So, second in my World of Tank posts would be my little self victories. After having quite a losing streak with both my T20 Medium Tank and T1 Heavy Tank, I decided to take my M18 GMC/Hellcat for a spin. The game mode was Assault, on Campinovka- I mean Malinovka. Malinovka and I have a bit of a history. It’s always been a map where team work is honestly the key, as the open field dominated by the hill is often inviting to just go out and camp, or go and kill, without any plan besides the oh so familiar ‘CHARGE!!!”
Now, I always kick myself in the back, I had turned off Bandicam this match, I had no such luck, being the first to die or getting one kill and then running into the enemy’s defenses with both my T20 and T1HT, but for some odd reason my game play differs greatly while in Tank Destroyers. I tend to be more cautious, being a bit of an ambush player since my armor BARELY gets close to 100mm thickness in any rating (Hull – Side/Rear/Front, Turret – Side/Rear/Front) in any of my current Tank Destroyers, I tend to follow the US Army TD doctrine: There is but one objective of tank destroyer units… the destruction of hostile tanks.
Now, those with know-how can go look up the little book “Seek, Strike, Destroy” by Dr. Christopher R. Gabel, but as the commenter on its Amazon page has pointed out, he is quite harsh on his assessment.
Author Christopher Gable wrote this book as part of US Army studies on the formulation of doctrine. Published as part of the Ft Leavenworth papers, the audience is small – US officers studying combined arms doctrine. Like the Tank Destroyer career, this book is short. TD’s units lasted from 1941-45 and after WW2, were disbanded.
Was the concept flawed? In 1941, the US Army had no true armor force, no experience and had to develop weapons and tactics quickly to oppose the German Blitzkrieg. The idea was to use lightly armored tanks with open tops to fight enemy tanks and leave our tanks free for the battle of exploitation. TDs were cheaper to make and would rely on speed for defense. There is no argument that TD’s were not used in accordance to doctrine, as is often the case in war, the enemy did not read our manual. Since the Germans were on the defensive by the time TD’s saw action, by circumstance, TD’s were usually used as tanks and suffered accordingly.
Gabel is very harsh in his criticism of the US Doctrine, stating it was flawed, did not consider combined arms of infantry and artillery and the tankers never attempted to use their doctrine. While correct, Gable has the advantage of hindsight and furthermore, happens to work for the Combat Studies Institute with a motive to prove the superiority of what he calls the Concept Based Requirement System (CBRS) a fancy, buzzword dejour if there ever was one. In 1940-41, the Army did conduct such reviews, but did not have the leisure or time to perfect the ideas. That they came as close as they did was impressive. TDs provided the Infantry with tracked/mobile guns out to knock out the panzers. Another flaw – comparing US TD’s to German or Soviet Assault guns – that’s apples and oranges, Assault guns were made to put as large on gun on a chassis as possible. At least TD’s had a turret which means you do not have to aim the whole tank.
For those who only see the downsides of the TD’s, this book reinforces that stereotype. A more recent and balanced version is Harry Yeide’s work “The Tank Killers”. Yeide shows the many contributions TD did make, especially in the Italian Theater of war. If you want a quick overview of the Table of Organization and Equipment of the TD units and an overview of TD history, this is an ok book. Like author Gable, I wish the Army had done a better job creating more effective tanks and doctrine. But they did pretty well and were able to defeat the Germans; this book strikes me as too harsh with a poorly concealed agenda.
I would actually take from Wikipedia on this. It seems fair and more in-tuned to what I know the Tank Destroyer as. I do intend on picking up Mr. Yielde’s work, as well as Dr. Gabel’s. Regardless of their stances, I seem to have found my non-fiction books for the Fall season, and I intend to heartily read and take from them as much as I can. Now, Wikipedia is not the most trusted source, but this section on its Tank Destroyer Battallion page seems fitting of what my play style is on World of Tanks.
“Critical analysis of the new force was mixed; while the 601st had successfully repulsed the attack, it had lost two-thirds of its strength in the process, contributing to Patton’s declaration that the concept was “unsuccessful in the conditions of the theater”. McNair responded by further clarifying the role of the tank destroyer—it was to be a highly mobile force, which sought to find and occupy favorable positions to engage an oncoming enemy attack. A tank destroyer “need only to maneuver for a favorable position, conceal itself thoroughly and ambush the tank—it was not intended to be used in a frontal offensive, or in assault in combat like a tank.”
Which brings us down to how Tank Destroyers, more specifically the newest addition to the American Tech Tree, is treated by the World of Tanks players. The Hellcat line, as I call it, focus on speed and the mounting of consequently heavier guns. This has led many to the impression that the Hellcat Line of Tank Destroyers in the American Tech Tree to be the hard-hitting scouts, and tend to be played as such. Nothing can be further from the truth. While I admit there are VERY good drivers of the T49 and other speedy and maneuverable Tank Destroyers, I would rather settle for a BT-7, or an M5 Stuart, if I wanted to Suicide Scout/Suiscout. The turn radius is much tighter, turret traverse quicker, and while not mounting heavy guns, I understand my primary role within the battle is to move up, spot and send in targets for my fellow tankers and our allied artillery, and to skirmish with enemy light tanks.
Now, this leads me back to today’s match. I wasn’t entirely happy with my performance today, and as I said, gave my hard-working T20 and T1 HT a break. Picked up the M18 Hellcat, and went to town.
Granted, I am allowed my bragging rights. I tied with a Heavy Tank (M6 Heavy Tank driven by tagunit) in the number of enemy tanks killed. The game proceeded with me advancing up the hill from our spawn areas (in Assault, I spawned int the lower-left spawn) and made my way to the extreme edge of the map, accompanies by tigers_in_the_muds in his AMX12t. He and I advanced slowly, utlizing the cover of the woods, and proceeded to move forward and engage the defending team around the church area by tagging and bagging. That is, tagging them for allied forces, and utilizing our heavy guns (I have equipped the 90mm AT Gun M3, while the AMX12t had on the 75mm SA50) would constant damage and kill enemy tanks.
This brings me to the point of this post.
I ain’t no ordinary suiscout Hellcat driver. I don’t tango alongside the big boys where my armor effectiveness is nothing better than wet tissue paper to a tank shell. There are others like me I am sure, who play the shoot and scoot/hit-and-run, advance with caution, tag and bag gameplay. But so far I have yet to encounter them.