Squad level firepower comparisons

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Brady
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Squad level firepower comparisons

Post by Brady » 20 Mar 2018 02:19

Squad level firepower comparisons, have there been any of these referenced on the forms of late?

specifically for late war, US British and German squads?

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Re: Squad level firepower comparisons

Post by stg 44 » 20 Mar 2018 13:49

Brady wrote:Squad level firepower comparisons, have there been any of these referenced on the forms of late?

specifically for late war, US British and German squads?
What metrics are you thinking of and a what point in the war? Doctrinal or what was common in the field?

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Re: Squad level firepower comparisons

Post by yantaylor » 20 Mar 2018 14:09

I remember being a wargamer back in the day and assessing squad level firepower. This was for circa 1944 and the way it was done was placing firepower into three ranges;

Long [750-1400m]
Medium [100-750m]
Short [0-100m]

So say for instance we where talking about a US Army Squad pitted against a German Squad, we have have these results;

The Germans where more effective at long range then the Americans, mainly because of their MG42 and bolt-action Mauser's, medium range still gives the German's the edge but at short range the odds start to even out the Americans mainly because of the semi-automatics.

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Re: Squad level firepower comparisons

Post by Brady » 20 Mar 2018 14:18

late 44

weight of fire

US rifle squad to include BAR

German squad with and without mg 42

british with and without bren

it’s my understanding that German squads did not always have a light machine gun that there were never enough to go around the same being true for the bren

essentially that these were support weapons for them and not an inherent part of the squad whereas the United States had the BAR and while this was not a light machine gun that it’s Weight of fire coupled with the M1 would generate a greater weight of fire typically compared to German and British squads, but I don’t know if that’s true

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Re: Squad level firepower comparisons

Post by stg 44 » 20 Mar 2018 14:59

IIRC the MG42 had the same effective firepower as 25 bolt action riflemen, 12 or so semi-auto riflemen (battle rifles like the Garand rather than something like the SKS or M16). Without the MG42 the German squad is decisively outgunned, as at a minimum the K98k has about half the fire rate of the M1 Garand. The MP40 did outgun the Garand by at least 3:1 in terms of rate of fire and was accurate enough out to 200m, but clearly it was not really anything but a short ranged automatic weapon.

Basically without the MG42 the German squad is in trouble, but with it they decisively outgun the US squad with 1 BAR and 10-11 riflemen. I'm assuming 1 MP40, a 2 man MG42 team, and 6 riflemen on the Germans side, 1 BAR and 11 Garands on the US side. If you start talking more BARs, M1 Carbines, and Thompsons then things get a bit wonky, but still the MG42 can well outgun them unless we're talking about 3 BARs and a Thompson/M1 Carbine plus the balance in riflemen. IIRC the Marine fireteam squads (3 fireteams per squad, 4 men each, each fireteam with 1 BAR) could match and exceed German MG42 squad firepower especially if also equipped with SMGs and/or M1 carbines. IIRC too by the end of WW2 the US army judged that at least 2 BARs per squad was mandatory, which was affirmed in Korea (but where the wisdom of the British .280 round/weapon system was affirmed even more...)

But then this is 1944 so we need to consider other German arrangements like the STG44 Platoon, G43, extra MP40s, perhaps two MG42s and reduced manpower squads. The Germans found out a 9 man STG44 only squad would actually outgun the 9 man MG42+MP40+K98k squad within 350m.

TL;DR: A single BAR+Garand squad did not outgun the German MG42+MP40+K98k at all, probably was firepowered by 2:1 in fact.

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Re: Squad level firepower comparisons

Post by Brady » 20 Mar 2018 15:23

Interesting, i remember how ASL did it and they had it closer, that being the US squads had almost double the firepower if there was no mg 42 or bren present, and if present the US squad was still just slightly better

But they could have assumed The presence in the US squad of two BAR’s, which I think will be more in keeping with what you suggest above, my assumption was that their calculations included just one BAR

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Re: Squad level firepower comparisons

Post by stg 44 » 20 Mar 2018 15:32

Brady wrote:Interesting, i remember how ASL did it and they had it closer, that being the US squads had almost double the firepower if there was no mg 42 or bren present, and if present the US squad was still just slightly better

But they could have assumed The presence in the US squad of two BAR’s, which I think will be more in keeping with what you suggest above, my assumption was that their calculations included just one BAR
Well, ASL apparently did not consult the US or UK Army studies about WW2 or their efforts to copy the MG42:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MG_42#T24_machine_gun
and how they tried to do it again after the war:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M60_machine_gun#History

Perhaps they did assume augmented firepower for US Army units, but then why not have integral German MG42 in their squads and augmented firepower?

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Re: Squad level firepower comparisons

Post by Brady » 20 Mar 2018 16:03

what I recall is that the assumption was there was never enough mg 34/42’s to go around.

so unless it was an elite unit, where they assumed it was present, their baseline value did not account for its presence, the same being true for the british

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Re: Squad level firepower comparisons

Post by Dunnigan » 20 Mar 2018 17:18

Brady wrote:what I recall is that the assumption was there was never enough mg 34/42’s to go around.

so unless it was an elite unit, where they assumed it was present, their baseline value did not account for its presence, the same being true for the british
Careful quoting game sources... they tend to generalize for the sake of game play.

And for ASL, there was always the question mark as to whether a 4-6-7 German squad had an inherent MG-34 or MG-42. I believe it was assumed each squad did have an inherent LMG. The separate LMG counters would be considered extras.

And that elite context is bogus. The MG was the core firepower of a German rifle squad and the soldiers would almost certainly have one per squad.

I always thought ASL completely miscalculated firepower values as it overvalued the US Rifle Squads with their B.A.R.'s and semi-automatic Garands.

By 1944 there were a myriad of squad types for the different types of divisions (Infantry, Volksgrenadier, Panzer/Panzergrenadier, Fallschirmjager, etc.). So for firepower comparisons, you first have to pick which squad for each nation you want. For the Germans, is it a Rifle Squad in a Rifle Platoon? Submachine gun squad in a Rifle Platoon where each member was armed with an MP-40 or StG44? Panzergrenadier squad with two MG42's?

If we go by a "typical" rifle company in a late-1944 Volksgrenadier Division, it was composed of two SMG/Assault platoons and a Rifle platoon. In the SMG/Assault platoons it had two SMG/Assault squads and rifle squad. The Rifle Platoons had three consistent rifle squads. The SMG/Assault Squads didn't have an LMG not for lack of distribution, but more that each man in the squad would be used as in assault with a shorter range automatic weapon (SMG or Assault Gun). The Rifle Squad in the platoon would have a mix of MP-40 (2), MG-42 (1), and the rest Kar-98k (6). Note that the SMG's were for the squad leader and one for the MG Assistant, which was better served for a shorter automatic weapon than long unwieldy rifle (to lead and spray an area in the former and to have as a personal small arm while mostly assisting the MGer in the latter). The Riflemen, it's been said, were really just ammo bearers' for the MG-42. Whether really true or not, is a testament to the reliance on the firepower of the MG-42 at the squad level. Now while the two SMG/Assault squads didn't have an LMG, at Platoon HQ, there were two LMG's to compensate that would be directed by the Platoon Leader to be used where necessary. So overall the platoon had three LMG's, like most average platoons.

The typical American Rifle Squad had 12 men, one B.A.R. man and the rest of the 11 with M1 Garands. One of those riflemen (on paper the assistant squad leader) would have a rifle grenade attachment for his rifle. Note the lack of SMG (Thompson or Grease Gun). Officially, one was not assigned to a rifle squad as compared to a German or British squad, but officially there were six SMG's per company that were assigned as needed. And of course during the course of the war, men would pick up what they could so additional SMG's and B.A.R.'s would work their way into the squads so much so that by the end of the war the official TO&E allotted two B.A.R.'s per squad.

The typical British Rifle Squad had 9-10 men (officially I've seen 10 but I've been argued saying it was reduced to 9 by late war). The squad leader had a Sten, one with a Bren, and the rest had SMLE's.

Now for firepower calculations, there's a lot to factor in. I'd say a big factor was how much rate of fire a squad could put down, and this is where the German squad with an MG-42 will reign over the others. The Garand was better than a Kar-98k or SMLE but if the MG-42 is pinning down the Garand riflemen, it's a non-factor (and does lead into the controversial SLA Marshall study saying that only a small percentage of men actually fired their weapon in battle). The Bren, being magazine-fed, could not keep the sustained rate of fire as an MG-34 or MG-42, but both are certainly better than a B.A.R. which was not a LMG but a squad automatic weapon however the definition goes but altogether limited by a 20 round magazine.

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Re: Squad level firepower comparisons

Post by stg 44 » 20 Mar 2018 18:22

Brady wrote:what I recall is that the assumption was there was never enough mg 34/42’s to go around.
Based on what though? I haven't seen anything that suggested there was a shortage; if Allied accounts are anything to go by there were too damn many.

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Re: Squad level firepower comparisons

Post by Sheldrake » 20 Mar 2018 21:01

Brady wrote:what I recall is that the assumption was there was never enough mg 34/42’s to go around.

so unless it was an elite unit, where they assumed it was present, their baseline value did not account for its presence, the same being true for the british
On what evidence do you base this assumption? Both Armies were aware of the significance of automatic weapons, The British were only short of small arms after Dunkirk. Some low grade Germ,an units might be equipped with captured weapons like the czech Zb and the Landsturm were short of everything. But neither were normal units.

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Re: Squad level firepower comparisons

Post by Brady » 20 Mar 2018 22:05

"I always thought ASL completely miscalculated firepower values as it overvalued the US Rifle Squads with their B.A.R.'s and semi-automatic Garands"

Well, this, in part, is Why I asked the opening Question, of late I have read material that has challenged my thinking on the subject, which may well of been prejudiced by the way ASL assigned values.

The Idea as I recall, was that a BAR had a nominal Value of "1" in the system, and the MG 34/42 in the system had a value of 2, and the Same aprox~ 10'ish men in the German and British squad would add up to about 4, and the Americans with their M1's would add up to about 5 since the BAR was inherent it would add another "1" generating a 6-6-7 Squad for a Normal First Line inf Squad, normal First Line German Squad at 4-6-7, British 4-4-7 (I think its been a while).

So That doesn't seam all that far off the mark based on the Posts above does it ? The M1's are not values that much higher it seams, my understanding was the 4-6-7's had no LMG in them.

...................................

"Based on what though? I haven't seen anything that suggested there was a shortage; if Allied accounts are anything to go by there were too damn many."

Just material I have digested over the years has left me with that understanding, not every German Rifle squad had a MG 34/42 team inherent, they were doled out as needed and their were never really enough to go around, but this depended greatly on the Unit the Time and Place.

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Re: Squad level firepower comparisons

Post by stg 44 » 21 Mar 2018 00:57

Brady wrote:"I always thought ASL completely miscalculated firepower values as it overvalued the US Rifle Squads with their B.A.R.'s and semi-automatic Garands"

Well, this, in part, is Why I asked the opening Question, of late I have read material that has challenged my thinking on the subject, which may well of been prejudiced by the way ASL assigned values.

The Idea as I recall, was that a BAR had a nominal Value of "1" in the system, and the MG 34/42 in the system had a value of 2, and the Same aprox~ 10'ish men in the German and British squad would add up to about 4, and the Americans with their M1's would add up to about 5 since the BAR was inherent it would add another "1" generating a 6-6-7 Squad for a Normal First Line inf Squad, normal First Line German Squad at 4-6-7, British 4-4-7 (I think its been a while).

So That doesn't seam all that far off the mark based on the Posts above does it ? The M1's are not values that much higher it seams, my understanding was the 4-6-7's had no LMG in them.
The MG34/42 was probably a 3 or really a 4 given the effective rate of fire. The BAR is a 2 and much lower than the belt fed, quick change barrel LMG, because of it's fixed barrel and magazine feed (20 rounds) really limiting the effective and sustained rate of fire. The GPMG can keep up a much higher rate of fire for as long as ammo holds out.
So the German value cannot really have a LMG intrinsic to have that number.

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Re: Squad level firepower comparisons

Post by Brady » 21 Mar 2018 01:17

The lmg, just so were on the same page, in ASL, was bipod only in configuration, it was represented in a sustained role by a mmg designation, asume tripod, at a 4 and as a HMG at 6, tripod, optics, more ammo exc.

So to get back to the topic at hand, if we asume were talking about rifle squads, sans lmg, german british and american squads were not realy all that far apart in terms of weight of fire, the pluss tge Americans had was the BAR which again sans lmg gave them an edge.

?

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Re: Squad level firepower comparisons

Post by Dunnigan » 21 Mar 2018 01:55

Brady wrote:The lmg, just so were on the same page, in ASL, was bipod only in configuration, it was represented in a sustained role by a mmg designation, asume tripod, at a 4 and as a HMG at 6, tripod, optics, more ammo exc.

So to get back to the topic at hand, if we asume were talking about rifle squads, sans lmg, german british and american squads were not realy all that far apart in terms of weight of fire, the pluss tge Americans had was the BAR which again sans lmg gave them an edge.

?
The Bren is much better than the B.A.R. in the fully automatic squad weapon category. The Bren had a quick change barrel which makes a world of difference in a sustained fire role. With the magazine feed on top, it could be fed easily by a capable crew. The B.A.R. could not have a barrel change and only had a 20 round magazine mounted under so changing it would take longer than a Bren. The B.A.R. could not be used for sustained fire, which is what you are looking for in a MG.

So the edge would still go to the British Rifle Squad. Sorry, but the Garand with its semi-automatic mechanism can only get you so far. ASL overvalued the squad firepower in my opinion by a great deal. The stereotype that the Americans were consistently outgunned and hence the reliance on supporting weapons like artillery and armor has a grain of truth.

And as for the lack of MG42's, no such thing. Germans had plenty throughout the entire war. Panzergrenadier and Fallshirmjager had two MG's in EACH squad. ASL/SL had very minimal sense of actual TO&E go into their calculations.

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