20 Comments

  1. “Hurry up, Johann! The other team will get our lunches if we stick around any longer!”
    “Do you want to eat rare barbecued rations again, Hans?!”
    “Can you two finish up so we can get going? The Tommies are throwing mustard and the French are catapulting grenades!”

    As eon mentioned months ago, flamethrowers generally are not good for torching a trench from within the same trench. I wouldn’t be surprised if some grenades were tossed in the general direction of the fire team…

  2. I think it’s a kleiflammenwerfer mod.16. Something like 30 kg and poor range (18m) so yes not a one-man affair.

    It’s curious, and frightening to realize that just 100 years ago that horrible weapon was being used (thinking about Fort Vaux assault) by some Flammenwerfer Abteilung in pioneer units during the battle of Verdun, really Hell on earth…

    • Louis Barthas, translated from the French by Edward M. Strauss, _Poilu: The World War I Notebooks of Corporal Louis Barthas, Barrelmaker 1914-1918 (Yale, 2014), p. 396 footnote 3 for 5th Notebook: The Lorette Charnel House: “The first recorded flamethrower attack of the Great War occurred on February 26, 1915, at Malancourt Woods, west of Verdun. The Germans, employing stationary devices, took 220 acres and two lines of French trenches, a substantial gain in West Front terms. They continued their experiments, and Barthas found himself on the receiving end of a flamethrower attack early in June 1915, memorably recorded here. The Germans next directed liquid fire at the British on July 30 at Hooge, near Ypres, this time trying out portable backpack versions of the projectors. “Jets of flame as if from a line of powerful fire-hoses,” said the British Official History, “spraying fire instead of water, shot across the front trenches.”
      The fire-hose simile was particularly apt. In one of those ironies of which history is so fond, the special detachment of combat engineers that operated the devices were mostly firemen-turned-soldiers under the command of the former fire chief of Leipzig.”

      • Who better to set fires than he who knows how to extinguish fires? Considering that firemen know what is best for burning, they will also know how to kill someone with fire. Obviously the Imperial German Army will not hire pyromaniac arsonists…

  3. Weapon of choice scenario:

    Darn it all, the enemy has broken through the first security perimeter! The base’s defensive trench lines are now swarming with enemies. This is hopefully not my last transmission via backpack radio. The opposition consists mostly of shock troops (not Imperial Storm Troopers, mind you), 4 cruiser tanks, and two assault guns (as in self-propelled infantry support artillery, not assault rifles). There also appears to be some sort of supernatural or enhanced unit within the opposing forces, and fighting its members with a regular side arm would be like trying to take on the Terminator. The base’s main arsenal is running low on practical weapons and ammo, and hopefully you’re not stuck with me.

    If you’re stuck defending the base, the objective is to hold out until help arrives or somehow annihilate the other team. Get a weapon and do something!

    1. ROKS-2
    2. Walther-Heinemann with gas-ported barrel chambered for 9.3×64 Brenneke (AP and hollow point rounds included)
    3. CZ Model S with scope, bipod, and Maxim Silencer
    4. Furrer M25 LMG or Browning wz.1928
    5. MAB-38A
    6. trapdoors of doom located near fortress entrances!
    7. 10.5cm leFH 18M with poison gas shells (or hollow charge if you prefer)
    8. L3-Lf flamethrower tankette, Dicker Max, M13 Multiple Gun Motor Carriage, or artillery tank AT-1
    9. Get something else!!

    If you’re coming to save the day, remember to watch out for that “super soldier” group. They might just teleport into your vehicle and dismember you if you’re not careful…

    This mission, should you choose to accept it, is completely voluntary (and likely just a bad dream). You are not required to participate if you do not wish to do so. Please keep any and all criticism of this post humane and free of foul language.

    Thank you,

    Cherndog

        • You’re going to need something that can take out both tanks and infantry. It therefore needs variable ammunition, a high rate of fire, and preferably can be fired from under cover. Because if those cruisers localize you, you’re toast.

          An M2HB .50 HMG would do for the cruisers and infantry as long as you can keep it fed, but being direct-fire you’re going to be spotted when you open up. And you can’t exactly relocate in a hurry. Not optimal.

          Believe it or not, the best all-around choice would be a light “bomb thrower”, like the Spanish Ecia 5cm mortar or the German, French or Russian equivalents.

          While technically crew-served with a 2 to 3-man detachment, the 5cm mortars were light and handy enough to be handled by one man. (The Russian version came in a small case not unlike the later “Sagger” ATGW, and was often used by solo motorcycle scouts.) The German version only had HE rounds, but the rest had the usual run of HE, frag, smoke, and illuminating rounds.

          For this job, a combination of HE (for the cruisers), frag (for infantry) and WP smoke (just to mess with everybody) would be the best mix.

          Keep in mind that while one round every seven seconds is the steady cadence that saves tubes and breaks armies, there’s no reason you can’t “bloop” three rounds of HE onto a cruiser in three or four seconds. Remember, there are no stabilized guns good enough to “fire on the move” in those halcyon days, so he has to stop to fire his main gun. When he’s sitting still, he’s a valid target.

          Yes, you’re going to need a lot of rounds. Either carry them on a cart or pre-cache them at good firing points. Having more than one mortar already set up at those points lets you run from one to another, shoot, and go on. Do it fast enough and they may think they’re outnumbered, or at least outgunned by a mortar troop.

          If you can place some mines along likely approaches beforehand, so much the better. And have a rifle to take out officers, just in case.

          You don’t have to outgun them. Just make them think they’ve stuck their noses in a hornet’s nest.

          If they go quiet, get ready to bug out. That probably means they’re calling in arty fire support on your position.

          cheers

          eon

          • I did mention 2 self-propelled artillery vehicles in the original post. If the tanks and infantry don’t get you first, the artillery will open up and trash any fortification short of an underground bunker or a flak tower. As for mines, I think there would be a few S-mines strung up as one was retreating from the front. If we’re talking about crew-served weapons, would the 10.5 cm field gun work or would it be overkill?

            Identifying important officers on the other team boils down to whether or not said officers have differences in uniform style and gear. If a commissioned officer carries only his side arm and a carbine/SMG, then it’s easy to tell since he’ll concentrate on ordering and observing, not on shooting you. Officers are also easily found if they’re wearing different headgear and insignia from that of the enlisted men. So if we’re talking about a useless barking LT, locate the “shoot me” signs and deal with him accordingly… Or am I wrong?

          • CD;

            Nope. Although killing a Captain or Colonel invariably disrupts things more than popping a shavetail.

            One advantage of a mortar with enough range (most 5cms reached out about 900-1,000 yards) is that if you can spot their CP, one frag round followed up by a couple of WP will knock over- or knock out – most of the “head end” of their command structure, with less risk of missing one or more valid targets than if you were engaging them with sniper fire.

            One guy gets hit by rifle fire, the others dive for cover. A frag bomb lands in their laps, nobody’s left to dive for over. Willie Pete takes care of finishing off the cripples and the adjutants.

            Some Major or etc. running in to help his CO won’t be much good to anybody after getting a faceful of white phosphorus smoke.

            No, war isn’t neat or pretty. And my uncle the Sherman commander was convinced by his experience that 75mm HE followed up instantly by 75mm WP was the single best “cure” for a German CP. As opposed to spending a full minute working it over with .30 and .50 caliber.

            cheers

            eon

          • It’s very difficult to hit with the first round with anything that fires high angle indirect fire. Nowadays you can if you have a rangefinder, a good ballistic calculator and wind data, but with traditional mortar firing methods you need very good luck or almost super-human estimation ability to land the first shot very close to the target. With a 50mm mortar bomb you need to be pretty close for good effect.

            50mm mortars were mostly phased out after WW2, because their effectiveness with HE varied too much depending on the softness of the soil. On soft snow they were simply hopeless. 60mm then became the standard minimum size for mortars, although some armies consider even 60mm too weak on soft soils or snow with traditional PD fuzes. That said, even 50mm mortars were highly useful for battlefield illumination, which was the primary use of for example the British 5″ mortars even in WW2.

          • Meanwhile, I’m barking hoarsely into the horn shaped speaking tube on my chest-telephone to correct the aim of the howitzers while buffeting about in my tethered semi-dirigible observation balloon ringed with Lewis guns and soixante-quinze AA guns… And my assistant has lugged up a Sauterelle Type A “Arbalete” and many kugelgranaten along with an extra bottle of “gniole” for our own point defense!

  4. I’d want an 18 or 25 pounder on the turn style that actually was invented in W W I for anti-tank fighting. Both came with several different types of rounds available for just about any situation.

  5. “What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an Angel! in apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world!”

    • +1!

      Arnold Zweig, Erziehung vor Verdun/Outside Verdun. Translated from the German by Fiona Rintoul. (Glasgow: Freight Books, 2014), 147-8:

      “We live in nice, clean heathen times. We kill with every means at our disposal. We don’t scrimp, sir. We use the elements. We exploit the laws of
      physics and chemistry. We calculate elaborate parabolas for shell-fire. We conduct scientific investigations of wind direction the better to discharge our poisonous gases. We’ve subjugated the air so we can rain down bombs, … each of us will put a steel pot on his baldy skull … and then we’ll proceed into the joyful world of unvarnished reality and European civilization.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*