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SBPro PE - Training Mission #03


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Steel Beasts Pro PE - Training Mission #03

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Up to this point we have been learning a bit about how to navigate, read the map, and make some simple routes on the map. Now we'll start learning a little bit about how to do what armor was meant to do - blow stuff up. For our basic introduction to shooting things, we'll hop into the M2A2 Bradley since many of the concepts we can learn here will translate well into other platforms.

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The information in this AAR was gleaned from playing through the stock tutorial missions #1 through #10, so no download is provided.

Mission #1 and #2 are simple tutorials on using the Integrated Sight Unit to fire the 25mm chain gun on the Bradley. Options include the type of ammo to be used (Armor Piercing or High Explosive) and rate of fire (single shot, low rate/100 rounds per minute, and high rate/200 rounds per minute). In the early tutorials the targets are stationary, so there is no need to lead or track the targets. And fortunately, the targets aren't shooting back!

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I wish I were an experienced mission editor because it would be nice to build a series of tutorials that were incremental in their use of the knowledge. While the included tutorials are short and to the point, there isn't quite the sense of "building block" knowledge as you undertake each one. For instance, it would, in my opinion, be better to learn to drive and navigate first, then in future missions at least require a short drive to the target range for instruction on the new skills to be learned. That would reinforce the previous lessons and add to the immersion.

Your choice of ammo type will depend on your target type. HE rounds are excellent for soft skinned targets (bunkers, infantry, trucks and unarmored vehicles) while AP rounds are obviously good for taking out armored targets. An important thing to remember is that if you chose a new type of ammo to fire that the last type you fired will still be the first round that will be fired next!. Since the different rounds have different ballistics, the barrel has to be elevated to a different angle based on the round type. Thus, the first round you fire once you've selected a new type of ammo will not land where the second round will since they are different types.

Targeting is done through the Integrated Sight Unit and when equipped with a functioning Laser Range Finder (LRF) all you do is put the center reticule on the target, lase, and shoot. The barrel will elevate to the proper angle as the ballistics are calculated based on the range.

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You'll notice that the HE rounds require a greater barrel elevation resulting in a round that arcs more as it travels the distance to the target.

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If the LRF is damaged or unavailable, it is possible to estimate the range to the target by using the center reticule and/or the choke scale at the bottom of the sight. I can already tell this is going to take a lot of practice to learn how to quickly and effectively do, but the basic concept is that by comparing the relative size of the reticule to the target you can roughly gauge the distance to objects if you know what the published size of that object is. Likewise, the choke scale can be used by placing the target into the "wedge" and using the scale to estimate range. I practiced doing this by manually attempting to calculate the range, then taking a range with the LRF to see how close I was. My attempts varied and I can see how in the heat of battle this could be a real challenge indeed. Like anything, practice and experience can only be gained by making mistakes, so practice, practice, practice!

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Hitting moving targets can be even more of a challenge. Now you have geometry working against you in a few more ways. If you simply aim at the target the target will have moved from where your round eventually impacts, so you have to estimate where you think the target will be in the future in order to hit it. This is called "leading" the target and it takes a bit of practice. Each engagement is slightly different too, so again, experience and practice are the keys to success. Since it is likely that your target is not maintaining a constant distance from you, you not only have to adjust your lead, you also have to continually adjust for changing range conditions. Don't expect the enemy to make it easy for you - if my life depended on it, I'd be jinking and changing directions as often as I could.

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Of course, you can't shoot a target if you can't see it. The Thermal Imaging System (TIS) is a critical tool for finding and engaging targets. Not only is the TIS invaluable for conditions of reduced visibility and darkness, but it also is the preferred method to identify camouflaged targets during clear daylight conditions since heat signatures cannot be disguised as easily as throwing a camouflage net over a target to break up the silhouette.

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In the event that your primary sight (Integrated Sight Unit) is disabled, you can use the auxiliary sight to estimate range and engage targets. Once again, this manual process requires practice and experience to become comfortable with (I'm not yet!) but learning how in training will likely save your bacon in the event you need to use it on a real mission. The reticule is lined with stadia lines and two curved "funnels" that will give you a range to a BMP-sized target in profile. Placing the front and rear of the target so that they touch the funnel edges will give you the approximate correct elevation of the barrel, and the range to the target can be read off the side of the sight. The two funnels represent different aiming solutions for HE (dashed lines) or AP (solid lines) rounds.

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Also included with the Bradley is the TOW missile launcher which is a fun weapon system to employ. Range of the TOW is 3750 meters, which gives you quite a standoff range. TOW missiles are capable of defeating even heavy armor, which evens up the odds a bit against foes such as main battle tanks that are slinging 100mm + rounds back at you! While the TOW system gives you a nice tool to engage heavy armor at long distance it has distinct drawbacks as well. While firing and guiding the TOW missile you must be stationary and stable, and you must remain that way throughout the flight of missile, which can last in excess of 20 seconds. During that period you are susceptible to enemy counter fire and you are a bit of a sitting duck. Also, you only carry two missiles in the launcher and reloading requires time and also requires the turret to be in a fixed position while the loader pops a hatch to manhandle new rounds into the launcher. It is probably best to pull back into a sheltered position during the vulnerable reloading period.

Firing and guiding the TOW is fantastic fun though. Smooth control inputs are necessary, particularly at long ranges since any ham-fisting simply uses up energy, lowers the velocity, reduces range, and increases your exposure time. It is important to note that you should simply place your target crosshairs on the target and let the missile fly itself to the target, don't try to anticipate or "fly the missile" because there is an inherent lag to the missile response time.

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The results of a TOW missile hit can be impressive indeed!

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The Commander's position in the tank can be accessed and used to manage the battle and utilize the AI gunner, or you can also manually assume control of the gun to engage targets of your choosing. The view from out of the Commander's hatch is good for scanning and gaining a grasp of the situation, but is fairly exposed.

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From the Commander's position you can override the gunner, authorize the gunner to fire on targets HE has identified, or modify the targeting so that he fires on targets that YOU have identified. I'm still a bit sketchy on how all this works and it will take more practice before I'm comfortable with the relationship I have with my AI gunner (he needs to tell better jokes too). The view through the binoculars can be useful for identifying targets.

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Finding and destroying your enemy isn't the only task you'll be concerned with. Obviously the enemy will be trying to find and destroy you - so a good defense is also necessary. The use of prepared fighting positions are important to extending your longevity on the battlefield. As part of a strategy to hold ground, bloody attackers, then retreat to new emplacements to attrite the enemy again, prepared positions are essential. Positions can be as simple as natural features, or they can be purposely prepared and built by engineers. I don't know if Steel Beasts offers the ability to attach a vehicle to build emplacements on the fly (I guess we'll get to that later), but the prepared positions offer effective locations from which to fight. In each prepared position you can position your vehicle to be either hull down or turret down. In the hull down position your turret remains exposed allowing you to engage targets while the bulk of your machine is shielded by the earth. In the turret down position the entire vehicle is hidden providing maximum protection, but limits your offensive action to just being able to observe. The Bradley CAN engage targets from the turret down position though since the missile launcher and optics reside at the top of the turret, so you get the best of both worlds with a turret down position using the Bradley.

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I've rolled a bunch of concepts into one mission report here, but that is due to the short and focused nature of the default training missions. The M2A2 training missions #1 through #10 are quick, fun, and easy to complete in no time. They also give a glimpse of how much fun this sim is going to be and how much there is to learn and how interconnected all of the concepts are.

BeachAV8R

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If you find the AI lacks good jokes you could try running the same scenarios with a GS gunner :cul:

With the ammunition change, I sometimes lase and lay in the first ammunition type, changing nature without relaying. After firing the first shot, relase and relay for the new nature. This improves the probability of hitting with the 'loose' round which can be important in a low ammunition or target rich environment. It does take a bit longer though, so it is better just to waste the change-over round if in danger.

None of the autocannon are spectacularly accurate though, so one or two loose rounds are inevitable except at very close ranges.

Getting the most out of TOW is very difficult, but even suboptimally employed it is very dangerous and cannot be dismissed as a threat. With care it can be used to hit crossing targets even at 3750m, but normally the maximum energy range against a crossing target is much lower at 2500-3000m due to manoeuvring losses.

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If the LRF is damaged or unavailable, it is possible to estimate the range to the target by using the center reticule and/or the choke scale at the bottom of the sight. I can already tell this is going to take a lot of practice to learn how to quickly and effectively do, but the basic concept is that by comparing the relative size of the reticule to the target you can roughly gauge the distance to objects if you know what the published size of that object is.

I've just finished and uploaded a range estimation and battlesight gunnery practice scenario

here.

It's based on the M2A2 gunnery tutorials and presents 10 PC targets in semi-random order at varying ranges from 400-2200 meters. The Brad's range finder is broken, so range estimation must be done manually. Please let me know if anybody finds any problems with it. Thanks.

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Using the mil scale in the sight or using the reticle, measure the height or width of the object. Then substitute in the mil relation formula: R=W/m, where R equals range in thousands of meters, m equals width(or height/length) in mils, and W equals width (or height/length) of the object in meters. Make sure your comparing apples to apples.

T-72

Height 2.2M

Width 3.4

Length (all incl gun tube) 9.7M

Leo 2A4

Height 2.8M

Width 3.7M

Length 6.4M

BMP-2

Height 2.1M

Width 3.1M

Length 6.7M

Tiger Ausf.E

Height 3.0M

Width 3.7M

Length 8.4M

So, in the unlikely event you are facing a Tiger I head on in SB ProPE, and its width in mils is 1.5, the range is approx 2460 M (3.7 / 1.5 = 2466). It has been discussed elsewhere but I seem to remember the circle in the reticle being 1 mil and the horizontal lines being 3 mils.

I suppose you could use the flash to bang method to estimate the range if your willing to let him take the first shot...

Mog

Edited by Mogwa
forgot to add the actual formula in the text
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It has been discussed elsewhere but I seem to remember the circle in the reticle being 1 mil and the horizontal lines being 3 mils.

Actually, that's wrong. Trouble is, it's pointless to discuss this without images, and I noticed that the Wiki doesn't seem to have a chapter dealing with reticles, that the FAQ search doesn't find a topic with "reticle" in it, and that the Downloads section doesn't seem to have a "tutorial" or a "general" element for download either.

But I do remember that we HAD something where the NATO standard reticle and its dimensions were explained. Where?

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I've had the following up for several years now with a practice scenario available:

ESTIMATING RANGE

Coup d'Oeil -- A Quick Glance

The aspect of war that has always attracted the greatest attention is the engagement. Because time and space are important elements of the engagement, and were particularly significant in the days when the cavalry attack was the decisive factor, the idea of a rapid and accurate decision was first based on an evaluation of time and space, and consequently received a name which refers to the visual estimates only. Many theorists of war have employed the term in that limited sense. But soon it was also used of any sound decision taken in the midst of action -- such as recognizing the right point to attack, etc. Coup d'oeil therefore refers not alone to the physical but more commonly, to the inward eye.

On War, Book One, Chapter Three "On Military Genius"

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Having a good eye has always been important. For a commander of horse cavalry, being able to, with a quick glance or coup d'oeil, judge distances and estimate the time it would take for horsemen to cover a piece of ground was necessary when trying to co-ordinate movement with the other arms of a battle formation. The coup d'oeil was such a familiar term at his time, that Clausewitz used it to describe the 'genius' of great military commanders.

But, being able to make sound judgments of distances and timing isn't something that's just beneficial for military geniuses and horse cavalry commanders. It's also beneficial for the humble rifleman and even the virtual tanker.

The way the US Army trains rifle marksmanship changed significantly after the Second World War. This change was primarily due to the influence of S.L.A. Marshall's work, Men Against Fire. Marshall, as an official Army historian during the war, routinely interviewed soldiers immediately after engagements, and when Men Against Fire was published in 1947, he claimed that only about fifteen percent of the men involved in an engagement would regularly fire at the enemy. This claim, of course, troubled all interested parties -- those who believed it and those who didn't.

In any case, the Army doesn't train marksmanship by shooting at bullseye targets anymore. Marksmanship is now taught on ranges with silhouettes that are vaguely human in outline, that fall down when hit, and performance is rewarded with skill badges that are worn on dress uniforms. Qualification on such ranges is required to be performed regularly. The shape of the silhouettes is designed to condition against the natural aversion to killing other people, the falling of the silhouettes provides immediate feedback on performance, and the skill badges provide positive reinforcement. Important to the discussion here though, is the fact that those silhouettes are man-sized and are placed at known distances.

Repeated exposure to targets of uniform size at known distances trains marksmen to accurately judge distances by the apparent sizes of the targets relative to their rifles' front sight posts. As long as you fight and train with the same type of rifle, and you know how big a man-sized target is at a range of 200, 300, or 400 meters compared to your front sight post, you're, hopefully, going to be able to estimate the range to an enemy combatant with just a quick glance.

The same is true with tank sight reticles. While tanks don't have front sight posts, they do have mil circles at the centers of their reticles. A mil is a unit of angular measurement that can easily be explained with resort to some simple trigonometry.

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As you can see from the figure [ABOVE], as the distance from the apex of a triangle increases, the length of its opposite leg increases. These increases are proportional, so that when the distance doubles, the length of the far leg doubles as well. In the figure, the angle that 'pinches' the sides of the tank at 1000 meters will pinch two similar tanks at 2000 meters.

A mil is a unit of angular measurement such that when the angle of a triangle like the one to the left is one mil, the length of the opposite leg is one unit when it is 1000 units distant from the angle. So, if a tank sight has a circle with a one mil diameter, that circle will cover one meter at a distance of one kilometer, two meters at a distance of two kilometers, and so on.

This relation gives rise to a three variable formula that is helpful when trying to compute distances: Width divided by mils equals Range.

From the front, a T-72 is about 3.6 meters wide and a T-80 is about 3.4 meters wide. From the flank, a T-72 is about 7 meters and a T-80 is about 7.4 meters. So a good rule of thumb for remembering the dimensions of Soviet tanks is 3.5 by 7.

The value for the mils in the formula should be derived from comparing the target to the circle and lines in the reticle. The circle has a one mil diameter, the tick marks directly horizontal from the circle are 2 mils long and the other horizontal tick marks are 2.5 mils long. Note well: The reticles for the M2/M3 and for the Leopards have slightly different dimensions.

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Now for some math: If you click on and enlarge the first thumbnail image, you'll see a T-80 from its front. Comparing it to the reticle, it overlaps the full circle and one of the first horizontal tick marks. Adding up the overlap on each side looks to be about a half of the circle. The mils then would be, 1 for the circle, 2 for the horizontal tick mark, and about .5 for the overlap. That comes to a total of about 3.5 mils. Using the 3.5 by 7 rule of thumb, We get a width of 3.5 divided by mils of 3.5 for a result of 1 kilometer or 1000 meters. The image includes a laser return of 1000, so the formula checks out.

This next thumbnail shows about the same thing. The difference is that there are two T-80s, side by side, at a range of 2000 meters. Because they are at a range double that of the first image, two of them take up the same amount of space relative to the reticle as the first T-80 did.

Certainly solving math formulas does not increase the speed of tank engagements. However, understanding a bit of what the function of the reticle's pattern is will improve gunnery skills. By being aware of the function of the reticle pattern, a gunner can deliberately make a quick mental comparison of the size of a target relative to the reticle and its range. Over time, those quick mental comparisons will give the gunner a good eye and he'll be able to estimate range with just a quick glance.

You can download a short practice scenario with an M1 engaging targets at known distances here.

Links in the quote block are active.

http://www.1stusvcav.com/Techniques/Shoot/estimating_range.html

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Actually, that's wrong...

Actually, in an M-1, the circle is 1 mil, but the lines are 2.5 mils not 3 mils. So I was a .5 mil off, I haven't shot a tank since 1991. I'd say thats pretty good memory. I still remember the WORM formula and as Gary Owen stated, 3.5 by 7 are good base variables for W in the formula.

We shot a lot of these sce's in UCOFT. There was a base lead for sabot and heat (2.5 mils sabot and 5 mils HEAT?). Many hours were spent doing manual range estimation, applying lead, and manual traverse and elevation. Family fun for all. Not.

Mog

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With the ammunition change, I sometimes lase and lay in the first ammunition type, changing nature without relaying. After firing the first shot, relase and relay for the new nature. This improves the probability of hitting with the 'loose' round which can be important in a low ammunition or target rich environment. It does take a bit longer though, so it is better just to waste the change-over round if in danger.

That is a good idea..I don't know if I could keep it together long enough to do that in a real scenario.. :D It will be interesting to get into scenarios where ammunition rationing and being smart will be important..!

Getting the most out of TOW is very difficult, but even suboptimally employed it is very dangerous and cannot be dismissed as a threat. With care it can be used to hit crossing targets even at 3750m, but normally the maximum energy range against a crossing target is much lower at 2500-3000m due to manoeuvring losses.

Right on. I'm looking forward to finding out the advantages and disadvantages to using them.

Thanks for the comments..!

BeachAV8R

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I've just finished and uploaded a range estimation and battlesight gunnery practice scenario

here.

It's based on the M2A2 gunnery tutorials and presents 10 PC targets in semi-random order at varying ranges from 400-2200 meters. The Brad's range finder is broken, so range estimation must be done manually. Please let me know if anybody finds any problems with it. Thanks.

That is awesome! Just the kind of mission (again) that this rookie needs. Look for a future training mission report featuring your mission..

Great stuff..

BeachAV8R

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Thanks for the detailed discussion Gary and Mog... Those are very interesting concepts. I'll definitely try to digest all of that. I guess regarding the difficulty of doing manual ranging and manually laying on the target is the old philosophy of "sweating more in training to bleed less in battle.."

Looking forward to learning about these topics!

Regards..

BeachAV8R

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Good read there Beach. looks like you're doing well. Two things for ya. First, with the 25mm always fire a single sensing round to check range and lead. If it's on, continue firing. If not, relas and adjust. If you changed ammo fire a double sensing round and disregard the first round. Secondly, if anyone tells you to 'check the aux', don't!

Have fun mate!

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