI Theater long after they were obsolete for Europe.

So it's a gray area a bit, but I think it is a valid term, it's an important distinction.



You need to be careful here, very few Axis fighter airframes could be readily adopted to take the powerful DB 603 engine (the Fiat G.55 was one of the few -- the G.56 prototype). So those more powerful engines couldn't have gone into fighters, at least not into any fighter design that the Germans could get into production quickly.

Well, the other major example is the Ta-152C, kind of a soupled-up FW 190. The Fw 190D also used a big inline engine. I think they would have been better off developing those types of fighters a couple of years earlier than wasting those engines on Stukas. But that is obviously subjective...


(Also, don't forget fascism, they had a tendency to "reward" those companies that played ball with them).

I think that was the actual root of the problem with the Me 109, the Stuka, and the Zero in Japan.


While they both provided ground support, to my knowledge the Mosquito didn't enter the war in significant numbers until the Allies had wrested air superiority from the Germans. So it's not entirely fair. I do think the Mosquito was an awesome plane, but I'm not sure why the comparison is being made. It's significantly more modern.

Mossies were used as bombers from 1941, so no they were in the thick of it.



It looks like most tactical support aircraft suffered from higher loss ratios,

CAS was dangeorus, but fighter-bombers had much lower loss ratio than slower aircraft like Stukas. The Mosquito is more like a fighter bomber due to it's speed.


they couldn't "loiter" long if they lacked local air superiority (they could run though).

The loitering was done a few miles on the safe side of the front lines, in the case of the Mosquito that could also be done at high altitude. When called by a FAC, it could get there quickly, another advantage of being fast.


All this aside, the more primitive nature of the Stuka may have actually helped its longevity by allowing it to operate in conditions where other planes couldn't (this is reported to be the case with Henschel Hs 123's in Russia). The ability to operate from rough fields in all kinds of poor weather, when other planes would be grounded could be very beneficial. Today, helicopters would probably fill that roll, but at the time that's what they needed.

More advanced aircraft (or tanks) which were so far advanced that they cost a lot more and are more difficult to maintain (like the Tiger or the P-38 in it's earlier incarnations) are not good candidates for higher production. I think the Tiger was in fact less cost-effective than the Sherman for example.

A modern equivalent to the Mosquito might be the F-16. Designed to be a low-cost expedient, it turned out to be very effective as both a fighter and a bomber, but relatively cheap to produce. It had a high survivability / low loss rate in combat. In the 80's and 90's, it probably made more sense to buy F-16s than say, MiG 21s or F-4 Phantoms, or Mirage F-3s. Or so my theory goes.

G.

Ozymandias9
2010-03-08, 11:47 PM
Yeah I don't know of any Reniassance fencing manual where you hold a sword in a reverse grip.

Using the scabbard for defense does exist, as does using a cloak, (very popular in the 16th-17th C. manuals) a dagger, various other implements.

G.

I think it was Filippo Vadi's "De Arte Gladitotia Dimicandi" that came to mind when I read the section I was posting on. In particular, I seem to recall the the section on dagger defense mentioning short swords as an alternative (specifically, I seem to recall a mention of a Cinquedea in contrast with the then-still-current Rondel). But it's possible I'm conflating one of the sword defense chapters with one of the later sections of dagger defense: it's been a while.

Faleldir
2010-03-09, 07:55 AM
Question: If you decided to fight with a spear and a javelin, how would you hold them?

Spiryt
2010-03-09, 08:05 AM
Can you clarify a bit?

If you mean a hold on the spear or javelin, there were many different grips - most basic division would be underhand or overhand grip.

The exact use would depend on very many things.

Faleldir
2010-03-09, 08:57 AM
No, I can't clarify without answering my own question. What is the most realistic way to wield those two weapons at the same time?

Galloglaich
2010-03-09, 09:11 AM
Throw one and stab with the other?

Yora
2010-03-09, 09:14 AM
I'd say there is no realistic way of wielding a polearm in each hand.

Galloglaich
2010-03-09, 09:14 AM
I think it was Filippo Vadi's "De Arte Gladitotia Dimicandi" that came to mind when I read the section I was posting on. In particular, I seem to recall the the section on dagger defense mentioning short swords as an alternative (specifically, I seem to recall a mention of a Cinquedea in contrast with the then-still-current Rondel). But it's possible I'm conflating one of the sword defense chapters with one of the later sections of dagger defense: it's been a while.

Not sure, but Vadi talks about using a dagger that way, he specifically recommended having one which reaches from your hand to your elbow partly so you could use it to block with in a reverse grip.

G.

Lapak
2010-03-09, 09:15 AM
No, I can't clarify without answering my own question. What is the most realistic way to wield those two weapons at the same time?Given that the javelin is by definition designed as a thrown weapon, I'd say for realism purposes you're looking at 'throw the javelin with dominant hand, switch to two-handed grip on spear.'

Faleldir
2010-03-09, 09:25 AM
Okay, what's the second most realistic way to wield a 3-foot spear and a 5-foot spear? Would the longer one be held above your shoulder or below?

Mike_G
2010-03-09, 11:05 AM
Okay, what's the second most realistic way to wield a 3-foot spear and a 5-foot spear? Would the longer one be held above your shoulder or below?

Well, I suppose you could wield the long spear in your right hand, like you would use it with a shield, and grip the javelin at its center in you left, using it mostly for defense, with the option of striking or stabbing with it if the opportunity presented itself. Using a scabbard as a parrying object is common enough, I guess a javelin could work.

This doesn't seem like it would be a good choice, but I could see a style that used the spears that way.

Dervag
2010-03-09, 11:08 AM
Okay, what's the second most realistic way to wield a 3-foot spear and a 5-foot spear? Would the longer one be held above your shoulder or below?I don't think it's possible, mechanically.

My advice when thinking about weapon styles, since I myself am not an expert, is to try it. Get a couple of decently heavy sticks (broomhandle weight, at a guess) and try to wield them effectively, remembering that you are stabbing with each one because they are simulating spears.

I suspect that you will not be able to find a way of doing it that will give you any real advantage over another guy who uses only one spear. So that, yes, your best bet is to throw one spear at the enemy and then use the other spear in hand to hand combat. Keeping the second spear in hand offers little or no advantage, and complicates your fighting style unnecessarily.


Dervag, I thought this was obvious from the example, but I guess it wasn't so I'll spell it out.

Given a higher attrition rate, a large number of obsolete aircraft is going to rapidly deteriorate while the modern aircraft low-attrition rate (which can keep up with production) will gradually build up in numbers.Yes, but at this point you're comparing replacements on a one-to-one basis, which completely throws away any question of whether the merits of plane A are such that X of A are worth Y of B... which is what we were originally talking about.

It's not that attrition rates don't matter, quite the opposite. But if you're going to cap both sides to the same replacement rate, then of course the side with the larger force is going to decay faster; this has nothing to do with the quality of their hardware. By not scaling the replacement rate to the size of the forces involved, you artificially convert the entire question into one of attrition rates.

The argument you actually used to demonstrate the Mosquito's superiority over the Stuka is valid in and of itself, but it can't be used to prove what you seem to have set out to prove, because it could equally well be used to prove that it's better to have zero Mosquitos than to have a thousand Stukas. Just wait for the Stukas to take casualties, and eventually you'll reach parity with them, right?

The question is how much damage gets inflicted before you reach parity, and whether you can inflict casualties at above replacement rate. Historically, the Allies could and did- but took a lot of damage before obtaining air superiority.


So while 'Bigistani' has more aircraft initially, which theoretically translates to a battlefield advantage, by the time 3 or 4 months have passed they have lost their numeric superiority and within 6 or 7 months they will be badly outnumbered.Yes, but this relies heavily on the assumption of identical replacement rates, which will always favor the smaller force.

Historically, this is reasonable... but historically, no one was fool enough to claim that a Mosquito was worth ten Stukas. One Mosquito was better than one Stuka, absolutely, but ten? Really.


You can quibble about the actual rates of attrition but I think there is no denying the Mosquito has a better survivability rate than the Stuka, an aircraft with a realistic tactial speed of 180 kts is much more vulnerable than one with 300 kts.Yes; I'm not denying this. But even from an attrition standpoint, one bomber that lasts a long time need not be better than ten bombers that last for several months, especially if we don't grant the enemy of the ten bombers automatic air superiority- the attrition rate for Stukas was so high partly because the Germans were forced to keep flying them long after they'd lost the ability to contest the skies on even terms. Assuming air parity in all arms besides the choice of light bomber, that's not going to be true; the Stukas will still take far greater casualties than the Mosquitos, but not as enormous as historical Stuka forces took in 1943-44.


Hopefully that is clear and you don't thnk it's "Rhetorical Excess".Oh, it's fine, now that you're sticking to facts- that Mosquitos were cost-effective, that they were good planes, and so on. All those things were true, after all.

It's just that the reason the Mosquitos were better than the Stukas was not that they were vastly superior qualitatively, to the point where one Mosquito was worth ten Stukas. It's that they were significantly better planes that could be produced on a one-to-one basis. One Mosquito is better than one Stuka, and that's the decision people would actually be making.

[Actually, since the cost of manufacturing planes depends very heavily on the number of engines, since those are the most difficult bit to make... you'd probably be choosing between one Mosquito and two Stukas, since the Mosquito was a twin-engined plane. The Mosquito still wins, if you ask me]

I only have problems with what you're saying when the premise is taken too far, to the point where it ignores questions of numbers by saying "but look at the quality!*" That's the same error that people who try to boost the Tiger and Panther at the expense of the Sherman and T-34 make, and it's as wrong with planes as it is with tanks.

So I'd still take 100 Stukas over 10 Mosquitoes, if that were a realistic option (which, of course, it isn't).

*Survivability is part of quality, just for the record.

Galloglaich
2010-03-09, 04:20 PM
Dervag, you still aren't quite seeing my point, but I think we are getting closer.



It's not that attrition rates don't matter, quite the opposite. But if you're going to cap both sides to the same replacement rate, then of course the side with the larger force is going to decay faster; this has nothing to do with the quality of their hardware. By not scaling the replacement rate to the size of the forces involved, you artificially convert the entire question into one of attrition rates.

No, you are getting lost in the math here Dervag. The size with the larger force is not at any disadvantage, to the contrary. In this case it's not the replacement rate that matters, it's really the attrition rate, which we know was much higher for the Stuka. If the Stuka had the 0.6% attrition rate, the number of Stukas would be growing not declining.

Additionally, in my example, the attrition rate for the Stuka is even higher because the Mosquito's are based outside of their range, whereas the Stukas bases are in range for the Mosquito and can be bombed. This is another way in which the quality makes a big difference.

My point is that a high attrition rate will fairly quickly (in the matter of a few months at the most) cause the Stuka side to have much lower numbers. In other words, I was trying to demonstrate to you how a small diffference in attrition rate makes a huge difference in the ultimate numbers on the battlefield. This is especially true with aircraft. And it is in fact what happened in the war.

Which makes quality a major consideration but one which has to be balanced against production cost. The Mosquito was a great plane because it was in that 'sweet spot'. Generally I think the allies stayed closer to this sweet spot than the Axis did and that is one of the major reasons they won, the Axis were depending on the quick victory and lost their gamble.



better to have zero Mosquitos than to have a thousand Stukas. Just wait for the Stukas to take casualties, and eventually you'll reach parity with them, right?

Only if Stukas get shot down much faster han Mosquitos. Which they did.

So I'd still take 100 Stukas over 10 Mosquitoes, if that were a realistic option (which, of course, it isn't).

Well, we'll just have to agree to disagree, but perhaps now at least you can see my point.

G.

Mike_G
2010-03-09, 06:04 PM
till wins, if you ask me]


So I'd still take 100 Stukas over 10 Mosquitoes, if that were a realistic option (which, of course, it isn't).



If I were an infantryman asking for close air support, I would too.

Good support that shows up is better than great support that doesn't.

Galloglaich
2010-03-09, 07:49 PM
If I were an infantryman asking for close air support, I would too.
Good support that shows up is better than great support that doesn't.

Yes, and the problem is, if you don't win the war outright in the first few months, the "good support" i.e. second rate aircraft that you used to count on won't show up after they are all shot down. And then the other sides infantrymen will be calling down airstrikes on you with their "great" support, and you will get to experience the joy of being under near constant air-attack, having no supplies, and only being able to move at night.

Because you will have gone from having a numerical superiority in aircraft (and pilots) to a drastic numerical inferiority.

Which is in fact what happened to the Germans and the Japanese in WW II by 1943.

G.

Lapak
2010-03-09, 09:32 PM
Yes, and the problem is, if you don't win the war outright in the first few months, the "good support" i.e. second rate aircraft that you used to count on won't show up after they are all shot down. Well, no. It's not ALL about attrition rates, it's also about replacement rates as others have said. Without winning the war outright, if you damage the enemy's production so that you can build X times as fast as they can, you could maintain your relative aircraft levels.

In the historical example you're using, the side with lower-quality planes was suffering from both problems at once: faster attrition AND it was their terrain that was being fought over, which meant their production was the one suffering. If I had 100 mediocre aircraft to your 10 good aircraft, and that allowed me to use 50 of them to protect my air force manufacturing while the other 50 bomb out your facilities? I might lose 10 planes a week and build 12, while you lost 1 plane a week and built none. It's more complicated than you're suggesting.

MickJay
2010-03-10, 05:14 AM
Given that the javelin is by definition designed as a thrown weapon, I'd say for realism purposes you're looking at 'throw the javelin with dominant hand, switch to two-handed grip on spear.'

Just a nitpick, but javelins are designed primarily as thrown weapons, otherwise they're just light (and relatively short) spears.

The only way I can think of wielding both a spear and javelin at the same time that could somehow work would be in the way Mike_G described.

Galloglaich
2010-03-10, 07:18 AM
Well, no. It's not ALL about attrition rates, it's also about replacement rates as others have said. Without winning the war outright, if you damage the enemy's production so that you can build X times as fast as they can, you could maintain your relative aircraft levels.

Not when A) the mediocre aircraft has such a short range, is so dependent on air-cover and of such poor performance that it cannot in fact be used effectively to do any operational or theater bombing and B) the mediocre aircraft is only suitable as a bomber and therefore can't effectively be used as a fighter in any capacity. Which is true of the Stuka but not the Mosquito.

That is why generally fighter-bombers are more useful than dedicated bombers, unless the latter are so specialized that their value is enhanced dramatically (as with some of the specialist ground-attack aircraft).

The strategic bombing issue is another debate, since strategic bombing did not in fact reduce production very much, if at all. Read Speers Inside the Third Reich. The only real value it eventually had was when they finally hit the oil fields, but they weren't able to accomplish that until very late in the war.


In the historical example you're using, the side with lower-quality planes was suffering from both problems at once: faster attrition AND it was their terrain that was being fought over, which meant their production was the one suffering. If I had 100 mediocre aircraft to your 10 good aircraft, and that allowed me to use 50 of them to protect my air force manufacturing while the other 50 bomb out your facilities? I might lose 10 planes a week and build 12, while you lost 1 plane a week and built none. It's more complicated than you're suggesting.

No I wasn't talking about anybodies production being hit (and historically, German aircraft production went up during the war, look it up) in my little example I was talking about airbases being hit, based on a standard front-line scenario. Which again would mean if the Stukas were in range of the front line, the Mosquitos could bomb them, but the Mosquito base could be put outside the range of the Stuka. That affects attrition!

G

endoperez
2010-03-10, 07:22 AM
Okay, what's the second most realistic way to wield a 3-foot spear and a 5-foot spear? Would the longer one be held above your shoulder or below?

I have no idea, but I do know of a few videos that show weapon forms for two spears. Two very short spears, more like sharp sticks really:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQvQqAtMy2g

And two quite short spears with sharp bits in both ends:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0f9lrY1a-c


I didn't find any wushu matches where one person was using two spears, or forms with a long and a short spear and/or staff, but hopefully you could use the above for at least some ideas.

fusilier
2010-03-10, 05:06 PM
Putting aircraft in bases near the front line is not just a disadvantage. Those aircraft can be put into the air, reach their targets quickly (assuming they are flying tactical support), and return to the relative safety of their bases, potentially, long before a faster aircraft from a base far behind the lines could react.

This has several consequences. A long range plane that can stay in the air for long time, can simply fly around near the combat zone until someone calls in support. Although that depends upon good ground to air communications. If those are lacking, then aircraft stationed close to the front lines will have an advantage.

Being able to operate well within enemy territory can still provide a kind of tactical advantage, by strafing relief columns and supply dumps, etc. But both functions (flying around near combat zones, or deeper raids of opportunity) require a certain level of air superiority to be used with impunity. Lacking such air superiority, faster aircraft like a Mosquito can be used on pin-point hit and run missions. But not really supply tactical support in a *flexible* environment.

Meanwhile aircraft placed close to the frontlines can respond quickly to tactical conditions in a more efficient manor. They're not wasting fuel waiting for orders -- this could be significant in a war of attrition.

However, the close proximity of air bases to the frontlines can be a liability when air superiority is lacking (and so the skies are filled with roving enemy aircraft), or when their location is discovered and the enemy launches a determined raid to knock it out. Worse yet, the base could be overrun due to tactical consequences on the ground. Also if the front lines are changing a lot bases need to be moved often -- although then the ability of the planes to operate from rough fields is a factor in how quickly they can rebase.

That's my thoughts on employing different kinds of aircraft in these roles.

Pilum
2010-03-10, 07:08 PM
Regarding quantity vs quality: I remember reading an interview with a... Normandy tanker, can't remember what nationality, and sadly can't remember where it was or find it on google to provide back up! But what he said was that there was almost a 'standard' joke among German tankers when captured. "They'd look you in the eye and say how bad our tanks were, that they couldn't kill their panzers but were really easy to knock out in return. "One of our tanks is worth ten of yours", they'd say. And just as you were getting ready to punch them, they'd grin, give a laugh and say "But you always have eleven!" "

Dervag
2010-03-11, 01:00 PM
If I were an infantryman asking for close air support, I would too.

Good support that shows up is better than great support that doesn't.To be fair, though, the production costs for 10 Mosquitos are more comparable to the costs for at most 20 Stukas, not 100. At that point, even from an infantry standpoint, things are a bit iffier, because the Mosquitos will last longer and can (I think) carry more munitions.

From anyone else's standpoint it's even more iffy, because of the roles the Mosquito can carry out that the Stuka cannot- which don't matter directly and personally to the infantryman, but do matter to the war effort, and do indirectly affect the infantryman's odds of survival.


The strategic bombing issue is another debate, since strategic bombing did not in fact reduce production very much, if at all. Read Speers Inside the Third Reich. The only real value it eventually had was when they finally hit the oil fields, but they weren't able to accomplish that until very late in the war.That misses a crucial point. How does production compare to what it could have been? How many assets were diverted from the front, where they were urgently needed, to meet the bomber threat?

Saying "oh, well, German aircraft production increased in 1943-44, so the early bomber campaign achieved nothing" ignores the real nature of the problem. Allied production also increased during that period; did it increase faster or slower? Is there evidence that the Germans were able to completely ignore the bombs falling on their heads, or merely that they were able to avoid suffering rapid degradation of their capability by patching up the damage in a hurry? If it's the latter, then even quickly patching up your war production leaves you producing less than you would if there were no need to patch at all.


No I wasn't talking about anybodies production being hit (and historically, German aircraft production went up during the war, look it up) in my little example I was talking about airbases being hit, based on a standard front-line scenario. Which again would mean if the Stukas were in range of the front line, the Mosquitos could bomb them, but the Mosquito base could be put outside the range of the Stuka. That affects attrition!True. On the other hand, it would also render the Mosquitos far less useful for close air support, because their response time would be limited and they would have to spend longer flying to and from base between sorties. In addition, the relatively small number of Mosquitos makes their force relatively more vulnerable to concentration of fighters and flak: if the enemy gets lucky and manages to down even ONE plane, they have inflicted heavy casualties on the whole force. Granted that this is difficult to do... but in absolute terms it may not be as difficult as you make it out to be, because so many of the Mosquito sorties were flown against opposition that had already lost the ability to contest the skies. Any plane will have a low attrition rate if it's fighting opponents that can't shoot back, or flying in patrol of friendly airspace that is rarely attacked.

EDIT: Conversely, any plane will have a high attrition rate if it's thrown into the teeth of the enemy over and over until it cannot be thrown again because it's been shot down, because your side is losing the war and needs absolute maximum effort from every plane and pilot just to lose more slowly.


Regarding quantity vs quality: I remember reading an interview with a... Normandy tanker, can't remember what nationality, and sadly can't remember where it was or find it on google to provide back up! But what he said was that there was almost a 'standard' joke among German tankers when captured. "They'd look you in the eye and say how bad our tanks were, that they couldn't kill their panzers but were really easy to knock out in return. "One of our tanks is worth ten of yours", they'd say. And just as you were getting ready to punch them, they'd grin, give a laugh and say "But you always have eleven!" "This.

In practice, though it wasn't that the Allies had eleven or twelve tanks for each German. It was that there were so few German tanks that their ability to make an impact was too small to be decisive. A Tiger might trundle into a village and wreck everything in sight, easily dispatching two or three Shermans, sure. But a five kilometers over on the other side of the hill, the Allies have another two or three Shermans, which are hammering on unsupported German infantry whose last thought is likely to be "where the hell are our Panzers?"

Just to counter the threat, the Germans will have to run their tanks ragged chasing after all the individual threats up and down the line until the wheels fall of. So even assuming that one Tiger really is worth ten Shermans... having ten Shermans is much better than having one Tiger. Because you normally won't be able to meet all ten Shermans at once in a stand-up battle where they'll obligingly drive into your gunsights to get blown away.

Jolly Steve
2010-03-12, 07:34 AM
Does variable weapon damage, as in D&D, reflect how ancient/medieval weapons actually work? Or would something else work better, for example a better chance to hit, variable chances to parry, attacks of opportunity if for example someone with a dagger attacks someone with a spear...?

And incidentally, what is the apparently huge difference between (eg) steel and bronze weapons?

Matthew
2010-03-12, 08:04 AM
Does variable weapon damage, as in D&D, reflect how ancient/medieval weapons actually work? Or would something else work better, for example a better chance to hit, variable chances to parry, attacks of opportunity if for example someone with a dagger attacks someone with a spear...?

The game uses a completely abstract combat engine in that regard; the degree of specificity desired would govern any changes along the lines that you described. From the point of view that a 3' sword is "better" than a 2' sword a difference of 1d8 versus 1d6 damage might be thought a reasonable abstraction, but then a 3' sword might not be universally better than a 2' sword. At any rate, the D20/3e combat system does not model real combat very well at all, but it works as an abstraction within certain parameters.



And incidentally, what is the apparently huge difference between (e.g.) steel and bronze weapons?

It depends on a lot of factors. Low quality steel weapons may be inferior to bronze weapons, but higher quality steel should generally surpass what is possible with bronze in terms of retaining a sharp edge, tensile strength, and so on. Whether the difference was enough to cause the "change-over" or if it was more closely related to availability remains is of a contested question. I generally favour the former, but am always interested in arguments contesting the latter.

Some Roman authors (Polybius, for instance) have the Celts stopping in the middle of battle to straighten out their swords, but whether these swords were envisioned as being iron or bronze is unclear, and it might well just be propaganda. I do not recall Caesar reporting a similar experience.

Jolly Steve
2010-03-12, 09:38 AM
OK, thanks. Another question: I'd have thought that shields would be both more effective, and have more effect on movement, than they do in D&D.

Spiryt
2010-03-12, 09:54 AM
OK, thanks. Another question: I'd have thought that shields would be both more effective, and have more effect on movement, than they do in D&D.

It really depends on the shield, but shortly speaking:

Yes. Trough the long, long centuries, shield was primary, and really effective tool of defense, offense and and generally fight. Allowed to nullify the attacks and create opportunities to drop the enemy. Sometimes was used to deal vicious strikes by itself.

On the other hand , bigger shields, from roman scutum to kite shield, were certainly a bit encumbering, cetainly more than most armor that just rested on your body.

Generic answer, but the answer was generic. :smallwink:

Pilum
2010-03-12, 10:28 AM
Equally Steve, remember that the point about most of the big shields, like the stereotypical scutum or the hoplon, is they weren't really meant for individual dancing around a la D&D but for heavy infantry in close formation. Quite an obstacle to try to grind your way through, and equally a useful 'ram' to push the enemy back with! Look at most skirmishers on the other hand - your classical peltasts for instance - and their shields are a lot smaller and more wieldy.

I agree they sometimes don't seem quite as effective in D&D as they could be - perhaps some sort of cover mod versus ranged fire would be useful too?

Matthew
2010-03-12, 11:29 AM
It seems that the Weapons That Made Britain series is now available to watch on YouTube, highly recommended viewing for the weapon enthusiast:

Weapons That Made Britain - Shield (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbK7m3w9FXI)
Weapons That Made Britain - Sword (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEMwcSGauY8)
Weapons That Made Britain - Lance (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LsSS5D7GCCM)
Weapons That Made Britain - Bow (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LsSS5D7GCCM)

Missing the "Armour" episode at the moment, but well worth watching if you have never seen it before. Streets ahead of the more woeful "Conquest": Maces were favoured by clerics... (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-S87kkS5m5Y)

Conquest - Crossbow (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpuVK1jwMIA)
Conquest - Axe (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhRCNLMzUMY)
Conquest - Dagger (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TTx-39gYqE)
Conquest - Broad Sword (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TTx-39gYqE)
Conquest - Weird Weapons (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxZ8iFtSvss)
Conquest - Barbarians (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urazD78xuHs)
Conquest - Romans (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fC0m4a_06DY)
Conquest - Knights (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZo_YIGXhRs)
Conquest - Tournament (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEa5AUU7myU)

Still, at least Galen is enthusiastic about the subject (a cookie if you get the reference). :smallbiggrin:

Subotei
2010-03-12, 03:35 PM
In practice, though it wasn't that the Allies had eleven or twelve tanks for each German. It was that there were so few German tanks that their ability to make an impact was too small to be decisive. A Tiger might trundle into a village and wreck everything in sight, easily dispatching two or three Shermans, sure. But a five kilometers over on the other side of the hill, the Allies have another two or three Shermans, which are hammering on unsupported German infantry whose last thought is likely to be "where the hell are our Panzers?"

Just to counter the threat, the Germans will have to run their tanks ragged chasing after all the individual threats up and down the line until the wheels fall of. So even assuming that one Tiger really is worth ten Shermans... having ten Shermans is much better than having one Tiger. Because you normally won't be able to meet all ten Shermans at once in a stand-up battle where they'll obligingly drive into your gunsights to get blown away.

The psychological effect of knowing the tank you are sitting in is inferior to you opponents is hard to gauge, but must count for something when you meet in combat. It would certainly affect my choice of action. Adrenalin is brown, as they say.

Brainfart
2010-03-12, 11:03 PM
OK, thanks. Another question: I'd have thought that shields would be both more effective, and have more effect on movement, than they do in D&D.

They have minimal effect on your maneuverability and movement in combat once you get used to their presence, though they're not on the soldier's favourite list of things to carry when marching. :smallbiggrin:

Does that answer your question?

Matthew, while Weapons that Made Britain is an excellent pop history show, it's not without flaws. For example, I've read on myarmoury that their armour (not sure if it was the munitions breastplate or the forged one) test was extremely flawed, and that it ought to have performed much better against the longbow.

Still, when compared to tripe like Conquest, it's damned bloody good.

Matthew
2010-03-13, 06:37 AM
Matthew, while Weapons that Made Britain is an excellent pop history show, it's not without flaws. For example, I've read on MyArmoury that their armour (not sure if it was the munitions breastplate or the forged one) test was extremely flawed, and that it ought to have performed much better against the longbow.

Still, when compared to tripe like Conquest, it's damned bloody good.

All shows have flaws, it is true, and there are a number of issues I would like to take up with Mike Loades. On the other hand, weapon versus armour tests are always controversial, I have never heard of one that was not contested on some ground or other, especially when it is the long bow. In this particular case they used a top range long bow (180 lbs) and a "dead on" hit versus munitions grade plate, which if taken as "typical" will give a false reading. As an idea of what a long bow might be capable of, it is not too bad, but to take away more than that from the test would certainly be a mistake.

Galloglaich
2010-03-13, 11:22 AM
OK, thanks. Another question: I'd have thought that shields would be both more effective, and have more effect on movement, than they do in D&D.

I think this is a very valid question actually.

Shields in D&D have almost no effect, just an incremental addition to armor class. Most other game systems, even allegedly realistic ones, are fairly similar. Shields are a very passive defense.

Shields used in the real world may have had a passive role when used en-masse but are "defensive weapons" that you use very actively in individual melee combat. You don't just sit there and take blows like in D&D or most other RPGs or computer games (or in some re-enactment and LARP groups). Real shields facing real weapons don't work that way.

For one thing, most shields historically were of much thinner and lighter construction than the crude picnic bench or manhole cover type usually depicted in D&D and fantasy RPG artwork.

http://myskitch.com/isaacschlueter/fighter-20071202-031522.jpghttp://www.0xneff.eu/images/neff_dala.png
http://paizo.com/image/content/RiseOfTheRunelords/Pathfinder7_Paladin.jpg

You can't walk around all day with an inch thick wooden shield let alone a metal one.

In the real world, when shields were most popular and widespread, i.e. from the Bronze Age through the Classical era of Greece and Rome and the Migration Era to the Viking Age, shields were typically made of either wicker, animal hide, or very light wood. The most popular wood for shields was a fibrous, light wood almost similar to balsa called linden or 'limewood'. The limewood tree like the ash was a sacred tree for almost all ancient Europeans, Germanic, Norse, Slavic, Greek. Limewood was ideal for shields because it was light, but very strong and fibrous and would not split, but would 'hold' weapons embedded in it**.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limewood

The heaviest shields were made of wood with some metal components, usually just a boss (the dome like piece which covers your hand)*. The wood was typically about 3/8" thick on average, not thick enough to withstand repeated direct blows from a battlefield weapon.

Viking shields were so light in fact it was common to issue 3 to each combatant in a traditional duel or 'Holmgang'.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/ed/Johannes-flintoe-egil-skallarimsson.jpg/300px-Johannes-flintoe-egil-skallarimsson.jpg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holmgang

Here is a good article on Viking shields:

http://www.hurstwic.org/history/articles/manufacturing/text/viking_shields.htm

In individual combat, instead of passively using a shield, one would use it very actively, binding your opponents weapon, redirecting their attacks, protecting your sword hand, striking your opponent.

http://www.georgehernandez.com/h/xMartialArts/Media/People/I33.jpg
http://www.thearma.org/Manuals/I33-guards_files/image058.jpg
http://www.thearma.org/Manuals/I33-guards_files/image082.jpg
http://www.thearma.org/Manuals/I33-guards_files/image087.jpg
http://www.thearma.org/Manuals/I33-guards_files/image154.jpg

In many cases the shield would be used to bind the opponent so that their weapon or weapon-arm could be seized, as in this messer combat sequence in Talhoffer:

http://www.thearma.org/Manuals/I33-guards_files/image189.jpg
http://www.thearma.org/Manuals/I33-guards_files/image191.jpg

Or to strike them preparatory to a bind with the weapon, like this sequence
http://www.thearma.org/Manuals/I33-guards_files/image195.jpg
http://www.thearma.org/Manuals/I33-guards_files/image199.jpg

In the Medieval and Renaissance period bucklers and smaller iron or steel shields became more popular, but they were still used much the same way (generally being too small for passive defense). The only really passive shield was the pavise, which retained the role of the older shields during their heyday (before 1100 AD) but safer to use with higher energy missile weapons of the Medieval and Renaissance period.

I don't think almost any RPG combat systems let you really use the shield like this, with a few notable exceptions ;). RPG rules should allow you to use a shield dynamically in any number of ways.

G.

*The Greek Aspis was the only real heavy shield of antiquity, being made of oak with a covering of a thin sheet of bronze.

** The Vikings used to take advantage of this to wrench weapons out of their enemies hands. This was mentioned numerous times in the Icelandic sagas, for example in chapter 150 of Njáls saga, Kári caught a spear thrust with his shield, then snapped the spear by wrenching his shield.

Fhaolan
2010-03-13, 12:24 PM
In the real world, when shields were most popular and widespread, i.e. from the Bronze Age through the Classical era of Greece and Rome and the Migration Era to the Viking Age, shields were typically made of either wicker, animal hide, or very light wood. The most popular wood for shields was a fibrous, light wood almost similar to balsa called linden or 'limewood'. The limewood tree like the ash was a sacred tree for almost all ancient Europeans, Germanic, Norse, Slavic, Greek. Limewood was ideal for shields because it was light, but very strong and fibrous and would not split, but would 'hold' weapons embedded in it**.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limewood

For those in North America, find a full hobby store that supports scratch-built model airplanes and model railway buildings. They'll likely have thin planks of basswood there. I'm not entirely sure why the name was changed in this region, but it was. In addition to what Galloglaich mentions, the shields also tended to be made of what we would call plywood. Taking thin planks of lime/basswood and gluing them into thicker sheets cross-ply. Plywood's been around since Roman times, if not before.

As a defence of Recreationalists/Combat Coreographers also, I'd like to mention that you don't see many 'proper' shields out there mainly because of expense. As Galloglaich mentions, you run through shields pretty fast if they're built and used in a historical manner, and most of us who do that kind of thing have to buy or build our equipment personally. The wood itself for a proper lime/basswood 24" round small shield in the states would cost about $50-75 before any work is put into it (This cost is from about 8 years ago when I priced it out then). Given that during a three-hour show I was likely to be out on the field somewhere around 3-4 times, and I was using a 36" round shield; if I ran through 1 sheild per fight... I didn't get paid anywhere near enough to cover my personal cost in shields. Therefore I used poplar rather than basswood (a much cheaper wood here), and made it slightly thicker so the shield would last multiple shows before needing replacement. I couldn't use it to bind weapons quite as effectively as it 'should' have been, but it was the best I could afford to do.

Yora
2010-03-13, 12:33 PM
Now we've also learned that even in the renaiscance, the nerds who illustraded the books for fencing teachers, hade a love for some gorn. :smallbiggrin:

Spiryt
2010-03-13, 12:39 PM
Well, Talhoffer as well as many other authors, probably illustrated the books himself.

And it was still medieval, not Renaissance, generally.

Oslecamo
2010-03-13, 02:24 PM
For one thing, most shields historically were of much thinner and lighter construction than the crude picnic bench or manhole cover type usually depicted in D&D and fantasy RPG artwork.

http://myskitch.com/isaacschlueter/fighter-20071202-031522.jpghttp://www.0xneff.eu/images/neff_dala.png
http://paizo.com/image/content/RiseOfTheRunelords/Pathfinder7_Paladin.jpg

You can't walk around all day with an inch thick wooden shield let alone a metal one.

Aparently the roman infantry could.
http://visual.merriam-webster.com/images/society/weapons/weapons-in-age-romans/roman-legionary.jpg

In formation, large shields rock as you can combine them with your neighbour to protect you from long ranged attacks, and shield wall was an essential part of the phalanx formation to defeat bigger numbers. And you cannot do shield wall with light small shields.

Granted, if you're fighting alone or value mobility for quick attacks/raids, small shields are the way to go. The roman infantry wasn't really known for their speed (they got stomped several times by archers on horses), but they ruled in siege and defense operations.

But if you wanted to siege a castle, you would want some of your mens carrying large planks of wood to protect the others from arrows.

On the other hand, considering that D&D adventurers go into narrow dungeons where they'll probably be only attacked from one side, and the attackers will have super human strenght, large heavy shields make some sense as a specialization.



I don't think almost any RPG combat systems let you really use the shield like this, with a few notable exceptions ;). RPG rules should allow you to use a shield dynamically in any number of ways.

Complete warrior allows you to impale your weapon in the enemy's shield to render it useless. Granted, it's kind of the contrary.:smalltongue:

Beowulf DW
2010-03-13, 02:34 PM
About shields:

Has anyone mentioned the Swashbucklers yet? The term seems to be derived from the name for a certain attack ("Swashing blow") and a kind of shield.

In the original sense of the word, it referred to loud, boastful swordsmen who used side-swords and bucklers.

Spiryt
2010-03-13, 02:38 PM
Aparently the roman infantry could.



They could? As far as I know, roman shields from 100 BC to 150 AD were generally about 6 - 8mm of wood + max 5mm of cow skin. That's about half of inch at most.



Granted, if you're fighting alone


In fighting alone big shield will generally be advantage too. Really hard to strike around it, and useful to pretty much any combat action.

Galloglaich's post is generally very neat IMHO. Very nice explanation.

Galloglaich
2010-03-13, 03:17 PM
They could? As far as I know, roman shields from 100 BC to 150 AD were generally about 6 - 8mm of wood + max 5mm of cow skin. That's about half of inch at most.

Exactly, Spiryt you beat me to it. The Scutum was a light plywood shield with a bronze boss. You can't carry a picnic table around with you and march 30 miles a day...




In fighting alone big shield will generally be advantage too. Really hard to strike around it, and useful to pretty much any combat action.

Agreed. In fact, they used to do judicial combats with very large shield (though light) shields, quite big ones, specially made for that purpose.

http://www.kampaibudokai.org/DragonPreservationSociety/Talhoffer_files/talhoffer15.jpg

They even did judicial combat in some areas where all they used was the shield.

http://www.kampaibudokai.org/DragonPreservationSociety/Talhoffer_files/talhoffer17.jpg


Galloglaich's post is generally very neat IMHO. Very nice explanation.

Thanks! Glad somebody liked it :)

G.

Galloglaich
2010-03-13, 03:31 PM
For those in North America, find a full hobby store that supports scratch-built model airplanes and model railway buildings. They'll likely have thin planks of basswood there. I'm not entirely sure why the name was changed in this region, but it was. In addition to what Galloglaich mentions, the shields also tended to be made of what we would call plywood. Taking thin planks of lime/basswood and gluing them into thicker sheets cross-ply. Plywood's been around since Roman times, if not before.

Good point



As a defence of Recreationalists/Combat Coreographers also, I'd like to mention that you don't see many 'proper' shields out there mainly because of expense. As Galloglaich mentions, you run through shields pretty fast if they're built and used in a historical manner, and most of us who do that kind of thing have to buy or build our equipment personally. The wood itself for a proper lime/basswood 24" round small shield in the states would cost about $50-75 before any work is put into it (This cost is from about 8 years ago when I priced it out then). Given that during a three-hour show I was likely to be out on the field somewhere around 3-4 times, and I was using a 36" round shield; if I ran through 1 sheild per fight... I didn't get paid anywhere near enough to cover my personal cost in shields. Therefore I used poplar rather than basswood (a much cheaper wood here), and made it slightly thicker so the shield would last multiple shows before needing replacement. I couldn't use it to bind weapons quite as effectively as it 'should' have been, but it was the best I could afford to do.

Good points again, although in re-enactment combat you aren't using sharp steel weapons typically either, and if you are fighting actively your shield does not take as much of a beating (as I'm sure you know). I made a sparring shield out of two 1/8" 'door skins' of birch wood, which I applied crosswise and glued like they used to do, which made a remarkably strong plywood. It was not exactly authentic, (it had a stainless steel salad bowl for a boss) but very light and strong (it also helps a lot to put on a leather facing, which I covered in duct tape). It endured a couple of years of intense sparring, albeit mostly with padded or wooden weapons, before finally being ruined by Katrina. I ended up making 3 more but I sold them because I was short on money after the storm.

http://bellsouthpwp.net/d/e/deodand23/Redbuckler.JPG

For live-steel you probably do need to use something a bit heavier, like putting iron rims, and I don't think there is any problem with that so long as everyone remains aware that it's different from the real combat stuff (just as you use blunt weapons instead of sharp ones for obvious reasons!)

From what I gather the main advantage of linden wood is that arrows won't punch through it because it doesn't split and it's real springy and fibrous. They did some tests along these lines at hurwistic.

G.

Galloglaich
2010-03-13, 03:36 PM
About shields:

Has anyone mentioned the Swashbucklers yet? The term seems to be derived from the name for a certain attack ("Swashing blow") and a kind of shield.

In the original sense of the word, it referred to loud, boastful swordsmen who used side-swords and bucklers.

Yep, 'swash and buckle' men. Soldiers also used to wear their bucklers on their belts (many surviving bucklers had hooks on them for hooking into your belt). I think this is maybe where big redneck shield-like belt buckles come from, they just don't know it :)

G

Galloglaich
2010-03-13, 03:39 PM
Complete warrior allows you to impale your weapon in the enemy's shield to render it useless. Granted, it's kind of the contrary.:smalltongue:

I want a system which lets me bind the other guy's weapon with my shield, bash them with my shield, protect my sword hand, and use it in either active or passive defense. That's why I made one :)

G.

Fhaolan
2010-03-13, 10:53 PM
Good points again, although in re-enactment combat you aren't using sharp steel weapons typically either, and if you are fighting actively your shield does not take as much of a beating (as I'm sure you know).

Yeah, those swords aren't as blunt as you may hope some days. :smallsmile: Basically if they're reasonably accurate in profile, weight, and balance, (which is one of the things we strive for in the Seattle Knights), there's a limit to how blunt you can make them. It may have a square edge, but it's still a thin sheet of steel. :smallsmile:

Also, whenever I brought out my big round center-punch (which is still unique in the Knights, they tend towards later period kite shields), my fight partners always seem to scramble to get their pollaxes, falcattas, axes, etc. That poor thing never seemed to be up against swords. :smallsmile:

Occasional Sage
2010-03-14, 01:56 AM
The most popular wood for shields was a fibrous, light wood almost similar to balsa called linden or 'limewood'. The limewood tree like the ash was a sacred tree for almost all ancient Europeans, Germanic, Norse, Slavic, Greek. Limewood was ideal for shields because it was light, but very strong and fibrous and would not split, but would 'hold' weapons embedded in it**.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limewood

** The Vikings used to take advantage of this to wrench weapons out of their enemies hands. This was mentioned numerous times in the Icelandic sagas, for example in chapter 150 of Njáls saga, Kári caught a spear thrust with his shield, then snapped the spear by wrenching his shield.


If you wanted to get such an effect from an off-handed "weapon" shaped more like a long dagger or sai, what kind of material(s) would you suggest? It wouldn't need to be able to break anything, but rather embed and bind. My first thought is something like a lead-cored bat like the butt end of a pool cue, but anything edged would shear right through that I'd imagine.

Brainfart
2010-03-14, 11:24 AM
AGoT d20 does a fairly decent job of depicting the use of shields in my view. It gave a hefty bonus to your defense roll (IIRC it was about +4 to +8) instead of a passive and arbitrary 'Armour Class' bonus.

deuxhero
2010-03-14, 04:55 PM
What hand goes on top when using a 2 handed weapon (dominant/non dominate)?

Spiryt
2010-03-14, 05:05 PM
Generally dominant one goes up to provide control.

That's what period manuals show us (usually right hand is up).

And that's how my (and probably most people in general) hands naturally place themselves when I chop something. So that's kinda intuitive generally.

Galloglaich
2010-03-14, 10:36 PM
If you wanted to get such an effect from an off-handed "weapon" shaped more like a long dagger or sai, what kind of material(s) would you suggest? It wouldn't need to be able to break anything, but rather embed and bind. My first thought is something like a lead-cored bat like the butt end of a pool cue, but anything edged would shear right through that I'd imagine.

Another good question actually I think. This is a handy trick and it does seem logical to do it with a weapon. This is an interesting way to look at RPG combat, what worked for real, and therefore, we should find something which fits this need.

If you mean, a wooden weapon that could get the opponents blade 'stuck' in it, I don't think there are really real world examples... HOWEVER, many weapons were designed specifically for blocking and trapping the enemies blade, they were just usually made of metal A sai is a good example, so are blocking or parrying daggers

http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/images/h2/h2_26.145.94.jpg
http://www.deltin.net/2172hi.jpg

Or a main gauche (a more specialzied blocking dagger with more hand protection)

http://therionarms.com/armor/gauches.jpg

Some were made to split to catch blades easier

http://i22.photobucket.com/albums/b340/olaf_yahoo/swordcapturedagger.jpg
http://www.gothicfantasy.com/dagger/13Z1031.jpg

and special daggers which were called 'sword breakers' which were designed precisely with this intention.

http://i153.photobucket.com/albums/s216/phyreblade_blog/All%20Things%20Medieval/SwordBreaker-1.jpg

Also warhammers and war-picks, and weapons like kama or sickles can be used to parry and hook. This opens up the whole 'grappling with weapons' can of worms which is another thing very few RPG combat systems ever want to touch.

And finally cloaks in the off hand were often used to trap an opponents weapon in a variety of ways. This was highly recommended in the fechtbuchs and also used in street fights all over the world to this day.

I have to run though so I'll post some photos of that later.

G.

Occasional Sage
2010-03-14, 10:59 PM
Another good question actually I think. This is a handy trick and it does seem logical to do it with a weapon. This is an interesting way to look at RPG combat, what worked for real, and therefore, we should find something which fits this need.

If you mean, a wooden weapon that could get the opponents blade 'stuck' in it, I don't think there are really real world examples... HOWEVER, many weapons were designed specifically for blocking and trapping the enemies blade, they were just usually made of metal A sai is a good example, so are blocking or parrying daggers

G.

Sure, but if you see a sai you know what to expect. I'm thinking more of the surprise factor.

Galloglaich
2010-03-14, 11:19 PM
Sure, but if you see a sai you know what to expect. I'm thinking more of the surprise factor.

One of those daggers which splits into three sections at the touch of a button is bound to be a surprise...

G.

GolemsVoice
2010-03-15, 12:53 AM
I wondered last night. If you had four arms, two right arms on the right side and vice-versa, would it be possible to swing to two-handers? I picture it as uncomfortable and not as effective as swinging a two-hander with the two opposed hands, but I'm really not sure.

Ozymandias9
2010-03-15, 01:24 AM
It depends on a lot of factors. Low quality steel weapons may be inferior to bronze weapons, but higher quality steel should generally surpass what is possible with bronze in terms of retaining a sharp edge, tensile strength, and so on. Whether the difference was enough to cause the "change-over" or if it was more closely related to availability remains is of a contested question. I generally favour the former, but am always interested in arguments contesting the latter.

I'm generally of the latter opinion, at least in terms of the initial turn over. While iron is unquestionably the better option from the point of view of someone who knows how to work both metals, the quality of iron metalworking in Europe and Mesopotamia when the change over started was quite low (with the notable exception of the Hittites). These civilizations were working in wrought iron: they didn't have furnaces hot enough to make an iron weapon of the same quality as a bronze one, much less a superior one.

That said, when they had an incentive to make such a furnace, someone seems to have invented one. Iron metallurgy progressed much faster than bronze, which had essentially been stagnant since someone discovered that copper and tin alloyed better than copper and arsenic. The relatively rapid increase in the quality of iron weapons was almost certainly what clinched the change: if this weren't the case, we would merely have gone back to bronze once tin became more available.


I wondered last night. If you had four arms, two right arms on the right side and vice-versa, would it be possible to swing to two-handers? I picture it as uncomfortable and not as effective as swinging a two-hander with the two opposed hands, but I'm really not sure.

It's a stretch for "real world" but:
Assuming such a being existed and had motor function governed in generally the same way as a human, this would face more or less the same problems as a human faces in using a weapon in both hands. Such techniques are limited, difficult, and usually heavily focused on defense.

Additionally, the use of 2 handed weapons is generally based around higher use of body mass and momentum: you use your whole upper body in wielding a Zweihänder or Claymore, and limiting it to just one side would be detrimental.

In short: (not surprisingly) there are not real two-handed weapons that would be well adapted to such use (at least that I know of).

Edmund
2010-03-15, 04:17 AM
It seems that the Weapons That Made Britain series is now available to watch on YouTube, highly recommended viewing for the weapon enthusiast:

Weapons That Made Britain - Shield (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbK7m3w9FXI)
Weapons That Made Britain - Sword (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEMwcSGauY8)
Weapons That Made Britain - Lance (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LsSS5D7GCCM)
Weapons That Made Britain - Bow (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LsSS5D7GCCM)

Missing the "Armour" episode at the moment, but well worth watching if you have never seen it before. Streets ahead of the more woeful "Conquest": Maces were favoured by clerics... (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-S87kkS5m5Y)

Conquest - Crossbow (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpuVK1jwMIA)
Conquest - Axe (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhRCNLMzUMY)
Conquest - Dagger (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TTx-39gYqE)
Conquest - Broad Sword (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TTx-39gYqE)
Conquest - Weird Weapons (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxZ8iFtSvss)
Conquest - Barbarians (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urazD78xuHs)
Conquest - Romans (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fC0m4a_06DY)
Conquest - Knights (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZo_YIGXhRs)
Conquest - Tournament (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEa5AUU7myU)

Still, at least Galen is enthusiastic about the subject (a cookie if you get the reference). :smallbiggrin:

Though better than Conquest, Weapons that Made Britain is still full of awful scholarship.

Looking at the first few minutes of the Lance episode alone:

Treating the Normans as if they were the progenitors of heavy cavalry is itself disingenuous. The Franks or, hell, the Lombards, had been doing it for a long, long time before they even showed up in Gaul. The Normans did throw their lances, but this was rare, and in the Bayeux Tapestry there are clear examples of the lance being held couched, though the majority are using it in the underarm and overarm thrust in the same way as ancient Greek, Macedonian, and Roman cavalry and who knows how many other ancient cavalry forces, and there are plenty of clear illustrations for this in the tapestry, at least one of which the show itself displays. What's more, by 1066 the Normans' only real links to their Norse heritage were linguistic and cultural.

Matthew
2010-03-15, 08:15 AM
Though better than Conquest, Weapons that Made Britain is still full of awful scholarship.

I would not go that far, but I guess opinions of these things depend on context. Bear in mind as well that this was 2004, and things have moved on somewhat, particularly with regard to Guy Halsall's arguments in Warfare and Society in the Barbarian West 450-900 (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Warfare-Society-Barbarian-450-900-History/dp/0415239400) (2003).



Looking at the first few minutes of the Lance episode alone:

Treating the Normans as if they were the progenitors of heavy cavalry is itself disingenuous. The Franks or, hell, the Lombards, had been doing it for a long, long time before they even showed up in Gaul. The Normans did throw their lances, but this was rare, and in the Bayeux Tapestry there are clear examples of the lance being held couched, though the majority are using it in the underarm and overarm thrust in the same way as ancient Greek, Macedonian, and Roman cavalry and who knows how many other ancient cavalry forces, and there are plenty of clear illustrations for this in the tapestry, at least one of which the show itself displays. What's more, by 1066 the Normans' only real links to their Norse heritage were linguistic and cultural.

I would have to watch the show again, but I am pretty sure that what was being referred to there was the "couching" of the lance, which does seem to have turned up in around the tenth or eleventh centuries. The Normans were unlikely to have been the sole innovators, but they were certainly early adopters.

[edit] Watching the first few minutes I can see what you are saying, there is some emphasis on a foot-to-horse changeover of use of the spear, which is misleading (but remember this is in Britain he is talking about and only with a 300 year time frame), and he does take the point of view that "couching" was not happening at Hastings. That is an argument occasionally espoused, and much contested, I think Keen says as much in Chivalry as well. Yeah, page 24, no iconographic evidence for the couched lance before c. 1080.

Certainly, the Bayeux Tapestry shows lances being hurled, used overarm, underam, and couched (though mainly overarm), but shortly after that there is a preponderance towards depictions of cavalry with couched lances. Whether the tapestry depicts cavalry tactics of the time, or is simply presenting conventional configurations is also up for debate.



I'm generally of the latter opinion, at least in terms of the initial turn over. While iron is unquestionably the better option from the point of view of someone who knows how to work both metals, the quality of iron metalworking in Europe and Mesopotamia when the change over started was quite low (with the notable exception of the Hittites). These civilizations were working in wrought iron: they didn't have furnaces hot enough to make an iron weapon of the same quality as a bronze one, much less a superior one.

That said, when they had an incentive to make such a furnace, someone seems to have invented one. Iron metallurgy progressed much faster than bronze, which had essentially been stagnant since someone discovered that copper and tin alloyed better than copper and arsenic. The relatively rapid increase in the quality of iron weapons was almost certainly what clinched the change: if this weren't the case, we would merely have gone back to bronze once tin became more available.

That seems like a perfectly reasonable interpretation to me; a combination of availability and an eventual quality advantage.

MickJay
2010-03-15, 08:59 AM
I wondered last night. If you had four arms, two right arms on the right side and vice-versa, would it be possible to swing to two-handers? I picture it as uncomfortable and not as effective as swinging a two-hander with the two opposed hands, but I'm really not sure.

In addition to what Ozymandias9 said: I expect that four-armed beings would have developed a rather different fighting techniques (and weapons). Wielding two two-handed swords (or any other weapons), each in one pair of hands would have been extremely inconvenient and limiting - if anything, they'd probably hold one weapon in both right arms and one in both left arms, use 4 different weapons, or use one, holding it in all four (or perhaps in 3, and have something in the remaining one). It would probably take some sort of simulation (or very good anatomical and combat knowledge) to come up with a good answer to your question.

GolemsVoice
2010-03-15, 09:05 AM
if anything, they'd probably hold one weapon in both right arms and one in both left arms,

That's what I was asking about. My question is not really serious, it was just a silly thought of mine, so sorry to bother you.

Galloglaich
2010-03-15, 09:09 AM
I'm generally of the latter opinion, at least in terms of the initial turn over. While iron is unquestionably the better option from the point of view of someone who knows how to work both metals, the quality of iron metalworking in Europe and Mesopotamia when the change over started was quite low (with the notable exception of the Hittites). These civilizations were working in wrought iron: they didn't have furnaces hot enough to make an iron weapon of the same quality as a bronze one, much less a superior one.

Iron dates back to 1200 BC in the Middle East, and 800 BC in Europe, but in most places steel weapons didn't even begin to show up until around 100 BC. The exceptions were in three places that I'm aware of: India and Sri Lanka, where wootz (what people call 'Damascus') crucible steel was first created possibly as early as 300 BC, and in Celtic / Illyrian town of Noricum which seems to be producing steel weapons around 300 BC, which was soon absorbed by the Romans and became their best steel producing center) and in Iberia, where we have evidence of falcata and sword blades made with almost homogeneous steel also around 300 BC.

There is some evidence of Steel being produced in a region of Tanzania Africa around the time of Christ.

Everywhere else the only way to make swords was through painstaking forge-welding or pattern-welding processs, usually crude forge-welding of hard edges to soft spines or centers, and only small amounts of steel were being made around 50 AD.

The real problem with early iron weapons compared to bronze was that while you could mix bronze into a liquid and pour out an alloy with properties that were pretty predictable (and even then build it up in layrs if you wanted to) steel weapons were smelted from iron ore of different quality which was used to put together blades, not made from liquified iron, rather iron which had been heated up into a semi-malleable 'plastic' state and hammered into shape. Each piece of iron may have different carbon content and different flaws, you might have a piece of good steel, and then right next to it a piece of wrought iron full of (glass-like) slag which would snap easily. So it was very hard to get the right material for a whole sword. This only gradually improved as larger bloomery forges were made.



That said, when they had an incentive to make such a furnace, someone seems to have invented one. Iron metallurgy progressed much faster than bronze, which had essentially been stagnant since someone discovered that copper and tin alloyed better than copper and arsenic. The relatively rapid increase in the quality of iron weapons was almost certainly what clinched the change: if this weren't the case, we would merely have gone back to bronze once tin became more available.

When the iron weapons first appeared, they were much smaller, daggers and spear-heads, iron swords don't show up for a couple of hundred years. The main real advantage of iron initially was that you didn't need Tin or arsenic or calamide (a source of zinc) to produce it. Tin especially was very rare and hard to get, much of it imported from very distant centers such as on the Atlantic coast, which required a vast trade network and tended to favor organized centrally controlled kingdoms. Iron on the other hand, could be made by anyone with access to the ubiquitous iron ore that could be panned from numerous rivers or retrieved from bog deposits. So in a nutshell, the barbarians suddenly gained the ability to make lots and lots and lots of metal weapons, which may have been a contributing factor to the so-called Bronze Age Collapse as nearly every Bronze Age civilized center seems to have been burnt down around the time iron and the bloomery forge first began to spread.

The problem was not just that you had to make a furnace, but what kind you could make. The bloomery forge was the relatiively primtive device used by early iron makers. The blast furnace was discovered early in China, but came later in Europe, it was the best tool for making cast iron, which is useful for building things but isn't very good for swords.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloomery

The early bloomery forges of the Iron Age smelted very small pieces of iron, a few inches wide. A good blacksmith or swordmith could identify the good 'steely iron' pieces from those with too much slag or not enough carbon. What they did was start to set aside the steel or 'steely iron' pieces and then these would be forge-welded one to the other to make a nice hard rod which could be hammered into the edge for a sword or a knife or a spear-head. The low-carbon wrought iron could be used to make another rod which would become the center or spine of a blade. That was called forge welding.

Later they invented pattern-welding in which the wrought-iron and steel rods would be twisted around each other, then forge welded, to make a patten that was both hard and flexible, and tended to be stronger and more resiliant than the forge-weled types.

Indian crucible steel is similar to this but on an almost molecular level, it is really a kind of iron carbon compound which could me made into billets or 'cakes' of ultra-high carbon steel / wrought iron matrix that made fantastic blades.

Later on the Europeans started making much large bloomery forges, and by the 11th - 12th Centuries they started integrating these with water wheels and wind-mills, with automated trip hammers and automated bellows, which allowed them to make nice large pieces of homogeneous steel, strong and pure enough to make swords four, five and ultimately six feet long, and even eventually steel armor, crossbow prods, gun barrels etc.

G.

fusilier
2010-03-15, 09:24 AM
Concerning shields. Didn't the Ancient Egyptians use a large shield, that they basically planted in front of themselves during battle?

Matthew
2010-03-15, 10:02 AM
Concerning shields. Didn't the Ancient Egyptians use a large shield, that they basically planted in front of themselves during battle?

Possibly. Very large shields, which are more recognisable perhaps as a pavise, seem to have also been employed by the Persians, but they are not personal defence weapons so much as they are light mobile fortifications. Roman and Greek shields are the main sticking point, as very few examples survive, and those that do usually have to be "reconstructed" to some degree, or are considered to be votive, which is to say not intended for the battlefield. A good example of this is the Roman "Dura Europos Scutum (http://www.romancoins.info/MilitaryEquipment-Shield.html)", which is one of the main sources for the 20+ lb Roman shield, if I recall correctly [edit] Or maybe it was the Kasr-el-Harit Shield, as that is somewhat larger; I will have to look it up again.

On Trajan's column you can see shields being wheeled in carts alongside the marching legion. They could conceivably be spare shields or even extra large siege shields. Much is speculation, but I find it hard to believe that anybody could fight with a a 24 lb shield for any reasonable length of time.

fusilier
2010-03-15, 10:12 AM
Possibly. Very large shields, which are more recognisable perhaps as a pavise, seem to have also been employed by the Persians, but they are not personal defence weapons so much as they are light mobile fortifications.

That was my understanding of how they were used.

Galloglaich
2010-03-15, 10:20 AM
I think it was the Egyptian one (Scutum) which was heavy and and of unusual construction.

The consensus from the fanatical re-enactors is that the Scutum were lightly made like basically all battlefield shields we have archeological evidence for.

This group is a good source, one of otheir members Mattew Amt is a recognized expert in the field of Roman Weaponry and does a lot of work with Academia.. here is their scutum article:

http://www.larp.com/legioxx/scutum.html
http://www.larp.com/legioxx/Qscu2th.jpghttp://www.larp.com/legioxx/scubrace.jpg

Their main purpose was to stop javelins, which they did well. This was the primary purpose of shields during the entire period of they heydey; when most warriors carried them. This ended when high-energy missile weapons began to become prevalent on the battlefield.

The Romans got a taste of this when they faced the Huns with their powerful re-curve bows... but missile weapons that powerful did not become widepspread in the west until the turn of the millenium. An observer at the battle of Hastings noted that the Saxon shield wall did not hold up to the crossbows.

By the Medieval period very powerful crossbows, longbows, and early firearms and cannon... not to mention armored heavy cavalry, had made standing in a shield wall non functional as a strategy. The shield wall was basically replaced by the schiltron or halberd or pike square, and the latter were always supported by specialist archers, crossbowmen or gunners. During the glory days of the shield the individual fighters were more generalist and used both hand to hand (spears axes and swords) and missile wepaons (javelins, axes and darts) The shields similarly had a dual-purpose

Shields indended for hand to hand combat in the Medieval / Renaissance period became smaller and harder, the pavise was further away and larger, to give gunners and marksmen better protection against missiles, but even these got phased out by the Renaissance because they couldn't stop heavy arbalest bolts or arquebus balls.

G.

Galloglaich
2010-03-15, 10:27 AM
That was my understanding of how they were used.

The "Minoans" of Crete and the Agean islands (Santorini) used to have very large figure 8 shaped shields made of cow hide, which look like they might have been something like a pavise.

http://www.greek-thesaurus.gr/images/p4/eight_shield.JPG
http://www.diskoftheworld.com/images/shield2.jpg

They were, perhaps significantly, also known as one of the relatively few regions in antiquity where they had effective archers.

This large minoan shield confused a lot of academics and has been used as an argument that the Minoans were pacifist since (so some professors argue) it's too big to be practical in combat. I think it makes a lot more sense that it was something like a pavise.

G.

Galloglaich
2010-03-15, 10:36 AM
Sure, but if you see a sai you know what to expect. I'm thinking more of the surprise factor.

Also, look a little closer at those Main Gauches. Keep in mind, no part of real weapons was made in vain. Look at the little notches in the blades of #5 and #1. These had a purpose, namely to catch an opponents sword and hold it, much like the more obvious combs on the sword breaker... only sneakier since they would not be immediately apparent in a fight. A good fencer could use something like that to snap or twist an opponents blade by surprise at just the right decisive moment.

This is also true to a large extent to those hooked crossugards you see on #2 and #4 and on both of the splitting daggers. Those hooked crosses are less effective at stopping cuts (which is why many of the Main Gauche have very large strait quillions almost like a sword) but they give you the ability to trap a sword blade and twist and hold it for a disarm or a long bind while you do a vicious riposte.

Just some food for thought as to the reality of a fight and how tricks like this were really done.

G.

Matthew
2010-03-15, 10:49 AM
The "Minoans" of Crete and the Agean islands (Santorini) used to have very large figure 8 shaped shields made of cow hide, which look like they might have been something like a pavise.

They were, perhaps significantly, also known as one of the relatively few regions in antiquity where they had effective archers.

This large Minoan shield confused a lot of academics and has been used as an argument that the Minoans were pacifist since (so some professors argue) it's too big to be practical in combat. I think it makes a lot more sense that it was something like a pavise.

Definitely seems to make more sense as a pavise than evidence of pacifism! Actually, that reminds me, there is a great moment in the Iliad where one of the characters is shielded by another as he shoots with his bow:

...and ninth in order, Teucer,
his bow bent hard and strung. He took his stand
behind the shield of Telamonian Aias,
and Aias would put up his shield a bit: beneath it
the archer could take aim - and when his shot
went home, his enemy perished on the spot,
while he ducked back to Aias' flank the way
a boy does to his mother, and with his shield
Aias concealed him. [Book VIII, Lines 267-275].

Galloglaich
2010-03-15, 01:17 PM
I wish I had Homers way with words, makes me want to go on a journey across the wine-dark sea.

I wonder if the pavise evolved from ordinary soldiers covering archers with their shields...

G.

Ogremindes
2010-03-16, 05:53 AM
Treating the Normans as if they were the progenitors of heavy cavalry is itself disingenuous.

Not the progenitors of heavy cavalry, but the progenitors of heavy cavalry in Britain. 'cause that's what the show's about. Britain. Except when it digresses into German judicial duelling shields.

Subotei
2010-03-16, 06:15 PM
The Romans got a taste of this when they faced the Huns with their powerful re-curve bows... but missile weapons that powerful did not become widepspread in the west until the turn of the millenium. An observer at the battle of Hastings noted that the Saxon shield wall did not hold up to the crossbows.
G.

I read somewhere the shieldwall held whilst the Norman bowmen were firing in a flat trajectory because as you'd expect, the shield wall would provide cover from that direction, but that they were ordered to fire high so as to clear the wall and plunge down they caused more problems.

Were large numbers of crossbows used at Hastings? Most accounts I've read give them a passing reference at best.

Fortinbras
2010-03-16, 08:04 PM
Couple of questions.

Firstly what kinds of tactics did infantry armed with bolt-action rifles employ when they took the offensive and cleared buildings and overran perimiters. It seems like a rifle like a lee enfield would be a good defensive weapon but it would be less efective when used offensively.

Second, what kinds of artillery is being used by coeltion forces in Afghanistan?
Is it mainly howitzers or rockets? What do artillery officers do?

Thirdly, how elite are the U.S. Army Rangers really? I've heared some people compare them to SEALs and the SAS and others say that they aren't much better than regular Marine Infantry.

Raum
2010-03-16, 08:27 PM
Couple of questions.

Firstly what kinds of tactics did infantry armed with bolt-action rifles employ when they took the offensive and cleared buildings and overran perimiters. It seems like a rifle like a lee enfield would be a good defensive weapon but it would be less efective when used offensively.Charges were generally taken in with the bayonet if that's what you're asking. Of course it's not bayonet alone, you've got at least one shot yourself, covering fire from friends, and grenades.


Second, what kinds of artillery is being used by coeltion forces in Afghanistan?
Is it mainly howitzers or rockets? What do artillery officers do?We generally avoid things which are too recent or too politicized, so I'll just say Google for Predator (and other) drones.


Thirdly, how elite are the U.S. Army Rangers really? I've heared some people compare them to SEALs and the SAS and others say that they aren't much better than regular Marine Infantry.That's all opinion...well mostly. In general, the smaller the force the more elite. Another potential measure is the ratio of fighting troops to support troops. You'll probably get many different answers though. :)

Mike_G
2010-03-16, 08:49 PM
Couple of questions.

Firstly what kinds of tactics did infantry armed with bolt-action rifles employ when they took the offensive and cleared buildings and overran perimiters. It seems like a rifle like a lee enfield would be a good defensive weapon but it would be less efective when used offensively.


Well, the Lee Enfield was developed at a time when infantry were expected to engage targets in formation at long range, and that's what it's good at. It's a different mindset that an assault rifle or submachinegun.

That said, It does take a big, scary sword bayonet.

I imagine that when the British infantry of the World Wars did close, they just tried to take that extra split second to aim, knowing that there would be a delay for the second shot.

Beside, when clearing buildings or bunkers, grenades and balls matter more than rifles.

The Japanese used the bolt action Arisaka throughout the war, and they were eager to close with the enemy.



Second, what kinds of artillery is being used by coeltion forces in Afghanistan?
Is it mainly howitzers or rockets? What do artillery officers do?


Can't really help you there. I assume howitzers, since they dominate US artillery doctrine. That and airstrikes, considering how remote some of the areas are.

Artillery officers often provide forward observers, and co-ordinate fire missions. Other than that, they do all the things Infantry officers do, but with less dirt on their uniforms and farther from the target.



Thirdly, how elite are the U.S. Army Rangers really? I've heared some people compare them to SEALs and the SAS and others say that they aren't much better than regular Marine Infantry.

US Army Rangers, currently the 75th Infantry Regiment, are not as highly trained as SEALS or SAS. The US Army's special forces are Green Berets, which are more or less comparable. Rangers fight as light infantry, in platoon or company or battalion etc strength, not as special forces teams. The mission is different, and they operate more like a standard conventional infantry unit, rather than the way a SEAL team would operate, with a small team doing specific tasks away from a larger force. SEALS or Green Berets or SAS woulkd have a lot more specialized training in working in small groups and working with local forces. Those are the guys who served with and called in airstrikes for the Afghan Northern Alliance as they overthrew the Taliban in 2002.

That said, Rangers are jump trained, and better than average quality infantry. Some infantry units, particularly forward based units, are said to be Special Operations Capable, which means they are deployed as regular infantry, but have the raining and capability to do what would be considered a "Special Forces" mission at need if they are the troops available in theater.

When US pilot Scott O'Grady was shot down over Bosnia in 1995, he was rescued by US Marines from the 24 th Marine Expeditonary Unit. It was, in fact, the Mortar Platton who went in as infantry, since they were they duty platoon at the moment the mission launched.

Not SEALs, not SAS, not Green Berets. Regular Marine Infantry. And not even a Rifle platoon. But they were close, they were good, and there wasn't time to get the Greenie Beanies over there from Ft Bragg.

Storm Bringer
2010-03-17, 07:23 AM
Couple of questions.

Firstly what kinds of tactics did infantry armed with bolt-action rifles employ when they took the offensive and cleared buildings and overran perimiters. It seems like a rifle like a lee enfield would be a good defensive weapon but it would be less efective when used offensively.

basically, the same fire and manuver tactics we use today, with the attacking unit split into several sections, which will alternate between providing covering fire and dashing forewards. grenades, when they were introduced, were used as needed (smoke nades for cover, frags to clear spaces, etc), and LMGs were likewise used in a simmilar style to today, providing a base of fire to suppress the target.

the aim is to keep enough fire on the target that he cannot return fire effectivly (suppressing him). pretty much anything you have can be used for this: motars, heavy arty, HMGs, chemical weaponry: anything that keeps thier heads down, goes. you need to get within one 'bound' of the target and then charge in with the bayonet and grenade (assuming the defenders havn't pulled out of the target)



Second, what kinds of artillery is being used by coeltion forces in Afghanistan?
Is it mainly howitzers or rockets? What do artillery officers do?

I havn't been on ops yet, so i can't comment on whats actaully happening on teh ground. However, I'd say we use whatever we can get out hands on. US and british arty is mostly howitzers, so that would make up a lot of the forces deployed. However, a lot of fire support comes from the air.

arty officers attached to thier batteries do basically the same jobs as infanty officers do, as Mike_G says. when attached as a forward observer, they use their superior knowledge of gunnery and such to better direct fire support (ie. they can talk to the gunners better as they've been on the other end and know they'll understand and won't.) same goes with forward air controllers, who are trained to understand how to relate what they see to what the pilots can see and so talk them onto the targets.




Thirdly, how elite are the U.S. Army Rangers really? I've heared some people compare them to SEALs and the SAS and others say that they aren't much better than regular Marine Infantry.

thier elite infantry, not spec-ops. I'd rate on par with units like the british Paras (suprise), rather than SAS. thier 'better' than a standard leg infantry regiment, but how much quanitive advantage they have is unclear to me as an outsider (i.e. how much extra training they get, if they get above average equipment, prioity for fire support, etc)

fusilier
2010-03-17, 09:51 AM
Couple of questions.

Firstly what kinds of tactics did infantry armed with bolt-action rifles employ when they took the offensive and cleared buildings and overran perimiters. It seems like a rifle like a lee enfield would be a good defensive weapon but it would be less efective when used offensively.

The French opinion of early bolt action rifles (the chassepot), was exactly as you describe, a defensive weapon. The idea was to take to the offensive strategically, but have a defensive tactical stance, where they greater rate of fire and accuracy of their weapons could take its toll. This was basically the tactic used during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. While the French generally lost, when they could get an organized army on the field, they do seem to have inflicted heavy losses on the attacking Prussians.

While I do not know what the doctrine is, I would suspect that the close up fighting involved with clearing houses would require heavy use of the bayonet. Most WW1 era rifles were longer than Springfield or Enfield (those being the two exceptions), so they could easily get unwieldy in close quarters. Even those troops armed with shorter rifles, typically resorted to clubs and entrenching tools when raiding enemy trenches in WW1. Clearing of bunkers was done by what ever means were available. Flamethrowers, grenades (both defensive and offensive), and even gas. Some WW1 all-ways fused offensive grenades were basically used the same way that "flash-bangs" are used today, i.e. to disorient and stun.

Mike_G
2010-03-17, 11:06 AM
thier elite infantry, not spec-ops. I'd rate on par with units like the british Paras (suprise), rather than SAS. thier 'better' than a standard leg infantry regiment, but how much quanitive advantage they have is unclear to me as an outsider (i.e. how much extra training they get, if they get above average equipment, prioity for fire support, etc)


"Better" isn't a useful way to judge different types of units. It's a question of the right tool for the job.

If you want a team to advise indiginous irregular forces, call in air support and train them, you want Green Berets. If you want to rescue some hostages at an embassy, you want Delta or SAS. If the enemy has crew served weapons and observation posts on offshore oil rigs, you probably want to send the SEALs after them. If you want to airdrop a battalion of troops behind the main enemy line of resistance and have them seize and hold a vital crossroads and disrupt enemy supply routes, you want Rangers. If you want a force in readiness that can quickly respond to a threat, you want a Navy battle group with an Aircraft carriers and a Helicopter Assault Ship with a Marine Expeditionary Unit, because you can park it off any coast in the world and deploy at a moment's notice.

A good unit is very good at their mission. They can make a solid attempt at a different mission, but probably will not do as good a job as the right kind of unit. Special Forces often get misused because of the perception that they are supermen.

Dervag
2010-03-17, 01:47 PM
Another potential measure is the ratio of fighting troops to support troops. You'll probably get many different answers though. :)Could you explain this in more detail, please?


The French opinion of early bolt action rifles (the chassepot), was exactly as you describe, a defensive weapon. The idea was to take to the offensive strategically, but have a defensive tactical stance, where they greater rate of fire and accuracy of their weapons could take its toll. This was basically the tactic used during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. While the French generally lost, when they could get an organized army on the field, they do seem to have inflicted heavy losses on the attacking Prussians.Though, to be fair, those are breech-loaders, not bolt-action in the classical sense, because they didn't have a magazine.


While I do not know what the doctrine is, I would suspect that the close up fighting involved with clearing houses would require heavy use of the bayonet.That does seem to have been the general answer, along with improvised melee weapons and (where available) grenades.

fusilier
2010-03-17, 02:23 PM
Though, to be fair, those are breech-loaders, not bolt-action in the classical sense, because they didn't have a magazine.

I consider rifles with a "bolt-action" to be bolt-action rifles. This applies to Dreyse Needle Rifles, as much as it does to an SMLE or 1903 Springfield. While I suspect that the original question referred to later magazine bolt-action rifles, the fact that earlier bolt-action rifles were also interpreted as being better employed in defensive actions is valid.

Likewise I don't consider something like a lever-action Winchester (which has a magazine) to be a bolt-action rifle.

By the way these are all "breech-loaders", as are M-16s, AK-47s and Vickers machine guns. I believe you mean "single shot" breech-loader.

fusilier
2010-03-17, 02:32 PM
"Better" isn't a useful way to judge different types of units. It's a question of the right tool for the job.

I agree. There is a difference between special forces and elite troops. Historically, I've heard examples of special forces units being misused in a typical infantry role, usually with poor results.

Raum
2010-03-17, 08:06 PM
Could you explain this in more detail, please?"In wars that the U.S. have been involved in since the end of World War II; the ratio of U.S. combat troops to combat service support and support have gone from 4 support soldiers to 1 infantryman to 7 support soldiers to 1 infantryman in Iraq and Afghanistan." - Lt. Colonel Robert A. Lynn

So, using the combat to support troop ratio, we're arguably a less efficient fighting force today than in WWII. Probably not very surprising giving all the technological changes. That same ratio can be used to measure efficiency of different forces - assuming you have access to all the numbers. It isn't really cut and dry...special forces units often pull support from regular troops, Marines get support from the Navy, etc. It's just one potential measurement with its own inherent flaws. That's why I said 'better' is largely opinion. It will depend on everything from personal bias to what they're intended to do. As Mike G mentioned, you need the right tool for the job.

Crow
2010-03-17, 08:32 PM
The numbers are flawed though.

What the numbers don't show is efficiency in regards to actual combat effectiveness. While the ratio of support soldiers is higher, it can be argued that increases in combat effectiveness since WWII actual make for a more efficient force than it's WWII counterpart.

Raum
2010-03-17, 08:57 PM
The numbers are flawed though.Yes. That's why I said there were 'inherent flaws' with using such a measurement. Even so, it's mildly useful for comparing forces with similar functions in the same time frame.

Compare USMC to US Army for example. Though there are flaws even there as I pointed out above.

Dervag
2010-03-17, 10:43 PM
Yes. That's why I said there were 'inherent flaws' with using such a measurement. Even so, it's mildly useful for comparing forces with similar functions in the same time frame.

Compare USMC to US Army for example. Though there are flaws even there as I pointed out above.But is this a reliable correlation? Has anyone graphed this, or is it just a tool that people with small support forces use to sneer at people with large ones? I mean, the Japanese Army in the Pacific had a very low ratio of support to front liners; they often staged amphibious landings with negligible logistics followup. But that didn't make them the most potent army in the theater, and when the logistics-heavy US got into gear, they got pushed back over and over.


"In wars that the U.S. have been involved in since the end of World War II; the ratio of U.S. combat troops to combat service support and support have gone from 4 support soldiers to 1 infantryman to 7 support soldiers to 1 infantryman in Iraq and Afghanistan." - Lt. Colonel Robert A. Lynn

So, using the combat to support troop ratio, we're arguably a less efficient fighting force today than in WWII. Probably not very surprising giving all the technological changes. That same ratio can be used to measure efficiency of different forces - assuming you have access to all the numbers. It isn't really cut and dry...special forces units often pull support from regular troops, Marines get support from the Navy, etc. It's just one potential measurement with its own inherent flaws. That's why I said 'better' is largely opinion. It will depend on everything from personal bias to what they're intended to do. As Mike G mentioned, you need the right tool for the job.The problem I see is that the weight of the spearshaft doesn't necessarily say much about how sharp the point is, as it were.

A fighter-bomber pilot will have a swarm of support crew just to keep his plane flying and armed... but he's probably doing a lot more damage than an equivalent number of riflemen and their support troops. Certainly nearly as much.

So I question the proposition that this can be used as a reliable measure of troop quality, or of the effectiveness of an army of X thousand soldiers (including support troops).


I consider rifles with a "bolt-action" to be bolt-action rifles. This applies to Dreyse Needle Rifles, as much as it does to an SMLE or 1903 Springfield. While I suspect that the original question referred to later magazine bolt-action rifles, the fact that earlier bolt-action rifles were also interpreted as being better employed in defensive actions is valid.

Likewise I don't consider something like a lever-action Winchester (which has a magazine) to be a bolt-action rifle.

By the way these are all "breech-loaders", as are M-16s, AK-47s and Vickers machine guns. I believe you mean "single shot" breech-loader....Darnit.

Look, you're right, but I think you're missing the spirit of the question in the name of technical precisionism.

Raum
2010-03-18, 07:45 PM
So I question the proposition that this can be used as a reliable measure of troop quality, or of the effectiveness of an army of X thousand soldiers (including support troops).It doesn't measure quality. It measures efficiency, and, as previously mentioned, it's not perfect at that.

Going back to what started this:
That's all opinion...well mostly. In general, the smaller the force the more elite. Another potential measure is the ratio of fighting troops to support troops. You'll probably get many different answers though. :) I was attempting to point out two different potential methods of measurement of many possible ways to measure a force's 'eliteness'. There are many different measurements you could use.

A measurement of "how elite" something is will be opinion until you define factors that make that thing "elite". Please don't get overly hung up on one potential measurement of many.

fusilier
2010-03-19, 12:46 AM
...Darnit.

Look, you're right, but I think you're missing the spirit of the question in the name of technical precisionism.

Hehe. :-)

Actually, my point about the defensive nature of bolt-action rifles still remains. When the famous Lebel 1886 was introduced, it had a magazine, and greater long range accuracy (even more so when they introduced the Balle D, i.e. spitzer bullet). This gave it a better rate of fire, and increased the effective range. To take advantage of the increase range, the troops had to be stationary, and if firing from fixed positions (where the rifles could easily be rested), it would be even better.

All this is true for the Chassepot rifle during its time period. While the minie ball had provided an increase in accuracy at range, it wasn't necessarily used at longer ranges. Studies from the American Civil War, show most officers not opening up fire until around 100 yards; about the same range smoothbore muskets would start firing. The exceptions where troops were allowed to open fire at longer ranges, were often defended upon the basis that it released some stress and calmed the men down, i.e. that it was not supposed to be effective fire. However, the increased accuracy of the Minie gun appears to have increased the casualty rates. During the Franco-Sardinian-Austrian War of 1859, the French typically charged the Austrians en masse with much "fury" (Furia Francese), rather effectively, although casualties could be heavy. The Austrians applied this lesson when they fought the Prussians in the Austro-Prussian War. But the Prussians were armed with faster firing needle rifles, and the tactic was a total disaster.

The French were paying attention. They had been developing their own breech-loading weapon. The Chassepot, while it had the same rate of fire as the Dreyse Needle Gun, had a better gas-seal and superior range. The tactic was for the infantry to find good positions where their longer ranged weapons could be more effective, dig in, and let the enemy charge. When the French could get their act together (and the Prussians had a huge advantage in terms of coordination at the strategic level), they were able to put up a fairly good fight. The Prussians however had good rifled, breachloading artillery, and that helped balance out the superiority of the French small arms.

I think many of those conditions would hold true for a magazine fed bolt-action rifle (or even a well made semi-automatic rifle). Longer effective range means that under the right circumstances they could be inflicting casualties on their opponents before they could close with faster firing weapons. A properly planned defensive posture would be the most reliable way to generate such conditions. However, once the enemy closes, then the faster-firing weapon will have an advantage . . . one that could be mitigated by fortifications, but only so much.

All this is being done in the absence of things like artillery and air-support though.

a_humble_lich
2010-03-19, 01:50 AM
Actually, my point about the defensive nature of bolt-action rifles still remains...

You could argue that the defensive nature of bolt action rifles also lead to the nature of the trench warfare of WWI. When the riflemen in the trenches were mostly all armed with more defensive weapons (and the best close quarters weapon they had may have been the bayonet), the fighting naturally lead itself to defensive trench warfare.

Although, I admit there were other, possibly far more important, defensive weapons which were important in WWI--namely machine guns and artillery.

fusilier
2010-03-19, 02:33 AM
You could argue that the defensive nature of bolt action rifles also lead to the nature of the trench warfare of WWI. When the riflemen in the trenches were mostly all armed with more defensive weapons (and the best close quarters weapon they had may have been the bayonet), the fighting naturally lead itself to defensive trench warfare.

Although, I admit there were other, possibly far more important, defensive weapons which were important in WWI--namely machine guns and artillery.

I think there are a lot factors involved, but you are on to something. The general thinking around the time seems to have been to dig in -- even in small shallow trenches, and use the rifle from behind that (this is when personal entrenching tools started to be issued). Digging trenches (or rifle pits), was something that was expected, even if the theory was only to secure a temporary position.

I think some aspects of the bolt-action rifle clearly influenced this attitude, but also there was the general sense of evolving tactics. Communications before WW1 were very primitive, and at the tactical level, really no different than they were in the Napoleonic Wars. So a commander had to be able to shout orders to his troops (or use bugle commands). The tactics didn't call for the amount of initiative that developed later. The books still included "close order" formations that were basically lining up the soldiers shoulder-to-shoulder, in one or two ranks! Although there was more emphasis on open order tactics. Command and control, therefore, required denser formations of soldiers, but these denser formations were at risk from the increased firepower of new weapons. The answer seems to have been to take (or build) cover, to reduce exposure.

I think something that is over-looked when people speculate on the causes of stalemate on the Western Front, is aerial reconnaissance. For the first time, both sides seemed to have a very good idea about the location of their enemy. Early in the war, enemy planes were usually ignored by other aircraft, and had little to fear from ground fire. I think that this unprecedented level of intelligence helped prevent surprise flanking maneuvers, and other such actions, at the strategic level. Combined with other technological and doctrinal factors stalemate and trench warfare was the result.

Subotei
2010-03-19, 08:51 AM
You could argue that the defensive nature of bolt action rifles also lead to the nature of the trench warfare of WWI. When the riflemen in the trenches were mostly all armed with more defensive weapons (and the best close quarters weapon they had may have been the bayonet), the fighting naturally lead itself to defensive trench warfare.

Although, I admit there were other, possibly far more important, defensive weapons which were important in WWI--namely machine guns and artillery.

Quite - I agree with your second statement. I read somewhere (cant recall where unfortunately) that very few men in WWI actually fired their rifles in combat. Artillery and machine guns did the damage, and infantry in assaults (defending and attacking) used grenades at close quarters.


I think there are a lot factors involved, but you are on to something. The general thinking around the time seems to have been to dig in -- even in small shallow trenches, and use the rifle from behind that (this is when personal entrenching tools started to be issued). Digging trenches (or rifle pits), was something that was expected, even if the theory was only to secure a temporary position.

I think some aspects of the bolt-action rifle clearly influenced this attitude, but also there was the general sense of evolving tactics. Communications before WW1 were very primitive, and at the tactical level, really no different than they were in the Napoleonic Wars. So a commander had to be able to shout orders to his troops (or use bugle commands). The tactics didn't call for the amount of initiative that developed later. The books still included "close order" formations that were basically lining up the soldiers shoulder-to-shoulder, in one or two ranks! Although there was more emphasis on open order tactics. Command and control, therefore, required denser formations of soldiers, but these denser formations were at risk from the increased firepower of new weapons. The answer seems to have been to take (or build) cover, to reduce exposure.

I think something that is over-looked when people speculate on the causes of stalemate on the Western Front, is aerial reconnaissance. For the first time, both sides seemed to have a very good idea about the location of their enemy. Early in the war, enemy planes were usually ignored by other aircraft, and had little to fear from ground fire. I think that this unprecedented level of intelligence helped prevent surprise flanking maneuvers, and other such actions, at the strategic level. Combined with other technological and doctrinal factors stalemate and trench warfare was the result.

I think you've made two good points here. Firstly the scale of the defences made tactical surprise for the attacker very hard to achieve. To get infantry through the defences massive artillery and supply preparations were needed, allowing the enemy ample time to prepare thanks to the fact the preparations could not be kept hidden. Generally on the western front the Germans had the advantage of higher ground and also observations from balloons and planes.

Secondly, whilst the scale of battles had increased, the range at which command and control of troops on the battlefield could be acheived had barely moved since Napoleon's day, as you said. After the well laid plans for the initial assault (which very often achieved its objectives) control of the battle was difficult as there was not effective way for the commanders on the spot to reorganise to face whatever fluid situation was in front of them. Radios were too bulky (one developed specifically for the trenches required 12 men to carry it); field telephones relied on wires which were very vulnerable to being cut (in the battlezone wires were generally considered reliable if they were buried 6 feet down - not possible in attack); signal flags were obscured; the only way to communicate with the rear effectively was by runners, which faced the gauntlet of enemy artillery fire and so generally arrived late or not at all. One estimate of the average time for a signal to reach Divisonal HQ from the front was 10 hours, (and 10 hours back again!) (Keegan). Reinforcements, supplies and artillery support were therefore generally not there in time to do much good against the inevitable counter attack. As the war went on this led to over-elaborate planning, as the only way generals could actually influence battles was in advance.

The Germans developed stormtrooper tactics, where assault troops were trained to use their initiative in the attack to exploit local gains, rather than waiting for direction from above that would never come. These infantry were very effective later in the war.

Dervag
2010-03-19, 12:18 PM
Quite - I agree with your second statement. I read somewhere (cant recall where unfortunately) that very few men in WWI actually fired their rifles in combat. Artillery and machine guns did the damage, and infantry in assaults (defending and attacking) used grenades at close quarters.The catch is that the infantry are armed with relatively poor weapons for the offense, because they haven't got the weight of fire to make up for the loss of accuracy that goes with firing on the move. So the attacking infantry aren't going to be able to suppress the defender's machine guns in a firefight... whereas troops with semiautomatic or automatic rifles could.

fusilier
2010-03-19, 06:14 PM
I think you've made two good points here.

[. . .]

The Germans developed stormtrooper tactics, where assault troops were trained to use their initiative in the attack to exploit local gains, rather than waiting for direction from above that would never come. These infantry were very effective later in the war.

Good points there too. Carrier Pigeons were also used, but they could only send messages to fixed points. Dogs were sometimes used as well.

Infiltration tactics have an interesting history. Arguably the first to use many of the aspects of late war "stosstruppen" (shock troop) tactics on a large scale were the Russians, in the surprisingly successful Brusilov Offensive of 1916. Besides the increased training, and greater initiative, given to shock troops there were other significant improvements. Firstly, they were expected to attack weak points, then penetrate to the rear to isolate strong points. Secondly, the preceding bombardment was to be very short (a matter of hours, rather than days) but very intense, and precise. The idea was to not allow the enemy time to move up reinforcements. The Germans wouldn't even register their artillery; they simply took very careful measurements and made detailed calculations, to achieve as much surprise as possible.

The problem of logistics and artillery keeping up with the attackers was still present. Although successful attacks could now gain much more ground than before.

The response to infiltration tactics was to allow more flexibility and initiative on the defense. Abandoning the idea of a "continuous line" of defense, for one of isolated strongholds. Individual commanders could decide when to fall back on pre-designated strong-points, and when to conduct counter-attacks, rather than waiting for detailed orders from HQ. This lesson was applied after the Caporetto disaster in 1917, but not completely by some of the forces on the Western Front by the time the 1918 German Spring Offensive rolled around. A problem with this defensive strategy was evidenced after the Austrian offensive in July of 1918. The Italians held them off, but with individual battalions, and even companies, retreating and counter-attacking as they saw fit, they were, from an organization point of view, in complete disarray! Units were scattered all over the place, and supply lines a tangled mess. All this took some time to work out before a large-scale counter attack could be delivered.

fusilier
2010-03-19, 06:21 PM
The catch is that the infantry are armed with relatively poor weapons for the offense, because they haven't got the weight of fire to make up for the loss of accuracy that goes with firing on the move. So the attacking infantry aren't going to be able to suppress the defender's machine guns in a firefight... whereas troops with semiautomatic or automatic rifles could.

I've actually participated in a WW1 reenactment, and once you're in no mans land there's precious little to shoot at with a rifle. Especially if the trenches are well built with loop-holes, the enemy doesn't have to expose himself. Machine guns might be able to provide enough covering fire, but even that's not guaranteed. You are too exposed to lay down good covering fire with rifles while some members advance. Creeping barrages could be useful. But basically Dervag is right. Italian Arditi (special assault units, sometimes considered quasi-special forces) primary weapons were knives and grenades, with carbines for defense.

a_humble_lich
2010-03-19, 07:38 PM
But one can ask if WWI armies had been armed with more effective offensive weapons at the onset, would the trench warfare have even started. In the early stages before the trenches started both the Germans and French tried much more offensive tactics. The French position was with enough elan they'd win. If they'd had submachine guns and assault rifles then, they could have perhaps been effective before the trenches were dug.

Of course this is very speculative.

fusilier
2010-03-20, 03:41 AM
But one can ask if WWI armies had been armed with more effective offensive weapons at the onset, would the trench warfare have even started. In the early stages before the trenches started both the Germans and French tried much more offensive tactics. The French position was with enough elan they'd win. If they'd had submachine guns and assault rifles then, they could have perhaps been effective before the trenches were dug.

Of course this is very speculative.

If I recall correctly the French were actually planning on transitioning to a semi-automatic rifle prior to the outbreak of WW1. It seems like these plans got shelved, and not until just before WW2 did they take up such plans again.

At anyrate, I do think that the weapons, and tactics, did encourage trench warfare. However, I think that aerial reconnaissance was a major factor in strategic "stalemate." Assuming that stalemate at the strategic level doesn't necessarily imply trench warfare.

I also think that there are other factors that need to be looked at. The Eastern Front was more mobile than the Western. Why? They dug trenches there too. I've wondered if it was simply a matter of the ratio of men per unit-length of front lines being lower. If there weren't enough aircraft to prevent the occasional strategic surprise. Did a lack of infrastructure have an effect?

--EDIT--
Wikipedia claims it was the length of the front, and a lack of communications that made defensive lines weaker, and prevented the defender from quickly containing a breakthrough.

Fortinbras
2010-03-20, 09:26 AM
So is there any advantage to using howizters over aircraft or is on the ground field artillery on its way out?

Storm Bringer
2010-03-20, 02:24 PM
both ground and air have their advantages:

tube arty has, compared to air, presistance. a Jet can carry half a dozen bombs, and absolutely flatten two or three targets, but then it must head back to it's airfield to re-arm. An arty firebase, assuming you can supply it properly, can project force over a target area for months if need be. Once in place, it can be called upon at a moments notice, and respond quickly to a urgent call for support. If your fighting over one area a lot, then having arty for fire support would be a great boon.

air, on the other hand, has great flexibility, and a considerable psycological effect. Serveral times, in the fighting in afgan and Iraq, the mere appearence of a jet fighter caused the enemy milita to go to ground, or at least make them slacken thier attacks for a moment.

Thiel
2010-03-20, 07:05 PM
Air units also have the ability to respond very fast, something artillery can't do, unless it's already there. A jet can take off from its airbase and be at the target within minutes, whereas even the best artillery will need at least an hour or two to get there and deploy the guns. And if the terrain is very rough, it might not be able to deploy there at all.

But, as Storm Bringer said, once its there, it can keep up the attack for a very long time.

Storm Bringer
2010-03-21, 08:16 AM
I think it's another case of different tools being betterfor different jobs. if you have a lot of trouble in one smallish area, then moving a battery of guns into a covering position would make more sense than using air support. However, if you have a lot of smaller trouble spots spread over a wide area, then aircraft can cover that better than guns could.

Raum
2010-03-21, 11:13 AM
There are too many things air power simply can't do for it to replace artillery. You can't deploy manned aircraft with your front line troops, you use mortars and howitzers. You can't harden aircraft enough to continue to operate under heavy fire, you can dig in artillery. Aircraft can't stay on target 24/7, they need to refuel and rearm. Artillery can stay deployed and have fuel and munitions brought to it. That's not a complete list either.

It's worth noting that several generals have claimed air power would eliminate the need for ground armies since WWII. They've all failed to prove the point. Combined arms is still the requirement.

Subotei
2010-03-22, 06:27 AM
At anyrate, I do think that the weapons, and tactics, did encourage trench warfare. However, I think that aerial reconnaissance was a major factor in strategic "stalemate." Assuming that stalemate at the strategic level doesn't necessarily imply trench warfare.

I also think that there are other factors that need to be looked at. The Eastern Front was more mobile than the Western. Why? They dug trenches there too. I've wondered if it was simply a matter of the ratio of men per unit-length of front lines being lower. If there weren't enough aircraft to prevent the occasional strategic surprise. Did a lack of infrastructure have an effect?

--EDIT--
Wikipedia claims it was the length of the front, and a lack of communications that made defensive lines weaker, and prevented the defender from quickly containing a breakthrough.

After their failure in the initial attack on France, the Germans went on the defensive in the West, and tried to knock Russia out first as they realised they were the weaker power, and this would free up Austrian and German troops for use in the West.

On the western front they prepared formidable defensive positions along a line specifically chosen for defence, fell back to it and basically sat there until 1918. Militarily this was sensible, as the front was short and easier to hold than in the east. Unfortunately they didn't knock out the Russians early enough for their plan, and America joining the war finished any chance they had. In general terms the German defences in the west were therefore more formidable because they were deliberately sited and constructed due to this policy. The French and British on the other hand were therefore taking the offensive, and so while they did construct defences, they did not devote the effort to the extent the Germans did. They hardly ever fell back to a more defensible position. The British in particular were noted for occupying dreadfully exposed (militarily and in terms of conditions) forward positions that the Germans would never have done.

On the Eastern front there was no way the fortifications or manpower could be so concentrated as in the west due to the length of front - this lead to a more mobile form of warfare.

Rather than battering at these western defences, the British and French should've used their control of the seas to greater effect. Gallipoli was a decent idea, from that point of view, but poorly exectuted.

Edmund
2010-03-22, 12:54 PM
After their failure in the initial attack on France, the Germans went on the defensive in the West, and tried to knock Russia out first as they realised they were the weaker power, and this would free up Austrian and German troops for use in the West.

You know, for the "weaker power" they held their own extremely well against the combined might of 3 other powers, and kicked the snot out of two of them, all the while providing troops for the other front and coming up with a fair few military innovations on the way.

Tyndmyr
2010-03-22, 01:47 PM
There are too many things air power simply can't do for it to replace artillery. You can't deploy manned aircraft with your front line troops, you use mortars and howitzers. You can't harden aircraft enough to continue to operate under heavy fire, you can dig in artillery. Aircraft can't stay on target 24/7, they need to refuel and rearm. Artillery can stay deployed and have fuel and munitions brought to it. That's not a complete list either.

It's worth noting that several generals have claimed air power would eliminate the need for ground armies since WWII. They've all failed to prove the point. Combined arms is still the requirement.

I would not be surprised if this is eventually overcome. UAVs, 24/7 on station aircraft, solar powered stuff...if you can eventually overcome the operational limitations, there's no reason the strategic role can't shift.

Mind you, this likely won't happen for a while, but the role of aircraft has dramatically expanded over it's history, and I would bet it'll continue to do so.

lsfreak
2010-03-22, 02:16 PM
While I'm no expert, I would also guess that for the [current] cost of a single combat mission using guided weapons, you can have an artillery battery pounding away for quite some time. There's also the cost of the artillery itself versus the aircraft, and the training involved. Towed artillery is damned cheap compared to a strike fighter or even a UAV; a quick Wikipedia search gives the following:
Predator UAV - 4.5 million
Reaper UAV - 10.5 million
Apache helicopter - 18 million
F-16 - 27 million
F-35 - 83 million
M198 howitzer - 530,000
M777 howitzer - 4.5 million (this was the only unlisted; based on price for those being sold to India and Australia)

Yora
2010-03-22, 02:32 PM
You know, for the "weaker power" they held their own extremely well against the combined might of 3 other powers, and kicked the snot out of two of them, all the while providing troops for the other front and coming up with a fair few military innovations on the way.
This is about the only saving grace of german military history. When we lost, it took much more than than any other military could stand against. ^^

Edmund
2010-03-22, 02:46 PM
This is about the only saving grace of german military history. When we lost, it took much more than than any other military could stand against. ^^

I was talking about the Russians actually. Nobody ever considered Germany the 'weaker power', especially not the Germans.

The Germans survived primarily by dumb luck (Masurian Lakes, Jutland, Romania) and a few clever ruses (Lenin). Also by using the Austrians as a big meaty shield.

Subotei
2010-03-22, 03:03 PM
You know, for the "weaker power" they held their own extremely well against the combined might of 3 other powers, and kicked the snot out of two of them, all the while providing troops for the other front and coming up with a fair few military innovations on the way.

I agree. Of France, Britain and Russia, Russia was in the weakest position - though thats not to belittle their efforts. The German game plan was to knock out France - when that didn't happen Russia was the obvious target, as there was no way to get at Britain at the time. It think its fair to say Russia was weak militarily - certainly in equipment terms - not manpower. And the events of August 1914 must've led the Germans to believe they were beatable.

Mike_G
2010-03-22, 03:11 PM
I would not be surprised if this is eventually overcome. UAVs, 24/7 on station aircraft, solar powered stuff...if you can eventually overcome the operational limitations, there's no reason the strategic role can't shift.

Mind you, this likely won't happen for a while, but the role of aircraft has dramatically expanded over it's history, and I would bet it'll continue to do so.


I don't doubt that we will find new applications for air power, but Air Power was going to make ground forces obsolete Any Minute Now for the last 65 years.

The air power lobby has vastly overstated its capabilities. Air superiority is nice and all, but it doesn't mean anything without boots on the ground. Ground based artillery can be sited in a hardened bunker, and once you've registered it, you can shoot it all day, adjusting fire and pounding a target until it's gone, without burning fuel or risking expensive aircraft and trained pilots who have a limited time over target, and do it cheaper.

Johel
2010-03-22, 04:42 PM
I don't doubt that we will find new applications for air power, but Air Power was going to make ground forces obsolete Any Minute Now for the last 65 years.

The air power lobby has vastly overstated its capabilities. Air superiority is nice and all, but it doesn't mean anything without boots on the ground. Ground based artillery can be sited in a hardened bunker, and once you've registered it, you can shoot it all day, adjusting fire and pounding a target until it's gone, without burning fuel or risking expensive aircraft and trained pilots who have a limited time over target, and do it cheaper.

While I completely agree with you about the necessity of ground troops, I need to point out that Air Power didn't make ground forces obsolete because Modern World's military strategy went from "Bomb them to oblivion" to "Protect the population & establish democracies".

If your aim is simply to destroy your enemy without taking too much casualties or even risking casualties, then air strikes are the way to go. Bomb his army, his bases, his cities, his population, his little dog and anything coming close to the border, this until they plea for mercy. And when they do, charge ridiculous war indemnities on them to cover your expenses...

When I was a kid, we watched in awe the NATO campaign against Serbia. A whole nation was put on its knees with nothing but air strikes.
Sure, if we speak money, it was costly. A lot more than if we had simply massively given weapons and ammunitions to Albanians and Croatians and say "-Go !! Now is your chance !!". But NATO took very few casualties.

Now, if your aim is to destroy your enemy at the lowest financial cost possible... well, ground troops ARE cheap. Especially infantry. And if your aim is to control a territory without butchering the locals into submission, then yes, you need ground forces to hold and police said territory.

But this means that your nation is either too poor to afford an air force or is a respectable democracy that can't afford to slaughter civilians. Or both of this.

Mike_G
2010-03-22, 04:57 PM
While I completely agree with you about the necessity of ground troops, I need to point out that Air Power didn't make ground forces obsolete because Modern World's military strategy went from "Bomb them to oblivion" to "Protect the population & establish democracies".

If your aim is simply to destroy your enemy without taking too much casualties or even risking casualties, then air strikes are the way to go. Bomb his army, his bases, his cities, his population, his little dog and anything coming close to the border, this until they plea for mercy. And when they do, charge ridiculous war indemnities on them to cover your expenses...

When I was a kid, we watched in awe the NATO campaign against Serbia. A whole nation was put on its knees with nothing but air strikes.
Sure, if we speak money, it was costly. A lot more than if we had simply massively given weapons and ammunitions to Albanians and Croatians and say "-Go !! Now is your chance !!". But NATO took very few casualties.

Now, if your aim is to destroy your enemy at the lowest financial cost possible... well, ground troops ARE cheap. Especially infantry. And if your aim is to control a territory without butchering the locals into submission, then yes, you need ground forces to hold and police said territory.

But this means that your nation is either too poor to afford an air force or is a respectable democracy that can't afford to slaughter civilians. Or both of this.

If you continue this line of thinking, then the ICBM makes everything else obsolete.

You can bomb the crap out of a country, but until you can have a guy with a rifle stand on it, you don't control it.

You fight a war to gain something, be it territory, resources, or whatnot. You don't gain anything from obliterating a nation. The best you can hope to do is bomb them until they say "Uncle!" And that is usually a lot of bombing, which is only feasible when you so out resource the enemy that it better not be Plan A.

Johel
2010-03-22, 05:22 PM
If you continue this line of thinking, then the ICBM makes everything else obsolete.

You can bomb the crap out of a country, but until you can have a guy with a rifle stand on it, you don't control it.

You fight a war to gain something, be it territory, resources, or whatnot. You don't gain anything from obliterating a nation. The best you can hope to do is bomb them until they say "Uncle!" And that is usually a lot of bombing, which is only feasible when you so out resource the enemy that it better not be Plan A.

You get my point : define why you fight the war, then you can estimate whether or not you really need ground troops.

If you have the power to project your forces across the planet and your own population doesn't worry too much about the welfare of other people, then you can control other countries simply by making clear you can bomb them to the stone age if necessary. Let them govern themselves but ask for tribute and forbid military infrastructure above what is necessary to police their own territory.

Irak (not the current Irak...) is a good example.
For 10 years, the blocus, combined with the "Oil-for-Food" program basically guaranteed that the rest of the world would get cheap petrol from Irak without even having to put troops on Iraki territory.
Sure, it was a dictatorship and the welfare was low...but the fact is that the Gulf War's victors got a tribute without having to occupy the land.
Each time Saddam got cocky, he received a few slaps on the head, Desert Fox being only the most massive of such slaps.

If you cannot project your forces as easily or if your population opposes blind destruction, then you need to occupy the territory yourself. And then ground forces are necessary.

Raum
2010-03-22, 08:01 PM
I would not be surprised if this is eventually overcome. UAVs, 24/7 on station aircraft, solar powered stuff...if you can eventually overcome the operational limitations, there's no reason the strategic role can't shift.

Mind you, this likely won't happen for a while, but the role of aircraft has dramatically expanded over it's history, and I would bet it'll continue to do so.As I, and Mike G have said, that claim has been made many times. Conquerors will always need 'boots on the ground' or equivalent. And I hope we never have a 'Destroyer' with the power of one of today's major militaries.


If your aim is simply to destroy your enemy without taking too much casualties or even risking casualties, then air strikes are the way to go. Bomb his army, his bases, his cities, his population, his little dog and anything coming close to the border, this until they plea for mercy. And when they do, charge ridiculous war indemnities on them to cover your expenses... Short of nukes, this doesn't work. Look at wars within the last 50 years for examples.


When I was a kid, we watched in awe the NATO campaign against Serbia. A whole nation was put on its knees with nothing but air strikes.
Sure, if we speak money, it was costly. A lot more than if we had simply massively given weapons and ammunitions to Albanians and Croatians and say "-Go !! Now is your chance !!". But NATO took very few casualties.It wasn't effective at much beyond destroying infrastructure. Digging into the details, it was used to push a political decision. It didn't conquer the country.


Now, if your aim is to destroy your enemy at the lowest financial cost possible... well, ground troops ARE cheap. Especially infantry. Not in modern armies! Training alone can run a hundred k or more...then start adding equipment....


And if your aim is to control a territory without butchering the locals into submission, then yes, you need ground forces to hold and police said territory.

But this means that your nation is either too poor to afford an air force or is a respectable democracy that can't afford to slaughter civilians. Or both of this.Or there are simply other equivalent or greater powers who won't condone wholesale slaughter.

If it matters, I'm a USAF veteran. Even so, our generals (mostly) learned from Vietnam (and more recent wars) that air power alone isn't enough.

Johel
2010-03-23, 03:33 AM
As I, and Mike G have said, that claim has been made many times. Conquerors will always need 'boots on the ground' or equivalent. And I hope we never have a 'Destroyer' with the power of one of today's major militaries.
...
Short of nukes, this doesn't work. Look at wars within the last 50 years for examples.
...
It wasn't effective at much beyond destroying infrastructure. Digging into the details, it was used to push a political decision. It didn't conquer the country.
...
Not in modern armies! Training alone can run a hundred k or more...then start adding equipment....
...
Or there are simply other equivalent or greater powers who won't condone wholesale slaughter.
...
If it matters, I'm a USAF veteran. Even so, our generals (mostly) learned from Vietnam (and more recent wars) that air power alone isn't enough.

@Past 50 years + "someone won't allow it" : Reread the post you are quoting please. The first thing I said was that, in the current context, ground troops are necessary because the modern nations got some ranks in Morality. If cost and technical know-how weren't issues, you can bet more than a few dictatorships would focus on Air Power rather than ground troops. Also, the allied didn't have nukes against Germany. Yet they DID destroyed whole cities. Same goes for Hanoi...

@Serbia : Where did I speak of conquering ? I said "destroy".
It was successful and took barely 3 months of operations.
1 year later, because the country was in ruins, the population overthrew Milosevic. No conquest was even necessary. Today, Serbia is a 6years-old democracy, is discussed as a potential member of the EU and foreign military presence is limited to Kosovo.

@Infantry cost in modern armies : Not going to discuss that in length, you are right. Just pointing that the training & equipment cost of 100 individual infantrymen is still lower than the price and maintenance cost of a single aircraft.

@Vietnam : the aim was to prevent a communist state to emerge. That's it, to prevent a cultural change. To fight it with weapons was bound to fail, especially in a former colony. The only way weapons can prevent a cultural change is if they kill everyone...which wouldn't have been accepted by the US population, with good reasons.

Dervag
2010-03-24, 12:10 AM
I agree. Of France, Britain and Russia, Russia was in the weakest position - though thats not to belittle their efforts. The German game plan was to knock out France - when that didn't happen Russia was the obvious target, as there was no way to get at Britain at the time. It think its fair to say Russia was weak militarily - certainly in equipment terms - not manpower. And the events of August 1914 must've led the Germans to believe they were beatable.They were. Russia was on the ropes by 1917, and would very probably have collapsed with or without Lenin. Whether that would have freed up enough German troops to matter in the west the way what happened in real life did... I'll ask my friend whose grandfather fought in the Russian Civil War, I guess.


You get my point : define why you fight the war, then you can estimate whether or not you really need ground troops.

If you have the power to project your forces across the planet and your own population doesn't worry too much about the welfare of other people, then you can control other countries simply by making clear you can bomb them to the stone age if necessary. Let them govern themselves but ask for tribute and forbid military infrastructure above what is necessary to police their own territory.The problem is that there's no obvious objective for doing this except "conquering for the sake of conquering." The tribute you get out of the targets isn't going to outweigh the cost of the munitions you expend when someone calls your bluff.

Johel
2010-03-24, 03:14 AM
The problem is that there's no obvious objective for doing this except "conquering for the sake of conquering."

The tribute you get out of the targets isn't going to outweigh the cost of the munitions you expend when someone calls your bluff.

I don't get what you mean in the first part.:smallconfused:
The debate here was if Airforce could replace ground troops. The objectives behind wars are in fact the key to this debate.
If a nation wants to conquer territory, it needs ground troops.
If it wants to destroy or simply enforce its will on others, then air force is all you really need, unless you want to go the "humanitarian" way, which doesn't exactly fit well when talking about wars.

As for the second part, if you wage a war as a 2-years profitable venture, then yes, it won't. But over time, any cost is outweighted.

Yora
2010-03-26, 12:11 PM
Question: Would a double-spear with a spear blade at both ends be a viable weapon?
It doesn't have the disadvantage of the double-sword or the double-axe of accidently cutting of your own limbs half the time, and let's not mention the dire flail. Also, displays of chinese spear techniques I've seen make it appear that you can use a spear in much more ways than a simple frontal stab.
Probably would still require a lot of skill to make effective use of both ends, but it's seems like it could be an actually practical double weapon (except for quarterstaffs).

Dervag
2010-03-26, 01:09 PM
I don't get what you mean in the first part.:smallconfused:
The debate here was if Airforce could replace ground troops. The objectives behind wars are in fact the key to this debate.
If a nation wants to conquer territory, it needs ground troops.
If it wants to destroy or simply enforce its will on others, then air force is all you really need, unless you want to go the "humanitarian" way, which doesn't exactly fit well when talking about wars.Thing is, why would a nation want to destroy or enforce its will on others by the threat of destruction? Can you construct a logical chain of motives that begins in the real world and ends in that sort of war?

I submit that you will have trouble doing that: that in any situation where "kill 'em all" is a rational way of achieving the goal, someone must have decided that the goal was "kill 'em all" at some point.


As for the second part, if you wage a war as a 2-years profitable venture, then yes, it won't. But over time, any cost is outweighted.Over time, any concession you can extract will be cancelled. Life isn't like a game of Civilization, where you can conquer a city and unfailingly extract taxes from it for thousands of years.


Question: Would a double-spear with a spear blade at both ends be a viable weapon?
It doesn't have the disadvantage of the double-sword or the double-axe of accidently cutting of your own limbs half the time, and let's not mention the dire flail. Also, displays of chinese spear techniques I've seen make it appear that you can use a spear in much more ways than a simple frontal stab.
Probably would still require a lot of skill to make effective use of both ends, but it's seems like it could be an actually practical double weapon (except for quarterstaffs).The problem I see is that there's really not much point in the second spearhead. It might make more sense to simply clad the butt end of the spear in metal to make it sort of like a light mace. Because most ways I can imagine of bringing the other end of your spear into play will involve striking an opponent with that end, not stabbing them.

Daosus
2010-03-26, 01:20 PM
There were a number of groups that used a spear with what amounts to two points. The most notable were the Greek and Makedonian hoplites. However, almost all of them used the much larger head as the main head, and used the smaller reserve spearhead as a backup if the front one broke off. The reserve head (also called a buttspike) could also be used to set against a charge when pushed into the ground.

The problem with any style using both spearheads at the same time is that it will take large amounts of room. Most of the time, when you can afford to train someone to fight independently of a large group, you can afford to give them a more versatile weapon than the spear. The spear was almost always used in large formations precisely because it doesn't need much room, except in one direction.

Fhaolan
2010-03-26, 02:05 PM
Question: Would a double-spear with a spear blade at both ends be a viable weapon?
It doesn't have the disadvantage of the double-sword or the double-axe of accidently cutting of your own limbs half the time, and let's not mention the dire flail. Also, displays of chinese spear techniques I've seen make it appear that you can use a spear in much more ways than a simple frontal stab.
Probably would still require a lot of skill to make effective use of both ends, but it's seems like it could be an actually practical double weapon (except for quarterstaffs).

In India there is the Tschehouta which is a full double-spear. So it exists in RL. Not overly common, as that's the only instance I've seen with a full double-ended spear. Usually, it's only a pseudo-spearhead on one end, like a spike or something. The same kind of thing that is used on the butt-end of a pollaxe and similar weapons. Not really a spearhead as such.

a_humble_lich
2010-03-26, 03:21 PM
Thing is, why would a nation want to destroy or enforce its will on others by the threat of destruction? Can you construct a logical chain of motives that begins in the real world and ends in that sort of war?

I might not be understanding you, but it seems that your chain of events has happened many times. Isn't that nearly exactly what the Nazis tried to do to the UK? To bomb the british until they surrendered? They failed, but was due to lack of (total) air superiority, or due to a fundamental weakness in airpower?

Going back further, there have been many historical wars where the only goal was destruction of the enemy: some of the crusades, the punic wars, some of the Indian Wars. And cases like the US-Barbary war, if the US had the airpower to bomb Tripoli would they have needed to send in the Marines? The US never wanted to take over Tripoli, just to get them to stop attacking American ships, and that goal could have been accomplished by the air.

I completely agree, that if you want to occupy a territory you need ground troops. But there have been many other wars with other "diplomatic" objectives, such as "stop attacking me". Here I think airpower alone could work--if you attack my ships, I'll bomb your towns, so stop attacking my ships. But even then I'm not sure if it would work. This sort of thinking has been repeatedly tried in several recent very politically charged events that I'm not sure we can talk about without much success.

Johel
2010-03-26, 07:19 PM
Thing is, why would a nation want to destroy or enforce its will on others by the threat of destruction? Can you construct a logical chain of motives that begins in the real world and ends in that sort of war?

I submit that you will have trouble doing that: that in any situation where "kill 'em all" is a rational way of achieving the goal, someone must have decided that the goal was "kill 'em all" at some point.

Over time, any concession you can extract will be canceled. Life isn't like a game of Civilization, where you can conquer a city and unfailingly extract taxes from it for thousands of years.

@Why would a nation want to destroy or enforce its will on others :
...you're joking right ?
You want to destroy someone because he is a threat to your goals.
You want to subjugate someone because he can be useful but refuses to cooperate.
The rules of the forum forbid us to discuss real politic so, no more examples for you, sorry. But I'll just send you back at the examples I already gave. All of them involved a nation meddling through destruction with another nation's politics, economy and culture. The success and the motives themselves can be discussed but that's not the place for it. The fact is, in each of these examples, air force had more impact on the outcome than the other army forces.

@Concessions will be canceled over time :
Canceled by what ?

You've destroy most of your target's military capacity, along with its capacity to rebuild it. If you're displeased with something, you can act and very few successful opposition will stand in your way.
You'll make sure that, in the future, any attempt to rebuild this capacity is met with swift bombing. Because of this, the target will remain at your mercy.
The target will still be allowed to develop its economy, if only to keep its population alive and to be able to pay the regular tribute you ask. They try to use that little freedom to build weapons ? They lose big time.
You're not invading the territory, you are bombing it. Therefor, you deprive any potential goals to a guerrilla, beside a few symbolic ones. Any "resistance" from the locals will mainly hurt themselves.
You will allow the target's government to openly defy you...with words. But the minute it fails to honor the trade agreements or it tries to build weapons, you'll bomb the country back to step one, letting the population so miserable it will destitute the government, either to better oppose you or to please you.
Whatever the intention of the "new" government, they'll learn that, to stay in power, they have to please you. Maybe not officially but they must still pay their tribute.

The Civilization analogy is a poor one since, again, I don't pretend to conquer anything with Air force. I say don't bother with conquest, just force the guy to give what you want and make sure he stays harmless.

The only obstacle to this strategy is the will of the people. But for every citizen who will be ready to fight you with stones, you can be sure they'll be dozens who will just beg you to just let them live in peace. They will give a share of their work for that. That's what most individuals do when opposed to an invincible foe : they compromise and hope for a future opportunity.

Mike_G
2010-03-26, 10:13 PM
@Concessions will be canceled over time :
Canceled by what ?

You've destroy most of your target's military capacity, along with its capacity to rebuild it. If you're displeased with something, you can act and very few successful opposition will stand in your way.
You'll make sure that, in the future, any attempt to rebuild this capacity is met with swift bombing. Because of this, the target will remain at your mercy.
The target will still be allowed to develop its economy, if only to keep its population alive and to be able to pay the regular tribute you ask. They try to use that little freedom to build weapons ? They lose big time.
You're not invading the territory, you are bombing it. Therefor, you deprive any potential goals to a guerrilla, beside a few symbolic ones. Any "resistance" from the locals will mainly hurt themselves.
You will allow the target's government to openly defy you...with words. But the minute it fails to honor the trade agreements or it tries to build weapons, you'll bomb the country back to step one, letting the population so miserable it will destitute the government, either to better oppose you or to please you.
Whatever the intention of the "new" government, they'll learn that, to stay in power, they have to please you. Maybe not officially but they must still pay their tribute.

The Civilization analogy is a poor one since, again, I don't pretend to conquer anything with Air force. I say don't bother with conquest, just force the guy to give what you want and make sure he stays harmless.

The only obstacle to this strategy is the will of the people. But for every citizen who will be ready to fight you with stones, you can be sure they'll be dozens who will just beg you to just let them live in peace. They will give a share of their work for that. That's what most individuals do when opposed to an invincible foe : they compromise and hope for a future opportunity.


The people you have mercilessly bombed, who have no conventional military with which to fight you will wage asymetric warfare against you.

You can't both leave them with any resources and deprive them of the tools to build an explosive and a suitcase. Or a fishing boat.

Without treading too far into real world politics, the US has the most powerful air force in the world. We have been proven vulnerable to much less sophisticated enemies.

If you tried to bomb your way to getting what you want, as your scenario argues, I would expect an immigrant with a delivery truck full of fertilizer would shortly make a mess of your capital.

Dervag
2010-03-27, 04:11 AM
I might not be understanding you, but it seems that your chain of events has happened many times. Isn't that nearly exactly what the Nazis tried to do to the UK? To bomb the british until they surrendered? They failed, but was due to lack of (total) air superiority, or due to a fundamental weakness in airpower? Hard to prove one way or the other, I guess.

But there have been at least a dozen wars fought in the twentieth century where air power figured prominently; in no case did we see success flowing from air power alone without a ludicrously unbalanced expenditure of resources on the air campaign. Each time, you can make an excuse/explanation: "They weren't able to obtain air supremacy!" "They had an objective that could not be achieved by air power alone!" "Rules of engagement got in the way!"

The question is: how many times does this need to happen before we conclude that there's an underlying pattern? That air power alone really isn't enough to win the kinds of wars that real nations fight in real life, under the conditions those wars are actually fought?


@Why would a nation want to destroy or enforce its will on others :
...you're joking right ?No, I'm not. However, I was unclear.

All an air force can do, even in principle, is bomb. The question will always be: how can you do well by bombing alone? No one has ever answered this question satisfactorily.

There are historical empires that worked the way you describe: the central authority had a powerful military and forced everyone around them to pay tribute. The Mongols combined "pay us tribute" with "build no defensive countermeasures;" they banned the cities they ruled from building walls to keep out their horse archer armies. The Aztecs combined "pay us with tribute" with "or be prepared to fight our punitive expedition," and took it to extremes, because periodic rounds of warfare with lots of captured enemy warriors were part of their culture.

But if we look at modern times, we see empires taking very different forms, held together by trade or by "soft power," and not by brute force. Air forces are the purest of all brute force; they'd work wonders for the Mongols. But all they are is force, and we've never seen a successful empire-by-force in the modern era.

It may be that the same technological and economic conditions that make it possible to build an air force make it impossible to rule over a large empire purely by fear of that air force.


@Concessions will be canceled over time :
Canceled by what ?Drift.

You're the emperor, and your Flying Legions have just given you control of the continent. What happens in the long run? Empires don't last forever for a lot of reasons. Maybe your grandchildren will be fools who squander the empire's treasure and weaken the Flying Legions. Maybe the provinces will (somehow) stage a successful revolt. Maybe the loyalties of the Flying Legions become divided and you can't count on using them to bomb rebel provinces any more. Maybe a natural disaster or bad social policy weakens your ability to field Flying Legions, and the rebels take advantage of that.

Empires-by-force have not proven more stable than other kinds, historically. I don't see why an empire-by-air-force should be different.


The Civilization analogy is a poor one since, again, I don't pretend to conquer anything with Air force. I say don't bother with conquest, just force the guy to give what you want and make sure he stays harmless.That is conquest; it's what the Mongols did, more or less. And their empires fell apart after a century or two, just like almost every other empire there's ever been. You don't get permanent profit from a subjugated province; you only get it for as long as your empire can last. Which may not be at all long in an age of guerilla warfare.

Galloglaich
2010-03-27, 08:57 AM
In India there is the Tschehouta which is a full double-spear. So it exists in RL. Not overly common, as that's the only instance I've seen with a full double-ended spear. Usually, it's only a pseudo-spearhead on one end, like a spike or something. The same kind of thing that is used on the butt-end of a pollaxe and similar weapons. Not really a spearhead as such.

Fhaolan and Daouses have it right. There were 'double spears' but they are quite rare. Much more common was to have a proper spear head and a sharp pointed butt at the other end which you could still thrust with. This was true of most if not all polearms as well. Many of the old manuals teach you guards in which the butt leads first.

http://www.scholasaintgeorge.org/images/poleaxe/1459_131v.jpg

I suspect the reason not to have an actual blade on both ends is so you can more easily keep track of where the dangerous part is, since a spear-head will cut as well as a sword does. India has an exception to almost every rule of weapons but by and large, double weapons other than a staff are a fantasy RPG creation, IMO.

The persians had an interesting variation on this which was a sort of a small mace head on the butt of their spear. This was allegedly made of gold or silver in the shape of an apple or a pomegranate.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/62/Archers_frieze_Darius_palace_Louvre_AOD487.jpg/250px-Archers_frieze_Darius_palace_Louvre_AOD487.jpg

G.

Matthew
2010-03-27, 09:20 AM
Fhaolan and Daouses have it right. There were 'double spears' but they are quite rare. Much more common was to have a proper spear head and a sharp pointed butt at the other end which you could still thrust with. This was true of most if not all polearms as well. Many of the old manuals teach you guards in which the butt leads first.

Polybius has an interesting comment on the Roman cavalry in this regard as well:



In like manner they divide the cavalry into ten squadrons (turmae) and from each they select three officers (decuriones), who themselves appoint three rear-rank officers optiones). The first commander chosen commands the whole squadron, and the two others have the rank of decuriones, all three bearing this title. If the first of them should not be present, the second takes command of the squadron. The cavalry are now armed like that of Greece, but in old times they had no cuirasses but fought in light undergarments, the result of which was that they were able to dismount and mount again at once with great dexterity and facility, but were exposed to great danger in close combat, as they were nearly naked. Their lances too were unserviceable in two respects. In the first place they made them so slender and pliant that it was impossible to take a steady aim, and before they could fix the head in anything, the shaking due to the mere motion of the horse caused most of them to break. Next, as they did not fit the butt-ends with spikes, they could only deliver the first stroke with the point and after this if they broke they were of no further service. Their buckler was made of ox-hide, somewhat similar in shape to the round bosse cakes used at sacrifices. They were not of any use for attacking, as they were not firm enough; and when the leather covering peeled off and rotted owing to the rain, unserviceable as they were before, they now became entirely so. Since therefore their arms did not stand the test of experience, they soon took to making them in the Greek fashion, which ensures that the first stroke of the lance-head shall be both well aimed and telling, since the lance is so constructed as to be steady and strong, and also that it may continue to be effectively used by reversing it and striking with the spike at the butt end. And the same applies to the Greek shields, which being of solid and firm texture do good service both in defence and attack. The Romans, when they noticed this, soon learnt to copy the Greek arms; for this too is one of their virtues, that no people are so ready to adopt new fashions and imitate what they see is better in others. [Book 6, Chapter 25]

Johel
2010-03-27, 06:24 PM
The people you have mercilessly bombed, who have no conventional military with which to fight you will wage asymetric warfare against you.

You can't both leave them with any resources and deprive them of the tools to build an explosive and a suitcase. Or a fishing boat.

Without treading too far into real world politics, the US has the most powerful air force in the world. We have been proven vulnerable to much less sophisticated enemies.

If you tried to bomb your way to getting what you want, as your scenario argues, I would expect an immigrant with a delivery truck full of fertilizer would shortly make a mess of your capital.

That's true. Let's look at some maths, though.

Population of the US : around 300.000.000 people

Asymmetric warfare against the US territory : barely 3.000 deads over the last 10 years. An average 300 per year.
Murders in the US : around 5.400 every year.
Car accident in the US : around 40.000 deads every year.

None of these three have a noticeable impact on demography. You certainly don't even raise an eyebrow at the mention of a car crash. And a murder will barely catch your attention. Terrorist attack ? Now I get you but only because it's sudden, brutal and, above all, rare. Not because it's overall impact is big.

A terrorist attack creates a "panic" reaction but if you start to have them on a frequent basis, you just think of it as another form of criminality. It's still tragic. But it's nothing you'll lose sleep about. Also, once it becomes frequent, measures are taken to make it less likely, making the really juicy targets very difficult to hit.

Meanwhile, in the oppressed nation, a whole population is working, generating wealth that goes partly to the oppressing nation, funding the anti-terrorist plan AND the welfare of citizens.

Also, if you know that you playing kamikaze is going to make your family's house being bombed, you got a lot less incentive to do it. Those who do it will be cursed by their own parents, maybe by the whole nation if retaliation is undiscriminate.

But again, this out of topic.

Point is, you use Air Force to destroy so that your target is forced into submission OR is so badly hurt it is neither a threat nor an interesting partner. Most nation submits before being in ruins, making air raids cost-effective in the long run, unlike military occupation.
However, ground force are necessary if you don't want to bomb and let the local population in misery. As such, ground force are the "soft" tool of modern armies.
For less-than-modern armies with obsolete air force, ground force is still the "hard" tool but only because their manpower is a lot cheaper than equipment.

Mike_G
2010-03-27, 06:45 PM
That's true. Let's look at some maths, though.

Population of the US : around 300.000.000 people

Asymmetric warfare against the US territory : barely 3.000 deads over the last 10 years. An average 300 per year.
Murders in the US : around 5.400 every year.
Car accident in the US : around 40.000 deads every year.

None of these three have a noticeable impact on demography. You certainly don't even raise an eyebrow at the mention of a car crash. And a murder will barely catch your attention. Terrorist attack ? Now I get you but only because it's sudden, brutal and, above all, rare. Not because it's overall impact is big.

A terrorist attack creates a "panic" reaction but if you start to have them on a frequent basis, you just think of it as another form of criminality. It's still tragic. But it's nothing you'll lose sleep about. Also, once it becomes frequent, measures are taken to make it less likely, making the really juicy targets very difficult to hit.


But a single terrorist attack did more to change our policies and laws than all the car crashes, murders and cancer deaths combined.



Meanwhile, in the oppressed nation, a whole population is working, generating wealth that goes partly to the oppressing nation, funding the anti-terrorist plan AND the welfare of citizens.

Also, if you know that you playing kamikaze is going to make your family's house being bombed, you got a lot less incentive to do it. Those who do it will be cursed by their own parents, maybe by the whole nation if retaliation is undiscriminate.


Lots of terrorists are not reviled by their countrymen. Many are cheered on, especially if the people feel they have no other way to hit back at their oppressors.

My forebears, the Irish, are some of history's most successful terrorists. We don't revile them. We name pubs after them in Boston.

Now, if, instead of just trying to bomb them into the stone age, you invade and set up a new government, and give them the option to peacefully participate and vote and so on, they may think martyrdom is a bad idea, but many cultures have embraced it.



Point is, you use Air Force to destroy so that your target is forced into submission OR is so badly hurt it is neither a threat nor an interesting partner. Most nation submits before being in ruins, making air raids cost-effective in the long run, unlike military occupation.
However, ground force are necessary if you don't want to bomb and let the local population in misery. As such, ground force are the "soft" tool of modern armies.
For less-than-modern armies with obsolete air force, ground force is still the "hard" tool but only because their manpower is a lot cheaper than equipment.

It would be cost effective, if it were effective.

It generally isn't. It has underperformed far more often than it has gotten results. If you have very modest expectations, and a very good air force, and a not very resilient enemy, ideally with a strong domestic opposition, then maybe, just maybe you can pull it off.

More likely, you fire up the enemy, unite them in opposition to you, and as the Japanese found when the attack on Pearl Harbor, while it did cripple our Pacific fleet, did more to ensure their eventual defeat than pretty much any other policy they could have come up with.

The London Blitz didn't work. Allied bombings of Germany didn't work. Bombing of Japan didn't work until Hiroshima, and that wouldn't have worked if we weren't already knocking on the door with an invasion force. We couldn't bomb North Korea or Vietnam into surrender, nor Iraq nor Afghanistan.

Air Power is nice to have in the toolbox, but it cannot win wars by itself, unless you are fighting an enemy so much weaker than you that we could just send the Coast Guard or the Boy Scouts and beat them.

a_humble_lich
2010-03-27, 09:34 PM
In many ways it seems air power should be compared to navel power instead of ground forces. Many of the traditional roles of a navy can be filled with an air force: blockades, costal bombardment, transportation of material or ground forces. In some areas it is far more effective or efficient to use surface ships, such as transporting materials, but in others aircraft have an advantage. Modern navies have been transformed so that aircraft are now an integral part (except for submarine fleets).

Historically there have been very few wars that have been determined solely with navies. I'd argue that the type of conflicts that could have been determined with only naval forces now could also be determined with air power (or the threat of air power). However, the number of cases of conflicts fought solely at sea is quite small. Most of the examples I can think of are either defensive (use your navy or air force to destroy and invading fleet before they can land), or cases of gunboat diplomacy (like the second Barbary war or Admiral Perry opening Japan) which I'm not sure could happen in the modern world.

Dervag
2010-03-28, 01:27 AM
The other case was trade wars, where the fleet's integral ground troops (marines and naval infantry) were enough to secure the islands that were of interest. See Mahan for reference.

Galloglaich
2010-03-28, 08:08 AM
Polybius has an interesting comment on the Roman cavalry in this regard as well:

Very interesting. It sounds like Polybius is describing the shift from light cavalry to medium cavalry. I think this may have happened in stages more than once. In the Republican period when Polybius was alive, the "Greeks" (Macedonians) had their companion cavalry, which would be kitted out more or less as he described, but the really heavy cavalry with armored horses came from further East. The origins of the knight, in fact. Imperial Roman Legions and their Cavalry screening forces were decimated several times by Sarmatian and Parthian Cataphracts who were able to charge into the Legions with relative impunity, then go back to regroup while archers softened them up. This cost at least one Emperor his life in the East. The Visi-Goths adopted this tactic (and kit) at Adrianople which saw the grizly end of yet another Roman Emperor. Later the Romans adopted their own version of this 'super' heavy cavalry which they called Clibinarii.

G.

Dervag
2010-03-28, 05:28 PM
Did these guys evolve into the Byzantine cataphract?