TANKSgiving – Steel Beasts, an AAR

What better way to kick off TANKSgiving than a look at a mission with the leading commercial digital tank simulator ~

James Sterrett, 18 November 2017

Scenario: Platoon Attack in Winter by Zipuli, download here – requires a free account

The outcome of Steel Beasts missions varies. Sometimes you saw through the opposition:

 

 

Or you catch them at the right place and the right time:

 

Or nail them from range in the rain:

 

This is not one of those tales.

Zipuli’s Platoon Attack in Winter is a great mission, combining offense and defense in a contained package, with lots of intelligent variation in what you’ll face and what the enemy will do. I’ve taken on this mission many times, usually with some variant of Leopard 2s or M-1s. This time, I tried it with the Israeli Shot’Kal , a Centurion variant which dates back to 1974.

In the first stage of the mission, I need to punch down a road in order to clear it for mechanized infantry that follows later in the scenario. My plan is below in black, mission graphics in blue:

I know from experience that the first potential enemy contact is at the bridge, but the main resistance is more likely a bit further on, shown on the plan by the area where the arrow goes from movement to attack. What I’ll meet can vary from reconnaissance vehicles to ATGM vehicles, from T-72s to T-80s, and there’s bound to be infantry with AT rockets around somewhere as well.

One section is already on the main road:

And the other will be on it shortly.

Initial orders issued, we move out.

 

A squad of infantry turns up at the bridge, but they pop smoke. Lacking thermals, I decide to maneuver to deal with them. In retrospect, perhaps patience would have been smarter.

 

The infantry came with a BMP, which we caught in the stream, but when I tried to engage the BMP, the infantry shot me with an RPG-22. (Many of these pictures come from the AAR mode. The blue line indicates an anti-tank rocket.) Fortunately, I survived that shot.

My wing tank was maneuvering on the BMP as well (the close tactical AI in action), so I decided to close on the infantry – which often makes them run or crawl away, so they shop shooting – and I figured that I could use the lip of ground from the creek the screen myself from the BMP.

Wrong. (The green line shows the ATGM impact.) Scratch one Shot’Kal.

My wingman dealt with the BMP shortly thereafter and we continued down to road to bigger threats.

We deployed into line just short of a copse of trees. I spent some time checking that the nearby farm buildings did not contain infantry; I’ve lost a lot of tanks to AT rockets here.

 

Then I pushed cautiously through the woods to see what hand I had been dealt. (I’m keeping my head lower to the turret because I’m still worried about infantry from the farm buildings.)

 

There’s a tank on the ridgeline ahead of us; where there is one tank, there are going to be more.

Hard to see? As seen through my binoculars:

The tank, and its presumed friends, have a good position.

I proceeded to forget what I was driving. In a Leopard 2, this isn’t a bad situation: hit the enemy with a sabot round or two and look for his friends. Unfortunately, the Shot’Kal’s older ammunition doesn’t deal with T-72s as handily. I eventually realize the need to move to squash head ammunition to kill it (the yellow line indicates a chemical-energy tank round in this AAR shot).

And a view from my binoculars:

In the meantime, the T-72 had demonstrated that my wingman’s armor was no match for 125mm sabot. In this AAR shot, you can see the sabot sailing on past the tank; the red line indicates a sabot round.

At about the same time, one of the first tank’s friends expressed its displeasure with me:

Unlike the first T-72, the second one was not skylined and easily spotted. All I knew was that I had a threat somewhere vaguely to the right of the first T-72, and that my last remaining tank, to my left, seemed not to be engaged.

I decided to try to flank them to the left, and promptly discovered a BMP:

Which popped smoke and ran away, along with a friend (the white puffy smoke in the trees is their smoke trail):

I tried to move forward with some caution, because I was sure they had left infantry somewhere to ambush me:

However, there wasn’t any infantry. Instead, I exposed myself to that second T-72:

Which put an end to the mission with a nice keyhole shot… a shot that may have been made possible by my cautious advance caused by my worrying about infantry that was not there. The shot as seen in the AAR view, set to show all forces:

Sometimes, the dragon eats you.


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