Is stripping MGs from American Jeeps & Halftracks a historic tactic?

Rock SgtDan

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And are scenarios created with presumption that the player WILL strip them? Well, for those scenarios created after the articles explaining the trick.

VFTT16
OLD MACDONALD AND CHAPTER H
Dad, I won't need the Jeep tonight, but can I borrow the .50 cal from it?
Ian Daglish

In Critical Hit #4, Cpt.
Modarelli’s article on armoured assault tactics
gives a lot of ideas on how MG-armed
half-tracks can aid Infantry mobility.

By contrast, in The General Vol. 24 No. 4, Jon
Mishcon’s “Arms and Armored Half-
Tracks” suggests an ‘abandon ship’ ploy:
how to hide vulnerable half-tracks out of
harm’s way while utilising their Removed
wealth of MGs as Infantry SW.
 

skarper

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I think it was not as common in real life.

Here's why I think so.

1] WW2 infantry companies had far more MGs available than they get in ASL. 2-3 times as many. Every US PIR squad would have an M1919A4 .30 cal. There would then be a spare one in each platoon [I think] and a few more in a weapons platoon. They actually found they had too many and needed more riflemen in the bocage fighting.

2] A WW2 jeep or truck might have a .50 cal but they will only have ~ 2 boxes of ammo. It's only meant for AA defence or defending against enemy stragglers [or indeed bands of deserters] who roamed around in rear areas and raided supply convoys for food.

3] Often the tripod would not be available - even if part of the vehicles standard eqt it may have been lost, broken, stolen, or ditched as excess baggage...

4] Finally - they need the riflemen and can't spare the bodies to man extra 'bullet magnet' MMG/HMGs.
 

Paul M. Weir

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1] WW2 infantry companies had far more MGs available than they get in ASL. 2-3 times as many. Every US PIR squad would have an M1919A4 .30 cal. There would then be a spare one in each platoon [I think] and a few more in a weapons platoon. They actually found they had too many and needed more riflemen in the bocage fighting.
A small correction, I believe until late war (late '44? or '45) the squad had 2 M1919A6 (with stock and bipod). The late organisation had 1 M1919A6 and 1 BAR. That was all in theory. With the possible exception of ANZAC troops the US troops, especially Airborne, had the greatest habit of 'acquiring' extra kit. Then as you pointed out there were MG in the weapons platoon. In substance you are dead right about the profusion of MMG/HMG available to US troops and the understating of that in ASL.

I agree that for trucks the .50" or .30" was much more an AA and "just in case" weapon.

For Jeeps, especially in recon units, much less so. From reading of some Bulge actions, especially if they were there for some time, the recon units dismounted their MG and 60mm mortars and placed them in hard cover. When used for such screening and tripwire purposes they needed every bit of firepower to make up for their lack of bodies.

Halftracks are yet another question. For a mobile action likely at least 1 would have been left on the vehicle, assuming that the unit was intended to continue on further. In a defensive action the h/t would be to the rear with at least a .30" dismounted and integrated into the defensive line. Some would have been left with the h/t as a self defence measure, likely the .50". Then there is also, yet again, the question of how well does ASL represent the number MGs. While the M3 started with just a central pintle MG, the M3A1 regularly had 3, not just 2, MG, 1 50 and 2 30. As far as I can figure out many if not most M3 were upgraded to M3A1 or equivalent with extra stowage and often the MG pulpit. Then there are the usual unofficial additions. Due to having a h/t to carry, ammo would have been much less of a problem. If ASL was accurate then it would be pretty crazy with many more HMG/MMG than squads.

In summary for a h/t borne attack, dismounting one or more does not seem ahistorical. For Jeeps or trucks, unlikely, except for recon, if your Jeep or truck is in or near the front line then likely something has gone wrong, they are not AFV. For a defence the vehicles would not usually be on the board but their MG mostly would. A last ditch battalion or higher reserve for gap plugging would use whatever trucks, Jeeps and MG available and taxi them to the critical point then dismount.
 

skarper

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Very good points.

I think basically we agree. Recon jeeps are an exception to the general rule that softskins are not front line units.

The armored ht units would also be more likely to dismount their MGs and dig them in if on the defence. On the attack I'm inclined to think they'd need more riflemen and would get their fire support from artillery or tanks. It's interesting that the US armored infantry that was mounted on the tanks going into Singling did not take any MGs off their mud-bound halftracks. Perhaps there wasn't time or with only ~60 men they just didn't have the manpower.

While I know the M1919A6 was supposed to supplant the M1919A4 in the PIR my understanding is that it was unpopular and at least some units went back to the tripod mounted version - perhaps by retro-converting their A6s.

It's kind of odd the US issued tripod mounted MGs at squad level - I can't think of any other army of the time trying this. I suppose it was a stopgap since the US didn't have a true LMG - BARs not being the same thing though eagerly accepted by the Paratroops when they got the chance.

It's a pity the US 7-4-7 was not corrected when SL moved to ASL. Same goes for 8-3-8s. Oh well - too late now.

Perhaps scenario designers should SSR whether or not HMG/MMG can be dismounted - though it would amount to a grudge SSR.
 

Rock SgtDan

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An SSR isn't a grudge if its based on what the units actually probably likely did, and corresponds to how the designer envisions the scenario achieves it balance.

Maybe Jeep AA MG's should have Low Ammo? If the basic load was only 2 boxes, vs a whole infantry platoon carrying a box each? What's the basic load for a halftrack? Even if 2 boxes PER GUN then stripping one gun and all the ammo...
 

Paul M. Weir

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It's kind of odd the US issued tripod mounted MGs at squad level - I can't think of any other army of the time trying this. I suppose it was a stopgap since the US didn't have a true LMG - BARs not being the same thing though eagerly accepted by the Paratroops when they got the chance.

It's a pity the US 7-4-7 was not corrected when SL moved to ASL. Same goes for 8-3-8s. Oh well - too late now.
As the official MG was the M1919A6 which was a bipod weapon, that nominally was not the case. However as we both pointed out, in practice that was not always what was used, the habit of 'acquiring' stuff. I suppose many viewed the A6 as neither a LMG nor a MMG and rather heavy (15 kg) compared to the MG-42 (11.5 kg), the worst of both worlds. In ASL I would rate it at 3-8 [1] 2pp.

The SL PIR were 8-4-7, but I agree that along with the German 8-3-8 they the represent nothing like historical any OoB I know of. I have always felt that the 667 was a better fit, SSRed to have Spraying Fire and underlined Morale. While I definitely don't want to get into THAT argument, maybe use USMC 668 with SSRed Spraying Fire and maybe 7 unbroken morale (or leave it at 8) to taste.

I concur that we are in basic agreement, with only differences concerning the margins.
 

skarper

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I'm pretty sure the Paratroopers used A4s up to and thru the Normandy campaign - then most or all got the A6s for Market-Garden.

At least some disliked the A6 and went back to A4s or converted their A6s to A4s.

The official TOE changes to A6s in December 1944 but this probably was a case of merely making official what was already the practice in reality.

Anyway - this is veering off at a tangent.

Something which I can't see happening is stripping MG34/42s off SPW 251/250s and giving them to the Panzer Grenadiers. They'd already have 2 MG34/42 and only 9 men to fire them/portage the ammo. There just wouldn't be any point.


Ammo loads for halftracks was considerable. c. 2000 rounds for an SPW251 for example. US halftracks could have even more [for the .30 cals but .50 cal ammo rather less.]
 
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MatrimSaric

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I just read 'Warriors for a working day' by Elstob and in a couple of occassions when a tank was on its own defending a position (a la 'Fury' almost) they stripped the lmg of the tank and set up a single crewman with a flanking position to cover the tanks blind side from infantry and spread the fire power whilst still manning the tank itself. Seems a logical approach that could be added in game as well..
 

Paul M. Weir

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I'm pretty sure the Paratroopers used A4s up to and thru the Normandy campaign - then most or all got the A6s for Market-Garden.
You could well be right, maybe there were not enough A6s at that time.
Something which I can't see happening is stripping MG34/42s off SPW 251/250s and giving them to the Panzer Grenadiers. They'd already have 2 MG34/42 and only 9 men to fire them/portage the ammo. There just wouldn't be any point.
The 251/1 had 2 MGs as standard. One behind a small shield (the shield on all except the earliest 251) that could only fire through the VCA and one on a swinging rear mount that could fire everywhere except the VCA. I suppose there was a simplification to a single MG with all round fire when the SL/ASL 251 was specified. As I understand it the rear LMG was one of the 2 that went with the squad when dismounted, the front one remained aboard.

Combine that with the fact that a 467/468 only has a single inherent LMG (the 548 could be taken to have 1 LMG and extra SMG/AR or 2 LMG and bolt rifles, I regard the 658 as almost certainly having 2 LMG), then dismounting the 251 AA MG might not be so unrealistic as at first glance. At least that is my take on it.

Anyway all trivia in the end.
 

ZenRiver

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I certainly have come across comments in my own research that indicates salvaging 50 cal and 30 cal was not that uncommon, but mostly to keep the weapons out of enemy hands. Whether that was simply a belief, versus a practice is a separate matter. Personally I would rather a MG-42 over a .30 cal any day.

A secondary thing often not addressed in tactical wargames was that the British and Canadian troops often traded/salvaged .50 cal from American forces they were working with or adjacent too. These were then put on Bren carriers, as the British considered the .50 cal a much more effective support weapon then even their own HMG's. While the British did acquire some .50 cal for their own use, these were not typically used within general infantry battalions.
 

Kevin Kenneally

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I believe this scavenging is all in the game system.

Did this happen in the real world; of course, but like someone posted above, to keep the damn MGs out of the enemies hands.

Once you lose mobility with your firepower, the crew (MMC or HS) that has to man this weapon is stuck at that position. The weapon and ammo is just too much for a squad to carry for too great a distance.

I would like to offer that scenarios develop SSRs to help players understand that scavenging may be harmful to their existence on the cardboard battlefield. But then again, its only a game and the scenarios won't last (normally) beyond 8 player turns.
 

wrongway149

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Perhaps scenario designers should SSR whether or not HMG/MMG can be dismounted - though it would amount to a grudge SSR.
I prefer to give only 1-2 of the MMG/HMG halftracks in a scenario with armored infantry. And if the scenario is a defensive action, I will just throw a couple extra SWs in the OB, as the vehicles would likely have scooted off to the rear in reality.
 

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This thread kind of argues for more use of LMGs in the American OOB in ASL. I know I'm drifting into a reality argument here but a 4-10 MMG counter represents more than just the MG hardware - there's the ammo, bi/tri-pod, and, most importantly, a crew that is willing and able to use it in combat.

If you gave an American company their full compliment of MG's per the TO&E they'd be virtual killing machines. But there's no reason these MGs couldn't be represented by 2-6 or 2-10 B11 LMGs.

That might strike a nice balance.
 

Rock SgtDan

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Maybe Footsteps could make up some "AA MG" counters to represent stripped MGs, and by SSR they would automatically have Low Ammo or whatever the SSR wants to designate.

(Now I'll be known as a counter-troll)
 

Hutch

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This is from "The Gothic Line: Canada's Month of Hell in World War II Italy" chapter: All this unpleasantness, page 291:

"Stripping the machine guns from the tanks armed also with rifles and machine guns..."
 

pybarrondo

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I thought I had read somewhere a long time back that because of the prevalence of mg's in the U.S. units, some of that was factored into the inherent FP?
 

Rock SgtDan

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Was stripping done on the spur of the moment at the squad level, or as part of the battle plan the day before? Would it be better for an SSR to require/give the option to start the scenario with more MG counters, and count the vehicles as being stripped?

Hey, more counters for Footsteps to make.
 

jrv

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I thought I had read somewhere a long time back that because of the prevalence of mg's in the U.S. units, some of that was factored into the inherent FP?
Not according to what has been reported. The US squad represents two BARs and a bunch of guys armed with Garands. MGs are extra. The second BAR was non-TO&E, but very common.

JR
 

Rock SgtDan

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If HTs carry so much ammo -- should an MG within a couple hexes not suffer becoming out of ammo -- some favorable mod to the B#? & maybe the HT should be immobilized while it is tasked with its crew being ammo runners?

EDIT: maybe the HT must be within 4 MP (ie normal move) of the serviced MG.
 
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