Half Tracks and ASL

BigAl737

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I don't know too much about AFV design in WWII but as I play more and more ASL, I find myself researching to learn more.

In reading the half track rules, a question that I haven't found a good answer for yet concerns half track design. Specifically what is it about half track design that has ASL exempt half track passengers from the halved mounted fire penalty? The bed of a stationary half track seems a close parallel to the bed of a stationary truck to me. I know ASL has it right so I'm curious to learn more about half track design.

Also, my experience with half tracks in ASL is practically nil. Would anyone like to shed some light on their best uses in the game? Or maybe a memorable half track themed "this happened to me" story? I would find that to be an enjoyable read.

Thanks all.
 

Paul M. Weir

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The US (and lend lease versions) M3 Scout Car is treated the same. It is not being a halftrack per se but as having an armoured compartment. Though the armour is thin, in ASL terms it is proof against inherent squad FP. I suppose the crew/passengers don't duck as much. More time firing, less time wetting themselves.
 

volgaG68

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Besides the obvious use of troop delivery, my favorite uses for them (AAMG-armed only) are:

1) Cutting off rout paths by getting behind the enemy line.
2) That '3' AAMG can reach out and apply DM to broken units from a distance your infantry might not be able to.
3) Guarding open flanks on defense, especially open ground.
4) They can operate in fire groups with foot-bound infantry.

Of course, if they are armed with a mounted FT, MTR, or Gun, their potential really opens up. I think their best asset though is being able to deliver troops through/around terrain in a quasi-tank MP fashion, whereas truck-delivery incurs 4MP for each open ground hex and gets exponentially worse for other terrain types. (EDIT: The same terrain-MP advantages are also useful for towing Guns into positions that would take a truck 2-3 turns to do so.)
 
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Vinnie

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The extra fire power of tge passengers comes from the fact the vehicles were designed and used for mounted fire unlike, say, fighting from an unarmoured truck. It is possibly fairer to ask why mounted fire is penalised so heavily.
 

jrv

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American halftracks have all sorts of toys that can be removed from the vehicles. The Germans' also have some. Halftracks can also be used to DM broken units, but their #1 use, both in the game and historically, is to drive into an enemy position so the enemy can't fire out.

JR
 

Brian W

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t their #1 use, both in the game and historically, is to drive into an enemy position so the enemy can't fire out.
Their #1 use for me is as burning wrecks to cover infantry.

Seriously, one of the best uses of a halftrack is vehicular smoke grenades.
 

witchbottles

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The armor was very well proofed against small arms penetration.

" No, General, the German MG rounds don't penetrate. They come in one side bounce around a bit, and then fall to the floor. Never do they penetrate back out again."

Best line in the movie.

:)

The really deadly part comes with the assault fire 5-4-8 a LMG and the HT's AAMG all manned and firing without halving penalties for mounted fire.

The Gun armed HTs in "Sowchos 79" are tailor made to accompany the AC off to cut off the Soviet reinforcement convoy. They would just die quickly in the village against the T-34s anyway.

KRL, Jon H
 

BigAl737

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Great responses guys. Thank you! I now have some better ideas for how to use HTs in ASL, to include hoping they brew up to cover me with smoke :) But seriously, that is a valid use for them in ASL under certain circumstances. The hang up with me that I need to get over is that I think of vehicles in ASL like I did my fathers car when I was 16. I try hard to keep them shiny. Its not like I'll have to answer to Ike, right :) Use 'em, abuse 'em, run 'em hard and put 'em away wet :)

Design wise, I thought maybe HTs had built in rifle supports or some such that made them better firing platforms. Pauls answer seems as plausible as anything and helps me assosiciate the "why" with the rule. That really helps me remember the rules better.

I tried to rep all of you but couldn't as apparently I've been too generous with you in the past.

So anyone have a memorable HT story?
 

thedrake

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Recon by Fire issue #2 magazine had an excellent article on using halftracks in a mechanized blitz--some very good tactical tips on using HT's when on offense.
 

Kevin Kenneally

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The US (and lend lease versions) M3 Scout Car is treated the same. It is not being a halftrack per se but as having an armoured compartment. Though the armour is thin, in ASL terms it is proof against inherent squad FP. I suppose the crew/passengers don't duck as much. More time firing, less time wetting themselves.
Paul,

The M3 Scout Car provides very little protection for riders and the AAMG gunner.

The only folks with any semblance of protection is the driver and the person acting as RTO.
 

Paul M. Weir

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Paul,

The M3 Scout Car provides very little protection for riders and the AAMG gunner.

The only folks with any semblance of protection is the driver and the person acting as RTO.
That is real life, where neither the M3 SC, M2 ht or M3 ht could be guaranteed to be bullet proof. In ASL they are proof against squad rifles, SMG and inherent LMG (but not SW MG) even at point blank range. Only if not BU are the denizens vulnerable, but still get a +2 DRM like a wall. I suppose the M3 SC people had to crouch lower to be BU.
 

jwb3

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In reading the half track rules, a question that I haven't found a good answer for yet concerns half track design. Specifically what is it about half track design that has ASL exempt half track passengers from the halved mounted fire penalty? The bed of a stationary half track seems a close parallel to the bed of a stationary truck to me.
It is not being a halftrack per se but as having an armoured compartment. Though the armour is thin, in ASL terms it is proof against inherent squad FP. I suppose the crew/passengers don't duck as much. More time firing, less time wetting themselves.
My understanding of the rationale was that it related to halftracks generally having firing ports for small arms. As well as giving a covered firing position, those would tend to provide the support you mentioned. Add it all up and you get that, overall, shooting at people from a stationary halftrack was about as difficult as shooting from a grounded position.

Now, for Mounted Fire from other than an armored halftrack, the first point is that ASL treats unarmored Passengers the same whether they're in seats or a truck bed. Firing from a seat is awkward. And the truck bed may be enclosed in a canvas cover, rather than open to the sky, horribly limiting their visibility.

And of course, if it's Riders doing the Mounted Fire, they're trying to stay on the vehicle and probably firing with little or no support, as well as a bunch of other problems.


John
 

BigAl737

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I fully get that ASL is based on design for effect. I would guess that's why the ASL treatment of HTs is to encourage players to use them as mounts for their cardboard soldiers to fire from. Was that the case historically or did most mechanized infantry combat occur after dismounting?
 

custardpie

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The armor was very well proofed against small arms penetration.

" No, General, the German MG rounds don't penetrate. They come in one side bounce around a bit, and then fall to the floor. Never do they penetrate back out again."

Best line in the movie.

:)

The really deadly part comes with the assault fire 5-4-8 a LMG and the HT's AAMG all manned and firing without halving penalties for mounted fire.

The Gun armed HTs in "Sowchos 79" are tailor made to accompany the AC off to cut off the Soviet reinforcement convoy. They would just die quickly in the village against the T-34s anyway.

KRL, Jon H
Is that what I did in our game ? :)

Ian
 

witchbottles

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The ubiquitous ASL use par non for mounted HT mechanized assault is the "Armored Blitz" tactic in Red Barr CG III. buy the HTs, load the Sturm Coy in them , lay a Smoke Barrage to cover the advance, and send them hey diddle diddle right up the street to the Chemist's Shop where the intrepid stosstruppen then storm the almost always weakly defended building and take a hugely important sector. Said Hts then swing around and go on a cutting of Rt Path rampage in the soviet rear areas, end game moving forward some more and bailing out while their crews take more buildings of note. Heck, I'd even run them hard to make the Commissar's House, a very deep pocket here of say 3 HTs and 3 self rallying crews with AAMGs able to be scrounged all under German control on Day 1 would be a very unpleasant surprise. At the least, these pesky crew can make a HUGE nuisance on day 1. The Soviet player must use either his FPP to buy the 4 trench defense against this; or position most of the paltry AT assets to cover the approach to prevent it. Either will slow / destroy the mounted "blitz" attack to the point of relative failure.

Best used on an unsuspecting RB Sov player.

Do NOT rinse / repeat. Once bitten ,they will take one of the 2 steps to stop it from occurring again.

KRL, Jon H
 

Tuomo

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American halftracks have all sorts of toys that can be removed from the vehicles.
I feel bad for the poor guys back at the Depot. Every time a HT comes back they have to go in and replenish all those BAZ's, HMG's, and ATR's that have been stolen.

It's like the ETO was one big hotel and everybody was swiping towels and little soaps.
 

Brian W

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I feel bad for the poor guys back at the Depot. Every time a HT comes back they have to go in and replenish all those BAZ's, HMG's, and ATR's that have been stolen.
I'd feel bad about the guys that had to wash the entrails, blood, brains and other body parts from the shot up HTs. Probably the same guys, though.
 

Paul M. Weir

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My understanding of the rationale was that it related to halftracks generally having firing ports for small arms. As well as giving a covered firing position, those would tend to provide the support you mentioned. Add it all up and you get that, overall, shooting at people from a stationary halftrack was about as difficult as shooting from a grounded position.

Now, for Mounted Fire from other than an armored halftrack, the first point is that ASL treats unarmored Passengers the same whether they're in seats or a truck bed. Firing from a seat is awkward. And the truck bed may be enclosed in a canvas cover, rather than open to the sky, horribly limiting their visibility.

And of course, if it's Riders doing the Mounted Fire, they're trying to stay on the vehicle and probably firing with little or no support, as well as a bunch of other problems.


John
Just to clarify, only the SdKfz 251 Ausf A had any sort of ports in the passenger compartment. The Ausf A was produced in small numbers and replaced by the Ausf B which was somewhat simplified by, amongst other things, no (openable) vision ports except in the driving compartment. None of the later SdKfz 250 or 251, US M3 SC or M2/3 h/t had any sort of vision or firing port in their rear compartment.

The sides of the US M2/3 h/t track barely reached the top of a seated passenger's head and with the SdKfz 250/251 not even quite that. The US M3 SC's armour top edge sloped down a bit towards the rear. All fire, whether the crew/squad/HS or vehicular weapons would have been over the top of the vehicle. Direct fire weapons on h/t variants nearly always had addition shields to address this issue as had the front MG on SdKfz 250/251s.

The purpose of the various APCs in WW2 was to bring the troops through the shell and MG/rifle fire and allow them to dismount very close to their objective. How close depended upon national army doctrine, leaders, experience and particular tactical situation, but they were battle taxis, not assault vehicles. Sometimes they stayed around to give covering MG fire, sometimes not, again depending upon nation, etc. Often the troops were dismounted behind cover as the APCs were just too vulnerable and valuable.

But this is ASL! The fact that only maybe 1 in 10 of bullets comes through the side is likely less distracting than all. You have the equivalent of a moving wall/ASL 'wooden' building for protection. This often results in ahistorical h/t tactics in ASL, but h/t usage is not unique in that respect (see VBM sleaze, etc). The thing about ASL is that that you choose their usage. They are very valuable as protected (proof against squad inherent FP) transport. Use them as assault death stars and you too often will loose them, but that may, in some cases, be worth it. Others have pointed out various other tricks, However you use them, remember that they are transport and moving a reinforcement/reserve or running or exploitation force through a defensive hole may be more important than a mobile MG nest equivalent.

One aspect that ASL totally understates is ongoing OBA during a battle. In WW1 and WW2 artillery was, by a large margin, the main killer. Barring an unlucky direct or very close hit or airburst, the various APCs protected their troops against artillery. In WW2 that was at least as important, if not much more so, than protection against rifle/MG fire. Defensive artillery fire was the norm from even well before WW1, but is rarely seen in ASL. To represent this you would need to subject non AM moving attacking infantry to a 1FP residual fire attack in a band 3 or 4 hexes wide about a similar distance out from a defensive line. Because that is ignored in ASL the protected transport nature of h/t is a bit understated, IE getting troops through the "beaten zone".
 
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